Jessica’s VBA3C

 

My story began on June 8, 2007. I was 21 years old and pregnant with my first child, my son Everett. I was young, naive when I look back, and I really was not prepared for labor. I thought I was. I thought I had gone to enough classes, read all of the books and I was delivering at a well respected hospital. My mom had 3 children naturally, my grandmother 4 (one was even breech) and my great grandmother delivered 5 babies naturally. I was meant to do this, so how hard could it really be?

I was so wrong. At 36.6 weeks, my water broke “up high” the day or so before but I really didn’t know (young and naive, remember?). I thought it was just a trickle of urine but I noticed it was becoming more frequent. So I called the on call nurse, I was crying because I thought I was peeing myself uncontrollably. She, obviously knowing a little more than me, told me to go to L&D. So I did. They confirmed it was my water and confirmed that I wasn’t contracting. So the clock started. We had 24 hours to get this baby out of me…so pitocin was started. They couldn’t pick up my contractions so pitocin was increased…this continued for 14 hours. I wanted nothing for pain relief because I felt that I needed to do this as naturally as possible, after all, all of the women in my family have. Somewhere at 8 centimeters the doctor on call (mine left for vacation that day) checked me and said “I can still feel a bag of waters, so I’m going to break this”. Well apparently I had two bags? After that he placed internal monitors, and did an amnioinfusion because he thought the baby needed a little help.

Around 9.5 centimeters with a reducible lip, the baby started having decelerations and the heart rate was not coming back up. I was exhausted, scared and delirious from pain. It was all a blur. I was told we needed an emergency c-section because the baby was not doing well. I consented. I remember getting numb from the spinal and asking if I should push (funny now lol) within a few minutes I heard him cry. I cried. My partner at the time cried. It was such a sweet moment. I justified having a c-section because my 5 pound 12 ounce baby boy and I were safe. I healed as well as I expected having nothing to compare it too.

Fast forward 3 years. It’s now 2010, my now husband and I are expecting my second baby boy (his first) and I asked my OB about a VBAC. He flat out said no. He said he would have to send me to a hospital over 3 hours away if that’s what I wanted to pursue. I didn’t. I knew I could deliver early and the thought of driving 3 hours in labor scared me. Plus he told me all of the risks and that scared me. I brushed the thoughts of a VBAC out of my mind. So at 37.4 weeks when I went into spontaneous labor, I went to L&D and went from 0 to 3 centimeters in 2 hours, my OB comes in and says it’s time for my c-section because I’m in labor. The thought of a VBAC entered my mind, after all I was in labor!! So just as a last ditch effort asked if I could VBAC. He said no, absolutely not and off we went to the OR. I cried the whole way there. My husband assured me it would all be ok. I wasn’t crying because I was scared, I was crying because I felt like something was being taken from me. And it was. I lay there on the operating room table, cold and nauseous. Strapped down and puking from the medications. Our 7 pound 4 ounce little boy arrived and that was that. No skin to skin. Nothing. I was wheeled back to my room where I waited to feel my legs and waited to have my catheter removed. I felt all dignity leave when two nurses had to spread my legs to clean me up because I couldn’t feel them. I puked some more because of the meds they gave me in my spinal. We went home, I healed physically and life went back to normal.

In 2012 I shockingly found myself pregnant yet again. I say shockingly because we truly were not trying or expecting a baby. I had some complications in the beginning, lots of bleeding, the term “threatened miscarriage” was plastered on my chart. I was told I had a blighted ovum and to prepare for a d & c. I begged for one more ultrasound. Thankfully not only did we see one heartbeat we saw two!!! I was ecstatic!! That joy quickly faded when 2 weeks later my follow up showed one of the babies no longer had a heartbeat. I was crushed. I had to endure quite a few ultrasounds where we could still see the motionless little body. I was happy to have a very healthy and active baby but was still mourning the loss of its brother or sister. At 36 weeks and 4 days my water broke. It was a huge gush and I was contracting irregularly. It was around 11:30 p.m. when we got to the hospital. My doctor again was on vacation so I got the on call OB. She was yawning when she came to see me. She was explaining the risks of a third c-section and I once again asked (hoping she might say yes) if I could try for a VBA2C. She laughed and said no. I again was crying. Just so many emotions. I had an awful anesthesiologist who tried 3 times to do my spinal. It finally worked.

Our third little boy joined us at 6 pounds 13 ounces. The OB came to see me after she stitched me up and said “everything looked ok in there if you would want to have more children”.  And left. I never saw her again. I ended up having a spinal headache from leaking spinal fluid. A different anesthesiologist stuck me 14 times trying to find a vein to get blood for the patch to fix it. I was beyond traumatized. Wes ended up in the NICU for two days and that’s where I spent my time. Noticing a common thread here? I was never prepared for the birth I wanted. I knew if we were ever going to have more children it was going to be different.

