I have been going in circles. I have sat down many times to write and share about one of the most amazing experiences of my life... I have thought over and over of where to start, how to start, what I should say and how I should say it. However, each time I go to actually put my thoughts and words down on paper…. They do not seem adequate and I know that I can not convey all that I have experienced. As I find out each day, I feel as if I continually learn and understand parts of this experience more as time goes on. Let me try to explain…
My first pregnancy was amazing. It was termed a ‘perfect pregnancy’ by my midwives and both the baby and I were healthy. Like all first time mothers I was afraid of the unknowns of labor and delivery, how life would change with a child, would I be the mother I wanted to be, the mother I felt God would want me to be. All the questions and thoughts and doubts… I knew that I could physically care for a child, but to ‘train up a child in the way they should go’ is a big responsibility. I felt that responsibility growing inside me each day. For that reason, I researched labor and delivery and tried to be as educated as possible. I knew that I wanted a natural delivery and why. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and why. I knew so many things, but I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did. During my birthing classes, I identified my fears and realized how real they were; fears of pain during labor and delivery, of something going wrong and out of my control, of how life would change after my baby was born, of my five year plan not happening, and so much more. During this class, they told a story of a woman named Inana. Inana was a queen and her brother had died. She needed to go down to the depths and prepare his body for eternity. On her way to the depths she had to go through different levels and at each level was a door she had to pass through. As she passed through each door it cost her something, she had to give something of herself, her riches, her clothes, her throne, etc. By the time she got to the bottom she was stripped of herself and she was bare. She was then able to prepare her brothers body. My instructors said that labor and delivery would be the same. That during labor and delivery I would have to give something up, I would slowly be made bare. When I finally made it to the bottom, it would be just me and then I could do what I needed to do. That scared me. How was I to let go of these fears? How was I to let go of control? I tried. I did the exercises. I ran to God and held on to my fears as I begged him to take them from me. But I couldn’t give up control….. So, because of my need to control I let my fears lead me into making a few decisions that I believe laid the bed for an eventual c-section.
My husband and I wanted to have another baby. Before we were married we spoke of the idea of having our children in ‘pairs’ so that they could have friends to grow and play with. We both had siblings close in age to us and we appreciated the relationship and valued it so much that we wanted the same for our own children. So, as our daughter neared her first birthday we decided that if we were not pregnant then we would start trying a few months after her first birthday. Then our children would be around two years apart and we thought that was a good age. Lo’ and behold, not long after we found out that we were expecting! Once again, God in His amazing timing had blessed us.
As the excitement of our new baby was being shared with everyone, the reality of another pregnancy, labor, and birth began to sink back in. I knew that I wanted a VBAC, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. I knew that I wanted a natural labor and delivery. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and have skin to skin to skin contact immediately after birth. I knew this time that I didn’t ‘have’ to do anything. I also knew that there was a lot I didn’t know and that I needed to do more research about VBAC’s, my rights, my doctor, the hospital, and more. As much as I knew, I knew I didn’t know enough and I wanted to know as much as I could to be prepared for anything that might come up. I didn’t want caught off guard this time. I didn’t want false hopes or expectations. My first labor and delivery did not go as planned and even though I wanted and planned for this one to be successful, I knew that life happened and that ultimately I was not in control. I could make those right decisions this time, but there was still that small chance that it wouldn’t go right. There were several lessons I learned from my first pregnancy, labor, and delivery. As much as I tried to control my first labor and delivery, it still went against my plan. I knew there were several things that I still had to address within myself before this labor and delivery. I knew that if I did not address these issues, then once again they would become a hindrance to a successful labor and delivery.
As I thought, I was afraid. This time I wasn’t afraid of labor and its pain. I had labored before and I knew the pain. I could work through that again. I was afraid of not having a successful VBAC. I was afraid of another major surgery, of being physically broken, of not being enough. I knew that by myself, with my fear, I could not do it and knowing that made me even more afraid. I was afraid of not trying, afraid of getting to tired, afraid of failing, afraid of not doing my best, and afraid of not giving my best to another of my children. I felt like I had failed before. I felt like I had failed my first baby and myself. I didn’t want those things… With all this fear, I felt the same suffocating feeling and I was overwhelmed. Could I really do this? I knew that I would. I knew that in myself I would make myself try and come to that wall. And if I couldn’t scale the wall, bust through the wall, go around it, or take it down brick by brick then I knew I would do everything I could to try. But that was the thing, my confidence was shaken. Could I do this?
Another hindrance was my control, at least the illusion of control. I learned many lessons my first labor and delivery. I was judgmental and set-in-my-ways about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I knew what I wanted and I was going to get it my way. I knew what was best for me and my baby and it was going to be done. However this time, I knew things might not go as I planned or wanted. But that didn’t stop me from trying to control how it would go. I gave myself pep talks, I told the Lord how it would be, I let the many doctors I interviewed know what I expected, and to anyone who asked I had an answer. However, in my heart that fear was still there and I knew that the control that I had was shaky. The more I thought and prayed about this control during my pregnancy, the more I realized that the control that I had was an illusion of control. We go through life with the power of choice. We have come to believe that the power of that choice is control. We think that because if one’s choice is dominant over another choice or if we can manipulate something or another choice, then we are in control of that situation or thing. But it is still choice. There are so many other aspects of reality that affect our lives that we don’t think about or we think don’t happen to us. However, when one of these aspects interrupts our lives, it affects or alters our choice. It can either give us the illusion of more control or it can strip us of the control that we thought we had and expose us. We have then lost control.
