Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baby "B's" Birth

Waiting. It's one of the hardest, longest elements of pregnancy. I waited 40 weeks and 6 days to hold my beautiful baby girl. I waited through nearly 22 hours of labor to finally hold my baby girl. And even after she was born I was forced to wait and hold my baby girl. I found the wait so difficult because I had made a few choices that made me anxious: quitting my job and choosing a natural delivery. Both were scary. I loved my job as a reading teacher and the month spent at home instead of at school was difficult. I was bored, disappointed, jealous, anxious, sad, and and and.... I wanted to be teaching and I regretted quitting. However, I knew that the feeling of regret would go away the moment I held her in my arms, and was that ever true. So I couldn't wait for that end result! Plus, pregnancy involves labor. No matter what birthing plan you choose you are going to inevitably experience pain. That terrified me because I really had no idea what to expect, I had no idea how long it was going to last, and I had no idea when it was going to start! The combination of all those unknowns scared the bejeebees out of me. Knowing what I know now, would I endure the wait again? Heck yes!

How did I handle the wait?

I wrote about it here:
AND I created 3 song playlists on iTunes that helped me focus on worshiping God through this process. I needed His strength, His love, and I needed to remember that He is faithful. So when I began feeling terrified, I used these playlists to worship an amazing God. He has been faithful through our entire pregnancy. Blessing us with health, gifts galore, and much, much more. The entire pregnancy process is absolutely amazing. The more I learned, the more I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there is a a God. An amazing God who's depth of knowledge and understanding FAR SURPASSES MINE. Psalm 139 proves this:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me in my mothers womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

My goal was to make this experience a GOD EXPERIENCE. So I began praying that last part in purple: "Know my thoughts, Lord. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to worship you and focus on you!" After all, He is in control of the entire process, so I wanted to make sure that the words I said, the meditation of my heart, my thoughts, everything revolved around making sure HE got the credit. I found that in my most impatient moments, or when I became terrified of the inevitable pain, or when I became frustrated with the wait, this was extremely hard for me to do. So these play lists were not only to be my focus while being in labor, but they helped get me through some pretty low moments. I conveyed this goal to Deb, who disciples me, and asked her to pray for me through this journey. She sent me a sermon by Ron Hutchcraft about the importance of our words and how it's a direct reflection of our heart. I didn't want to forget a portion of that sermon:
"Right now I think the battle for Christ to truly rule your life and mine may revolve around this question: does Jesus govern your tongue? ... make Jesus Christ so real that He becomes the Master of your mouth. All day long you're transmitting to the people around you. Does it sound like Jesus? When you have surrendered the transmitter to Christ, then He is really in charge."
Reading this quote was a great reminder of my ultimate goal: to worship my God and Savior. Since we are called to worship God in all we do, what better way to do that than in moments of sheer joy and pain? He's in control of it all anyway, so I wanted to worship Him for it and this helped me push all "I'm terrified..." thoughts away and focus on the greatness of my God.
As I waited for the labor to begin, I prayed and begged and dealt with this charge I had given myself. I knew this experience wasn't going to leave me unchanged.

And as I write this story, I bawl, because the change I experienced was more than I ever, ever expected.

The Labor Story begins on my due date, September 14th. Yes, the date came and went without our baby, but that's the day I meandered into the doctor's office completely closed and walked out 1 cm. I wouldn't call it a pleasant experience per say, but it did get the ball rolling. The doctor kept using words like, "I hope..." and "This should..." so I too was hoping that it'd help, making that whole experience worthwhile. Especially when the doctor said, "I wasn't very nice to you today..."

Thankfully, around 10:30 that night I began losing my mucus plug. I knew that didn't necessarily mean immediate labor, dang it. But it was the progress I'd been begging to see days ago! It meant that meeting my daughter was sooner rather than later.

But it still required more waiting...

I couldn't even go on a walk without people commenting on how pregnant I looked! It was a constant reminder of how anxious I was to meet her and how uncomfortable I felt. There were times I literally needed to get out of the house or I was going to "lose it," only to have those feelings pushed to the forefront of my brain allllll over again.

I couldn't wait for labor to start! Still, the waiting for labor to start only meant I'd be waiting again for it all to be over and finally get to hold her. The waiting game was getting on my very last nerve. One woman told me that 30 years ago she went four weeks overdue! Holy crapola, did that ever put my waiting into perspective. Could you even imagine waiting that long? So whenever I thought that I couldn't take it anymore I'd think back to her, which made my experience seem less... depressing. I mean whoop-di-dooooo... what's a few days compared to four weeks? Four weeks overdue is like an eternity of hell, or a sick form of torture in a pregnant woman's world! When I felt like complaining or whining a significant amount, I'd remind myself of her story and tell my brain to "shut up" or "suck it up," either way it worked for a little bit.

