I knew even before I was pregnant that I wanted my next birth to be different from my first. My first birth was a very long hard hospital labor, mostly med free, however ending in a c-section. At the time, and even now, I was very grateful for modern medicine and the ability to be sure Malachi and I came through safely and healthy. But as I would look back I started to see things differently. Since Malachi’s birth, we have been on a health and wellness journey. This has taken shape in many ways in various parts of our lives. Through this, I decided that I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). When I had a miscarriage in October 2016 and dealing with my doctors office yet again, I then decided that my next birth would actually be at home and I would go for a VHBAC (vaginal home birth after cesarean).
Interestingly about this time a friend of mine was pregnant and through talking with her, she invited me to come meet her midwife at one of her appointments so I could not only meet her but see what a midwife appointment looked like. She was very kind, knowledgeable and had told me she was open to VBAC births under certain circumstances. She asked if we were pregnant and I had said no. I just wanted to meet her in the event I became pregnant since I did not want to go back to my doctors office. This was January. I found out in February I was pregnant. This was just one of many moments I could see God’s hand in this entire story.
God had a plan and a story He was writing in my heart. He gave me a vision and a word for the year of 2017. I had never done the ‘word for a year’ thing, wasn’t looking for one and honestly didn’t even get one for 2018 even though I wanted one. However with healing from the miscarriage, God spoke very clearly to me the word “redeem”. I didn’t know at the time what all that meant but I had hope. He was taking me on a journey that was at times hard and trying but a journey that taught me how to have faith and hope in Him alone. How to stand up and have courage to do what I know He is saying no matter what people around me think, feel and say. I needed to trust in Him alone and not in the loving people around me.
So back to the birth story….
It was a Saturday morning and 1 day past my due date. We were finishing up a remodel of our master bathroom and doing some final touches. By lunch time we had completed everything and the bathroom was officially done. While I was eating lunch I had the strangest feeling that once Malachi was down for a nap I needed to get Wes and go to our bedroom to try and induce labor. I honestly felt like God was telling me to let go and enjoy my husband. We had already talked about doing various things to try and start labor since Malachi was so late. So if I didn’t have the baby over the weekend, Monday had many appointments of pressure point massages, adjustments and exercises to get things moving.
Well after nap time I began cramping. Since this was very normal after sex, I didn’t think much about it. And when the cramping continued through the early evening, it still didn’t phase me. I had been having contractions starting in the early evening and lasting until I went to bed for about 2 weeks. Every night I would go to bed and by the time I woke up, they were gone. I always took it as a sign my body was done for the day and I needed to relax.
Well that Saturday night as I was having contractions I also did some pressure points on my ankles. I went to bed starting to wonder since they were a little stronger but still didn’t really think anything more.
I then woke up about 3am. The contractions had grown to be strong. I went to the bathroom but didn’t feel like I could lay back down. I got on my birthing ball at the end of the bed and started rocking. Wes woke up but I told him it was fine, go back to sleep. As this was Sunday morning he would typically get up to go to work in a couple hours. I had told him he should still go to work since he gets home about lunch so get some sleep.
About 5am Wes woke up and I had him text the midwife to let her know I believe labor had started and to be prepared for the day. At this point we also realized Wes was not going to be going to work. She text back that she had just gotten home an hour before from a delivery and she had been up all night. She asked how far along and if she had a few hours to get some sleep. I was also timing my contractions with an app that I could email her the chart for her to see duration, spacing, etc. I sent her what was going on and she felt we still had plenty of time. We told her that I knew it was still early, get some sleep and we would be in contact.
Interesting fact… a couple weeks after the birth I was told by a friend that we had a friend who had a dream about me at this exact moment and to ask her about it. When I finally saw her later I asked her and she told me this story. About 5am she woke up from a dream of me in an ocean with waves and she knew it had to do with the baby. She told her husband that they needed to pray over me and the baby. She didn’t know if I had already had the baby or if I was even in labor but felt we needed prayer at that moment. I found this very interesting and extremely awestruck at how amazing our God works things together. This was the same friend that asked if she could pray over me during the previous First Wednesday service. She is such a prayer warrior and I am so thankful for her.
I got back in bed and laid in my labor pose. We had read through the Bradley method book and had practiced the position suggested in the book to keep the body the most relaxed for it to do its job during labor. I actually found it to be very comfortable and dozed off and on through the early morning.
