1. FROM THE VERY FIRST SLIGHT CONTRACTION AT 7:15 AM I began to time & enter each one in my notebook. I'd write down the time & length of each: for example, the first one at 7:15; & then I would time by the second hand how long each contraction lasted. Also, I noted how many minutes apart each was. My beginning contractions lasted about a minute, then they would decrease in length to 30 or 40 or even 20 seconds, then increase to a minute again, then 30 seconds, etc‚ & continued in this fashion throughout the entire labour; & the minutes between them went like this: 6‚ 13, 14, 18, 14, 10, 5, 6, 8, 15, 7, 7, 22‚ 10‚ 14, 15, 15, 10, 7, 11, 14, 7, 10, 10‚ 5, 10‚ 14, 19, 7—& at that point—which was six hours from the first contraction—I took off for the clinic! So I stopped recording‚ but Sara continued to keep the record
2. THE FUNNY THING WAS that from the time I started out for the hospital until some time after I got there, a total of about 35 minutes‚ I had no further contractions, similar to the ride to the clinic with Davidito four years before when my contractions had completely stopped during the half an hour drive! What a miracle.
3. I ALSO NOTED EACH TIME I WOULD URINATE & each time that I had bowel movements. During labour you should remember to empty your bladder at least once an hour, since a full bladder can make your labour more uncomfortable & slow it down by pressing upon the uterus. However, you often do not notice that your bladder is full, so therefore should keep your date with the toilet every hour.
4. ALTHOUGH MY LABOUR WAS RATHER UNUSUAL, since it was so extremely light & irregular & I became completely dilated without the contractions ever even reaching the "heavy" stage, ordinarily there is a somewhat usual pattern that can be observed.
5. (SARA: THE RECOMMENDED CHILDBIRTH BOOKS suggest that when contractions have progressed to some 50-60 seconds in length from the first breath to the last breath, the interval between them being from about 3/12-7 minutes, & the mother's steady breathing pattern noticeably changes to a slightly quicker & lighter rhythm during contractions, you can safely assume that labour proper—or the phase of dilatation of the cervix—has begun. This is the time to call the local mid-wife if you have planned a home delivery, or otherwise the hospital, & notify them you are coming immediately.
6. (THE LENGTH & STRENGTH OF THE CONTRACTION, & not the intervals between, are your guide to when you should telephone the hospital or midwife that you are on the way. During the pre-dilatation stage when the cervix is thinning out, length of contractions will be anything up to 45 seconds.—All you do at this early stage of labour is stay at home & try to rest & conserve your energy as best you can. During the thinning stage, you have these "odd" contractions of varied lengths & intervals. But gradually they get stronger & creep towards a more or less regular length of 55 seconds to a minute.
7. (IN ADDITION, TWO OTHER THINGS MAY HAPPEN to show that you are entering "real labour." They may not happen at all or until much later—but both are labour symptoms worth noting. One is the "bloody show", or the loss of the blood-tinged mucuous plug, that comes away from the mouth of the uterus as it is taken up or thinned out to now begin its dilatation, or opening up. You will need to record the time of "the show" to inform the midwife, or the hospital maternity ward when you call before arrival‚ if at all possible.
8. (NEXT THE "BAG OF WATERS" around the baby in the womb may spring a leak or rupture with a noticeable gush of clear water. Record also the time this happens if it does before you go to the hospital or see your mid-wife. If the waterbag ruptures while you're at home & if this is your second child or more, you should now plan to go, & first notify your hospital or midwife & have someone give them the following information on your labour progress: "Mrs. X's bag of membranes or waterbag has burst now. She has been having contractions of... (whatever strength & length they are) for the last... (however long it's been). The bloody show occured at (time)." Be sure to give this information to the midwife or maternity unit of the hospital, not to the telephone receptionist who answers, as she will only connect you with maternity & you'll have to repeat the same info! Now is the time to leave for the hospital or have your mid-wife come to your home.
9. (OF COURSE, NO TWO LABOURS ARE ALIKE, but these guidelines may help you in judging your progress in labour & in preventing any last minute hurried hassles. It would be worth it to be already settled in the hospital before the transition phase of labour begins—the changeover of the state of labour to the state of delivery—when the baby's coming real soon!! This transition phase is in most cases the most difficult stage to cope with & adapt your breathing pattern because it is so totally unpredictable. Although contractions are usually shorter, they come stronger & faster & of varying intensities. But compared to the rest of your labour, it is the shortest phase, & the baby will soon be born. During transition, the uterus is undergoing two big jobs at once—while still opening the cervix, it's preparing for expulsive efforts at the same time & muscles are working "in two directions." It's very common for girls to experience a "muddled" feeling at this time & may have a few emotional quirks, such as irritability, tears‚ etc.—It's normal so don't worry or feel embarrassed—just trust the Lord & dwell on His Word! (Ps.119:165.) If already settled in the hospital labour room when the transition phase begins you'll find it easier to tune out to hurried hospital staff & tune in to Jesus & your husband or helper's instructions & prepare for your baby's arrival into the world!)
10. MANY OBSTETRICIANS RECOMMEND a light nutritious liquid snack when starting labour, such as broth or orange juice, blended yogurt drink or soup with the addition of calcium tablets, which may very well be helpful in easing pain during labour. About 10:45 AM I went a little overboard with a cheese sandwich & a glass of milk which I ate for energy needed for the work I thought was coming. Although this little meal had no adverse effects, I learned later that it very well could have, except for the Lord's mercy & intervention, as digestion usually ceases at the beginning of labour. If a general anaesthetic is required for any reason, as it was in my case, if you have recently had a meal, there can be vomiting‚ & the food which you vomit could be inhaled into your lungs, blocking tubes & possibly resulting in pneumonia. This was why—before administering the anaesthesia—the doctor very carefully inquired into each item I had eaten since the beginning of labour.