2016-17. It had been 4-5 years since our last baby. We really wanted one more, and I knew I was going to have a VBA3C this time. Funny how hard it is to get pregnant when you’re actually trying…we got our positive test in October and I knew we would have another June baby! I also knew this time would be different. I immediately switched OBs. There was a new office in town that had two OBs and multiple midwives. They prided themselves on women centered care. I also knew that they had done VBA2Cs before but I didn’t know about any VBA3Cs. So my first appointment arrives, the intake nurse is a nurse who actually worked L&D and I knew her from my previous pregnancies. She asked me how I wanted to deliver this baby. I was amazed that she didn’t automatically put me on a c-section list. I said “I want a VBA3C”. I said I know the risks and I also know they aren’t much different than a VBA2C and I know I can do this”. She smiled and said “I know you can do this too, so let’s do it”. My heart soared, I cried and she cried and it was great. I met with Dr. Brown that day and she went over the risks and her set of “rules.” She wanted me to labor naturally, no inductions and she didn’t want me to go beyond 39 weeks. I will admit I felt a little put off but considering I’ve never been pregnant beyond 37.4 weeks I thought “easy peasy”.

I was sent to a high risk perinatologist, she did an ultrasound and checked my scar and placenta placement. We reviewed my previous OR reports and went over the risks. She felt I had a good chance at being successful. We talked for almost an hour that day in her office. It was great! I left each appointment feeling better about this decision. Each of my OB visits consisted of talking about my VBA3C. I had some NPs who were skeptical and tried talking me out of it. I requested very nicely to not see them again. If they didn’t believe in me I didn’t need them caring for me. Dr. Brown again brought up me scheduling a c-section at 39 weeks. This broke my spirit a little, I felt like I was being pressured into a c-section, being set up for failure. So at my next appointment I met Dr. Duckett. When I mentioned the scheduled section she immediately said she did not feel that was necessary and said if I went beyond my due date we would talk about it but did not want me to stress about it. I immediately felt a new sense of “I can do this! I’m going to do this!!”

Fast forward to my “39” week appointment, this was actually scheduled at 38.5 and it was on a Tuesday. I again met with Dr. Duckett, she checked me because I had been having some regularly irregular contractions for a few days (prodromal labor at its finest) and to my surprise I was 2 centimeters and 50% effaced. She stripped my membranes. I had no idea what she was doing but she said “are you still planning a vaginal birth?” I replied yes! And that’s what she did, she said “well maybe this will stir some things up!!” My oldest son had trumpet practice that day so I took the younger two to the park while we waited for him. I was definitely crampy and having contractions. Still irregular… I went home and made sure my bag was together and ate small snacks and drank water to keep myself nourished and hydrated knowing that labor felt very close.

That evening the contractions started to get a little more noticeable but I just tried not to focus. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. The next morning (Wednesday) around 4 a.m. I woke up to a nice strong contraction and about 30 mins later another. This continued until I got up around 7 and had a lot of bloody show. I mean a lot, I knew at this point things were progressing. I did what my mom had told me, I continued to walk, keep busy, and eat and drink when I felt the need. I rested when I needed to, although that was a bit hard with 3 kids running around and a husband at work. By Wednesday evening my husband asked how I felt, I told him to not be surprised if we had a baby by the next day. Sometime around midnight I was dreaming that I was in labor… it must have been the real deal because at 1 a.m. sharp I was awakened with a super strong contraction that lasted over a minute, 5 mins later another one and again 5 mins later. This continued regularly for another 40 mins before I got up and realized this was it. Suddenly they started coming every 3 mins. I woke my husband up and we called his mom. My sister was already at my house so she stayed with the boys until his mom could get there. We got to the hospital around 2:30 and I could hardly get out of the car. It felt like my pelvis was breaking in two. We got up to L&D, the intake nurse put me in the triage room and I got checked. I was only 3 and still 50%. I didn’t expect more than that because I had only been having contractions every 5 mins for an hour and every 3 mins for another hour. My intake nurse looked terrified when I told her I was having a VBA3C. I had to laugh and reassure her everything would be fine.

She called Dr. Duckett who said to have me walk and labor without monitors until she came in. So we walked for about 2 hours. The nurse looked skeptical because she couldn’t pick my contractions up on the monitor but I was having a really hard time even talking through them. Half the time I could hardly stand when one would hit. My husband was literally holding me up during these contractions. But, Dr. Duckett insisted she not send me home. I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug (it looked like a big bloody mucuousy cork!) so a little after 7 a.m. the midwife Myra came in to see me. I was now 4 centimeters and 90% so I was admitted, she stripped my membranes again just to keep everything moving, but I wasn’t moved from the triage room to a labor and delivery room until 8ish. Again they were still struggling to get an accurate read on my contractions. Around 9 a.m. they checked me again because I felt a lot of pressure. I was 6 centimeters and 100%. At this point I was really uncomfortable during a contraction, but between them I felt great! I did ask for an epidural, I did this because I did not want to lose control like I did with my first. I knew that my body tensed with pain and I wanted to relax and just let this all happen. I got an epidural around 930-10am and Dr. Duckett broke my water. I managed to sleep a little despite the adrenaline rush. The nurse was able monitor my contractions and the baby with the internal monitors. Around 11 a.m. I felt something. It wasn’t pressure but it felt like something was just “there”. I asked my husband to look because I felt like the baby was there, he looked and then responded “I have no clue what I’m looking at so I’m going to get the nurse”. She was actually just walking in and for some crazy reason she had a bag of pitocin. I asked “why?!” And she said “oh just to help things keep moving along..”  I said ” Well I don’t think I need it, can you check me?” She checked me and I was complete and the baby was right there! She went to get Dr Duckett, when she came in she asked if I wanted to try some practice pushes. Which I did!

