This time would not be an induction, I knew! It was more than just digging in my heels against the system; I felt deep inside the wrongness of losing patience with God's timetable, of arbitrarily deciding "I want to have my baby now" and forcing the baby to come whether he is ready or not. I realize that the reasons for induction within the system are complex and do not always happen for convenience alone--the doctor really does believe that he or she is acting in the baby's best interest. It just seems to me now that the whole system operates on a principle of fear--"what if??" How much better to trust in the Lord, in the fact that He made both me and the baby within me, and that the process which He designed to bring that baby out really does work! So I was settled in to wait, as long as it took. My due date was December 1, give or take a day; and I cannot say that the wait was easy! More than once I was on my knees before God begging for His mercy. I'd had crampy Braxton-Hicks contractions since the first week of November, and I kept wondering "how long, O Lord?" During the morning of December 14, however, I could sense a change in that pesky not-quite-false labor. There was a pressure in my pubic bone I had not felt before, and I wondered.... That evening we were supposed to go to my husband's (dh) squadron Christmas party [Air Force]. I had borrowed my mom's olive green dress, and my close friend M. took the children (if I remember correctly). Just before we were to leave, the contractions started getting more serious, especially when I was up walking around. I remember having several very strong ones when we went to Wal-Mart before the party. I commented to dh as we arrived at the hotel how funny it would be if I really were in labor! During the dinner and after, I kept checking dh's watch (I tried to be inconspicuous about it but several others at the table suspected!) and was amazed to find that even sitting down, the contractions stayed about four minutes apart. They were, however, very mild, so I felt no need to leave. (I must confess a perverse enjoyment over one acquaintance's exclamations when she discovered that I was two weeks overdue and having early labor!) Much to my disappointment, everything slowed and stopped at bedtime. I had a few during the night, then awoke and found that once I was up and active, they were three minutes apart and strong! I was elated. I woke dh up about nine or so with the news that we were "probably having the baby today!" We went to the chiropractor, and they slowed again--still strong, but about ten minutes apart. They stayed that way most of the afternoon, stopping altogether between about two and four, about fifteen minutes apart later on. Disgusted with my lack of progress, I left the children with dh and went to the commissary about five. While shopping I kept thinking how horrified everyone would be if they knew... the cashier was a sweet older lady who asked when I was due (I told her) and said something about a Christmas baby (as most people did). I didn't bother to inform her I was already in labor. She probably would have had a fit. Of course by bedtime the contractions had stopped again. My brother S. called between ten-thirty and eleven. They wanted to go play pool, but I told him dh better stick close. He was as disgusted as I was earlier; I apologized but told him it was impossible to tell at this point: it could be twelve hours, or two! He hung up, and dh and I talked for a little bit. I asked him to pray with me, aloud; we did that and went to sleep. One or one thirty. I woke up suddenly and got up to use the bathroom. Strong contraction as I'm getting out of bed; I try to ignore it since the same thing has happened already, several nights in a row. Then I went the kitchen and folded some clothes. More strong contractions; they're three minutes apart. I make some tea, fold clothes until I'm too distracted to do any more, go back to the bathroom and pour a bath. It's getting harder to be quiet through them. I bring in my tea and a small clock, sit down in the water. I'm wondering how long to wait, trying to let dh sleep as much as possible. I'm glad this isn't either Thursday or Saturday night, as he'd be gone helping S. with the paper route! Between two and two thirty I start calling for dh. He doesn't hear me, so I yell louder. Finally he hears me and rolls over to call M. (As per our relay arranged before, she'll call S, and he and his fiancee V. will come to her house first.) Then I'm going to kitchen to fix him some coffee--isn't there something wrong with this picture??? (I think I also made myself some more tea. I know I had two cups during this stage but I can't remember when the second one came--like it matters, I know!) Then I'm back in the tub, moaning through contractions now. I'm relieved that dh is up. S. brings M. and takes the kids back to her house. Dh tells me to be quiet (if I could) through the contractions while he was there so as not to scare him. Poor S.