Friday, March 2, 2012

The Joy of Eden; the story of the birth of Eden Constance Ritchie

Monday the 20th of February, 2012.
   Over the previous 24 hours I worked very hard on letting go of my fears about my pending induction and let God's peace wash over me. Until that morning I didn't actually think I would need to be induced. I told everyone that I would go in at 41 weeks, and I meant it, but I didn't really believe it would come to that. And honestly, I was sure that if I just willed or prayed for it hard enough I would go into labor before the 40 week mark. When 40 weeks rolled around I began to think God had abandoned me. I thought maybe he had decided that my body was broken, but it wasn't he who thought that, it was me. I bought into Satan's lie and started to despair. Why didn't God answer my prayers? Why didn't he hear the prayers of our friends and family? I know there were a good 100 or more people surrounding us in prayer. And doesn't the Bible say that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much? But what was happening was so far beyond my comprehension that it will be difficult to tell about. The big picture is so big that only God could have contrived all the amazing events about to happen that night. Simply because God answers your request with a "No", does not mean that he doesn't have something much more grand prepared for you.
     Sunday afternoon my Montrice (labor coach), Lori, called me. She said she had read my last blog and could see how scared and nervous I was about being induced. She reminded me that everything was going to be ok. She also told me that even if my head was doing well with working through Asher's death, that my body still remembered on a cellular level what had happened. That it was still working through post-tramatic stress. I had signs of early labor 3 different times for 6-10 hours in my 40th week of pregnancy but it always quit on me by the time I woke up in the morning. By the end of the week lack of good sleep and my frustration with my body caused me to chew my nails down to bleeding. She said that my body was trying to go into labor but it remembered the pain and grief from the last time. My body was protecting me the only way it knew how. She said she wanted me to work on letting go of the fear of induction and embrace it. And that induction might be Gods way of doing a great work in someone's life.
    So that's just what I did. I let go of my fears. I was still nervous.... but I had a deep down sense that things were going to be just as they should. So I worked off my nervousness throughout the day Monday. I did several loads of laundry, went to the store, picked up the house and did other odd jobs. I would normally have been super tired by early evening, but my adrenaline was pumping hard. At 4 my mother-in-law showed up to get Vera. Our pastor also stopped by right at that time. He talked with us some and then we all had prayer. At 5 minutes till 5pm Nolan and I loaded up the car and made the 7 minute trip to the hospital. We parked and walked up to the labor and delivery unit where we learned that were were an hour early. But the nurses were cool about it and got us checked in all the same. They asked me tons of questions like "Do you have a living will??" - this one made me laugh. ---Hi, welcome to our hospital. You don't need to worry about a thing. By the way, do you have a will?? --- Anyway... So once they got me all set up my Dr. came in with the cervidil (it is a cervical ripening drug on a long string that is put up behind your cervix) around 6:45. After placing it he said I was 3cm dialated and that he wouldn't be surprised if the cervidil kicked me into labor right away. At 7pm the nursing staff switched and I got a new nurse. I didn't like her. She was pushy and said a few things that made me want to black her eye -but I've been told there are worse nurses?? So I'm not going to go into my distaste for her because it would be a waste of space. About an hour later I started having contractions, and by 8:15 I was starting to really work. Lori showed up right after Nolan and I both looked at each other and said that we hoped she got there soon. Lori worked with me through about 30mins of contractions. One would start and I would stand up, lean over the back of a rocking chair and sway. Moaning all the while. Sometime it was just a sound, and sometimes it was the word "Open" or "Down". In strong deep guttural tones that helped bring Eden down lower into my pelvis and open my cervix. In that time also called my midwife who I also wanted at my birth. I remember Lori telling her that my contractions were about 1 1/2 to 3 minutes apart and 2 minutes long. They were more irregular than normal contractions because of the cervidil.

My midwife showed up at some point and I remember being so glad she was there. A little while after she got there, she and Lori started having a conversation about girly stuff. I teased them, between contractions, saying that I was going to write that conversation on my blog. haha. About the time she showed up my nurse wanted to put my saline lock in my hand and start antibiotics (my GBS had come back positive so hospital likes to do antibiotics). I sat down in the rocking chair and tried to relax and focus on moving Eden down and opening my body up. The nurse went to work on my I.V.,  missing my vein in the first hand, it hurt like the devil. She got it in the second hand but couldn't manage to draw blood for hospital protocol. So that meant a 3rd stick in my arm for a blood draw. I was very frustrated with her at this point b/c I hate needles and getting stuck 3 times during contractions was making me loose my concentration. But there I sat, in the rocking chair all the while. Moaning, and sometimes crying out from the pain of the needle, which to me was worse than my contractions.

