Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our Hope is in the Lord

"Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed."

Psalms 37:34 (NLT)

The first edition New Living Translation states the first sentence a little differently:

"Don't be impatient for the Lord to act!"

After being in Costa Rica for almost five months, there is a temptation to make things happen. (Or should I say "try" to make things happen?) Essentially, I need be cautious to see when my flesh is not willing for God to bring about His perfect plan for Rancho Oasis for Youth.

Without a doubt, we have seen God's hand orchestrate relationships and so-called coincidences. Thankfully, this scripture reminds me to continue on the path before me (to keep and heed His way, as stated in the Amplified version.) God will bring the vision to reality.

Please continue to join us in prayer for God's provision of the land for Rancho Oasis for Youth. (16 to 20 acres of relatively flat, buildable, beautiful and accessible land.)

Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it. Psalms 127:1 (NKJV)

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Birth Story: Her Perspective

Well, okay. So Monday morning I get up to go and Jon takes off to the bank while Naomi is having a crying fit because she misses Papa (a.k.a. grandpa).

I felt a little achy around my hips and my pelvis. I thought "Am I stretching out even more or are these Braxton Hicks contractions?"

It was a beautiful day, so I decided to take Naomi to the park. We played on the swing for a long time. (In hindsight, this is when I know the labor started.)

We headed back into the house just as Jon got home. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go out for family pictures, so I went to lay down on the bed. I felt a little bit better, but we decided to cancel and just take it easy.

I remember trying to figure out what I was feeling: Was labor starting or just something else? I got up to use the bathroom then went out to the kitchen and told Jon,

"This might be it, but I'm not positive."

All excited, Jon asked, "Are you ready to have a baby?"

"Sure," I said, "but I have no idea if this is it or not."

A little while later I noticed that it was really starting to feel like contractions and they were growing more intense with each one. I didn't time the contractions or anything, because I didn't really think that it was necessary. I told Jon that this might be it, please try and get a hold of my parents. Jon called Uva, our midwife, and also left a couple messages for my parents.

The contractions and everything that I was feeling was very different from Naomi's birth. During her birth, everything came as if it was one big contraction; so fast and I really didn't have time to think (which was good). This time around, the contractions came in waves and I noticed that it felt different. I had space in-between my contractions to talk and play with Naomi.

Then Uva came down to the apartment. She was concerned that we wouldn't have the tub ready to use. I said, "No way! You have to at least try because I don't want the same story as with Naomi." I wasn't able to have the tub with her for that very reason. I thought to myself, "If it is ready great, if not that's okay."

Jon and Uva got started setting everything up. Jon got the camera up and Naomi was playing with the birthday ball, rolling around and being silly. While Uva set the pool up with Jon, I went and put on a different top to be ready to go into the pool.

The contractions were coming much more steadily, but my water had not yet broken. I was breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. While the air escaped my throat, I made low moaning noises which actually helped me to relax.

At this point my parents finally called and said they were on their way. Uva's assistant, Patricia, arrived and helped set up everything else needed for the birth.

My focus turned inward: letting go and allowing my body to do its job. As the contractions got more intense, I called Jon over to rub my back. I moved my hips back and forth as I kneeled on the couch. I asked when the tub would be ready for me to get in. I continued to focus; to breath long and deep breaths in order to not allow myself to tense up as each contraction came and went.

When the tub was ready, I stepped into the warm water and I could feel my whole body relax. The contractions got stronger, but they had a different feel in the water. Uva encouraged Jon to get into the pool; he asked me if I wanted him to get in. It felt good to have Jon in the pool with me, rubbing my back and holding onto my hands, holding onto me.

It's amazing how painful the contractions were, but yet how quickly they go away. God made our bodies for birth; all the right chemistry and systems to make and birth a baby. So perfect.

At this moment, I started seeing flashes from a camera. Melanie, our new friend and photographer, arrived to document this special day. Jon asked me if the flashes were bothering me, but I barely noticed because my focus was so intense on the birth.

