I randomly began following http://www.visionarywomanhood.com on Pinterest and happened upon an article titled When God's Plan is Different From Your Plan, which lead to a head-to-head battle with a green monster. A battle I didn't even completely understand needed to happen until after it happened. I had this incredible head knowledge: GOD IS IN CONTROL, but my heart was obviously hem-hawing around that fact. There is a huge difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge and sometimes it takes a swift kick in the pants to come to these revelations. After writing about it, praying about it, and talking about it with my husband I can FINALLY say I'm in a better place about my birth story because God was very obviously in control of it all; and when (or if) the day comes that I must prepare for another birth story, I am better prepared for what God has in store and let HIM be my central focus no matter the outcome. (It's so easy to say that, but it takes a lot of work and some hard knocks to finally mean it.)
My friend Brandi did just that and has two amazing birth stories that I cannot wait to share with you. Enough with my mumbo jumbo... here's her story(S)!
I have 2 children and 2 very different birth stories from each of them. To fully understand my decision and experience with birth I feel you should know both of my stories as well as some back ground.
When my husband and I began to talk of starting a family he asked me if I would consider doing a home birth. When I became pregnant with our first child I couldn’t even wrap my head around this idea much less research it; soooooo we decided that my first daughter would be born in a small hospital. We were able to have the same doctor for all of our appointments and also delivery.
While being sound asleep my water broke at 2:00 am, 10 days before my due date. My water broke with a big gush, that I thought I peed the bed but soon realized I still had to pee. Lol. My contractions started about 2 hours later, regular but only a touch of how intense they would become. Early in labor a part of me actually craved contractions. I knew each one brought me closer to meeting my baby and finding out if we would have a boy or a girl. Labor progressed steadily and by 12:00 I was in heavy labor dilated to a 7. I was in the beginning of transition and labor was tough. The intensity of contractions had picked up and I felt like I had to push. The nurse had me humming though each contraction to keep myself from pushing. I was frustrated and unsure of what was going to happen next and how long I would have to be doing this. It was intense and I could not understand why, if my body was telling me to push, I could not. My labor had stalled at a 7 and the nurses just kept assuring me if I would relax my labor would continue to progress again.
(Now I told you I would share some back ground so that you would completely understand. I am the oldest daughter of 3 girls. My mother and my middle sister had both had babies in nearly no time at all and little to no “real” labor. I tease that they sneezed and had a baby. So first things first I simply knew I would have labor and deliver babies just as they did. The other thing you ought understand is I mentioned I was the oldest of 3 daughters. I was raised by 2 very loving hard working parents. They had excellent intensions by teaching me to be independent, business minded, to use common since, think for myself, to set goals and achieve them and to be strong. I was successful in the business world and in sales. I also had developed a knack for talking. I was fairly opinionated and somewhat of a control freak.—I was loveable, but knew nothing about being a biblical woman, much less a wife. To this point in my life I had not yet learned who was really in control. I am also going to mention that having my first baby was not going at all how I planned; I was stuck, confused and frustrated!!!!) Now back to my story…
I stayed like this until about 3:30 and the nurses encouraged me to get an epidural to help me relax. Against my original plan I received an epidural and did relax. But my labor virtually came to a stop. My contractions went from steady and regular to more sporadic. In order to help things progress they started me on a pitocin drip and had me and my baby hooked up to every monitor possible. I was still not progressing with any speed and there was talk of a cesarean. My doctor who was coming home from his daughter’s wedding (that was 6 hours away) arrived to check me and see how close I was to delivering. At about 5:45 I was at a 9 and all but a little piece effaced. As he was checking me he asked me to push against him. He said that he was going to go change clothes and then we could start pushing. I was glad he made it because I trusted him and felt confident that he would do his best to keep me from having a C-section. My contractions were still not near as regular even with the pitocin and I hated that I couldn’t move and that I couldn’t feel what my body was doing. I still very much so wanted a vaginal birth. So as soon as they said I could start pushing I did, but because I couldn’t feel my contractions I couldn’t work with my body and it was much more tiring. I was even pushing without a contraction to keep me from having a cesarean. It was exhausting. To help with my progress the Doctor used the vacuum, which I thought hurt much worse because it was something that as my body was pushing out, was going in. I also received an episiotomy. (Even with an epidural you can still feel the episiotomy--- I would strongly encourage anyone to adamantly refuse an episiotomy as the healing process was the hardest part of my post delivery.) After an hour and 20 minutes of intense pushing, and the hustle and bustle of the hospital, our beautiful baby girl was born. Following the delivery the nurses were excited to weigh her and get their hands on her. My Doctor actually sharply reminded them that the paperwork would could wait and that someone had better get this mom her baby. It was still a while until I got to hold her because I was getting stitches from my episiotomy. In the end, I had a 7 lb 4 oz 19 ¾ inch long beautiful, happy, healthy baby girl.
