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Biblical Womanhood, Birth Stories, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Lilah’s Birth Story

October 14, 2016

lilah

We have a girl! Can you believe it? I mean really, can you? Because after three boys I can’t, hahaha.

I took this photo the day I went into labor, at 39 weeks and 4 days, just a few hours before we went out to have Thai for dinner- which is either the best or worst thing (???) to have when you’re on the verge of going into labor. Continue Reading

Birth Stories, Motherhood

Finn’s Birth Story

March 29, 2016

Finn 6
Finn 4Finn 3FinnFinn 5
Finn 2

It’s been just shy of a year since Finn was born and I’m finally sitting down to write out his birth story!

But- since we’ve had a whole year to get to know him- first, a few things about Finn… He is a gateway baby. The kind that make you wonder how you got so lucky to be a mom and what you’re going to do when he grows up and he’s no longer a baby anymore?! Haha.¬†As much as I enjoyed Asher and Silas’ baby stage, I don’t think I truly grasped how utterly amazing and special those first six or eight months of motherhood is until the third time around! Maybe it’s just me, or the always-crazy circumstances of our ever changing life, but third time was the charm when it came to enjoying motherhood at its fullest.

I wish I could say the same thing about my third labor and delivery experience. It’s obviously taken me a very long time to write this… I could blame it on lack of time, having a whirlwind overseas move soon after Finn was born, or just laziness. But the truth is I haven’t felt very motivated to write about it because this particular experience is one I don’t like to revisit. Finn is a dream, oh my goodness! But his birth was not at all what I’d anticipated.

Finn was due on April 18th and the evening of April 10th was when I had the first semi-regular, mild contractions. They seemed promising, but fizzed out by bedtime. After another day of no real activity, I woke up around 3am on April 12th with the real thing. These contractions were also very mild, but it was obvious that they were going somewhere. We called our friend who so kindly offered to stay the night with Asher and Silas if need be, and she was there in a flash. Thank you, Amber! Things weren’t painful yet, but since my labors tend to progress quickly we went ahead and left for the hospital.

Speaking of the hospital, we lived two blocks from it! So after pulling into the parking garage 30 seconds later (haha) I decided we’d better sit in the car for a while longer until things picked up. I guess I have this weird fear that I’m going to go to get to get there too early and get sent home. At least that’s what Thane is always accusing me of… But he can’t blame me! Every time I’ve ever checked into the hospital while in labor, all of the nurses give me these funny sideways looks like they think they’ll be sending me back home. They never admit this until after the baby is born a couple of hours later, but they do admit it.

Anyway, we walked into the labor and delivery ward around 4 or 4:30am (the details are starting to get fuzzy) and got checked in. I think I was about 5.5 or 6 centimeters dilated. Sadly, I didn’t have a midwife this time. Policies had changed since I’d had Silas, so my only option for Finn was a rotation of midwives and doctors. One of the doctors happened to be on call that night, but he wasn’t actually there yet.

I wasn’t in the delivery room for long before things started getting much more painful, so with no midwife there to coach me I did what worked best with Silas; went into the bathroom by myself for a little while. Having privacy and sitting on a harder surface made the contractions much more bearable during the transition phase with Silas, so I assumed it would be the same this time.

Wrong! So, so wrong. I don’t know if it was because it was happening too fast, or that I wasn’t as mentally prepared, or that I didn’t have a midwife for support, or that I falsely assumed this would be my easiest delivery yet. But before long I felt like I absolutely could not cope with the pain. This was nothing like my first two experiences with labor. Asher’s labor was longer and very, very intense, but it progressed more gradually and I had a fantastic midwife coaching me through every step. Then with Silas, my midwife wasn’t as involved but the privacy of the bathroom plus a much more bearable level of pain made it manageable. This time, with Finn, it all came on so terribly and suddenly that I felt like I was going to pass out with each contraction. I was light-headed, shaky, and I didn’t know whether to sit, stand, or just beg for my life. I hate to sound so dramatic, but oh my goodness, I wanted to die.

