Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hannah's Birth Story

Wow. What an amazing surprise to find out that I was expecting another child. Rachel was already 6 years old and we had been blessed to be able to adopt Ruth who was almost a year old already. When we adopted Ruth many, many people had said “watch, now you will get pregnant” and I had to deal with the fact that there was not such a good chance of that happening. We had wanted more children from when Rachel was born and even though we had tried the medical help that the Lord used to bless us with Rachel, it had not worked and we had accepted that God had a good plan for our family. Well, God decided He would bless us with another child. God does ask His children to care for widows and orphans, and perhaps it was His blessing for our obedience in this, being able to care for an orphan. For me it is also His amazing plan for Ruth, that he would close my womb for those years just so that we would have here in our family. And now, without any external “helps” God opens my womb and blesses us. So little Hannah was a blessing to us right from the start.

I still remember the day we found out that I was pregnant. I had suspected that I might be and had bought a home pregnancy test while in town on Friday. My period was normally between 25 and 28 days and Friday was day 28. So I decided to wait and see if I did still start on Friday and if not to do the home test on Saturday morning. I did the test and then put it down and watched the clock for 5 minutes. Well, what a surprise to see that second little line. It felt too good to be true. It was really almost “unreal”.

We had a booked Saturday morning phone call with Brendon’s mom and so had exciting news for her this Saturday, the 6th July. I was a bit surprised with her response though. She was questioning the reliability of a home test. This put a bit of a damper on my spirits. I phoned the doctor in the church to chat to him about it and although he was not available I got to speak to his wife. She was such a blessing. I told her that I felt unsure now if I should tell people I was pregnant “if we were not 100% sure”. Her response was “tell the whole world”. She was so very excited and could not contain the joy of hearing our news. What a blessing to have friends around us who would celebrate this blessing as much as we were. She suggested that we just go into town for a blood test anyway as this would help me to feel “sure”. Brendon decided this was a good idea (even though he felt confident in the home test) and so we went into town and got the blood test done. I am so thankful for his understanding of the emotional state a woman can be in and it was lovely to get confirmation a couple of hours later that yes, I was pregnant. For sure.

Well what excitement there was at church on Sunday when all our friends could congratulate us on this blessing! I think so many people had hoped the Lord would bless us one day with another child of our own and so it was really a celebration of many in the body of Christ. On Monday we heard that our visa applications for immigration to New Zealand had been approved and so this little one would be born in New Zealand.

Thankfully with an international move you don’t have to pack one box (actually you can’t – for customs it is best that all boxes are packed by the moving company). So this would be the easiest move out of all of our moves even though it was the biggest. I was also thankful that I had been doing a lot of the sorting that goes into an international move over the previous months. So even that was not a big job that still hung “undone”.

Just over a week later on the Tuesday 17th July the removal company arrived to pack and load our goods. We had actually moved the date a week later but they had problems on their computer system and so arrived on the original dates and so we were surprised by their arrival a week early. It was a busy time for me in getting the last few things washed and sorted. Thankfully we had already done a “trial pack” of our luggage to see what we could keep with us over the next 2 months. That was a very tiring week. I remember when they finally started loading the container on the Thursday, I was exhausted. But God was good and we got through the week and were then blessed to be staying in a garden flat on the farm while Brendon worked the rest of his notice period.

Another blessing during this time was that I had already prepared a whole stack of meals for this “in between time”. I knew that preparing food in a kitchen with a coal stove and none of my “normal” pots and pans would be quite a challenge and so had pre-made a lot of meals. This was such a blessing for me as I ended up having quite a bit of morning sickness for a couple of weeks. There was also a lady who worked at the house that I could ask to watch Ruth for me so that I could sleep during the day. I had days where I really felt quite terrible and understood for the first time why some women will say that they don’t want to be pregnant again. If a woman struggles with those feelings for 9 months I can now understand why she would not want to go through it again. This was just the first of many lessons the Lord had for me through this pregnancy.

The Lord was good to me and the morning sickness was gone by the time we left SA on 26th August. We spent a week in Dubai and arrived in New Zealand on the 31st August. On the short flight from Australia to New Zealand the plane was quite empty and so I got to sit at a window and took some photos when we took off. What a very bad idea. I have never struggled with motion sickness, but that did it for me. I felt terrible for the whole flight. Thankfully there were enough empty chairs that I could lie down across 4 chairs and get some sleep, but when we arrived in Christchurch I was exhausted. It took me that day and night to get back to normal and was so thankful to “feel myself again” on Saturday. Another lesson for me of what others can go through.

