She turned one this week. One whole year of the incredible joy her tiny self has brought into our home.
2:30am is her favorite time of day. My other babies were sleeping through the night more often than not at this age. My only explanation for the bonding time that we have once or twice a night still is that I think one gets a little softer with each child. I’ve had four now so I’m definitely getting a little mushy in spots.
As I held her in the dark living room this morning, remembering the night she arrived, I asked, “Why do we have memory?”
“So you can remember My faithfulness,” the Lord whispered.
Not profound, but it was the middle of the night.
Then I began to think through all the little ways He’d been faithful to us so far with Lydia’s life, and I knew it was time to write her birth story…
Each pregnancy up until Lydia’s had been a little more challenging–more little ones to chase around with gradually increasing symptoms–more nausea, fatigue, and back and hip pain. I had always wanted a lot of children, but after three I had begun to wonder how many more times I could endure the pregnancy part of that idea.
But the Lord was faithful. After my 3rd born, I’d discovered the online gym, Fit2B, and had done some core strengthening that got me in better shape to carry a baby. Also, shortly before Lydia was conceived, we had discovered that a mold problem in our downstairs bathroom (in our house in New York) was making us ill. While Jeremy remediated the mold, I researched how to cleanse from all the toxicity we’d been exposed to. I did a liver cleanse, a kidney flush, and was taking regular Epsom salt baths to help detox (plus I threw in a parasite cleanse, because–why not?)
I believe that season of extreme self care, if you will, contributed to my body handling pregancy better than ever with Lydia. Very minimal hip pain, no back issues, and the nausea and lack of appetite that had plagued in me in my other pregnancies were greatly reduced. It was a gift I rejoiced over daily!
We’d lived all last summer in the bus, making the decision while we were down here that we wanted to relocate to this area as soon as possible. But my birth plan did not include a bus. And there was a reason we’d installed a jacuzzi in the master bathroom. So we drove back up North in late August to begin packing our house and prepare for Lydia’s October 9th due date.
I try not to have an agenda for my birth because that just puts undue pressure on my mentally at a time I most need to relax. But I was praying and hoping the dear child would not come on the 8th, as that is our wedding anniversary. The Lord was faithful in attending to this desire of my heart, and we made it through that day without labor starting. In fact, we made it two more days, after a week of pre-labor before I finally admitted this could be it.
Jeremy still laughs about it. Because I was in serious denial all day on the 9th, as contractions wouldn’t leave me alone, and I was all moody and weepy and all the normal signs that labor was kicking into gear. It was he who made the decision to call the friends I’d wanted to be by my side during the last few hours. And it was only after the women arrived and took one look at me and nodded their heads and laughed at me, too, that I finally believed the signs myself.
Although I admitted I was in labor, for some reason I was still not mentally accepting we’d have a baby any time soon. I really like to birth at night so I don’t have to worry about child care for my other children. My ideal scenario is to have the baby in the quiet privacy of night, and have my kids wake up to the miracle after I’m all cleaned up and snuggled in bed, cuddling with our new treasure. It was 10:30 pm and my biggest concern would be that I would not have this baby pushed out by the time my little ones woke up.
The Lord was faithful and gave Jeremy just the words that gave me hope. “I think we’ll have a baby by 2am,” he said, and my girlfriends agreed. I was flabbergasted, but also delighted by the idea that it could really be over that soon. I decided I wanted to do some things to help labor along (which I won’t get into because it might be TMI) but it wasn’t 20 minutes later that I demanding as calmly as I could that Jeremy fill the tub.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, this would be my first unassisted birth. For all my other labors I’d had women coaching me along through each stage–telling me what my body was doing, and instructing me how to respond and what to focus on. I asked when I was in transition, I asked when I could push, I asked what position I should be in. I don’t know quite all that led me to make the mental shift, but this time I felt confident enough to listen to my body myself, and it was the most incredible experience. Instead of me looking to others for instruction, carrying the fear that I couldn’t do this on my own, I settled into my body’s rhythm and the Lord was faithful to lead me through the labor with less fear and more confidence.
One point in the labor stands out to me as precious. We were probably 20 minutes from delivery, and the contractions were one on top of the other and all I could do was focus on breathing. (I said later that I would never again do anything to ‘help’ labor along because this was my fastest, most intense labor–it felt like Lydia came out like a shot–and I was the canon!) I was in our tub–I’ve done water births since #2 and love how it helps me relax–and my friend was bathing my forehead while I quietly moaned my way through another contraction. I was beginning to tense against the pressure and she gently encouraged me to call on the name of the Lord. “Jesus” I gasped, and I felt a release. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” I whispered through the next contraction and I felt a deeper level of peace washed over me. He was with me, and He made His presence known in that moment, filling the room with peace.
I had one goal for this labor–something that I was focused on almost more than the baby–it was that I didn’t want to tear. I had done some research into ways to avoid tearing, and besides not pushing to hard and too soon as the baby crowns (which I’d done with my first and nearly needed stitches), I learned that a hands and knees position could also help.
