How to Let Go of the Pain

august 2015 026

Usually the weeks and months after I give birth, I am so happy!  I love caring for a newborn, nursing, snuggling, and looking into that precious little face.  That face contains all of the wonders of the world, and I bask in the glory of it.  Even in the midst of sleep deprivation, I feel the bliss of motherhood.  This time I experienced something unusual for me.  Amazing joy and deep sadness side by side. Sometimes in those rare moments of peace and quiet while nursing Annalise, I would begin to cry.  I was so happy about my little girl, yet so sad about how she had to come into the world.  The sorrowful thoughts kept coming, even though my life was so good.  I had seen many women go through a C-section with strength and grace and never complain.  Why was I having such a hard time?

My recovery was much slower than with my natural births.  When I returned home from the hospital, I couldn’t walk and hold my baby at the same time.  I would sleep any spare moment of the day and night and still feel dog tired.  Yet that was not why I was so sad.

During the difficult days of pregnancy, I would envision my lovely birth and the ecstasy that would follow.  That birth would make all the suffering worthwhile.  Yet this C-section birth had not produced that bliss.  In fact, as soon as Annalise was born and whisked away to the recovery room, I was left alone with a hollow feeling that went deep into my heart.  To read the whole birth story read, “The Heartbreak and Joy of having a C-section.”

august 2015 028

Having to give up my dream of a beautiful, natural homebirth had challenged many things that I had held to be true.  It had shaken my faith in what I thought about life, what I thought about God, what I thought about my own body.  It had challenged my ability to hear God’s voice.  I thought that God had told me that natural, easy labor was my inheritance as his daughter, yet mysteriously I was denied access this time.   I couldn’t figure out why.  Scriptures God had given me during my pregnancy told me not to fear disaster.  To me, having a C-section was a disaster.  God didn’t design my body to give birth through an incision in my abdomen.  If this thing could happen to me, this disaster that I couldn’t control or predict; what else would God allow to come into my life?  What other catastrophic events were on their way?  Maybe something could happen to steal the health and life of my precious baby.  If I had so misinterpreted God’s voice concerning this birth, how could I ever be sure of hearing him again?

These thoughts are similar to the thoughts that any person has after a trauma, whether it is small or life altering.  It occurred to me that this is a small part of what causes post-traumatic stress syndrome.  A person lives through events that destroy their assumption that life is good, safe, enjoyable, and fair.  They have to come to faith all over again.  They have to find their way back into the arms of a loving father.  It is a tragedy that once the horrible events are over and they are truly safe, they may never feel safe again.

I have lived through many such traumas.  They don’t seem like much compared to what other people have had to endure, but they were earth shattering to me at the time.  Each time I had to seek God again for the truth that would set me free and the love that would cast out my fear.  Each time God would draw so near to my broken heart and bring healing.  I would love to share what he has taught me, using my recent C-section as an example.

  1. Pain demands to be felt. Don’t shove it down or pretend it isn’t real.  Don’t deny it because you think you should be strong enough to be happy in all circumstances.  Suppressed emotions always surface in one way or another.  Feel what you feel.   Grieving is an important step to healing.  God is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Revel in his closeness through your nights of sorrow.
  1. Don’t stay in your pain forever! What caused your pain may be the reality you are living in right now.  Seek God for a higher reality, a reality that goes beyond what you can see.  A reality that is forever.

My body was scarred and bruised from a surgery I had done everything to avoid.  God had not answered my prayers for him to move my placenta out of the way.  I felt betrayed.  I had offered him my body as a living sacrifice, and I thought he would protect me from this.

I thought about my God, and realized that he could never betray me.  It goes against his loving nature.  Jesus was betrayed, yet he would never betray.  He was scarred and bruised for my sake.  He had proven his love for me.  He COULD NOT EVER betray me.  If he didn’t answer my prayers, it was because he had something better in mind.  He would bring good out of this situation, even if I couldn’t see it.

  1. Ask Jesus to show you where he was and what he was doing before, during, and after the traumatic event. Read through your journal entries during that time or look at pictures taken during that time and ask Jesus to speak to you about them.

I read through my journal that I kept during Annalise’s pregnancy.  I saw God calming my fears again and again, promising to protect the life of my child.  He did that when I had spotting around week 15.  He did that when I was having signs of preterm labor around week 34.  He did that when the marginal placenta was diagnosed at 38 weeks.  My little girl was safe in his hands the entire time.  He told me not to FEAR disaster, not that a “disaster” would never happen.  He was simply telling me that there was no disaster that I needed to fear because he was with me.

I also had a dream toward the end of the pregnancy. Annalise came out through my belly and she looked up at me with ice blue eyes.  She was a serene as could be.  This dream turned out to be very accurate. God had been preparing me.

  1. Talk about it with trusted friends. Many times they can see things with a clarity that isn’t clouded by overpowering emotions.

A week after Annalise was born; I was able to attend a birthday dinner for a friend.  During the meal, I confided to the ladies that I still felt sad about the C-section.  I was sharing about how I love to minister to other pregnant women, to pray for them and give them peace and confidence about labor.  Now I wasn’t confident about anything anymore.

One of the women said, “Do you think you have more empathy now for women who have had a C-section?”

I most certainly did!  She continued to say, “There are so many women out there who are feeling inadequate about some part of their mothering.  Perhaps they couldn’t give birth naturally; perhaps they were unable to nurse.  You are able to understand and minister to them.”

“Yes,” another friend chimed in, “God has just extended your authority.”

I had never thought about it that way, but it was really true.  There was meaning to my suffering.

Another friend sent me a text before the procedure, because she knew I was very distraught.  She said that God was increasing my trust in him.  That has been true as well!  I trust him more because he brought Annalise and I through beautifully.  If a circumstance brings me closer to God, then it was worth it!

  1. Give Jesus the pain and receive his joy in return. He gives us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  He already carried the weight of all of our pain.  Let him carry your pain right now and every day. (If it was another person who caused the pain; forgive, forgive, forgive.)

I kept giving him my sorrow, every time it resurfaced, even if I didn’t totally understand why I was feeling so sad.  It became less and less. He already carried the weight of my pain so there was no reason for me to try and carry it.  One of my favorite songs remind me to “Turn my eyes Upon Jesus.”

  1. Take care of your body. Your body, soul, and spirit are so interconnected; one affects the other.  Eat good food.  Take probiotics.   Get some exercise.

Once Annalise and I were both able to sleep through the night, it was amazing how much better the whole world looked to me!  For help with that, read “How to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.”

  1. Thank God for everything you can think of, every morning, every evening, every day, now and forever. When you realize all he has given you, all he has already done for you; gratitude begins to eclipse the sorrow.  Fill your mind with all the good things, and the disappointment doesn’t have room.

july-august 2015 003 july-august 2015 002

When I shared with my friends and family that I was going to have a C-section, I was overwhelmed by all the love and support and prayers I received.  I would think of each person and feel so thankful for their love.

My homebirth midwives spent 7 hours at the hospital with me even though they couldn’t attend the birth.

My mother-in-law drove all the way from Florida to help.

My mom was so excited about the new little girl and brought me a rose and blueberries in the hospital.

My other children were amazing and took care of each other at home.

august 2015 020

august 2015 012 august 2015 013

My husband Chris was a hero in the hospital.  After the surgery, I felt uglier, weaker, and more pitiful than I ever had before.  Yet I never felt more cherished!  My husband tenderly helped me to walk, to go to the bathroom, to take a shower.  He slept on that horrible hospital chair night after night and never complained about a thing!

Annalise has been one of my easiest, happiest babies.  She is worth any pain I had to endure.  Now when I see my scar, I don’t think about my disappointment.  I think about my little bitty pretty one and I am so THANKFUL that she is here!

Annalise 3 months July 2015 032

Looking back over my life, I can say that the worst of times were always transformed into the best of times because of God’s voice.  When I am desperate, God always meets me and shows me his love.  He always speaks words that impact me deeply.  His words and his close presence during my times of sorrow have changed the way I see the world for the better.  They have shaped the person I am today.  Even though I still have to walk through hard times, I know that amazing joy is waiting for me on the other side.  And I know that the journey is worth it!