I met my midwife on 13 September for the first time. I was 14 weeks by then. I had already had contact with her over the internet and it was great to finally meet her. I had already learnt that I would see a midwife through the pregnancy and then I could decide if I wanted to have the baby at home or at hospital. Home was my obvious choice and I was so glad it was so easily available. Maureen came out to the house we were staying in at that time and it was wonderful to start getting to know her. Over the next few months I really felt like I had made a friend. She was always so good at involving the girls, allowing Ruth to touch things and answering all of Rachel’s questions (even unasked interest got the attention and information that Rachel wanted).

Just before we left SA I did have a scan done. I was 11 weeks then and was almost surprised to see this baby and hear the heart beat. I think in some ways it still felt “too good to be true” that I was actually pregnant.

At my first visit with Maureen she asked if I wanted her to use the sonic aid to listen to the babies heart beat and I said it was not necessary. Looking back I realize that was not a good idea. Just over two weeks later I was feeling really down about things. I had read that some “second time” moms can feel movements from as early as 16 weeks. I had reached 16 weeks and had expected to be able to feel movements. This was one of many “expectations” I had set through this pregnancy that was to cause me stress and the shedding of tears. Our goods arrived and we moved into the house we would be renting on the 3rd October. I had phoned Maureen and asked if we could move our next appointment forward and so I saw her on the 5th (a week earlier than originally planned). I was 17 weeks and was very emotional. The moving in had not been too stressful as the removal company unpacked everything and we were blessed with meals for our first few night in the house too. But something was niggling in the back of my mind and I told Maureen that I was feeling down and that I did not even know if I was still pregnant. Nothing had happened to make me concerned other than perhaps not having any movements felt yet. She told me I should have told her when I phoned so that she could have come straight away. She got her sonic aid out and found babies heart beat straight away. A wave of tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt the release of pressure knowing this little one was still there. Maureen was able to “palp” my uterus very easily and showed me how to feel where baby was growing. She encouraged me to take these feelings to the Lord, to trust in Him more through this pregnancy and pray to Him for the safety of this little one. She was such an encouragement to me. In my Maternity notes she wrote “Trust in Our Lord. This little one is a very precious wee gift given for a purpose. We all look forward to meeting this wee one.” I remember her saying “you really needed that” when we heard that heart beat. She encouraged me to contact her immediately if I every felt that way again. From then on she also used the sonic aid at every visit, just giving me the peace of mind that this little one was doing fine.

On the 13th October, 18 weeks, I felt baby moving for the first time. I thought I felt a few movements in the morning before getting out of bed and it was confirmed for me when I felt them again when I went to bed that night. This was very special for me. It was so good to be able to have this little one communicating with me.

By the 9th of November (22 weeks) both Brendon and Rachel had been able to feel baby moving too. By the 7th of December (26 weeks) Rachel had been able to see my tummy moving. On the 26th December (28 weeks) I made this entry in my notes “Baby has been very active. The movements are often and enough to be seen as well as felt. I remember Rachel moving like this. It has been enjoyable and I can’t believe there are less than 12 weeks left.” It was not long after this that Ruth also got to “feel” and “see” baby move. It was always special when Ruth wanted to give baby a hug or kiss. Her favourite was playing peek-a-boo with baby (using my shirt). What special memories.

I saw Maureen again on the 3rd of January (30 weeks) and had a load of questions for her about the birth. It was good to discuss everything with her and I was starting to get really excited about the birth.

When I saw Maureen again on the 18th Jan (32 weeks) baby was in breech position. This was the start of many days of me wondering how this little one was lying. Maureen encouraged me that there was still plenty of room for baby to “flip” around and I did not know then how much flipping this little one would do.

On the 30th of January (33 weeks) I chatted to Maureen about what it would be like if I did have to go to hospital. It was good to talk through this and to deal with some of my fears of the hospital.

By 35 weeks the Braxton Hicks contractions had started. Baby was moving around so very much that I finally got to be more relaxed about the position. I had spent one night so conscious of trying to stay on my left side that I hardly slept. So I finally got some peace about that and started resting again at night. It seemed as though as soon as I felt I trusted the Lord for this baby’s position another test would come my way. We had a scan due for the 16th of February (36 weeks) just to check where the placenta was lying and on the 13th baby decided to spend 5 hours in a transverse position. I spent as much time as I could with my hips up to try and get baby’s head down and realized again that I needed to trust in the Lord even more.

