Thursday, September 11, 2008

Judith's Birth Story


Judith was born while we were living in Byron Bay, Australia. We were taking a course called "The Deep End School of Postmodern Ministry" at a church called New Earth Tribe. It was a really exciting, awesome time in our lives.

I think it technically started on Wednesday, November 23, as I was having mild contractions all day. I figured it was normal, as the due date was coming up in a week, and I was quite busy so I thought nothing of it. I went to class as usual, then spent sometime in the IGOP (international garage of prayer) and walked home in the lovely, fresh, warm rain. On the way home I had a nice chat with a hippie lady who told me to call her if I needed anything - although I didn’t have her number - and that she would love to deliver my baby. I have some interesting neighbours… Anyways, then after dinner we went to another local church and listened to a seminar on UFO’s and aliens from a Christian perspective (the pastor used to really be into that before he became a Christian). The whole time I was sitting on a hard plastic chair and it was so painful. That night for some reason Dave and I were up late (about 2 am) talking, when all of a sudden I leapt out of bed and ran to the toilet. I had felt a bunch of fluid come out, and I knew something was up. I ended up on the toilet for about half an hour because every time I would stand up more liquid would come pouring out. I figured it couldn’t be urine because I couldn’t control it, and I have always had excellent bladder control and my pelvic floor muscles have never failed me. I made the conclusion that my waters had broken. We made a call to the birthing center to let them know what was up. The midwife wanted to know how far apart my contractions were, but I had not been paying attention at that point, and they didn’t seem bad, so we decided to wait until the morning and see what was happening then. I ran around for a bit packing a bag for the hospital, and then tried to get some sleep (yeah right, who could sleep?).

The next morning when I got up my contractions had subsided quite a bit. Pastor Phil decided to cancel the lectures that day because Dave, Row and I would be involved in the labour, which is half the class! Since not much was happening contraction-wise we stayed home all morning, it was cool because everyone in our house just hung out. I really treasure our times together here because soon we will all go our separate ways and I love these people so much. Dave and I decided to go for a walk to the BP (petrol station) to get some Gatorade for later and hopefully the walk would get my contractions going. While we were there we ran into a bunch of YWAMers from Island Breeze (the same group we randomly ran into at South Bank in Brisbane when we were visiting a friend up there), and some of them remembered us, especially the Canadians. It really cheered me up. We walked back home and then left for the birthing center.

I was really hoping things would pick up, because I wanted a waterbirth more than anything, and I knew that they wouldn’t let me in the water if my waters had been broken for more than 18 hours. But we ended up just hanging out there for 4 hours and nothing happened. The midwives suggested we go home, because they knew that we were paying for the birth, and they wouldn’t charge us for those hours, then we could come back later that night. They said I would have to go to the doctor in town to get a needle thing put in my wrist because after 18 hours of having my waters broken I was going to need antibiotics (because I tested positive for strep B). So we went to the doctor, and he couldn’t get the needle in anywhere because my veins kept collapsing, and I came close to passing out so he decided that we would try later. We went home and I was pretty discouraged.

I decided to take a hot shower, and I spent about an hour in there crying my eyes out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have a water birth, and I most likely would be transfered to a big hospital if nothing happened soon. The last thing I wanted was for my baby to be born in a regular hospital. I was afraid of being induced or possibly having a c-section if something was wrong! I pleaded with God to make it happen soon so I could have the baby in Mullimbimby at the birth center. I was so disappointed.

After that I went into the kitchen and everyone was there praying for me. It was so comforting to know that there were people all over the globe praying too. We sang some worship songs, prayed and interceded, and prophesied over the baby. It gave me hope to go back to the birthing center and see what would happen.

When we got back to the birthing center it was pretty late Thursday night, November 24. There was a doctor there that put the needle thing in me, and I got my first (ever) shot of antibiotics. By then my contractions had pretty much stopped, and I wasn’t losing any more fluid (after my waters broke I was constantly leaking whenever I’d have a contraction). The midwives suggested I get some rest. I got about 5 hours of sleep in total that night, getting an hour here and there, with bouts of crying and praying in between. I felt so helpless. The midwives weren’t around much because I guess they had an emergency over in the main hospital.

The one cool thing that happened was a helicopter came in during the night. The landing pad was just outside our suite so we watched it and it was really amazing. Apparently it's a rare sight. Later on it took off, just at dawn, and we were able to see a most magnificent sunrise. Later in the morning my doctor came by to check me out. My contractions still weren’t happening, so I was told I would be transfered to a bigger hospital to be induced. I was totally crushed, but the show had to go on. So we packed up our stuff and were off to the Tweed Hospital in Tweed Heads, about 45 minutes away.

