(This was us on my due date! A week and a day before Selah would make her arrival :)
The sacred experiences we are gifted in life sometimes feel almost too amazing for words. I think what adds to the sacred nature of those experiences in my case, starting with my wedding, is how long I have been praying for them. I've learned that if you want something to be incredibly powerful in life, pray intently about it for a long, long time. That's the start of my birth story. Years and years of prayer culminated in the amazing moment the little girl I now call my daughter came into the world. I have sat here for awhile, just staring at this screen, wondering how in the world to share the ridiculously powerful moments of giving birth to my first child.
I do have to preface this with a couple things. One, it's a looong one to write out, but you have to know up front that we came to be known at the hospital as the "Three Day Induction Couple." I'm not kidding. Also, if you've read my very unedited writing...I hate to leave any little detail out. And I'm noticing more and more that, for better or worse, I insist on internalizing every little second of life. So this might have to come at you in parts. Secondly, while some parts might seem dramatic, if you know me or have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I'm an incredibly emotional person who puts a lot of weight and heart into most moments and experiences in my life. And this experience was certainly the most powerful one yet.. While I had a feeling I wouldn't be 4 hr. pop it out kind of girl, (though I was hopeful!), I had no idea what I was really in for. I might share my humorous point of view about some parts of this story, but please know the painful, wonderful, and deeply emotional parts are not over-dramatized at all from my perspective. It was a really big, powerful experience for me mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually...one that I'm so thankful for. Then again, I'm guessing bringing a child into the world or becoming a mom for the first time carries much the same weight for other moms as well!
Somewhat early on in our pregnancy we started talking about natural childbirth. It was not something I strongly desired before I became pregnant, but once I entered into the maternity world it became something I was very interested in and prayerful about. Kevin was so very supported of whatever decision I wanted to make. I knew I wanted to take a labor/childbirth class outside of the hospital, partially for a more personal and thorough experience, and partially because I knew we would be less likely to ever take a class like that again. One thing was very true during my pregnancy: I wanted to know and experience everything possible. So I did all kinds of research about all kinds of things. I knew this would be my only first pregnancy. :) As I was researching different class options, I realized they were all possibly too expensive. Then I found one that was way more affordable and sounded intriguing; a 7 week class to teach you all about labor and delivery, including how to prepare and prioritize, with the end result to be fully informed of all our options while prepared for whatever kind of birth we ended up having. It was called, "Empowered Birth." I loved the idea because by this point I really wanted to try to go naturally, but was well aware of my mom having a history of an emergency c-section and an inability to deliver differently. And of course my end desire was to have a healthy baby no matter how it happened. I also know plenty of stories where how the baby comes is completely out of a person's control. So I basically decided to prepare for a natural birth while being completely surrendered to whatever was best for the baby. Some reasons for wanting to go naturally: I really wanted to participate in the labor process, rather than waiting for something to happen. I also wanted to be able to walk and move around, rather than lying in bed. Also, I had never been in a hospital for anything and wasn't too fond of drugs if I didn't require them. Finally, I didn't really want to decide what my body could or couldn't do until I tried. I like to make last minute decisions. ;) We didn't tell too many people about our desire to go naturally because as many of you know, that desire doesn't always get a ton of support. Most people don't ask, they just tell you to not even think about not getting an epidural. And I knew I needed to be really positive and stay encouraged, rather than afraid and intimidated if I was to have a shot at it at all.
So Kevin and I took our 7 week class which was awesome. We loved our teacher and we learned a TON. There is so much about being pregnant and giving birth that doctors don't teach you, so we were both amazed. We also were taught and able to practice different comfort measures, and gain enough insight to know how to go to the hospital ready to make informed decisions. We read "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin, which is a great book. I also wrote down the scriptures I wanted to focus on and pray during labor, we prepared our bag of "comfort measures," and we compiled a "playlist" of my favorite songs that I thought would be comforting through it. In my mind I was prepared to give it 24 hours. I was pretty sure I could take the, "I can do anything for a minute" mentality for about that long through some painful contractions. And I thought I'd have a way better chance if they weren't induction contractions, because I've heard enough people in the medical world and in our class tell me those are way more painful. That was really the one thing I was hoping not to do - be induced.
So I kind of prepared for labor mentally like I used to prepare for cross-country meets. I thought it would help to see it as an athletic event. :) I knew it would require some serious mental strength, endurance, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. Kevin grew more and more excited and supportive as we continued to learn. It just made sense to us and I wasn't afraid to go through some pain. Obviously, our ideal was to labor for awhile at home, then go in when I was in more active labor. I tested positive for strep b, so if my water broke I would have to go in right away and would only have 24 hrs to deliver b/c of risk of infection. So we kind of hope that didn't happen, in case it took longer than that.
It was really great to have a couple friends who had gone naturally- in blog world and in real life - email me encouragement and advice. That was so helpful for me and much appreciated. We had learned from the teacher of our class, (a licensed doula), how important it was to have a strong "birth team," because Kevin would need a break. Basically, we knew this would be hard and a lot for one person to handle. We couldn't afford a doula so we started praying God would provide just the right person to help us. One week at church we started talking to our friend Holly, (who happens to have 9 children, delivered several naturally, and was a labor and delivery nurse at our hospital for 10 years!), and she said she would be happy to help. So we praised the Lord for answering our prayer in such an amazing way!
When I woke up Tuesday, September 6, a day before I was 41 weeks, I knew something was a bit different with me, and I'd had a big contraction the night before. I even said to Kevin, "I think we're going to have a baby today!" It helped that we had a doctor appt. and I was sure they would say all kinds of things were happening and the baby was coming! Well, not quite. We saw a new doctor who said everything looked good and I was holding steady at 2cm and 80% effaced. She was willing to let me leave and come back on Thursday or Friday to check again. But first I needed to do a routine "non-stress" test since I was overdue. Well, I hadn't exactly remembered our doctor telling me I would have to do that, and I feel like doctors who aren't your own sometimes don't explain things as thoroughly, or know what you need to hear...so for whatever reason I was all the sudden really nervous. They put us in this little room in a chair and I was supposed to push the button everytime I felt the baby move. Oh and by the way...I hadn't had a thing to eat that morning because I was in a hurry. So I was starving. Anyway, we sat in there and I was getting ridiculously emotional, thrown off and way too nervous. I kept second guessing whether I felt the baby move or not. It took forever - over 45 min. for them to get a good reading. And apparently for a moment or so there was a deceleration of the baby's heartbeat on the monitor. Now, you never really know why this happens when it's just once...sleep patterns, moving funny, laying on the umbilical cord. A mystery. But doctors don't take chances...for good reason of course. So apparently they had collaborated and said we needed to go to the hospital and be induced by breaking my water! Like right then! Talk about coming out of left field. We were shocked and had really prepared ourselves to make really good choices and not jump to conclusions throughout this process, or get interventions if they weren't baby-in-distress necessary. So this was confusion point number 1 - what do we do? (This is when you wish your doctor was in town!!) We talked them into letting us go to the hospital to just be monitored for awhile to see if the decel happened again, because of course we weren't going to take chances with our baby. But from there we didn't know what kind of direction to take. Trust me, the people in the doctor's office had to think we were crazy to be pushing back against an instant induction at almost 41 weeks. (Keep in mind, everything about my pregnancy and the baby had been great up to this point.) So we made a few phone calls for some wise counsel and to our families, went home, finished packing our bags and cleaning up the house, then went the the hospital. It was so surreal. Not exactly how we envisioned our trip to the hospital going. To say we were praying hard is an understatement. And that was only the beginning!
(Right before we left for the hospital)
To be continued...
To be continued...