Long long long birth story attached. I want to get as much detail in as I can for my own sake, but feel free to read if you have a day or two ;-).
When Jerry and I decided to try for a family, we had ideas of what we wanted but tried our hardest to remain open to the unknown changes that were bound to head our way. It didn’t take long to get that plus sign and we were off! I have never in my life done research the way I did in preparation for this baby. I can safely say I have read more books by choice in the past 9 months than I have in my entire life. My friends, family and the internet have answered more questions than I knew it was possible to have and I am so thankful.
I never even considered natural labor until I was pregnant. I honestly thought no one would ever CHOOSE to give birth without pain medication or at home unless they had to. What I uncovered was a culture that was brand new to me and completely warm and welcoming. I used to fear that my “natural” friends would judge me if I went to a hospital or got pain medication. But what I found over time was that I was judging them and trying to reconcile new feelings with old. I learned so much and have so much respect for all the mamas who took control of their births. They are an inspiration to me.
When it came time to make a birth plan, Jerry and I talked long and hard about the options and decided that I wanted to try natural labor and delivery in a hospital setting. I believe that the number one thing for a woman in labor is security and comfort and I just couldn’t say that home was that place for me. We hired a doula and took our birth classes from an independent teacher who specializes in natural childbirth. I read everything I could find on coping with pain and what types of medications are safer or more productive than others. My confidence was sky high and the closer I got to my due date, the more excited I was. After a perfectly healthy pregnancy, I thought this was going so well, my plans were working!
We hit a speed bump in the last few weeks however, when my blood pressure spiked and I went through some testing. All turned out normal, but it was being monitored and I started to realize my vulnerability to this thing, this process that I had no option to stop or control. I became a bit anxious at that point but trusted in God above men and that gave me peace and readiness for whatever lay ahead. Suddenly, my plans didn’t really seem to comfort me. I had to trust in God.
Who could be more trustworthy? Certainly not my books, or my doctors, or even my instincts.
I was due on January 31st and with a family history of post-date births, I was fully expecting to go past my due date and possibly face the decision of being induced (something I called my biggest fear throughout pregnancy). We expected a large baby as Jerry and I were both over 9lbs and I was completely ok with that. I felt mentally prepared and ready to do what I needed to do. What I didn’t expect was to go into labor 6 days early in the middle of the night!
Sunday morning at 2am on January 25th, I awoke with a tiny gush of water. I thought, there is no way that was my water breaking. That only happens to like 8-12% of women and I know a lot of women whose labor started this way. What are the odds? I was instantly wide awake and trying to talk to Jerry about it and he started telling me to go to sleep and rest if it was labor than we would need sleep. I knew what he was saying was true, but there was no way. I lay in bed for about 45 minutes and contractions started. They about 13-17 minutes apart and just strong enough to keep me from going to sleep. They started coming a bit closer together and I grabbed the laptop to start timing them. 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 3 minutes, 10 minutes. I thought, well this could be false labor, unless my water really did break….
Once the sun came out I had to get up. I couldn’t lay there anymore. I called my mom and she was convinced that my water broke and urged me to call Christina (our doula). The plan was to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. When I called she said it sounded like real labor but to take a bath and see if the contractions went away. So that was the next step. I got in the tub and had 3 contractions in about 15 minutes. I didn’t want to stay in the tub though because it isn’t very big. I thought, well there is always the tub at the hospital, I’ll just use that one later. My labor room of choice was the office/guest room for some reason. The computer is in here and the bed is a great height for sitting on the birth ball. I spent several hours that way breathing through contractions and listening to music I had chosen for labor. The music was beautiful. It was a mixture of worship and praise songs about trusting in the Lord. It helped me so much to consider all of the things God has done for me and realize that this was it. He was giving me a child. The song that moved me the most was one we just heard at Vintage the week before for the first time. The chorus says;
I will praise you, i will praise you
when the tears fall, still i will sing to you
i will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffereing still i will sing
when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart
While I was in my zone, Jerry was running around the house getting last minute things ready and trying to keep busy. He would come in and check on me and brought me water and yogurt and sit with me if I needed him, but I think he could tell I was in a certain place and wanted to let me go there. At one point, I asked him to clean off the guest bed and straighten the blankets so it looked better because the clutter was irritating. I also asked him to open the blinds so I could look out the windows. I was in a God-loving, nature kind of place and it was nice.
