Lev’s Birth [a most unexpected arrival]

10 days after and I still cannot believe our experience. The Lord was so present and gracious. We are thankful and feel so honored by the experience.

Friday, February 20, 2015

41 weeks, 2 days pregnant

Early Friday morning around 3:15am I woke with what felt like cramps, thinking to myself that my stomach hurt. After coming out of slumber I realized that I was contracting a good bit and began to time them. They were irregular, anywhere from 2-6 minutes apart, lasting 30-60 seconds each. I felt hungry, so I got up, ate a bowl of cereal and sat on the exercise ball watching TV. After an hour or so I decided to get in the bath, knowing that if this were the beginning of true labor, a bath would not slow any of it down. I let my doula, Evangeline, know that I was having contractions, more for my sake to remember the time later on, but that they were slowing in the bath. Each contraction that came in the bath was actually kind of pleasant; I made the water lap back and forth as I breathed through each wave of tightening. It was rather soothing. I began to feel very sleepy in between contractions and even dozed off, so at 5:00am I climbed back into bed and fell asleep. The contractions had subsided to 8-10 minutes apart and were very mild. I woke at 6:45am feeling more rested.

At 9:00am I went to see my nurse midwife, Esther. I was put on the monitors for a non-stress test. Everything with baby checked out well. I allowed Esther to check me, curious as to whether or not my ventures with Clary Sage essential oil and castor oil had been productive. My cervix had moved forward and completely softened, I was between 3-4cm dilated, and as Esther put it I was “sitting on go”. She was encouraged that I would have the baby before Sunday. I left the appointment feeling elated (to say the least) and nearly cried in the car when it sunk in that my body was indeed progressing toward labor and that we would meet our son soon! I called Evangeline to update her, went to the chiropractor to be adjusted and picked up Chambers from my dad’s.

Around 12:30pm I began to have contractions again, irregular, but definitely contractions. I was back at home with Chambers, and during each contraction I could feel myself needing distance to breathe. I put Chambers down for naptime & took a bath. The contractions slowed, but not much. By 1:30pm I knew that when Chambers woke, I would need Yura there to help with him. Yura arrived home from work at 3:30pm, right before the end of naptime. I was giving my doula, Evangeline, updates every 30 minutes with information from my contraction timer. Over the next two hours the contractions became stronger and closer together. When I could feel a wave coming, I would start the timer, place my phone down and walk in a loop around the kitchen and living room. I could listen to what was going on, Yura could speak to me, but I could not respond until the contraction ended. Breathing in through my nose, and out through my mouth, I imagined each tightening pushing baby down just a little bit. At this point contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 second and mild to moderate intensity.

Yura and Chambers played outside while I tidied up the house between contractions. For several contractions I rested on the couch and fell asleep in between each one. This slowed the frequency to around 8 minutes apart, but not the intensity (moderate to strong) or duration (about 60 seconds). At 5:00pm Evangeline began to make her way from Pensacola (about an hour and a half drive) and I called my dad to come get Chambers. By the time dad picked Chambers up, I needed to be alone during each contraction. I went back to my bedroom for the ones that happened while he was here, breathing slowly and evenly. I kissed Chambers goodbye and began to make our home more relaxing. I turned on my diffuser with an aromatic Labor Blend of essential oils, dimmed the lights nearly everywhere, turned on my birth playlist and most importantly communicated to Yura that it was nearing time and I really needed him to be on my emotional level – he was so sweet but so nervous that he was talking a lot and moving things around. It was making me feel anxious! He was so obliging and calmed things down, helping me up from the couch when a contraction would begin, massaging my back or feet in between and patiently waiting to see if I needed anything. IMG_4616

By the time Evangeline arrived at 7:10pm, contractions were 4-6 minutes apart, lasting at least 60 seconds and coming stronger and stronger. I had begun vocalizing during each breath out – not loud, but just a groaning sound that helped me focus on the contraction doing its work. I remembered the most helpful tip from my nurse during Chambers’ delivery and used it each contraction: you only have to work until the peak of the contraction, and then you can let go and release the tension. This was a tremendous help during both labors and helped me feel like I was conserving energy as I let the contraction fade, instead of tensing through the last 30+ seconds. Each contraction I wanted to walk as nothing else helped me cope with the pain. I had moved to only walking on the living room carpet because I didn’t like the vibration from walking on the hardwoods in the kitchen, even though I was wearing my favorite blue, cushy socks. I eventually had to use my hands to push down in the air, helping me cope and visualize the baby moving down with each breath out. In between I preferred to sit and rest on the couch, and Evangeline used a topical Labor Blend of essential oils to massage the acupressure points for the uterus, located on my inner ankle. I also began to feel clammy in between contractions, so Yura got me a washcloth and sprayed it with a second Labor Blend of oils to help increase energy and relieve nausea.IMG_4618

About a half hour later the contractions were lasting nearly 90 seconds each and the intensity was very strong. I began to feel nauseated at the very end of each contraction, which subsided when I smelled Peppermint oil. I curled up on the couch, Evangeline stacked pillows in between my legs and I labored there for just a few contractions. It was more painful, but I wanted to rest. contractions slowed to more than 6 minutes apart. My labor playlist was still going, but I turned down the volume and felt more sensitive to sound. Eventually I felt that I needed to go to the bathroom, and I began to labor through some contractions walking around our bedroom and bathroom. They were incredibly intense and about 4 minutes apart, with nausea hitting me like a wave at the end of each contraction. At one point I remember looking at our bed and saying, “I just want to curl up in the bed, and go to sleep, and for it to stop for just a little while.” I tried lying there but couldn’t even make it through one contraction before I got sick. I felt better and came back to sit on the bed during the rest time.