Still, the waiting began driving me insane....

I thought my waiting was over when contractions sorta started around 4 A.M. on September 18th. They were about 10 to 15 minutes apart and anywhere between 10 to 20 seconds in duration. However, this ended around a quarter till 9. So I cried and decided to take a nap, it was the easier way to cope with more waiting....

I woke up to a contraction at 12:01 (I remember looking at my cell phone) and did not have another one. Ugh. From that point on it felt like I was on the first day of my period with lower abdominal cramping.

I began to make it a point to look at the clock every single time I had a contraction and wrote it down on a scrap piece of paper: 


They were a tad painful and extremely, frustratingly inconsistent.

Then we went to church that evening (I had to do something or lose my mind) and of course everyone had something to say. Thankfully, I picked up a great pointer from a fellow pregnant patron. She said that one thing she read was making a point to relax your jaw. We have a tendency to clinch it when we're in pain and that causes that much more anxiety and tension. So true! Once I began focusing on relaxing my jaw, my neck, shoulders, back, etc. followed suit. Which totally made sense! I had a light bulb moment. As a former sprinter and a former sprint coach we spent a lot of practice time focusing on relaxing the jaw to increase speed. Duh! It would only make sense to apply that same concept here.

I left church with a splitting headache and I believe it was because I experienced three kind-of intense contractions during our Bible study and guess what I was doing? Clinching my jaw.

At this point I had been experiencing contractions off and on since 4 A.M. Although they weren't overly painful, they were tolerable, the experience was a long, drawn out, frustrating one. So it left me feeling emotionally exhausted and the work hadn't even begun yet....

Kyle and I knew that the time we'd be meeting our daughter was drawing closer, but there was still more waiting...

I am thankful that we were allowed a full night's sleep. However, relaxing enough to fall asleep was difficult until I remembered our church's memory verse of the month: Proverbs 3:5-6,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."
I just needed to let go and let God. So I began praying that God would help me trust in Him fully, even through the waiting, knowing that He is in control. A peace swept over me that I can not explain. This was another turning point for me, where I felt at peace with going over and waiting on God.

That morning, on September 19th, I woke up for the first time feeling okay with waiting!

That same day we had an appointment and they monitored  her heart rate for twenty minutes. During that time she had two major decelerations, where her heartbeat actually slowed to less than 80 bpm. This concerned the doctor tremendously, and scared us to death, so she ordered us go down to the hospital for long term monitoring. I made it to the car before I burst into tears and there we prayed for the well being of our child. "Not our will but Yours Lord. Help us trust you, we're scared." 

My husband quickly drove to the hospital where they monitored her heart rate for two hours, checked my cervix, twice, used an ultrasound to calculate how much fluid she had to roam around in, and determined that the data showed some concerns where they felt I needed to be induced within the next couple of days, but nothing that would require an emergency induction like the doctor originally thought. We were thinking we were going to have to be induced right then and there, so we were thanking God! The doctor stretched me another half a centimeter, hoping this would get the ball rolling naturally, and gave me my discharge papers.

By this time it was close to six in the evening and I was starving, for french fries. :) So we went to grab a bite to eat and while we were enjoying dinner, contractions started. They were strong for 30-40 seconds and were three to five minutes apart. This lasted the entire hour we were at the restaurant so we decided to stay and walk around for a while, thinking the doctor might not want us to go very far. We walked around the mall until around 9 pm and called, explaining that I'd been having these contractions for three hours straight. The doctor explained this is expected behavior after being stretched and didn't seem certain that these contractions wouldn't fizzle out. We were told to go home and call if they got more intense and continued through the night.

Continue they did! We got home a little after ten and they were now two to four minutes apart and they were most definitely more intense. We decided to try and get some sleep in our own bed and go from there. Around 12:30 I had one of the more intense contractions that left me feeling nauseated, so that was the end of laying in the bed.

The intensity of each contraction continued and the time between each contraction was anywhere between two to three minutes. This was only the beginning....

Our waiting was almost over! But ... there was a lot of work to do.

And the true birth story has only begun.

We arrived at the hospital around 4 in the morning and the doctor broke my water at 7:45. He told me the contractions will gain in intensity at this point, and he wasn't kidding. At this point I was still only about two centimeters dilated and the contractions were lasting longer with less and less break between.  I was able to breath through them with Kyle's help, reminding me to breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out and to relax my jaw! My breathing out came out as either a scream or Tarzan woman, but for some reason that helped. The nurses told me to let it all out anyway.

