By Christie, USA
Lily'rei Elle Petersen
7 lbs 9 ounces 07.22.08 @ 2:00 am
(a joyous un-medicated/birth center/midwife centered hypno/waterbirth experience)
The reality sets in:
It was a cold, snowy day in Washington State on (at my parents home) December 2nd 2007 when a plus sign made my mouth drop.
I had not been feeling myself lately but didn't really voice any concerns to anyone at all, except Justin who picked up the test after hearing what I was feeling. (He actually thought I might have an ectopic pregnancy or possibly a terratoma… a normal and healthy pregancy was the furthest thing from our minds).
We were at home visiting my parents for the holidays and had just arrived there a few days before. It was also Sunday morning before church when the pink plus sign threw me for a loop emotionally. I just stood there, dumbfounded. I could not even think straight. I stood there motionless…I walked, as if in slow motion, into my parents guest bedroom and just stood there beside the bed. Still. Not moving a muscle. I gently tapped Justin on the shoulder to wake him. I didn't even say a word, I just showed him the “+”. He smiled and rubbed his eyes, then rubbed them again (like he was seeing things!). He said, “Is that for real…?” And I just smiled and said nothing and then I asked him if he knew anything about the false positives on this things. He laughed and I could see a gleam in his eyes…I could tell he was in shock like me.
What in the world!!?? How could this be? It was real. Something I had wanted since I was 10 was happening!! After nearly 15 years of marriage, years of infertility, 3 children through the gift of adoption and quite a few infertility specialists telling us “this” would never happen to us. Little did they know the powers that were over them! On this same Sunday I heard a song entitled THE GIFT, it was a song I will not forget b/c it was so suitable for the experience I was about to have ahead of me and the time of year being the Christmas season.
The first check up:
As the days and weeks passed I began to let reality settle into my mind but still could not truly believe in what was happening. It was about a week later I saw a midwife in Wenatchee that was highly recommended to me from a friend. She checked me and indeed, I was approximately 6-8 weeks along being pregnant. She guessed at July-ish for a tentative due date month. It was like I could nearly feel the earth slow down to a snails pace. Our life was about to change forever with another miracle! I was still in a state of denial and unbelief.
In the meanwhile, Justin had taken a job in Alaska in late December and so we arrived there January 1st 2008. We went to church for our first Sunday there, everyone was so nice and grateful we had moved into the ward. That day, basically the 2nd, we moved into our house.
What My Heart Wanted For Me and My Baby:
I knew at a very young age that if I were to have a baby I wanted a 100% natural childbirth. I would never consider anything else. So when I found out we were expecting, I knew from the very start that I wanted to give my baby a totally natural peaceful beginning and birth.
Some things I knew I wanted were a calm environment, slightly dark with a quiet, serene and peaceful surrounding. I wanted color, no starchy bright whites with a “sterile” feel. I had not been in very many hospitals in my lifetime but the ones I had visited were not where I would want to have a baby. They made me anxious and nervous. I didn't want bright lights, hustles and bustles and the clanking and beeping of machines.
I believe that childbirth is a natural process, not a medical procedure. I knew that the hospital would be there for me should I need it in an emergency, but as far as Justin and I were concerned, pregnancy is not considered an emergency. It's a normal function (as well as a gift) and should be treated with respect instead of untimely schedules and other busy work.
People Are Funny:
During pregnancy, I often would have people ask me what I was planning for my birth, I would say, “I am having my baby 100% naturally” with no intervention(s). Most people looked at me as if they had seen a ghost! Then most would say something like, “WOW, you really are crazy, aren't you…?” Or say something in a questioning tone to me like, “Really…I mean, really…no epidural…?” I would just laugh, smile and say, “Yes, women have been doing this since the time of Adam and Eve!” And to be honest, just as “crazy” as they thought I WAS, I in turn thought that they [women who used epidurals] were crazy! ;0) I felt like saying, “Hello, my husband FIXES spines, why in the world would I even dream of sticking a huge needle into my own…!?” YIKES!
