With a loud ‘ROAR’ I birthed forth my lion-heart boy, Courage Ruah Hall, at the eleventh hour (11pm) on September 29th, 2011, Rosh Hoshana (the Jewish New Year). 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 20 inches long.
I woke up that morning, late, and decided to beautify myself by soaking in the tub with some Burt’s Bees salts, shaving my legs, putting on lotion and makeup and curling my hair. I even painted my nails. As I was finishing up painting my nails, I started to feel some mild contractions. I should say that I began feeling “menstrual cramps” the night before, which I easily slept through. But around 10 or 11am while I was painting my nails, I noticed these “cramps” being very consistent. So I decided to time them – every 2 minutes or so, and lasting 30 to 40 seconds. Since they didn’t hurt too bad, I wondered if they were Braxton Hicks or just something different altogether. I never expected going into labor that early (almost a week before his due date), especially since I had it in my mind that my mother would be there for the birth, and she wasn’t flying in until Sunday (3 days later).
I told Preston that I felt like I was having mild contractions, and he got excited. But both of us assumed it wasn’t real LABOR. So Preston went to work around noon and since I was feeling great, I decided to run to Starbucks and get a frappuccino! I called my midwife and she thought it might just be early labor, and to call her if they got stronger so she could come and check my cervix. At Starbucks I told the girls (my Starbucks partners) that I thought I may be having contractions but that I didn’t think he was coming anytime soon. They got excited, made me my fabulous drink, and I headed back home.
Theresa Dedmon and a team from Bethel had just done a Prophetic Arts conference at Burning Hearts the night before, and I took some canvases home with the intention of painting something in the prayer room the next day. I also had a scrapbook set out with my maternity photos, intending to work on that too. Little did I know that instead of spending the day doing some creative art and scrapbooking projects, I would be going into labor!
My midwife came by early afternoon to check my cervix, and I was barely 2cm. So she left and told me she’d come back around 6pm or 7pm, unless I called for her sooner. So I began to worship and dance and sing through the contractions the next couple hours. I even played the piano, (“Our Father”), and sang through the contractions. It was so beautiful! I put on “Nothing I Hold Onto” by United Pursuit Band and worshiped to that song.
By 4pm I went to the bathroom and thought I had passed the mucus plug (the bloody show). So I called Preston and asked him to come home from work. At this point, I went and put on my Owl ring that my mom bought me. It’s this cool ring with a big owl on it and then a little tiny owl next to it, and my mom said it reminded her of Courage and me. When she bought it for me, I knew I wanted to wear it during the birth.
|Me and Courage at 3am, just 4 hours after he was born.|
Still wearing my Mama Owl ring :)
With Preston there with me, it was comforting. With each contraction about 5 minutes apart, I would do the spiral motion with my hips, sometimes on the yoga ball, sometimes just standing up. They felt good! But by 6pm I knew I wanted my midwife there. I could sense the contractions were going to get stronger. She arrived between 6:30pm and 7pm and checked me. I was about 5cm. At this point my contractions were getting stronger and I felt them in my lower back. I remember at one point leaning over the crib and Molly (my midwife) putting pressure on my back.
Around 8pm my parents skyped in. Of course I was completely focused on the process of labor that they pretty much just watched (mostly listened since it was pretty dark in the room). It was nice to know they could “be there” in some way.
Preston started getting the Birth Pool ready to fill with water. The next couple hours I just remember focusing on getting through the contractions and wondering when I could get into the pool. The pool wasn’t ready until around 9pm, and I was so relieved to sit in there. It felt much better on my back. From the moment I was in the pool, Preston was right there with me, putting his hands on my lower back through each contraction (and even in between as they would start to go away). Then he’d feed me my water. Around this time, Molly’s assistant arrived, which was helpful to have another hand to help with refilling my drinking water, and the boiling water for the pool, as well as document the baby’s heartbeat, etc.
Preston says that before I got into the pool, I was leaning mostly on the crib through the contractions, and that I was mostly singing and laughing through each contraction. It was definitely not “light-hearted” singing or laughter, but I do remember focusing on trying to sing and laugh through the harder contractions. When I got into the pool, I remember getting louder and louder through the contractions. Preston was always there next to my ear, reminding me to smile through the contraction. I remember hearing him laugh a little, which helped me feel better.