--so afraid for me, that something would go wrong, that I was out of my mind to begin with for planning a home birth. I pray for him and V. M. peeks past the bathroom door just as a contraction hits. Her face is flushed and smiling; I don't respond but close my eyes and concentrate on relaxing. She kneels next to the tub and rubs my back. That's wonderful...so is the wandering between kitchen and bathroom, putting my arms around dh during the contractions. The bath doesn't help as much as I hoped it would, but dh's and M.'s presence is my lifeline. We talk in between and crack jokes. They're both excited; dh unpacks the birth kit and waves a receiving blanket as he exclaims, "Baby!" The contractions get harder. The pressure inside my pelvis is incredible; my pubic bone feels like it's splitting. I'm crying out, "I can't, I can't, it hurts!" At one point, as I'm trying to settle into the bathtub, an especially strong contraction hits and I come up out of the water, throw my arms around dh's neck, and commence screaming. I'm abashed later because I've deafened both him and M. from the echoes in that tiny bathroom! We move back to the bed and I lie down on my side. Dh and M. take turns rubbing my back and legs; they talk about how well I'm progressing. A small voice within tells me to stop saying "I can't" during the contractions; instead call on the Lord's name--not just as "the Lord" but the very name of Jesus. So I try it...oh, Jesus...oh, Jesus...I gain strength from the simple litany. Only You are worthy... You are wonderful...thank You for this baby! Incredible, the power of praise. That carried me through when nothing else could. I check dilation; my eyes widen as I can only feel the slightest lip of cervix. Still I'm hesitant to push. I get up again; the splitting sensation returns. Dh is encouraging me to squat but I resist: standing feels better. I try half squats, hanging onto their hands, up and down. I feel vaguely foolish but I'm swept away by the sensation within.... Dh steps away and I choose that moment to finally squat by the bed. I'm there only for one contraction or so before shifting to my knees, facing the bed. Suddenly the pressure is different. I'm focusing on pushing now, quietly to boot. I hear M. and dh comment on the change and am overwhelmed by the realization that we're really doing it! God is awesome!! I keep pushing, hands clasped in front of me, face pressed to the quilt. I check a couple of times for progress and rest between contractions. The pressure within is lower--"rim of fire" kicks in as the baby's head comes down on my perineum. Another contraction; I throw all my effort into it and the baby's head is born in one push. Dh and M. are exclaiming as I rest again. I hear dh telling M. that the shoulder has come forward with the head, and I take strength from that--I pause, push hard again, and feel the baby's body slide from me. Dh and M. are trying to decide who is going to suction the baby's nose and mouth, and in their excitement forget that the baby and I are still attached. I protest, and M. helps me turn around and sit as we all laugh. Time seems suspended as I stare at my baby in awe. Then, recovering, I look for the sex--"A boy!" I cry. "We have a boy--Ross!" I take him in my arms, half distracted by the sheer newness and half preoccupied with the task of suctioning (dh was all thumbs). He is warm and slippery, crying a little. My first thought is one of distress after seeing the tiny cleft in his earlobe. I work on getting the mucus out of his mouth and nose, since he seems a little congested, perhaps due to my position during the birth. Then I lay aside the bulb syringe and speak to him; immediately he quiets and opens his eyes to look for me. What a magic moment! I'm instantly in love! Dh runs for the phone and has three or four calls made before I can say anything. He breaks the news to his mother about the place of birth, rather "finesses" his way through it with some comment about the midwife "not making it." Our joy is too boundless to be dampened by her alarm, however. I am filled with sheer amazement at God's grace and mercy. Afterwards M. helps me to the bathroom (still holding Ross) and I pass the placenta while on the toilet. Troy clamps and cuts the cord, and I return to bed. How wonderful to already be home.... All was normal, to the best of our ability to judge it. The only anomaly seemed to be a loose knot in the umbilical cord--somehow, at some point, Ross swam through a loop in the cord and tied it up! I am stunned anew, upon later reflection, convinced that God allowed that knot simply to further demonstrate His mercy. So many things seemed to firmly silence the "what if's"! ************ [Adapted from a separate account]********************** ... we're thrilled to have another blessing announcement to share! Ross A. made his appearance December 16, 1995, just in time to be the star of our homemade Christmas cards. He was born into daddy's waiting hands, while I knelt next to our bed, with a close friend assisting. The very fact of his being my largest baby yet--10 lbs. 3 oz.