As we waited in faith for God to fill our empty arms, He began sending us dreams to encourage us in our journey. At several different times over the years, Calvin and I each had dreams of an adorable little girl with dark curls. We stood in awe before God when that little, curly-headed girl was eventually placed in our arms. But the awe was additionally overwhelming, because along with that busy little girl in our dreams… was a little brother, playing alongside her. We didn’t know when or how God intended to fulfill these “two-part-promise” dreams; but we knew he wasn’t finished yet!
When we were surprised by the miracle of pregnancy, we just *knew* in our hearts, that a little Enoch had joined our family. Early in the spring, Gen and I walked through the neighborhood with her little red wagon, to pick up a bag of “neutral” baby clothes from someone off of freecycle. Tucked into the bottom of the bag was a stack of little summertime boy outfits, too! God was already providing for our son.
We chose not to find out the gender of our little one ahead of time, believing that birth is the perfect time to find out that precious piece of information. We believed that God would provide for our little one- whether a boy or a girl- with exactly what was needed, at just the right time. And indeed, my eagerness to meet this little person, was highly motivating during the long pushing stage of labor! It was a joy to introduce our son to the friends and family that surrounded my birth tub by announcing his name for the first time, instead of “it’s a boy.”
Early on in my second trimester of pregnancy, I began experiencing regular “Braxton-Hicks” contractions, which increased in strength and frequency as the weeks progressed. I “got used to them” to some degree, and pretty much ignored them. We joked that when I was in labor, I might not realize it right away- and that guess turned out to be correct!
Starting a couple weeks before Enoch was born, I had a series of evenings with regular contractions, lasting for several hours, that had us wondering if labor was imminent. But they would gradually fade away as the nights went on, no matter what “natural measures” we tried to help labor along. We figured that our little baby just wasn’t ready to come out yet, and my body was still preparing.
My mom was visiting during the last couple weeks of my pregnancy, and was anxious for our baby to be born “before Nana goes home!” With this constant reminder, it became especially challenging to be at rest, contentedly waiting in peace for our baby to arrive in God’s timing. But God’s grace was sufficient, and His peace filled my heart. (I even jokingly told my mom, “Hey, I could go way “overdue” and have this baby around Labor Day!”)
On the evening of Saturday, August 15th, I began noticing contractions becoming more regular, and when Calvin arrived home from work, I greeted him by saying “You just might have a baby this weekend!” That night, I lay in bed noticing contractions increasingly growing stronger, although they stayed around 7 minutes apart. I finally drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, and woke up again at 4:00 am Sunday morning when Calvin got up to go to work.
I was still noticing the contractions that morning, and I wondered whether to suggest he stay home. But I decided to just see how the day went (figuring I would have plenty of time to call him back home, if necessary). I went back to bed, but wasn’t really able to rest much. Calvin did choose not to do a long-distance trip for work that day, and worked closer to home, just in case.
When Gen woke up a couple hours later, I really began to sense deep within that this baby would be coming soon. I finished up some “nesting projects” (baking a loaf of bread, making sure the birth kit was complete, doing laundry, and cleaning the bathroom.) My contractions were still fairly mild, and continued sporadically throughout the day. I ignored them for the most part, but when I did glance at a clock, noticed that they seemed to stay about 6-7 minutes apart.
My best friend came to have lunch with us, and I prepared a light luncheon of shrimp & veggie salad-stuffed bell peppers, and she brought a delicious assortment of fresh berries to share. In hindsight, I can see that I was already starting to fade into early “labor land” mentally, and I was a pretty poor conversationalist! She braided my hair, and sent me to bed for a nap. I lingered in bed awhile, dozing in the summer sun, while my mom kept Gen occupied with a new sticker book before dinnertime arrived.
While Mom and I prepared a light supper of leftover soup and cheese sandwiches, I began noticing that the contractions were becoming stronger. A trip to the bathroom at 6:00 pm revealed that I was beginning to lose the mucous plug. (Although I was a bit confused as to what I was seeing, and had to confirm it with my mom, saying “That’s a good thing, right?”)
After we got Gen to bed that evening, Calvin and I headed out for what had become our evening routine- a walk around the neighborhood while my mom sat at home with Gen. This night, I was especially filled with a sense of purpose, and insisted walking down almost every surrounding street! As we walked in the moonlight, savoring my last night of pregnancy, we admired the neighbors’ gardens, and chatted quietly.
Once we arrived home, and finally headed to bed, I couldn’t stay snuggled up with my sweetie for long; those contractions were really starting to come on strongly! By midnight, they were about 7 minutes apart, and at 1:00 am, I noticed some “bloody show,” indicating this was “the real thing!”
Since one of our midwives lives farther away, we decided to give her a “heads up” call then, just to give her time to prepare. She appreciated the call, and recommended that we wait until the contractions were “5 minutes apart for a couple hours” before calling another midwife (who lives closer to us).
Calvin began the long process of setting up the birth tub, and my mom helped me make up the bed with the sheets in my birth kit. (She was touched to see that the quilt I had chosen for the bed was one that she had made for me during my teenage years.) My mom helped Calvin a bit with setting up the tub, and then she went back to bed. Calvin continued the process of filling the tub (waiting for the water heater to refill, and then running more water into the tub; taking about 3 cycles).
