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Elijah’s Birth Story

Joy oh Joy!!  At 6:20pm, Saturday evening, November 3rd, 2001, God blessed our family with our fourth child and second son, Elijah James.  He arrived gently in the comfort of our home with sister Kaisha (6) and brother Joshua (4.5), eagerly looking on, with sister Jasmine, (17 mos) close behind.  He was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, 20.5 inches long, pink and vigorous!  Midwife Penny Salkeld (named by Kaisha, One Who Comes Along Side)’s quiet reassuring presence throughout the birth enabled us to have the gentle home birth we all dreamed of.  We will always be able to tell Elijah that he was conceived in love, prayed over as he grew in the womb and caught by an angel.  Midwife Meryl Moulton arrived to share the tumultuous joy minutes after Elijah’s birth, to gently examine our boy and offer hugs and love.  Midwife Joy West-Eklund provided loving post partum care along with Penny and Meryl.

My journey of labour and Elijah’s birth was very different from the journey with our first son Joshua.  Both taught me so much, expanded my spiritual awareness and love for my family and took our marriage to a new level.  I hope to somehow convey here the joy, triumph, love, strength, family, friendships and thankfulness I felt and encourage you to rejoice in your own journeys of birth and mothering.

February 28th, 2001, we welcomed Jasmine Patricia Joy into our hearts and home, by adoption.  Jasmine was 9 months old, a little developmentally delayed (2 months premature and born addicted to heroine, cocaine, morphine and speed) and an absolute gem!  I was still lactating with Joshua so I started pumping to offer Jasmine breastmilk by bottle as well as offering her the breast.  This was a slow process due to her history and age, but we had some success milk-wise and much success nurturing-wise.  Only one month later we learned we were expecting!!

Fast forward several months!

Thursday November1, 2001

We are 42 weeks by ultrasound date and I have a fetal assessment.  The obstetrician insisted we induce within 24 hours.  We went home and started some natural ‘induction’ helps.

Saturday November 3, 2001

42 weeks today and we’re ready to have this baby.  Yesterday I tried blue and black cohosh roots (herbs) – nothing doing.  This morning, 7:30am, I took the dreaded castor oil with frozen raspberry juice.  8:30am I threw it up.  So disappointed!  I felt like I failed.  I called our midwives and Penny encouraged me that some castor oil probably stayed down (I was already running to the bathroom) and said to stay active.  I took the big kids (Kaisha and Joshua) to Glenmore Park for walking and stair climbing (9am – 11am).  By the time we got home I was crampy and not feeling great so I had a hot bath.

12pm  I call Penny to let her know it didn’t feel like much was happening, just cramping from the diarrhea.  She was in the area so said she’d pop by to see if anything was starting.

1pm Penny comes and says I’m about 2.5cm and she ‘rims’ me.  Again she says stay active and squat lots, especially if I feel a contraction.  I still am not feeling anything major and felt we wouldn’t have a baby til Sunday at the earliest, but away we went to the park again, this time to a park within walking distance of our home.  Penny said we’d probably call her in an hour!

1pm – 2pm  The big kids played on a climbing structure while I walked on a beam around the perimeter of the little park, stopping to squat every fourth time round, then every 3rd, then every 2nd, then I was barely making it once around before squatting.  I said, “Guys, we need to get home, baby wants to come today!”  The kids were thrilled!  We walked home and I kept squatting while the kids played on our swing set.

3pm  I call Penny and tell her it’s happening, but I’m managing really well.  I say contractions are 2-3 minutes apart, 40-45 seconds long and she says they won’t get much closer together, just more intense, so she’ll come.

Lyle and I get the pool ready and start filling it.  By 4 pm I really want in but it’s not quite ready.  Penny arrives and sets up her equipment.  I call dear friends Krisanne Roy to look after the kids in the basement and Jodi Caskey to do the video.  Despite no notice at all, both drop everything and come.  Bless them!

4:20pm Krisanne arrives with Jodi shortly after.  Labour is more intense now.

4:30pm  I get into the tub….heaven!  Jodi arrives and sets up the video camera.  I’m doing great!  Between contractions I ask for what I need, talk and smile.

