Bethany is my sister and one of Susie's daughters. Elijah's birth was the first to take place in the home where we grew up and was the first time that Susie got to deliver one of her grandchildren...
My husband and I moved to Malawi in August of 2007. We had committed to 2 years of teaching at an international school and having a baby was no where in that plan. As you can imagine, we were very surprised and nervous to find out that we were pregnant by October. There was a short discussion about having the baby in South Africa. We could very well have made that happen, but it didn't make sense to me. I figured if we were willing to travel to SA and be gone from our work for months, we might as well go home and have the best midwife deliver our little one. When all was said and done, I knew I needed my mom.
By mid March, I was 30 weeks along. We moved in with my parents in the house I grew up in. We spent time with friends and family, Dan did a lot of reading and I nested in my mother's home (sorry mom!!! but you DID need it!). My due date was May 27th. Almost two weeks prior, I had been having false labor on and off. I kept myself distracted with trips to Old Navy, dance parties and redecorating my mom's home office. On May 26th, I began having more real contractions. Dan and I stayed up most of the night timing the contractions which were 4 minutes apart. When morning came, there was no progress and we were wiped out.
On May 27th, I went to see a chiropractor (one of my mom's former clients) to have an adjustment. By the time we got to the Franklin Chop House for dinner, labor had kicked in. Despite the contractions, I still ordered my favorite dish to go- the crispy chicken salad with extra honey mustard. By the time the waitress came out with the food, I was having contractions hard enough to be embarrassed about. We jumped in the car and got through many harder contractions during our long ride home through the country side. Soon, everyone met us at the house and people got busy. Everyone had a job to do-lay out sheets, getting towels, heating up water on the stove. My brother in law Nathan and my nephew Amos helped get the tub ready. It was truly a family affair.
My dear sister Sarah kept our blog updated throughout my labor. We had friends from Malawi and other places reading it all through the night keeping up with my progress. It was so encouraging to know that people were praying for us all around the world.
Here is an update Sarah posted on my blog:
At 7:15, she was at 2 cm and 90% effaced. My mom was so excited because she got to feel his head!!At 10:15, Beth was at 4 cm and 100% effaced. It's official, he's coming!!At 11:26, Beth is at 5 cm and is ready to get into the pool!
Once I was able to get in the pool, I felt much more relaxed. With the help of my team (My mom, her assistant Cindy, Dan, and sisters Abigail and Sarah) we got in a groove and time seemed to speed along. With each contraction came a heat wave hotter than I could handle. My requests were short and clear: "COLD RAG!", "FACE", "BACK", "FAN". Any member of the team would be right there with exactly what I needed. It was wonderful.
Labor continued and my team held up. Dan was my rock throughout. Sometimes, I fell asleep between contractions and would wake up with sharp pains scanning the room for Dan's eyes. Once focussed on his eyes, I felt like I could get through anything. My water finally broke somewhere in the late hours of the night. God had carried me through so much pain, but I didn't know what pain was until I hit transition. I spent most of transition in the pool and had trouble breathing at times. When I was finally ready to push, I couldn't get a good grip and so I moved to the bed.
I faintly remember my mom saying how beautiful it will be for Elijah to be born in the early morning. The sound of the crickets were fading away and the birds began to sing. Light was coming in through the windows and the fields were heavy with mist. Within 30 minutes of pushing on the bed, Elijah came into the world healthy and beautiful at 6:16am. He weighed 7 lbs 4 oz. The room erupted with cheers and cries of joy. I couldn't believe I had done it. It was all too unreal.
For a long time afterward, my mom, Cindy and I worked on delivering the placenta. For reasons only God can understand, it just wouldn't come out. After a beautiful successful home birth, I left Elijah with my sisters and went to the hospital. Honestly, I was too tired and hungry to be disappointed about it. I just wanted to get back to Elijah, and I didn't care what it took. We spent nearly 6 hours at the hospital, but by the end, my sweet and gentle doctor was able to deliver the placenta with much pain but thankfully without any medical intervention. I was finally able to be home with my little guy.
I will never forget giving birth in my parents' bedroom. It was the room I would run to during scary thunderstorms and the room we all gathered in on Christmas morning to pray. My mom was very professional throughout the entire thing. She never lectured me or made me feel like I was in trouble-these were slight fears I had, being her daughter and all. Instead, she kept me focussed and coached me through the harder times. I hope and pray she can make it to my second birth in August.