Negative comments like the one I mentioned were very easy to ignore. So many of my friends who birthed in a hospital told me their stories during labor and that IF they had it to do it all over again, they would do things much differently. They expressed to me they would go naturally and opt for a birthing center birth with midwives instead of a hospital birth. After hearing so many of them say this over and over, I began to take their advice seriously! And I took much of this to heart for myself. I learned from their experiences and knowledge and used it to place into my mind as to what “type” of experience I wanted for my labor. Many of them told me they thought their Drs treated their pregnancies as a “condition” or “illness” instead of a God given right or privileged experience. And most of their Drs were males anyways, so how would they truly understand how a woman should birth her baby, after all…men can't. ;0) I allowed these wonderful stories to enpower my mind and I cherish them still. Through talking to many friends and a family member, I was preparing my heart and mind for my labor experience!! I was looking forward to being “aware” and “cognizant” with my baby as she emerged into this world.
Natural Birthers, THANKS!:
I want to personally deeply thank some dear friends, and one family member in particular, who shared their own birth experiences with me (which I realize were very special to them) …your stories are some of the things I thought of while pushing!! THANK YOU!!! There were also many others who told me I could do it all along and also a HUGE thank you to you as well. Your words of comfort, inspiration and support were what I needed.
The Midwife Search:
We'd been in Alaska a few days when I opened up the yellow pages to the “childbirth” section.
I quickly said a humble prayer asking my Heavenly Father to direct me to the clinic I needed. I saw an ad that caught my eye immediately (it was also the biggest one on the page). It was for a clinic called Matsu-Midwifery. I instantly felt a calm come over me and I strangely felt a connection to them, but didn't know why. I made a call to them right then and a “Peggy” answered. I began to tell her “our miracle story” and she was touched and mentioned she had been moved by my sharing it with her. It was at the end of the conversation I found out, she was actually in my new ward and her husband was in our Bishopric!
Needless to say, we hit it off right then and there. I made an appointment to see them that week and get the needed tests, exams, etc. It was January 11th and I had all the workups, blood work done and such, as well as an ultrasound. It was so funny because after we walked in everyone had already heard our miraculous story and were all very happy and supportive towards us. I knew by the environment this WAS the ideal place to have my baby. I felt calm and at peace.
The First Ultrasound:
From the clinic we ran over to Real Time 2 for the ultrasound. This was when I lost my marbles!! Gretchen, our ultrasound nurse confirmed the pregnancy and we got to see our baby for the first time on the big screen. It was breathtaking, I cried and asked her if the picture was “for real” … she just laughed and said “I can't make this stuff up!”, no way girl this is YOUR BABY! I relayed our story to her, too, and she just cried! She just saw our three kids and assumed I had birthed them and that I was an “old pro” (yup, she actually said that!). “NOPE,” I told her, “first timer here and proud of it!” She, too, was moved by hearing our experiences with infertility, the miracles of adoption and now another wonderful miracle brought before our eyes.
I progressed along nicely with a free and easy pregnancy, no problems or complications whatsoever. I think I may have thrown up a total of 5 times between 13-17 weeks along. I was always strong and healthy and never had anything to worry about. Near the end, about 38 weeks along, I began to have very slightly puffy hands and feet, but nothing major or that anyone else would notice. I also received chiropractic adjustments on a weekly basis without fail from my dear hubby (THANKS J!). I very, very rarely had any of the problems a lot of women complain about like sciatica, low back pains, kidney problems, infections, etc. I was extremely blessed and never took a day for granted. I am thankful to have chiropractic readily handy, THANKS J! You helped me stay in line and I know it worked wonders for the delivery!
What's in a name…? Lily'rei Elle — [lill-ee-ray elle]
It was Valetine's Day! We'd just found out at our ultrasound that our miracle was going to be a GIRL! We were more than excited! That night we talked a bit about some family names we like on both our sides of the family. Justin told me of a Lillie Demetra Stewart on his side that came to mind. She was quite the character and someone everyone loved. I immediately thought of my great great grandmother, Ella Camp on my dad's side. She was another person that people just loved, she also loved working with her hands, like myself. We wanted one more name to “work with” to be able to have enough variety to choose a name. We both thought of using Justin's grandmother on his dad's side, Rae Reid. We really love the “sound” of Rae but it had also been used in the family for one of our nieces and was also a common spelling; and we wanted unique.