****I feel that I should mention here, I have been told by several people that Nurse Claw-hand wasn't actually as bad as I perceived her to be. And that there are some much worse nurses. That being said, I've had amazing nurses in the past and she had gigantic shoes to fill.****

After my blood draw was over the nurse was getting concerned about how close together the contractions were getting so she needed me to sit for 20mins to get a good reading on Eden's heart rate. Around 10:30 (I think, time starts to get fuzzy here) the nurse determined that the cervidil needed pulled b/c the contractions were too close together and Eden wasn't reacting to them well. A babies heart rate is supposed to vary, that is, go up and down with contractions and her's were not doing that. I remember getting up out of the chair and almost running to the bed (which was only a foot and a half away) and saying "Get it out!" So she used her giant sharp claws to dig around behind my cervix until she found the string and pulled it out. It hurt so bad, worse than a contraction. At the same time she said I was 6 cm which I was happy to learn. She also flushed my system with saline to help Eden and I got in a hands and knees position. As the cervidil was being pulled out it finally occurred to me that I must actually be in active labor, and that I was likely very close to transition. Until this point I was wondering when labor was REALLY going to start. My contractions had been so hard and painful with Asher that I expected them to be the same this time around.

After about 10 minutes Eden's heart rate was great again, and she had turned from her posterior position (her back to my back) to a better one with her belly facing my back. So Nurse Claw-hand rolled in the birthing tub and started filling it up. Because I was on the bed on my elbows and knees my arms began to get tired. I decided to lay down on my right side to rest for a bit. After laying there for just a little while I thought to myself "It's O.K. for my water to break now." About 12 seconds later I felt and heard a pop. My water broke. In the past my water breaking was almost as soft as a soap bubble bursting, but this time it was as if a heavy-duty water balloon popped. My mom, who was in the room (I have no idea when she got there??), later told me that she heard it. I said "I think my water just broke." My midwife checked to see if there was meconium (baby poop) in the amniotic fluid, but it was clean.

I got back on my hands and knees and I think Dr. Wonderful (he really was, this is not sarcasm) came in around this time. My butt was facing out into the room, and suddenly I started to hear a conversation about blue lines on my butt. I remembered Lori telling me during the birthing class I took almost 2 years ago, that there is a blue line that shows up on a woman's butt when she's in labor. You can tell approx how much she's dilated by how long the line is. So my midwife is telling Dr. Wonderful about this but I'm sort of out of it and I turn around after hearing him say something like "we can see a head" I yell "What!!???" And then he laughed, and I told him (jokingly) to "get out!" There was no head. There were, however, more contractions. And now I was really working. My water breaking quickly pushed me to the 10cm mark and I was encouraged to get into the water. For some reason, I remember resisting. I think I was just concentrating to much on the contractions and wasn't sure I could actually move... but Lori and my midwife were gently persistent and I got in the tub. It felt glorious.

I sunk down onto my knees and spread my legs as wide as I could get them. The warm water came up over my swollen belly and half-way up my breasts. I looked down into the water at my thighs and belly and breasts, feeling awe at what God created my body to do. Just before the next contraction I'm sure I heard God whisper down in my heart, "You are created for this, my beautiful daughter." It gave me strength and courage to continue. On land Lori would rub my back and talk to me during my contractions. Softly telling me that I was doing "good" or "wonderful". She would coach me into deeper vocal tones, help me focus and breath. Now she was either squatting or kneeling outside the tub. She told me to hold on to her hands drive the power behind my contractions down. I would begin to moan in higher tones and she would gently coach me "down". My "down" sounded like a bear roaring. If you are wondering if I am a gentle, delicate flower birth-er, the answer is "No". This is right about the time when I looked up into Lori's eyes and whimpily said "Is it too late for an epidural??" (It was laughably too late for one) I got the feeling she wanted to laugh at me, not because I was being ridiculous, but more because she knew how close I was to giving birth (which was 20 minutes or less later). But she didn't laugh, she sympathetically said, "Yes, honey, it's too late". So I carried on powering Eden "down". I would do so well during a contraction until I would hear Nurse Claw-hand say "You got this Samantha. You are in control." Some how this really bothered me so I yelled at her to "STOP TELLING ME I'M IN CONTROL!!!!!" She did. And I later apologized.