About 7:30am Wes text Amanda, our friend and photographer that was going to be coming over during the birth to be prepared that baby would be coming today. She then text a couple of our friends to get childcare for her 4 kids, one of them being a friend who was planned to take Malachi. This caused her to start texting Wes about coming to get Malachi and she came to get him about 11am.
About 10am my midwife checked back with us to get my progress. Wes texted with her off and on the rest of the morning and I have no idea all the contact between them.
Throughout the morning I would get up and pace, lean on the back of the couch and on Wes. However laying in bed was by far the most comfortable for me. Every time I moved the contractions would get stronger and come more frequent so I just wanted to stay there.
At one point I remember leaning on the back of the couch while Malachi was watching some TV. He wanted to know why I was groaning but then didn’t really seem to care beyond that. He doesn’t typically get lots of screen time so he was just in his own world happy as can be.
I had decent back labor so Wes took tennis balls and applied counter pressure on my back to help relieve it. He was also an amazing coach and would have to occasionally get me to swap sides in my lying position but I would get so comfortable I just stayed. One of the main points of the Bradley method is to stay as relaxed as possible that you almost seem asleep to let your muscles do their job without fighting against them.
I didn’t have much appetite throughout labor but by about lunchtime my midwife really wanted me to eat something. The only thing that sounded decent to me was pancakes so Wes made me some to eat in bed.
After that I knew walking was really good during labor and I was starting to get tired of the bed. I honestly was just feeling like I should really get up and do something because it wasn’t like I was sick. LOL Thinking back now, I’m a nut.
So about 1pm I slowly made my way out to the living room. This caused the contractions to get very strong. I sent another contraction report over to my midwife. I was also yelling at Wes because I didn’t think he was taking me very serious that the contractions were really strong and wanted him to get her to the house.
At 1:45pm I was laboring leaning against the back of the couch when a contraction came on really strong. As it peaked, I felt a pop and water start to run down my leg. I knew my water had broke and that would cause the next contractions to come on even stronger. I begged Wes to help me back to the bed as quickly as possible. I remember having a contraction in the hallway and then once I was in bed it was really strong.
I started telling Wes I couldn’t do it anymore and my groans became louder and stronger. I remember Amanda coming in and starting to take pictures but I really didn’t care at that point.
About 2:30pm my midwife came in and set up. I remember her telling me to take my groans deeper but that she liked what she was hearing. She also had me get up and go to the bathroom to do a rinse. While I did that, her and her assistant changed the sheets on my bed to my labor sheets and got everything set up with the pads on the bed.
I got back in bed and asked her to check me. She asked if I was sure and I told her yes because I couldn’t do this much longer. She told me she would only tell me where I was if I was over 6cm. I responded that if I wasn’t at a 6 yet there was no way I was doing this without meds! When she checked me I was at 9.5cm. The only thing was a lip of my cervix that hadn’t quite come all the way open. She had me flip to my hands and knees and lean on my birthing ball to get that front lip to pull back. After a couple contractions like that, I laid back on my side.
I remember continuously repeating I couldn’t do this anymore. My midwife would just keep encouraging me that I was already doing it, just one contraction at a time. I also remember hearing Amanda in the corner praying aloud over me and speaking God’s strength over me.
She kept checking the baby’s heart rate during my contractions and at one point realized the baby’s heart rate kept going way down. Once the contraction would end, the heart rate came back up.
At one point, I was on my right side which was my most comfortable side and she didn’t like what she heard so she wanted me to flip. I said I would after the contraction and she said that I had to right then. I remember arguing with her but then the next thing I know her and her assistant had me flipping mid contraction. That was excruciating. She then didn’t really like my other side either but on my back was okay.
She assured me that she felt the baby was fine but she was going to keep monitoring it. As long as the baby’s heart rate would come back up just as high and as quickly after the contraction ended, she was okay with it but that I wouldn’t be able to go much longer. She also felt like I wasn’t breathing deep enough so put me on oxygen just to be sure the baby was getting plenty.
The oxygen really helped the pain and relax me. Wes even asked her if there was something else she was giving me because it relaxed me so much.
I then started pushing on my back.
I didn’t feel like I was getting very good movement so I asked to stand and push. I got up and stood at the end of our bed. With each contraction I would squat down and hang on to the bed to push. Wes was supporting me and helping hold my oxygen mask. She wanted me to keep standing back up for the baby between them. With each squat I was pushing/pulling on the bed and her assistant thought I was going to push it through the wall. I also was grabbing at the sheets which ended up in a wad.