By this time I was really tired and just wanted the baby out, so I accepted the fact that I would be induced. When everyone at the house found out what was happening, they decided to come too. It was nice having the whole “family” there, I felt really loved and supported. They all prayed for me. Once we arrived at the hospital I was briefed on what was going to happen, and everyone seemed nice and it felt different than the hospitals I had been in back home. I would only be dealing with midwives, Dave was allowed to be fully involved and my friends could stay. I was examined and was 2cm (but could be stretched to 3) dilated, and they hooked me up to the pitocin drip and monitors to track my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat at 1 pm Friday, November 25. It didn’t look anything like I had wanted, but I was willing to accept it at that point. Mark and Ben had to go home eventually, but Row stayed with me and Dave the whole time, and Hans stayed too but he spent a lot of time downstairs in the chapel praying, and eventually outside our door praying. It meant a lot to me that he stayed until the end.

We listened to worship music the whole time I was in labour, Jason Upton and Laura Woodley. My first midwife’s name was Heather, and she set me up and got me going. The contractions got pretty bad quickly. Apparently being induced makes the contractions much more painful. Heather’s shift ended and the next midwife’s name was Sam. She was from England, and she was young and really nice. Things got pretty intense after a while. I couldn’t move much because of all the things I was hooked up to. Going to the bathroom was a huge ordeal. Every time I went I just stared at the big beautiful bath tub and wished so badly that I was in a warm bath. I decided to sit backwards in a chair for most of the contractions, it was too painful to lie on my back. Eventually I had to be examined again, so they got me on the bed and I was at 5 cm. I couldn’t believe it was only 5, I thought I was going to die! I kept saying “I can’t do this!” The midwife offered an epidural or morphine, and I was really tempted but managed not to give in. I used to judge women who took drugs during labour, but now I totally understand! It was such intense, overwhelming pain. Every contraction I thought to myself “It can’t possibly get any worse than this”, but then it would. Eventually Sam actually had to turn the drip down because she said the contractions were getting too strong. I was totally out of it, people would talk to me and it was hard to understand what they were saying. Dave and Row were there praying for me and comforting me, but honestly that part of labour is all a blur. When the pain came I just closed my eyes and got really quiet. The midwife gave me Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen in a tube, so I sucked on that during the contractions. It was supposed to take the edge off, but I’m not sure. At least it made me focus on my breathing rather than the pain, and gave me something to bite. It totally dried out my throat though, so Dave had to feed me ice. After a little while I gave up the tube because it annoyed me and didn't seem to be helping.

Eventually I was up on the bed on my back (ouch) and the pain got so intense I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. I'm pretty sure everyone in the whole birthing wing could hear me, it's kind of embarassing now, but at the time I didn't care. Screams came out of me from the depths of my belly, and I could feel my body start to push. Sam told me to try and not push, but I couldn’t help it, my body took over. The pain was so intense, my thighs, lower back and abdomen all contracted. When I would scream I would push on my lower back because it killed so much. That part of labour went on forever it seemed. I kept looking at the clock, and every 5 minutes seemed like half an hour. But my mind came back around at that time, as did my sense of humour. Although really, who could make crazy, animal noises and not have a sense of humour?

Sam said it was finaly time to push, and she coached me on how to do it properly. It was the most intense ab workout of my life! I was so exhausted by that time, but with every contraction I pushed with all my might. Every time I told myself “This could be it!”. But even that part of labour was over an hour, I don’t know how I did it. It must have been the grace of God. Sam wanted me to get up off my back, since that's one of the worst positions to birth (I think the only worse position would be to stand on my head, lol), but there was no way I was moving, I didn't even have the strength to roll over. It got more exciting later though, when Sam, Dave and Row excitedly proclaimed that they could see the baby’s head, and there was lots of hair! The end was finally in sight! But it still took me a long time to get her out. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and she came out little by little by little, until I heard them say that her hands were up at her neck by her face. Finally that last push came, and I could feel myself tearing as she came out into David’s hands. The pain of the tear was nothing compared to the pain of the contractions, and I just wanted her out so badly, so I just went for it. I will never forget the feeling of her coming out of me.

Dave placed her on my chest and he cut the umbilical cord. The placenta came out pretty much right away. I saw that it was a girl. My first thought was “Wow, she looks really dark” and my second was “Wow, she looks just like me when I was born!” She barely cried and was so peaceful as she looked straight at me. It felt like a holy moment. I told her that she was beautiful and kissed her on the forehead. I looked at her and knew she would be a strong woman. Her name was going to be Judith, and I was extremely confident in that. I also remembered a prophecy that was spoken over her in the womb, that she would be born with her “hands up” in praise and that she would be a worshipper. And she was indeed born with her hands raised! To this day she still has her hands up all the time. So I quickly proclaimed her Judith Rowena Skyy. I knew it was right. Even though it hurt so much, I said to David “I’d do it again!” I was in such an amazing state of euphoria.