When my husband and I began to think of a second child he again asked me about homebirth. Being at a much different place spiritually, (Let me elaborate…. even though I had been a believer since I was a teenager, for the first time through scripture I was able to understand how BIG God is and how small I am, with the first inkling of understanding a need to trust in God and submit to Him. Most importantly my NEED for a savior and His redeeming love for me.) I was willing to research the laws, who to work with, how it worked and the safety of actually having a baby at home. Even though I thought I would prove it was unsafe and that we should not do a home birth, I also wanted to have a different experience with labor. My first birth experience wasn’t bad. In fact it was very routine and produced a healthy baby, but I really wanted an experience with childbirth that someone talked me through the process, what my body was doing and one that I wouldn’t be hung up in transition. I wanted be able to embrace the experience of childbirth and what my body was made for. I wanted to be able to be relaxed and calm with no fear of what would happen next.
We began researching by watching a documentary “The Business of Being Born.” It gave us an idea of what it entailed and where to start—keeping in mind any documentary is presenting facts to prove a point, so you must be objective to the persuasion. The next step was to interview midwives who could work with us but quickly found that homebirth was not legal in our state, so to do a homebirth we would need to find an alternative location. Fortunately for us my parents lived in a neighboring state which did allow for homebirth and we worked out the details to meet a midwife at their house for delivery and my parents were nice enough to lend us their house . Unfortunately for other women seeking to do homebirth in Nebraska this is not an option, hopefully laws will one day change and there will be licensed Midwives in the state.
My care while pregnant was very similar with my midwife to that of my doctor. For our appointments we did the same things, blood pressure, weight, how the baby was growing, etc. The rest of the time we spent getting to know our midwife and at first she probed me to ask questions and even talk to her about my feelings. There was much more of a getting to know each other process.
Because my first baby came 10 days early I was sure my second would as well. WRONG!!! A person’s first breath and last breath are in the control of God alone!!! The due date of my second daughter came and went. My midwife explained to us, if I went beyond 42 weeks the law would require I be induced and deliver in the hospital. At 41 weeks insisted she check to see if my body had even began to act like it wanted to have a baby and I was dilated to a 4. My midwife laughed out loud and said all you need is contractions and this is going to go fast, many women are in active labor and spend hours to get this far!! I had several days, in the month before, where I had steady contractions and just knew I was going to go to sleep and wake up to more intense contractions, leading to a baby. Day after day I would wake up with no contractions in the morning. It was 41 weeks 6 days and I was set to go to the hospital for delivery the Monday morning. I was again having contractions pretty steady through the day but was not sure if it was going to lead to much of anything. Around 2 in the afternoon they were about 2 minutes apart. I decided to get in the shower and shave my legs-- of all things. LOL! What I was feeling was not painful but more, tingly as my belly tightened and softened. I would feel each rush of energy in my butt and legs. It tingled and was extremely intense and uncontrollable.