Uva then encouraged me to come out of the pool and walk in order to help bring the baby down a little bit further. So I got out and Jon led me around, supporting me when I had my contractions. As each contraction came along, I would hang off of my husband's neck and arms. (A few times I even hit him because it hurt so much.)

Though the contractions were steady and strong, it didn't feel like the baby was coming down. My water still had not broken yet. So I got back in the tub and tried different positions to get comfortable with Jon supporting me and reminding me to trust in the Lord.

Uva's touch was reassuring on my skin. She was very calm and gentle with everything that she did. She understood how the body is made to do this with very little interference.

At this point, she decided to check and see where I was and see if my water was still there. She found that my bag of water was still very firmly closed. She said it was very strong. So she took a plastic finger/glove with a rubber tip and went in to break my water. At first she did it very gently but it wouldn't budge! So she had to do it a lot more firm a second time and I felt my water break immediately.

It actually felt really good. My contractions changed. It didn't hurt as much as before, but they were still very strong. Before my water broke, I remember my hips hurting a lot. It was because the contractions were going up against a "wall": the bag of water that had not yet been broken. The contractions continued but much smoother and thorough. They were flowing much easier than before.

Uva encouraged me to get out of the water again and walk some more. I felt the baby move down very quickly. As soon as I got out of the water I immediately squatted and felt the urge to push. I felt the baby move down even more! Uva continued to encourage me to stand up and walk; so I waddled around a little bit, but the contractions were coming faster and harder. With every contraction I wanted to get down and squat. It felt good to have to have my husband's support. Literally!

I sat on the birthing stool, but as soon as a contraction came around I threw myself onto Uva. She sat on the floor facing me and I kneeled onto her lap. As soon as the contraction was over I got onto the birthing stool, but I didn't like sitting on the stool. It was very uncomfortable.

At this point, I found myself breathing through my nose and out through my mouth much quicker as the baby got closer to coming out. I got up and waddled a little more, but with every contraction getting closer and closer, I decided to, no, I FELT the urge to push and that was the starting point of the baby crowning.

I stayed there in the squatting position; holding on for dear life to Jon's arms, while Patricia was behind me supporting me. Uva was behind Jon working between his legs to watch as the baby came out. (Claudine our landlady showed up at the perfect timing to take care of Naomi.)

As I pushed, I felt a burning sensation very strong and I was confused because I didn't think the baby was that far out yet. So I pushed but with caution so I wouldn't tear. Uva was pleased with my progress, but the burning sensation was growing.

Then all of a sudden she was out! I felt her body slide out of my tummy so fast that it felt weird. I could feel her feet kicking and a large gasp escaped me as the baby flew out of me.

Unfortunately, I tore pretty badly. I was too focused on our new baby to really care at the moment. I really wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.

They got me up and moved me back to the birthing stool to birth the placenta. I asked Jon if it was a boy or girl. We looked and found, to our surprise, that it was a girl. She was beautiful even though she was covered in white vernix, blood and slime. It was an amazing realization that we had another baby.

Uva's assistant Patricia gave me a few different herbal remedies and a spoonful of honey. I birthed the placenta easily with very little blood (though I did have a lot of blood from the tear).

They moved me to the bedroom and got me comfortable and settled so I could continue to bond with our new baby girl, Tabitha. Breast feeding started without any problems. Praise the Lord. Tabitha smelled so sweet and felt so warm.

Uva checked me over and looked at my tear. She saw that it was pretty bad. We had to call the doctor, who came later that evening to stitch me up. He did a wonderful job.

Naomi came over and explored her new little sister. I was so proud of her because she was so calm and watchful through the birth. Even times when I was obviously in pain, she didn't get upset because she knew that this was a normal process. I'm so grateful that she was able to witness the birth of her little sister. She immediately learned Tabitha's name.

