Preparing for birth is not easy for me despite what you may think. I have been told numerous times that I am superwoman, or that I must have some crazy high pain tolerance to have an un-medicated birth. Though I’m flattered you think that of me, IT IS FALSE. I have almost passed out from seeing blood come from a laceration that I believe is referred to as, ahem… a paper cut. I also passed out in college when I tried to give blood for extra credit on a final exam. I didn’t even make it to the actual give blood part, I passed out after the lady PRICKED MY FINGER. People, I am far from superwoman. In fact, it’s embarrassing how not super-womanish I am. I must first and foremost give credit for both of my little’s entrances into this world to God alone. He is faithful to meet us where we are. When you think you’ve reached the end of you, He begins. His goodness carries us to the finish line. He is superman. I was just a lucky vessel for him to display His power during both my births. God asked me to trust Him to conquer my fear of pain, specifically pain in childbirth. Just like that one time he told me to run a marathon in college. Alone. With just Him. Clearly, I lack belief in myself to do what seems impossible. So he has made Matthew 19:26 come alive in my life, “with God, ALL things are possible.”
With home birth, the home visit is my favorite! It’s so fun spending time with Michelle, and during our home visit, I have her all to myself. I mentioned this in my blog post about Brave’s birth, but I will say it again… These women that work at Birth Matters are angels. My prenatal care with them is so exceptional, and their investment in our family is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They are family to us!
Because Brave was born on his due date I had assumed all along that Selah would come on or before her due date. Because this pregnancy had been much more uncomfortable (she was low, it was hot, and I was spending my days chasing a crazy toddler who I wish I had named Tranquility. Wonder why I was so uncomfortable?) After week 36, I was just expecting her to come at any minute. Silly me. With Brave I had told myself he would be late, so when he came on his due date it was a surprise! This time around, I felt like a ticking time bomb.
Though I had given birth once before and was amazed at how God met me in my discomfort, I was still nervous about birth again. My main prayer was that labor would be shorter this time. I didn’t want another 32 hours of labor, so I prayed it would at least be cut in half. 16 hours would be much better right? Well, from start to finish (including the not-so-hard part) Selah’s birth was 6 hours. SIX! Only 2.5 hours of the really hard stuff (active labor). What a different experience and a true answer to prayer.
Another difference about Selah’s birth was the vision God put on my heart. Her birth was supposed to be worshipful. Worship and Peace during childbirth? Yes please! So I spent numerous hours working on a super sweet playlist of incredible songs to lead us in worship. I invited a friend over to sing to me (whoops! she didn’t make it in time), and had scripture cards written out for the birth team or friends to read. Brave’s birth was just Jordan, my midwife Michelle, Student midwife Kaydee, doula Jenna, and I. This time I invited four other women and two more student midwives. There were 9 of us in our bedroom when Selah was born! I wanted her to be surrounded by strong, encouraging women when she came into the world… And she was!
I was also in a place in my life where I was needing lots of encouragement. Our sweet friends, Glenn and Kristin, found out their baby boy had a fatal diagnosis during my pregnancy. Our babies are two weeks apart. We have grieved with them and have been overwhelmed by their love for their son who is now with Jesus. On top of some other sad family drama, the month before Selah was born, Rocky and Reina (our precious pups we’ve had for 5 years) were attacked by a coyote and died from the injuries. All while we were out of town! I don’t want to write too much about it now, but needless to say, our home has been quite sad and somber. It was hard to get excited about giving birth in our home that was lacking the life it had before. Poor Selah in my tummy…She endured a lot of tears and a roller coaster of emotions. Having a bigger birth team is just what I needed to fill the emptiness and keep my spirits up.
I had asked everyone to pray she would come on November 12 so that she could have a super cool birthday. 11-12-13. My close friends know that I despise odd numbers. (I have a serious problem that is slowly getting better!) Since we were due the 11th month in the year 2013…. It wasn’t looking so good to get any even numbers in there. When she didn’t come on Tuesday the 12th, I was actually hoping for her to come the following week. We had made plans and gotten babysitters so we could go to a parenting conference that weekend. I was excited about one more weekend with just one kid. You know what they say, when you make plans thinking the baby isn’t coming, baby will come. And so it began….