On the 15th I was feeling a bit emotional and Brendon suggested we go out for a walk. It was great to get out into the fresh air, but the Braxton Hicks contractions got so strong that I had to stop a few times on the way home. We then decided that we would like baby to stay in a bit longer and would not do the walking for a while. I needed to be at least 37 weeks to have baby at home. Maureen was also on leave through February and although I got on well with the other midwife in the practice that I saw through February, I was still hoping baby would wait until March so that Maureen was back from leave.

We had the scan on the 16th and it was so good to know the placenta was “out the way” and I was very pleased to hear that baby was head down. Now the next area I needed to trust the Lord in was on the amniotic fluid. The scan showed that the fluid was a bit low. I did a whole lot of reading and decided that I would rest as much as possible and drink a LOT of water (for a week I drank over 3 leters a day).

By 37 weeks I was sure there was still enough fluid as baby moved around so much. There were 2 days where baby moved in and out of a transverse position and I was just hoping that head would be down after all the acrobatics. Brendon, as always, was a great encouragement to me through this all. He is always there for me to talk to about things and it was great to finally get some more peace about baby’s position.

I saw Maureen again on the 4th March (38 weeks) and was so glad baby had waited until she was back from leave. I also picked up the pool from her and we set it up that night. I looked back in Rachel’s notes and saw that both Rachel and this baby where “due” on the 14th. (Rachel April and this baby March). Rachel arrived on the 6th, so a good week early, and so it was a relief to know we had the pool ready in case this one arrived early too. Now that Maureen was back I started walking again. Unfortunately after 3 wonderful days of walking I hurt my knee and was not able to go for any walks for the remainder of the pregnancy. I had to trust in the Lord through this trial too. I had so enjoyed the walks.

My next visit with Maureen was on Thursday the 13th March. She told me that she would unfortunately be away from Friday evening till Saturday afternoon. So again I was wondering if she would be there for the birth or not. The BH contractions where very frequent and I was feeling as though this baby may come “any time”. It was a time of again trusting in the Lord and His perfect timing.

On Thursday afternoon and evening the contraction got a lot stronger and then faded away. On Friday afternoon the contractions started up again and were again strong into the evening. On Saturday (15th March) again the contractions got quite strong in the afternoon and I had a slightly bloody show at around 6pm. I was almost so excited at this. Finally something might be happening. The contractions were on and off, some were nice and strong but they were not getting regular. I phoned Maureen at 9:45 and she encouraged me to try and get some sleep. I headed for bed and tried to sleep but the contractions were too strong. By 1am I was up. We had put a small amount of cold water in the pool and so I decided to start putting some warm water in. I kept myself busy and left Brendon to sleep. I thought I would call him if they got regular and more difficult to cope with. By 5am things had dropped off and I went to bed. I got 2 hours of good sleep and was woken by the contractions at 7am. Ruth then woke up and things seemed to just fade away again.

We decided to go into town for church (Sunday 16th). It would be frustrating to be at home “waiting for something to happen”. I had a slight brown discharge in the morning and then more of a “plug” in the afternoon. So something was happening, but there was no way of knowing how long it would all still be.

I had contraction through the night on Sunday but they were only every hour or so, so I slept well in between them. From 5 – 8am (Mon 17th) they were more regular and I could not sleep but they stopped when I got up. This was a very frustrating time for me. I so wanted things to just get going. It was hard to have things feel like they were stopping and starting all the time. By 10am they started again but where not really regular until 5pm. From then on they were coming every 5 minutes and so I phoned Maureen at around 6pm.

Maureen came around to see us at 7:30pm. She brought all her equipment and birth kit in so that it was all here and ready for when it was needed. She wrote in my notes “With what you are experiencing your body is certainly getting close to birthing. Belinda we don’t know whether you will establish tonight but we have talked about different scenarios. Brendon is feeling very relaxed and you are feeling very positive. It’s an exciting time for you all.” Then she headed home.

I called her just after midnight as the contractions had changed and picked up and they where coming every 3 minutes or so. She arrived here at 0035 on the 18th and her note was “Arrived and you have a wonderful atmosphere.” We had the candles lit and soft music playing. I was spending most of the time kneeling over my ball. The pool was filling but the hot water cylinder was empty and so Brendon and Maureen started a marathon mission of filling pots with water to boil on the stove and log burner. Brendon had the fire going which would also help heat the hot water cylinder (as we have a wet back on the log burner).