--was to me a witness that it was God's power at work. (My aunt, who is a nurse and had not been informed of our plans for staying home, freaked out a little: "What did the doctor say?? Did she have a cesarean???" I had to laugh!) I had one tiny tear, because the delivery was so quick, and Ross is (of course) wonderfully healthy. Some things were really unexpected; for one, all the things I was looking forward to--things I thought would really help in labor, like sitting in the tub to ease contractions--none of them really helped. I was fighting a battle during labor with the fear, more of the pain itself than of anything going wrong, and when I got to that point when I started saying "I can't," then I felt the Lord gently urging me to call on His name during the contractions...so began this litany of praise (there's no other way to describe it) which incredibly carried me through the contractions when nothing else was quite cutting it. That, for sure, I would not have felt comfortable doing in a hospital, with strange nurses and a doctor present!! There was something unique about praising God in spite of the pain. (I feel compelled to note at this point that I have never considered myself a"charismatic"!) Also, it was beautiful to see my husband accepting and shouldering the spiritual responsibility, both of us as one trusting God to give me a safe delivery. There has been a new tenderness between us since Ross' birth, and I feel God has worked a healing of sorts in our relationship. I realized during my pregnancy that I had never really trusted dh, as the head of our household, that even when I thought I was being submissive I'd still resented him for past hurts and failures. For me the birth was trusting that God could and would work through him as my (most immediate?) authority and guide the birth by his hands. (As one woman so aptly wrote, the joy and gratitude most women exude after birth belongs to their husbands--and to God--not to some doctor.) I learned that even though I may not see dh growing as quickly as I would like, I still have a lot of learning to do, as well. In all, I was just awestruck over the whole thing, as I know most homebirthing parents must be. And the awe lingers, not just over the birth itself but how we came to our present, somewhat extreme position, from three hospital births, two of which were inductions, to a "medically unattended" home birth. Since reading The Way Home after my first baby, I've longed for a home birth, but I finally learned that it probably wasn't going to happen for us unless we just committed to it and exercised some real faith. We'd tried for one with our second baby but wound up going with the doctor in my last month. With our third child dh said no way were we going to pay for a midwife then wind up in a hospital anyway, like before, so it was out of the question. I think that home birth must be one of those things (like breastfeeding) that you pretty much can't "try" to do--you have to just do it! Between seeing the way a couple of my friends were treated when they had their babies--things which we felt in our hearts were wrong but could not "prove"--and a book or two which the Lord sent our way, by the time we conceived this baby the Lord had prepared us for a home birth, on our own if necessary. They call it "do-it-yourself" home birth, right? Who's really "doing it," anyway? Does a doctor bring that baby out, or the Lord? But you know that already! It just seems such a revelation when you finally discover it for yourself. Family response has been interesting, of course. I have to keep in mind that those opposing us-- mostly dh's family--are not the enemy. It helps to know where the real source of the attack comes from. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood..." We're also blessed to have my mother and stepfather supporting us. I know it shouldn't matter so much what people think, but when those people are the ones you love--ones you grew up with and/or were taught to honor and obey--it's tough to take a stand. **************************************************************************** Next baby, Breanna - October 14, 1997.... I had "prelabor" for a good 5 weeks this time (strong Braxton-Hicks) and early labor for maybe 24 hours (stronger Braxton-Hicks!)