My epidural was awesome in the fact that I could still move my legs and feel pressure but not pain. It didn’t interfere with my pushing at all! We turned it off at that point. I gave 3 practice pushes and the Dr was like “You were meant to do this!!” Her saying that gave me this rush and reaffirmed everything I was doing!! The rest went so fast! He was out by 11:40 which was about 20 mins after I started “practice pushing” and about 10-15 pushes later! I was able to successfully deliver a 7 pound 11 ounce baby boy at exactly 39 weeks on the very day they wanted to schedule my c-section. I only had a small tear and needed just a few stitches. He was placed right on my chest where he stayed for a solid hour and nursed like a champ. I know I had some interventions, however nothing was done without a lot of thought, prayer and consideration. Everything went exactly how I had imagined it. I labored in a safe environment with a doctor who I trusted completely. I was able to deliver 3 and a half hours after being admitted and I felt 10,000 times better than I ever did after a c-section. It was still sore. I can’t say one is less painful than the other, but I didn’t feel super weak or sick like I did after my sections. I could roll over and hold my baby without pain. My bottom was sore for about 10 days and sort of felt “bruised” for about 2 weeks. The beauty of all of this is, I labored and delivered in the very room this all started in exactly 10 years and 1 week prior, I finally had the closure I needed, I knew my body wasn’t broken. I have never been so proud of myself like I was that day. It was indescribable.

Ximena’s VBAC – The Story of Baby Hope

I am so excited to finally share my testimony. I received prenatal care with the same provider throughout my pregnancy. From the beginning I searched for a provider who would assist me with my desire to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean. My doctor provided good prenatal care throughout my pregnancy. We differed opinions towards the end of my pregnancy when I reached my 40 weeks and my baby had not dropped and my cervix was not “favorable”. When we reached this point (my baby didn’t arrive on her estimated due date (12/25), my doctor scheduled a repeat c-section for (12/28). I said I was not moving forward with her recommendation.

 

She advised me on everything that could go wrong if I were to wait. I was nothing short of scared. I requested a BPP and an NST. The doctor’s office scheduled one for (12/27). That day my doctor was on call. I had my tests done and thank God everything was showing like the baby and pregnancy were going well. Nonetheless, the doctor was called after my tests were done. She gave me the “talk” again. This time she was very graphic about what could go wrong. This was beyond scary.

Yet something inside of me didn’t want to lose hope that this was a possibility for me…to have a natural birth. I had a cesarean section with my first child so I knew what it was; I knew how I felt going into it and coming out of it. I felt devastated that’s how I felt. I felt like I had been cheated on my birthing experience. I knew I didn’t want that this time around…at least not if there was not a real need for one.

She intimidated my husband for agreeing with me about waiting.

She had us both sign a papers stating what she had verbally described to us already. My husband was so scared that after that appointment he said that he was done…that he was not for waiting anymore.

Then I felt doubly bad, I was not listening to my doctor and my heart ached because I wanted to agree with my husband so bad but I just could not fully come to the conclusion that a repeat c-section was the best route for me.  Another BPP and NST were scheduled for me at the hospital for Tuesday 12/29.

I prayed, friends prayed about this situation. That God would keep us safe and that he would not let us be shamed for wanting to believe even when it meant going against a doctor’s medical expertise (which I don’t intend to communicate is what should be done all the time).

I cried out to God, I received encouragement from his Word. I read Hebrews Chapter 11 (from the Bible). It was so encouraging to remember that walking by faith might seem and feel crazy at times, but when it is something that God has clearly shown that he will back up…it’s amazing!

The following verse also came to mind:

Romans 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My husband had a change of heart by Monday morning (praise God!)

My husband’s support was just so very important for me. Now even though I was scared, I felt I was not alone, I felt like even though this seemed so crazy…it was right.

I had two sessions with Dr. Travis (acupuncture) recommended by Paula D’ Amore. He checked with me Monday and said if I wanted to go in for another session. So I went in to see Dr. Travis on Tuesday then I headed to West Boca for my 2nd BPP and NST.

The NST recorded that I was having contractions. I was experiencing some light contractions earlier in the afternoon. After BPP and NST tests were done, another Dr. from my OB/GYN’s practice was called in to talk to me. She said that my baby was 10lbs + and that the recommendation was still a c-section. She was going to start talking to me about the things my doctor had already talked to me about so I said: “Doctor, with all the respect…I have already heard this. Could you please tell me were to sign so I can go home?” I signed the paper and left. I had called my hubby to pick me up since I didn’t feel too great.

