“I come that they would have life to the max”
(Paraphrase of John 10:10)
We have been overwhelmed with God’s grace to us during the arrival of our firstborn that we wanted to share the story. Just a forewarning, mixed in with the precious details of his arrival are some gory details of a fascinated first time mom. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum!!
Early labor started at 7:30 on Saturday, February 6 when our little man was officially one week overdue. After lots of exercise in the pool, contractions started and were consistently 10-15 minutes apart. I got a bit of sleep but not much as the contractions were strong enough to wake me from sleep. Around 3 am they really started getting closer together and by 8am they were around 4 minutes apart but short and manageable. I excitedly reported the progress to Jared when he woke up and we decided to text our midwife to let her know we might be in later in the day.
Within the hour, they abruptly stopped and slowed back to 10-15 minutes. We spent the day wondering what would happen, taking walks, and trying to rest knowing we’d need our energy if he arrived that night. Sometime in the evening, around 8pm Ken and Robyn (who had been chilling with me through the contractions for a big chunk of the afternoon) popped over and Ken prayed for this little life. It was shortly after that the contractions started to pick up and they progressed very quickly. By 10pm they were 1-2 minutes apart and lasting at least that long. I was in PAIN! I was determined to labor as long as possible at home but it got to the point where they were so strong that I wasn’t sure I could handle the ride to the birth centre. We called the midwife, she heard me and said, “YES! Come now!”
When we arrived I was 6.5-7cm dilated. My goal had been 5 so I was stoked. We labored in the tub for a while and then the shower. It has hard but it was good. Things continued to progress and within a short time I was 8cm. I moved back into the pool and could feel things really picking up. There was a breakthrough moment for me when my waters broke. I felt this huge pop and for the first time, I just KNEW that I was going to make it. Before then I was doubting myself the entire time and wondering why in the world I wasn’t going to the hospital to have an epidural.
Just as quickly as I began to feel empowered, Vanessa, our (amazing) midwife said, “Rebekah, there’s meconium (baby poo) in the water and we need to transfer you upstairs right now.” I was SO disappointed. The water was feeling so good and I had just mustered up the confidence to get the baby out. Things were not going according to plan.
I hopped on a gurney and they began to wheel me to the birth ward. I was in SO much pain and I have to admit my lungs during labour were SO loud. I had no idea I could scream that loud! I was hurting even my own ears and Vanessa thought I might deliver the baby on the way. In the elevator I had a doozy of a contraction and yelled so loud she covered my mouth and told me I had to be quiet or I would scare people!
When we got to the room and hooked us both up to the monitor, our precious baby’s heart beat had dropped from a healthy 140-150 during the entire delivery to 60. The doctors – who were already in emergency action to prepare for any complications from the meconium – took their precautions to the next degree.
I was in so much pain from the contractions and it was such a whirlwind. All I remember is the doctor looking at Jared and me and saying, “I am very concerned for the life of your child.”
Shortly after they were putting a mask on me and I asked what they were doing. I heard them say, we’re preparing you in case we need to resuscitate you. You’re loosing a lot of blood. DEFINITELY not going according to plan as we had been having a hard but very healthy labour up to this point.
I heard them telling me, “We have a few minutes to get this baby out of you.” I wasn’t quite fully dilated but they offered to let me push with the assistance of a vacuum. If he didn’t come within a few minutes, we were going immediately to c-section, an awful thought after living through almost 30 hours of early and intense labour.
I remember being scared but determined. I remember wondering whether after all of this I would actually have a baby who was alive. As I had that thought, God reminded me of the name we had been considering, Max, and the Scripture that Jared thought of when the name came to him, “I come that that they would have life.” Immediately I knew this baby was going to live.
I started pushing, and since he wasn’t quite down enough for the vacuum I had a lot of work to do. It was so confusing to be in so much pain and such an emergency and 3 different people yelling at me “PUSH! PUSH! Stop! You’re pushing wrong!” All the instructions were overwhelming and I just wanted to get this baby out before something terrible happened to him. Vanessa was amazing. She cupped my face and quietly told me exactly how to push. I got him just far enough so that they could get the vacuum on and after a few attempts we had one strong contraction and I told the doctor I was going to push and together we got him out.
At 3:08am on February 8, I heard a big cry and they put him straight on my chest. He was so blue but he was alive and breathing. Even though he was covered in poo, and I was so exhausted I was so happy he was okay.
Unfortunately at that point, things took another turn. Pushing the baby out so quickly had torn me quite badly inside in multiple places and I was bleeding very bad. I lost around 1 1/2-2 Litres of blood in just a few minutes. As they ensured the baby was healthy, they were taking very strong precautions to make sure I would be okay.
I had three IV’s in me (wishing at least one of them was pain relief!!) and after all that labour, they had to put me on Pitocin to contract my uterus quickly to help determine whether the bleeding was only from the tearing and episiotomy or whether it was coming from the uterus. I was not thrilled to have consistent contractions even after my baby was here! I was expecting pain in recovery but not that! They were no where near as bad but I was still exhausted from so little sleep over the past 72 hours.
It was an awful recovery and testing time. We were so exhausted but I was too tired to cry. I couldn’t even open my eyes to look at my baby but I was so happy to have him with me. Sweet Vanessa helped him latch on for a feed. Jared had been so strong the entire time. A constant encouragement. I couldn’t have made it through any piece of the labour without his encouragement and faith… and backrubs! I was so scared but he was SO brave. I remember opening my eyes enough to see him slumped over in the chair asleep as they continued to run tests on me.
Not knowing where the bleeding was coming from, the doctors decided to run tests on me for several hours… from just after 3 when he was born until about 9 that morning. We were informed that since they had not determined the bleeding, I may need to go into surgery to make it stop. We called home and asked for prayer and finally were told that the bleeding had been isolated and I could move into recovery. PRAISE GOD!
I was very very weak from the blood loss and required three bags of blood for a transfusion but around noon they finally let me eat (I had had a half an apple and some popcorn in the past 24 hours and wanted to eat SO bad!). The blood transfusion gave me a lot more energy. I didn’t realise how sick and weak I was. I am so grateful for everyone’s care and prayer. So many stories I could describe!
As Jared & I reflected on the entire experience and began to share with people, we found out that a number of people had been prompted to pray for us not even knowing that I was in labour. So many things could’ve gone wrong… and yet both Max and I are now cuddled at home next to the most amazing husband and daddy. It truly is a miracle!
And, as we reflect on our little miracle, we are reminded of the women in Papua New Guinea, who live in a part of the world with one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates. Had we been there, it is most likely that both Max and I would not be here today.
As we were choosing our little man’s name, Jared had been reminded of the Scripture “I come that they would have life to the max.” Weeks later we had felt that this was also to be our message for the Australia & PNG Ship Tour. We are amazed at God’s ways! Our little boy – not just our special story – is a constant reminder of the precious people who need life. And our prayer is as a family we can help bring that life to others.
We love our little Max and are so grateful for all of you who hoped and prayed him safely into our arms! We love you!
Jared, Rebekah and Max
PS – This is SO long but Jared (the practical one) just informed me I left out a lot of the detail! Haha! It really was an experience and a half …