Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rachel's Birth Story

 Rachel Xin Yang Chew
October 24, 2013 - 8:50pm
5lb. 14oz. - 18 inches

I've been through labor and birth a few times - five to be exact.  After the first three crew members were born I thought I had it all figured out.  A long pre-labor starting in the morning, a normal day of activities, contractions that would eventually strengthen to wake me up in the middle of the night, a bout of nausea which cued us to go to the hospital, the "I can't do this anymore!" stage, and then a baby by mid-late morning.

Then came Chew Crew 4 (aka - Jeremiah), and I learned that the saying is true that every baby and every birth is different.  I wasn't even sure that I was in labor.  Okay, so I was pretty sure that I was in labor but I was in denial.  Contractions started late at night, they felt different than past labors, and everything was all around shorter than previously.  I'm glad that Claude knew what he was doing and called it for what it was!

Rachel's birth also proved to be full of surprises and taught me that even this reasonably seasoned mom has a lot to learn about birth!

Before I go on, I'm not one to exclude readers, but if you're a guy, you probably don't want to be reading all the details of this story.  Just know that labor started, stopped, started again, and then Rachel was born safely into the arms of her Daddy.  Praise The Lord!

Now for all of the women-folk...  :)

It was a Monday evening.  We needed groceries.  I needed to get out of the house.  So, off I went.  For a couple of days before I had been feeling achy and a little crampy, but I didn't know if it was my imagination or if my body was getting ready for labor.  While I was at the grocery store I visited the restroom and lo and behold...I lost my mucus plug.

"Wow," I thought to myself.  "I've never had this happen before."

Through the late evening I lost more mucus and started to get excited.  Maybe all this crampiness was really getting something started!  I went to bed with a few contractions that later woke me up because of their strength.  And like no one should ever do, I timed every single one of them.

Over a two hour period the contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart.  1 minute in length.  Strong enough to keep me from sleeping.

We called the midwife and headed to the birth center.  It was about 3am and I was wondering if we were calling it too soon.  But, last time I was in denial about labor and we didn't want to call it too late and have a baby on the side of the road.

At the birth center, I worked through contractions through the night and by 7:00am on Tuesday morning decided to have a nap.  I was tired and things weren't really picking up.  When I  woke up 45 minutes later the contractions had stopped.  We went home.  I cried.  It was frustrating to say the least.

I did leave the birth center dilated to 4cm and 80% effaced.  At least I hadn't completely called it wrong.  I had worked through most of early labor and hopefully things would pick up soon.

We waited out Tuesday and Wednesday.  Nothing.

"Wow," I thought to myself.  "I've never had this happen before."

Thursday morning rolled around and a strong contraction woke me up from a sound sleep.  Then I felt a gush of fluid and wondered...  It was 6:00am.  My water had broken.

"Wow,"  I though to myself.  "I've never had this happen before."

I was now in uncharted territory.  In all four past labors my water hadn't broken until I was completely dilated, just before being ready to push.  So, while I knew we were in for some waiting (and praying that we started labor before that imposed 24-hour mark) I didn't know what to expect.

I thought that maybe staying active would help things get going, so I did schoolwork with the kids, I cleaned the house...for the third time in a week.  I cleaned the ceiling fan.  I cooked 8 pounds of ground beef.  No action.  Not even a Braxton Hicks or an achy back.

I called my midwife around noon to tell her what was going on and she suggested I rest.  After a "nap" and no signs of labor, I called her back.  She suggested Castor Oil.  I was game since now I was on the clock and I was tired of all the waiting.

At 4:00pm I took some Castor Oil and started preparing dinner and getting the kids settled so that I could camp out in the bathroom if necessary.  And nothing.  I took some more at 6:00pm to see if that would get things started and within 30 minutes I had what I thought were contractions.  The only thing was that they never really let up.  It was really more like a bad lower back ache with some peaks of pain.

Again...not anything I had experienced in other births.

Claude and I bathed the kids, started Bible time, and by then I was trying to relieve the pressure in my lower back.  Still, I didn't think things were really picking up.  I could handle the contractions just fine, and even though they never really let up, I thought we had plenty of time.

By about 7:30pm I was thinking that we would need to leave for the birth center right after the kids got to bed.  Claude called our friend over around 7:45pm and by then I was wondering if we would make it in time.  When he called our midwife at 7:50pm the contractions were very strong and once he was off the phone with her they were so strong that I was in tears, I couldn't do it any more, and I didn't think I could ride in the car.  We called our midwife back 5 mintues later and she said they would come to us.  

