Tuesday 3 June 2014

A Faithful Journey

I've dusted off this old Blog whilst I reflect on all that has happened in the last 5 years:

We left Broome.
We've had two sons.
I changed jobs.
We've developed truly wonderful friendships.
We have grown in our faith, experienced depths of sadness and heights of pure joy.
We have witnessed miracles!

B is a dear friend to me. She is this amazing woman who is a blessing to everyone around her. She always makes time for other people and thinks nothing of going out of her way to help anyone in need.
It was just another afternoon of coffee and chatting about nothing and everything, when B casually mentions that she was planning a homebirth for her next baby. I felt my heart skip a beat, and something like fear overwhelmed me. Now, I am a passionate supporter of normal birth and I believe that the caesarean rates in WA are ridiculously high, but

unfortunately, home-births are poorly supported in Australia. Most obstetricians are vehemently against it, despite the home-birth model working so well in first world countries like the Netherlands and the UK. The Australian home-birth perinatal morbidity and mortality stats unfortuantely support the opposition. But those weren't the reasons I was worried - B had had 3 caesareans previously and the 2nd one had been a "failed trial of VBAC"! Visions of B severely haemorrhaging in that very lounge-room flashed before my eyes. I looked at my dear friend, who I knew to be intelligent and wise and peace came over me. I knew what I had to do. My spirit was prompted: "Would you call me when you're in labour?"
I could see the relief in B's eyes and I realised that this wasn't a casual conversation after all, that she had been dreading my reaction. "It's ok, we're not even pregnant yet!"
She then proceeded to tell me that one day when she had been praying for her children, God reminded her of Psalm 139:13-14:
13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

It is such a beautiful Psalm! God wanted to remind her that when He had made her, he had made her body to work perfectly, and that despite what her obstetrician had said previously, there was no reason she would not be able to birth naturally when the time was right. Since then, she had been praying and seeking more of God's wisdom. She had been researching VBACs and risks after multiple caesareans, but she was placing her trust in God.

Some time later, God blessed B with another pregnancy. As the baby grew within her womb, she continued to do her research and contacted various homebirth midwives to assist with the birth. Unfortunately, not one was willing to assist her with her endeavour to homebirth after 3 caesareans (HBA3C). As the months went by the situation looked bleak: her options were to have a 4th caesar, or relocate to Brisbane and try for a hospital based vaginal birth. Neither of these were on her birth plan! It seemed that that prompting in my spirit that I had received all those months ago, was going to be for more than just being aware and praying that things went well with the birth.

Now I am not one to take a risk without doing my research. I looked at all the literature reviews and saw that B was right - there were no studies that showed that VBAC after 3 caesars was any riskier than after just 1. The risk of uterine rupture was not cumulative, but the same. The main reason risk factor for rupture was the use of oxytocics - which she was avoiding outright, by birthing at home. I prayed, urging God to give me a sign if I was doing the wrong thing in supporting her.

B's husband, E, although not against the idea of a homebirth, remained cautious. He too, did his research independently and we met to discuss all the possible risks and early signs and symptoms of uterine rupture. We made a back up plan and set the thresholds for bailing. B just smiled. She felt totally at peace with her journey of faith. God had told her what would happen - she was going to birth naturally, at home - and He had given her numerous confirmations that she would succeed.

The due date came and went. By week 41 I was starting to get anxious as soon I would be leaving for a long-awaited 5 week holiday in Borneo on Thursday. This baby needed to be born in the next few days!
We discussed natural ways of bringing on labour and decided that if nothing had happened she would have a "Stretch and Sweep" to try to get the natural prostaglandins flowing.  This, along with evening primrose oil, did the trick. By that Monday she was puffing along in the throes of the latent stage.

By now, our dear friend K, who was a Doula-in-training, had joined us to support B. The kids were in bed, soft music was playing and B had hung up affirmations and verses of encouragement. The birthing pool was filling and B would get in once she felt she needed more pain relief.

The contractions had established a regular pattern and the labour was progressing nicely. E was taking a set of B's vital signs regularly and filling in the partogram diligently. I was listening to the baby's heartbeat with a doppler regularly. The atmosphere was beautiful and peaceful - everything that B had hoped and prayed for. There was no need to worry about the back-up plan - everything was going according to God's plan!

Soon B said she felt the urge to push. The baby was descending nicely into the birth canal, but it wasn't yet time. With coaching from K, she centred herself and managed to resist the urge to push too soon. By now, E had climbed into the birth pool, providing the back rubs to help B cope with the contractions. We could see that the baby was crowning and I assisted E to guide the baby forward into B's arms. I have delivered over a thousand babies, but this was the most beautiful birth I had ever seen.

Now, a year later, the memory of that amazing night and the tangible presence of our Mighty God is still as clear as it had happened yesterday. Mere words could never begin to express what it felt like to be part of that night. All four of us were transformed by the experience of faith in action, but most of all my beautiful friend was justified in her faith. She placed her trust in our Lord Almighty, not in man, and He rewarded her.

B's journey of faith prompted my own difficult, but amazing journey of faith.

But that deserves its own Blog post :)