...the last 12 hours of that I could see definite signs of progression, i.e. shedding my mucous plug, some effacement/dilation (I checked myself....). This brought me to late afternoon on Tuesday, sleepy and irritated because I was impatient for it to really take off. (I was 8 days overdue.) I slept briefly, about 20 minutes or so; the contractions stopped but REALLY took off once I got up--guess even such a short rest helped!! They were strong enough for me to have to concentrate through so about 6:30 I called dh to make sure he was on his way home (my mother was with me, so at least I didn't have to deal w/ my 4 older children completely on my own!) and by the time he was there, I could tell I was definitely "in labor." The kids watched a movie while I took a bath. During that time I could hardly feel the contractions, whether just because the water eased the discomfort so much, or because sitting made them slack off, I couldn't tell, so I decided to get out and walk around again. Sure enough, they picked up to the "leaning on the wall moaning" stage. The kids said later they didn't even notice me wandering around laboring, which was great since my mom was really worried about them being distressed...it was the first time they were home while I labored. About 8:30-9:00 the kids were put to bed and I turned the stereo on w/ a few of my favorite CD's. I think at this point I really let myself go, with the kids in bed and all, because the contractions definitely got harder and stronger. Dh showered w/ me, then we filled the tub for me to relax in again (and this time the contractions didn't stop). Signs of transition came (I burp a lot!) and I moved into the bedroom...decided to lie down...at about 11:00 or so my mom decided she couldn't stand listening to me moan from the other room and came in. I kept checking dilation and knew I was close...one strong contraction with an absolutely irresistible pushing urge came and when I bore down my water broke. I decided to get up on my feet (knowing I have "big" babies, I prefer being upright to help open everything up), checked again and found my cervix had gone back to 8 cm or so after the pressure of the water bag was gone!! I was so discouraged--until the next one hit and I had another STRONG pushing urge--that finished dilation and brought the baby down into the birth canal. Dh tells me that this stage was short, but it was INTENSE! This was one of those births where you literally can't stop pushing, though I was trying to blow through them and wait long enough for some of the burning to subside. Dh used lots of hot compresses and did oil massage, which helped...it seemed I pushed and pushed and couldn't make very much progress. Then she came and he laid her on the floor between my feet (I was half-standing, half kneeling during the birth, kind of up and down depending on the moment). I looked down and saw that she was a girl, and I cried out, "Oh, Breanna!" and started sobbing. She was a little shorter than the other babies, and the heaviest--her head measurement was 14 ¼", chest 15 ½"!!!! (This compared to my previous avg. of 14 ½!!) Troy tells me that in addition to these dimensions, she was born w/ her arm up across her chest, the hand tucked under her chin--explains a LOT!!! I can honestly say that everything went well--very straightforward--but not easy!! The massage and compresses were great--I had a couple of surface abrasions but no deep tearing; my only soreness per se the next day was in my tailbone from being so rudely shoved out of the way. Also the placenta delivered in 10-15 minutes, and my bleeding was no more than the previous births. So here we are, 3 ½ days later...she's so beautiful, so perfect...nursing great and I feel so incredibly blessed! Dh was wonderful through the whole thing, calm and comforting when I was about to "lose it". My mother did well, too--she hadn't originally planned to be right there, not knowing if she could handle watching me "suffer," as she put it. (I would like to have had her seen a slightly calmer birth, but she insists it was wonderful.) Just as a note of interest...my other children were 9.6, 9.0, 9.11, 10.3 (1st homebirth)--so Breanna holds the record. My last baby was longer, though, at 22" (or more), so that does make for slightly less bulk....also she was my earliest "natural" labor...my 1st went 12 days over, then I was induced at 3 days before...next was induced at 15 days over...4th was 14 days exactly. I'm only 5'6" so it isn't like I'm built very large or anything, either! On the spiritual side, this birth seemed to be more "for" my mother. I did some heavy-duty praise and prayer during labor ... this time the fear was "of something going wrong." I guess we never know, until we reach eternity, precisely what effect our prayers had ... I do know that this birth was more of a struggle. During the last push I was screaming into a towel, "NO-O-O!!" ... why "no"??? I haven't the foggiest idea!! Maybe it was the fact that it HURT so much more than the other births (even to my vague postpartum memory--LOL!!!) but I knew she had to come out! How many times in the spiritual, when God is trying to bring something forth from us, do we cry out in protest, "NOoooo...." I think about that often.