By this time contractions were so intense that I was trying to run down the hallway to get to our bathroom and out of the living room before another one came.  I had also reached my the-only-way-I'll-get-through-this-contraction-is-if-I-make-some-sort-of-primal-noise stage.  Claude ran a bath for me and although water sounded nice, the tub was just too small and I wasn't comfortable.  By this point I was pretty pushy, but baby was still very high.  Most of the pain was felt around my pubic bone as if her head was hitting it instead of slipping underneath.

And while I worked through contractions Claude prepared our master bathroom for a birth.  He covered the carpet with towels and extra play yard waterproof pads (we were not prepared for a homebirth!).  If you've given birth or been a part of natural birth you know that there are things to clean up along the way...and he took care of it all.  He talked me through contractions to help me focus and not start pushing too soon.  He reminded me to stay positive and not give into the growing thought of "I can't do it!".  And he even had the insight to know what position would open up the pelvis so that baby girl could make her way through.  He was amazing!!!

One thing that we had talked about through the pregnancy was my tendency to reach a "freak out" point in labor.  I would get to the last 30-60 minutes and through pain and intensity I can't really describe I usually started to say "I can't do this!" or "Oh, no...not another contraction!"  I really didn't want to give up this time around and Claude knew it.  He was a huge help in reminding me that I've done this before and I could do it again.  For the first time I got all the way through labor and birth and didn't say "I can't do it!"  I felt like I couldn't do it, but I said over and over again, "I can do this.  I can do this."  Because with Christ, of course I could do it!

Eventually Claude turned on some music which helped me to focus during some of the toughest contractions.  It also helped me to relax and breathe more deeply.  He suggested I go on hands and knees and within in one contraction the pressure on my pubic bone was gone and I could feel the baby move into the birth canal.

"Wow," I thought to myself.  "I've never had this happen before!"

I asked Claude to call the midwives at this point because I was pretty sure that we would have a baby pretty quickly.  They stayed on the phone and checked on the progress.  I can't remember how many contractions it took, but it must have only been two or three.  My body took over the pushing and I even started shaking a bit at the beginning - another new experience for me.

All I could say and think was "Wow, she's almost here!  Praise The Lord she's on her way!"  This was new for me as well, because in the past I've always been afraid of the pain of crowning.  This time around The Lord enabled me to keep my focus on what He was doing in bringing another little one into our midst.  Once her head was born, the midwives talked Claude through the delivery of the shoulders.  He gently guided them out and right in our master bathroom, Rachel Xin Yang Chew was born into her Daddy's arms!

Again, Claude was really on top of things.  She had some mucus in her mouth and throat and didn't cry right away, so he ran out to grab our bulb syringe.  Our midwives stayed on the phone and asked questions about her appearance to determine her first Apgar scores (an 8, I believe).  And after about ten minutes they arrived to help us clean up, check everything out, and help us settle in for our first night as a family of seven.  :)

After we put the kids to bed for the second time that night, Claude said, "Next time let's plan on doing this at home."

"Yeah," I replied.  "That sounds like a good idea."  :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yay!! That is so awesome!!!! =D I think I told you before that I had an unassisted birth with my son, but it was planned that way. It can be done! and you guys did it! How awesome. God is so good! and He is faithful! Beautiful story Rebecca :)

    1. Wow! I didn't know you had an unassisted birth with your son. I'd love to hear the story sometime! :) Our midwives are in agreement with us that next time we'll just plan it at home...although we managed to make both "mistakes" of going in too soon and calling too late all in one birth. :)

    2. At home next time sounds like a good plan :) Those "mistakes" are completely understandable, it is hard to figure out when to go or when to call! I thought I had mentioned my unassisted birth before but that may have been somewhere else :)
      I will tell you my story..I will try to shorten it a bit though.

    3. I am actually going to have to email it to you or something because it is way too long to post in the comments area :) I tried to and it won't even take it!! I guess I didn't do very well shortening it.

    4. Thanks for taking the time to share your unassisted birth story. I'm looking forward to reading it! :) familyabounds at yahoo dot com.

  3. Wow, this is amazing! I have heard that home births are better for the parents and the bub... So glad He guided both daddy and mummy through this process. You can really do this again! :D

  4. That is SO COOL. I keep telling my husband I really would love to give birth at home. Claude is now a mid-husband!

    1. We wanted a homebirth since before Joshua but it never worked out until now. I was surprised at how much it helped me to stay focused and calm. And it made those first couple of days much easier since Claude wasn't back and forth from home to the hospital. I definitely recommend it!
      How are things going for you guys these days?