After some time (like maybe 10 minutes, I told you time got fuzzy) my midwife said she thought I had a cervical lip and that if I were to lean back it would likely take care of itself. So I did and it apparently went away. It was hard for me to push in that position so Lori twisted a sheet into a rope and told me to pull on it during a contraction. This helped a TON. I really found my power and used the energy from my growling now to funnel it into pushing Eden under my pubic bone. I will NEVER forget that sensation. I felt her move down, down, down. After getting her head past my pubic bone I reached up inside me and felt her head. It was at that point that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could totally push this baby out. She was so close, and I had the POW-WA! So with the next contraction I found that strength that every birthing woman finds at the end. The equivalent of a volcano of power erupted and I pushed Eden's head down and out. Past crowning and just right to her eyes. Her head was half-way out. The hard part was over. My body rested for a bit and didn't contract for what seemed like a long time. My midwife told me to put my leg up on the side of the tub to open my pelvis just  a tad more to let her shoulders come down. Dr. Wonderful reached down and held up my other leg and he seemed kind of excited now. And I think he told me to push, or someone did.... that part is fuzzy too. I gave one last push and out she came. She lay very still in the water (which is normal and good with a water birth) with the cord coiled once around her neck and then down around her body. I started to reach down to grab her but they asked me to wait while the cord was being unwrapped. After the cord was moved, I reached down and picked up my daughter and placed her on my chest. Victory. The first thing I thought was "Please, please, just open your eyes one time for me." I was still afraid that she too would die before I ever got to look into her eyes and tell her that I loved her. But then the most perfect thing happened, she looked up right at me, open her eyes and took a breath. And with that breath she let out a gurgly cry that filled the room with tears and thanksgiving.

I was in such shock and wonder that I couldn't cry. I could only laugh and smile. Dr. Wonderful quickly suctioned out her mouth and put a blanket over her. He, as per my wishes, waited to clamp her umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing. Someone called Nolan (we had agreed ahead of time that is was best if he was in the waiting area while I gave birth) and he happened to be on the other end of the building. He wasn't aware that things were moving so quickly. He told me that he started running back to the Labor and Delivery unit. It took him some time to get to my room, so my mom got to cut the cord. It was a first for her even though she had 4 children and has been with me through all 3 of my births. Cutting the cord was especially exciting for her. While I held Eden in the tub my placenta detached almost immediately. I gave two  mild pushes and that came out as well. A minute or two after that Nolan finally arrived and it was time for me to get out of the tub. Nurse Claw-hand put a new blanket over Eden and I handed her to Nolan. He told me that he felt relief course through him first. And for the rest of the night he kept having to ask himself what had happened because of being in shock.

While Nolan held Eden, Lori and my midwife helped me out of the tub, dried me off and put a hospital gown on me. After getting in bed I looked around and everyone in the room was crying and hugging everyone else. Nolan gave Eden back to me and all I could do was marvel at her. I needed nothing more in those moments than to look into her eyes. Those eyes. Still, every day I spend hours looking into her eyes. I never got to look into Asher's eyes. I never heard one breath. Never one cry. I will never take for granted one single cry again. The sound of my child living, even when I am exhausted and she has cried for hours, will give me joy.

After spending time with her, Nolan went to get the rest of our family and there were more hugs and tears. Vera got to meet Eden that night while sitting on Daddy's lap. She said "She's so soft." and kept stroking her head gently. Eden was passed around  and pictures were taken. Facebook was updated. And pictures were uploaded. 20 minutes after I gave birth Eden latched on and nursed for the first time. She knew just what to do.

When Nolan's mom held Eden she sang to her. The last time she sat in a hospital rocking chair and sang to her grand-baby was with Asher. This is another memory I will never forget.

I spent 2 1/2 days in the hospital with Eden. Both of us were so healthy the hospital staff was very surprised. Eden was nursing really well. I produced tons of colostrum. I did not have any hemorrhaging (this is a big deal because it is routine in this hospital to give EVERY mom a shot of pitocin after they give birth to help the uterus clamp down. But I wasn't given any).  Eden's bilirubin (jaundice) was only 1.7 (they want it under 12, a healthy adult can test at 1.7).  The pediatrician and the nurses thought at first it was a mistake.

This has been the most tragic, life transforming, blessed, and spiritually alive 15 months of my life. I have learned that when people pray for you it really makes a difference. I have myself learned to pray in a whole new way. I know God has a plan and whatever may come, I will follow him. I still miss Asher with every fiber of my being. I think of him every single day. Sometimes holding Eden makes it hurt harder, and other times it heals wounds. I am now able to thank God for receiving Asher so soon into heaven, because I would never have known the joy of Eden. I do not try to reason it out, or understand His ways, for they are higher than mine.

Through this birth God has worked other miracles that I'm not able to share here. If I had never gone in for this induction many amazing things would never have happened. Eden's birth may very well be the catalyst for change for the better. Again, God is not surprised, even by miraculous events. It was all in his plan.

Pam, my pastor's wife told me dozen's of times, "God will be so faithful." At first I didn't know what she meant. And then I thought she meant that he will always be with me.... and while that is partly what she meant, there is  another part I am seeing now. With God all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. God's design for my life my not always be easy or happy, but it will always be for my good. And I can truly say that God has been so faithful to Nolan and I.

Welcome into our family, Eden Constance Ritchie. 9lbs; 1oz, 20 inches long. Born at 12:20am on 02/21/12.