 

The Heartbreak and Joy of a C-section

As a young girl, I read that one out of every ten babies in the United States was born by C-section.  I remember thinking, “If I have ten children, I will probably have a C-section in my lifetime.”  But who really has ten children anyway?  So I dismissed it as a very unlikely possibility.  Despite the fact that cesareans have become more and more common (one out of every three births), I estimated that my chances were dropping.  I was healthy and strong, educated in natural childbirth.  I had beautiful, easy deliveries…eight of them!  Although theoretically, I knew that anything can happen in this life, and I was not exempt from the risks of childbearing, I never thought it would happen to me.

I was so excited to be pregnant with my ninth child.  I became even more excited when I found out that it was a girl!  I had longed for a girl for so long, that I had almost given up.  I felt the overwhelming joy of a dream come true.  Yet along with it came a suffocating fear.

I had never before worried about the life of any my unborn babies.  I just loved them, prepared a room for them, and anticipated a future for them.  Yet this time I began to wonder if my preparations were in vain.  What if I never got to hold my baby girl in my arms?  What if I never got to dress her in all the pretty clothes?  What if the sweetness and the tenderness of who she was, left my life forever?

I didn’t speak of these thoughts.  If I uttered them out loud, they might become more real.  Finally one night I tried to explain it to my husband, and I began to cry.  Why was I crying?  The baby was healthy and moving around in my belly.  This had been my easiest pregnancy yet.  There was no reason to worry.

“I think you have fear with this baby because she is so connected to the promises of God,” Chris said.  At that instant I realized that it was true.  We had already named her Annalise Promise which means “Oath of God” and “Graced with God’s Bounty.”  Her name was a sign to us that we would be entering a season of promises fulfilled, promises for abundance.  We had always prayed for that season. We had been looking for it ever since we had gotten married, straining our eyes across the horizon for any sign that the prosperity might be on its way.  We felt deep in our bones that God meant for us to have more than enough of everything we needed, everything our children needed.  Yet we hadn’t been able to live in that prosperity, cycling between the highs of great opportunities and the lows of dashed dreams.

Now we were having a girl whose very name meant the Boundless Generosity of God, and I was terrified that I would never be able to keep her or God’s Goodness, that both would slip through my fingers no matter how hard I tried to grasp them.

Of course I realized that God does not work that way.  This fear was not from Him, yet He would take it from me, I was sure.  I laid my fear at His feet and He gave me hope and joy and promises!  He had me read Zephanaiah 3:14-20 over and over again.  I could almost hear Him rejoicing over me with happy songs.  I could feel Him hold me in his strong arms.  I could sit back and watch him fight for me and gain the victory!  I did not have to fear disaster! He was holding my little girl in His hands and she was safe!

My other babies were always head down in my womb, settling into a familiar position that I knew so well.  But this little girl would not do that no matter how much we talked to her, coaxed her, and prayed for her.  She would flip and turn and end up in all sorts of positions.

I was becoming quite nervous about her position as I headed into week 37.  Our whole family had been hoping for an Easter baby which was only days away, yet Annalise was still not head down.  I would lay in bed at night, tired yet unable to sleep.  My belly was so big, I found it hard to breath.  I could feel her do flips inside of me.

“I think we need to get another ultrasound to check on your placenta.  If it is too low, that may be why the baby is not able to descend.” Mary, my midwife said as I was getting close to 38 weeks.

I had no intention of getting another ultrasound, but the night before Chris had expressed concern about the same issue.  I felt peaceful that Annalise was safe and sound in God’s hands, but for Chris’ peace of mind, I agreed to go in and get checked.  I prayed that if all was well, I would go into labor before the ultrasound.  A peaceful homebirth was my heart’s desire.  I would rehearse the wonder and beauty of it in my mind to cheer my weary bones.  Yet I also prayed, “Don’t let me give birth at home if you want me in the hospital.”

Labor did not come and I found myself lying on a table in a darkened room.  It only took the ultrasound tech a few minutes to see that placenta was covering the cervix.

“I am so sorry!” Mary said, “I know how much you wanted a home birth, but we just can’t deliver you at home.  If the placenta is born first, your baby could die.  You will need to choose a hospital and I suggest you go in tomorrow.  It would be better to get a C-section as soon as possible so you don’t go into labor.”

I was in shock.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  Yet, I knew that it was what God wanted.  Otherwise He could have easily moved that placenta and brought labor on the week before.  When I returned home from the ultrasound, all I could manage to do was cry.  Most of my other eight children were around the house playing or doing homework after school.  My oldest daughter hugged me and said, “It will be ok, Mama.”

I tried to believe her.  I cried and grieved the loss of my perfect homebirth. I had wanted to be close to my other children.  I had wanted a fast and easy recovery that would allow me to continue taking care of the needs of the home and homeschooling.  I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that I had offered my body to God as a living sacrifice, to carry this child of promise, and He was going allow doctors to cut into me tomorrow.

The next day Chris and I began the work of getting ready to go to the hospital. As soon as Chris’ mom had heard about the situation, she had started driving to Pennsylvania from Florida.  She would be able to get to our house by the evening to take care of the other children.  How that eased my mind!

I sent a prayer request to all the ladies who had been to my baby shower a few weeks earlier.  I also called my mom to explain the situation.  She had been hoping to be at the birth, but I told her that I had to get surgery and she probably wouldn’t be able to see the baby until hours afterward.  Mom happened to be at the ladies meeting at church.  She stopped the meeting right then and there and asked for prayer for me!

A lovely thing began to happen.  As I was trying to get ready, rushing around the house, up the stairs and down the stairs again, I started to receive emails and texts and calls from loving friends.  They were praying for me and speaking encouraging words and offering help!  One dear friend even prayed out loud for Annalise while I turned on the speaker phone so Annalise listen.

I was feeling an overwhelming sadness about having to endure a C-section, but I didn’t want Annalise to feel sad.  I didn’t want her to feel like she was being torn from her safe haven too early or experience anguish on the day of her birth.  The prayer I heard coming from the other end of my phone brought peace to my body and soul.

“Annalise will be so peaceful.  It will be a sign to you.”  I heard my friend pray.

Chris and I arrived at the hospital in the early afternoon.  Mary was already there.  It took hours for the staff to assess me and determine that the placenta was not actually covering the cervix but was dangerously close, only .9 cm away.  Studies had shown that 90% of women with a marginal placenta like mine bled during labor and required an emergency C-section to save the life of the baby.  Thankfully, I had not yet gone into labor and we could have a planned C-section.

It took several more hours to prep me for the C-section. During this time I felt oddly peaceful.  God was in control and it was going to be ok. Finally at 8pm I was taken into the operating room where the anesthesiologist started the spinal.

“No pain.  You will feel no pain, only pressure.  No pain,” he kept saying over and over again.

I must admit that I didn’t believe him.  How could I feel no pain at all during such a major surgery?  Yet almost immediately, I started to lose feeling in my lower body.  I started feeling woozy. My body felt so heavy.  I was so tired, that I could hardly respond to the questions the nurses would ask from time to time.  Before I knew it, Chris was next to me.

I heard the voice of a doctor instruct the intern on how to begin.  I had never seen the doctor’s face.  The intern had introduced himself and explained the entire procedure beforehand.  He said he had done at least 50 to 60 C-sections in the past. He was friendly and I liked him a lot. The doctor, however, was gruff and rude to this nice intern, acting like the intern had never done a C-section before.

“NO, not like that! Not like that! Here, let me do it!”  I heard from the other side of the blue curtain.  I really experienced no pain at all!  It was amazing to me.  It almost felt like this procedure was happening to someone else.  Even the abrasive voice of the doctor and the extreme pressure on my pelvic bone couldn’t bring me out of my medicated haze.  But more than that, I felt the peace that surpasses understanding.  I knew that God had every detail of this birth planned out for the best.

“She is almost here.” I heard Chris say with joy and excitement.  I just couldn’t muster up excitement myself.  I felt pushing and then a weight was lifted.  I was lighter!

“She is here!” Chris said.  Quickly the little bundle was taken to a table just a few yards behind me.  I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her.  She was crying for all she was worth!  A good sound.  I wanted to call out to her.  I wanted her to know that I was close by, that I was so excited that she was here, but I didn’t have the energy.  Someone brought her to me and placed her on my chest.  She was little and perfect.  I was too numb to hold her, so she was whisked away again, this time out of the operating room.  Chris went with her and suddenly I was alone…so alone.