At that point Evangeline asked if we wanted to go to the hospital. Everything was ready in the car, but I truly didn’t feel like baby was coming soon. I kept telling myself that the pain would eventually get worse, especially during transition, the last part of labor, so I needed to just suck it up and deal with the intensity level now. Before we could discuss it further another contraction began, and I was pacing the bathroom saying that I wanted an epidural and I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t really want an epidural, but the thought of all the pain disappearing magically was very appealing. I did, however, truly feel like I couldn’t do it anymore. I did not know how much longer I could take the pain. It had only been 7 hours, and after my 29 hour labor with Chambers I was anticipating at least 3 to 4 hours more, if not 7 or 8! Evangeline encouraged me, saying that I could do it and that my hips had gotten much wider since she had arrived, a sign that everything was progressing as it should. I felt sick again and threw up, barely making it to the bathroom that time.

Around 8:30pm Evangeline suggested a bath, and that sounded great compared to the other options of pacing and lying down. She ran the bath water; I didn’t know until later, but Yura ran and began boiling water on the stove in case I stayed there for a while. I got in the tub and sat to lean back like I normally would have, but I felt extreme pressure on my back and bottom, so in a panic I stayed on my hands and knees. The first contraction in the tub came on, and I began rocking back and forth, breathing through the intense pain as the water lapped back and forth across my belly. I broke strength and rhythm in the middle of the contraction, wincing while saying that I couldn’t do it anymore. That was more painful than any contraction I had during the entire labor – it was like by breaking rhythm and wanting to cry the pain tripled, at least. Evangeline reminded me to keep on track. I returned to breathing and vocalizing through the end of that wave. In between contractions Yura got water for me, and I was very alert and could hold conversation. I was so tired. Another contraction came and I rocked back and forth again. My instincts took over and I breathed out through my lips while making sort of a “raspberry” sound. I felt silly, even in the midst of the pain, and tried to stop, but Evangeline urged me to keep doing that or whatever felt most natural. After that second contraction Evangeline said I was probably past 7cm dilated and asked if we were ready to go to the hospital yet.

Another contraction came on and after I breathed and “raspberried” through it, I got out of the tub quickly. I went to get dressed by the bed and felt another contraction coming on with lots of nausea. I felt an enormous amount of pressure on my bottom and said, “This baby is coming right now!” I got to the bathroom and my waters ruptured in a gush. I felt baby crowning immediately after the waters ruptured. Evangeline looked up and instantly told Yura to call 911. I sat down on the toilet and Yura exclaimed, “Look! He’s coming!” Yura kept having to step into the closet to hear the 911 dispatcher. Evangeline said, “Madison I want you to look down, take your hand and touch your baby’s head. Your baby is coming right now.” I’m so glad she did that because I so clearly remember that moment.

I braced myself back on the toilet and felt the urge to grunt, not necessarily push. I grunted and his head came out, facing my right but toward the back also. Evangeline told me to reach down and grab him. One more grunt and his shoulders came out! I pulled him up onto my chest, shouting to Yura as I did, “Baby, baby come quick! He’s here! He’s here!” Yura stepped into the doorway just in time to see baby’s legs coming out and me holding him to my chest. The cord was around his shoulders, but not in a complete loop. We were able to easily pull it down so that I could hold him closer. He was so slippery and beautiful and cried immediately! He pinked up so quickly. Yura told the dispatcher, “Baby’s here! I will talk to y’all later – oh wait, okay.” He didn’t know he needed to stay on the phone so he handed it to Evangeline as he kissed me and helped rub baby to keep him crying a little bit. Twice I looked down through teary eyes and said, “I did it!” I could not believe that he was here and that I had labored steadily and unmedicated and delivered my own son! Yura and I praised the Lord for that wonderful baby in my arms!

Lev Hariton was born at 8:42pm. Lev meaning “lion” in Russian or “heart” in Hebrew. Hariton meaning “man of graces” and also his paternal great-grandfather’s name.

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Shortly after he was born I moved to the floor to be a little more comfortable. We covered Lev with towels and kept marveling at how quickly he had come! 8 minutes after Yura called the calvary came into our house – EMS, police officers, firemen – probably 8 people total! At that point Lev was rooting around to nurse. He latched on so well and nursed nearly the whole way to the hospital. They helped us clamp the cord after it had stopped pulsing, and Yura cut it with the scalpel from the EMS kit. I asked about delivering the placenta and they said it would probably happen at the hospital. But I really felt like it was close to coming out, so I said I wanted to see if it would deliver before we were transported. I pushed just a little bit and out came the placenta! It was so awesome to be able to do that completely naturally, without anyone else pulling or tugging it out. It was beautifully red and oxygenated, which was good news for being 41 weeks, 2 days pregnant.

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Slowly I walked to the gurney and was transported to the hospital. Everything checked out well with both of us, even though I did need to have some stitches. One day I’ll write more about having an unplanned home birth and how that impacted our experience at the hospital.

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Our little Amerikranian lion man made such an unforgettable entrance into the world! Praising Jesus for our health and wonderful experience.Photo Feb 24, 15 09 40

I also cannot tell this story without shouting high honors to our doula, Evangeline of Courageous Motherhood. She was an integral part of Lev’s birth and part of the reason I was able to labor naturally. ALL the THANK YOUs for your presence in those sacred moments, friend!

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