I love how every birthing experience is unique. It is always a reminder of how sovereign God is, and how everything is always, ultimately in His hands.
I asked God of three things regarding Liam’s birth: 1) For my labor to be the shortest one I’ve ever experienced so far; 2) For me to be able to go through labor naturally once again (which means no complications); 3) For baby to come out healthy.
In my previous post (the first one I wrote since giving birth and coming home from the hospital) I wrote about how God challenged my faith and prompted me to actually ASK Him for a short and all-natural birth. He challenged me to actually EXPECT this from Him, and to consider it as a done deal.
And leading up to the week of Liam’s birth, I did.
And am I glad I did.
On my 38th week, we went for routine check-up and found out I was 2cm dilated at the time. I was planning on attending the homeschool conference the next day, but my OB advised against it, as that meant I’d be away from Dennis and up and about for a whole day. This being my fourth pregnancy, there was a greater chance for my labor to progress faster this time. I think she was concerned about my water breaking, me being apart from my labor partner (Dennis), and the venue being far from the hospital (taking Manila traffic into consideration). That was on a Friday.
Come Saturday night, I went with Dennis to a dinner with some of our leaders from church. For some reason, my whole body was really fatigued and my back was really sore. Throughout the day I have already felt irregular contractions. During dinner, I felt stronger contractions– still irregular, but more frequent. I had one major concern at the time: I desperately wanted– and needed– a massage before I went into labor. I knew that if I were to go into active labor that night, my body might not be able to handle the work as I was too tired and sore. I remember praying, “Not tonight, Lord, please. Let me get a massage and some sleep first.” We excused ourselves from the dinner and headed to the massage place. The contractions were still frequent and very much felt by my aching body.
One photo before leaving with our EN Malaysia pastor who spoke to our businessmen. (I think I was having a contraction here!)
Right after the massage that night, God answered my prayer and the contractions ceased. Just like that. (WHEW!)
Sunday….Monday…. contractions were there, but were irregular. It wasn’t time yet.
This was good. This meant we could still attend our three-day Asian Pastors Equipping Conference (the original APEC!).
What better way to pass the 2-cm dilated- there-but-not-there-yet period than to spend time with good friends from the ministry?? 🙂
Tuesday…Wednesday….still irregular. Not yet the time either.
I decided to skip the last day of the conference and seriously make efforts to naturally induce labor (I was about to enter my 39th week). I didn’t want to do as much walking and stair-climbing as I did not want to tire myself out too much. I decided instead on these methods: contact with my husband, nipple stimulation (I really find this to be one of the most effective ways to help labor progress), doing the Miles circuit (as suggested by my doula), doing squats, and finally doing the prenatal exercises I should have been doing but never did (except for one night out of the nine months– which lasted for ten minutes!).
By four o’clock in the afternoon, my contractions were getting stronger and more regular, with six to seven- minute intervals. I decided to take a walk to see how the contractions would progress. Barely an hour into my walk, the contractions became longer, with shorter intervals– around 5 to 6 minutes. There were moments I had to stop and rest during the contractions. I knew then this was going to be the night!
I decided to have an early dinner, so I could go to bed earlier and hopefully get some sleep before going into more active labor. Dennis also came home right after the conference because he started having allergies, which always cause him to be knocked down and really need sleep.
By around 7 P.M., I was already attempting to get some shut-eye. I decided to stop monitoring my contractions because it kept me from being fully rested (there’s a term for this– praning?? hehe). Dennis was fast asleep by this time, too (because of the allergies).
Of course, as I had expected, I really wasn’t able to get any sleep. The fact that I was able to keep my eyes closed was good enough. By ten in the evening, the contractions were lasting about a minute, with four to five-minute intervals. This went on until midnight, which had me torn– should I wait for the moment when I could no longer speak or should I go to the hospital already?? Dennis decided to go, since we weren’t getting any sleep anyway.
We left the house at 1 A.M.
It was a good idea to go to the hospital already. I didn’t really want all these done when I was already in too much or continuous pain.
My doula arrived. Yay! 🙂 Additional support aside from my husband! 🙂
My OB arrived. Whew! Now I FELT ready to give birth!