I was lying on the operation table in the middle of the large room.  I was vaguely aware of nurses and doctors working to stitch me up.  They were talking among themselves, but not acknowledging me.  I knew that the bright lights were highlighting my nakedness and my gaping wound.

“My baby is here!  She has been born!”  I thought to myself. “Yet how could this really be considered her birth?  I didn’t give birth.  Is today really her birthday?  I didn’t push her out.  The doctors pulled her out.  It didn’t feel like a birth.”

As these thoughts floated around in my clouded mind, sadness descended.   Instead of feeling the overwhelming relief and bliss that enveloped me after the birth of my other eight children, I felt a stark and cold loneliness.  I wouldn’t allow the weeping to begin.  I knew it would overwhelm my consciousness.  I didn’t want to meet Annalise in the recovery room with tears.

Soon I was being wheeled to where my baby was.  She was placed into my arms and I got my first really good look at her.  Her face was tiny and beautiful, and she was looking up at me with open eyes.  So serene.  So peaceful.

IMG_4047

She was a sign to me that everything was going to be ok.  I would heal.  The sadness would fade.  I had suffered loss, but it hadn’t been the disaster I had most feared.  My little girl was safe.  Safe too were all of God’s promises.  Our finances were still in an unstable place.  But I was certain that we would see His goodness.  I was sure that Annalise would live a life marked by God’s generosity.

DSCF8695

The bliss didn’t rush in and seep into every cell as I had hoped.  It crept in slowly.

DSCF8720

 

It increased slightly with every look into her eyes, every touch of her soft skin, every time she nursed.

DSCF8702

 

My heart was full of sorrow and joy, but the joy would overtake and overwhelm, one miracle moment at a time.

 

You were created for Childbirth!

courage march 19

My husband and I wrote this to help other couples looking forward to the big day – the day when their new baby will be born!  Our desire is that everyone can have the joyful, peaceful, amazing experience that God has for them on this wondrous day!

 

You were created for Childbirth!

 

Giving birth to eternal children of destiny is God’s gift and a sign of his great honor and favor toward you!  The labor experience is a privilege, NOT a curse!  Here are some tips to help make your labor experience a little (or a lot) easier.

Pain is a curse spoken over Eve in Gen.  All curses were broken at the cross.  Break the curse of multiplied pain in Jesus name and don’t let anyone talk you back into it!  Pain in labor is increased because of fear.  Our body’s normal response to pain is to release adrenaline to prepare our bodies for the “fight or flight” response.  Adrenaline stops the production of oxytocin and slows labor down.  We have to practice going against our normal instincts to resist pain and learn to relax in the pain.  With every contraction, find a comfortable position and relax every muscle of your body.  Don’t try to move or talk.  The more relaxed and at peace you are, the less pain you will feel.  Practice this before you are actually in labor. If you want to read more, get the book, Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES;

    1. Pray and seek God about any issues He may want to address before you have a baby.  The closer you are to God, the more peace and forgiveness you have flowing through your life, the easier labor will be!
    2. Ask God for specific scriptures and promises for your labor and new baby.  Speak these out all the time!
    3. Ask God to give you His heart on any issues you might encounter such as an epidural, inducing labor, c-sections, and other interventions.  In the intensity of labor is not the time to develop a philosophy on these subjects.  God is the authority on labor, not your doctor.
    4. Speak to the mommy’s and baby’s bodies and prophecy before and during labor that they will quickly and easily and joyfully go through all of the stages of labor.  “Uterus; you will contract perfectly without multiplied pain!”  “Cervix; you will dilate perfectly and quickly.”  “Baby; you will descend into the birth canal at just the right time and turn in just the right way to be born quickly and easily.”
    5. Speak to the mom’s and baby’s spirits about the labor.  “Mom, you are able to give birth in peace and joy.  You are in God’s hands.  You are His beloved.”  “Baby we love you.  God gave you to us as a precious gift.  Come out and see us at just the right time.  We are so excited to see you!

HUSBANDS

    1. Pray, Pray, Pray!
    2. You are the authority over you wife, not your doctor or midwife.  Ask God about any options that are offered.  Don’t do anything you don’t feel at peace about.
    3. Sometimes you have to make decisions for your wife during labor.  She may not know what to do.  Don’t be afraid to direct the labor time.
    4. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage.  Use your words to help her, not distract her.

“You’re doing great!”  “Relax your muscles and breathe.” “It will be over soon!” Use a peaceful tone.

 

WIVES

  1. During your labor it is your job to RELAX, RELAX, RELAX!  Trust God and trust your husband.  Let them take care of everything and relax!  Enjoy the time between contractions.  Walk around, squat, pelvic tilt.  During contractions relax every muscle and rest!  A warm shower or bath does wonders!
  2. During your pregnancy, exercise often (walking, pregnancy Pilates, squatting, kegels) and eat as healthy as you can.  Eat 60-100 grams of protein a day.  Here is a link for a diet for pregnant and nursing mothers.
  3. Even if things don’t go as you had hoped, God has got you in his hands and He is never letting go!  He is in control!
  4. Don’t worry!  This birth thing was God’s idea and it really does work!

 

Wisdom from other moms

 

“I had two supernatural births without pain.  The difference between my first two and my second two was I had an encounter with the Father’s love to where I was able to completely surrender and trust in His love and protection for me.  I also read Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize and that really encouraged me.  The first two births I prayed in the spirit and the third and fourth Jason laid hands on my belly and prayed in the spirit during each contraction so I was free to completely surrender to it and rest and trust while he did all the work.  I also labored in a Jacuzzi during transition and took honey for energy.”  Cari Cash, mother of four

 

“A wonderful labor experience begins and ends without fear.  Figure out what it is you are afraid of and get the answers you need before labor.  Fear creates pain and makes what should be a wonderful experience terrifying.”   Katie Horst, mother of four

 

If I could only give one piece of advice to a woman going into labor I would say “The only thing you can expect is that it is not going to be as you expected.”

So in the middle of the labor or delivery when it seems you are being thrown off course by some unexpected event.  Ask yourself…”Is this what I expected?”

No… so be encouraged …this means you are right on track. 

You can then continue in strength and peace.

As Bill Johnson says – You only have authority over a storm when you have peace.

Anne Stock, former homebirth attendant and mother of two

 

 

 

 

 

Birth Story: Part 7 – Let Your Heart Take Courage!

courage 5

In 2011 Chris began to ask God to give us a business. I also began to pray that in the right time, God would give us another sweet baby! In October of 2011, we were able to purchase a Signarama shop that was only a few blocks from our home. Being business owners turned out to be harder than we had ever imagined; pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into a venture that just seemed to devour all of our money. God continued to encourage us with Ps 27, “Be strong and let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord.”

In July of 2012, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was blissfully happy for a week! Then morning sickness began, worse than I had ever had before. To understand just how I felt, you can read a previous post of mine, “God Needs Me?” Chris and I had both received our heart’s desire from the LORD, and we were both very discouraged about it, because it wasn’t the glorious reality we had expected. We were more than discouraged…rather; we were depressed and wanting to give up on everything. Yet God kept giving us the same message every place we turned.

“Let your hearts take Courage!”

We found out that this baby was a boy, our sixth boy! I knew that Courage was the prefect name for him! Every time I talked to my baby boy, I was reminded to take Courage!

I had been reading the book, “Supernatural Childbirth” which describes one woman’s journey of praying and speaking out scriptures and promises from God and then experiencing no pain in childbirth! I started praying the prayers over myself and my baby, over and over again. I had a few specific requests for God. Number one; I didn’t want my water to break before labor. That had happened the last four times and that had been quite enough to me. It would happen at night, and then I would be so nervous or excited about the impending labor that I couldn’t get any sleep. I wanted a good night sleep before this labor, I decided! Number two; I didn’t want any after-contractions. After my last labor, they had been so painful for two days, stripping me of the joy of new motherhood. Number three; I wanted a fast, easy, early, and pain-free home-birth. Not too much to ask.

Three weeks before my due date, I felt my water break. I was rather confused, because I really thought that God would honor my prayers and keep my waters intact. Still, I was excited to have Courage early, and I notified friends and family to pray. An entire day went by and no labor had started. Day two passed and I was beside myself with worry. I wanted an uncomplicated home birth, but I thought that now I would have to go to the hospital to be induced. Surely the midwife wouldn’t let me go much longer.