We switched to my parent’s houses and in the process my labor came to a screeching halt. My midwife encouraged me to get comfortable and then do some walking to see if the contractions would come back. Several laps around my parents house and sure enough they were back, 6 mins apart and regular. Knowing I was going to have a long night I decided to rest a bit. I laid down and when I was just about to doze off I moved and heard a little “pop” and then a little wet. I told my husband my water broke and he peeled back the covers and said, “no it didn’t, there is no puddle!!!” The next contraction was kicked up a notch (still intense tingling in my butt and legs). One contraction at a time, they went from 6 min apart to 5, and then 3 minutes apart. We called my midwife to see how close she was to leaving when we were sure my water broke. She was about an hour out. I decided to get in the bath and relax until she got there. Now up until this point I had been calm and relaxed using several techniques I had learned from a book recommended by my midwife: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskins. I learned several things like focusing on positive thoughts and words, to keep my hands and jaw from tightening because you then tighten those muscles the ones in your bottom follow, to allow gravity to work with my labor, to be up right and moving so baby would keep heading down and out and to think of opening. Because of these tips I was much more prepared for the restlessness and difficulty of labor and the most intense part -transition. I chose to get out of the tub because I had been stiller than I wanted and continued to walk around the bathroom. I moved from pacing the floor to setting on the toilet as I moved through transition. Prior to moving to the bathroom and pacing some, my midwife checked me asking how I felt. ‘Did I feel like pushing?” She explained that if I felt like I wanted to push I could start. I was completely effaced and almost completely dilated. I just needed to embrace where I was in labor and just let it happen so I could meet my baby. While setting on the toilet, I had one good push with a bunch more water and said to my husband with a sigh of relief, “Oooh, the baby will be crowning with the next push.” Transition was over. I was calmer and more gathered and ready to deliver my baby. In between contractions my midwife reminded me as I started to push, make whatever noise I needed, let my body do the work and if I felt a burning to back off, it was my body’s way of saying to slow down it needed time to stretch with my baby. The people in the room (My midwife, my husband and the midwife assistant) were there to softly and lovingly encourage me but were going to do their best to keep the excitement level down and the room quiet. It was now 10:15 and for the next 45 minutes I slowly worked on pushing my baby out. My midwife and husband quietly reminding me to keep my hands open, muscles relaxed, and back off if it started to burn. Going slowly didn’t remove all the burn but what little bit was left was alleviated with my husband placing a warm to hot wash cloth on my bottom. (I am telling you this was life changing!!! No matter how awkward, have someone, anyone do this for you it was amazing how much it helped. It also helps you stay moist and it is hard to make those muscles tense with the warm setting there.) When I got to the largest part of her head out, I did tear the slightest bit (One Stitch). My midwife said that she didn’t think I would have at all if it had not been for my episiotomy scar. My husband, with the coaching of our midwife was able to catch our little girl. (“I had no idea how slippery babies were!" he said.) After delivering this baby I was beaming from ear to ear, excited and relaxed. I had completely forgot that I had to deliver the placenta. LOL! I don’t know a high that could top my experience. Something else that was cool about homebirth is that we did not cut my baby’s cord right away but waited an hour or so, so that she would receive the extra blood and not have to work so hard right of the bat. Oh, I forgot to mention that this wonderful, calm, intense, nearly painless experience produced a beautiful 10 lbs 8 oz, 21 inches long baby girl who was as happy and healthy as her sister.
I believe that this birth experience was drastically different for many reasons: I was in a calm, cozy and comfortable environment. I had researched natural birth tactics and had a better understanding what my body was going through in labor. I was listening to my body, but mostly because I was able to submit God, to the situation, to allow my body to be used for God’s purpose and not my own. I allowed my focus to be on the moment and the moment alone. The best way I can describe it is to be apart of the ocean letting it take me where it willed and simple embracing, not thinking, just being present and being joyful. It was intense, but not about me.
Now, I am NOT saying that by trusting in God your birth experience will be painless---NOT AT ALL. The bible tells us in Genesis that we will have pain in childbirth, this part of our curse, the other part being our desire to rule over our husbands. (Both are true—see above, who I was before God opened my eyes through scripture. Don’t think I don’t still struggle with this sin, I did then and do now. I just see my sin today. I am a dirty, rotten, filthy, stink’n, stupid, sinner who needs Jesus Christ as my savior.) God designed childbirth to be painful, therefore it is. However, there was such a drastic difference in the person I had become in the time between giving birth to my two children that I was able to embrace the intensity of birth that I originally thought would rip me in half, pain that I could not understand why I could not will it to be over when I was done. Instead I found comfort in Genesis 3 and understood it to be a part of how God was using me to bring forth new life. I knew that because the pain was part of our curse all women who had given birth before me experienced the same thing. It was designed by THE God of the universe who controls all things. The pain would not kill me, I was not being tortured, it was with purpose and God’s hand was in it—Thank God. (If I had not embraced it in this way, it could have been way worse!)
I am so grateful for my two little Beauties and the experience of bringing them both into this world. I am most grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the transformation of my heart that God allowed because of His word. I pray you are encouraged and blessed by mommies like me sharing their birth stories and that you are excited about God using you, however He sees fit, when He sees fit, despite our own plans.