Last May Rick and I celebrated our 7th year anniversary out in kayaks on beautiful Lake Jocassee. And it was out there on the water that we decided we did still want four kids and that we wanted them to be close in age. We had already begun searching for an adoption agency to help us adopt again from Ethiopia, but due to many programs being temporarily closed, we decided we would start “trying” for the next bio baby.
Fast forward to the fourth of July. Let’s just say sparks did not just fly in the sky that night, and little baby Judah was made *wink* *wink*
This go around I elected to receive prenatal care from the midwives at GHS and have an un-medicated water-birth at the hospital. I had done a lot of research about water-birth and had a lot of friends who had really positive experiences with this group of midwives, including my good friend and best doula ever, Lindsay.
In preparing for birth I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and finally watched The Business of Being Born, but the most helpful piece of preparation came from an online class called A Heavenly Welcome by Kierra Blaser. Regardless of what kind of birth you are planning, I highly recommend this class to any expectant mommy and daddy (Rick really liked it too). It really helped me get over any anxiety about my upcoming birth and reminded me that Holy Spirit is very present at all times and would certainly be there for Judah’s arrival.
On Tuesday of last week, I led some of my students from Southern Wesleyan University in a service project at our church. We were all on our hands and knees most of the morning and early afternoon painting old shutters and doors for part of kid’s department redesign. Later that evening around 5 PM I started having some Braxton Hicks just as Rick and I were about to leave for a date.
My contractions came quite mildly all evening about every 15 to 30 minutes. I ate a good meal thinking real labor could begin at any moment and Rick and I walked around Abernathy Park excited with anticipation. When we got home I called Lindsay to give her the heads up, and then immediately went to bed to rest while the contractions were mild. Just after midnight I woke up with a contraction just strong enough not to sleep through. I slept off and on till about 2 PM when I decided I should time my contractions. I got on the birthing ball and realized they were still over 10 minutes apart so I slept off and on a bit more.
At 5 AM I got out of bed and watched the movie Juno while I timed the contractions. They were getting closer together, but still about 7 to 10 minutes apart.
Rick texted our friend Megan about watching the boys because we were still a bit unsure if Aunt Meredith would be able to come up in time. When she found out I was in labor, the Spirit immediately brought Isaiah 54 to her mind, which made me laugh because I’ve been reading Isaiah 54 ever day in 2016.
Our family is on the brink of a major transition currently. I’m not renewing my contract with Southern Wesleyan next school year. Ever since my trip to India I’ve felt Heavenly Father leading me into a new season of ministry that mostly includes proclaiming His good news through spoken and written word. I’ll be writing and speaking professionally, as well as investing more time in ministry at United and spending more time with my sweet kiddos. Rick too has felt a shift in his ministry, desiring to be focused more on outreach and liberating the oppressed. Holy Spirit reminded me that our family is stretching our tent pegs this year, and Judah is a beautiful part of us resettling desolate cities for the Kingdom of God.
I got in the shower to help ease the growing discomfort of the contractions and Lindsay helped me time them. Then suddenly my water broke with a huge gush and I had a much stronger contraction which scared me so bad I thought the baby’s head might just pop out.
Rick got on the phone with the midwife and she instructed us to come to the hospital right away since my water was not clear.
Once at the hospital they checked me and there was meconium in my fluid which meant baby Judah had already pooped. Then came the bad news. No tub birth. I could not even labor in the water. All my plans and expectations for this birth went out the window. Goodbye, carefully written out birth plan.
The midwife Shannon and the midwifery intern Cheryl checked me and I was four centimeters dilated. Another bummer. I thought with how strong my contractions were I would be at least at 6 or 7.
I got on the birthing ball so I could keep swiveling my hips in hopes that would help me progress faster. Some contractions I was able to just moan and breathe through. Others I cried through. My support team was super comforting in those tough moments. Cherly would softly rub my head and tell me to relax my eye-brows. Rick and Lindsay switched back and forth putting counter pressure on my hips and speaking sweet encouragements to me.
After about an hour on the birthing ball I decided I wanted back in the shower. At this point there were not many contractions I was not crying through they were so intense. I did little mini squats through each one and kept saying “I’m going to get huge” (another Ina May mantra) with the thought that I had enough authority to tell my body what I wanted to do. I told everyone I was starting to feel the urge to push so they got me out of the shower to check my progression. I was at 7 centimeters and about to go through transition, when things got super intense.
I got back on the birthing ball but my legs were shaking so bad I decided to move to the bed for some side-lying. At this point I had a bit of a freak out. The pain and pressure was so great I felt I could not resist the urge to push. I remember crying, “I can’t not push!” Rick got close to my face and gently ushered me to calm down. Within about 20 minutes, I had progressed fully and was ready for the pushing.
Prior to Judah’s birth I watched a lot of videos of really beautiful, calm natural births. I read stories of women actually experiencing immense pleasure during birth. In one video, the mom actually exclaims, “That was easy!” after delivering. The final 45 minutes of Judah’s birth were not calm or painless. They definitely were not orgasmic. They were the most painful, most crazy intense moments of my entire life. I am so grateful for my team that helped me through, especially Rick and Lindsay. They were amazing and I could not have made it without their help!
But then finally, at 1:09 PM, just 3 hours after arriving at the hospital, she was here. Shannon immediately placed Judah Ellie on my chest and I said hello to the most beautiful little girl I’d ever laid eyes on.
Though I was initially very disappointed I did not get to deliver in the water, looking back I’m really thankful for the way everything happened. I could never have imagined that she would come that quickly (since Han took 37 hours!). If my water had been clear I think I might have accidentally had her at home. I’m so thankful that Heavenly Father granted me a little Judah a safe delivery.
I still can’t help but tell miss Judah out loud every time I scoop her up how beautiful and precious she is. Her name means “praised light” and I know her life will bring a beautiful light to all those around her. She is a wonderful gift from Heavenly Father and Rick and I are honored to love, care, protect, and lead her in the ways of truth, justice, and humility. Her birth begins our family’s Springtime and we look forward to what Holy Spirit makes blossom in this season.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.”