On the evening of November 14th, I called Jordan because I felt a little weird. I told Jordan to make his way home once he wrapped things up at the office. It was around 5:00pm. I remember standing outside talking to him on the phone and looking down at my belly. In my heart I knew she was coming soon. But I stayed calm, cleaned the house, and got ready to host our last Growth Group for the semester. The next few hours were busy with our church friends, but as we said goodbye to the last couple, Jordan told me he had a really bad headache. He’s never had a migraine, but he said it felt like one. #perfecttiming So at 9:00p.m. we were both IN bed. Crazy. Looking back I think the headache was part of God’s sweet plan for us to get some extra rest. I’ll write out the labor timeline and add notes. Here we go!
Thursday November 14 at 4:14pm
Me to Robin (my doula): some show :/ Not a lot but it’s definitely a change.
Robin: (Thumbs up) Cramps or backache?
Me: Not really. Just feel heavy.
Robin: Keep me posted. You can text in the middle of the night. It wont wake me but I’ll see in the morning. Call me after 9pm if you need me J
Robin: Try to go to bed early
(Which we did because of headache)
Friday, November 15th
Me: Light cramps have begun… We went to bed early – I’m trying to sleep as much as I can
Robin: (Smiley face)
Me: More frequent, more pressure down there than I remember. Hurts to sit on toilet. Keep feeling like I have to poop. I haven’t timed them…maybe 7-10 min apart. I cant get a good grasp on where I’m at in labor. I want to think I’ll labor like this the rest of the day? But what if things move quicker? Ah!
Robin: Ok, I’m getting in shower
I just saw your message but I think after I shower I should come down
Me: They’re coming 7min apart and are lasting anywhere from 45sec-1min
Me: I feel them in my butt. So weird
Robin: They are all so different. Hehe.
6:50am Jordan made me breakfast. A Quinoa- egg bowl with butter and salt. A Ciervo favorite. While eating I was texting Jessica and Amy, my favorite group text ladies, and they were making me laugh. They asked if I had any Craiglist pickups to make. Hahaha! I buy/sell a lot on Craigslist. This kept me laughing for a while.
Robin: How’s it going? I don’t want to miss it but also don’t want to come “too early”/before you want me there. Ill plan on leaving at 8am unless I hear otherwise.
7:25am Called Robin and she listened to me moan through a contraction. She said that she thought I was in active labor and that I needed to call my Midwife Michelle. Jordan called Michelle and she said she was sending her student midwife, Kaydee, to check on me. She told Jordan that she didn’t trust second-time mommas to accurately depict what stage labor they are in since she had almost missed a birth the night before!
I decided to take a shower. Jordan began filling up the birth tub in our room. I had the sweetest time with the Lord while in the shower. Jordan turned on my “Selah Playlist” and I would sing through the contractions. These contractions were extremely intense, there was no way I could talk through them. But God showed up in that shower! His sweet presence filled my heart and He directed my thoughts during that worship to all the things I wanted to think about. I prayed for Selah and talked to her, told her that she could come anytime. I thought about Christ, and his sufferings on the cross. I knew that the pains of labor do not even compare to what Jesus endured for me. I prayed for the people in the Philippines that had lost their loved ones and was reminded that their grief was much worse than this physical pain I was experiencing. I lastly thought about our sweet friends whose baby couldn’t live outside of the womb and was reminded that I could do anything with God’s help. Just like He was carrying our friends in their grief, I knew He was with me then. All of these thoughts and prayers helped me keep my perspective. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in the pain and discomfort because I knew it was purposeful. I wanted to remain in a posture of worship. God had told me her birth should be worshipful, so I couldn’t allow my thoughts to become filled with anxiety or fear. I wanted God’s presence in a mighty way to fill my home as Selah entered our world.