11. SOME WEEKS BEFORE, I had made a half hour tape of childbirth Scriptures that I thought were especially applicable & comforting to think about during the first stage of labour. But we had misplaced it, & when I tried to find it‚ it was nowhere to be found. I was very disappointed, as I really wanted to listen to some Word while I was resting between contractions & waiting until time to go to the clinic.
12. ACTUALLY, DADDY KEPT TELLING ME that I should go right away, but my contractions were so light, I felt I would rather wait until they got a bit heavier, so I wouldn't have as long a wait in the clinic. Daddy got a comforting Scripture for me: "Who hath delivered, Who doth deliver, & Who will Yet deliver." ("That was David, now Techi, & maybe there's going to be another one some day," he said.)
13. AND, THE LORD EVEN HAD A GOOD REASON for letting my Scripture tape be lost!: When David saw how disappointed I was at not having my Scriptures, he offered to read the Bible to me himself. That was the highlight of my labour at home‚ when he offered to read to me during contractions!—And as a result, he recorded a complete hour of Psalms immediately prior to my leaving for the clinic—Psalms that can be shared with all of our dear Family around the world. Psalms of real comfort & encouragement to keep one's mind on the Lord, & that He will bring us through. That alone was almost worth having a baby for! (Order now from Wild Wind!: "PSALM OF DAVID" by MO!)
14. WELL, AFTER THE PSALM TAPE & ANOTHER WHOLE HOUR AT HOME, David was certain that we were now pushing it on time! Although my contractions were still the same—quite light & definitely first stage contractions—he was convinced the baby was going to come quickly & without a difficult labour.—So he was therefore very concerned that I get to the clinic soon.
15. IN FACT, HE'D HAD SEVERAL DREAMS that she'd come quickly & easily—with "only three or four pushes." I didn't know if that meant it would be an unusual labour consisting of only those three or four pushes or if it meant after a normal labour‚ I would have to push only three or four times‚ as many women do who end even very difficult labours with only three or four pushes. But the former proved true: a literal three or four pushes was the only thing at all laborious during Techi's entire birth!
16. SO I WAS ALL DRESSED UP READY TO GO‚ with my blue tennies & blue socks, pink nighty & blue robe. I waited until I had had another contraction just before steping out the door, so I could get settled into the car before I had another one, which, to my surprise, never came during the entire ride!
17. DAVID WAS UNABLE TO COME WITH ME, however, since we had been warned in two strange specific dreams that he should not go to the clinic or the surrounding area. The dreams were about a week apart & both different in nature, but both definitely a strong warning to stay away from the clinic. We still do not understand the reasons why but we knew we must heed & obey this sign from the Lord.
18. (DAD: IN THE FIRST DREAM I was eagerly following these bus-stop signs leading to the clinic by specific names, when suddenly when I had arrived inside the clinic reception hall my mother appeared young & beautiful & stark naked! I was astonished, because I had never seen my mother naked in my whole life! She was always very conservative in dress. She said:
19. ("SON, DON'T FOLLOW THOSE SIGNS!—IT'S A TRAP! Look! I'll show you!"—And she reached down toward the little rock garden in the large hall, & suddenly out from under the rocks shot an evil red & black snake & struck at her left hand! But she just quickly removed him with her right hand & flung him out the window & said, "See?"—And vanished!—
20. (AND I WOKE WITH A START, clearly remembering every detail & quite shaken! But it was such a specific warning not to go there that we could hardly ignore it!—What the danger was, only God knows!—Perhaps someone who would recognise me. But I knew then I could not go.
21. (—AS THOUGH THAT WERE NOT ENOUGH‚ in the second dream we were driving up there, when suddenly there was an earth-quake & the ground split open with lava erupting like a volcano, & we had to run for our lives! It was definitely the mountain on which the clinic was located, so I knew it was another warning not to go.
22. (BUT I INTERPRETED IT THAT MEANT ONLY ME & not the others. So as we already had engaged the doctor & reserved a room, we went ahead with our plans to send Maria there with helpers for Techi's delivery anyway‚ while I stayed home & prayed & kept in constant touch by phone. But, as you can see by the rest of Maria's story, even she & Techi too were in peril, & the Enemy tried hard to take both their lives!)
23. THE LORD BLESSED ME, HOWEVER, WITH SOME SWEET FAITHFUL HELPERS to go with me: Sara to help me with my breathing & relaxation, since my homework in this area had been definitely lax—I'm afraid almost nil, & her great faith & confidence in the Lord was a real support. Then dear Sue was there to assist with interpreting, & sweet, faithful‚ loyal Peter to drive the car & help in whatever way he could‚ since Timothy, whom we had previously planned would be with us at the delivery, had left us some weeks before.—Timothy, whom I had loved dearly in a very special way & who saddened us by his departure.
24. BUT THE LORD SENT DEAR PETER as a comforter in his stead—such a jewel & so humble, always ready to help in the smallest detail‚ with even enough humility to wait on a woman! Sometimes at night he would hear me get up to go down to the kitchen or come out in the hallway for some reason & he'd jump out of bed, asking if there was anything he could do to help. God bless him‚ & give us more faithfuling workers & lovers like him!
25. —AND GOD BLESS HIS SWEET WIFE DAMARIS for so cheerfully giving him to us a little while to help us with the heavy WS administrational load, & also to help during the time of the baby's birth, & taking on such a load of real responsibility & hard work in her husband's absence both real soldiers in the Lord's Army!