My husband came with a friend to pick me up. Throughout our trip back home, I was having contractions. They lasted like 40 seconds each and were about 5 minutes apart. We arrived home and I tried to sleep. I rested a bit…like an hour here and there but would wake up because I was experiencing discomfort from the contractions.

I started trying out several of the ideas that many shared with me…bouncing on the exercise ball, swaying from side to side, simply walking back and forth in my living room, jumping in the shower several times to let the warm water run down my back (this was my most favorite strategy).

I also ate and drank fluids throughout these hours. At around 4am I woke up my husband and said we should probably start getting ready. I had some breakfast in the shower…as the water was helping so much to make the contractions more bearable.

My husband took a shower then we left around 6/6:20am. When we left I clearly noticed that the intensity of each contraction was becoming stronger. We decided we were going to Broward Health Coral Springs since it was close, in-network and we knew that at West Boca they were not going to support a natural birth for me (as per doctor recommendations). Broward Health is only a 10 minute drive.

During the drive I had 2 to 3 contractions…they were intense, very intense…I was squeezing the car’s seat for dear life!

My husband pulled up to the ER, we said I was in labor (although it was obvious). As the lady (receptionist) was putting in my info I stood there and said: “I need to push! Please help me!”

She called for a wheelchair. Someone did come fast (although it seemed like an eternity). All I wanted was to push. The ride in the wheelchair seemed like torture. I just wanted to stand up!

We arrived were a group of nurses were and I kept saying “I need to push! Please help me!”

They wheeled me into a room, quickly put on their gloves and I just wanted to push for dear life. The nurse checked me. She said: “She’s at 10!” The nurses were in such a hurry it seemed surreal. They called the doctor. I just wanted to push…the nurse broke my water. She said there is meconium. I got a little scared but not so much because all I could think was “let’s get the baby out…NOW!”

I did feel some relief when she broke my waters.

The wait for the doctor seemed eternal, although she was probably there in less than 20 minutes. They had me lying in a bed, halfway sitting. I kept asking if I could sit up, or squat as my back was killing me with each contraction. They said  they were sorry, they understood that is the “natural” way a woman would want to position themselves to give birth that they could not let me, they said they didn’t have a birthing stool, they said let’s just wait for the doctor. All I could think of other than pushing was…I want to be off my back!

Finally the doctor came in; the baby was out by the second big push! It was amazing! When they placed her over my chest…it was an experience that is out of this world…to feel her little warm body against mine…I loved it. It was as if I had been “injected” with a natural pain medication…the joy was overflowing. My husband and I could only say “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!”

This was such a miraculous and powerful experience. God certainly restored my heart from my previous birthing experience. For me, it is clear that God has given me back what was taken away from me…the experience to birth our child naturally. It is not that I oppose modern medicine or surgeries when medically deemed necessary, but there’s something precious in waiting for God’s and nature’s timing.

I would like to close this testimony giving thanks to God my heavenly Father, for His Word, for my husband, for friends who I know personally who have gone through a VBAC who kept encouraging me, for friends that I have drawn closer to in a matter of weeks through the ICAN South Florida Community Support Group.

All I can say is THANK YOU!

Finally, a children’s story book comes to mind when I think about this testimony…

“The Little Engine That Could,” by Watty Piper.

“I’m not very big,” said the Little Blue Engine…

“I have never been over the mountain,”…

…”Then she said, ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

…She tugged and pulled and pulled and tugged and slowly, slowly, slowly they started off.”

…”Puff, puff, chug, chug, when the Little Blue Engine, “I think I can-I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

Up, up, up. Faster and faster and faster and faster the little engine climbed, until at last they reached the top of the mountain.

…”Hurray, hurray,” cried the funny little clown and all the dolls and toys.

…And the Little Blue Engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain…

“I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could.”

Joel 2:25 (a) New Living Translation (NLT)

 The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. 

 Philippians 4:13 NKJV
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

                                                                                                                                                                       

A VBA4C – Stephanie’s Story

Stephanie 1

*Note from Jaimie* — Stephanie has so willingly agreed to share her story on the blog in hopes of encouraging other women wanting to have a VBAC. This is inspirational. We thank you Stephanie for giving us a glimpse into such a life changing event! And as always, please comment and share. Let’s get her story out there!

June 12,2016 was a day that brought me from being fractured to being steadfast. My story started on September 25,2002 when I became fractured; I was rushed into the O.R. after an ultrasound tech confirmed that at around 34 weeks gestation the car accident that I had been in had caused my placenta to abrupt and just before being wheeled in to have my scan; my bag of waters had indeed broke. With little time an Emergency C-Section was performed and my first daughter weighing 5 lb.2.5 oz was born at 9:22 a.m.

In 2006 Bill and I became pregnant with my 2nd daughter. We were young, myself being only 20 and not educated on a VBAC vs. cesarean; Bill and I sought the answers from my OB/GYN. Bill and I left that appointment feeling terrified at the thought of a VBAC and opted for a repeat c-section. We never questioned or researched further after that appointment.