Judith was born at 9:37 pm on Friday, November 25, 2005, 43.5 hours after my waters had broken. We were listening to the song "Home" by Laura Woodley. Sam’s shift was over at 10, so a new midwife came in. She was older and quite rough. She took Judith and weighed and measured her, she weighed 7 lbs and 2.5 oz and was 19 inches long. A doctor came in shortly after and stitched up my 2nd degree tear. I wanted to get breastfeeding right away, so I asked the midwife and she just basically grabbed Judith’s head and shoved it onto my breast. I had no idea what I was doing. It was really painful. Then the midwife made me take a shower. I really didn't want to because I was still in pain and could barely walk and was shaky. Row came with me and bathed me. After that we hung out for a while with Hans and Row, and then they went home. Normally Dave would have been kicked out too and I would be moved to a regular room, shared with someone else, but they allowed us to sleep in the birthing room. We really appreciated that.

I was so tired and exhausted but I could barely sleep. I kept Judith beside me in the bed, and just stared at her all night. She was so tiny and precious! I had to call the midwife quite a few times because she wouldn’t get onto the breast, or just because I was too weak to even pick her up. Dave was great too, every time she cried he was up and right there at my side. I can’t believe how patient, compassionate and selfless Dave instantly became. It has been amazing having him with me, he has taken very good care of me, and it’s so obvious that he loves Judith so much.

In the morning the midwife made me take another shower, and then I was moved to another room. I actually forgot my favourite tank top in the birthing room (it was covered in blood from the birth so I had it soaking in the bathroom). Judith was so peaceful the whole time we were there. In the hall you could hear lots of babies crying, but Judith just slept or looked around contently. Dave and her seemed to bond right away as well, he seems so natural with her even though he never liked or handled babies before. The other baby in our room was the opposite. It cried non-stop. I felt bad for the poor thing because it’s mom took off and left the baby with the midwife and no one could find her. We decided that we really wanted out of there, because it was noisy and not private, and the midwives were too busy to give us much attention (I was still having trouble breastfeeding, and we were supposed to be shown how to properly bathe the baby but that never happened). So we had a doctor give her a little physical exam (he said she was perfect!), and then we went back to the Mullimbimby birthing center for the night, and spent the next full day there, which was Sunday.

The midwives there were really nice, and it was quiet so we got some rest. I was shown how to properly breastfeed, finally. It took Judith a couple days to figure out the proper technique, and in the meantime she had destroyed my nipples. She always screamed and cried when I tried to feed her, and it was a battle rather than a bonding time, which really upset me. We were shown how to do cloth nappies (diapers), and even gave Judith a bath. It was a much better atmosphere than at the hospital. It rained a lot while we were there, which was really soothing to sleep to. A few thunderstorms went through as well, lightening even hit the hospital! It scared Dave and I, and the lights went out for a second, but Judith just slept soundly through the whole thing.

We came home Sunday evening, November 27. Normally they keep you in for up to 7 days, but since we have to pay out of our own pockets for the hospital stay, they allowed us to be discharged early and the midwives came to our house and visited us for the remainder of the 7 days free of charge. On day 4 it was really hot and Judith was running a slight fever, so we decided to go to the doctor. She was a bit jaundiced as well. He weighed her and she had lost a bit, but that is normal, and by then her temperature had come down because the office was air conditioned, so that was a relief. I don’t think she was dehydrated either because her diapers were still frequently wet.

Then there were two nights in a row where she didn’t sleep at all from about 11 pm to 6 am. They were the first couple of days that my milk came in and I don’t think Judith liked it very much. Dave and I were so exhausted and basically took shifts staying up with her. It’s crazy how quickly you get used to a baby crying and you can sleep despite it. I hope our house mates don’t hate us! = ) It’s good though because our room is in the opposite end of the house as everyone else’s. Since then Judith has been better and has kind of gotten into a routine and now only wakes us up a few times a night to feed and then generally goes back to sleep. Although she is still awful during the days. It is too hot for her to sleep for more than maybe 10 minutes at a time, and she gets frustrated while nursing because we just sweat on each other the whole time. She really isn't a happy baby. It's been really hard on everyone. I've been so emotional.

I had no idea how difficult the transition to motherhood was going to be. The birth didn't go the way I wanted it to, and was so much harder than I could have ever imagined. Breastfeeding has been awful, it still hurts so much that when she cries I just want to run away. I am so frustrated with myself all the time. Dave has withdrawn a bit the last couple of days too. I wish Judith would just be quiet for a while. She always seems so angry. My body hurts SO much! And I want nothing more than to be able to sleep, uninterrupted. I think I'd need days and days of sleep to ever actually feel normal again. I'm pretty sure that I have come to the absolute end of myself, and the worst part is that I have no choice but to go on. The community here has been a life saver though. I've been given a lot of encouragement and I can feel their love and prayers.

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