After the birth and everything, the funniest thing was hearing Preston imitate how I sang “Holy!” through the contractions during the intense part of labor. I laugh so hard thinking about it because I remember how I sounded -- Imagine a southern black gospel woman singing "Ho-oly! ... Ho-oly!" haha
Several women have told me their favorite part of giving birth was when it was time to push, or when they got the urge to push. I was looking forward to this, and I remember Molly asking me if I felt the urge to push yet. I didn’t think I had. But when I started pushing, I guess my contractions started to get further apart. I was expecting the pushing part to be easier than it was. I think it took almost an hour to push him out. But that hour (between 10pm and 11pm) was the hour of my “roaring,” according to Preston.
My water never broke. In fact, as I was pushing Courage’s head out, the amniotic sac would bulge out first. Molly had me reach down to feel it and to feel his head behind it. That was cool. Preston said later that when I was pushing him out, he saw the amniotic sac bulging out and thought to himself “oh wow that’s a small head…” and then all of a sudden this huge baby came out. Haha I laughed so hard when he said that.
Every time I pushed, I wanted to keep pushing him so he’d be out of me, but Molly would remind me to stop pushing if the contraction stopped. Finally, with a loud “Roar” (my poor neighbors who live above me were sure I was in labor by that point), I pushed Courage Ruah all the way out. It was amazing once I saw his whole body. The cord was very short and was wraped around his neck and body a couple times, so I had to stand up right away. But he was perfectly colored and cried right away, and I was so relieved to hold him. I remember looking at Preston and saying, “He’s here!” and “I did it!” Preston says he remembers the look of “sheer excitement” on my face as I looked up at him at that moment. It was so beautiful! And Courage Ruah was born right at 11pm, on the dot, “the eleventh hour.”
So since active labor started around 6pm, and Courage was born at 11pm, that's only 5 hours, which is pretty awesome for the first baby!
The next challenge was having to birth the placenta. I did not expect this to be difficult, but since my contractions had been more spaced out toward the end, it took longer to birth the placenta. Molly gave me some herbs to help give me contractions. I remember just wanting it all to be over, thinking, “I just birthed my son, why am I not done yet!” Yes, the hardest part was over, but it took almost an hour to get the placenta out. Preston showed off Courage to my parents through skype during this time.
Then there was the after clean up, and finally I got to rest on the couch and try to nurse Courage. Before I birthed the placenta, Molly had me try to breastfeed Courage, but it was just too difficult. I wish I had been able to get that “first feeding” in, but it wasn’t until around 2am that I got to feed him.
I love that I wore that Owl ring throughout the whole labor and birth, as well as my bracelet that I made this summer with “Courage” on it. I also love that I had my nails painted, legs shaved, hair washed and curled, because it made me feel much more refreshed after everything. Haha.
The whole thing was a very powerful and spiritual experience. I distinctly remember that every time I would choose to smile through a contraction, I felt peace and the pain significantly subsided. I love that my amazing husband was there with me reminding me to smile. I even would force myself to laugh, even if was just saying “HEE HEE HA HA!” And I would feel instant release! When I was singing “Holy!” and praying in tongues, it helped a lot. I never let myself get angry or frustrated at the pain, nor did I ever let myself think I can’t do it or I don’t want to do it anymore. I just kept focusing on Peace and Joy and Worship. In between contractions I would pray and praise God. My midwife even joined in a little, which was so cool!
Although my experience was not a pain-free birth like I hoped for, I know my faith and my spirit were strengthened. I will always contend for a pain-free birth, and I will never lower the standard of God’s will in earth as it is in heaven based on my experience, for we have been redeemed from the curse of the law through Christ, so there is always a higher standard to press in for. My next birth (of Story) will most certainly be better than this one, as I continue to grow in faith. I love that I had a homebirth, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I love that I did it completely natural with no anesthesia or medication. I love my beautiful healthy baby boy!
Preston and I both thought Courage would for sure be born the next week. We assumed October 7th would be perfect because it is “The Day of Atonement.” We never expected him to come early. But we both think it’s so amazing that God brought him forth on the Jewish new year. Bob Jones’ shepherd's rod prophecy says that 2011 is the year of the Lion. We always knew that was significant, even before we knew it was Courage growing inside me. What’s interesting is that Bob Jones’ prophecy goes by the Jewish calendar, which means Courage arrived just at the transitioning point from “The Year of the Lion” to “The Year of the Man.”
Preston and I also decided to have Courage circumcised. So we are having him circumcised on the eighth day (like they did in the Bible), which just so happens to be October 7th – the Day of Atonement.
I don’t know what all that means yet, but I know it’s prophetic and significant! I’m just excited and thankful to God at how wonderful the birth went and how perfect my baby Courage is, with my nose and Preston’s eyes! Thank you Jesus!
|Our happy little family. Day 1.|
|I'm in LOVE!|