Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gratituesday Thankful for Baby Number 89

Meet Levi, the first birth I attended since coming back from Mama Baby in Haiti. It was such a joy to get back into what I love doing.

Levi's parents contacted me many months ago about wanting a doula to support them during their third birth. They were really looking for a doula that would feel free to share God's word with them and pray over them as they labored. We spent several hours talking about their past births and what challenged they foresaw for this birth. We prayed and planned the upcoming day, and then I left for almost 2 months serving in Haiti.

I had promised Mama that I would call her the minute I landed in the United States. She was due three weeks after I got home so we wanted to touch base as soon as I came back into Michigan. Thankfully like the other two births, her baby did not come early.

We met one more time going over the birth plan before the big day arrived. We prayed over the birth that it would go smoothly and there would be no complications. Their other two babies had some complications right after birth with the placenta and hemorrhage so we wanted to be proactive this time around.

The big day arrived with a phone call early on Tuesday morning. Hubby decided to stay home for the day since she was pretty sure she was in the early stages of labor. She was frantically trying to finish up some craft projects for Christmas. She kept me posted through out the day as to the progress. She knew I would be ready to drop everything when she felt I was needed. The sewing machine was frantically going while the contractions were coming on stronger. She did manage to take a nap for an hour or two. Then the sun went down, the children were sent to Grandma's house and the call came around 9 p.m. to go ahead and drive over. They are about an hour away and half way there I encountered all most white out conditions of snow. It would not be the first time or the last that I will help bring babies into the world in snow and ice storms!

I got there are Mama was cool, calm and collected but definitely in active labor. The contractions were between two and three minutes a part. Some beautiful music was put on and for about four hours we focused on one contraction after another. When they were about two minutes apart Mama was ready to pack up and get to the hospital. My job was to encourage both Mama and Dad to stay focused on the task at hand.

We got to the hospital and she was checked in. This was the first time I had worked in this particular hospital. You never know what you are going to walk into. Some labor and delivery nurses are happy for labor support for their Mama's and some feel like you are intruding on their space. Thankfully the nursing staff was fabulous. They were so respectful of the choices Mama was making about her birth.

We settled into the room by starting off with prayer, and got back into a comfortable rhythm. I had taught Dad some comfort measures like the hip squeeze (which is fabulous) and the head squeeze. We would each take her head or her hips and help during the contractions. Mama would signal when the next contraction would be building. "Do the head thing" is what she usually said. She was rocking each contraction, working in tandem with them and not fighting against them which is our natural instinct. I would share encouraging words from God's word. We changed positions often.

One of the hardest positions but also the most effective is sitting in the bathroom. This helps open up the pelvis. Most laboring women who are willing to try and do several contractions in the bathroom actually find it very helpful. It can be more intense then walking around so some women avoid the bathroom. My Mama was determined to do whatever it took to get this baby out so she was all for it. Around three thirty Mama was getting tired. I encouraged her to lay back down and try and sleep between contractions. She was surprised that it was even possible. All three of us took little naps between. In fact, at one point I was sitting on the birth ball with my head resting on the bed and Dad was on the other side of the bed sitting with his head on the bed. I had to chuckle at myself because I usually have adrenalin just coursing through my veins and never sleep but I sure am glad I did.

Around five o'clock in the morning we all seemed to get our energy back so we started walking the halls again. Mama was staying well hydrated which is so important in labor. The contractions were getting closer together and longer. Sometimes I sang quietly, sometimes I shared encouraging words and sometimes I was just quiet while doing the head squeeze.

There is the notion that every Mama will just know when the sensation to push happens. That is not true. One of the fears going into the birth was not knowing when to help when the time came to bring the baby out. In fact, the labor nurse came in at one point and said, "all Mama's know when the time comes to push so have no worries." I had to be the bearer of bad news that this Mama didn't have the urge to push with her other babies. I have found that it is not that unusual for that sensation to occur. I continued to pray that things would be different this time silently.

At shift change at seven my Mama's favorite nurse midwife came into the room. She couldn't have been happier to see her. Then in walked  her other favorite nurse midwife. It really lifted her spirits to have them nearby. Mama had chosen a practice with about ten nurse midwives and so you never know who you will get for the actual delivery. In fact the midwife told me it's great on the one hand to have so many midwives in the practice but it is also sad to them that they may not be the one who gets to be there for the birth. In the home settings it is extremely rare for us as midwives to miss a birth of any of our clients.

