I understand that most of you men out there will probably not be interested in these birth stories. So just keep scrolling down our blog, you might find something that interests you, maybe Michael’s motorbike trips, like this one or this one?
A week after Merry gave birth Liana’s mom asked me to come and check Liana out. She had been sick to her stomach, and couldn’t sleep all night. When I went over I checked her blood pressure (100/65), felt her baby (hard for me to determine the position), and checked for the heart beat on the fetalscope. I got a nice, loud heart beat. I told her “congratulations, I think you are in early labor”, gave her a back rub, tried to get her comfortable with pillows, and told her to try to get some sleep. Then I told her to send one of the kids over if she needed me (they are our closest neighbors). I went home.
No one came over, and I was busy around the house all day. The next morning, bright and early, the best midwife came over. She said that Liana had been in labor all night, panting through contractions and everything, but wasn’t progressing at all, and her water hadn’t broken. According to the midwife, Liana wasn’t ready to give birth, maybe wouldn’t be able to give birth on her own, and should be taken to the hospital. The midwife was exhausted, and no longer able to help since her husband is quite sick. She wanted to bring in my clout to help the family decide to take Liana down to the hospital. I went over and checked Liana. Her blood pressure was still 100/65. The babies heartbeat was still strong and good, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what position he was in. I asked the midwife to show me. She showed me the babies’ head and his legs. He was sideways. It’s not cultural to check dilation, for ANYONE to check dilation (even Liana’s mother, who has delivered quite a few babies), so we didn’t do that.
I told the family that either it wasn’t quite time for Liana to give birth, and she should try to rest. Or it was time, but she wasn’t dilating, and her water wasn’t breaking because the baby wasn’t in a good position. Either way she needed to rest if possible, while the family decided if they wanted to take Liana down to the hospital. She’d been quite a complainer the whole way through, and because of that I couldn’t get a read on exactly what stage of labor she was in.
After that I went to church, did J’s birthday party, and then came back to check Liana. She still hadn’t rested, was having regular contractions every five minutes, the baby was still sideways…I was now quite sure that he was sideways because I was getting strong heartbeats, up high on the right side of Liana’s belly.
So I said, “let’s take her to a hospital.” But I guess carrying a gigantically pregnant woman four hours down the mountain is…mostly nearly impossible. No one made any moves to start taking her down. So, I dug back into my books and found positions for trying to get a baby to move. I showed the drawings to Liana. She was into trying it, she especially liked the idea of kneeling with her head down. Her backside was sore from sitting on the hard floor for two days. She kneeled with her head down several times for about 15 minutes each time. When she would come back up, I’d check the heartbeat and baby position, and it seemed that he was moving down. Praise God. He was finally in a much better position after several hours, and there was a tiny leak of amniotic fluid.
Liana’s mom put baby powder on Liana’s belly button. Just a note for your cultural back pocket. I don’t know why myself.
Liana was starting to get where she wasn’t having many breaks between contractions. At one point I told her to grab my hand and squeeze as hard as she could. From then on, that’s what she wanted, a hand to squeeze. I also tried to work on her breathing, getting her to breathe out and try to relax, to change her high pitched crying to moaning and deep breathing instead. I was able to have some success. The thing that made a difference for her was to have someone telling her what to do…even if it was just “Liana breathe deep, you can do it, come on, you did it, good…you are doing this…keep going.”
Then the “birthing men” moved in. They started vigorously rubbing her back and even pushing down on her belly through contractions. It made me very worried to see what they were doing, as far as I know it’s a huge “no, no” because they could rip the uterus or something like that. They WERE, successfully moving the baby into position, though.
Anyways, maybe it was cowardly, but I decided to take a break. I handed Liana’s hand over to someone else, and moved to the back of the room. There were always something like 10 people there, so it wasn’t hard to disappear into the back of the crowd. I sat tiredly, wondering what should be done next. Soon I heard a newborn baby crying. I thought, “strange, no one here has a newborn baby, where’s that cry coming from.” I looked down, and realized that Liana had just given birth to a big, strong, baby boy. And, he was head down. Another miracle.
Not long after, with everyone’s help, Liana delivered the placenta.
Now, she and the baby are doing pretty well, navigating the new mama/new baby things that come up, like colds and eczema and milk supply.
That’s my story about birth number three. I haven’t yet told you about what they did with the placenta, and when they cut the cord, and who cut the cord. I still have a lot of learning to do about that.