Mary, the midwife, arrived at my house that second day to see how I was doing. After a quick exam, she declared that my water had NOT broken after all! My cervix was completely closed, and I had no fluid leaking out. It was the outer bag that had broken, but the inner bag was still intact. I had no idea that there were two bags! Instantly my fear dissolved and I was at peace again. My water had not broken! I could safely stay pregnant for few more weeks!

I was actually happy to wait for labor to begin. Courage was sitting so low, at +1 station, as though at any moment he could just slip out! I was incredibly uncomfortable, but I was still at peace.
On March 8th, I felt a contraction while in bed and noticed that it was 1:11am. I would normally have Braxton-Hicks during the night, but they hardly ever woke me up. The rest of the night I slept very soundly, having dreams of contractions. Early in the morning, my four year old padded over to my side of the bed. I got up with him and snuggled in the first light of dawn. I kept feeling contractions, but they were so mild and irregular. I spent the morning doing all the regular chores, sitting on the birthing ball whenever I could. I was hesitant to tell anyone that I thought I was in labor, since my last announcement had been a false alarm.

Finally at 10am I called Chris and asked him to come home from work. I was feeling too distracted to take care of things at home by myself, but I still wasn’t convinced that I was in labor. Chris arrived home within minutes, and he found me rocking on the birthing ball and shivering under a few layers of clothes. I was not in any pain, but Chris immediately recognized the tell-tale signs that labor had arrived. He called the midwife, and Mary’s helper, Shirley showed up in no time flat. She was a plainly dressed, kind-faced woman who immediately started preparing warm compresses. When she told me that she had given birth to 12 children, I knew I was in good hands.

Mary arrived to our home around 11am, and she started getting set up in our bed room. She checked my cervix and informed me that I was 9-10 cm, all the way there!

“We just need to wait for you to feel the urge to push. The baby is at +2 station so it won’t take long for him to be born.”

Wow! I hadn’t even been sure that this was really labor, and Mary just told me that the baby would be born soon!

The contractions started to become uncomfortable and then downright painful. All my normal positions didn’t bring the expected relief. Mary could see that I was very tired and suggested that I try lying in the bed on my side.

“I just don’t think that position will be comfortable when I have a contraction,” I replied.

“I don’t think any position is going to be very comfortable at this point,” she said.

I agreed to try. I lay down on my side. Immediately, Shirley was packing pillows and warm compresses all around my heavy and burdened body which was now trembling. She would massage and apply pressure at just the right time in just the right place without ever being told.

I had never given birth like this, and I just couldn’t believe that it would work, without gravity to help. Mary assured me that the baby would come right out, but I just didn’t believe her. Yet I felt so tired that all I could do was lay there.

I thought, “This is going to take a while!”

Fear began to try to take hold of my mind. I prayed, “Jesus, you are going to have to give birth to this baby because I don’t think I can.”

He assured me that he would. I closed my eyes and imagined myself snuggled in the arms of Jesus.

“I might need to push.” I said.

“Great,” Mary said as she held up my top leg. After a few light pushes, I heard a loud SPLASH! SLAT! I opened my eyes to see that Mary and Chris were all wet. They were commenting on how the water had burst all over them, the bed, and splashed unto the floor.

“Is the baby out?” I asked.

“No, that was just your bag of waters. But he is right there!” Mary answered.

One more push and Courage slid out so easily onto the bed! Mary scooped him up, bundled him, and placed him in my arms. He settled peacefully in my embrace and promptly started sucking his fist. I was tired but completely and totally happy! Our Courage had arrived so quickly and easily, although not totally pain-free. But the biggest answer to prayer I would experience every moment for the next few days. I could enjoy my newborn without any after-contractions! It felt like a miracle to me, and God had honored my requests!

What had started as a very discouraging time in our lives had ended in a beautiful birth of a beautiful boy. The business that kept Chris busy at least 60 hours a week was still teetering on the verge of failure. Yet as we watched our Courage grow bigger and stronger, our courage and faith in God grew as well.

D-41

Courage is wearing his Signarama shirt!

He never let us go without food, and He never stopped sustaining our business in amazing nd miraculous ways. Signarama is still growing and improving, making signs for the greater Harrisburg area. And we are still daily reminding ourselves of God’s good words.
Let Your Heart Take Courage!

Birth Story: Part 6 – Calvin, the One Who Brought the Angels!

Calvin 008

Two years after Cooper was born, the time had come for me to give birth again. Once again, my water broke during the night. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed to try to get some sleep before the contractions started. As I rolled over, I caught a glimpse of the shadowy corner of our bedroom. There was something unusual about it. A vision flashed into my mind, and I saw angels packed into our small room. There were so many angels in that dark corner that their wings were smashed and flatten into each other. The air felt electric with excitement! I realized that the angels had come to witness the birth of a human child, a child of destiny and purpose, a child who carried the very likeness of the Almighty God. I had the sense that almost nothing could thrill an angel more that witnessing the birth of such a one.

Well, I was filled with excited anticipation as well! If the angels were already here, the baby must be coming soon! How could I sleep under circumstances such as these? This labor must be destined to be the most supernatural and glorious one yet! I had heard of the book, Supernatural Childbirth, which told of women who had birthed babies with NO PAIN at all!!! I had personally met three women with virtually pain-free experiences, and I was convinced that this was possible. Perhaps this was my time for a supernatural labor!

The sun rose and I got up to eat breakfast. Slowly the rest of the world began to awaken as well. It was Father’s Day and the summer solstice and the longest day of sunlight of the entire year. I whispered into Chris’ ear to wake him up, “Happy Father’s Day. We are going to have a baby today!”

His eyes snapped open in shock and wonder.

“Really?!”

“Yep, my water broke!”

We walked around the block many times that morning in the beautiful June air. I was hoping that this baby could be born before noon so we could announce it to our friends before church let out. Yet the walking didn’t do much to bring the contractions, it just wore me out. By the time I got into the birthing pool in our bedroom, I was pretty tired. My normal position of kneeling in the water with my upper body leaning on the edge of the pool was no longer comfortable. My joints were all sore and my legs were trembling. Sitting in the pool wasn’t comfortable either. Lunch time came and went.

Finally, I just had to stand up in the water. All that remained submerged were my feet and calves, but nothing else felt good. I continued to watch the clock as the hours inched by. Never watch the clock when you are in labor! Bad Idea!

“Come on Baby! It is time to come out now!” I said in exhaustion. “Why is this baby taking so long?” I asked Chris and the midwife and anyone else who was present. I sounded very pitiful and whiny. This labor felt like a struggle. I was weary and in pain and the baby didn’t seem any closer to being born.

Struggle…that was a word that had perfectly described the entire pregnancy. I had felt sick and tired most of the time. I struggled to take care of the six children and keep the house running. Chris was struggling to keep his faith. He was working two jobs to pay off the huge burden of debt we had created during our time in Colorado. He was a diligent and hard worker at any job that he had. Yet still, many times we weren’t sure how we were going to buy food that week or keep the water running.

God had given me a name for this child that I had taken to be a prophetic word for our family. It was Ayani, a name from Africa which meant, “Victorious in the Struggle!” I was sure that this baby was a girl since all our girls had names that began with the letter “A.” Somehow God always provided everything that we needed and I knew that we would be victorious in paying off this debt. And sure enough, God had made it possible to pay of every cent of it…just three days ago! I knew that I would be victorious and eventually give birth to this baby…but right now it was a struggle!

Pretty soon I felt like I could no longer stand up, but I didn’t want to lie down. Chris plunged his feet into the birthing pool, put his strong arms around me, and held me up. I don’t know how long he did this, but it felt like an eternity! It was now supper time.

Finally I felt like I might need to push. Sure enough, there was the head! Oh Glory!!! A few more pushes and the head was born. I could hear the midwife instruct Chris on how to gently rotate the body in order to allow the shoulder to clear. Yet nothing was happening.

“Can’t you just pull her out?” I whined.

“You have to push,” the midwife said sweetly.

Yes, of course I had to push. My seventh baby and I had forgotten to push! One more push and the baby was born at 5:34! A healthy baby…boy!!! I couldn’t believe it was another boy!

He let out the tiniest cry and promptly fell back to sleep. He slept soundly for the rest of the day as the midwives where cleaning him and weighing him, as we were holding him and fawning over him. Chris was concerned.

“Are you sure he is alright? Shouldn’t he be crying?” he asked.