At 0100 Brendon took a photo of me. Maureen made the note “Belinda it is wonderful how relaxed you are”. But by 0200 she wrote “Belinda you are concerned about having me up. Relax and concentrate on yourself and babe. Rest as much as possible.” I had tried lying down but it was not comfortable so I was up again, kneeling and using the ball to lean on or over. She writes “You still have a niggle in the back of your head that the labour is going to be likeRachels. Belinda relax and surrender to your body. The pool is ready if you want to hop in. You have memories of Rachel’s labour and the number of times you got in and out!! It doesn’t really matter if you do need to get out at times.” But I decided to stay out. By 0245 the contractions had picked up in frequency and I was feeling them more in by back.

By 0300 I said “I think an internal would give me that peace of mind!!” Well I had an internal and had to deal with the fact that I was only 1 cm dilated and my cervix was still quite thick. So Maureen suggested a hot bath and bed. She “bunked down on the sofa” and I tried to get some sleep.

By 0610 we were all up again. I had tied to sleep but just found it was eventually just too uncomfortable. Thankfully Brendon and Maureen got some sleep though. I was back to the lounge and “draped” over my ball as I found this the most comfortable position. I then managed lying down and Maureen gave me such an amazing massage. She had started with my back and then eventually was massaging my entire back as well as my legs. It relaxed me amazingly and it was so incredible to feel so very cared for. Brendon said afterwards that it looked so good he was quite jealous.

Brendon had called Julia and asked if she could come over at 8 as the girls are normally up by then. Ruth got up at 0750 and Julia was here by 8 to take over with her. Rachel was up soon after that and Julia sorted out their breakfast. At this point I was very relaxed and the contractions had spaced out. I had some toast for breakfast. At this point I would get up on my knees with the contractions and then back lying on my side for a rest between.

At 0845 Maureen writes “The girls are really interested in what is going on. Then happy to go and play. Rachel wonderful with Ruth.” This was a very special time in the day. Julia had the girls in the kitchen looking through books and singing nursery rhymes. Eventually we had Julia, Maureen and Rachel singing along. It was so special to have these happy sounds and happy people around me. Maureen writes “Belinda you are learning to really relax down and make the most of rests.”

By 0920 the contractions had “slowed right down”. At 1100 Maureen headed home for a rest and Julia had the girls out for a walk collecting apples from the road side trees. Brendon also got to rest. Thankfully I had made a nice big Tuna Pasta on Monday and so that was available for us all for lunch. I had also made a roast on Monday and so that was available for tea (dinner) later. I was so glad there was food in the kitchen ready for my family and those who were with. It was one of the things that I regretted about Rachel’s birth; I had planned to make pasta but never got to it. So one advantage to the long pre-labour was that a lot of food had been made.

It was hard for me to not know when things would finally “get going”. While I was up on Saturday night I got an e-mail from Brendon’s mom asking how things were going. I mentioned that I was up with contractions but that I would e-mail once I was in established labour and had called the midwife. Well, that was the wrong thing to do. She then called my Mom who called other family members and I had a few e-mails coming through wondering how things where going. As it was the middle of the night here everyone was up in SA. Things then just “died off”. I felt a bit of pressure to have “news” for the family. I knew they all remember my long labour with Rachel and so I really had to focus on relaxing and not worrying about other people. I e-mailed both our mothers on Sunday morning to tell them that we were heading into town for church and that we would e-mail once we called the midwife. What was frustrating was that we then e-mailed early Tuesday morning when we did call Maureen but things “died off” again and so we e-mailed again to let people know that things where quiet again. I know that the family wanted to know what was happening and were anxious to get any news. But looking back I think it would have been more wise to just “keep it to ourselves” and let them know when baby arrived.

So quite a bit has happened and I am still not in established labour. So far this is a summary of how things have gone since the weekend.
Sat. 9:45pm, some strong contractions but not regular, will try and get some sleep.
Sun. 1am got up. Contractions too strong to sleep.
5am things “dropped off” so I went to bed.
Woke with contractions at 7am but by 8am quiet again.
Night: contraction through the night but only every hour or so. Able to sleep well in between.
Mon. 5am – 8am strong contractions. Not able to sleep. Stopped when I got up.
10am Contractions started again but not regular
5pm Contractions every 5 minutes
7:30pm Maureen visits. Contractions continuing but not picking up. Try sleep.
Tue. 0035 Maureen arrives. Contractions every 3 minutes. Pressure in back has started.
3am Internal – 1 cm. Hot bath and try to sleep.
6am Up. Too uncomfortable in bed.
9am Contractions slowed right down.

