This is not going to be your “typical” birth story. Then again, no birth is really typical; they’re each unique and a beautiful gift from God.
Our story starts January 17th, 2016– our baby girl’s expected date of arrival.
I knew all along not to expect an early baby, and I figured she’d probably even be a week late, at least. But once her due date rolls around and flies by, I start to get that itchy feeling. “C’mon, baby! It’s time now, darling.” Days go by, a week goes by, two weeks go by … and still no baby born. I keep getting texts and calls, questions from everyone I see– “You haven’t had that baby YET?!” “How long will you let her go?” “What are you going to DO about it?” Frankly, I was getting pretty tired of all the attention, though I knew everyone meant well and was genuinely concerned.
We just kept waiting and waiting, and I kept praying this baby would decide to come very soon. Three weeks overdue was the cut-off date for a home birth because of safety rules and such, and we had planned on having a home birth in Tennessee with our wonderful midwives. When forty-three weeks was quickly approaching, I began to fret. And worry. And fret and worry some more.
My midwives were so extremely reassuring. The baby was fine, I was healthy, so all we had to do was pray for a safe (and soon) arrival. But they also told me that even if we wound up delivering in the hospital instead of giving birth at the house, it would be all right. I knew it’d be all right, but I mean … I had PLANS, okay? I needed this baby to follow my plan!
January slowly passes, and February rolls around. I was beginning to slowly surrender all my plans to God. I just wanted a safe delivery and a healthy baby. On February 5th I wrote,
“I realize now, more than ever, this baby is in God’s hands — the pregnancy, birth, everything … And so I wait. We wait. And I am pressed to trust and pray more than ever. I can do nothing to fix what [the] outcome will [be]. I can only pray that whatever is best for the baby is what will happen. And whether that be a home birth in Tennessee today, tomorrow, or Sunday, or an induced birth in the hospital on Monday, I will strive to be content. God knows best, and I believe He will take care of our child … I must concede my desires, unfortunately, and just pray. Pray, pray, pray that only the best for Eden’s sake will happen. God’s will be done.”
All this time I was feeling the same as I had been for weeks, with no changes. I finally began having Braxton Hicks contractions the last few weeks, but they weren’t painful at all or even very uncomfortable. I tried natural inductions– eating tons of parsley, a whole pineapple, LOTS of walking, castor oil (TASTES LIKE CHAPSTICK), etc. You name it, I tried it. Obviously none of those things did the trick.
February 6th I began having stronger contractions than usual, and they were long and pretty consistent and uncomfortable. “Maybe this is it,” I told myself. I talked to my midwife and she said it could be the start of labor, but to wait and see. After I went to bed and fell asleep, the contractions stopped. The next morning I started having some again, but they didn’t continue and eventually subsided, much to our dismay.
The next day, Sunday (my birthday), we and the midwives and doctor decided to go ahead with an induction. We were scheduled to be at the hospital at 5AM the next morning. I cried so hard that day, because my dreams for a natural birth were not going to come true. But that night I wrote, “NOT what I ever had in mind. Home birth has always, always been something I strongly believe in and have dreamed of my whole life. But sometimes answers to our prayers are different than expected, and we have to trust that, somehow, it’s for the best. I’ve prayed all along for a good, safe delivery with the midwives, but most important of all for the safety of our baby girl, no matter when or where. I guess this is for the best. If not for her sake, but my own– that I will learn patience in waiting, and full trust in God when things don’t go exactly how I think they ought. So, this time tomorrow I could be holding my precious darling in my arms, and all these current fears and worries will be behind me.”
We arrived at the hospital at 5AM and got checked in. They put me in a room and had the pitocin running through an IV by about 6:00 AM. They would come in every little while to up the dosage of the pitocin so my body could gradually contract longer and harder, and eventually start getting labor going good and steady. At that time the nurse had checked and said I was maybe 4 centimeters dilated. “Okay, that’s good,” I thought.