“Oh, he is fine,” they answered. He was such a peaceful baby. I had spent hours reading scriptures and loving affirmations to this baby while he was in the womb. I think this was why he was so tranquil. He felt totally loved and accepted by his God, his parents, and his world despite the turmoil that was all around him.

“That is why you took so long to be born,” I thought. “You were sleeping peacefully the whole time!”

Calvin 001

The next two days were very difficult for me. I was shocked that I had given birth to a boy. I thought God had spoken to me about the perfect name, and it was a girl’s name. I felt confused and wondered if I could hear God’s voice at all. I was so wiped out, that I didn’t leave my room for two days. I was tired deep in my bones, yet after-contractions racked my body every time the precious bundle would nurse, which was all the time! I had never had such painful after-contractions. They were much worse than labor, because they would go on and on and on…for days!

On the third day they began to subside. One the third day we also settled on a name for our prefect baby boy. The name that I thought was a girl’s name, Ayani, was actually masculine and we choose a variant of the name for his middle name, Ajani. We were victorious in the struggle! We chose Calvin for his first name because that had always been a favorite of ours. I realized that God had spoken to me about this child and his name; I just misunderstood some of it. Just when we think that we have our lives figured out, something unexpected happens. This is good for us, because it keeps us looking to God and not to our own understanding.

It wasn’t until days later that I remembered the angels! They had been there the whole time, I was sure of it. They had seen my pitiful performance which was neither glorious nor supernatural. And in the midst of my arduous toil, I had completely forgotten about my divine audience. I felt pathetic and disappointing. I hadn’t experienced supernatural childbirth.

Yet God began to show me that Calvin’s birth was supernatural and majestic. It had been held in awe by angelic beings, even though I had been totally unaware of the honor.

I thought of the most amazing and supernatural event of all time; when Jesus hung on the cross; naked and shamed, beaten and bloodied, rejected and despised. It didn’t seem supernatural or triumphant. Yet it changed the entire working of the universe. Jesus triumphed over sin and death once and for all in those agonizing moments before his death. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS!!!!

Birthing a baby can be…shall we say, embarrassing, awkward, and humiliating to put it very mildly. A woman can find herself almost naked, not looking her best (maybe looking her worst), doing and saying things she would never normally do or say. She is being poked, prodded, stressed, and stretched in her most private parts. Yet God calls it beautiful and sacred. Birthing mother…you are stunning and graceful. You are veiled and guarded with glory.

Birth is always a promise that the work of Jesus can be manifested in another life.

IMG_1592

Mother, you make that promise possible. Birth is always a miracle, whether it is full of bliss or full of pain. It is a wonder, and angels never tire of the mystery.

Birth Story: Part 5 – Cooper, “The Barrel Maker” What does that Even Mean?

chris 8

My sixth pregnancy progressed like all the others.  Yet, something was different.  This was our first child who would be born to us in Pennsylvania, the land of our inheritance.  Miraculous events surrounded this child as God gave us a house worth two times what we could afford, a house we just adored.  I wrote about these amazing events in a previous article, “My Adventurous Husband with the Crazy, Impossible Dreams Might Just be Right!” 

I thought that this baby was a boy, although I didn’t know for sure.  Chris picked out his first name, “Cooper.”  Our oldest son came up with the name “Yale” for the middle name.  Put the two names together and you get a name that means, “Barrel Maker from the Hill.”  That sounded like a silly name to me.  I love selecting strong, amazing, and prophetic names to inspire me through the long, tiresome months of pregnancy.  “Barrel Maker from the Hill” did nothing for me.

“What does that even mean?” I asked God.

“I’m so glad you asked,” God answered.  “You are now in the land of your inheritance.  That means that you will be receiving lots of blessings, resources, influence, and gifts of the Holy Spirit – more than you can imagine.  You are going to need lots and lots of vessels (barrels) to hold all of the blessings I have for you.  This child will have an important role in containing and stewarding those blessings.  “From the Hill” is from Life Center, your church, which is on a hill.  The freedom and love that is represented at Life Center is this child’s birthright.  You and Chris have had to battle and fight your way into that freedom.  This child will live in it right from the start.”

Wow!  That was a powerful name after all!

Cooper’s labor was very similar to Chai’s.  My water broke the night before.  Contractions started slowly in the morning.  We took a tour of our new house (which we had not yet moved into) to try and speed things up.  By the time we were returning to our rental home, my contractions were quite intense.  I took my place in the warm birthing pool.  The contractions were much more painful than with Chai, yet I was able to thank God and praise Him for them.  I had never done that before!

Also, I began to speak to the baby.  Our church had introduced us to a class called, “Blessing Babies in the Womb.”  We hadn’t been able to take the class, but we were beginning to understand that babies have spirits that are alive and active just like adults.  Their spirits perceive words, emotions, and circumstances happening around them.  Their spirits and bodies submit and work during labor, similar to how a woman’s spirit and body have to submit to the pain and work to bring the baby forth.  In fact, mom and baby need to work together in harmony.

So I began doing something I had never done during labor.  I began talking to the baby.  After a contraction I would say, “Good job, Baby!  That was great!  Keep coming down.  Get into the right position.  Don’t be afraid.  This is going to be wonderful!  I can’t wait to see you!  You are doing great!  I love you!”

Cooper was born right around lunch time with his little hand up on his head.  The midwife said that this normally slows a baby’s entrance into the world, but it didn’t seem to delay Cooper at all!  I was so pleased with my little Barrel Maker, and my life was overflowing with blessings!

Birth Story: Part 4 – Chai, the One Who Brought Redemption!

 

I was pregnant with number five, and I knew I needed to try something different!  I had gained enough hospital experiences to last me the rest of my life.  I would have been happy to never return.

Ashlyn, who was now 18 months, was a developmentally delayed because of a rare chromosomal abnormality.  She was surprisingly healthy and incredibly happy…except when we visited any doctor’s office.  They she cried and screamed inconsolably.  She had had her fill of hospitals and doctors as well!  How different things would have been for her if I would have had the courage to try a home birth.

But this time I was ready!  I read and studied. All my research concluded the same thing.  Every study ever done comparing hospital births to home-births (assisted by a trained midwife) revealed that home-births were safer!  Home-birth labors were faster, less painful and required less intervention.  There were fewer chances for infection, injury, and death for both mother and baby.  I interviewed the home-birth midwives in Colorado Springs.  I found a very experienced midwife named Merrie who I just loved.  She thoroughly enjoyed what she did for a living, and she put me at ease.  I asked Merrie about what would happen if we had another child like Ashlyn.  The doctors had told us that it was a possibility.  She was just fine with it and reassured us that she was trained to transport us to the hospital at the very first sign of problems.

The pregnancy began with a bit of fear and trepidation.  What if this child was born with problems?  I would recognize Ashlyn’s distinctive features as soon as the child was born.  I imagined what I would feel; looking into the eyes of another “special” child and wondering if I would be able to handle the strain of it all.  Ashlyn was still like a baby.  She did not yet sit up or crawl, although she had started to scoot herself around on her belly in a funny one-legged pattern. Who knew what the future held for her?  Yet, her smile brought so much joy, her sweet spirit ministered to me.  I knew I wouldn’t trade her for the world!  She was the perfect baby for me!  I didn’t know how her life would unfold, but God did, and He said it was good!  I realized that even if this unborn child had problems, I would love him or her just as much!

Slowly and steadily, as the baby grew in my belly, so did my peace and trust in God.  I knew that having a home-birth was the right decision.  I knew that this baby would be fine.  We found out that the baby was a boy, and Chris and I searched for a name that would bring redemption to all of the problems that Ashlyn had been having.  We chose Chai Erik which meant, “Healthy and Powerful!”  Every time called him by his name, we were prophesying to him that he was healthy and powerful!

If you read my last post, Birth Story: Part 3, you will remember our bad church situation.  When Ashlyn was four months old, our family was kicked out of that church.  It was the best thing that could have happened to us!  We were now being reunited with truth and love and had rediscovered the joy of our salvation!  We also realized that where we really wanted to live was back in our hometown in Pennsylvania.  Life Center, the church we had grown up in and had been married in, wanted to hire Chris!  God was working out all the amazing details for us to move back home!  We were full of deep, deep gratitude!