So finally on Tuesday afternoon (3pm) things started up again. Ruth was in bed for her nap and Julia and Rachel where making ginger bread bunnies (not men as Easter was close). Rachel then had ballet at 4:30 and so Julia took the girls off to that. The contractions continued to be strong and regular but I was now prepared that they may “drop off” again when the girls returned. They returned around 5:30pm and I waited until 6pm to phone Maureen. These contractions where hopefully not going to stop and they were coming good and strong. So Brendon tried to call Maureen. He called her home and cell and pager. Eventually he tried her home again and left a message. She then called back and we told her things were on the go and we would like her to come. She arrived at 7:30 and by that time I was already in the pool. By 7 I was feeling that they were just getting stronger and stronger and so decided to not even wait for Maureen to arrive. By then I had had 4 hours of good contractions and I knew now that things were not going to stop.

The water in the pool was actually a bit too warm (38 degrees) and so when Maureen arrived she immediately told me to get out the pool so they could “cool it down” to 36. She checked baby’s heart rate and it was 168-176. She did not mention this to me at the time but just told me that if my core body temperature got too high it could stress baby. So I cooled off and they got the water right. Before I got back in she checked my body temperature (back to normal) as well as baby’s hear rate and it was back to an acceptable range (136-166 immediately after a contraction). Looking back I am so thankful that Maureen arrived when she did and that she stayed so calm about things. She did not allow me to get stressed but dealt with things quickly and efficiently.

By 7:40 my friend Michelle had arrived as our “photographer” and Julia was helping get Ruth ready for bed. Maureen writes “Rachel all excited with all the people here. You are finding the contractions very intense – don’t remember this with Rachel but Brendon reassures you they were! You are kneeling in the pool and breathing beautifully through the contractions. Well done.” So at this stage I already felt like this was a lot more intense than Rachel’s. I didn’t know what was still coming.

At 8pm it was time for Ruth to go to bed. She was going around saying goodnight but was not so happy to leave me in so I got out the pool and went to say goodnight to her in her bed. I then got back in the pool. The contractions where still coming every 3 to 4 minutes and lasting between 45 and 60 seconds. By 8:30 I was needing to start trying different positions in the pool. I tried lying down more. I remember telling them that this baby was wriggling around in between the contractions. Maureen checked her heart rate at this stage and it was 126-171. Once again this did not stress Maureen as the rate dropped again quickly after the spike. By 9pm it was 139-151 and it stayed more “normal” from then on.

At this stage I was getting frustrated as I felt the back pain was taking all my attention. I so wanted to focus on allowing the contractions to dilate my cervix but all I was dealing with was the pain in my back. I was back to being on my knees with Brendon massaging my back. He also managed to find acupressure points on my back which helped a lot. By 9:45 Maureen writes “Contractions continuing to increase in intensity but you are doing so well.” By 9:57 I was feeling “venerable and overwhelmed.” I just felt as though I was not coping with the pain. Maureen asked if I wanted an internal and I said that I would like one but the contractions are just coming so quickly that there is not time to even think about it. Brendon then got in the pool and it was great to have him supporting me and pushing on the pressure points during the contractions. Maureen writes at 10:20 “You look more relaxed with having Brendon in the pool with you. Contractions still intense and very much centred in your back. You’re concerned about relaxing with contractions. With the way you’re breathing it’s wonderful.”

At 10:15 Julia left for home. She had hoped to be there for the birth but had told her husband that she would be home around 8 (once Ruth was in bed). I had no idea of the time at this stage. Rachel had gone to bed earlier but had kept asking Julia what was happening. So I suggested that she just come and put some blankets on the couch. If she slept there it would be fine and she would probably be more relaxed being in the room with us. She did not sleep but Michelle kept checking with her that she was ok.

By 10:30 I was saying “its too much”. Maureen writes “You are tremendous Belinda. Know you can do this.” And this was the encouragement that I was getting from everyone. I had been praying and thinking of the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” but I remember saying “I am thinking I can, I can, I CAN’T”. It was just so intense. The pain in my back was so incredibly overwhelming. Brendon and Maureen had been encouraging me so much through it all. Michelle told me afterwards that she had not been sure where her place was and so did not speak much. She did twice though and I will always remember it. First she reminded me that the Lord would not give me more than what I could cope with. A bit later she leaned over, touched my hand and just prayed out loud for me. She had been praying much already but this prayer out loud was also so special. She spoke so gently and it was such an encouragement.