My sister Mel arrived and captured Kyle as he helped me through another contraction. I can't even begin to explain to you how amazing he was through this entire process. I thought I loved him before....
The contractions were extremely painful, as I have been told they would be numerous times before. I'm so glad I spent time preparing my mind for those moments, because the intensity is nothing I can possibly explain. It hurt. A lot. By this time the intensity, duration, and distance between the contractions would suggest that I was in my final stages of labor. Plus, the contractions left me nauseous. I threw up at least three times. My sister even took pictures of the contraption that captured the contractions and the difference between when she arrived and a few hours later.

The bottom "graph" shows the peaks of contractions, the top portion (in blue) shows baby's heartbeat.
You can see the peaks increase significantly, going off the charts, so based on this fact we thought I was getting close to the end.
I was doing everything I could to hold it together. My mom told me that just when I thought I couldn't handle it anymore, it was almost over. I was most definitely getting to that point. However, hours into the labor (it's a blur so I couldn't tell you how many exactly) the doctor checked me. Which was absolutely miserable because I was having back labor. Every single time I laid down the contractions were significantly more painful. I was still only two centimeters.

The doctor began getting concerned because with every contraction our baby's heart rate would drop significantly. So I had to continue being monitored, which didn't allow me to walk around, take a shower, or do any of the relaxing ideas I had thought up ahead of time. This was literally making me lose my mind.

We decided to try "shock therapy" which was called water papules. They put a sterile saline solution into my back to block the nerves. It was one way where we could naturally help with the intense back labor I was experiencing. I can honestly tell you this was by far one of the most painful experiences I've ever had. It was a burning and stinging sensation unlike anything I can possibly explain. However, once it was over, the back pain was eliminated. Hallelujah!

So I endured and waited to begin feeling that intense "I've got to push" feeling every single woman talks about, but it never came. Now the contractions were gaining in intensity to the point were I did not have more than a 30 second break. The doctor checked me again and the moment I laid on my back the back labor began again. I was still only two centimeters!

At this point I lost it. I had been in labor for nearly 20 hours and I was losing my mind. Mel and Kyle did everything they could to help me, and the doctor was getting extremely concerned. So she laid it out for me like this: "We are concerned about the baby's heart rate. Either we try an epidural to try and relax your cervix and get it to open, or we have to do an emergency c-section."

Ok, easy decision right? Vaginal birth - first choice. Every decision I had made revolved around my baby's health and what I thought was best for her, so if this was going to help her, I didn't hesitate in my decision. After all, I knew something was wrong. I had experienced natural labor and should be experiencing a natural birth at this point! I don't really remember my thought process a whole lot at this point, but I remember hearing "concerned about baby" and whatever I had to do to keep her, I was going to do it. So after the epidural I anticipated the relief women talk about so frequently. The problem was, it didn't work. It didn't block the pain and it didn't work as the doctor had hoped. My feet were numb and that's it. About an hour or so (it may be have been shorter) after getting the epidural and enduring peak to peak contractions - I didn't have a break, I was contracting and contracting and contracting, the doctor checked me again and I was still a measly three centimeters. Plus the contractions were still wrecking havoc on her heart beat.

I was hysterical. Begging for help, pleading for them to do something. I knew that if it took on average an hour for the cervix to dilate one centimeter I could be in labor for another seven hours. I had already endured nearly 20 hours. Plus, I remember asking Kyle,

"There's something wrong. Why am I only 3 cm?"

That's when the doctor took over and said, "Enough. We have to do an emergency c-section or we are going to lose her."

The moment they stopped my contractions, Brielle's heart rate went up. Good news.

Still, we didn't know what to expect. The whole concept of going into emergency surgery scared us to death and nearly broke my heart. I had to be knocked out which means I would be missing the moments I was looking forward to the most - seeing daddy hold her for the first time, hearing her first cry...

Thankfully Mel was there with her camera to capture those moments and every time I look at these pictures I burst into tears. They are so precious to me.

First Cry.
Daddy's first meeting.

Holding her for the first time.
After surgery it took a while before I was lucid. Mel and Kyle both claim that in my stupor I was whispering her name over and over again, but I do not remember this.
Daddy introducing her to me.