Because of my fear and need to control, my faith was little. I could make it look big and puffed up in my pride, even to myself. But when I really looked in the mirror and faced myself, I knew that I was seriously struggling in my faith to have a successful VBAC. I knew that the first time I tried to have a natural vaginal birth it didn’t end up happening that way. I also knew that the first time I made decisions that affected my labor and delivery. I chose to have an induction with pitocin because of fear and pressure when nothing was wrong with me or my baby. This caused undue stress to me and the baby through unnatural contractions and a harder labor for the both of us. I chose to have my water broken to help labor progress way too soon in my delivery when I shouldn’t have let my water be broken. If I had not let my water be broken, then I would not have ‘had’ to continue with labor. Though yes, it is a good thing at that point I did continue with labor because the pitocin had caused stress to the baby and there was some light miconium which showed. I know medical professionals say that you can’t know if the miconium was because of the stress of the pitocin. But in my heart I knew that before I started one intervention that my baby and I were healthy and fine. The tests even showed it. And yes I know sonograms, stress tests, and things can not show if the baby has miconium in the amniotic fluid. However for the small amount of miconium found once my water was broke several hours after starting pitocin and the fact that my heart and my ‘mommy gut’ told me things were fine before, my personal opinion was that I had started my own landslide of interventions. I did not take heed to these things because of my fear. I did not want to do that again. I did not want to have faith in myself instead of the truth and instruction that God was telling me. I knew that I would fail myself. I knew that I was not enough. It is funny that no matter how much I fail me that it is still easier to trust myself. God in all his power and wisdom has never let me down. He might not have always met my expectations, but He always got me through whatever was in front of me for the better. So why was I struggling so much to have faith that He could or would do so this time if I let Him have control?
As I thought, prayed, and worked through these emotions I knew that this time I needed to be obedient to God. I needed to trust in Him and do as He instructed me. For me, this pregnancy, labor, and delivery was a battle. It was a battle over my mind. I was faced with a decision; was I going to give in to my flesh and let the enemy, Satan, have control in my life once again or was I going to take hold of the truth and promise that I had from the Lord and have faith in Him. It sounded simple enough. It was easy enough to recite to myself when I started to doubt or feel afraid. However, I knew that there was a battle going on in my mind and that the hardest part was not even here yet, that would be labor and delivery.
Over the next several months I sought God through prayer, study, meditation, and worship. Not only was my relationship with Christ becoming more intimate, I was confronting and overcoming these hindrances I was speaking of. Ephesians 6 speaks of the Armor of God and to gird your self up for battle. “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13. I knew where this battle would be taking place, my mind and my spirit. I knew my weaknesses of fear, control, pride, lack of faith, etc. So I began to prepare. I searched scriptures of Gods control, of his peace, humility, faith, and of those who had faith in God and their stories. I spent time in worship enjoying the love of my God. In prayer and meditation, not just pouring out my heart, but waiting on the Lord to hear His heart and what He had to say. I spent my time thinking on His words and meditating on Him. In all these things my fears slipped away and my peace was restored. I was able to see God as Planner and Healer of my life, I was able to let go of my control and see it for what it truly was, I was able to learn more of humility and let go of so much pride, and once again I was able to grasp a hold of faith and not just be dangling by a thread.
As the time of labor and delivery got closer, I started struggling more. I would spend more time seeking out my secret place with God and finding refuge in His care. Finally, the braxton hicks turned into regular contractions on Thursday night of March 1st. The contractions were uncomfortable and woke me several times during the night. I kept trying to go back to sleep each time, and when needed I took a quick hot shower to relax so that I could sleep. I knew that this time I could not worry about it. I knew that it would be easier if I just went about my life until I couldn’t walk or talk through the contractions. It was exciting to finally have started labor! I knew that it wouldn’t be that long until I was holding our baby. However, I was also a little anxious in the back of my mind. How long would this be? Was this really it? It sure was uncomfortable, but how did I know if this was real labor? As my excitement turned to anxiety, I realized I was just going to have to put my thoughts aside and focus on sleeping or my day. Friday morning I woke up early. I was curious, excited, anxious, trying not to think as I sat back and waited for my family to wake up. I knew that this was the beginning and I didn’t really want to worry anyone. When my husband woke up, he asked how I was doing. I had awakened him a couple times in the night when I had got up to use the restroom or shower. I let him know that things were good, my contractions were regular and uncomfortable, but more than that I still believed it was the beginning stages. We were both feeling the excitement of things starting, but didn’t really talk about it to much. I didn’t want to focus on the labor and stand looking at a clock, so I had asked him previously that when things started if we could just go about life as normal as possible until we couldn’t anymore. About an hour later my contractions started to spread out and were no longer regular. We were both disappointed. We really wanted to meet our little girl and after many hours of regular uncomfortable contractions, we thought we would be meeting her soon. However, we went on with our day.
Friday afternoon I went on a walk to continue to help things progress. My contractions had started to come back again. I figured a walk would help things get moving and going again. As I walked, I called my dad. We shared with each other what the Lord was speaking to us. I told him what the Lord had been showing me the previous week. One of the main things that touched my heart was a vision the Lord had given me…. I was in hard labor in the hospital room and I was on the bed working through my contractions and then pushing. I saw the spirit of the Lord inside of me and he was growing until His Spirit was outside of me and filling the room. As I looked at the room from a third person’s perspective I saw me on the hospital bed with the doctor, nurses, and Benj in the room. I also saw two large angels standing on the sides of the bed and Christ filling the room in another dimension…. The vision had really touched my heart. I knew the Lord would be with me and I had felt His strength and presence in the vision. I knew that Christ was speaking to me, giving me hope, and ministering to my heart. Anytime I started to get nervous and doubt I would remember this vision and feel the peace and faithfulness of God. As I finished my walk, my dad and I closed our conversation. The contractions had started to come back and they seemed regular by the end of the walk and were once again uncomfortable. I walked in the house and let Benj know that things had started back up again. We once again went about our day both wondering when our little girl would be here. The contractions continued through the day. That night I was awaken several times by contractions and made my way to the shower to help me relax enough to go back to sleep.