In 2010 we became pregnant once again with my 3rd daughter. By this time I had a different OB/GYN and my want to have a vaginal birth was ingrained in me, so I asked my OB if I was able to have a VBAC. She replied “no,” so yet another c-section was scheduled and on we went.

By 2013 I yet again became pregnant with my 4th daughter. By this time though I had heard stories of women that had a VBAC after 2 c-sections, but it was not allowed after 3. I felt like I was cheated out of my chance to have a VBAC. Although, I still hadn’t questioned the doctors nor did I look else where.. I continued to follow what I was told and never questioned it. So another c-section for August 18, 2013 was scheduled.

About 5 months after my 4th daughter was born I devoted my life to Jesus and with that my eyes were opened to the world. I had never viewed the world in this way and for the first time in my life I felt a sense of belonging… God set me free! Which brings me to being steadfast. The Lord blessed us with another child! This time I knew the benefits of a VBAC and knew that was the way God intended us to have children.

I had researched and researched and did more research. The day after I found out we were expecting I called my OB/GYN office and asked if I could have a VBAC. The woman that answered the phone said “no, you can’t have a VBAC after 2 c-sections.”  I then said, “I know that not to be true.” She corrected herself and said this doctor does not do VBAC after 2 c-sections. That information would’ve been nice to know when I had asked her about a VBAC while pregnant with my 3rd daughter. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have one…it was just they didn’t do them!

I was determined to have a VBAC…the conviction on me to do so was so powerful and I wasn’t about to give up hope! I called several OB/GYN’s and found a new doctor. After speaking to staff over the phone, I had hope that this doctor would give me the VBAC that I was wanting. I quickly transferred my info over to her. After my first appointment; she still gave me the hope that I would be able to have a VBAC. By around my 16th week of pregnancy she came back with a “no.” She stated that her team of doctors did not agree, nor did the hospital and that she had even reached out to a different hospital and team…all of which had agreed that I was not allowed or able to have a VBAC. I was shattered as I had called around to several other doctors and birthing centers and was given the same answer.

For a couple of months I had accepted that I had lost my opportunity to have a VBAC, but that conviction was still placed upon me…it was a strong conviction…one in which I couldn’t ignore! I had started feeling uncomfortable with my new doctor and her team of doctors and things just didn’t feel right to me, but I wasn’t sure what I should do. My last appointment I had with my OB/GYN, I had asked her if I could at least go into labor as I had researched that the benefits from that were better than a scheduled c-section without labor. She said yes I could and I would only need to set my scheduled c-section for 41 weeks.

I left that appointment feeling excited and yet aggravated. How is it that I was able to go into labor and walk into the hospital at 10 cm, but yet I couldn’t have a VBAC! That is just ridiculous! So once again I couldn’t ignore my feelings….they were so overpowering, I wouldn’t have been able to ignore them if I tried! I began once again asking friends, calling, emailing, researching. I couldn’t tell you how many emails or phone calls I had made asking for someone to help me deliver a VBA4C.

On April 3, 2016 a woman named Sabrina Bias answered my email, She eagerly referred me to Midwife Robin Massey. I was relieved to have finally found someone who knew what our bodies were created to do and had trust in that process! She had me go to Dr. Grant out of Columbia, MO to have an ultrasound to check the thickness of my scar. Not once did my new OB/GYN even mention doing this as she led me on to believe she could give me a VBAC. That alone gave me hope. I was in awe at my appointment with Dr. Grant. He was like a breath of fresh air as he confirmed that I wasn’t broken.

My first appointment after having the results confirmed that I was fully capable of having a VBA4C with Robin. I was 32 weeks. The amount of joy that filled me was something I had never thought I would ever experience!

With Robin delivering VBAC herself, I trusted her experience and knowledge with my labor and delivery. She taught me so much about pregnancy and birth that left me feeling even more confident in myself. The fears that I had about labor I gave to the Lord. My fears of how would I know the difference between normal cramps and pains from contractions and those of me rupturing, or the pain that would come that may cause me to give up if my water broke and it was too much to handle after hours upon hours of labor. All of those things that came to mind… I simply gave to the Lord and trusted whole heartily in him, and he didn’t fail me!

On June 10th around 7:00 p.m. my Braxton Hicks contractions started feeling a bit different. They went from just a tightening to a tightening along with a sense of pressure that bore down. By around 11:00 p.m. I started losing my mucus plug and the contractions continued to feel this way until around 5:00 a.m. On June 12th. I awoke to my contractions still having the tightening along with pressure and with a slight cramp to them. Laying in bed they were 5 min. a part, but would be random if I got up and moved around. So I text Robin to give her an update. She had me take a bath, eat, drink water and told me to take it easy and to keep her updated, So I did.

My contractions continued to stay this way. The pain increased a bit, but nothing to unbearable. Although my contractions were 4 minutes apart when laying down by around noon, they still would be erratic if moving around and didn’t stay the same in intensity or length. So, I thought I was still in early labor, but Robin new it was time for her to head over despite my hesitation. Once Robin arrived she asked if I wanted checked. I declined on the notion that I believed that I was still in early labor and was probably only 2 centimeters.