I left the bathroom and told Thane that I didn’t think I could do it without some kind- any kind!– of pain relief. If somebody had offered to knock me out with an iron skillet I would have gladly taken it. The nurse checked my progress and I think I was 8, maybe 9cm. Then she looked me square in the face and very, very definitively said “you will not being receiving any pain relief”. I think she was a very good nurse, and I was probably too close to delivery to do anything but continue on the un-medicated path…but in that moment I felt like she was handing me a death sentence.

At this point, a birthing ball or a tub probably would have helped tremendously. But with no midwife and no natural pain relief options, I just laid down on the bed and bore through it the best I could. Before long I knew I needed to start pushing, but the doctor on call that night still wasn’t at the hospital yet so the nurse started to panic and was on the phone with the front desk, yelling something, frantically telling them to get the doctor there before she had to deliver the baby all by herself. It was all a chaotic, nightmarish blur. At some point not too longer after this, the doctor arrived. I pushed two or three more times, barely able to breath and on my back (the worst way to push!). And praise God, Finn was born at 6:29am.

Let me take a quick break from singing my woes and just say that I’m so, so thankful that Finn was born, safe, healthy, and thriving! It was a fast birth with no complications and regardless of how I felt about the experience of getting him there, he was clearly the most important factor. What a relief! I remember one of the first things I noticed about him was that he had really long, skinny finger nails! Haha.

But boy… As thankful as I was to have Finn, the experience of birthing him was so terrible. It all happened so fast and felt so out of control that I felt scared and defeated afterwards. More like a victim of a crime than a proud new mom. I remember turning to Thane a few minutes after it was all over and telling him that I could not do that again. And I meant it. Yes, I had a great “natural birth plan“, and by the grace of God, I followed it (though not exactly by choice this time). But it couldn’t have felt farther from the joyful, empowered birth experience that all of us women hope for and that I was blessed to have the first two times. In the weeks that followed, I couldn’t even think about Finn’s birth without it bringing me to tears. The memory was like revisiting an intensely dark, depressing, and scary nightmare that you really just wish you could forget about.

And a much deeper appreciation for suffering formed in me; a heartbreaking pity for everyone who has ever been through painful, traumatic experiences. I starting thinking a lot about all of the women who’ve delivered baby after baby before interventions or medication was even an option, I thought about what Christ must have gone through when he suffered and died for us, I thought about all of the countless people around the world who are persecuted or abused or sick and who suffer on a daily basis. Surely I’ve experienced so very little compared to so many other people, yet even my few, hard hours of labor were enough to have me thanking God for my relatively light burden and praying for those who have it so much worse. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to have compassion towards others until you get a small dose of what it is to despair of your own life, even if just for two hours.

If I’d written this birth story much sooner, the next line would have gone something like this; “Babies are wonderful! But childbirth isn’t fun. So…three is enough for us!”

Then January rolled around and we found out that Finn was not the last baby after all, and not only that, but that he didn’t even retain his “baby” status for more than about eight months. Hahaha! Oh boy. God is funny sometimes, isn’t He? I’m really, really thankful for the gift of another baby. But I’ll be honest…after what happened with Finn, I am extremely nervous about going through another delivery. And not only that, I’m extremely nervous about delivering in a foreign country! Lots of women here rave about how great and “natural” there birthing experiences are here, and meanwhile I’m thinking “no, no, no…not another natural birth!”

But I trust God. Time and time again He’s shown me that His plan is always better than my own, so I’m doing my best to take heart. After all, this is how He works! He’s a loving Father and wants nothing but the best for us. He doesn’t forgive us and redeem us just to let us go on living the same way we lived before; lost in sin, alone, and without hope. No…He teaches us, guides us, disciplines us, and sometimes leads us down paths that we know we can’t walk without Him just to prove that He’s in control and that He’ll work out the details!

 

Biblical Womanhood, Birth Stories, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Silas’ Birth Story

June 13, 2013

Silas Birth Story 2

Praise God for our sweet little Silas! He arrived at 8:18pm on June 4th, weighing in at 8 pounds and measuring 20 inches.