Saturday morning I was tired from being woke up the past two nights from contractions and not sleeping the day before. So Benj, being the amazing husband he is, got up with Arianna and watched her while I tried to sleep in some. I think those few hours when I in bed alone was the best sleep I had had since Wednesday night. When I woke up, the contractions had once again spread back out. They were still just as intense as they had been, however they were far apart. They were a minimum of 15 minutes apart. Once again, I was disappointed. How long were we going to have to wait for things to get started? Was something wrong with my body? My disappointment started turning into impatience and frustration. Recognizing where my mind was going, I got up and got dressed. I needed out of the house. We had grocery shopping to do and needed gas for the car. Also, I wanted to take Arianna to the dollar store for a surprise treat because she had been such a good girl. As we were finishing up shopping Brett, a close family friend, let us know that he was in town. We had planned on him coming up that weekend so we could see him before he left the state to get married. So, between Arianna, Benj, and Brett I was entertained for the rest of the day. It was nice to not think about labor the whole time and to have the distractions. I did continue having sporadic contractions until Saturday evening, but they were easier to ignore. Once it got dark, the contractions picked back up again. I got up several times that night to shower and relax. The nights were beginning to all look the same and I wondered if I was just going to keep this up for the rest of my life. I know my thoughts were exaggerated, however my impatience and curiosity where getting the best of me once again. It seemed like many times over those few days I would become impatient, frustrated, or disappointed that things were not progressing further and I would have to remind myself that this was technically my first labor. Therefore, it would be the longest, and that this wouldn’t and couldn’t last forever no matter what it felt like. I would also pray and pour out my frustration, hopes, disappointments, and excitement to God. By the end of my personal pep talk and time in prayer I would once again be at peace and have patience until the next time. Sometimes life is like that. We struggle with something and lay it down at Gods feet, give Him back control of our lives, or hand over the reigns only to have life and our own sin knock us off our feet ‘again’ to repeat the process until we mature enough in Christ. There are some things that remind me just how human I am, labor is one of those things.
As usual, when someone is over at the house we normally stay up late hanging out. As my alarm went off the next morning to get up and get ready for church, my body rebelled against my will. I was trying to go about life as normal as I could, however since I hadn’t slept well for several nights I was exhausted. Also, this morning I was still regularly contracting! Yeah! A change of pace! Hopefully this was progression in my labor! I love my husband, once again he got up and took Arianna down stairs and let me get some sleep. I don’t know what it was, maybe exhaustion, but when I was in bed alone I slept like a log. As I took another morning nap Benj and Brett entertained Arianna. When I finally crawled out of bed and came down stairs, we decided to go window shopping at an Outdoors & Sports Store. At first I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go or not. The guys had offered to let me stay home and they would take Ari, but I thought the walking would do me good and help get things moving even more. As we were out shopping I noticed the contractions were getting even stronger and were coming faster. I timed them and they were about every 4-6 minutes or so. Now don’t get your hopes up. My contraction had been anywhere from 3-5 minutes or 4-7 minutes apart when they were regular since Thursday night. Every now and then they might even be 2-4 minutes apart, but that didn’t mean anything to me at this point. However, since they were getting stronger and more uncomfortable while still being regular I was hoping that things were getting started. Maybe?! So not long after we showed up and walked around a bit, I asked Benj if they would mind taking me home. They dropped me off for some alone time and took Ari with them to keep shopping. I sat down on the couch to start counting my contractions and I felt the baby flip which almost stopped my contractions completely. She was still head down, but she turned sunny side up. Seriously? Why was she deciding to start flipping now? I knew she had flipped this way because this was not the first time she had done this over the past several weeks. So I got on the floor and did my exercises to help turn her back around. I also squatted and did my ball exercises. I finally got her to turn back around the way she was suppose to be. However, now I was sore and her foot was in my rib. The contractions didn’t come back as they were either. They stay spread back out like they had the days before. The guys came back not long after. I could tell Benj was hoping that things were progressing. I could see it is in his eyes and tell in his demeanor. I understood his hope and anticipation, but by this time I had decided that I wasn’t going to be disappointed anymore. We didn’t know when this baby was going to decide to come; we just knew that she would come in God’s timing. This made me keep looking to God and asking the age old question of ‘When?’
We enjoyed the day with Brett and said goodbye later that afternoon. Benj surprised me by offering to take Arianna out for awhile if I wanted to go to Starbucks for some coffee and alone time. I love Starbucks and it is a big treat, especially when I am pregnant because of all the caffeine. So, later that evening Benj dropped me off at Starbucks and took Arianna out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my alone time so I brought my music, bible, and journal. As always I ordered a Java Chip Frappachino with caramel and for an extra special treat, a brownie. I found a small table out of the way and put my things down as I waited for my order. I was enjoying the solitude and knew that this would be one of the last times I would be alone for a while. Once my order was ready, I open my bible and prayed that the Lord would direct me and encourage me as I searched the scriptures and spent time seeking Him. My bible opened to Isaiah 66. The whole chapter spoke to some part of my life, however verses seven through ten encouraged me in my labor. Basically, verse nine sums it up. “‘Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says the Lord.’ ” Isaiah 66: 9. This part of the chapter really encouraged me because I felt like things would go on forever. But things have an order and I could not jump to the end of the race. It was at this time that the Lord began to speak to me about perseverance. I imagine He was telling me before, however in my impatience and frustration I wasn't listening. The Lord showed me several things in this chapter that I hope to share later that spoke to my heart. Then I spent some time in prayer and listening to my music. After some time spent with the Lord, I felt refreshed and encouraged. I had spent so much time worrying, I hadn’t taken any time during my day to just sit and hear from the Lord or enjoy His presence. It was nice. I called Benj. He and Arianna were next door playing on the playground at McDonalds. I walked over and we headed home. That night I felt like the Lord was telling me that we needed to have our bags packed completely before we went to bed. So after we put Arianna to bed we finished packing the last minute items into our to-go bag. Once again, my contractions had started as it was getting dark at Starbucks. By the time we were ready for bed they were so uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep. I went to bed late and laid there trying to fall into some sort of sleep. I got up and took several showers to relax and hopefully help me sleep, but to no avail.