We knew things were really picking up and when her midwife checked her she was about 7 centimeters. The adrenalin kicked in for all of us and so we labored on. We changed positions often. By this point I really wanted Dad to have the energy left when it was time for the birth so we encouraged him to find the cafeteria and eat breakfast. Around nine o'clock Mama was starting to get worn out. She was afraid she wouldn't know when to push and she was afraid like the other births she would stall out at nine centimeters. We wanted to break that pattern of the other births and continue to move forward. I was greatly encouraged because in my practice I see women get toward the end and are sure they will not be able to finish. That is the signal to us that we are about to have a baby!

Back to the bathroom we went for several more contractions. Mama was so strong. She hung in there and refused to give up. She conquered her fears and pushed through the pain. All of the sudden her eyes got real big and said, "the baby is coming". She had no doubt that this time around she just felt the urge to push. The three of us were so excited. A towel had been placed between the seat and the stool so that the baby would not fall into the toilet so we had no worries. She stayed for another contraction and knew the baby was about to be born. Dad and I helped her to walk from the bathroom to the bed which is no easy feat when you have a babies head sticking out! The two of us got her onto the bed and I looked down and there was baby's head out down to the ears. Of course I had no gloves on but was not going to go get the midwife and leave her there with the head emerging. I called for the midwife by saying the head was almost out. The midwife rushed in and grabbed gloves while I kept my hands ready to catch if necessary. The midwife brought her gloves over to the bed and looked down and said, "you're not kidding the baby is coming!" She encouraged Mom to finish pushing the head out which she did in one push. I quickly moved to the other side of the bed to be out of the way. Dad was up by Mama's head on her right and I was on her right by her belly. I asked Dad if he wanted to change places so he could get a better look at the birth but he said he was more help to his wife right next to her.

With one more push the whole baby was born. I looked at the clock and just by pure instinct said, "birth 10:18" Which was good because the nurse and nursery nurses didn't make it for the actual birth. It happened so fast. In my training I was taught to ask everyone in the room to just pause and take a deep breath. Some call it the holy pause. The miracle of birth had just taken place and it's hard to process it if you don't take a moment to pause. It is easy to miss which I am sure sounds strange but that's the truth. I prayed aloud over Mama, Dad and baby, for God's infinite mercy. Just a short prayer of thanksgiving, time for this family to soak in the moment.

Baby was bigger than I thought he would be. Mama's other babies were between six and seven pounds. I knew that this baby was bigger than that. His little head had been in the birth canal for such a short period of time that his head was perfectly round. He was beautiful. I stepped back and just witnessed the earth side welcome of this little bundle of joy.

The other two births for this Mama had challenges after the birth and we all wanted to avoid having to rush her into emergency surgery for a stubborn placenta. The had kept a hep-lock in so that as soon as the baby was born they could flood her system with pitocin. I used it at every birth in Haiti with a shot. The hospital here used thirty units in 500 ml. through an I.V.

I had told my clients about an herbal tincture that we use at home called Placenta Out. She had gotten permission before labor ever started to bring it with her and use it if the midwife approved. Sometime well before the birth that morning I showed the bottle to the midwife and read off the ingredients. She was fine with what I am wanted to give Mama right after birth. So both the tincture and the I.V. flooded her system. For the first time, this Mama was able to birth that placenta without going into surgery. It came just 13 minutes after the birth. No tearing and no problems. She also got to hold him and nurse him for an entire hour undisturbed.

 When he was finally weighed and was OVER eight pounds Mama was shocked beyond belief. His head was 14 1/2 inches. She couldn't believe she had just pushed out an eight pound baby.  Mama got the perfect birth she wanted. She and her husband along with their two daughters welcomed baby Levi into their family.

I felt so blessed to be able to witness the birth of another baby. Each baby born reminds me that God has not given up on us. There is still hope and that hope is founded in another birth, a baby born in a manager. He came to save the world. For that I am truly grateful for.

What are you thankful for today? I would love to know.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".


  1. Just found your blog from your comment on Heavenly Homemakers. I also wear a prayer covering and love hearing birth stories - will come again to visit soon! Have a blessed Christmas! I'm thankful for God's restoration and forgiveness as well as my beautiful family. I'm thankful His ways are higher and better than my ways and that He has a plan for me.

  2. Morning Sister Jill Merry Christmas & Happy Happy Happy Holidays. First, I thank Our God thru Christ Jesus for all of you (church of Christ~bloggers), because of your faith being reported all over the world (romans 1), that is that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each others faith. *Beautiful photo love babies and appreciate your RAD post. *Your truly blessed....God mercy & grace visit us every morning~great is his faithfulness. Top of my blog list....love the joy of fellowship w/sisters in Christ, as we worship at a 'small in #'~yet very loving congregation. Hope to visit often....God bless & keep you, daughter & baby in his loving care. Sincerely Sister Ana (gmail: andrewharshaw@gmail.com) Facebook: AndrewAnaHarshaw