“Be careful what you pray for,” Patrick said to me. “I know. I know.” I replied, “I am only asking that He give me a clear sign of labor when the time comes.” I was pregnant with our sixth child. The five previous children had all be born with the same routine: weeks (anywhere from 3-16) of contractions 3-5 minutes apart lasting ten or more hours, failure to progress, pitcoin induction on the 3rd or 4th trip to the hospital, epidural for pain, birth of a healthy baby. A blessed outcome indeed, but a very frustrating third trimester and delivery to say the least. This time I wanted something different, something more edifying, something empowering.
We planned a home birth assisted by a midwife and her helper. There was no option for induction and no option for medicated pain relief, unless I changed my mind and went to the hospital. I kept the doctor’s number in my phone. I wasn’t afraid of pain. I had taken Hypnobabies and was fully confident in my body’s ability to deliver a baby. After all, I had already done so on five occasions. My fear was a fear of contractions that would not progress into labor, of contractions that would last for ten or twelve hours and then just stop as quickly as they had started. This had been my pattern with all of the previous births. Each time the contractions came, the doctor told us to go to the hospital for monitoring. We waited long hours while I was hooked up to monitors for the nurses to watch my contractions. I was poked and prodded and told that I was not in labor; but, not released to go home because I was contracting regularly. After half a day in the hospital the nurse would come in and announce–sometimes stoicly, other times filled with pity–“You are not in labor. Go home, get rest and come back when your contractions are 3-5 minutes apart.” It was humiliating each time. With the home birth at least we wouldn’t be bothering family to keep the children, waking children and upsetting schedules, or causing Patrick to miss another day of work. The midwife could come to us and she was happy to do so at any hour of the day. It was her job, she told us with a huge smile.
My pregnancy had gone swimmingly well. It was July 4, 2008, I had only 18 more days until my due date and not a single
contraction wave to come over me. I prayed that when the time came for baby to be born, my water would break–a clear sign of labor with no guesswork from me. At 8 o’clock that night Patrick walked out front of our home and discovered a small river of water flowing across the driveway. We had a leak and discovered it was in the city’s line at the corner of our drive. The kids danced in the flowing water, splashed and played. Patrick called the city to report the leak and at midnight giant jack hammers worked to repair it. Me? I was wandering the hallways with contractions 3-5 minutes apart for the next ten hours.
A few days later, the contractions returned. This time it warranted a call to the midwife. She and her assistant, Angela came to the house and settled themselves on the couch for a long night. All night I contracted only to stop at six in the morning. I was exhausted and frustrated. My midwife reassured me that all would be fine as I cried in my frustration and thought about going in for an induction. Patrick walked into the room and announced that we had a leak in the utility room. There was a puddle of water on the floor and he prayed that it wasn’t a slab leak. He would have to do some investigating. I saw the irony. Two water leaks, two rounds of non-progressing contractions. At the time, I wasn’t laughing. Patrick knew my prayers before I said a word. He questioned me without hesitation, “Have you been praying for your water to break?! Well, stop it!” he teasingly admonished.
A third time on July 17 the contractions began again. This time my midwife advised a warm, relaxing bath and to call her if I noticed a change, or if I wanted her just to be there. The change was noted, the midwife called and a healthy baby boy, weighing 8lbs was born in one of the most beautiful and intense moments of my life. After sharing in the joy of the birth and the hours of fawning that followed, my husband was alerted to a third water break. This one flooded the hall bath with sewage. My husband said he went from one of the most beautiful moments to one of the most disgusting in a matter of minutes. “I didn’t!” I stated defensively, “I promise, I didn’t pray for my water to break this time.”