We went to bed that night and in the middle of the night I just popped up in sitting position and said, “That's it, that's her name, Lilyrei Elle.” I was half asleep and half awake. That morning I told Justin about my dream. He just sat there with the funniest look on his face. He LOVVVED it. So there it was, but Justin added the apostrophe to give it some separation and it was created. I explained to him the meaning of “Rei” (pronounced “RAY”) is the whole part of someone in the heart, body, mind, soul and spirit. It is a sacred word in Japanese and as a former missionary we used it a lot in our communications with others. I also personally love the Lily flower and the meaning of Lily stands for purity, innocence and beauty. It was perfect. So not only does her name have a family “history” but it is original and has a deep meaning, which is why we love it so much. It wasn't until after we chose the spelling we also realized that, coincidentally, REID was/is also Rei without the “d”. We were thrilled to have her name chosen so early on in the pregnancy so we could address her by name.
Studying for the “Final Exam…aka, Labor and Delivery!
I read about 10 books on labor, pregnancy, delivery, hypno-birth, Lamaze, water birth, natural childbirth and eating right for a healthy pregnancy and so forth during my entire pregnancy. I also listened to tons of great music which helped Lily'rei to move and groove quite a bit. I always took special time out during my pregnancy to bond with my baby through talking to her, touch and unique affirmations. It was amazing how I came to know her and her personality as the months went along even though I could not see her. She was calm and peaceful. She never did move enough to hurt me or wake me at night. I had heard stories of babies stomping on ribs and stabbing at kidneys and using women's bladders as trampolines; this was certainly not the case with Lily'rei. I knew I was again blessed to have a pain free pregnancy. She was always gentle and “quiet”. Her movements were always “fluid-like” and soft. I often would stop people (like at church or the store, etc) from talking mid stream as they told me of “their story” if it was not positive. I was often tempted to make a sticker or something to hang around my neck that would say something like, “Shhh, no negative stories please, my baby is listening to you!” :0) I began to study Hypno-Birth early on, a friend had highly recommended it but I was VERY skeptical. I soon came to find that the techniques worked and I was quickly hooked! I started preparing my mind by using positive affirmations, self talk, mind control and releasing negative thought patterns. I got fairly good at “going deep” and using mind over matter as my weapon! I had heard all the nightmare stories of pain during labor and I wanted to have my mind geared in the right direction for what lay ahead. Relying on the innate, God given ability of my body to do what needed to be done and getting my “conscious” mind out of the way. My “subconscious” mind was in control, (essentially, God was at the helm) and nothing else. Little did I realize how much help that would give me!
At my 37 week check up, I was checked and measured at 3CM dilated and 75% effaced. I was shocked that I had not felt any pain but was moving along and progressing nicely without much work. ;0) (yet another blessing!) The week to follow at my 38 week checkup, I was checked again and measured 4CM dilated and 80-85% effaced. Things were working right along and I was still pain free. I did have what I would call “cervix twinges” and “tummy surges” but neither were very painful. I was able to choose my birth room, a beautiful lilac colored space that I just felt at peace with. I also got to write my birth plan out for my midwife. She laughed when she read what I wrote in three words; “SHORT AND SWEET!” I also chose some essential oils that I would like in the Jacuzzi if I chose to get in…which I was dying to do (and did)! I chose frankincense, gentle baby and lemon as my favorite “smells”.