Finally at 3 am on Monday morning I couldn’t sleep anymore and the contractions had once again changed. They were stronger and more intense. I couldn’t sleep, they hurt, were 2-4 minutes apart, and I was stopping to work through them if I was up. So, I called my doctor. She thought that I should go ahead and go to the hospital because I was 1 and 1/2 hours away from the hospital. Also because at my 38 week appointment my cervix was 50% effaced and almost 1 cm dilated. With the previous information and letting her know how the past several days had been we were advised to head to the hospital. We started to get excited. The past several days had felt like forever, but we were on our way to the hospital to have our baby! Benj threw our bags in the car and woke up Arianna while I threw on a dress and called our friend who would be watching Ari while we were at the hospital. After saying goodbye and dropping Arianna off we slowly made our way to the hospital on icy roads and in the snow. We were driving about 15-20 miles under the speed limit and trying not to be impatient to get there. Yeah right. We had chosen our Doctor and hospital because they supported us in our endeavors and desires to have a VBAC. In the state we lived at that time there was not a lot of licensed medical support who could legally oversee a VBAC or who felt comfortable enough to do so in their practice. Therefore, it was worth the drive and investment to make the trek, even through ice and snow. The drive was long and uncomfortable. However knowing that on the other end of the drive was the hospital and having our baby made it all worth it. I have to admit, I couldn’t really stay still in the car. I don’t recommend laboring in a car unless you need too. For us, this was a need. But if you can avoid it, I would. It was a long drive. Poor Benj was tired and I was uncomfortable. Each contraction was harder in the car and I felt every bump. Over the course of the drive I noticed that the contractions had spread back out to 5-6 minutes apart. I felt like that was the grace of God on my part since we were driving and in the car. We got to the hospital around 6am. Benj drove around to the ER and we walked in, only stopping for contractions. We checked in and they wheeled me upstairs in the wheel chair. We went to an observation room where I changed into my hospital clothes I had brought. Our nurse checked my cervix and said that I was 1cm and 50% effaced. I was a discouraged. Surely with the past several days, and the contractions as they were that I would have made some change. They also monitored the baby’s heart rate and the contractions for 20 minutes. It was the weirdest thing. My contractions had spread back out again! I was at the hospital and they decide to stop?! I did not want to be the person that just jumped up and went to the hospital. I didn’t want the nurses laughing at us and thinking we had come soon and I also wanted to have this baby ASAP. After all this was completed my nurse came in and told us that we could walk around for a little bit to see if it would help things progress or help make any cervical change. So Benj and I walked up and down the hospital halls for about 30 minutes. We both were hoping that by walking the contractions would start back up again and get this show on the road. They did get a little closer together, however not enough to matter or count. We went back to our observation room and the nurse came a few moments later. She told us that she had spoken with our doctor. Since my contractions had spread back out and my cervix hadn't made any changes there was no need to stay in the hospital. She said I could stay if I chose, but since I was trying for a VBAC she and my doctor thought it would be best that I continued my labor at home or another comfortable place. She gave Benj and I a few moments to talk. I didn't want to make the drive all the way home because I was still uncomfortable, only to have to make it all the way back to again with worse contractions since I was only at 1 cm dilated still. I was frustrated and a little disheartened. I had thought that if I went to the hospital it would be to have our baby and I would leave with our baby in my arms. I so badly wanted to have our girl. I wanted to see what she looked like, who she looked like, and feel her skin next to mine. I asked Benj what he thought. I knew that he had to work, it was Monday. Should we drive back so he could go to work and not miss to much. They had let him work at home the week before because they thought I would go into labor. I didn’t want them to think we were trying to take advantage of the time. As I voiced these concerns, Benj told me that he was taking vacation time and that we were having a baby. That he and his work had already spoken about things. I still felt bad. I felt bad because I felt like I was starting to fail again. Now, I was tired and exhausted. I wasn’t thinking that babies come in their own time and Gods time. I was trying to still have the baby in my time. I wasn’t thinking about people understanding this concept and graciously working around that time. I was thinking that because ‘I’ wasn’t doing something that I was holding up every ones schedules. What I really wasn’t facing was that once again I had picked back up control in my worry and frustration and it was overwhelming me emotionally. I think Benj noticed this because he said that would get a hotel right after he fed me breakfast. We could stay in the hotel, it was only 5 minutes from the hospital, were I could rest and labor in peace, quiet, and the way I wanted so that I would be comfortable. As he let our nurse know what we were doing I took a few minutes to put some more clothes on for the public eye. As we were leaving the hospital I couldn’t help feeling upset and disappointed. I was tired, had hoped, and had been disappointed. I knew that I couldn’t control it. As I left I was again reminded that I couldn’t control my labor. God was in control. I had to give Him the control or I was going to fall apart and start making the wrong decisions in my emotions. As we were walking from the observation room to our car, I noticed my contractions start picking back up. Benj and I waited in the car a little bit to count them. They were once again 3-5 apart! I was in the ER parking lot and my contractions had picked back up! Confused at what we should do we called our parents. They had all had several kids and we needed to glean from their experience. After talking to them shortly, we decided to continue to go to the hotel. The stress of the hospital environment (lights, noises, etc.) was not making me comfortable as I was at home and my body was responding.
