Preface: This is long. But I wanted to write it out so I can look back and remember how The Lord was faithful to us in the birth of our child. So really, this post is more for me and my heart especially on days that trusting in God seems difficult.
Our “birth story” really started a few days before we ever got to meet our baby. The week of baby M’s arrival was filled with appointments and hard work!
On Monday, April 8 I had a weekly appointment at the birth center. That appointment was filled with lots of conversation about my due date: when was it really? Based on the first sonogram it was the last week in March, so at that point I was pushing 42 weeks. Based on my cycle it was April 3, so I was barely 41 weeks which makes a big difference. I was getting nervous about having to be transferred to a doctor and being induced medically. So after a routine exam and some time on the fetal heart monitor, all looked well and we all agreed my due date was probably the later one. That was comforting, but we still were so ready to meet our baby.
The midwife had us come back that Tuesday to try some natural induction. There’s a trick (stripping the membranes or a membrane sweep) that can kind of kick start labor, but doesn’t always work. So, we did that (which we also did the week before) and then we pumped and walked all day trying to stimulate contractions. Jesse’s guess is that we walked about 8 miles that day. I know that can be someone’s workout, but at full term, it’s a lot. By the end of the day I had started feeling some mild contractions, but nothing serious. I was still barely dilated to a 1.
We went home and tried to rest. Jesse went back to work on Wednesday and I did the only thing I know how to do when I want some sense of control – clean my house. On Thursday morning we went back to try again. This time we decided to come home and pump/walk. We went back at lunch and at that point I was almost a 2. Contractions were definitely starting, so we came home to pump and walk some more. The midwife felt optimistic that baby M was on his/her way.
I got home and pumped once. I was going to head out for a walk, but decided to sit for a minute. As I say I noticed the contractions were getting a lot stronger. I tried to sleep knowing that it may be a long night, but I started feeling uncomfortable and never got that nap. I really wish I had. The contractions kept getting stronger, so at 3PM I started timing them. On average they were about 50 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart. Before labor I remember praying that my water would just break because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to time the contractions or feel when they start and stop. What a joke – you know.
Jesse walked in on me on all fours on the bathroom floor mid contraction and told me to call the midwife. At that point contractions were 2 1/2 minutes apart.
We headed to Denton and got there at 7. The midwife did an exam, and y’all – I was barely at a 3! She did say my water would break soon and that would speed things up. We went for a walk (again) trying to help things progress. I squatted through every contraction. Jesse was timing – they were a minute on and a minute off.
We got back and I was just laboring. I tried getting in different positions, walking around, squatting. It’s just not the most fun, you know? Definitely doable, though, so if you want to try natural childbirth – you can do it!
My water broke about 9:30. At that point I think I was a 5 or 6, so halfway there! Our midwife told us I was just laboring slow, so she encouraged pumping and walking around. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I was so exhausted I would nod off for a second in between contractions. I really wish i had that nap earlier in the afternoon. At about 2AM she hooked me to an IV, because people who labor longer usually bleed more. She gave me a little bit of medicine for pain. I still felt everything, but I was kind of sedated – a little out of it, but I remember breathing through the contractions. She was monitoring baby’s heart rate closely, and about 30 minutes later I heard, “Stephanie, the baby’s heart rate has dropped. We need to transfer you to the hospital. The best way to do this in this case is by ambulance.” I perked up fast. She called the ambulance. Jesse got our stuff and before we could even say anything the ambulance was there and I was being loaded up. I was at an 8 or 9 almost ready to push and had to be taken away.
When she first said “ambulance” I was scared. We were told that in most transfer situations you can take your own car, but not me! I just started praying that our baby would be okay. I feel like The Lord granted me peace. They didn’t put the lights or sirens on, so that was comforting. It was nothing like Chicago Fire. Kind of disappointing 🙂
I was rolled right into a labor and delivery room, hooked up to machines, and asked a million questions – questions my midwife already knew the answer to. I remember thinking, “I hope Jesse didn’t call our parents,” because the birth center wasn’t ever big in their books so I didn’t want a “We told you so” speech. For the record, I never got that. As soon as that thought crossed my mind Jesse’s mom walked in. I’m so glad she did because Jesse had to go down to admissions so I could get checked in. They kept asking me questions, sometimes multiple people asked me the same questions which made me laugh. I repeated each answer I think three times to three separate people (in between contractions). My parents got there as quick as they could – about an hour later.
At one point the main nurse asked me what my birth plan was. I laughed at her. I think any plan I had was clearly thrown out the widow at this point. I honestly didn’t know how to answer her – I just wanted to have my baby. The only thing that really mattered, besides a healthy baby, was that Jesse got to tell me if we had a boy or girl. Eventually the on call OB came in. They had been monitoring my contractions and the heart rate and determined a C-Section was necessary. She really did wait and try to honor our desire for a natural birth. We were so close to pushing, but after about 30 minutes the final decision was made – C-Section. The one thing I didn’t want. But I can honestly say at that point it didn’t even matter. We just wanted a healthy baby and healthy mom.
Jesse gets a little queasy, and a lot had happened so fast he decided not to go back for the delivery. We worked it out with the doctor so Jesse would be the first one to know the gender of baby M. My mom went back with me. I got the epidural around 5:10am and the baby was born at 5:39am on April 12. I think the doctors and nurses stopped the room two or three times to remind everyone not to tell me if it was a boy or girl. They wrapped the baby up and showed my mom and me, but we still didn’t know! All we knew was the baby’s lungs were strong!
I was rolled into a recovery room and shortly after Jesse walked in with the baby and told me – “It’s Henry!” And immediately the months of calling our baby “it” seemed so distant. It seemed so natural and perfect that it was Henry. I was in the recovery room for an hour and a half, and all that time our parents were anxiously waiting for the big reveal.
Jesse and I told them together when we were finally in our own room. A little later Henry was brought in from the nursery and got lots of hugs and cuddles from everyone.
Jesse and I had a plan. A well thought out plan. We knew exactly why we wanted to go with the birthing center, why we thought it was a better route for us, and we thought it would pan out exactly as we had played it out in our minds.
I thought I’d be upset if I went to the hospital. It was actually a huge blessing. We had lots of rest while we were there. Henry was losing too much weight, which we wouldn’t have known about. The nurses were incredible. And we had lots of time with the lactation consultant. Had we gone home right after the birth, I think we would have been way overwhelmed.
I just can’t help but see the Lord’s goodness in all of this. In his infinite wisdom, he made this our story because he knew it would be good for us and point us to him. We went to Denton this weekend to eat dinner at a restaurant off the street we walked so much the first day we were trying to start labor. It was much harder than I thought – maybe because I was tired or hormones were going crazy. That was the first time I felt disappointed in how things turned out. I felt like I couldn’t do it. If only I had walked or squatted more, maybe labor would have gone quicker and I could have delivered at the birth center. Jesse was quick to remind me that was a lie, that I knew the truth. He’s right – I know the truth. God was sovereign over the delivery of our son.
My identity as a mom isn’t determined by how Henry was born. I’m not less of a woman because I had to have a C-Section.
We love this little guy. I can’t imagine life without him now.