This little birth story starts at 10:30pm on the evening of June 2nd when I started having regular contractions that went on for three hours, getting closer and closer together as well as more intense. This was it! Just a few more minutes and then I’d get up and get ready to go to the hospital. That was the plan, at least, until I woke up and realized it was the next morning and all signs of labor were gone. Womp woooomp…

Nothing happened the day of the 3rd other than the usual achy joints and muscles and maybe a contraction here or there. Same thing that night and the next morning, which was the day of my routine 39 week appointment. After telling my midwife about the false start, she checked for dilation and found that I was 4 (close to 5) centimeters, and that Silas’ head was very very low. So those false labor contractions must not have been for nothing! Since she would only be available to attend the delivery for two more days (before her weekend off), she offered to do a quick membrane sweep to encourage things to continue moving along. I somewhat hesitantly accepted in order to avoid the possibility of a delivery with a doctor I’d never met. But she was confident that it wouldn’t be much longer either way, and sure enough, very mild and sporadic contractions started again a couple of hours after the appointment.

I didn’t want to get excited too soon after my night of being sure I was in labor when I wasn’t. But Thane was pretty certain that Silas wasn’t going to linger in the womb much longer so he came home from work and started prepping things for the hospital. When I asked him a couple of hours later if the two of us should take Asher up to the park for a little while, his reply was “woman, you are on your deathbed. You should be ordering your last meal, not taking Asher to the park.” I preferred a less urgent frame of mind for the matters at hand, but as usual, his urgency wasn’t misplaced.

By 4pm, contractions became regular. By 6pm, Thane was ready to drop Asher off at our neighbor’s house and get me to the hospital. I still wasn’t convinced that we needed to rush, but I followed his lead, called my midwife, and we pulled into the hospital parking lot by 6:30pm. At this point, I had to occasionally stop and brace myself but I was still walking and in good spirits. By 7pm, I was getting settled into a room, having blood drawn for lab work, and answering all of the questions that I’d already filled out in my per-admission labor and delivery packet (don’t you just love that?).

When my midwife arrived I was 6 centimeters dilated. The frequency of my contractions slowed down and the longer breaks in between were much appreciated! I laid in the bed while they monitored Silas’ movements for about twenty minutes, and since he was asleep- of all times!- they had me drink juice to wake him up. That did the trick pretty much immediately, so then I was free to move about. After a few extremely intense contractions in the bed, I decided to employ one of the more classy laboring positions- sitting upright on the toilet. My first midwife suggested doing this while I was in labor with Asher and it proved to be very helpful with Silas, too, since the contractions got shorter and a little easier to bear through. {See Asher’s birth story here}.

Meanwhile, Thane brought me a cup of ice water with the yummy, crunchy ice to munch on between gripping the sink ledge and the side of the tub, praying to Jesus to get me through this and wondering why I ever, ever thought giving birth without an epidural- again!- was a good idea. After what seemed like ten or fifteen minutes, I could feel myself starting to do the somewhat involuntary/impossible-to-resist pushing that many of you ladies know all too well. So I had Thane go get the midwife (who’d been out of the room for a while), and I high-tailed it back to the bed.

In the midst of this, I remember the beautiful natural light of the setting sun streaming through the delivery room window. Despite being in the thick of childbirth, God reminded me of His peace and I’m so thankful for that.

My midwife came in quickly and determined that I was definitely ready to push. She had me lay on my back and pull on my thighs through each contraction. This seemed to make them even more painful, but it was affective. After getting splashed when my water broke during the pushing phase of Asher’s delivery, Thane stood as far back as he could this time to avoid being a repeat victim. And very smart of him, because not long after I had my second projectile-water-breaking experience (my apologies to the poor midwife and assistants.) And after pushing through three or four contractions for what seemed like ten minutes or so, Silas was born!