Once we decided to go to the hotel I did not want to stop somewhere, get out, and eat. So, on the way to the hotel we stopped at a fast food restaurant drive-thru. Later I was glad that benj insisted we stop. It helped give me more energy. When we got into our hotel room I was exhausted and I knew Benj was too. I went and took a shower to help me relax and spent some time in prayer. My attitude was changing at this point. We weren’t at the hospital having the baby, but we weren’t back at home waiting for what felt like something that would never actually happen. We were still in Peoria, the town, and I was already more comfortable by our quiet and darker room. I was also happy not to have made that long drive back home. Also, if I would have chosen to stay in the hospital I would have not been able to eat breakfast. After the shower and looking at the positive side of it all I was ready to try and get some sleep. At that time I hadn’t slept in about 24 hours and I needed it. I was also glad that Benj had got a room with two queen beds. That way I could spread out across the bed and not have to stay on a certain side so that we would both fit. It was nice. I slept for about 1 ½ hours hard. I woke up to my contractions and a sleeping husband. I knew this could be long and that he had already been up most of the night so I let him sleep and I went to take another shower. Literally I spent the most of the day in the shower. It was a great thing we were not paying a water bill. But I would have if needed. Those showers helped me relax some and work through the contractions. I spent a lot of time praying between contractions and worshipping God. And then I would pray and count through the contractions to get through them. It was an intimate time with me, God, and our baby girl all working together and just being together. The day felt like a lot of hard work, which it was. But I wasn’t doing it alone. I was there, our baby girl was there, Benj was there, and God was there. It wasn’t just me showering, squatting, walking, or doing ball exercises. Our baby was doing her part. I could feel her lowering and moving at times. Benj was amazing, he would give me massages, fix my pillows when I would try and rest but couldn’t, help me up in lightening speed when I was having a contraction because it was easier to work through them that way, watch me rest in the tub so that I could try and sleep again, get me food, drinks, anything and everything he was there to help as best he could. And the Lord ministered to me so much. When I would get lost in my thoughts of despair, He reminded me of hope. He spoke to me, gave me strength to keep going, brought scriptures to memory, reminded me of His promises, and wrapped me in His love. How could I not pray and worship Him during this time?! He was everywhere! During the day Benj went out for about 40 minutes to get us some food. During that time, I decided I would try and rest. I think that was my only other successful nap that day, but I still woke up during each contraction and would fall asleep between them. Even though it was interrupted it was welcomed. When Benj came back I thought that I would be starving, but I found that I could only eat tid-bits at a time. The course of the day was basically the same. That is how I remember it. Showers and worshipping, moving and praying, trying to rest and sleeping some, massages and ball exercises, with music, facebook, and the tv as distractions at times. It was a day of work, but a good day. My heart, mind, and emotions were at peace and I knew that things were as they should be. And as they say, it even made the contractions more bearable. Not as much pressure or pain maybe? I don’t know how to explain it, but it was something. The contractions where still as intense, but my frame of mind and emotional status also played a part into how much the contraction hurt. I actually look back on that day and don’t remember to much impatience, but happy acceptance. I remember a lot of intimate times with God and my amazing husband serving me. It was work, but it was good work.
Later that afternoon, the contractions changed again. Not only was I working through the contractions, but I felt like it all became about getting through each contraction. I would be working through a contraction or prepping to get ready for the next contraction. I could feel the pressure all through my pelvis. My thighs were tired and my back was sore. They were becoming nauseating and a few times I thought I would throw up. The contractions were coming 2-4 minutes apart. Benj called our physicians office. The CNM, Certified Nurse Midwife, on-call spoke with Benj and then she wanted to speak with me. I felt that this was different. I knew that it was different. She told us that she thought we should go back in to hospital and that it sounded like things could be starting. So Benj quickly threw our things in the car. I was so glad at that time that we didn’t drive all the way back home because that five minute drive was a long drive. It was so slow and very bumpy. Benj tried making a joke about how the bumps might make the baby come faster, but I wasn’t really in the mood for jokes. He was cute for trying to make me laugh though. That was all I could give him. We made it to the hospital around 8pm that night. While we were driving the contractions had spread to 3-5 minutes apart and had not slowed down any more than that. Once again we were back in the observation room. When we got there my CNM came in and checked my cervix. She said that my cervix was 75% effaced and that it was dilated 1 cm. 1 cm! Still?!?! When she told me that, I fell apart. I was so tired and had worked so hard that day. I was sure that since the contractions had been much more intense since that afternoon and the fact that I had labored the whole day that there would be some change! The CNM waited until I calmed down a little bit. She let me know that they wanted to monitor me again for at least 20 minutes, but if everything showed up fine then she thought it would be best if I went back and continued to labor at the hotel. She also recommended that I take a pill that would help me sleep because I had not had very much for a long while and she thought some therapeutic rest might help. I told her that I wasn't wanting to take any meds. That with my first labor they had given me Stadol to help me rest and it put even more stress on the baby and my baby's heart rate had dropped. She told me that she could give me something else, I forgot the name of it. I really didn't want to take anything, however I was so tired. The CNM and Nurse told us they would give us a little bit to make our decision while they monitored us. Benj and I talked, well I