I am not sure of the timing of the next parts but I will try and remember it my way. It was late morning when we decided that home was becoming increasingly less comfortable. My tricks weren’t really working anymore and we called Christina. She came over and sat with us in the guest room, she was on the bed, I was on the birth ball and Jerry was behind me. We talked for a while and they helped me through some contractions. At some point I was backwards on the toilet trying to help the contractions be more productive. I completely forgot about that until after we were home from the hospital and I asked Jerry why all the stuff in the bathroom was moved around (ie trash can in the tub etc.) I remember that being the most painful part of the “labor at home” part of my story.
I think it was around noon that we made it to the hospital. I remember thinking, good for me! I labored for 10 hours at home. That’s not to shabby haha. When I was admitted they did all the typical stuff and went over our birth plan with us. No snags whatsoever with that and I felt really good about things. I was 3cm, 100% effaced and 0 station. I thought well alright, here we go! My blood pressure was elevated again so that was a little frustrating. The baby looked great though and his levels never showed signs of distress the whole time. That really helped me feel better about my BP. We talked with Christina about pain medication. My contractions were getting to be what she called, piggy-back contractions where essentially I would have 2 in a row and then a small break. It felt like they came like this for the rest of the day. I remember wondering why they were so long! Each contraction was almost 2 minutes long from start to finish and then I had a 2 or 3 minute break before the next. At this point I wasn’t on any medication so I was getting nervous. They checked me and I was at 5cm so I decided to get Nubain. I felt like there was time for it to wear off for more effective pushing and I was starting to panic with my contractions. Christina asked if I wanted to get in the tub and there was no way. I had ZERO interest in that tub haha. So much for plans! My contractions were bringing on nausea as well which I know is a sign of transition but I also knew I wasn’t anywhere near that. The nubain helped a lot. I felt more relaxed and dilated to 7cm by 4pm. I was SO encouraged. I thought ok it’s 4pm. This baby is coming today!
I honestly don’t remember the next few hours. I know it was so hard. I swore alot and nothing was helping me. Jerry was by my side the ENTIRE time with a cool cloth wiping my forehead and neck. I really wanted the epidural. It was so funny because even the nurses were putting me off saying, you are so close, you can do this you ARE doing this. And really worked hard to protect my birth plan. Everyone at the hospital was amazing by the way. I was in excellent hands from start to finish. At some point I had gone so long with no progress that I finally got the epidural. It takes an hour to get it and I remember that being one LONG hour. I don’t remember if I reached 8cm before or after the epi, but I do know that at 10pm I was still only at 8cm. It took me 6 hours to dilate that one lousy centimeter and then I stalled out completely. We tried different positions and I really wanted to do hands and knees but it was unbearable (this must have been before the epi though I know we tried it during pushing too). Once the epidural was in and taking effect, we realized that the right side of my abdomen was still feeling so they had to tamper with that for a while to help it take. I think it was around 10 when we decided to add a little pitocin to the mix and try to get me the rest of the way.
At about midnight they said I was complete and could start pushing. Holy crap pushing was so hard!!! By then the epidural was wearing off which is optimal for progress but not for pain. We tried side-lying, hands and knees, elbows and knees, the birth bar and knee to chest positions and nothing was happening. I pushed for 3 hours and I knew it wasn’t happening. I remember being at my wits end and saying it’s the same contraction over and over, the same push and nothing is happening. He isn’t moving. They told me he was stuck behind my pelvic bone and even brought in the toughest looking nurse I have ever seen. A woman named Bert. I knew she was “the big guns”. She was amazing. Very powerful and assertive and I tried everything she suggested. She wanted me to succeed as much as I did and I knew it so I tried and tried. I kept saying, what’s next this isn’t working and everyone was saying NO you’re doing it! Keep going! They were being so encouraging it made me want to try “just one more time”. Finally, after a couple hours of pushing they called my Dr. and we decided to try the vacuum. That was door number one. I knew what door number 2 was.
I couldn’t wait for her to get there. I knew that together we could get him to move. She was also amazing and very helpful. She looked me in the eyes and calmly told me how things would go down. I remember feeling trust. I was glad she was the Dr. on call. She told me she would try the vacuum 2 or 3 times and if it didn’t work we would go to door number 2. I agreed.
I gave everything I had with the next several contractions. I pushed 3-4 times per contraction while she pulled with the vacuum. She tried more than 3 times and we could not get him through my pelvis. I wanted to give up before she did. She said ok let’s do this one more time. Everyone wanted it so badly but he was just too big. I never thought it could be possible but I new a c-section was going to be the answer for me this time. Yet, in my disappointment, Jerry and I were at total peace. We had no regret. We knew we did everything possible and we were in this together. His support was indescribable and I could have never gotten this far without him.
