Thanks for everyone's prayers, thoughts, messages, and good vibes. I've just been spending the morning cuddling with my little angel while Joy gets some well-earned rest. Here's a little synposis of how things went (from my perspective - Joy will probably do hers later) and I'll add some more pictures later.
Joy started to feel a trickle on Thursday that she thought might be her water breaking. We were both busy that day with different things and that afternoon I went out to go climbing. She called me at 2:30 saying she was having bigger contractions and that maybe I should come home soon. I have to admit that at first I was skeptical because Joy has told me on numerous occasions over the past month that the baby might be coming any time. Plus, I had just hiked up to a new climbing area with a really heavy pack and I was a little miffed to be asked to turn around right when I got there. She took a nap and I climbed for a couple of hours before hiking down to get home for a home visit with our midwife. They did some test and determined that it was her water that broke but it was just a trickle. Joy and I went out to dinner at Taipei Tokyo and had some great sushi and dinner before going home to blow up the birthing pool and going to bed.
At about 2:45 A.M. Joy got up because she hadn't been able to sleep well, if at all, because of the contractions. I got up with her but there wasn't anything I could really do for her so I went back to bed. She had some good contractions but was able to rest inbetween them on the couch. At 5 A.M. she was moaning loud enough that it woke me up (I couldn't hardly sleep anyway with all of my excitement!) so I got up to do what I could. For the next few hours Joy had good contractions but there wasn't anything I could really do for her but have water and the puke bucket at the ready. Hence, all the updates yesterday morning.
Jasmine, our midwife, arrived at 7 on Friday morning. Joy was having painful contractions and had started to throw up. She couldn't keep anything down throughout Friday. At about 10:30 Joy told me to go for a run. I thought that was great because I had so much nervous anxiety built up but I hadn't been able to do anything for Joy yet. Just as I was about to get ready things changed and Joy really got into more active labor. Hence, I didn't go and the updates on the blog stopped. Now, Joy was laboring more painfully and throwing up a lot. She kept moving and trying different positions. She would sit on the toilet, sit on a big exercise ball, kneel before the exercise ball, sit on the birthing stool and whatever other position felt good at the moment.
Around noon, Joy's real water broke while she was in a hard contraction. She thought she had peed her pants. Joy and Jasmine both thought initially that it could mean she was already going into the transition phase or was at least dilated several centimeters. Jasmine did an exam and Joy was crushed to find out she was only at 1 cm. All of that work for 1 cm! Joy's voice was a little raspy and her throat was sore from the sounds she had been making. She was already tired and a lot of pain and I honestly thought that this news may bring Joy down to the point of wanting to go to the hospital. She had already said that she couldn't imagine the pain getting worse.
It was sometime shortly after this that our good friend Sari showed up to drop off some fresh, homemade bread. Sari's encouraging words (she has a 1 year old) helped Joy get some of her focus back and it seemed to really lift her up again. The task before Joy seemed pretty daunting and the difficult birthing experiences of a couple of friends recently was definitely in the back of my mind, as well as Joy's to some extent. It was during this time that I prayed as hard as I could that God would help carry Joy through this process. I kept whispering into Joy's ears all of the encouraging things that I could think of. I wanted so badly to take away some of he pain and I wished I could have experienced some of it myself so that Joy wouldn't have to. I knew the prayers of all of our friends and families would help carry us through this time. I kept thinking, and reminding Joy of how the body is this wonderful creation of God and that God would help let this process that He created happen.
The next 5 hours were tough as Joy exhibited the most amazing resolve and focus while also outwardly and loudly expressing that she didn't think she could do it, that she was tired, that she hurt, and that maybe we should just go to the hospital. Joy reminded me last night that I never once mentioned the hospital or drugs as an option and that helped her a lot. Joy moved around, she puked, she took little naps between difficult contractions. I did whatever I could to help relieve pain by massage and pressure points. I felt like a corner man in a boxing fight - having the puke bucket ready after every contraction, using a damp towel on her forehead, getting her to sip some water while sitting behind her and sometimes holding her.