Besides the IV needle stuck in my left forearm, I had two monitors strapped around my belly– one for monitoring the baby’s heart rate (which they kept having to move to a different spot because she decided it was a good time to do somersaults) and the other for measuring the height of each contraction. I also had a blood pressure monitor wrapped around my right arm that read my blood pressure every ten or fifteen minutes, since it had been reading a bit high throughout the pregnancy. So most of the time I had four things on me during labor. Talk about feeling pinned down! Whenever I had to use the restroom they had to unhook the IV pump and it just was a lot of hassle and took way too much time, I thought.
At first I just laid in bed and rested. For a little while I cross-stitched, but within a few hours my contractions started getting a bit stronger and I would have to lay my cross-stitching down and concentrate on getting through each one. They didn’t hurt at first, but they were getting my attention. A while later they became even stronger, and were beginning to get a bit painful. I was still able to handle them lying down or sitting up in bed, so they were tolerable. My midwives wanted to come whenever I got to around 6-7 centimeters dilated, but by early afternoon my contractions were intense enough that I wanted them there with me to help me focus on getting through them the right way. Still, I was only 4 centimeters.
In the room with me were Cord, my mom, the two midwives, and their assistant. Each one helped in a different way that was so very special to me and I don’t know how I could have done it without all of them.
As time went on, contractions got stronger and stronger, and I was in pain (but struggling to admit it to myself for quite a while). My midwives convinced me to get out of the bed and try moving around, because nothing was happening yet and I was just plain uncomfortable. The baby was still jumping all over the place, so we needed her in a good position for birth. I sat on the edge of the bed, in a rocker, stood up, and considered using a birthing ball but never got the bravery to do it (honestly, I just didn’t want to fall over during a contraction!). At some point I got back on the bed and just sat there through the pain as best I could, because by then nothing was “comfortable” (as if anything is during labor). Cord stayed by my side through it all, holding my hand, rubbing my back, and encouraging me with each contraction.
The whole day I had had nothing to eat, and the nurses only allowed me to have water and ice chips (but I did have some Gatorade I’d brought and one Sprite and they did not seem to care), so I was STARVING STARVING STARVING. I was beginning to get chills and started to shiver like crazy during contractions, but by the time someone put a blanket over my shoulders I would be burning up. Whenever I got hot I would start to feel nauseous, and that was NOT FUN. I lost track of how many times I threw up that day.
The midwives’ assistant was there by my side helping me stay as comfortable as possible. I’d brought my essential oils with me, but really wish I had brought the diffuser as well. When I was nauseous, she put lemon oil in my water and let me take sips of it between contractions. When I was burning up, she put peppermint on a wet rag and laid it on the back of my neck. And to help me relax, she put lavender on my wrists. Those little bits of comfort here and there were amazing.
By the evening I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. I kept them closed most of the time, I believe, except sometimes I’d open them between contractions. I just wanted sleep, but couldn’t relax enough to get any rest. “Epidural” kept coming to mind but I wouldn’t say anything. Not yet. I had to be strong. “It’s gonna get a lot worse than this,” I kept telling myself. “Just go on a little longer.” Eventually I whispered the idea to Cord but he reminded me how badly I had not wanted an epidural, and that I should just keep going, at least for a bit longer. He had to remind me several times, but he kept my hopes up, and each time I would get my act together and started focusing once again on the task at hand, but trying not to focus on the pain… for a little while, at least.
At about 4:00 PM the nurse came in and checked me, but I was only 4.5 or mayyyybe 5 centimeters dilated, and the baby’s head was no longer down low like it had been (for WEEKS). The nurse called the doctor to keep him updated (he was at his clinic that day) and since we were seeing no progress in the 10 hours I’d been on the pitocin drip, and the baby was obviously not cooperating at the time, he told the nurse who came back and told me that they thought there may be a need for a Cesarean section, unfortunately. My heart sank. C-section was THE LAST thing on my list of things I wanted for this birth. Having to be induced was hard enough for me, and then the thought of an epidural was just beyond that, but a cesarean?! Cord asked them if we could think about it a while, and she said of course we could, and that the doctor wouldn’t be back to the hospital for at least another two hours.
