This is a story of a strong mama birthing her fourth baby in her second homebirth. During her first homebirth, her baby boy got stuck with shoulder dystocia, so she had to battle many fears going into this birth and place her hope in God. Abby was able to attend this birth as a friend and doula, even though it was across the country. God’s plan and timing is always better than our own.
Casey’s Birth Testimony
“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fear.” Psalm 43:4
I had been praying for this birth. Praying for good timing, praying for a healthy baby, praying that I wouldn’t have a repeat shoulder dystocia experience. I prayed more at the end of this pregnancy than I ever have in my life, actually.
Everything about this birth was seemingly perfect timing. My good friend Abby, a doula, was visiting from Arizona. She had planned her trip in the hope that she would be there for my labor, but of course we had no way of knowing when that would happen. We trusted that however it worked out, whether I stayed pregnant or already had a baby by the time she was to visit, that it would be wonderful and worthwhile.
Abby arrived on a Thursday (I was still pregnant!) and we spent a few days together just having fun and preparing for the birth.
On Saturday I started to more seriously consider moving things along naturally, as I knew that the larger the baby grew, the higher my chance of a repeat dystocia. I was 39 weeks with my fourth baby and felt comfortable helping to kick start my body into labor. My midwife agreed that it would be safe to do so, and I prayed for God to help Phil and I come to a mutual decision about whether or not to try castor oil in the morning.
I woke to a few “real” contractions in the early morning hours that Sunday, but I truly wanted to sleep, so I told my body to wait. By 5:30am, I was able to fall back asleep with no more contractions. Later that morning, my husband Phil brought the kids to church. We had decided to do the castor oil, so Abby and I stayed home. We ate breakfast and I drank my castor oil shake, following Abby’s recipe.
Later that morning, I decided to go for a short walk. I had probably only been walking for about fifteen minutes when I started to have uncomfortable contractions. As I continued to walk, they got very close together and I had to stop moving during them. I was thanking God for His perfect timing, allowing me to be home with Abby and go into labor that day.
Labor moved quickly. I walked home, with many pauses to work through contractions, and was soon feeling as though the midwife needed to come sooner rather than later. I remember changing into my “labor outfit” and standing in front of my dresser, swaying through a contraction. Abby asked how far along I thought I might be, based on my other labors. I guessed 8cm. The midwife wasn’t supposed to arrive for a few more hours, and I was getting a bit nervous that she might not make it.
I ended up leaning over the birth ball in my living room to cope with increasingly intense contractions. It was just me, Phil, and Abby at this point. Phil had come home from church just in time. I prayed for strength, for comfort, for help in conquering my fears of shoulder dystocia and a possible unassisted birth. I knew that God was holding me in His hand. I read and re-read the scripture print that I had hanging on the wall over my couch: “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fear.”
After one particularly intense contraction, my water broke. I knew then that this baby was going to arrive quickly. Shortly afterward my body started pushing. It was the involuntary type of pushing, something I didn’t knowingly orchestrate, but I could feel Judah moving down. Abby called the midwife again, who luckily was at the front door. I felt much safer with her there, in case there were any issues like in my previous birth. The midwife said, “You are safe. I’m ready when you are.” My body continued to involuntarily push during some contractions and didn’t during others, but I just let my body lead the way. At some point Phil was reading scripture cards to me, which was amazingly comforting. It helped to focus on God’s words instead of my own discomfort. I was so grateful that I had Abby, Phil, and the midwife with me in my own home. God’s timing is perfect.
Judah was born soon after. I had to switch positions while pushing because a nuchal hand was making his descent a bit more difficult, but I still only pushed for fifteen minutes. He was blue and not breathing, despite some vigorous rubbing, so my midwife gave him a few quick breaths. The atmosphere was much calmer than the one at my previous home birth, even with Judah’s slow start. I got to scoop him up and hold him and it was peaceful and wonderful. Just a minute or two after he was born, the second midwife, Gengi, walked in the door. She had also attended my previous home birth, so it was meaningful to have both her and Vicki there again for this birth, with quite a different ending.
As I sat on the couch, snuggling my new Judah baby, I was so in awe of God. I remember Phil smiling in awe and commenting, “I’m just so happy.” So was I. I had trouble comprehending that we were actually having a fourth baby throughout my entire pregnancy. Even in labor, I was still in disbelief; it didn’t seem real. I couldn’t have imagined how much I needed a little Judah baby in my life until the moment I held him.
Judah was blonde-haired, 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and 23 ½ inches long. He has a unique look compared with his brothers and sister (and even compared to Phil and me!). Judah Alexander Russo, whose name means Praise Warrior, gave me the birth experience I always wanted but couldn’t have imagined.