Three and a half weeks before my due date, Life Center flew Chris out to Pennsylvania for the final interview. He was having a wonderful time reconnecting with dear friends.  I was at home taking care of four young children and throwing up every few hours with contractions that tightened my very huge belly!  The ladies at Life Center thought I was going into labor!  I reassured them that it was only a stomach bug.  I had never thrown up in labor before, and I wasn’t going to start now!

Chris returned home the next day and I was feeling better!  We were so excited about packing and moving across the country to our new lives!  We just had to wait for this baby to be born.

We didn’t have to wait long.  The very next night around two in the morning, I rolled over in bed and my water broke.  At first a wave of fear washed over me.  This was how it had all started with Ahslyn.  First my water had broken, then no contractions, then the hospital, then lots of rude people, then Pitocin, then birth defects, then…on and on my mind churned.  What if this labor was like the last time?  I tried to get some sleep, but I couldn’t. When the sun rose, I quietly got out of bed and sat at the kitchen table with my Bible and notebook.

“OK God, I really need to hear your voice now.  I do not want to listen to the voice of fear,” I prayed.

God put verses Isaiah 66:7-9 into my mind.  I looked them up and as I read, peace and joy washed over my spirit in healing waves.  I couldn’t hold back my worship and love for this God who had just given me the best verses that any pregnant woman could ever hope to receive!

Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.  Who has ever heard of such a thing?  Who has ever seen such things?  Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?  Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. ‘Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the LORD.”

God spoke to the very depth of my fears; that labor wouldn’t start for days and this baby wouldn’t be born.  Yet God was saying that he would be born in a day and that I would give birth before the pains came upon me!  I was so relieved and thankful!

Then I became a bit agitated.  This baby was coming fast and nothing was ready!  Chris was still sleeping; the birthing pool wasn’t set up; the midwife wasn’t there.  I started having contractions, and I woke Chris up.

“I think we need to set up the birthing pool!” I said.  He seemed to take his good old time!  He didn’t feel the same urgency that I did.  When I was having contractions about every five minutes, we called Merrie to come over.  She arrived with another midwife.  I slipped into the warm birthing pool which was really just a kiddie pool with brightly colored fish decorating the sides.  I was so comfortable that my contractions completely stopped.

“I am in no hurry.  I will stay here for as long as it takes,” Merrie said. “Although, you do need to have contractions if you want to have a baby.  I have a homeopathic remedy that could start the contractions coming more regularly, if you want it.”

I said that would be great.  It was a tiny dose of minuscule white pills.  Sure enough, soon those contractions were coming again.  The pain was not bad at all, but I was feeling it in my back.  Pretty soon I had gotten onto my knees to lean over the side of the pool.  Merrie applied pressure to my back with every contraction and that helped immensely.

“I have a feeling that the back pain is being cause by the baby flipped in the wrong direction,” Mary said. “I think if he turns, he will come right out!  I have another homeopathic remedy that will turn the baby, but if he is in the correct position now, it won’t change that.”

I took it and a short time later I felt a very funny flipping and flopping feeling inside of me.  He turned!  Because the pain was so minimal, I was aware of the baby descending into the birth canal.  I knew he was coming soon!  Chris was casually taking orders for lunch.  He was planning on running out to pick up some Chinese food and eating lunch before the baby was born.

“Chris you don’t have time for that.  He is coming!  I think he is coming now!”

Merrie asked Chris if he wanted to catch the precious bundle.

“Sure!’ Chris said as he knelt on the floor and leaned over the birthing pool.  Chai came sliding into the world under the water and into Chris’ waiting hands.  It was 11:55am and we were looking at a perfect, beautiful, and normal baby boy!

chai newborn

I sat in the warm water and held him close.  We were so cozy and comfortable that we remained in the water for another half an hour and made our excited announcement calls to friends and family.

Finally we both got dried off and transferred to my bed.  I felt so incredibly happy and comfortable.  I wasn’t even bothered by those pesky after-contractions that had hurt so much the previous times.

God words had proven true!  My greatest fears had not been manifested.  In fact, just the opposite had been true!  I understood that just as God had brought this baby forth so easily, He would also bring us into our promised land. It would be His grace and His favor that would bring us into the new lives we were longing and yearning for with all of our hearts!  He had brought us redemption!

Birth Story: Part 3 – Ashlyn, the One Who Changed Everything

ashlyn 2

I was two weeks away from my due date. It was late at night, and I felt a strange gush.  I thought my water might have broken, but I wasn’t sure.  That had never happened to me before, except at the very end of labor. Labor had not even started, but perhaps it would start soon.

Then I thought back to my first birth when the doctor had broken my water when I was half way dilated.  How that had increased the pain!  And now my bag of waters was already broken before the first contraction had commenced. Would I have to go through this entire labor with intense pain?  Suddenly a tiny seed of fear took hold.  During that sleepless night, it sent out invasive roots into my mind that became intertwined with every thought.  I couldn’t relax or rest. I was too scared that any moment a contraction would come and assault my body with pain.  This may seem very strange if you are familiar with my wonderful previous birth experiences.  Why should I be so afraid this time?

My family had been living in an atmosphere of mounting fear for the past few years.  We had started going to a new church when we moved to Colorado Springs, 6 years earlier.  At first it was wonderful, full of life and joy.  Slowly it moved away from the love and forgiveness of God and had begun to concentrate on our personal sins.  To listen to our leaders counsel us and rebuke us time and time again, you would have thought we were teetering on the edge of hell.  One wrong move and…we were done for! Talk about an atmosphere of fear!

This of course does not sound like the gospel of Jesus Christ at all!  Yet there was just enough truth woven into the lies that we continued to try to reform ourselves and gain the approval of our leadership and of God.

Later I realized that I had always had God’s love and approval despite what my church was telling me.  God had even told us to leave the church.  He had given me a scripture that said, “Do not have sons and daughters in this place.”  At the time, I thought He meant that we should not give birth to this child in Colorado Springs, but rather in New York, where some of our church members lived.  We tried to move, but it never worked out.  We thought we had messed up somehow, but we weren’t sure how.  Months later, I read that verse in my journal and the meaning became so clear!  I shouldn’t have given birth while under this leadership of fear.  But right now I was still in the thick of it, and the panic was holding back the very thing that I most needed…contractions!

The sun rose and labor had not started.  I didn’t realize what sorrow was in store.  I had no indication that the child within me had a rare chromosomal abnormality that the doctors had never heard of.  I had no idea what trauma she would have to endure in the first two days of her life, and how it would hurt my mother’s heart. (This is another story for another time. But don’t worry; this story ends with God’s wonderful redemption, just like every story in the life of a believer.) Yet I had a feeling of impending doom.  I tried to shake it off.  I tried to find my peace in Jesus, but my mind just kept spinning in fearful circles.

After we ate lunch and there were still no signs of labor, Chris and I decided to go to the hospital.  The nurse we talked to said she needed to look at the fluid under a microscope, but I had none leaking out at the moment.  The nurse didn’t think my water had broken, and was inclined to send me home, but instead, sent me on a walk and told me to come back in about an hour so she could check again.

Chris and I strolled around downtown Colorado Springs. It was a lovely, sunny day in January, and we walked around the Olympic Training Center.  It was so beautiful, and I knew that I should be enjoying the time with my husband, yet my stomach was in knots.  I was hoping that the nurse would just send me home and I could go into labor on another day, a day free from this weight of worry.  Nervousness kept bubbling over until I started to cry.

Chris tried to comfort me as we entered the hospital again, but I didn’t feel any better. All that walking had released some amniotic fluid, and they confirmed that my water had broken.

“When did it break?” the red-haired midwife named Alice asked.

“Last night around 11,” I answered.  It was now getting close to supper time.

The red-head immediately snapped to attention and spoke with alarm.

“What?!  Your water has been broken for over 12 hours?  We need to start you on Pitocin right away. And we will have to give you intravenous antibiotics to ward off any infection.”

That is not what I thought a midwife would say.  I thought a midwife would have faith in a women’s body to do what it needed to do without artificial hormones.

I started to cry uncontrollably.  I was devastated.

“I don’t want Pitocin!”  I insisted.

“We have to do it.  We have to deliver this baby as soon as possible because we don’t want you or the baby to develop an infection.  But we will start the drip slowly.”

I was taken into a birthing room and hooked up to monitors and a Pitocin drip.  I couldn’t stop crying.  My dream of a natural birth was being taken from me.  I had talked to other women who had Pitocin, and their reports had included hard, heavy contractions with intense pain…in one word – torture.

