My fourth child. I can't believe I have four children. I still feel like a shy little out-of-place girl in a foreign country sometimes, or rather--I remember that girl so well, that it seems hardly possible to be a mother of four of my own children. I now have more children than anyone in my family. More than my parents. More than my grandparents. More than my aunt and more than my uncle. More than my cousins. Wow. I am so blessed!
Pippa Bright Octavia McDonnell was born on April 3, 2012, at 6:29 am, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz. What a fabulous birth! I have always had quick labors, but this one set the record at 3 hours 15 minutes. And began at 3:15 am. Hah! I always know it is real labor when it wakes me up out of sleep. I had had one false alarm this time, on Saturday night/early Sunday morning (my due date), but it turned out to be just an April Fools' joke. ha. ha. Actually, I am kind of glad she was not really born on April Fools Day.
I decided that if the baby hadn't come by my due date, I would do all I could to get the labor going (there were some insurance issues that would be much less complicated if baby was born before April 5th). I was due on a Sunday. Monday evening I went over to the beach with the girls and we did the stairs three times in a row. One lady commented, "Is this your Stairmaster?" I said, "Yup! Trying to induce labor!" She looked alarmed and said "Oh no!" I think she thought I was kidding. I just panted, "due yesterday!" and kept on truckin'! Sure enough, that night around 3:15 I woke up with contractions about 5 minutes apart and stronger than the "false labor" two nights before. I lay there for awhile timing them and finally got up to get things ready. I packed the rest of my stuff, got online to send emails out to my family (and announce on facebook, of course!) and write a line in the family journal.
I prayed through each contraction. This time I wanted to fight that pain in the Spirit, not submit to it as before. I felt that God had given me permission to pray that pain away. Pain was not God's original intention for childbirth, and it may not even have been His secondary intention! The word given to Eve over childbirth was "sorrow," though many versions translate it "pain." It is the exact same word, in the original, that is given to Adam in how He will have to till the ground. In SORROW. (They never translate that one as "pain!") So yes, we do have to bear children into a sinful, sorrowful world. But do we have to bear children in pain?? I had come to believe that Satan has a powerful ministry of fear and pain over childbirth. It is he who makes this so miserable for us, sometimes from beginning to end, because he hates women, hates families, hates LIFE. And now, eons later, the word "pain" has been spoken over childbirth so many times, that we are programmed to expect it, believe it, succumb to it. Words. Are. Powerful. So there I was, at 4 AM, standing and swaying in the living room, fighting words with words. I would pray that pain right down every five minutes, then five minutes later do it again.
Standing! I was standing in labor! I normally cannot stand in labor, I buckle with the pain, I have to lean on something or lie down, or kneel. I moan and groan and moo. I "work with" the labor, but in the past that has meant for me using natural pain-coping methods and accepting the pain as something that is moving my labor forward. This time, I was fighting the pain. I had come to believe in my right to fight the pain. I wasn't fighting my labor, but I was fighting in the spirit against something I have come to believe is spiritually induced; why should a muscle working hard cause automatic excruciating pain? I remembered the names of the women I had read about that had had pain-free childbirth and spoke them aloud to remind the Lord: you did it for her; would you do it for me too? Eventually I woke up Thomas to tell him it was time. We called the midwives to tell them we were coming but didn't get a hold of anyone; they were supposed to call back within 15 minutes. After 20 minutes, I called again. When I hung up, I had a voicemail. From the midwife. Telling me that they had a couple of births going on and to just call back if I really needed to come in. Well we were already on our way. It was cold outside and in the car. I had a blanket and we turned on the heater. I was shivering. We arrived at the hospital and I labored in the lobby while Thomas went and parked the car. Our doula (whom I had met a week beforehand through a Facebook group) met us there and started squeezing my hips, wonderful girl that she was. After about a hlaf hour in the lobby, they told me to go up to regular labor and delivery since there was no room in the inn--ahem--birthing center. I was quite disappointed not to get to be in the birth center after all! But happy to get into a room.
They asked me if I was feeling pushy, and no, I wasn't yet. The nurses were really nice and tried to remember I was supposed to have been a birth center patient. She monitored the baby with a doppler device instead of the dreaded belly band. Then I suddenly did feel pushy. Someone checked me and said I was complete, and the baby's head was "right there." (that was the first internal check I had gotten since moving to California!) I got into my preferred position: kneeling upright while hugging the back of the bed. Thomas came to the back of the bed so I could hold on to him. They kept assuring me the midwife was trying to make it down in time. But she didn't. Instead they sent in two OB's. One was blond and was wearing a face shield (presumably as a result of a bad experience with bodily liquids during birth--LOL); the other one I am not sure if I ever saw. Sure enough, she asked me to turn around and lie down. I said something like "do i have to?" and didn't move. I could feel that baby coming down the canal. The doctor asked again. I said something like "No, I'm good, the baby's coming right out, you know?" Then a contraction would come and I would stall, "Just wait wait wait a minute..." Then she pulled out the "for your baby's safety you really have to lie down now!" But what were they going to do--grab me and force me to turn over? I knew this would be over soon and the lying-on-the back was NOT what I had signed up for--so they could ask me to lie down all they wanted. I knew better. It was NOT for my baby's safety. It was for their own personal comfort. And then I began to roar. And really really push. The blond doctor was giving me counter pressure as requested, (I have a great respect for that one!) and out that baby came, in two pushes, perfectly and easily. Of course it felt intense. Somewhat like pooping a bowling ball. But it is an intensity equal to the absolute craziness of the situation: that your body has been growing a second human, complete and perfect, and is now expelling it to begin LIFE on its own! "It's a girl!" they told me. THEN I turned around and lay down--very compliant--and they put that wonderful baby in my arms, and the love story began.
To be continued...