One week later at my 39 week checkup, I was checked again. I had gained 33 pounds total at that point. It was again amazing to see that I had progressed so nicely. I was at 95% effacement with 5cm dilation, which she “stretched” out to 6cm. I knew that I was really being blessed! I still was pain free and had felt more and more surges but without much discomfort. I went about doing daily activities; like laundry, vacuuming and chasing the kids. I did find time each day to nap about one hour. At this last checkup my blood pressure was 140/80. My midwife was a tad concerned but knew it was very out of character for it to be that high for me. It was always in the 120's over 70's. After taking it, she then said to lie down and “go within” just as I had studied in hypno-birth during my pregnancy. I did so. She began to take it again, and about 20 seconds later she was shocked and said, “WOW, you really are great at hypno-birthing techniques!” Your blood pressure is now 122/78. All of this happened within about 2 minutes time frame. I have to admit, I was also shocked but at this time I also knew from experience in the past few months of deep study that it was true; hypno-birth works! Later that day, the 15th…I started to feel more powerful surges which came and went intermittently but then seemed to become more rhythmic. Justin started packing up the suitcases into the car and we started timing the surges… at times around 5 minutes apart. I thought this might be it but after laying down for a while they tapered off to nothing.
As the due date passed:
My due date of July 18th came and went, which I was fine with. I've had a joyous pregnancy. I would actually say monumental joy and I knew that I could easily last like this for another month without any problems. I really did feel so great that I had to “flip the switch” in my mind to prepare for the end of my pregnancy. I had enjoyed it so very much it was hard to give it up!! But I did want to see that special miracle so I talked to her then and told her it's all right to come out to greet the world. We're ready! I may have made her environment a bit to cozy!
A comforting “listen”:
On Saturday the 19th, we went in and heard the heartbeat which was at 140 bpm and all was well. I was close to a 6 at this point, and my was cervix was about as soft as butter my midwife said. ;0) She even had a hard time finding it to gauge the dilation as the “bag” of waters was bulging down from above. She gave me some homeopathics and said everything is fine, go with nature. She will come when she's ready. Sunday came and went and I sent Justin to church with the girls. It was easier to watch Jaxtin in the living room at home laying down than in the halls of the church lobby. So I had a quiet morning. Nothing really major, just very mild aches in my lower back and lower abs but it would come and go and wasn't painful. I knew that I was close to being able to meet my baby and I was getting very excited just at the thought! I, like many women I am sure, thought on numerous occasions that I would not be able to manage this amazing feat ahead of me *unaided* but I was very fortunate to be surrounded by people who reassured me that it was quite normal to have doubts, but also it was within my power to have the outcome I desired. I was also advised that if at any time it was too much for me, or there was any chance of complications, help would be readily available and I would not fail in any way by availing of this help. However, I was not at any time encouraged to throw my hands in the air, play the sick patient, and relinquish all responsibility for the birth of my child and I would be in control.
Here we go!!…The Final Exam:
It was a typical Monday until 11 pm right on the nose. Justin and I had just finished watching one of our favorite shows, Seinfeld. I was enjoying Lily'rei's hiccups and laughing and sharing this by holding Justin's hand over my belly while she made my body bounce. Then all of a sudden I felt a stronger pop-pop…it felt “different”. I got up and had some leaking, I felt then that my water had broken, but it was more of a trickle than a gush so I wasn't sure. I used the bathroom and Justin called the midwife, who told him that I should start into full blown labor soon, maybe by morning so I should get some rest. She told him again as we had been previously instructed to wait until contractions were 1 minute in length and 5 minutes apart before coming in.
Before I could get into bed the power surges began, it was 11:05 pm. I went down to my knees in praying position and directly started to use my hypno birth techniques. I was calm and at peace. I went deep within my mind. I was truly centered and remained that way. I told Justin to begin timing the surges b/c they were fairly close. I could tell they were close together but how close I was not sure, I would just yell out “start” and “stop”. I was still deep in my mind between them. He was very calm and gathered everything we needed to have with us and placed it into the car. The kids were all asleep and so it was just us doing the busy work. He timed them until 11:30pm, they were 3-5 minutes apart!! WOWZERS! I wasn't shocked at the time becasue I was using my mind to control thought patterns but I was aware I knew I needed to get to the birthing center soon.