So Robin suggested that Bill and I take a walk to help bring labor along and then she would check me. I agreed and we walked a half mile up the road and turned around and started back. By this point although my contractions still weren’t that bad they did come what seemed about 2 minutes apart. I was still able to talk and walk through these contractions, but the comfort I felt as I would melt into Bill was a bonding experience I will never forget.

We decided to stop back by the house so I could get a drink of water and use the restroom. I went to the bathroom and as I was getting up my water broke. I informed Robin and with that next contraction I had no idea what was happening to me. It was a feeling I can’t really explain. My body just took over and I had no control over what was going on. Robin asked what was happening and as I had no idea she knew it was time. She had me lay down to check me and to my surprise she said the head was right there and I was 10 centimeters. I was completely shocked and had no idea what to do as my body had taken over for me.

I started to doubt myself and Robin was there to remind me of my strength and that I can do this, my body was meant to do this and it was doing it! With everything happening so fast they quickly filled the birthing pool for me. Bill comforted me as I still had the deer in the headlights look. Robin and Bill helped me into the birthing pool and 2 contractions later I delivered a healthy 8lb. 9oz. Baby Boy! Between my water breaking and the baby Elijah being born was about 15 min. It happened so fast that I was in complete shock for hours after his birth!

steph 2

I know in my heart what got me through my labor so perfectly was by putting my faith and trust in Jesus. I had about 15 Bible verses picked out that my two oldest daughters wrote down on index cards for me. I also prayed, during one of my contractions that was a bit intense I leaned against the wall and the thought that strongly came to mind was: I am thy God your Lord. And I began to just talk to God during that contraction. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have gone through and I couldn’t have done it without my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the support and knowledge of Robin or my husband Bill.

My heart’s desire is to help other women during their birth and for them to put their fears in our Savior’s hands and He WILL take care of us. I was even at comfort knowing if an emergency were to arise that it was in God’s Will and I was still at peace no matter what; by putting my complete faith in Him.

steph 3

 

Stephanie Hensley is a wife, mother and follower of Christ. Feel free to connect with her through email at mchensley11@gmail.com

A Confession of A VBAC Mom

She went to eight different places to find the dress.

She tried them all on, to find that PERFECT dress. The one that showcased and highlighted certain features while hiding imperfections. She wanted ivory. Not white. The perfect shade…not too light nor too dark.wedding

And when it came to the reception, she and her soon to be husband looked over many locations and menus, decorations and accommodations.  Many friends gave ideas. But they didn’t want to blindly trust their friends on these ideas. Or even their family. They took several Saturdays and visited many different places. They had to see it for themselves. They wanted to be the ones to talk to the chef. They wanted to see where their guests would sit, the kinds of appetizers that would be offered. They spent much time and discussion over the menu. The cakes, they sampled them. The taste, texture, color…it had to be perfect.

This after all, would be a day to remember forever. They were willing to invest the time, this couple. They wanted their pictures to be perfect. They wanted guests to feel welcomed. They wanted to enjoy this day. They had waited their whole lives and when that day came, they had no regrets of the time and careful thought it took to bring them where they were. Their day was beautiful with a couple mishaps, but they were married and started their lives together.

The years went on and they soon found expecting. They were over full of joy.

So excited and thrilled.

And she continued to see the doctor she had always seen and knew she would deliver at the hospital where she and all her friends and family had gone.

She read, “What to Expect When You Are Expecting.” It became almost like her Bible. She knew if she followed the book, it would help her have a healthy baby and pregnancy.

She took her hospital’s childbirth class. She listened and never asked many questions or researched anything more. She felt content and happy as she went along her way.

And she worked diligently at preparing her registry. She and her husband soon to be father contemplated every monitor, swing, bouncy seat, car seat, pacifier, bottle and boppy pillow.

After all, she would have only one shower and she wanted to make sure those invited knew what she really wanted and needed.

The excitement grew as she entered into her ninth month. She didn’t think too much about labor. She knew that it would be painful, but it was hard for her to think about. So she thought about holding her baby and focused on that. The other things, they would all work out.

And then the baby came. Early. Four weeks early and she didn’t know what to do. A breech baby that that was coming out feet first. A c-section became the best choice. She became afraid but consented because she was afraid to ask for other options and frankly she was afraid to push out her baby anyways. So, she had her baby. Not in the way she imagined. But she had her baby. In the end to her, that’s all that really mattered. She was holding the baby she dreamed about.

And then many years later, she had more babies. Not seeing completely that her births and choices that were made had a domino effect. She didn’t realize then she should have asked more questions. She didn’t realize that her choices made a decade ago, were affecting her choices today.

This person in the story, I admit is me. And maybe I have exaggerated my wedding planning preparations a little bit. But we did have a portable filing system that we carried with us everywhere. We kept things organized and spent more time planning for our wedding day than we did the births of our children. I will admit we planned for our marriage and put in the time. But I don’t think we are unlike most couples.

There’s so much emphasis put on weddings, baby showers, even the nursery where our baby will be nursed and rocked and loved on. So much thought to the color of the room, decorations, and nowadays even the kinds of diapers.