I was on my back in the tub, in a reclined squat when I felt my body, without me consciously bearing down, move the baby through the birth canal. It was in incredible experience to be so in tune to my body and relaxed enough that I could just experience that shift. Then I felt the head, and again felt my body just do its thing, and the baby’s head crowned without me pushing. Then, bless her heart, Lydia popped her head right out with just one small push from me. At this point my husband and friends were getting a little curious as to my progress and asked, “how are you doing, Trina?”
“The head is out,” I calmly informed them, at which they all kinda jumped, and realized it was time to get ready to catch a baby! Somebody noticed that the water was a bit too low for a genuine water birth and they were about to do whatever they could quickly to get the baby’s head out of the water before it tried to breath, but the Lord was faithful and I had already felt the urge to get up out of the water onto my hands and knees. And that was the position I was in when I finally gave one slow, deep push and Lydia entered the world straight into her daddy’s hands, and I didn’t tear–at all.
It was 12:55am.
It’s a Girl
Then Jeremy told me that God had given me another girl, which nearly made me weep because I’d been so very sure this one was a boy, but deep, deep down I had wanted a girl. The Lord has always been faithful to plant a desire for the gender of the baby in my heart and with my other three I had gotten exactly what I hoped for–a boy first, then a girl, then another boy. For some reason I was afraid to hope with this child, so I had sicced myself up that it was a boy, so that if it was, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Three weeks before her birth, I’d been driving down the road talking to God about our baby. I was thanking Him for the great name He’d given us for our boy, but had a small request–“Lord, I know you’ve given us a great boy name, and I know it’s a boy, but I just would sleep better at night if you’d give me a girl’s name, too–just in case.” (The games I play in my mind. Sigh.) We had several girl name possibilities, but nothing felt “just right”. And in that moment, clear as a bell, I felt the Lord whisper, “Lydia”. I said, “Oh, thank you, Father! You’re so thoughtful! I know I won’t need it, but now at least we’re set.” Lydia had been one of the girl names that Jeremy had actually really liked, so when I shared this with him, he agreed we’d keep that one in case we needed it.
So there I was, on my hands and knees in my jacuzzi, not sure what I was more excited about–the fact that I had a Lydia, or that I didn’t tear. I’d have liked to just soak in that moment, but hands and knees in half a tub of water is not a great place to relax. Jeremy was holding Lydia, still attached by her cord to me, and we had to think for a minute what to do. We decided to have me gently roll over again onto my back so I could hold the baby, and they had to help hold my one leg in the air and lift it up over Lydia and the cord–it was like acrobatics in the tub. After I’d already pushed out a baby. I’m fairly certain I’ll try to avoid that scenario again!
But at last I was lying back in the warm water holding my new baby to my chest, reveling in all the gifts that had been given me. But this was just the beginning. After a blissful while of cuddling and bonding, they helped me out of the tub and into my bed, where I began nursing, and pushed out the placenta. Then baby was wrapped up and cuddled by one of my girlfriends while I got a quick rinse off in the shower. Back to bed in clean pj’s and clean sheets and lots of blankets and cuddles and it was time to introduce her to her siblings.
Family of Six
By this time it was 3 am, but Jeremy went and woke the children up. This is one of the reasons we love home births–because it lets our kids have the opportunity to bond with the baby as soon as possible. Claire arrived on my bed first, eyes glistening with the surprise of waking in the night to a baby in the house, but rather reserved. It took her 15 minutes to crack a smile, and later we learned that it was because she didn’t know it was OUR baby–she thought it was a friend’s. 😉 But after she figured it out, she didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. In fact, watching Claire become a big sister to her sister was the most beautiful thing I’v seen happen to her development so far. She went from moody and reserved to smiling near constantly whenever in the presence of Lydia, and her love for her sister seemed to launch her into a new season of maturity and an attitude of joy that became a more regular feature of her personality.
The boys came next and then we were a family of six, all cuddled together on the bed, drinking in the sight and sweet fragrance of our newborn baby.
The year since that morning has been long and difficult at times, but the Lord was faithful. I am so grateful for the joy that Lydia brought to the equation. She first smiled at twelve days old and that smile and her obvious delight with life and the people around her has added richly to our everyday.
Before we left NY we were able to have a photo session with a friend of a friend–the talented and super sweet Amanda Coombs. She hosted us in her home to take these precious photos of Lydia (and my other kids) when she was just 10 days old! If anyone of my readers back in Upstate NY need infant, family, or graduation photos, I highly recommend Amanda! I couldn’t believe how well the kids responded to her, and how careful and patient she was with my tiny baby who wanted to be wide awake for most of her photo session and didn’t want to stay swaddled. Amanda had a great trick for getting Lydia to relax so we got the classic “sleeping baby” shots though Lydia didn’t fall asleep till the group shot in the end…