After I got out of the shower, I put on a pair of granny panties and a sports bra… Classic birthing attire. Item #1 on my “Labor To-Do List” was to WEAR MORE CLOTHING!!! My pictures from Bravery’s birth were beautiful, but the appropriateness of his birth photos clearly wasn’t on my mind in those 30 plus hours. Item #2 was make sure there was something to eat. Even though everything happening was really intense, I had convinced myself to stay busy and that labor could last all day. (Forgot to mention Jordan and I prayed around 6am that she would come before sundown. Boy did she!) I put some diapers in the dryer and went out to the deep freezer to pull out a pre-made pot pie that would be a perfect after labor meal. So imagine, I’m running around the house in a sports bra and granny panties trying to load the kitchen fridge with food that needed to thaw. I had to stop every minute for another contraction that sent me onto all fours or to the closest piece of furniture. Jordan was still trying to fill the tub, so when he heard me have a contraction he would come running to help. Meanwhile, Brave was still rolling around in his crib!
Since I wanted more people here for Selah’s Birth, I sent the girls a text to come on over.
8:08am Hey Birth encouragers. Labor has started and it’s really intense. Who knows how long it will last. Pray for my strength and my focus. Please come to the house if you have time. Would love encouragement and prayer.
8:20ish Midwife Kaydee arrives and finds me in family room having a contraction on the couch. She immediately said, “I’m calling Michelle, you are having this baby soon.” I asked her if she was sure. I said multiple times that morning that I thought it must be false labor. Clearly denial. After that contraction on the couch, I made my way back to the bedroom.
8:25am Jordan and I were on the bed working through contractions when Roxanne Hicks, a sweet friend/mentor from church arrives. She puts a cold rag on my head, plays with my hair, and prays.
A few minutes later my doula, Robin, arrives. She came inside right around the time my midwife Michelle pulls in. Selah was Michelle’s third birth in 36 hours! Both of my babies have come right after Michelle has pulled an all-nighter. Sorry Michelle and Team!
8:30-8:45am Another dear friend Marlen arrives. I try to have contractions on the bed. They are getting stronger and their peaks are almost more than I can handle. At the top of the contraction, I kinda loose my cool. I remember thinking that the contractions are overtaking me, and that there was no way I could do this for several more hours. I was still TOTALLY in denial that she was coming soon.
My blood pressure and heart rate and Selah’s heart rate were checked every few minutes. Everything was great.
8:50am Robin suggested I stand up and hang on Jordan as if we were slow dancing. Hanging on him really helped the pressure I was feeling. During this time, Marlen and Roxanne began reading the scripture cards I had made. Things got emotional as God’s word was read to me while the worship music played. Jordan got really emotional, and I’ll never forget him whispering his gratitude and love for me in my ear. I can do anything with my sweet hubby by my side!
After a few contractions standing up, I started to grunt and make noises as if I was bearing down. Robin asked me if I was pushing and I said, “I don’t know, I just feel pressure.” Michelle kindly bent down next to me and said, “Do you not trust that you are ready to push? Would you like me to check you so that you feel more confidant?” I was so scared to get checked because I feared I wasn’t fully dilated. But since I couldn’t handle the contractions anymore, I took her up on the offer.
9:09am I got on the bed and Michelle started to check my progress and exclaimed, “April, sweetie, she is coming right now! Would you like to push here or in the water?”
I was thinking, “What? Are you sure? This can’t be happening. I haven’t been laboring that long.” I can’t imagine not having a baby in the water, so I couldn’t get in fast enough.
Let the hardest part of labor (for me) begin!
9:10am I got into tub and asked one more time, “Are you sure this isn’t false labor?” (The birth teamed laughed at me) Michelle asked me if I remembered how to push correctly. I told her that I didn’t like pushing. Mentally, I was really struggling here. Starting to push meant that I had to do some work. Without being graphic, the moment when Brave crowned was the hardest part. And crazy enough, it lasts LESS than a second. There’s a burn and a pressure that’s comes and leaves me breathless. Even though it’s just a moment, it is the hardest part for me. So pushing meant that I had to make a decision to do THAT again. And it was all up to me. The chat with God I had in that moment lasted 15 minutes in my mind, but was really 30 seconds. I knew I had to do this to meet my daughter. I knew she was ready to join us, and I was tired of the contractions. God assured me that “where I am weak, He is strong” and I decided to push. The first one was weak… but another try and I felt some progress.