But I stand back after having four children and wonder.

If I would have prepared for the birth of my first child, like I did for the day of my wedding, would things be different?

I know I can only think on that for so long as it doesn’t do much for me and my emotions.

I know of many mothers who have made their choices on purpose. They have been very involved in the care of their pregnancy and plans for their labor.

But what about those who were like me? I really didn’t know much at all. And if someone would have reached out to me more maybe I would have?

I do realize that we can plan. We can prepare. And just as there are mishaps at the wedding, birth can take a turn of events we weren’t planning on as well. But it never hurts to have a plan and think things through.

We forget, just like there are different places to have a reception, there are different places to have a baby. Some country clubs and restaurants serve mashed potatoes and some serve baked. Some hospitals have a higher c-section rate and others have lower. There are birth centers and some choose to birth at home. Some doctors work one way, while other doctors handle things differently. But how we will know, unless we ask? Ask our friends, ask family who have been there. Do some of our own research. Ask our providers. Shop around. What kind of pain relief does this hospital offer? What does that hospital offer? Sure today we might not want any pain relief. But what if we get there and decide that IS what we want. Wouldn’t it be better to have that information before we are in the heat of the moment? It never hurts to know what will be offered, what they serve, what procedures they follow.

 

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Five Quick Tips To Help You Prepare for Labor:

  1. Think about your birth.  What do you want your birth to look like? When will you go to the hospital or birth center or have your midwife come to your home? Do you want anyone with you besides your husband? What about pain relief? Do you mind having numerous cervical checks or prefer not to be checked at all? What about an episiotomy? And cord clamping, would that be something you want right away or would you like to wait? There’s a lot you could think about. But it’s worth it because on the day you have your baby, you will make many decisions or they could be made for you. Think about what you want and if you aren’t sure what happens during labor, ask someone you trust or read up on it!
  2. Find a provider. If the one you have doesn’t match up with the ideas you have for labor and delivery, find someone who will. You may have to compromise on some things, but decide what those things are. Interview doctors. Talk to them. Find out what their c-section rate is. Ask them the percentage of births they attend that end in surgery. Share with your provider your wishes and see how they handle patients in their practice. Sometimes it’s hard when they don’t line up with your beliefs, but it’s much better to know before labor who you will be working with. And if they don’t line up, again you can make a switch!
  3. Read. Yes spend time reading. If you can read only one book, I highly recommend The Birth Partner. You will find everything you will want to know here from what labor looks like, to positions for pain relief, medications for pain relief, complications and postpartum. This lays it all out and if you can read it, you will have a really good idea of the process of labor and what ideas you may want to research further.
  4. When you decide on a doctor, call the hospital you will be delivering at and ask for their policies and procedures to be sent to you. This way you will know what will be expected of you when you are admitted and what you can expect of the hospital. Know the forms that will be handed to you. Know the papers you will be signing and by signing them what that will mean. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Consider a doula. A doula is a support person for pregnancy, labor and for the immediate postpartum. She doesn’t speak for you during labor, make your choices or give you support based upon the choices you make. She supports you. Studies show that “women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medications, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.” Checkout Doulamatch.net for doulas in your area or ask friends, childbirth educators or births support groups near you. And interview your doula too! Make sure your wishes are known and you feel comfortable with her supporting you during a most intense and precious time.

A very wise person told me if you are planning on not having an epidural when you are in labor, you better go in with a plan. I think her words ring true for everything in labor. Go with a plan. Yes, plans can change. We can only control what we can control. There are a lot of things that can affect childbirth that aren’t in our control. But it has been said that “if a woman feels like she was an active participant in the birth of her baby and she made her own choices, in the end she will be more fulfilled even if things didn’t go as planned.”

 

The Strength of A Mother

 

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This is a picture of strength. Our culture tells us that this is what strong looks like. Someone who works out and has the results to show for it.

Strength though, can look so different. It can look like a mom who has been up for most of the night and wears the same clothes during the day, hair pulled back, no make-up. It can look like a mother who carries her baby on her back and a jug of water for the day on her head. Different cultures and places, strength can look different.

“She had a natural birth. She is so strong.”

“She was in labor for a crazy amount of x hours. She is strong.”

And those statements are true. Those ladies who made those choices they were strong. But what about those who wanted to have certain outcomes with their births, but for whatever reason couldn’t?

Mothers looking down upon themselves for the choices they made and the choices they didn’t make. Judging themselves and questioning their strength because of their birth choices or outcome.

Homebirth, hospital birth, med free, epidural, c-section, planned induction, fast labors, long labors.

Many of us make our birth plans. Sometimes the end result is just what we wanted and other times we are left with questions.

We second guess ourselves, “If I would have only done this then…”

“Maybe if I didn’t do that then…”

We can guess and wonder and question and may never have the answers of what could have been.

For those who didn’t have the births they planned or look back on that day wishing it could be different, I am sorry.

These days when our children are born are so precious, we hold them with us forever. Some of the memories are happy and full of joy. Some memories are hard and difficult to revisit.