5:00pm  I’ve been in the pool about ½ an hour.  It feels good to squat during each contraction.  I love the soft sides of the pool and the warm deep water.  I’m not making much noise at this point just really getting into myself.  I’m surprised that I don’t need my husband, Lyle’s help yet (I soon will!) and that between contractions I am able to talk and laugh.  The kids are mostly downstairs with LLL leader and friend, Krisanne.  Joshua, who told me before labour started that he didn’t want to see the labour part, spent much of his time in his little rocking chair beside the pool, patting my hand and talking quietly to me.

5:30pm..  With difficulty and help I get out of the pool and Penny sees I’m 5cm and gently and easily ruptures my membranes.  The fluid is clear.  I feel good and am really glad to get back into the pool!

Now I really need Lyle’s help for each contraction.  The best help is when Lyle breathes with me and strokes firmly down on my back down low.  I am vocal now, saying, “Down, Down baby” with the contractions.  Penny tells me each contraction is a wave and I can ride it out.  This helps a lot and I repeat her words out loud during the contractions.  I feel the wave rising, rising to the point of “I don’t think I can do this” pain, then down, down to “bearable” pain.  I often whisper 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. as the wave rises. It comforts me because I know that when I get to 40 or so, the wave will be gone.  Between contractions I can let Lyle go, he can even walk around, but when the contraction rises up again, I call out to Lyle to “Help”.  I feel strong and capable now.  We’re doing this!  Penny is quiet when I need that.  She doesn’t ‘hover’.  Everything about her exudes confidence, confidence in me, that I can do this.

At 5:40pm I ask Penny, “Is it going to be soon?”  The contractions are really hard now.  She asks me how soon is “soon”.  I say ½-1 hour?  She says maybe longer.  Inside I panic for a second, then say to myself, I can do it.  Suddenly, 6:10pm, I want to push, now!  Penny and Lyle get me flipped over and Penny says not quite yet.  10 more minutes and the urge is real now, not wishful.  Penny calls for the kids to be brought up.  I push once, so hard, baby almost comes out.  Lyle whispers words of love and encouragement.  Penny tells me I can slow down.  After pushing I want to pull my leg back from Penny (she’s holding it under the knee) to squeeze baby back in or avoid the pain!  Penny says, “Stay with me” a few times and I relax into her steady gentle grip.  How does she know exactly what I need?  It helps so much.  The next push and our beautiful baby shoots out under the water.  Joshua and Kaisha are up on chairs with cameras, thrilled, cheering!

Now it is indescribable, utter absolute joy, relief, praise to a good and faithful God for a strong healthy baby.  Penny catches our darling and shares the joy.  The euphoria continues for us all!  Lyle and I peek…it’s a boy!!  Joshua, my quiet strong boy, greets his baby brother with speechless joy and dad comforts Kaisha who wanted a sister.  (Very soon Kaisha insists it was her idea to have a baby boy and she was so happy to have him!)  Dad is thrilled and so proud of me!  I’m so proud of me too.

We revel in the moment then, Lyle and Penny help Elijah and I out of the pool wrapped in warm flannels from the drier.  I’m shaking with the exertion and emotion of it all, loving it, wanting this moment to last, wanting to shout to the hills with joy.

On the couch we cuddle and wait for the placenta which comes quickly and easily.  After the cord stops pulsing, Lyle cuts it. Kaisha pats Elijah, concerned the scissors may scare him.  Then we cuddle for our first nursing.  What a pro!  Kaisha pats Elijah and says “good boy” as he latches on well. Then Jasmine has her first close up look at her brother and is quietly fascinated. Joshua is never far from my side, as he was throughout the labour and birth.  He says, “I love my little brother”.

Penny checks my perenium and sees I don’t even have a tiny tear.  Meryl gives me the thumbs up and I feel great! I’m so glad Meryl is here to be part of this.  She caught Joshua and turned our family on to midwifery and home birth.  We soon all became midwifery and home birth advocates.

It all feels so good.  Home, family, love, nursing, peace. I still can’t get over it!  I know I never will.  These moments are woven forever in the fabric of our family.

Thank you to my incredible husband, Lyle, for unwavering support and encouragement throughout this adoption, pregnancy and birth journey.  I love you.  Thank you to big sister Kaisha and big brother Joshua who were so helpful and loving through it all and so tender with baby Jasmine.  Thank you to Jasmine for blessing us in so many ways and understanding that baby needs to nurse again!  Thank you to our incredible midwives, Penny, Meryl and Joy, who went above and beyond in every way, listened, understood, supported and loved.

- Krista Thompson


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