9:13am Jordan sat on the step in the tub so he could be ready to catch her. Someone around this time got a hot compress and was using it to apply counter pressure in the water. THE MOST AMAZING RELIEF EVER! So so so so helpful. If any part of labor and delivery feels like a spa treatment, its counter pressure with a warm rag while pushing!
9:17am Push. Michelle asks if I want to feel her head. (I refused to do this with Brave, but I wanted to try again with Selah) I tried, but I didn’t like it, and just wanted her out! So once again, I couldn’t do it. I think the women that are hands on during that part of birth are so amazing. Maybe my next birth I’ll try again.
9:19am Push. I think I screamed, “She’s here!” but she really wasn’t. I had to give another big push and….
9:21am Head was born. I got so excited that I think I tried to stand up, and they pushed me right back down. Jordan told me he had her head but needed me to push again. So one more push and..
9:22am Selah Joy Ciervo was born and caught by her daddy!
He pushed her back to me (she never came out of the water) and I grabbed her and pulled her up for her first breath. I leaned back against Jordan on the step and we looked into our daughter’s eyes for the first time as she took her first breath and then cried.
9:24am I said to Selah, “How are you here? How did I do this? I feel like a million dollars!” I really did say that. It’s on video. The high I experience after birth is amazing!!
9:31am Placenta born. Birth team inspected it and confirmed it looked great. They gave me a short demo. I am amazed at how God provides this organ for each individual baby. What a miracle that it is created to sustain and grow their little life inside the womb!
9:40am Cord clamped and cut
9:47am Got out of tub and crawled in our bed and snuggled.
9:55am Breastfed her for the first time and she latched great!
The next few hours Selah and I got checked out and were given our post-partum instructions. Since we delivered at home, we are required to take our temperatures multiple times a day after the midwives leave. I felt great. No repairs needed 🙂 And my energy was through the roof. They recommend Mom and baby stay in bed for 7 days! (So hard to do, but so great for healing and bonding!)
By 12:15pm, the birth team left. Robin made sure we had food, Pot Pie is officially my new favorite meal after birth! Brave came in around that time and met his sister for the first time. My friend Jes and her son Clark came over when Brave got up and played with him until it was time for him to come meet Selah. He adored her immediately! After his nap, our sweet neighbor Jodi took him to her house to play. I cannot thank those sweet friends enough for giving Jordan and I some time alone with Selah!
Bravery meets Selah!
If you’ve ever met me, you probably have heard me talk about the misery of being an only child. All I ever wanted was a sibling. I could go on and on about why only children have many disadvantages, boring holidays, blah blah blah, so I’ll spare you the entire soap box. (but please e-mail me or call me if have/want an only child. Give me a chance to change your mind!) However, I will say that having a second baby has been healing for me. Watching Brave with Selah fills voids in my heart that I thought could never be filled. I envision our dining room table 30 years from now…how they will be aunt and uncle to each others’ kids, how we will talk about past family memories and holidays of laughter and board games, and even if they are very different, they will have a relationship that’s unique and special because they share a family. I know and expect arguing to come, but our kids will be taught to love, respect, and be thankful for each other. I know they will be so tired of hearing me say, “Do you know how lucky you are to have each other?!” Sorry in advance kids!
In conclusion, Selah’s birth was more amazing than I’d ever imagined it could be. God’s presence filled our home in a mighty way, and I can’t thank Him enough for displaying His tangible power in my life. AGAIN!
Selah Joy Ciervo
“Pause of Refection with Joy”
November 15, 2013 9:22am
7lbs 9oz 21.5in
Sweet Selah Girl,
We are honored God chose us to be your parents. You are a delight, pure joy, and your smile lights up the room. Already in your short life you have blessed us with your sweetness. You enjoy being around people, love watching your brother, and love being snuggled. Your name is a reminder that we should all pause and reflect on what God has done and is doing. You compel me to worship, and I believe your life will be filled with praise! Your life verse is
Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.”