We so easily define strength as having set out to accomplish something in the way we would like to and actually conquering it. I think we do this with birth too. We have a picture in our mind of what it should look like. And when it doesn’t happen, we sometimes say that ‘we failed.’ I especially hear this with mothers who will choose to attempt a VBAC. If the outcome was not the VBAC as planned, a mother can feel devastated.  She feels like she failed.

But my hope, my desire is that no matter what birth story you have, I hope you see the strength you had within you that day.

Because ultimately, no matter what choices we mothers make, we want the best for our baby. We want the best for the future of our family. 

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Your story matters. Your feelings matter. But even with all that, I hope you can look back and see your strength. See how strong you were. I hope you can look back and be proud of who you were. Not because of the way your birthed your baby. But because you birthed your baby. You brought human life in this world. Life! The precious, precious gift of life with unlimited possibilities! Even if there were interventions needed, a baby grew within you and the baby came from your body. You gave birth and when you gave birth, you gave life. You gave a child a chance to be born, a chance to grow, a chance to make a mark on this world. While the world may judge us and we can also judge ourselves with the outcome of our births, I pray you can see yourself as you are. A strong mother whose strength isn’t based on the way she birthed, the way she looks or all that she doesn’t measure up to in the eyes of the world. True strength comes from the choice to love and give at all costs for the sake of our children. That is what strength really is.

 

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My Story

The Day That Changed My Life

“You don’t understand,” I told him.

This will be a turning point for me. This will be a crucial day for my life and I will never be the same.”

I looked at him with tears in my eyes as I attempted to keep them from running down my face.

Sitting there with my three children and my big baby belly, I wanted to express my wants and my wishes. Students in the room while I was laboring would be a major distraction to me. Any other time in my life would be fine for someone to observe me, monitor me, even learn from me. I can be a science project, but not on this special day. No, this day is about me. This would be my time, my day that I worked for. That I dreamed of. That I prepared for with everything within me.

“I’m an introvert. I respect what you are saying, but I am sorry. I can’t have people around me…anymore than absolutely necessary. My life will change one way or another on this day,” I told my doctor at my 35 week appointment.

I didn’t realize the weight of my words at that point in time. You see, that day, the birth of my baby did become a turning point for me. I walked into the hospital as a momma who was pregnant, had three previous c-sections, who dealt and struggled with fear for most of her entire life.  And I left the hospital as a mom who conquered her fear, her worry, her anxiety because of her great, big, God. I left as a momma with her sweet, precious fourth baby who arrived by a vaginal birth. I left with a greater faith in myself, a greater confidence in my capabilities,  a greater confidence in my body…that it had not failed me, a greater appreciation for the beauty of birth. I left with a greater faith than I ever had in my life, that my God was who He said He was, and I could do what He said I could do.

I left with my head held high, my senses so acutely aware of all the sounds, smells, sights, feelings around me. It was almost like I was completely new again, reborn. The fears had fallen away. His love enveloped me. I have always known His love. But this, this was new. I could FEEL it.  His presence…powerful. His promises…true. As I had worshiped Him in labor, I continued to worship Him as I left the hospital to start what would be a new life for me in many ways.

And just to be so very real, I couldn’t cope with his goodness. I cried… a lot. Postpartum hormones they say. No, my friends. It was the presence of God. The conquering of fears that plagued me. That I’m not enough.  That I can’t do these kinds of things. But He said, “Yes, my daughter. You can. With me, you can.”

So the tears that were explained as postpartum, well they have continued. Every day since this birth, my eyes have been wet, my cheeks have been streaked. Yes, a beautiful baby in my life. One of my most deepest desires. Another precious, darling baby. But you see, I cry for more than that. I cry because of His goodness. His love. His power. His mighty, mighty love for me. I realize that yes, He did want this birth experience for me. He wanted this pregnancy for me, this baby. He wanted this entire journey so I could learn once again, I can trust Him. Even with my life. The scare tactics of the medical world, the doubts of those surrounding me, the uncertainty portrayed everywhere on the ‘safety’ of what I was doing. These were real thoughts that I faced, minute by minute, day after day. As my baby grew within me, I was growing as well in the Lord. “Trust Me, daughter…I have you. I am blessing this. Trust Me.”

And I did. Some may look at me and see the same person they knew before. But I am not. This birth has changed my entire life and I cannot get over it. I cannot get over His goodness. His love and His goodness that has moved me to be a better wife, daughter, mother, sister and friend. Someone who can be with her children and enjoy her life because she trusts in her God instead of a constant worrying about everything. I can trust Him.

What concerns your heart? What mountain do you face? What is in front of you that looks like more than you can possibly handle and keeps you awake at night…doubting. He doesn’t change. He is the same God of the Bible, the Mighty One able to perform miracles. The One who wants to pull us close and make those fears fade. Just like a memory. To know His love. To really know Him like it’s our everything. That’s when the other stuff falls away. And we can just…be.

Tell Him you need Him.

Tell Him you want to know Him.

Open the Bible.

Read His words.

They are for you.

I promise if you dig in, your life too will change.

Forever.