I have never, in the six years of knowing Kyle, seen him act the way he did that day. I cannot look at this picture without bursting into tears. Mel said the moment I was whisked into surgery, Kyle began shaking uncontrollably and it did not stop until he saw that I was okay. If you know Kyle at all, you'd know that going 24 hours without eating is a big deal, but later he told me he "just couldn't eat." The moments before surgery with Kyle were some of the most intimate, most precious memories I have of this whole experience. We prayed, cried, and held each other. The other day I asked Kyle how he felt about this whole experience and his reply was, "I love you more now than I ever did."

When I started waking up and really looking at her...

She's so beautiful.

These pictures fill in gaps I missed. I thank God every day that Mel was there to capture them.

Nurses told me later that I had an amazing support team and that it was one they wished they could record for others to watch and learn from them. I was not only honored, but thankful, and not at all surprised. I couldn't agree more. Kyle would help me breath, let me lean into him, remind me to relax, squeeze his hand, and Mel would reassure me, rub my back, offer me water, chap stick, whatever I needed. I could NOT have done it without them. God blessed me with an amazing family.

After birth the story continues... My iron levels were extremely low, my blood pressure a tad scary, and my heart rate was in the 110's. Which means my heart was pumping over time to try and compensate for blood loss. Which no one could explain. They said I didn't bleed tremendously during birth, surgery, or afterwards, so they couldn't understand why my vitals weren't checking out. My doctor recommended a blood transfusion. After getting my transfusion, they were checking me over and discovered I had significant bruising and swelling from my belly button down, which had not existed hours before. They feared internal bleeding.

More waiting and praying was required in order to determine if this was something major enough where they would have to reopen me and repair the damage, or if it would clog and repair itself. At least it answered the question as to where my blood had gone. Thankfully, it looks as though it will repair itself because the bruise has gone unchanged. However, the recovery is a long drawn out, you guessed it, waiting process. I'm once again trying to be patient.
My IV and blood transfusion mess... they poked me three different times while I was in labor because I was having these weird swelling reactions to the IV line. They had to call the IV team to come in and figure out what the heck was going on. The nurse told me she'd never seen anything like it. Haha, do you know how many times I heard that?
Hindsight, would I go through another natural delivery after this experience? Yes. Like I stated in my blog about Labor & Delivery: Pain Medication vs. Natural Birth unless there's an emergency, I still believe in a medication free birth. (After all, the epidural didn't even work for me!) Every decision I made was for my baby's well being. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do about my cervix. The doctor told me later that it acted like a funnel, were the top was 3 centimeters and the bottom was opening as it should. She also told me that when she opened me up my uterine wall was as thin as a woman who had been pushing. So with each contraction my little girls head was being pushed into a tiny hole, causing me pain, and causing her to lose oxygen, dropping her heart rate. The entire experience was a very scary one. I thought I was going to lose her. I do not regret my decision process, the preparation process, or the process of labor. It was all worth it. Including the recovery. I'm not only recovering from the effects of an intense labor, but also major surgery. The bigger question I guess would be, CAN I do it again? Yes. The doctor told me she stitched me in a way that would allow me to try a vaginal birth again if I so desired. Was it painful? Um, yes. I can't describe it. Based on the fact that I was in my final stages of labor, med-free, just unable to push, I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I could do it again. Thankfully, like every woman has told me a thousand times before, you forget once you hold your precious child in your arms.

Was the wait worth it? Absolutely. I was blessed with a very healthy little girl who scored a 9 out of 10 on the Apgar Score, who weighed in at 6 lbs 5 oz and was 19 1/4" long. She has a very healthy scream and she loves to eat. She left the hospital weighing one ounce less than her birth weight. And she has two parents who thank God every day that He blessed us with such an amazing child. Baby Brielle's birth changed me in more ways than I can count. I have no doubt that while I was in pain, while we were scared for our lives, God was in control of it all, asking us to trust Him fully. So we praise God for our health, my recovery, and our very precious, very loved baby girl Brielle.


Bri = Strength in Hebrew
elle = God (like El Shaddai)
Her name means "God is my Strength"
How perfectly fitting is that?
I could NOT have done this without HIS strength.
To HIM be the glory!


  1. This is such an amazing story and so well written, Becky. The picture of you and Kyle made me tear up, just the pure emotion that you can see in his face, both of your faces. The story from then to the end made me cry. So beautiful and such a great testimony to God's strength and power. I am so happy for you, Kyle, and baby Brielle. The meaning behind her name makes the name even more beautiful than it already was. Congratulations on entering parenthood. I can only hope that I am able to submit to God this much when we get ready to have children and go through this process. I'm praying for a speedy recovery for you. God bless!