As soon as she went out of the room, one of my midwives jumped up off the couch and told me, “Okay. Get out of that bed.” It was our last shot to get this baby down and my body dilated, so we were going to give it everything we had. I tried so many positions– squatting on the floor, propping one leg up high on the bed and leaning back, swaying my hips back and forth, leaning on Cord, etc. It was painful, it was hard, but I tried to keep going, even though all I really wanted at the moment was SLEEP. But I also really, REALLY wanted to get this baby out. And we needed to see some progress SOON.
Around 7:00 PM the doctor arrived. I had not progressed any more since last time, and as he spoke to us about the C-section I had to try so hard not to cry. Cord and I had discussed it, we and the midwives discussed it, and when the doctor talked to us we decided that maybe this was our last resort. I asked if maybe an epidural would help me get through the contractions and possibly buy us some more time in case things would begin to progress soon, but they said it could possibly slow labor down, and then it wouldn’t even guarantee anything would happen, and we’d still wind up getting the C-section. So that was opted out, and we made our decision.
I was scared to death but also very much relieved that it would all be over and we would have our precious baby in our arms very, very soon. It was almost too hard to believe. We were told that the surgery might only take about ten minutes once we got in there and they started. We were finally about to meet our baby girl!
Before being taken back to another room for surgery prep, everyone gathered around my bed in a circle, hand in hand, while Cord led us in prayer. It was a beautiful moment I will never forget, and I am so very thankful to have such great Christian midwives and family.
I knew God was with me every moment of that day, and I also knew that even though the way this birth was turning out was not the way I thought it was supposed to go, it must have been God’s will, because I’d been praying and praying that only what was best for our baby would happen. Maybe this wasn’t MY idea of the best birth, but it must have been the best birth for HER.
At 7:26PM, after 13 hours of pitocin and lots of very hard contractions and doing everything we could possibly think of, our precious baby took her first breath. The doctor said, “You’ve got a big, healthy baby boy!” Then he just laughed and added, “My bad.” I’ll never forget hearing Eden Lily cry for the first time. I immediately started crying tears of joy. It was finally over. She was finally here! They cleaned her up and measured her — 9 lbs. 4 oz. and 21.5″! — and then, the moment I’d been waiting for: They placed her on my chest and she stopped crying instantly as I stroked her tiny face. I held her for a minute or two, and then she went to the nursery with Cord and one of the nurses. The surgeons sewed me back up and I was sent to a recovery room to wait for my little girl. I finally got to hold her close, but the anesthetic had made me sick so I didn’t get to hold her for long until the nausea went away. She did get to nurse for a bit, though, and that has gone smoothly ever since the beginning. (Don’t believe it when someone tells you having a C-section can interfere with mother-baby bonding or nursing. It doesn’t.)
We finally made it back to our room at almost midnight that night, and we had our baby all to ourselves. She was so precious, so perfect, and she was ours.
Recovery was not easy, and for over a month I had trouble walking on my own, and my incision got infected, but all that is over and every bit of the pain was so worth it and I’d do it again if I had to. Our little Eden Lily is such a sweet bundle of joy, and we’re so thankful to God for the wonderful care given to us both by the midwives, nurses, and doctors. The birth may not have gone the way we expected, but it went exactly how it needed to. I’m just so grateful our baby is here and healthy, no matter how late she came or how she got here.
And that’s our story! Thanks so much for spending your time reading.
What are some things about your birth(s) that you are grateful for? Did it go exactly according to “plan”? What are some things you would have done differently, if given the chance?
Eden Lily — 3 Months
Have a blessed day!