Shortly after the birth my parents arrived. I know that my mom was very disappointed that she missed the birth, but I'm glad that she made it safely with Dad. They came over and got to meet their new grand-baby. Naomi was so happy to see her Papa and Nina that she covered them with kisses.

Patricia brought chicken soup to me that she had just made fresh in the kitchen. It tasted so good. I didn't realize how hungry I was until I had the first bite because I had only drank coconut water throughout the labor.

I continued to rest and enjoy our new baby. Jon sat with us and Naomi and my parents. We all crowded into the bedroom to get to know the new member of the family.

Uva brought in the placenta for us to see. She said it was the healthiest she's ever seen (she has been a mid-wife for 13+ years). It was extremely strong and thick. We decided to make an imprint of the placenta on a piece of paper. We are planning to mat and frame it. The print is very cool because there is an image of a tree growing from the cord into the placenta. This image is called "The Tree of Life" by many people.

It was definitely a unique experience, very different from Naomi's birth. I loved the homebirth atmosphere! Not having to labor in the car on the way to the hospital or be bothered by nurses. Not having to tolerate the hospital smells. Not having to worry about Naomi adjusting to a place that she has never been too. It was all here in the one bedroom apartment; everything had become familiar over the last two weeks we had been living here. I will definitely do a home birth again if the Lord gives us more kids.

It was a very beautiful day as a family. And a very funny one as I gave birth on Labor Day, again!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Birth Story: His Perspective

I hustled back from the bank with an eagerness to get on the road. Marillyn and I had recently met a professional photographer who volunteered her services for family portraits before the birth. However, the day decided to take an unexpected twist.

"Jon, I'm feeling contractions. I'm not sure if they are premature, but this could be the real thing."

"Do you want to cancel?"


Thus begins my day as Mr. Multi-tasker. Yes, ladies you read it: MR. Multi-tasker.

I got on the phone and called the photographer, our mid-wife Uva and Marillyn's parents. I grabbed Marillyn's Nikon and begin to chronicle the day, not to mention entertain Naomi and change a few diapers here and there.

Uva arrived a few hours later and we prepared the birthing tub. Naomi, Uva and I shot up to her home to get the rest of the supplies and we prepared the living room for the birth.

While I connected the hoses in the laundry room for the tub, I grabbed Mare's tri-pod and set up my video camera. Did I mention that I also offered some liquids for my wife and massaged her lower back?

Soon more help arrived. Uva's assistant, Patricia, begin to organize the kitchen into a mini-herbal-pharmacy along with birthing chair and exercise ball. During this time, I called the Goransons again and reorganized the kitchen to help Patricia. I also got a few candid photos and some close ups with the video. I might have said this already, but I cleaned up several water spills on the tile floor with some old towels. (Naomi decided to check if the water hoses were actually working and proceeded to water the living room floor!)

As Mare entered the pool, I readjusted the tri-pod, changed into my board shorts, gave Naomi a few crackers and strawberries and prepped our bed with several sheets and a couple shower curtains.

At this point, I transformed into the human Bow-flex for Marillyn. I was pressed, squeezed, leaned on, pulled on, held, braced and even yelled at few times. I was also a mediator for my hearing impaired spouse and her mid-wife, as well as my almost two-year-old daughter and the photographer and Patricia. (Melanie, the photographer, had arrived and was taking over film documentation duties.)

Then she arrived. While gripping my arms in a squatting position, Mare delivered Tabitha Charis Helle Beard into the reaching arms of our midwife at 3:38 PM. (Uva was reaching through my legs to get to Tabitha!) With babe in arms, we positioned Marillyn into the birthing stool and gazed at our new child. She had come! S-H-E. I couldn't believe we had another girl. My heart was overwhelmed with joy and a little fear. Joy that Tabitha was outside the womb and fear that I would not be able to love another little girl as much as I love Naomi.

However, as I gazed into the beauty of the moment, I knew that God saw me fit to raise and love another little woman into this world.

What a crazy day! What a perfect day!

This is my birth story.