They prepped me for surgery while Jerry was getting changed. Christina and my mom went out to the waiting room with my dad and sisters to await the finish line. We were almost there! Waiting for the c-section was bad. I had to get another round of medication and so I had to breathe through the pushing contractions that had just controlled my body for 3 hours. Once I was in the OR I was overcome with calm again. They put in the epidural and again I could still feel in places (this happens at the dentist too, I am a terrible numb-er). They used a local on my skin and that did the trick. I was SOCLOSE to general anesthesia and I did NOT want that. Jerry came in and we just looked at each other. We knew we would meet our baby boy soon! He looked into my eyes the whole time. It took a little longer than the normal c-section because the baby was so stuck that they had to use the vacuum again to get him back up and out. When they finally pried him from my uterus and he cried, we cried and then heard all this laughing and talking about a big baby. This boy was 11 lbs!!!! No wonder!
I couldn’t believe it! Jerry went over to the table to take pictures and stay with him. Our baby boy, Oscar Lawrence. 10lbs 15.1 oz (they gave us the 11 😉 and 22 inches long. He had great scores – Apgars of 8 and 9. They cleaned him up and Jerry brought him over to me. He was just perfect. We are in love. Jerry wanted to stay with me but I wanted him to be with the baby. The nurses took a picture of the 3 of us. Our first family photo. It didn’t take too long to get me out and they wheeled me to my room past my family and what a wonderful surprise, Jerry hadn’t told them the name! He let me announce it and they all loved it. What a wonderfully thoughtful thing to do for me. I remember being so amazed by him, to think of how special it would be for me to share the name with my family.
He came with me to the room where we waited for Oscar. We held him and loved him and kissed him all over. This is it. We are a family. The English meaning of Oscar is “God’s Spear”, Lawrence is my maiden name. We loved his name not for its meaning right away, but because we simply like it. But we wanted to make sure the meaning wasn’t crazy so when I looked it up I was so pleased. We have been talking at church about how Psalm calls our children arrows in the hands of a warrior. We pray that Oscar will be an arrow for the Lord. That he will demonstrate the same strength and courage throughout his life that he did during his birth. That Jesus would be in his heart and guide his life. That he would be a blessing to all who are around him and pursue Christ with all that is in him. We were in awe that morning. And we still are.
Recovery has been great overall. Granted, recovering major surgery can’t be easy but I think it is going as well as it could. Oscar has been breastfeeding like a champ. We got over the hump of post-birth weight loss and we are falling more and more in love every day. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I read in my devotional one night when I worried about miscarriage. This being my first, I had no idea if it would “stick”. That was June 4th, and the heading for that days was “OK and on your Way”. The verse is Philippians 1:6 which says;
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
That verse gave me total peace then and now as I look back I see how it helped me in times of worry throughout the pregnancy.
Once we returned home from the hospital I read the devotions for the two dates that I was in labor. I wanted to add them here to always remind me of how God is watching over us in the smallest of ways. Confirming and reconfirming His plans and His ways for us. The day I went into labor was January 25th, here is the devotion for that day:
You’re Just Passing Through
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and your staff [to guide], they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
The Psalmist David said he walked through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s what you must do in all the situations and circumstances of this life. You must remember you are just passing through. When you feel as if you’re stuck in a situation that will never change, you must allow God to guide you through it. When the devil says, “You’re trapped,” boldly say to him, “Wrong! I am just passing through!” Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace, but God brought them safely through the fire (See Daniel 3). God’s Word says He will provide that same protection and deliverance to all who put their faith and trust in Him. So believe it as you walk through the valley of your own situation.
And here is the word from Oscar’s birthday, January 26th. God is awesome!
We Shall all Be Changed!
We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. I Corinthians 15:51-52
We all like “suddenlies” and God promises that whatever remains to be accomplished in us will be done “suddenly” when Jesus returns to the earth. Until then, we can confidently trust He is working in us through His word and Spirit on a regular basis. If you are spending time in God’s word and believing He is doing work in you, then you are changing from one degree of glory to another. You don’t have to be discouraged about your spiritual growth or in your walk with God, because no matter what remains to be done in the transformation of your old man into your new man, it will be finished at the appearing of Jesus in the heavenlies.
If the devil tries to tell you you’re going to stay the way you are forever, he is lying. God promises in His word that He has begun a good work in you and He also will finish it (Philippians 1:6)