Meanwhile, I labored alone in our dimly lit bedroom, finding that the most comfortable position was on all fours, leaning over the bed, swaying my hips through each contraction. Within the next hour, the contractions quickly progressed from 7 minutes to 3 minutes apart, so we gave the other midwife a call around 1:30 am. After speaking with me, she suspected that I was “still in early labor, and to call back if we needed anything.” But at 2:00 am, my water broke! Almost instantly, the contractions really increased in strength, and moved to 2 minutes apart.
I was so glad that I had prepared for natural childbirth in the physical sense (learning different relaxation tips and labor positions, for example), as well as a spiritual sense. The Christian Childbirth Handbook was my favorite resource. During my pushing phase, I eventually hit a “roadblock”, recognizing that only God could provide the strength to deliver this baby; I couldn’t do it on my own strength.
Somewhere in this busyness, Calvin called my best friend to come help give me labor support, along with calling the midwife back. When my friend arrived, she instantly began giving me back massages, to help relieve that constant back labor I was having. When the midwife arrived, she decided to do an internal exam, just to determine what was going on. (It still seemed “too quick” for me to really be in active labor, but she said I seemed “deep in labor land.”) She was surprised to find that I was already dilated to 6, and said “Good job! You can get into the birth tub now, if you want to!”
She called their student midwife/assistant to come and help her get things set up for the birth. I labored in the tub with Calvin and my friend both massaging my back through contractions, amazed at the restful relief the water gave (although things were still relatively intense during contractions; we were having a baby!).
The third midwife arrived later that morning, after I had been in the tub for awhile. I was only vaguely aware of her arrival. Calvin asked my mom to call his parents, and his mom arrived later that morning as well. (It was great to have both grandmas “tag-teaming” to care for Gen, and give each other emotional support during the birth.)
There is a photo of me smiling in between contractions (in “transition”!), that deceptively looks like “labor is fun!” Actually, we had just heard Gen sweetly singing and giggling in the kitchen, and Calvin joked, “You don’t get that in the hospital!”
After only 3 1/2 hours of active labor, I began involuntarily pushing. At one point, my friend asked the midwives “where I was at” [if I was at transition yet], and they informed her that I had finished transition an hour or two before, and was pushing! I was as amazed to hear the answer as she was! I certainly didn’t experience that “scary, emotional” transition phase that I’ve heard stories of, and was dreading.
However, the pushing phase just wouldn’t seem to end. (We later found out that Enoch’s head was likely just slightly turned to the left, although he was anterior, making his passage difficult; he just wouldn’t seem to come down lower past a certain point!) In response to my growing tiredness and frustration, the midwives were a wealth of support, and suggested various positions for me to try (a combination of lunges, squats, etc), as I pushed.
I was in and out of the tub at different times; since the water was so relaxing, it slowed down the contractions for awhile. We eventually added some homeopathic medicines to the combination, as well. (I was kept hydrated with sips of a natural rehydration drink and water, along with spoonfuls of raw honey for energy.)
After over 7 hours of pushing, with a series of strong contractions in very close succession, I finally began to feel his head on the verge of crowning, as I squatted/pushed supported next to our bed. I decided to get back into the tub, and birth our baby there. The midwives coached me to pant through some of the contractions, along with some perineal massage, in order to push him out slowly, but with his slightly turned head position, I still received a hematoma and some tearing that eventually required 5 stitches.
As Calvin and our friend massaged my back (the painful back labor was ever-present the whole time!), I reached down and delivered our baby! Gen was fascinated to watch her little brother be born, and the proud grandmas’ cameras were flashing away. (Although, I was oblivious to the camera flashes, and after the birth, everyone laughed as I said “Did anyone get pictures?”)
As I lifted him into the air, and laid him on my chest, I introduced him to our family that surrounded the tub,”This is Enoch Isaiah!”
Enoch was born exactly on the day that I had suspected was my “due date”- Monday, August 17th, although the midwives had predicted a later date! He was “talking” away loudly at first, as we floated as a family in the tub. I held him on my chest, covered with a warmed blanket, and delivered the placenta about 1/2 an hour later. We waited to cut the cord until after the placenta was delivered.
Afterward, I was helped to bed, received my stitches (while my friend sat by in close support, as Calvin introduced Enoch to the family). The midwives completed the well-baby exam, and then tucked us into bed. We chose not to do the eye ointment or the vitamin K shot (choosing instead to do an herbal vitamin K preparation, given orally).
My mom soon arranged for a taxi to the airport to catch her flight home that night, and Calvin’s mom stayed the night, graciously doing load after load of laundry! (We had used every towel we owned!) Friends lovingly began delivering meals/groceries, which has been a huge help. (After feeding a houseful of 9 people during the birth, plus regular visitors, our fridge ended up being pretty empty!)
Enoch ended up needing the care of a cranio-sacral therapist the next day, when we realized how tight & sore he was from his awkward birth position. (He had dropped about 8 weeks before the birth, so he was in that position for a long time!) His soreness was preventing him from achieving a good nursing position/latch. Once he had relaxed from his short cranio-sacral treatment, we were able to work with a lactation consultant to address his nursing issues over the next few days. (I quickly began pouring milk everywhere, so this was becoming an urgent matter!)
My midwives loaned us a small manual breast pump to use in the process of helping him learn to nurse, while treating my engorgement. Once Enoch learned how to latch on and nurse, that’s all we’ve been doing, it seems! He is a great sleeper, and I have to regularly wake up him to nurse. He is a total snuggle bug, and is most at peace when he is being held close; even during sleep. (He insists on scooting over in bed to snuggle up against me during the night, too!)
God’s provision has been so abundant, and we are still in awe of his gracious new gift of a son to our family!
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