At 10:45 Maureen writes “Contractions appear to have picked up again. You are finding them more difficult to cope with. ‘If I was in the hospital I would have an epidural now’. Brendon a wonderful support and encouraging you with one contraction at a time. ‘I need a change but I need to rest and be in a different position for the contraction.’”

This was a very overwhelming time. I remember telling them that if I am not even half way there (meaning that I had not even gotten to second stage) then there was no way I would be able to keep going. It was just too much. I had read a lot of birth stories in the previous months and I had read about women who get to transition and then ask for pain relief or wish they were in a hospital. I did not understand this as I did not have a “transition” as such with Rachel. So now I understood how a women could get to a point where they were asking for something that they DID NOT WANT. I had chosen a home birth again, as with Rachel, because I did not want any medical intervention in that way. And here I was saying that I would take an epidural. This made Maureen wonder if this was “transition talk” and so she asked if I had any pressure or urges to push. I did not. But then when she heard the noises I was making she looked at Brendon with a very confused look. She asked me if I was pushing and at that point I said “NO” but what I thought was “I am not pushing, my body is doing this and I am not in control”. At 11:08 Maureen writes “Starting to push. Melanie rung – on her way.” In New Zealand it is law that there are two midwives present at the birth. Normally there is time to call the second midwife and so Maureen called. Little did she know the baby would be born by 11:15. The second midwife did not make it and when she phoned for more direction Maureen told her she could turn back. Those 7 minutes were very full. I remember saying “it is going too fast” “I can’t stop it” and I remember them saying “make little puffs of breath”. I tried this and managed in one contraction to breath through it and slow the pushing down. At first there was a lot of fear. I did not want to tear. I wanted this stage to go slower. I remember Maureen saying “feel your baby’s head” and I said “I can’t” as I was leaning on Brendon and if I lifted one hand I would collapse in the water. Brendon then supported me so that my hand could be free and I put my hand down and felt her head. I got a bit of a fright though as I felt how stretched my perineum was. I wanted this to slow down and did not want to push. The contractions were doing that on their own though. I got over this quickly though and really got to enjoy the next stage of her birth.

I remember feeling her head and wondering ‘why is it so bumpy” and then after another contraction to feel again and it was smooth. To think of her head “folding” to fit through and then the bones opening up again as there was more space. I remember so clearly just wiping her head in between the contractions. Even though the contractions where incredibly intense, I was so relaxed in between. I remember feeling the vernex on her head and gently rubbing it off. The next thing I remember is her head coming out. Then I felt her turning which was really special. I was expecting the next contraction to allow her to just pop out and so for the first time I was getting ready to push. Well Maureen said “slowly now” and so I did not push. She told me afterwards that sometimes you can hurt the baby’s shoulder if you push too much. So I was glad I had not. I waited for the contraction and it did the job of getting her out. It was much more of a squeeze than with Rachel. I remember with Rachel that after her head was out her body just slipped out on the next contraction. So this was a bit different. I was in a hands and knees position facing Brendon and so she came out into Maureen’s hands. Maureen immediately pushed her back through my legs and said “take your baby”. What special words. My baby is here. I flipped around and had her on my chest. I got the cord out the way and opened her legs and then told everyone “another girl”.

Hannah breathed straight away and got 10 10 10 on her Apgar scores. After a couple of minutes just holding her and looking at her Maureen suggested we get out the pool as there was some blood in the water. We then got out and I squatted over a bucket waiting for the placenta and got Hannah latched. She was a star and latched straight away. By 11:30 the placenta was in the bucket and so by 11:40 Brendon was clamping and cutting the cord. I then headed over to the couch to sit and nurse Hannah. She passed some meconium which was quickly cleaned up and so we sat skin to skin and I nursed her for two hours. Every so often she would niggle and so I would swop sides and she would carry on. Rachel had been patiently waiting to hold her new baby sister but we told her we did not know how long Hannah would nurse and so she headed for bed. (She got to hold her as soon as she got up in the morning though).

While I nursed Hannah Brendon and Maureen got busy cleaning up. They pumped the water out the pool, packed it all up, packed up all her equipment and generally got the place really well sorted. At 1am Wednesday morning I had a bowl of pasta which was really enjoyed (there was still some left over). Maureen checked the placenta (Brendon got some photos and Rachel was allowed to stay up to watch before heading for bed). I had not seen Rachel’s placenta so it was nice for me to get to see what they check. Once again Maureen took the opportunity to teach us all about what she was looking for. After so many hours of work she still had the patience to give even more to us.