He came out just as lively as he normally was in the womb, kicking and squirming and with a good, hearty cry. He was healthy and vivacious and it was so, so wonderful to see his face for the first time! After a few minutes of taking him in and attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that he was here {it all happened so fast!}, he was able to latch on perfectly and start nursing. Once he had his bath and the rest of the routine checks a little later, I got up and pushed him in his little cart to the recovery room where he and Daddy and I had a wonderful, relaxed first night together. Thankfully, Asher’s first sleepover at his friend’s house right down the street was going great too.

The recovery was a little different this time around. I felt sick and nauseous right after the birth from drinking that juice during labor on an empty stomach and then not eating anything for a couple of hours. So I won’t be making that mistake again! I had no need for stitches this time, praise God. But I did have terrible, awful, long, almost-like-contractions cramping every time I nursed for the first week, accompanied by the same extremely painful tenderness from nursing that I had with Asher. But all in all, I’m so thankful for a fast, smooth delivery and for the pure blessing that Silas is!

It was so nice that this labor & delivery experience was a few hours shorter (four compared to seven) and a little less intense than the first time. I think that’s what allowed me the mental capacity to not only have sane thoughts during it (ha!) but to pray. To remember Jesus and to thank Him for suffering for me in a way that was much more painful and heinous than this. To do it willingly and sinlessly, and in turn for giving me the strength and grace to endure the little bit of suffering I’m called to in this life for the sake of my own sin. Not to mention for blessing me with yet another perfect little boy at the end of it! So, I praise Jesus and lift His name up! He remains my most faithful Lord and friend.

Silas Birth Story

I still remember Asher bounding into the room to meet him for the first time! Thane had just taken him to the store to pick out a new toy- a big green monster truck- so he was blissfully distracted by that for the most part. But this picture captured at least one moment of relative awe (or indifference, it’s hard to know, hahaha!) upon meeting his new little brother.

Asher

Biblical Womanhood, Birth Stories, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Asher’s Birth Story

January 5, 2013

Ashers Birth Story

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. {Psalm 127:3}

First and foremost, I want to praise Jesus for a safe, beautiful, all-natural birth! This is what I hoped and prayed for, and it was His strength that sustained both Asher and I from conception all the way to the moment of delivery. So all glory and thanks goes to Him.

Friday morning, February 18th 2011, I had my 39 week appointment. I was 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced. It was still about a week before our due date, and I’d stopped entertaining hopes of Asher coming early. So although it was nice to see that I’d made a little bit of progress, we weren’t expecting anything other than a normal day and went about things as usual.

We took a long walk that morning, and I also did some lunges and a teeny, tiny bit of jogging, on complete impulse- Thane looked at me like I was crazy- ha! Later in the afternoon we did some shopping and then stopped by a museum on post. Afterwards we went home and took a nice nap till about 5pm. I had been feeling extra achy all day and had been having very mild irregular contractions, but nothing different from all the previous Braxton-Hicks that had been going on since I hit 36 weeks. I was also having some light bleeding, but that started during my cervical check and the midwife told me to expect it. (On a side note, she had been offering to sweep my membranes, and tempting as it was I decided against it. I wanted to leave it in God’s hands and for Asher to come when he was ready.)

But then, to our surprise, I started having regular contractions around 7:30pm that same night that were about 8 to 10 minutes apart. Those lasted for a couple of hours. I think I knew it was the real thing, but didn’t allow myself to admit it for a while to avoid disappointment just in case it wasn’t. We decided not to tell anyone so that they wouldn’t be awake worrying all night, but it was hard not to! And that’s about when they started getting more painful and coming every 5 minutes or so. Thane and I went to bed and put a birthing relaxation CD on. We were going to try to get some sleep, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to since the contractions were getting too intense to ignore. I got up and filled up the tub, hoping that would help. But it wasn’t very comfortable, so I showered and packed a few last minute things. Very soon, they were about 2.5 minutes apart and becoming increasingly intense and painful. I didn’t know what to do to manage them anymore, so we decided to go to the hospital.