The baby began to crown as I was standing and with each contraction I would squat down. I was still saying I didn’t think I could do this and would even just try to relax and take a break from squatting to just let a contraction pass. My midwife and Wes would get on to me for wasting contractions and not pushing.
At this point I felt so weak and like my body could not physically take any more. This is when I knew and was being encouraged to dig deep and let God. This is the point in labor that gave a new meaning to the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 because God was going to have to be the one to provide the strength. I seriously felt incredibly weak.
Once I had been crowning for a bit, my midwife finally felt that the baby would be coming soon. She wanted me to get back in bed to deliver on my back. She felt as a first time birth, gravity would cause the baby to come too fast and increase my risk of tearing. Once they got me back in bed, Wes had to go to the bathroom. Amanda took his place and just kept praying over me and helping me through the next couple contractions until he returned.
I was still feeling weak so she had me reach down and feel the baby’s head. She was encouraging me that we had another red head. I wanted her to just pull him out! This was when she said I needed to get serious and have the baby now. I needed to dig deep and deliver the baby.
Finally after a little over an hour of the baby crowning (OUCH!) the baby came at 4:51pm. However, the baby came ALL-AT-ONCE! One push and the entire baby was born. Wes could not believe how much the baby came leaping out of me. My midwife said “Reach down and catch your baby!” To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure the baby was born. I was still in a lot of pain and the baby didn’t cry immediately.
The cord was around the baby’s neck and down the back (which is what caused the heart fluctuations) and therefore took a second to start crying. Because the baby came all at once, I had torn very badly. I was rubbing the baby and feeling better but it was not the high feeling I was expecting.
I then hear her offer Wes to come cut the cord. It was almost immediate so I said “no I want delayed cord clamping!” Apparently the cord had already stopped pulsing that quickly. Looking back, with the way he was born, the quickness in the cord being done pulsing and the way it was around the baby, we now believe the cord kept pulling the baby back with each push. It was acting as a rubber band that would not allow him to go any further. We basically had to wait for the placenta to start detaching at which point the baby became like a slingshot and came extremely quickly.
Her assistant then said “Do we know the gender? What do we have?” With all the commotion, no one thought to look! We saw it was a boy and immediately knew we had Isaac Beck.
He also had one ear that was folded up and was adorable. We were all trying to figure out how it was folded the way it was, but it didn’t last long before it straightened out.
We also had to lay him on me off to the side a little bit so his head was almost upside down. Since he was not squeezed the say he should have been, he needed help getting some of the mucous and stuff up and out of his mouth. He didn’t have much interest in eating at this point since he was still coughing stuff up.
Within about 10 minutes I was ready to deliver the placenta. When she told me to push again, I looked at her like she was crazy. I remember her telling me “don’t worry, no bones in the placenta.” She was right, it was nothing.
After a bath for both me and Isaac, clean sheets and some more nursing attempts, she had to address any tears I had. I ended up having a 3rd degree tear. She was concerned for a bit it was a 4th degree at which point she would have had to take me to the hospital to get sewn up but luckily it did not go that far. She stitched me up while Wes continued to love on Isaac who was fast asleep.
Once we were finally done with all of that, I tried to feed Isaac again. He was so sleepy and still had no interest. He was actually still coughing up amniotic fluid and mucus so we were trained how to help him get it up and out.
My midwife then did all of Isaac’s measurements. He was 7lbs 9oz, 20.75in born at 4:51 pm.
Thinking through this entire story from beginning to end, I can not help but see God’s hand in it all. Teaching me that I need to trust in Him through a miscarriage and giving up my time table in getting pregnant, to trusting Him when He makes a promise that He will redeem. He gave me grace, peace beyond what I could imagine and faith to know how faithful He is with His word. There were many times I had to lean into Him not understanding everything fully but knowing how I felt and what I knew to be true. I knew He was writing a story and I was simply along for the ride. I am so humbled I was able to give birth the way I had wanted. Did it go perfect or how I envisioned? Not really, but is there really such a thing? I do know, it was so soothing to my soul. I didn’t realize how much I needed to do this to heal parts of me I didn’t realize were still wounded from Malachi’s birth until it was done. I didn’t know how much God had to teach me in how insufficient I am to understand everything or even having the physical control to do it on my own. I needed the lesson that His strength and power and perfection comes when we are at our weakest.
Isaac Beck has been used by God for healing and teaching to his mama’s heart and I pray God will continue to use him for His glory in his life.