cried my frustration and exhaustion and Benj talked back. I knew I wanted to rest, but I didn't want to take any meds. Benj felt that if I got some rest, then I would be better rested to continue with the labor and delivery. Also, he told me that he thought my pain might not be as bad if I was rested. I trusted his opinion and thoughts. I knew he knew my heart and desires and I knew that his were as mine. I knew that he wouldn't suggest this unless he really thought it would help. I was so tired and exhausted I couldn't think except for black and white. I wanted sleep. I didn't want drugs. I couldn't have both apparently. So, I said OK. When the CNM came back in Benj asked he several questions about the drug, what it would do, and how it would work. I was so glad he was there to think for me when it was hard to think. I was overwhelmed at that time. They brought me the medicine a little while later and I started to relax. In my mind I had a sorta plan. I had just taken the medicine and we were going to go back to the hotel so I could sleep a little. Then we would get up and continue doing what we had done that day, labor. I started feeling relaxed even though I was still contracting. I was even able to rest between the contractions. The nurse came back in a little bit later. She and the CNM had been watching the monitors and my CNM felt that I should stay and continue to be monitored. The baby's heartbeat was showing 'variables' which they wanted to watch. If the baby did it again over the next hour, then they would want me to stay so that I could be monitored, however if it didn't happen again then I could go back to the hotel. Great! I was relaxed for a few minutes and the stress all came back in a matter of moments. Was the baby okay?! Was the labor to stressful for her? Why couldn't my body work faster?! Was this going to end up in another c-section? If so, I knew I would do it. But I had so been hoping and believing for a successful VBAC. Where these my thoughts or was this Gods direction? In the matter of a few seconds my mind was bombarded with thoughts, fear, and questions. I think she saw the look on my face because the nurse continued to let us know that right now they were just monitoring us to make sure nothing was wrong. That at that time, everything was all right and I did not need to worry. Well that helped a little bit, but not too much. Part of me wanted to stay so that I could just be there at the hospital and stop going back and forth. The other part of me wanted to go back to the hotel room so that everything would be okay and things could continue to progress as naturally as possible. I was at odds with myself. I vented my frustration to Benj again and then I started to pray and give it to God. I fell asleep praying. The Nurse came back into the observation room and let us know that our CNM wanted to admit me to the hospital. She said the baby heartbeat had shown a few more variables over the past hour, and though they were not too worried about it at the moment they wanted me to stay for ongoing observation. I was so tired that all I really remember of that part is Benj and the nurse grabbing our bags and taking us to a labor and delivery room. I crawled into the bed, let her take my vitals, hook me up to the monitors, put in the hep block, and then I was out.
Oh the sleep felt so good. When I woke up several hours later I felt rested and the pain of the contractions was basically gone. I felt like a new person. It was bliss. I didn't know that a few hours of good rest would make me feel so great! I felt rejuvenated! Since I had rested, the pain of my contractions was easily bearable again. I could rest and take naps. Yeah! I would have to remember that trick if ever another labor lasted so long. Oh man... I hoped it wouldn't! My nurse came in and let me know that it was shift change and that I would be getting a new nurse. I asked her if I would see her that night. She said no. I was a little sad. She had been a good nurse and I was happy with how understanding and helpful she was. Not long after my new nurse came in. She was sweet and bubbly. It was so nice because I was feeling so much better. As she took my vitals I learned that she was going to school to become a midwife. What were the odds? I felt really blessed. It was like God had hand picked the nurses just for me! She had another patient and me at the start of her shift. She was going to take care of this other patient and see if another nurse coming on wanted her or me as patients. I was so hoping that this girl would stay as my nurse. I really liked her experience and felt like we would get along well. After she left I took another nap. It was so nice to spend all that time resting after the eventful day before. I didn't know when I was going to have the baby. At that time, I was still partially wondering if I would every have her. Yet, I knew she would come in due time. My nurse came back a little while later and let me know that she would be staying with me today. Yeah! I was happy. She asked me if my cervix had been checked, because her records showed that it hadn't been checked in 12 hours. I told her no and she asked to check. I was curious, but honestly my hopes were not up. While she checked my cervix I noticed her face made a certain look. I knew it, it hadn't changed. She told me that I had great hips for having babies though! That made me feel a lot better. I didn't realize I was worrying about that until she said something. I took it as a great compliment. When she finished checking she looked at me, smiled, and said that I was 6 cm dilated! What?! Wow! Seriously?! That was the best news that I had heard! I was SO excited. Of all the work I had done the day before and not dilated at all only to get some sleep and dilate to 6cm without realizing it or feeling it? How? Wow! What?! I was so happy, excited, elated, and my thoughts were everywhere. How was I at 6 cm without painful contractions? How had I gotten to a 6 without painful contractions. I mean, I was talking through my contractions. Wow! How? It was then that I knew that I had really needed that rest. I was a believer when I woke up and felt so much better, but this? It was WAY more than I had hoped for. I was ready to get down to business. If I was at a 6, had energy, and wasn't in pain then I wanted to continue to do what I could to help it along. One thing I was and am still very grateful for was our nurse. I can't remember the entire order of the day after finding out I was dilated to 6 cm. However, I do know that I did a lot of resting in certain positions because the baby kept trying to turn. I also walked around the room, swayed/danced near the bed, took showers, and did some squats in the shower.