Justin called the midwife again to tell her that we were coming in as I was “surging” for 1 minute or more every 3-5 minutes, she told him that the “on call” midwife would be called and should be there when we arrived. Justin called a good friend who had previously agreed to come over at night to take care of the kids, she arrived and we left at 11:40 pm. We arrived at the birthing center at about 11:50 pm, no one else was there and the door was locked! I was on the steps outside and felt like I needed to push. Justin just smiled and said, “No, not yet…hang on me hun, hang on me.” And so I did. I did more Hypno-Birth visuals in my minds eye and breathed deeply and calmly while waiting for my midwife. It was a few more minutes and there was Peggy. She ripped and roared around the corner and into the parking lot, got us into the center and up the notorious “flight” of stairs to the first room, the Lilac Room.
All I wanted was to get into the water! I asked if I could start to push because I kept feeling like I needed to and so my midwife suggested that she check me to see where I was. She did so at around 12:05 and quietly said to “go ahead and push a little if I felt like it”. It didn't really register with me but Justin knew that meant I must be at a ten. He noticed Peggy beginning to scurry around a little more bringing equipment in and prepping the room, she shakily got on the phone and called the other midwife, Judy who was most likely a little shocked that I had progressed soo far soo fast. Justin asked Peggy how far along I was and she said… 9.5 to 10, a few minutes later, Judy arrived.
I began to push without a lot of effect or length at about 12:10 to about 12:30 am on July 22nd, 2008. It was in the back of my mind that I was very happy I was going into labor on the day I had chosen to months beforehand, however, the only person that knew this was Justin. I had no fear and my state of mind at this time was deep peace and during surges I went into my mind. I was empowered by the abiding peaceful feelings I felt. I knew I was in control of my body and that my mind was the tool to draw from. I placed myself in Hawaii, my favorite place in the world. I was on the beach, I could hear the waves, see the seas roll in and out and feel the breeze. It was also as if I could taste the salty air. More concentrated effort was directed into the pushing with 2 to 3 ten second pushes per contraction. I was doing fine in the water but my pushing wasn't very effective so I went to the bed to push some more. After pushing for a while there Judy suggested that I was pushing “uphill” in that position and to try squatting on a birthing stool. I didn't like it, my bottom was too bony for such a hard surface and after a few pushes I had to get up. She then recommended the toilet to let gravity do some work, IT HELPED, so they brought me back to the bed to finish.
The pushes were intense, I can't say they didn't hurt (they did), but they actually were not as painful as I had always imagined they would be. I was prepared in my mind and I was pushing with all my heart and with gusto “bearing into” them. I rolled onto my left side and with every ounce of energy I pushed my baby down. I held J's hand the whole time, poor guy, I think he may have lost some circulation a few times. ;0) He was right there in my face where I wanted to see him, I wanted to see his eyes. They were calm, telling me I could do it and that this was what I had planned all along and I could do it and WAS doing it. I was almost there…to the finish line! Near the end he got close to my face and I could see his eyes welling up and he said softly, “she;s there Christie, she's right there…just a few more pushes…you can do it.” That gave me such confidence and then another surge came. I took a huge deep breath and held it for the count of 10…next breath, I held it in and Judy said… “slow pushes now” and her head came out about that time. Shockingly enough, I was not aware of this at the time!! I was too deep into my concentration. As the shoulders were restituting we all awaited another contraction to get the rest of her out. I had no idea but the midwives and Justin were anxiously waiting for another contraction as the cord had been wrapped around her neck once, and although unwound by the midwife was not pulsing as strongly as they wanted. Finally, after a minute or so another contraction started up and with one big push Lily'rei was born.
And Oh, what blissful relief! I looked down to see my beautiful baby, right there…I was in amazement. I felt renewed, sanctified, even purified through such a miracle as I witnessed right at that very moment. Again, the world stopped and Justin and I and Lily'rei were the only ones in it. I felt such instant love for my baby. I was bewildered by my baby's presence. It was so overpowering and seemed to consume my soul. Truly this instant love had been experienced before under very different circumstances, three different times as first Matalee, then K'Leanne, and then Jaxtin were placed into my arms. They immediately placed her on my chest and we began to rub her to get her to cry. At about 40 seconds old she let her cries be heard! What a wonderful sound! I cried and kissed Justin and sighed a big sigh of gratefulness. I was so glad she was here I could not talk or say anything for a few minutes. I just sighed. My first thought was that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was hard but totally do-able, just as some of my friends had told me it was going to be! They were sooo right!! The midwives took her apgars, they were 9 out of 10 at 1 minute and 10 of 10 at 5 minutes and 10 minutes. She was perfect. She got to lay on me until the cord stopped pulsing, which was about 10 minutes, then Justin cut the cord and the afterbirth was delivered without complications.