We arrived at Martin Army around 1:30am and I was worried that we were getting there too soon. I’d only been having contractions for a few hours and they’d been pretty mild to medium until the previous 30 minutes. But luckily we didn’t wait longer! I was close to transition when we arrived, being 6-7 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I had to lay back to get the Hep lock and have blood drawn, which took forever and was a terribly uncomfortable position to endure the contractions. The ladies doing it were so slow, even Thane agreed to that. The pain was mostly in my lower back and I had no back support on the bed. My midwife was called in and arrived shortly, it was so good to see her! Unknown to me at the time, the doctor who admitted me went to go get the anesthesiologist to talk about an epidural, but she had enough confidence in me to tell him I wasn’t going to need it and stopped him in his tracks. It never entered my mind to ask for one, but I’m glad it wasn’t even mentioned to me all the same. {Although at one point I did have the thought that if an emergency arose and I needed a last minute C-section, I would gladly take it!} But beyond that, all I could do was focus on enduring each contraction one by one and attempt to relax and stay sane between each of them. That was hard because my whole body felt jarred even during the breaks and relaxing was pretty much impossible.

After being on the bed in the delivery room for a little while, I got up to use the bathroom and realized it was comfortable to sit on the toilet with my pelvis opened up. I had Thane stand there and I’d hold onto him and pull down on his shirt. That was one of the most helpful things. Not long after my midwife suggested I get in the shower, and so I got in and Thane hosed me off with warm water continually. That really helped. There wasn’t even time for me to consider using the birthing tub like I had planned, but the hot water on my back was probably the best thing I could have had at that point. She offered to break my water, which she said could decrease the rest of my laboring time from four hours to 45 minutes. It was definitely tempting, but before I had time to make any decisions another contraction was there and all my mental capacity was gone again. {But praise God, he was born within 45 minutes anyway.}

“So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.'” {Hebrews 13:6a}

In the shower I was able to grip onto a bar and lean into each contraction, and that’s where I started to feel the urge to push. It was such a strong force that I almost threw up. But I had to hold off to allow my cervical lip to dilate fully. It was such a strong, irresistible force and almost impossible to hold back. Fortunately I only had to hold off for a few more contractions before I was fully dilated.

It wasn’t long before the midwife could tell Asher was near delivery and got me out of the shower and back to the bed. Once there, I pushed on all fours for about 20 or 30 minutes, leaning over the back of the bed which was raised up. It was such a relief to push, and I pushed with more might than I knew I had. Then she had me lay down on my side and hold one of my knees up and back while she sat at the end of the bed and braced my other foot. I just had to curl and push a few times before she had me reach down and feel his head. At some point around this time my water broke naturally. Another push or two, and I could feel his head almost out. He started to crown and thus came the much anticipated “ring of fire”. It was intense, but it honestly wasn’t that bad compared to everything else, and I was instructed to stop pushing at the end of the contraction that started his crowning.

And soon enough another one came. I gave another series of huge pushes, felt him crown, then felt the shape of the shoulders which popped out one by one, and all of a sudden he was on my chest! Moving around, breathing and crying immediately. It was such an incredible thing, I couldn’t believe he was born so soon! I always imagined labor being this long, drawn out process where I’d have plenty of time to think and anticipate the actual moment of birth, but it all flew by in such a whirlwind that it was truly hard to believe it was over and that Asher was here.

Ashers Birth Story 2 Asher's Birth Story 4 Asher's Birth Story 3

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. {James 1:17}

Once again, praise God! It was amazing, definitely the most intense experience of my life. I love thinking back to what it was like those first moments as he laid there on my chest. I’m not sure how exactly to describe it, but it was like nothing else! Just purely wonderful. There he was, just 7.5 hours after it all started back at home. It was so amazing to hold him and to see his face! He nursed almost immediately and we got to spend a whole hour together before the doctor asked if she could take him to do his vitals and weight, which were all done right in the same room. I owe it all to Christ for blessing us with such a precious gift, and for sustaining us both throughout the entire experience.