I had the “show” on Wednesday 12th December, Shekinah’s due date, at about midnight. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for about a week leading up this – a few particularly at night before bed. On Thursday morning we thought it was all go as my contractions got as close together as 2-3 minutes apart and lasting for a minute at a time. David got the birth pool set up in our living room and filled it about 1/3 with hot water and placed the cover on. We called the midwife to let her know how it was all going. However, after a few hours of this, I went to sleep and stopped contracting altogether. I rested for most of Thursday, just taking things easy and having contractions intermittently for the whole day.
On Friday morning I woke up at about 4:30am with contractions happening about every 10 minutes. I went back to sleep between them. Finally at about 5:30 contractions were starting to happen about every 5 minutes. I laboured in our bedroom, on my knees leaning over the Swiss ball as this was the most comfortable position. The contractions got more intense and David woke up and started supporting me as my labour wore on. I read between contractions, prayed during them and made moaning and crying noises during them also.
At about 9:30am we invited Mum over and she immediately started praying for me in tongues during each contraction and massaging my lower back which relieved the pain greatly.
At about 10:30am, my midwife, Gail Kiss, arrived, not long after we had phoned her letting her know what was happening. She said I was coping beautifully and that I could hop in the birth pool whenever I wanted. David finished getting it ready and I went in at about 11am. I had immediate relief from the pain and was able to talk through my contractions instead of the previous crying and moaning. Geraldine, my back-up midwife, arrived at about this time also. Both of my midwives are strong Christians and really exercised their faith in God during the birth.
Things progressed smoothly but slowly. At about 1pm I hopped out of the pool for a wee walk out on our deck. There my waters broke. There was some thin meconium staining in the waters. Not good. However, my experienced midwife said that as long as baby’s heartbeat stayed within a healthy range, she was happy to continue at home. I found out later that a lot of midwives at this point would have raced me into hospital and got me on my back (the most uncomfortable position, I found!) on a hospital bed with a CTG monitor on. The meconium staining combined with the length of time between when my waters broke and when she was actually born may well have lead to a C-section. Praise God that didn’t happen!
My contractions continued to strengthen and I vomited and began pushing with the encouragement of my midwives. After no progress, Gail checked how far I was dilated. To my disappointment, I was only 3-4cms dilated, instead of the 10cm that we thought! I cried out to God majorly for help at this point, saying, “Lord, I have done what I can to build a healthy baby and to prepare for this labour and birth (walking, eating well, resting plenty, etc). I am sorry for being judgmental of others who haven’t had straightforward labours and who haven’t looked after themselves well during pregnancy. I repent of having a self-righteous attitude and I ask for your help and strength to deliver this baby. I cannot do it in my own strength. I am weak and tired and I need You!”
Gail herself had a chat with God and asked Him, “What is going on, Lord?” and felt Him say back to her, “Kedesh will be fine and the baby will be fine. Trust me in this”. And so she did.
After this, David and I went for a wee walk, having contractions regularly. We prayed together and David encouraged me. I felt strengthened by this and pleased when Gail said upon our return that she was happy for me to continue labouring at home if that was what I wanted. I said, “Yes, please!”.
My contractions eased off a little and I got back into the birth pool. For several hours my body took it a bit easier, continuing to contract regularly but resting between contractions, building my strength up for what lay ahead. At 8:30pm Gail checked my dilation – 6-7cms. During this time David massaged my back during contractions, Mum continued to rotate wet flannels that we placed in the freezer that I used on my face to try to cool down. I kept hydrated the whole time I was in the pool with David, the midwives and Mum continually offering me water to sip.
The contractions’ intensity started to build again and at about 9:45pm I started pushing, mostly squatting in the pool. Gail had to pull back the lip of my cervix manually to allow bubs’ head to pass through as I wasn’t making much progress. Twice Shekinah’s heart rate went down to 110BPM (ideally it stays between 120 and 150BPM). I breathed her out, rather than screaming as Geraldine told me that if I screamed that was wasted energy and instead needed to harness that strength and internalize it into a push instead. Gail also had to manually widen the birth canal to allow baby’s head to move down as everything was so tight.
Shekinah Faith was born at 11:37pm while I was standing in the birth pool with a foot up on one side, bearing down on David for support. We sat down in the birth pool (yes, David ended up in there too, supporting me!) held our little girl (skin to skin) and marveled at how perfect she was. She stared up at us with big alert eyes. What a special moment!
Her apgar scores were 9 at one minute and 10 at five minutes- a healthy together little girl.
We let the cord stop pulsating before Dave clamped and cut it. I had a natural third stage and delivered the placenta without complications.
All in all, we praise God for a wonderful labour and birth, that we were able to birth at home, for an incredible support team (I couldn’t have done it without them!), and most of all for our beautiful baby girl. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but also the most rewarding.