Around 4:40 Jasmine talked to Joy about another exam. She asked Joy to describe what dilation she would like to be at. Joy said around 5 cm. Jasmine reminded Joy, who was a birthplace nurse, that 1 cm an hour would be a lot of progress, perhaps unreasonable. At 5, Jasmine checked Joy and amazingly, perhaps miraculously, Joy was at 6, maybe 7 cm. When Joy found that out you could just see the light, energy and drive come back in her face. It suddenly started to seem much more possible. She had made incredible progress. Throughout this Joy, while in pain and showing occasional signs of weakness, amazed me by her incredible focus and fortitude. She had that look of someone in the middle of a long endurance race, that "hundred-mile stare." It reminded me of seeing her compete at the 24 Hours of Sunlight and I gave her a little pep talk to remind her of that.
Now, Joy continued with hard contractions after the exam. We spent a lot of time on the toilet during this time. It was a great place to be because any fluids, blood, etc. could leak out harmlessly into the bowl and it seemed to be a place where Joy was getting a lot of work done. Some of the last part gets a little blurry. At one point, Jasmine popped a bag of fluid. It made us both feel like Joy was getting closer. Then, around 6:45 or so Joy started to feel the urge to push. I could tell things were getting close because Joy seemed to have made incredible progress and Jasmine and her assistant had been making preparations for a birth. That got me really excited! During one of the mini exams at this point Jasmine could feel a little fluid sack on top of the baby's head and at a later mini-exam, could feel the head. When Joy started to have contractions that were more like pushing I got a little worried that we might have this baby in the toilet! Joy was incredibly tired and hurting at this point but kept showing great resolve and focus. Every time something would happen to help her see the progress she would get energized again. Everyone kept reminding Joy that she was going to have this baby, that it was coming and that she was going to do it at home. Jasmine and Alicia, her assistant, were amazing throughout our entire experience.
Around 7, Joy moved into the birth tub and she moved from contractions to pushing. In the end, Joy only pushed for about 40 minutes. She was scared of tearing and it hurt but she could reach down and feel the baby's head and that made her feel great. There was a little "flag" of amniotic sac that came out first and it definitely helped show the progress. More and more, I could see the head and Joy could feel it. Joy and I both started talking about how this is the baby that we've been feeling inside for all those months. I felt a little impatient for a while because it seemed so close but time seemed to stop. Jasmine helped massage Joy and helped talk her into slowing down her pushing. And then, Selah was out. It was amazing. I didn't even quite see it or recognize the first moment that she was out in the water. Joy, with Jasmine's help, brought her up to Joy's chest immediately and within a few seconds Selah gave us her first little cough and cry. We were anxious to see the sex but we had a hard time seeing at first. I couldn't get the cord out of the way to see the hardware down there and at first, I thought the squished up, funny looking face must be the face of a boy. Much to my surprise, and to the surprise of the many surveys we had done on Joy's blog and in my classroom, we saw that it was a girl.
Within a couple of minutes we had toweled Selah off a bit and Joy got out of the tub and onto the birthing stool. The placenta seemed to come out quickly and easily and Jasmine had me cut the umbilical cord. It was probably within 10 minutes and Joy, Selah and I were in our bed together, snuggling, kissing and marveling at our little wonder. Jasmine and Alicia worked on attending to Joy. It was funny to see her with an adult diaper on. I couldn't stop looking, touching and holding my baby. While Jasmine attended to Joy I spent a long time just holding Selah next to me. It was the most amazing feeling, it kept taking my breath away and making my heart just flutter. I instantly felt so connected and loved and blessed.
Alicia brought us food in bed, Selah latched on and breast fed for about 40 minutes of the first hour of life. She was an instant pro at feeding and I felt rather adept at helping her latch on. We were too excited to go to bed anytime soon. I put the first diaper on and we went to bed together around 11. Joy was having a hard time sleeping with Selah making her little baby sounds so I took her out to the couch with me around midnight and daddy and daughter slept peacefully together until 4:00-ish. Selah woke up and I brought her to Joy in bed to eat but she just fell asleep instead. About an hour later Joy woke her up to feed and we all went together to the nursery where Joy fed and I slept on the floor. We also got our first "really" dirty diaper (by the way, I've changed all the diapers so far - woo hoo!). Around 5:30 we went to bed together but I was too excited and couldn't stop looking at Selah. Eventually, I got up and hung out with my baby while Joy got some well-earned rest.
Now, Sari is here making us breakfast and I'm going to go back to holding my baby. I'll post some pictures later. Joy looks great and is moving around fine. I think she might go for a run today - just kidding. I thought I would be a lot more tired but I feel great and Joy feels great, which is a great testament because she does not do well without good, long nights of sleep.
Anyway, more later. Selah Claire is so cute and we can't wait to show her off to everyone!!!