I woke up with pre-labour pains several times during the early morning hours on 5 May. I phoned my midwife about these pains in the morning, as they were continuing. Dave decided to work from home, but as it turns out he did not do much work! We went for a walk in the morning in an effort to make sure things kept on track - we wanted this baby to come!
In the early afternoon the contractions had become strong enough for me to phone my parents and some friends and tell them I was in labour. Around 3pm my midwife arrived. The contractions were getting stronger but I was able to pray and sing through them.
About 5pm I climbed into the birth pool, which was set up in the dining area, and found relief for my sore legs. The water was soothing. The contractions became intense, and I remember trying different positions and crying out to God as I went through them. Dave sat beside the pool and held me and said encouraging things like "you can do this". He also gave me sips of drinks.
A few hours later (about 8pm) my midwife told me that I was about 8cm dilated, and would be going into transition soon. I remember saying at some point "I just want to love God and love Dave" - I didn't want to respond wrongly to them during the trying time of labour. My sister Janelle, who is a midwife, arrived around this time. At one point I was really loosing it as the contractions became incredibly intense. My midwife and Dave helped me to realise that I wasn't helping myself. Dave helped me to breath and Janelle and my midwife took turns rubbing me where it hurt the most. This enabled me to calm down. In between contractions I was able to doze against the side of the pool and be soothed by the warm water.
Dave had Christian music playing, and I remember singing along to the Sovereign Grace music song "Give me the strength to sustain me, wisdom enough to guide my path".
At around 10pm my midwife said that I was ready to push. She told me that the key was to push harder than I thought I could, and that with a first birth it could take 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I was praising God to have reached this point. I talked about how people have implied or thought that I wouldn't be able to have a normal pregnancy and birth because of my back injury. I said "but I didn't believe them, and I can give birth!". This was a wonderful feeling and I was praising God.
Janelle and my midwife told me the baby would almost certainly be born before midnight. I was excited about this, as we'd prayed the baby would be born before the due date (the 6th)! However, things did not progress as fast as they thought. We all prayed together for this stage.
At about 12pm my midwife said I needed to get out of the pool to have the assistance of gravity. I thought I couldn't, but everyone said "yes you can!". Dave was especially encouraging! I leaned on Dave, with my leg on a chair, and he held me up through each contraction. I remember everyone saying to me "push, push, push" through each contraction. I was also making a lot of noise, and the thought of the neighbours did cross my mind!
Our midwife thought I'd need an episiotomy, but then I tore and our baby came out all at once. He landed on the chair in what seemed like a pool of blood! It was Elnathan - after months of speculating about whether our baby would be named Elnathan or the name we'd chosen for a girl, now we knew! I was happy to have given Dave a son. I exclaimed that I knew the baby was a boy! I'd been saying so throughout the pregnancy.
Dave and I climbed back into the pool with Elnathan, as I wanted to relax in the water. He looked very floppy, so the cord had to be cut and he was taken away to have some oxygen. He quickly recovered.
After the delivery of the placenta and the first breastfeed, I went to bed. Dave took Elnathan to introduce him to his parents via Skype, then brought him back for another feed. Another midwife came to help my midwife with the stitches. I was very tired and could hardly face this next stage, but kept praying and speaking God's truth. I was able to be calm enough for them to proceed, and was blessed to be able to lie in my own bed and look at our wedding picture on the wall while I was being stitched!
Finally we were left all alone with our newborn - and it felt like someone really should be supervising!
There are so many things to be grateful for about our labour and birth adventure . . .
* the comfort of our own home
* wonderful midwives to help us - not just one but two devoting their full attention to us in the most difficult stages - plus another excellent midwife to help with the stitching!
* being able to cry out to God throughout, without any inhibitions and knowing that all present were also seeking him
* good advice, particularly when I was not coping well
* the birth pool
* the medical expertise and equipment needed to help Elnathan breath properly
* being comfortable with our midwife and the care we received
* Dave's excellent support, and the strength God gave him throughout
* God's strength for me, enabling me to persevere
* A reasonably short labour in total, for a first birth
* the special experience of having my sister at the birth
* an intervention-free birth, which was just what we'd prayed for! I believe this would have been much less likely to happen in hospital. Without the pool and excellent supporters I may well have begged for some drugs for pain relief, and it is also likely there would have been intervention due to the longer than usual pushing stage.
God has answered our prayers. May we always remember what he has done.