It was as if my body knew that my doctor had arrived. A few minutes after her arrival, my water finally broke (around 3:30 A.M.).
Upon assessment though, it turned out that I was still 5 cm dilated (I usually go by the time I was 6 cm dilated), and the baby still hadn’t descended enough. Because of this, my OB advised that I stay in bed instead of my original plan of walking around while in active labor. It was explained to me later on by my doula that it was safer that way to ensure that the cord doesn’t slip through…safer at least until the baby descended some more.
For the next two hours I continued to do nipple stimulation. Dennis was also beside me, hugging me and massaging my back each time I had contractions. As I said, nipple stimulation has always proven very effective for me– and by 4:30 the contractions were really much, much stronger and longer, and the intervals were getting shorter and shorter. The only way I could manage the contractions this time was through breathing and by imagining Jesus as my labor partner, stroking my hair, and gently telling me “That’s good pain. That’s good pain.” Also, with each contraction, I visualized my cervix opening up some more and my baby descending.
By 5:30, I called my doula to take over. Dennis’ pseudo-massages (because they were honestly really more like gentle rubs than massages) weren’t working for me anymore. I also asked them to call my OB. I felt I had to be 8 cm dilated already, based on the strength, duration, and frequency of my contractions.
True enough, my OB confirmed my suspicion and added that the baby had also descended. That was a go signal for me to stand and let gravity assist me through my labor, too.
As soon as I stood up, the contractions became stronger than ever, with practically no rest period in between. I remember hearing myself whisper in between breathing and blowing, “Lord, nahihirapan na ako.” “Ayyyy….Lord help me. Aray.”
Yep. This was it!!!
Everything became so fast from that point on. As I was blowing and swaying through each contraction, the staff was getting everything ready so I could soon start pushing Liam out.
As soon as I got into position, my OB and Dennis started saying “Malapit ka na. Anjan na siya.” Dennis continued to say this, knowing I needed to be reminded and encouraged to keep at it and hang on. These became magic words for me at this time: “Anjan na siya. Anjan na siya.”
5:40 I was blowing and blowing while trying to push Liam out.
At exactly 5:49 A.M. of October 23, 2015, our baby boy– Liam Samuel, was finally born! 🙂
All I could exclaim as soon as Liam came out was “Thank you Lord!”….and I couldn’t stop myself from saying it over and over again. The labor was finally over, and I was holding in my arms God’s newest gift to us! 🙂
God had answered my prayers. This was my shortest labor ever, and I gave birth naturally to a healthy baby! 🙂
Liam’s first-ever solo pic!
More than answering my prayers concerning my labor, He dealt with my heart and stretched my faith. These, for me, are more important than getting answered prayers.
God is truly faithful and true to His word.One of the promises He impressed in my heart was “Take courage. I AM HERE.” He promised that He will not just be present, but that He will make His presence known during my labor. He did. I am convinced that it wasn’t just my imagination, but that Jesus really was there — stroking my hair and helping me through each contraction, gently whispering, “That’s good pain. That’s good pain.”
Times like this are always a good reminder of God’s faithfulness, God’s goodness, God’s tangible presence, God’s power, God’s love, and God’s grace. Times of weakness and pain are always an opportunity for God’s strength to be magnified and manifested in us.
And so this is my prayer for you– that in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, you will not only know that God is present with you, but that He will make His presence known to you. I pray that you will see and feel Jesus right beside you, gently telling you, “That’s good pain. You are strong enough for this, because my power is made perfect in your weakness.Your pain will produce endurance, which will produce character, which in turn, will produce hope. Do not give up, for after this, you will reap your reward. Do not lose heart, for you will come forth as purified and refined gold when we’re done. That’s good pain. Take courage, I am here.” 🙂
I would like to thank my awesome birth team once again, as well as my friends and spiritual family who always stood with me in prayer throughout my whole pregnancy. You know who you are. 🙂 What a blessing it is to go through labor with you! 🙂
Thank you, Dra. Menie Reyes and Doula Velvet Roxas! 🙂
We’re complete! 🙂