The nurse looked at me with my snotty nose and puffy red eyes.  She seemed annoyed, as though she would rather not deal with me at all.

“We will give you one round of antibiotics now and another around midnight.”

“What if I have the baby before midnight?”

I had gotten on her last nerve!

“You are NOT going to have this baby before midnight,” she snapped.  “You are not even in active labor.  It takes lots of hard contractions to birth a baby.  You probably won’t even have this baby before morning.”

I should have realized that I knew a lot more about birthing babies than she did.  After all, I had already had three, natural, wonderful births.  In my fearful, emotional state, however, her words pushed me into depression.  I saw a night of agonizing pain in front of me and I saw no way out of it.  I wished that they could just do a C-section and be done with it.  I didn’t know how to labor under the influence of Pitocin!  I just wanted to die.  Death would be better than what I would have to go through.

“And if I do get through this alive,” I thought, “I am never having anymore babies!”

Chris could see that I was falling apart.

“You are so upset because you are not in control.  You just need to give up control and trust God!  God is in control, and it is going to be just fine,” he said.

A small flame of faith was lit in my heart.  I relaxed a little and tried my best to trust in God.  It was 5:40 and I was only at 4 cm.

Our friend Chris came to the hospital and brought my husband Chris some supper.  She encouraged me to fall into the arms of Jesus.

“Pray, ‘Whatever it takes, I will do it and trust you,” she said.

I prayed that prayer and surrendered.  I was starting to feel more peaceful.  Around 8pm the contractions started in earnest.  At first they were surprisingly painful.

“If it hurts this much when I am only 4 cm dilated, how will I make it when I am at 8 or 9 or 10?!” I asked Chris, despairing again.

“Don’t worry about that.  Just take them one at a time.”

My wise and loving husband got me back on track again!  I finally remembered to relax during each contraction.  I would lean over the bed and let my belly drop and hang loose.  I would relax my arms, then my legs, and finally my face muscles.  Instant relief!

The grumpy nurse had ended her shift, and she was replaced by a solemn and worried looking nurse.  This new nurse wanted me to get into bed so she could check my cervix.  I hated lying in a bed; it was so uncomfortable!  As soon as I lay down, however, I uttered to everyone’s amazement, “I have to push!”

I gave one push and the baby’s head was visible!  The midwife ran out to get Alice.  The midwife  ran in and said, “Wow, it was a good thing I didn’t go home for supper like I was planning on! Alright, let’s have this baby!”

I was able to quiet myself and hardly push at all.  It was like a moment in a movie when everything is in slow motion, and you are aware of every small detail.  I could feel her little head crowning and easing out so gently on her own, without much extra effort on my part.  And then she was born!  So quickly, so easily!  I was in awe!  Instantly the worry and fear gave way to relief, joy and overwhelming gratitude!  I had made wrong decisions.  I hadn’t trusted God.  I had descended into the depths of despair, and God had reached down and pulled me out!  And in His great mercy, He had given me a fast, smooth birth.  It was 8:20pm.  God had proven that grumpy nurse wrong!  I was holding my sweet little Ashlyn Autumn, “God’s Vision for the Harvest” and I was content!

I learned that fear is the enemy of labor, and Jesus is the enemy of fear.  Rest in Him!  Trust in Him!  He can always turn our nightmares into a sublime Vision of His Goodness!

 

 

Birth Story: Part 2 – Cole, the Easy One and Cadin, the Firecracker!

cole and cadin

I was watching my 17 month old girl play on the jungle gym while talking to my friend, Chris.

“So you can keep Areli for me while I am in the hospital?” I asked.

“Sure, we are looking forward to it.  We go to Mexico next week, but we will be back before your due date.  You don’t think you will go early, do you?” Chris asked.

“Oh, no,” I said. “My midwife says she thinks I will go to my due date or maybe after.  I think so too.”

When I found out that I was pregnant for the second time, I had returned to the same OBGYN.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that he now employed a midwife who he also happened to be married to.  They worked well together, even though she seemed much more naturally minded.

I was excited to have another baby, and I felt peaceful about waiting a few more weeks before I met the precious bundle and learned who was kicking in my belly.

Later that week, I began having Braxton Hicks contractions in the afternoon.  It couldn’t be labor yet, but that got me thinking.  I hadn’t even packed my bag for the hospital yet!  I waddled around the house to gather all the necessary supplies, up the stairs and down the stairs and then up the stairs again.  Every twenty minutes I was having a contraction. I called my midwife to let her know.  She told me that it probably wasn’t labor and that I should sit down, prop my feet up and drink a big glass of water.  As I was doing that, my husband, Chris, returned home from working at the Olive Garden.  We sat on the futon together as I gulped down water, and my contractions actually started coming faster!  We had to come up with a plan B babysitter for Areli since our friends were still in Mexico!

In a few short hours my midwife met us at the hospital and checked my progress.

“You are 5 cm already!  Looks like you ARE going to have a baby today, two weeks early!” she announced.

I was overjoyed!  I looked at the clock and it said 7:30pm.

I prayed, “Please Lord, let me have this baby before midnight!”

The contractions were beginning to feel more intense, so Chris helped me get set up in the shower stall with a birthing ball and a hand-held shower head.  I sat and pelvic tilted slowly on the ball.  I held the warm water right on my gigantic belly.  The intensity of the pain almost seemed to melt away and run down the shower drain.  I was so comfortable and so happy that Chris left the bathroom to continue watching the football game that he had started at home.  I was glad he could keep busy doing something he enjoyed.  Chris and men in general are usually a bit impatient.  I firmly believe that a woman midwife will be a much better support at a birth than a man doctor. I know that there are some amazing exceptions to that rule, but… men like to control and protect.  They like to take action and be proactive.  Labor is all about waiting, trusting, and letting your body and your baby do what they were created to do.

After an hour or so, Chris popped his head into the bathroom and asked how I was doing.

“Good,” I responded rather sleepily.  I was so relaxed! “How is the game?”

“It’s a good game, but I can’t believe you are asking me about football while you are in labor!”

Probably another hour went by and Chris was back.

“The midwife wants to check you.”

“OK, after the next contraction, I’ll come out.  I am just so comfortable here.”

I wanted to stay there forever, but I dried off and made my way to the hospital bed.  The midwife checked me and I was at 10 cm!  All of us were a bit shocked!  I had totally missed the fact that I was in transition because I was so incredibly happy in the shower!

I gave one good push.  Intensity!

“Jesus, help me!  Jesus Help me!” I called out.

I gave one more push and HE was born, our little Nobleman and Victory of the People, Cole Patric!

I looked at the clock and it was 10:35pm.  God sure answered my prayer with time to spare. I was blissful!

My midwife kissed me on the check and said, “That was a beautiful birth. You have babies so easily, you should have a dozen!”

“Well, we think we want at least six.”

Looking back years later, that was one of my easiest birth experiences.  My emotional state during each pregnancy has a lot to do with how labor goes.  This time I was very peaceful and relaxed.  When labor came early, it was a surprise gift I was more than happy to receive.  My mind and body were ready to let that oxytocin flow!

 

Cole was almost two when I was three weeks away from my due date with baby number three.  This time we knew he was a boy.  I was feeling very uncomfortable, and I thought the baby was sitting very low.  Since Cole was two weeks early, I thought that this baby would be early as well.  Maybe even three weeks early since he was so low already.  I started a bad habit that all extremely pregnant women should avoid.  Every morning I woke up thinking that this was THE day!  I would think every Braxton Hicks contraction was the beginning of labor and start timing.  I would hope and pray for labor to start, RIGHT NOW!  Chris would talk to my belly and tell the baby to come out NOW.  Every night that I would go to bed still pregnant, I was sad and disappointed.  I was becoming more uncomfortable and impatient with each passing day.  I didn’t realize it, but my body was becoming rather stressed and tense.

This went on for two weeks until I woke up at 4am with a strong contraction.  I couldn’t go back to sleep because they kept coming every 20 minutes.

“This really could be the day!” I thought excitedly.  Still, I didn’t want to wake Chris up and cause a fuss for no reason.  When he got up to get ready for work, he noticed that I was timing contractions.  As soon as he realized what was happening, he called his mom to come get Areli and Cole.