Later that day, I was on my knees in the bed leaning over the back of the bed swaying, talking to the nurse, and working through contractions. I could tell they were getting stronger. Benj had fallen asleep and the nurse took a picture of him for me. He had been absolutely amazing through all this and I needed some dirt on him. Most wives have some story of their husbands during labor and this was all I had, so I would take it. Right then, my doctor came in to check up on how things were going. He noticed Benj sleeping and us taking pictures and we all laughed a little bit. As we laughed Benj startled and hit his head on the shelf above the chair as he jumped. My tired husband most likely had a headache after that one. Unfortunately for him it only made us laugh more. It was a good thing that Benj was awake since the doctor had came in to check on us and talk to us. He checked my cervix and I was still at 8-9 cm by his estimation. He said that he was surprised my water hadn't already broken because it was bulging. He let us know that he would continue to have me checked every couple hours at that point and that if I didn't make any change then he would want to look at the next step, whether that be breaking my water, pitocin, or c-section since the baby was still having variables. We let him know that as long as the baby and I were healthy, which at this time we felt we were, then we would not OK a c-section. Also, we did not want the pitocin because we did not like how my body or our baby responded to it during our first labor and delivery. This doctor did not know much outside of the birth plan we had provided, because he was the on call doctor. Although I have to say, he was amazing and perfect for our delivery. He made us both feel comfortable and at ease and worked with us. He went on to say that since my cervix hadn't made any changes the past couple hours he wanted to break my water. He asked if that was okay. I was a little apprehensive because the first time my water was broke the contractions came on really strong afterward and also I didn't want to be put on a time table. I voiced my concerns to the doctor. He told me that I probably felt the stark contrast in the contractions the first time because I had my water broke earlier in my labor, which I did. He also said that I was already going to have this baby within a 24 hour period since I was 8-9 cm dilated so that wasn't a worry either. After he knocked those concerns out of the water all I felt was excitement. I know it sounds crazy. But I was ready to have my baby, meet her, see her, and hold her. I looked at Benj and could tell he was just as ready so we gave the go ahead. Much to my surprise when he broke my water the contractions didn't get any worse than they already were. I sat still surprised. Surely they would come harder after a couple of them. I waited, but the stronger contractions didn't come. Wow. I was impressed with how the body worked. So, I continued to labor...
Now my perception of time during this day was completely off. I wanted the room kept darker so I didn't really have a lot of lighting. Since I wasn't watching the clock, I really don't know what time anything happened during that day. It didn't seem like that much later when the contractions started to get stronger. I could feel the waves of pressure over my whole body it seemed. I tried to flow with the contractions. Breathe in and moan out, breathe in and moan out. I was working through each contraction and cherishing the short rest between them. I felt pain in my hip. The nurse checked the baby's head and said that it was turned. She put me into position so that the baby would turn her head and continue to come down. The pain of the contractions was so much more when I laid in this position, but it was the only position that seemed to effectively progress labor. As each contraction came the nurse or Benj would apply counter pressure to my lower back, over my hip, and down my thigh. Their massage made the contractions bearable. I know there were small breaks between the contractions, but it seemed like I was pep talking myself up for the next contraction. It was all about getting through the contraction and then getting to the next one. It was this way for awhile.
And when you think it doesn't get any worse, it does. But it is still doable! The contractions continued to get stronger. Not only was my hip having pain because the baby would not turn her head, but pain was shooting from y hip up my back to my shoulder blades and down my thigh. The counter pressure was helping some now, but it couldn't take the pain away as it was. I had passed my threshold of what I thought was bearable pain. What was then unbearable was now bearable. It is weird how that worked, but that is how it was. So, not only was the pain now shooting up my back and down my leg from my hip, but the muscles around them were contracting too because of the sharp pain. I literally was working through each contraction and trying to work through the pain of the contracting body muscles when my uterus wasn't contracting. It was hard work. It was very intense. I didn't know how long I could keep this up. Some time later my doctor came in and talked to us about a light epidural. They had checked me again earlier and I was staying at 9 cm dilated. He thought that if I got some rest then my body might relax enough to help the baby turn her head and continue to come down. My nurse agreed that therapeutic rest might work since it had helped so much earlier that day. I was all on board. Benj asked if we could talk about it alone because we had discussed not having an epidural previously. I understood why he was doing it, but I was hurting and impatient. The moment they closed the door I told Benj I wanted the epidural and to go get the doctors right now. He asked me if I was sure because we had talked about not having an epidural and that I wanted to be reminded of that. I don't know how I did it, God honestly had to of gave me the grace, but I didn't yell at him! I told him that I was absolutely sure. That because these contractions were no longer just pressure, but shooting pain, that I wanted the epidural. He said OK and went to the door to tell the doctor yes. When they told me that I could have an epidural, I was expecting and wanting the anesthesia team to come straight in and administer it right then and there. It did not happen that way much to my frustration. While going through the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, someone came in and did a quick vitals while someone else asked questions. They also put on a blood pressure cuff, which I didn't know was part of the deal. That thing would go off while I was in the middle of a contraction and it was all very over stimulating. I literally felt like I was holding myself on a leash and about to break the chain. If that blood pressure cuff had gone off again while I was having another contraction and if someone didn't hurry up and administer the epidural I was going to blow a gasket. For that 30 minutes it was all too much. Finally the anesthesiologist came in. The only part that I can say that I did NOT like about the whole experience was the protocol that Benj had to leave the room while I got the epidural. Thank goodness I really liked my nurse! But I was very glad when Benj was able to come back in the room. It didn't take long for me to start to feel nothing. This whole labor thing really was starting to feel like a roller coaster. Lots of pain, little to no pain, lots of pain, little to no pain. As my body relaxed I was able to catch a breath and get some relief. My nurse once again put me back in position to help the baby turn her head and told me to get some rest. Not long later I remember my nurse coming in to check me. She said that I was 7-8 cm dilated. I was a little discouraged. I knew this could happen and I didn't want to go backwards or the doctor might feel I need pitocin or a c-section. The nurse assured me that this was normal and that with rest I would hopefully continue to progress. With her encouragement to rest I turned back over and went to sleep.
