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!