When Chris’ mom arrived, Areli and Cole were ready, but my contractions had completely stopped.  I felt awful for having Corrine take a day off of work and drive all the way to our house for a false alarm.  Corrine decided to take them home with her anyway.  Chris decided to go to work. I was home alone with nothing to do but read and wish that labor would start again.

The entire day passed with no more contractions.  Chris got home from work and announced that we should go out on a date since we didn’t have the children.  We went to one of my favorite restaurants, and wouldn’t you know it…contractions!  By the end of the meal, I was leaning over the table and breathing through them!

We got to the hospital at 10pm.  I got into the shower straight away and expected that same comfort I had received last time.  Only this time there was something wrong with the hospital’s hot water.  There was none, or only a trickle in between bursts of cold.  I was shivering uncontrollably, and miserable, yet I didn’t want to give up!

“You need to get out of there!” Chris told me as he gently forced me to dry off.  I got dressed again and sat down on the rocker.  This was definitely not as soothing as a warm shower, and I wasn’t happy about it.  The painful hours ticked by.  I noticed that Chris was dozing off in a chair on the other side of the room.

“Don’t go to sleep!  Don’t leave me!” I said, pitifully.

“I am just so tired, I can’t stay awake.”

“Yeah, but I have to push a baby out before I can go to sleep!”

It was the middle of the night.  My wished I could just forget all of this giving birth nonsense and just go to sleep!  Yet my body had other ideas, continuing the work of bringing the baby down into position.  I had to stand up and lean over the bed to get some relief.

All of a sudden an incredibly urge overpowered me.

“I need to push!” I said to the midwife on call, who happened to be standing right next to me at the moment.

“That’s alright.  You can start pushing standing up.”

I pushed and groaned and felt the head crowning!

“I feel his head!” I said even though I could barely talk through the intensity of the moment.

Chris was very afraid of our son smacking his tiny skull on the hospital floor and the midwife must not have wanted to lie down to deliver.  In a split second, the two of them flipped me up on the bed and I was pushing again.

“Wait, I’m not ready.” I heard the midwife say.  But it didn’t matter.  Cadin Christopher, our confident Follower of Christ, was born.  He burst into this world like a firecracker at 3:20 am on the Fourth of July!

cole and cadin 2

 

I Love a Good Birth Story: Part One – Areli Endura

I love hearing about the miraculous journey that brings a new baby into the world.  I adore talking with a mother of a newborn to hear her entire story.  I enjoy reading about births, and I must have watched about 30 episodes of “A Baby Story” on TV.  But 15 years ago, when it was time for me to give birth for the first time, I had none of these inspirational and informational stories under my belt.  I was young and rather clueless.

I got married at 20 and had my first baby at 23.  The birth of my first child was the first birth I had ever been to.  I didn’t have older sisters or close friends who had given birth to talk to, so I didn’t have many stories to draw information from.  My husband and I did attend a birthing class while I was pregnant, and I learned a lot.  They showed us a video of three births.  Wow!  Talk about graphic and horrific and wonderful all at the same time.  Still, I wasn’t scared to give birth.  I figured that women have been giving birth since time began and if they all could do it, I could do it too!  Many women have very easy labors, and maybe I would be one of them.  Maybe I wouldn’t even feel much pain at all!

I quit my job as a bank teller two weeks before my due date.  I spent those two weeks cleaning every inch of the house, taking walks, taking naps, and enjoying some alone time.  Finally, I had done everything I could think of to do, and waiting was all that was left as my due date came and went.

Chris and I snuggled on the futon for a three-hour movie that Saturday night.  I was getting Braxton Hicks contractions and Chris decided to time them.  They came every 20 minutes like clockwork throughout the entire movie.  We decided to try to get some sleep since the next day, we might be having baby!  I lay down and got comfy in bed, but I just couldn’t sleep.  Those contractions kept coming! We headed to the hospital at 3am.

We arrived to find that my doctor was the doctor on call that night.  I was thrilled, because I really liked him!  He said I was dilated 5 cm (only half way there), and without explaining or asking my permission, he pulled out something like a knitting needle and broke my water.  Experience has taught me to keep the bag of waters intact as long as possible.  Boy did the contractions become intense after that!

I sat in a rocking chair and just rested with my eyes closed.  When a contraction came, I felt like my entire body would cramp up, and I couldn’t relax it.  Chris encouraged me to try all the wonderful positions we had learned in birthing class to bring the baby down.  All of them made the pain worse!  So I resumed my post in the rocking chair as my mother-in-law and a dear friend of the family looked on.

The sun began to rise and the contractions started to come one right on top of another.  I never cried out, but sat as still and relaxed as possible, breathing slowly and deeply.

“Do you think you want to push?” asked my mother-in-law?

“I don’t know.” I said.  I really didn’t know anything about giving birth or pushing.  Now I could tell you that I was in transition and that the baby would be coming soon.  But at the time, I had no idea whether it was going to be 5 minutes or 5 hours until I was ready to push.

They called the doctor in and he confirmed that I was completely dilated and could start pushing.  He had me lay in the bed and push with every contraction for 1 hour and a half.  Most exhausting work I had ever done!  With subsequent births I have learned that it is best to wait to bear down until you really feel the urge, rather than start pushing with all your might as soon as your doctor gives you the go ahead.  I was unsure what the urge felt like, yet when it comes…whoa baby!!!  Heaven and earth couldn’t keep you from recognizing and obeying that powerful force.  Using gravity to help the baby descend is another great idea.  Standing, swatting, or kneeling are great positions!  When that baby is in just the right position, your body and the baby work together in a beautiful dance of spirit, hormones, and love.  It is glorious when you don’t even need those red-faced, blood vessel bursting efforts.  Without much exertion at all, your baby will slip from you quickly and peacefully.  But I am getting ahead of myself and telling a different birth story!

This time I didn’t know any of that, so I was in bed on my back pushing for a very long time.  The doctor gave me a local anesthesia and an episiotomy before the baby emerged.  Again, he did not explain or ask; he just did it.  I would recommend not doing those things and talking about it with your doctor beforehand.  The postpartum pain was 10 times worse and the recovery time was 10 times longer than with any of my other 7 births.

But I wasn’t even thinking about any of that at that moment!  No pain, no worries…just joy and excitement and bliss!

“It’s a girl!” I heard someone announce at 9:21am on Palm Sunday.

The precious dark-haired princess latched on right away and nursed for the next hour.  I was so happy and complete.  I was holding my Areli Endura, “Heroic Lioness of God with Endurance.”

My doctor visited me the next day.

“You had a wonderful, natural birth.  It was good for the nurses to see that.”

I marveled at his comment.  I thought my birth was pretty normal, but perhaps not, if the nurses were not used to witnessing a birth like mine.  I have since learned that most births do contain some interventions and medications that often lead to complications and other interventions.  As the years went by, I started collecting birth stories from other women and a common thread emerged.

PAIN!  Intense pain that would push the woman to submit to any procedure recommended in an effort to escape it.  This was a little curious to me.  Sure, I had experienced the worse pain I had ever felt in my entire life!  Yet I never felt like I couldn’t handle it, and the thought of medication never enter my mind.  Why?  I just don’t think I experienced the pain that most women do when giving birth.  But why, I kept asking myself.

Then I remembered a teaching tape I had listened to before I was ever married.  The preacher was talking about the verse in Genesis 3:16 that refers to “multiplied pain” in child-birth.  He said that it was a curse and that ALL curses were broken when Jesus became a curse and hung on that tree.  I could be free from the curse of multiplied pain in childbirth!  I prayed that prayer right then and there in my bedroom 4 years before I ever gave birth.

“Jesus, I thank you that you have taken every curse.  In your name I break the curse of multiplied pain in childbirth.  I will not believe the reports and stories that say that childbirth has to be excruciatingly painful!  I will give birth without multiplied pain!”

And it really did work, all those years later without me even actively thinking about it.  And guess what?  Jesus died to take every curse from you as well!  Pray that prayer, I dare you!

The first step to experiencing a natural birth with very little pain is to believe that it is possible! There are hundreds of factors that come into play to determine the outcome of labor.  Many of these factors we have no control over whatsoever. But God is in control of everything, and I am convinced that He meant childbirth to be an honor for a woman to participate in with overflowing joy!  Jesus suffered pain so that we would not have to.  And the pain that we do experience in pregnancy, labor, and motherhood can always be used by Him to bring forth something beautiful!

newborn Areli