Last Monday I walked to my last work meeting before maternity leave at 37 weeks 6 days. There, we rode motorcycles down the road to see the new offices we will be in when I get back. The rest of the week, I was to finish up by working at home. Well... I did, but Tuesday I also started getting stronger contractions and losing pieces of the plug. Since the midwife wasn't to arrive until Thursday, I was counting down the hours and asked my family to pray for the baby to wait.
Just because I can birth by myself doesn't make it optimal and it would have defeated the whole point of paying the midwife and preparing for the birth if we'd had to go to a hospital. After being forced to use the hospital in Abu Dhabi, one of the good things about being in Cambodia was the freedom to birth at home. The cleaner that Benjamin got to help me haul laundry to the fourth floor to dry while I'm pregnant has told me her stories about birthing in the hospital here. There was nothing natural about it as the doctor took charge making a nurse push the baby out from the top of her stomach while he used a suction machine to pull the baby out from the other side. No wonder she was in so much pain and doesn't know if she wants to have another baby. Unfortunately, when third world countries copy the United States on many things, that usually includes many needless hospital interventions during birth that increase the chances for major abdominal surgery, maternal death and depression from inhibited bonding with the baby. They usually keep these practices long after they've been dismissed by the States.
|She's been praying for a little sister for 6 years.|
|"I think I've found my calling" -Ben|
That morning I told Ben I didn't think he would be able to go to the event his school was hosting for the students as we would likely have the baby that day. He was excited. I tried to make sure to drink a lot of water and eat when hungry to keep my energy up and laid down a few minutes to rest. When the contractions wouldn't let me sleep longer than 12 minutes, I started walking again. Birth is one of those special times in life where pain isn't an indication of a problem, but in the beauty of transformation. Each surge of pain means that you are getting closer to your goal, it indicates progress. With the first two births, I had more fear getting in the way of appreciating the journey, then in Abu Dhabi I just wanted to get. that. baby. out. so they wouldn't force me into something I didn't want and since the water broke on that one, everything progressed more quickly. This time was slower, more like Elias' birth, and I could appreciate the process better. I used the time to pray and be thankful for all of the prayers God had answered in this child's conception and development, birth options and so many more things.
|Ezra is so proud of his baby sister.|
Around 11 a.m. things began to feel differently and I could tell that transition was on the way. Contractions were one minute apart and increasing in intensity. I asked Benjamin to take the kids to my friend's house from work. I knew the kids would like to play with their kids and pets and toys they hadn't seen before and I was just thankful God had provided a family I could trust to let my kids spend time with during the birth. From then, things kept getting more and more intense from the tell-tell nausea and then the beginnings of the pushy feelings and contractions that allowed concentration on nothing but breathing through them. While in this stage, I completely understand why women want a medicated birth. However, I know from experience how much that impacts after the birth and that if I can just get through that part, everything else goes sooooo much smoother.
|"I love the baby." -Elias|
Zoe came out healthy and with a strong nursing reflex. She was born at 38 weeks 4 days, (but as developed as a 40 week baby, so maybe my cycle was off.) She was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 22 inches long. I didn't need stitches or have any complications. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for the completion of the whole 9 months of anticipation, that the only thing I could do for the first few moments was say "Thank you, God."
I have never known so strongly that God was real, loving and very much concerned with me as much as I have during each birth. I don't know why every single little detail of this birth was answered with "yes, I can do that for you" when so many people struggle with just getting pregnant. I don't understand why I get to have four healthy children with good, uncomplicated births and so many women have to have interventions to live or have their child live. I don't know. I know I don't deserve any of it, but I am so very thankful for it all.
The kids, not to mention Ben, are all so in love with her. We are so happy she's here!