After everything was quieting down from the excitement and all, we relaxed and talked into the night about the miracle I held in my arms. I kept saying, “I DID IT, I DID IT, I did it the way I wanted!!” I was still in amazement at myself; my strength, my empowered body and mind. I knew I had been blessed and watched over. I knew that my Heavenly Father was watching out for me the whole time. I also knew HE knew what I desired and it was truly granted. My Body Had Done It!!! There's a sign in the bathroom I saw there often and it came into my mind afterwards, it reads, “YOU DID IT!! I KNEW YOU COULD!!” I was overwhelmed. I wanted every woman in the world to know they need not doubt they can do it! It became surreal to me when I realized that I had become another story like the very same ones that I heard of during pregnancy. These were the stories that literally got me through delivery. I looked up at both of my midwives about 20 minutes after giving birth and said very much enthusiastically, “I COULD DO THAT AGAIN, I could TOTALLY do that again!!” They almost laughed themselves into a frenzy when I said that. Then Judy piped up to the OB intern that was in attendance (she came near the end of everything) and says with a huge smile on her face, “Now what woman have you heard give birth in a hospital (with interventions) say that 20 minutes after her baby is delivered…?!!” We laughed so hard I nearly cried. The OB didn't say anything, she just smiled. It was classic. I was on an adrenaline “high”.
I could not sleep for anything, but I was terribly hungry, so Peggy brought me a cream cheese bagel, it was the best bagel I had ever eaten, it tasted so great! I just inhaled it. She also brought the breakfast menu in, at about 5 am and we got to order what we wanted. I can't remember what Justin ordered but I had scrambled eggs, strawberry waffles, bacon, fresh fruit tray and apple juice. It was brought in about 8 am and I think I ate on it for an hour. I was starved! We checked out of the birthing center that afternoon about 2-3 pm after they had checked all the vitals and gave Lily'rei and I a clean bill of health. (Unlike a hospital birth where you stay for days, a birthing center allows you to spend more time with your newborn and get back home when you feel you are ready… many women try to leave before the mandatory 3 hour stay!!! And others never leave home and have their babies there… attended by the midwife).
I am so very grateful for the gifts that we have been given. I feel blessings in my life now I could not have dreamed possible. I must admit that I am soo grateful for all the blessings God has given me. Matalee Ainez, K'Leanne June, Jaxtin Shale and now our newest precious angel baby, Lily'rei Elle!!!! God is truly Great, God is truly Good.
What a JOYOUS BIRTH!!
I was able to have just the perfect birth I wanted for myself AND my baby. I could not have asked for it to be any other way. And I would not change one single thing about it. There were many of my friends that helped me along my pregnancy journey and gave me advice, strength and encouragement. I appreciate you guys TONS [you know who you are!] and you may never realize how much those stories mean to me! Hearing your personal accounts of having a natural labor and birth gave me the burning desire to give my baby the same experience. I have such a sense of empowerment I feel I could not have gotten any other way. Giving birth was absolutely incredible, as I know it is for everyone, whatever the circumstances…. it is always miraculous whether they realize it or not. But the satisfaction I feel deep within me for having done it calmly, at peace, in control of my body and mind – plus in a tranquil environment has been of priceless value and profound worth. My blessings are unmeasured and I feel overcome with love from my father in heaven and those that supported me through this most marvelous path of pregnancy, labor and delivery.
this story is dedicated to you,
our Lily'rei Elle,
our love – our gift from heaven
Written By Your Mommy
Christine runs Petersen Photos!
(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the kit here.)