When Hannah was eventually content to stop nursing I passed her to Brendon. He took his shirt off and so had her skin to skin with him (a blanket over them both). Maureen then got to check me out. Unfortunately I had torn. It was only a 1st degree tear though and with the checking it had started bleeding so Maureen needed to put some stitches in. The local anaesthetic injection was very painful but then I could just relax and allow her to do the stitching. While she was busy Brendon fell asleep with Hannah. Unfortunately there was no one else there to take a photo but it was a very special picture for me.

Once Maureen was finished with me she weighed Hannah. A good 3.54kg. It was now 2:15am. Brendon dressed Hannah and we headed for bed. Hannah started nursing again (while I was lying down so I could rest) and Maureen headed for home.

Maureen visited us on that Wednesday at 10am and again at 7pm. She visited every day for the fist week except the Sunday. I felt so very cared for and it was always so good to have her there to talk to. It took me quite a while to deal with all the emotions I was having after the birth. The birth had not gone at all as I had expected. Once again I had an “expectation”. I had pictured it that if I was relaxed enough it would not be as painful. My back had been so good through so much of that pre-labour that I was disappointed that I had so much back pain for those last hours. I had to deal with the fact that women have different labours and just because I had so much pain does not mean in any way that I failed. It was special to read through the notes and see Maureen’s comments. While I had been feeling a failure she was commenting on how well I was doing. It was good to have times in that first week where I had the freedom just to cry about things. Maureen and Brendon gave me so much support and encouragement. They allowed me to take the time I needed to heal, not only physically but emotionally too.

Here again was a lesson for me. We had watched a video of a home birth and the Dad had said “let’s have more” and the Mom just shook her head. I did not understand why she would express a feeling of not wanting more. Well, for a few days after Hannah’s birth I could finally understand. The labour truly had been “hard work” and I was still uncomfortable from the stitches and the after pains could also be quite bad. It was something I could at that stage not picture having to do again (and perhaps choosing to never have to do again). After a few days I was able to say that yes, I would love to have more children because I know “they are a blessing from the Lord”. It took a while though for that memory of it being “too much to handle” to fade. But it has and I would love to have more children and if I was blessed again I would pray that again I would be able to have the baby at home.

This is the e-mail that I wrote when Hannah was one week old. It was definitely a part of the healing process for me. It was so good to see how much the Lord had blessed us and how good He had been to me through it all. (Sorry about some duplicate information)

Brendon was just such a star through the whole labour. He was so supportive and encouraging. I really thank the Lord for him and all that he has done for me and the family this week. How blessed we are. Not only through the birth but this whole week has been hard work (labour) for him and I am so thankful to the Lord for him. I remember at one stage Maureen had commented on how supportive and encouraging Brendon was. I can’t describe the love and appreciation I have for him. God has truly blessed me so much.

It was special for Rachel to be up for the birth too. She had gone to sleep at her normal time but kept asking Julia what was happening. We eventually decided it would be better for her to be allowed to be in the room with us. So she had a blanket and pillow and was lying on the couch next to the pool. After Hannah was born Brendon called her over (she had moved a little away from the pool at this stage) and she told me afterwards that “at first I was a little bit nervous about coming and seeing her, but then when I saw her I loved her. She was so so so cute.” She told us that she thought the baby would be blue and have no hair, so she was so surprise at how lovely Hannah looked. I am glad she was able to share this with us. She waited up for a while afterwards, hoping she would get to hold Hannah, but we were not sure how long she would nurse and so suggested she rather go to bed, which she did, and thankfully so, as Hannah nursed until 1:30am. She did get to hold her first thing in the morning though. She has been a great big sister this week and has been such a help with fetching things and doing things with Ruth. She too is such a blessing to me and the family.

When Ruth woke up the following morning she came down the passage and so I called her into our room and told her to come and look at the baby. Julia had told her when she went to bed that night that there would be a baby in the house in the morning. So she came around the bed and was just so pleased to see this little baby. She quickly learnt to say “Hannah” and was saying “sister” and we spent some time talking about her two sisters. She has given Hannah so many hugs and kisses over the last few days. It has been such a blessing to see her love for her little sister. She is such an affectionate little girl and is a blessing to us all.