I woke up a little while later. My nurse had came in and let me know that her shift was over and she would soon be leaving. I was really hoping she could stay and was a little worried about which nurse I would get for that night. I wasn't lying when I said that God must have picked our nurses just for us. Our next nurse was just as sweet and helpful. She also was attentive to how we wanted our labor and delivery. I was feeling very spoiled by our awesome nurses. I continued to sleep while I could and was enjoying the rest. Not long later my nurse checked my cervix and I was 10 cm dilated! Yeah! I was still progressing! I felt Gods promises and was so grateful. The day before I had requested that my friends and family pray for me because I knew I would struggle during this labor and delivery. I knew that I was weak and that alone and in myself I could not do it. A friend had messaged me these verses as encouragement, "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 I had been meditating on this verse the majority of my labor that day. God had definitely been my strength. I think for the first time in my life I understood what it was to just be a vessel. To have God work in me and through me to bring this life forth and to have him use me. When scripture speaks of being a vessel, my interpretation of this, means that God is poured inside of me. I am just the vessel. Like a cup. I am just a cup. The water in that cup is the life. Or a ship. I am just a ship. But God is the captain of that ship. Or a vein. The vein holds blood. And blood is life. But I am not the blood. Just the vein. I am just a vessel. I am just a body. When I step aside and let God lead my life. I am just his to do with as he wills. I am a vessel. God was my strength, God got me through. I was weak. I was just a vessel. The Lord showed me so much through my labor and delivery. I think that I will be referring to it for awhile.
Awhile later, my contractions started to wake me up. Half of the light epidural had worn off. Unfortunately for me, it wore off on the side that hurt the most. The side my hip hurt on. So not only was I feeling half of the contractions, I was feeling the pain shoot back up my whole back and down my leg. It caught me off guard. I woke up and started working through contractions again. Benj came back over and started massaging and using counter pressure to help with the pain. The contractions where the worse ones yet and the pain was intense. I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. Because the pain was going up my back, down my leg, and my hip the way it was I knew that the baby's head was still turned. All I could do was work through the contractions. They put me in the position to help the baby turn her head, but it hurt to bad to stay like that with these contractions the way they were. They tried me just on my side so that the epidural would hopefully take more effect, but it hurt to bad to stay like that as well. I had to sit up so that I could better work through the contractions. It seemed like my body was working against itself again. It didn't seem like forever later, but a little bit later the nurse came in and said that the doctor said we could re-dose my epidural. They thought that if I continued resting then it might help labor continue to progress. The anesthesiologist came in not long after that and re-dosed the epidural. It worked so much faster than the last time. It was probably because it had not all worn of, just part of it. After that, my nurse told me to go back to sleep and to get some rest. I must have been really tired because when they told me to sleep I was able to sleep. That is not normal for me. I hardly ever take naps. I remember they woke me up to check my cervix and I was at a 10 and -1 station. Once again they told me to continue to rest and sleep. Awhile later they came back and checked my cervix again. I was a 10 and -2 station. Yeah! Things were close. At that point I couldn't really sleep. I knew that a -3 station was crowning, so the baby had to be close! When they told me I was at a -2 station I asked them when I could start pushing. The doctor had came in and told me he wanted the epidural to wear off a little bit more. I was so excited! We were so close! I couldn't stop thinking or talking to someone. Finally after what seemed like forever the doctor came in and said it was time to push. He said that it could take even up to 2 hours to push, so not to get into a big hurry. It was Benj, the doctor, my nurse, the baby and I in the room. It reminded me of the vision the Lord had shown me. I was all smiles. The doctor told me to bear down and push as they counted. They counted to 10 as I bared down and pushed with the strength in my back and legs. The doctor looked at me surprised and said, "If you can." After the forth count we waited for the next contraction. When waiting for contractions and not feeling the pain from the contractions it can seem like a long wait to push again. I was joking with the doc and nurses to just randomly talking during other times. As the next contraction came they told me to push again. Apparently, the baby was coming down faster than he thought, because he got up while I was pushing and yelled down the hall for the other nurses to come and get ready for the baby. After a couple pushes she was crowning. Oh my goodness! I was getting so excited! The nurses were running around plugging things in and set things out. I didn’t really pay any attention to them. A few more pushes and her head was out. I caught a small glimpse of her and was surprised to see her head full of hair and how she looked so much like Arianna. I will never forget. My eyes were closed as I was baring down to push again. I felt the Lord standing there with me. Then in what seemed like a second I felt great pressure and then sweet relief.
As I opened my eyes to see our little girl I was overcome by emotion. Not only had I just delivered our healthy baby girl, but my God had just delivered me. My doctor had to remind me to keep pushing. It didn't take long for the placenta to be delivered and things to get cleaned up. After the nurse checked on the baby, since there was a little meconium in the amniotic fluid, she brought her to me and I was able to breastfeed our baby for the first time. It was such a beautiful moment in time. All the work, the effort, the disappointment, the pain was worth that moment. To hold my baby girl in my arms. I understood redemption as I had never experienced it before. As I delivered our baby, I felt God delivering me. He delivered me from my pain, from my thoughts and emotions, from my choices, from it all. I understood His grace so much more in that moment. I understood why he walks with us, mourns with us, pours all He is into us, and loves us. I understood so much more in that moment than I have in my entire life. As I sat there nursing our baby with my husband by our side watching in awe, I understood and experienced salvation in a very real and literal way. This was Gods grace. This was Gods gift. Life.
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.~ 1 Timothy 2:15