The greatest fear arises in us when we place our trust in being control over a situation. We all do it. We all want to know how the story ends, what is going to happen. We want a say. In birth, especially, we have little control. We need to place more hope in our sovereign Lord’s ability to carry us through how our birth plays out than in our own control over it. Theresa shares with us a beautiful story of how the Lord drew her heart to surrender control and led her through the birth of her sweet baby.
As all moms and dads can attest, the birth of your first child is exciting, nerve-racking and a bit scary with all the unknowns. My husband and I took the news of our blessing from God straight into prayer and research. God instilled in us a dedication to understand what we were about to experience. After God carefully placed several key people in our path, we meet with the woman who would become our doula. We had so many questions, yet were met with overwhelming peace as we meet with Chelsea (doula) and learned about everything from natural child birth to birth interventions to caring for a newborn. We took a Bradley Method class and pored over research papers and studies; the more we learned, the more encouragement we were blessed with.
Mid-June of 2014 came, our classes wound down, and we had a plan – we were prepared and encouraged. I began early labor on a Friday night and into Saturday. I kept in contact with my doula, and by 9 PM Saturday night my contractions became more intense. Could this be it? No, it’s a false alarm, right? (As every first time parent questions when going into labor). By 2 AM on Sunday, contractions were five minutes apart. We said a prayer and called our doula. “This is it, we are going to the hospital.”
When we arrived, we were met in the parking lot by our doula and were admitted. As any mother could tell you of her first labor experience, you can’t quite understand until you experienced it. I became focused and got right to work; I didn’t know what I was doing, so I asked God to lead me. From there I was in the moment, unaware of what was happening around me. It is a true wonder how God will meet you in the moment; for me I was at peace, smiling with each swell, looking into the eyes of my husband holding me and our doula as she persistently prayed over me.
For my husband, the involvement of God meeting him in the moment was somewhat different. He was the one who held all of the emotions, challenges and choices, something we did not expect. God is good. As my labor continued through the day, progress was made slowly as my cervix did more thinning than dilating. We were not discouraged, but we did not know what we would be put through in the coming hours as God tested our faithfulness, asked us give up control and requested my husband to ask for courage and to invite Him in.
I labored in to the afternoon, moving from the bathroom to the birth-bar attached to the bed. In what felt like an instant, I started to have severe back pain. All of a sudden I felt out of control, tired and not able to relax. At the peak of the next contraction I started to yell in pain, asking my husband and doula, “how do I relax, I can’t relax! It hurts so much!”. My husband assured me and held me up. Our doula offered support and new positions for laboring. Our nurse came to check me and I was dilated 8cm. Maybe I was headed to transition and labor was, as designed, becoming more intense as the baby was headed down the birth canal. I continued to try and relax throughout the contractions, moving back and forth from bed to the bathroom, yet I was so caught up with the pain in my back, I couldn’t seem to speak. The emotion on my face could not deny what I was experiencing, and my husband swelled with the emotion I couldn’t express. In the quiet of the bathroom, my husband began to tear up. His awareness of my pain was hard to watch and he was brought (as our doula wrote) “face to face with his love for her and this unborn baby.” I reminded him I was OK, and we brought our discouragement to God.
At every check the baby was sounding great, with no signs of concern, yet we were becoming tired and weak. I became exhausted, fading in and out of sleep, my contractions becoming more sporadic. I couldn’t get comfortable, no matter how hard I tried and all the positions to help with back labor, the pain felt more intense. I became unable to talk, dehydrated and losing consciousness, I began to cry in pain. I focused on my Husband, praying in my moments of rest, wondering if God was with me. He answers prayer! Even the short, two word, unspoken prayers I said during this part of my labor. Our heaven-sent nurse asked to check me, noting that I went back down to 7 cm and my water had not broken. I was in active labor and had been for hours. She turned to my husband and doula and explained our options (our first test). My husband agreed to our nurse breaking my water in an effort to assist me, a decision that he asked for the courage to know to trust our nurse and therein trust God.
We were headed in to the evening and my back pain became more intense. Our nurse asked to check me, and this is when she discovered that our baby was sunny-side up, coming into the birth canal at an angle and the cause of my back labor. The baby was doing well, but I was not. Our nurse graciously gave my husband the options, all of which were not on our birth plan and not the interventions we wanted to have in the birth of our child. My husband was faced with a difficult decision, not wanting me to be disappointed in my desire to have a natural childbirth. In this moment he prayed, gave control to God, and asked Him to be with me. He told the nurse to start IV fluids, to schedule the smallest epidural possible and give me a small amount of Pitocin. He turned to me as soon as the words came from his mouth, tears in his eyes, yet overwhelmed with courage that all would be well, God is in control.
God is good. I received the small epidural and slept for two hours while the nurses turned my body, therein turning my baby and aligning the baby’s head to enter the birth canal. I awoke to my husband holding my hand and nurses preparing for the birth. I looked into his eyes and he assured me that all is well with me and the baby and it was time to bring our child in to the world. I looked at the clock, it was 10:34 PM and at 10:50 PM I began to push. The excitement was overwhelming for my husband, waiting for his reward for being faithful. After 45 minutes of pushing and encouragement from my husband and doula, our son was born on Father’s Day, June 15, 2014 at 11:55 PM, God’s Father’s Day gift to his faithful servant.
God used our son’s birth for His glory, teaching me to give up control, to trust in Him. In return, He gave me courage to continue through my son’s long birth for His glory. He asked my husband to lean into His Lord for courage in the face of the unknown and bestow him strength. Praise is to God who strengthened us in this time and has given us a better foundation, through this experience, that we will continue to use in our journey into parenthood. Amen!
A special thank you to our doula Chelsea Martin, whose heart and steadfastness continually upheld us in prayer during our son’s birth. God used your experience and knowledge to help guide us through the birth of our son, and we are forever grateful for your role in our family’s lives.