I am so thankful to Julia for giving up her whole day to help us out. She arrived at 8am and only left at 10pm. It was such a pity that she missed Hannah’s birth by only 1 hour. She had told her husband she should be home around 8 (once Ruth had gone to bed) so she felt she needed to get home so that he knew she was safe. There were times in the morning when Brendon and Maureen where busy somewhere else and so when a contraction came she would run over and rub my back for me. I was so thankful to the Lord for her sensitivity and willingness to help. She was so good with the girls the whole day too. It was lovely for me to hear her and Maureen singing nursery rhymes with the girls after breakfast. They went for a walk in the morning and picked apples from the road side trees which they then cooked up when they got back. When Ruth slept after lunch Julia and Rachel made Ginger Bread Bunnies (rather than Men with it being Easter) and it was just so wonderful to have her here. I thank God for providing for us so wonderfully through this. It will remain a very special day for Rachel because of Julia’s presence. What a blessing this was.

I am also so thankful to the Lord for the wonderful midwifery care that I have received. Maureen was so amazingly supportive and just so relaxed and understanding all the time. She just seemed to always know what to say or do. On Tuesday morning after half the night of contractions I remember her giving me such an amazing massage. Brendon said he was quite jealous, it looked so good. She just gave so much of herself even though she had also been deprived of sleep that night. I am also so thankful that she believes the Lord has made our bodies well enough to be able to birth. She has such confidence in what God has made and it is so helpful to have that confidence when things are hard. When I reached transition I was really exhausted from the contractions just coming one on top of the other and I had said that if I was in hospital I would ask for an epidural. Maureen replied “aren’t you glad you are at home then”. Which is exactly how I do feel, but at that moment it all felt too much. But I have also read of many women who do experience a difficult transition and so it was good for me to understand how hard that time can be.

Maureen has also been so amazing these last few days too. She has visited every day (expect Sunday) and has just been so available to talk about everything. She is still such an encouragement to me and I thank the Lord for her. She is always so patient with the older girls, letting them listen to heart rates or look in Hannah’s eyes and just being available to answer all of Rachel’s questions (she sometimes even volunteers information to Rachel when she sees that Rachel has an interest). She just involves them so well and I am thankful for this too. It means a lot to me to have the girls involved so much. She is another blessing to me and the family in this time.

Another person who I thank the Lord for is my friend Michelle. She was our official “photographer” and I am so thankful for the Lord orchestrating everything so that she could be here with us. She not only got a lot of wonderful photos (she took almost 150 photos – we told her that she would be able to take as many as she wanted). But more than that, the Lord had planned for her to be another blessing and encouragement to me. There were times where I was just feeling as though things were getting too much and she was there along with Brendon and Maureen to just encourage me. I remember her just speaking so gently as she encouraged me that God would not give me more than I could handle. I remember her touching my hand as she prayed for me and just feeling so very blessed and supported. These are memories I don’t think I will ever forget. When I spoke to Michelle today about the birth it was wonderful to hear that in that last hour (after Julia had left) she had kept checking with Rachel and asking her if she was ok. She said that Rachel always had a smile and said she was fine. It was so good for me to know that Rachel was also being looked after right to the end. God is so good.

Michelle has not even stopped there but has organized that we have had a meal brought over every day (and she has them lined up for this week too). What a blessing to have people pop in to visit and see our precious Hannah as well as blessing us with a meal. This has been such a great help to Brendon who spent so much time doing washing those first few days (washing dishes and nappies and clothes). Hannah “spilled” quite a bit in the first few days so that added loads to the washing pile. What a great help to him to not have to worry about food for the family. Another amazing blessing to us all. After speaking with Michelle today about the meals it was also such testimony to us both in how the Lord orchestrated all the details and when things seemed to “change” from her plan, the Lord proved to have a perfect plan and has allowed us to not go one day without a meal (with the Lord wonderfully filling the gaps). What an awesome God we serve.

During Maureen’s visit today she weighed Hannah again. What a wonderful surprise to see that she has already picked up weight. I am doing so much better and although I am still “taking things easy” it is good to be out of bed and surrounded by such a wonderful family. We are all enjoying Hannah so much. It is so special to see her when she is awake, already looking at the person who is talking to her and even following a face (without the voice to help her). I had her under her play gym this afternoon for a bit and it was lovely to see her looking at the different toys. I just sat back and thanked God again for our precious little girl. How wonderfully blessed we are.

So blessing after blessing. May God get all the praise for His amazing goodness to us. I feel so very blessed I can not even begin to describe the thanks I have to God for all His goodness. What an amazing God we serve.

Thanks again for all the e-mails that were coming through. It was so nice to know that Hannah’s arrival was celebrated with us by many.
Much love

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