The arrival of Elijah Lucas

14 06 2012

On Tuesday June 5th at 11:50am, Elijah Lucas Downing was born at the Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua Guatemala, weighing 8lbs 4oz.  He arrived one week early and four hours before his grandparents landed into Guatemala City airport from the UK.

We are so thrilled to finally meet our third little one, another boy and brother to Daniel and Jonah who are loving having him with us.

Elijah Lucas

In the lead-up to the birth, I (Charmari) had had some mild pains on both Sunday and Monday night. At 3am early Tuesday, the contractions were not painful, yet were regular so I got up and arranged the room for my in-laws, prepared the meals for the day and made sure everything was ready in case we had to get to hospital.

At 8:30am we went in to see my gynaecologist so he could assess me; I was 7cm dilated!  I couldn’t believe that the baby was going to come that day as it was probably the one day we had no back-up plan for; we had hoped that Benjamin’s parents would be here before the birth (our last two boys had come right on their due dates), and Suzanne who usually helps out with the children was running an important workshop that day.  But we were able to call on a local friend who took the boys, and Suzanne with Israel, was able to get to the airport late in the afternoon to bring Keir and Shelagh back to our house.

Meanwhile, we headed over to the hospital and stayed in our private room until I was 9cm and actually started to feel a bit of pain.

Second stage of labour

We were then asked to head upstairs to the delivery room – I chose to walk instead of being wheeled up – the nurses were aghast.  They were also not used to me dealing with the contractions in an upright position and encouraged me onto a bed which I turned down.  It was so good to have Benjamin there supporting me through it, as the environment was so different to my previous experiences.  Two nurses stood casually in the room chatting and laughing while I was trying to concentrate through the contractions.  I finally asked Benjamin to get them to leave the room as they were ruining the ambience!!

Soon, the pushing started, we were moved quickly to another room, Benjamin was ordered into scrubs with mask (we thought this was supposed to be all natural), and I was ordered onto the shortest, narrowest bed ever.  I didn’t want to, but by now both our gynaecologist, Dr Ruiz and the paediatrician, Dr Rivas were heaving me up.  The last part felt so medicalised and took us by surprise.  The baby came relatively quickly; thankfully, as the last bit was quite traumatic delivering on a bed that I couldn’t get comfortable on, with bright lights and doctors in scrubs – at least I could see Benjamin’s face, he’d ripped his mask off.

So after just one and a half hours of painful contractions, our little Elijah Lucas was born and placed on me so we could greet him.  We were grateful to both doctors, as for the most part, they had gone along with our wishes – things like labouring in the private room downstairs, handing the baby over to me post-birth, doing some of the checks close by, and not taking him away for hours to the nursery.  There were a few compromises at the end (the delivery), but it was more important to us that our little one came safely.

Welcome Elijah

Paediatrician, Dr Rivas, checking Elijah

For the first time, I had a natural third stage delivery of the placenta, but probably lost a bit more blood as a result.  As I was wheeled back to our room (Benjamin stayed with Elijah and the paediatrician who was finishing off the final post-natal checks), I cried for the emotion of it all.  I was in awe of God’s gift of new life.  I couldn’t but help feel deeply thankful for a healthy baby, a quick labour, good doctors, that I didn’t need stitches (also a first) and for a wonderfully supportive husband who helped me right through it all.

With Dr Ruiz, our gynaecologist

That evening, Benjamin went home and brought back Suzanne with Daniel, Jonah and their grandparents who, after a very long journey, had had just enough time to drop their bags in the house and jump in the car to head for a hospital visit.  The look on the boys face as they met their new brother was one of wonder, delight and puzzlement all in one.

Family hospital visit

Cuddles from Jonah

I stayed one night in the hospital and headed home the next day.  This is unusual in Guatemala; most women stay 3-4 days as the rate of caesarean sections is so high (80%) and it can be rare to come across women who have had a natural birth.

Elijah (Elias in Spanish) has been a real blessing to us.  He has fed well and settles easily.  He still sleeps a lot through the day, so I can put him down between feeds to attend to the other children.  And even when he is awake, he is often happy to lie somewhere and gaze into space.  The nights are still disturbed as he has griping pain after feeds, but this is part of what we expect in the early days.

Eyes open

Three exhausted boys

Having Keir and Shelagh here has really helped us; they have looked after the older boys, held Elijah, done loads around the house and handled the meals too.  We have loved having their company.

We are so thankful for God’s grace and provision in everything.  He is GOOD.

Family of five




2 responses

15 06 2012

Oh what an amazing journey! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see him soon! Love you all! Xxoo

17 06 2012
Maryann Brooks

You are all really amazing – wonderful to see God in Action xxxxx
Lewis David Matthew (Cousin for Ashleigh, Connor and Jasmine)
arrived on Tuesday 12th weighing 9lb 13oz – all doing well.

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