It was such an honor to be able to be at this birth and watch God pour His love over this sweet couple. I pray this Birth Testimony encourages you that even if birth doesn’t go as you plan, He loves you so very much, and you can rest in that truth.
Most birth stories do not start with the beginning of labor pain but weeks before the actual day of delivery. Sometimes it’s that first moment someone asks you if you are pregnant, and the reality sets in. Or sometimes it’s that moment your ‘big’ jeans no longer fit. Or it might sneak up on you in the middle of the night while staring at the ceiling, plagued with pregnancy insomnia. Whatever the moment, you are suddenly aware that life is permanently changing; that is when the real ‘birth story’ begins.
My pregnancy was somewhat of a surprise. My husband and I “were open to the idea of children,” but always found ourselves saying “not yet.” Well there I was, a few days before heading to my cousin’s wedding in San Diego, with a positive pregnancy test in hand. I was about 6 weeks along and in a complete fog. It took an additional four weeks before I found myself even comfortable enough to share the news to extended family and friends.
I took a lot of walks to process and pray. I poured every fear and anxious thought I had before Him. I talked about my fear of being a mother. My fear of losing the baby. My fear of birth. My fear that my child would not be healthy. I would walk and pray and ponder and somewhere in the middle I began to trust. I praise God that He lets us come to Him with our worry and is not afraid of our honesty.
About a year before becoming pregnant, I started to practice yoga. The yoga world is what introduced me to the ideas of natural child birth and doulas. It didn’t take me long to decide upon an un-medicated childbirth agenda. I was not comfortable with a home birth, but I did seek out a ‘birth friendly’ hospital and OB practice, along with the help of a doula (lovely Abby).
I was scared but excited about a natural birth, and I dove into gaining as much knowledge as possible. I read Ina May Gaskin’s books and took prenatal yoga classes regularly. I took time to read birth stories and blogs. I took time to journal my vision for a perfect natural birth. I often prayed and asked God for ‘a merciful birth’, ‘a powerful birth’, and ‘a calm birth’. In hindsight, I now see He answered those prayers.
The first two trimesters were relatively easy. I did have some bouts with insomnia and heartburn and other random annoying pregnancy issues, but very little nausea. In fact, I was one of the weird cases where food, especially meat, tasted and smelled delicious throughout my entire pregnancy. I remember being in San Diego for my cousin’s wedding, and all I wanted to do was eat steak. I was also able to stay active throughout my pregnancy, and my skin somehow looked better than ever. This all seemed to be laying a path towards the beautiful natural birth I desired.
The real birth story began at 35 weeks. It was the moment I heard the words, “your baby boy is breech.” The midwife gently encouraged me to start exploring various websites and sources to help him get into the proper position. It seemed like a common situation, so I tried to keep a level head.
I went home and did research on how to properly invert my very pregnant body in order to turn my baby boy. I also read of successful techniques of using ice and heat to move the baby, or playing music to direct them. I followed these methods loosely, along with the occasional inversion off the couch. I did pray and journal but not with intention, rather in jest about ‘my stubborn silly boy’ not turning.
At 37 weeks things became a bit more real. I was officially full term. Another visit with the midwives and I was told, once again, that my baby boy was breech. Suggestions began to flow, most of which I had been doing. Some new ones surfaced, such as getting in a pool and doing handstands, along with some acupuncture suggestions. I now started to take things a bit more seriously. I immediately called a friend with a pool and scheduled a swim date. I did some research and found a Naturopathic midwife who knew how to use moxa (an herb) and acupuncture to turn breech babies; I quickly scheduled an appointment to see her the following week.
My inversion regime at home became, well, exactly that; I made sure to be inverted as much as possible. Any spare moment I had was spent hanging upside down. I would visualize my baby turning. I would talk to my baby and ask him to turn. I even had my husband read stories to my belly in hopes that he would move closer to his voice. With each step I took towards turning him, my anxiety grew, and I was starting to panic. My prayers became more urgent in tone, as did my journaling.
I was 38 weeks pregnant and my baby was still breech. The midwives ordered an ultrasound to verify his position and, to my disappointment, his head was not down. In that moment, I realized having a C-section was a legitimate possibility, and I was horrified.
It just didn’t seem fair; I had done everything ‘right’. I ate all the proper foods and proteins. I did prenatal yoga twice a week to prepare my body for a natural birth. I prepared playlists and verses and prayers for my labor. I read books by Ina May Gaskin about the process of labor. I went to the chiropractor weekly to ensure my alignment was correct for labor. I tried acupuncture and inversions. I watched YouTube videos on ways to sleep and sit to turn a breech a baby.
This couldn’t be happening to me! …and yet, there I was, discussing what my options were with my due date a little over a week away.
I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I felt like everything that I had been preparing for over the last few months was quickly slipping away, and I was crushed.
I did not want a C-section. I did not want the long recovery. I did not want the scar. I did not want the excess of post-partum hormones that often accompany C-sections. I battled depression through most of my early 20’s and was so fearful that a C-section would cause it to rise back up to the surface. I cried the whole way home that night. I realized I was not in control and it hurt.
I spent much time in prayer in the days that followed. They were the type of prayers that only come when grieving something. And, like in grief, I started to barter and consider what other options were available. I researched breech vaginal births and became frustrated that in most other countries they do not suggest a C-section nearly as quickly when the baby is breech. I read numerous stories of the baby flipping during labor, and so I wanted to know if that was an option to me as well.
I suddenly felt like my relatively simple birth plan now had an appendix for every possible scenario. That week, in between research and hanging upside down, I remember lying awake in bed with my hands on my belly and praying with such force. I half expected to feel a huge transition or movement, but instead I just found myself coming back to a sense of peace that my prayers were being heard and that I should trust.
At the end of 38 weeks, I scheduled an ECV (external cephalic version). The procedure was scheduled for Wednesday, May 7th. I would be 39 weeks and 2 days.
The morning of the procedure I found myself on my knees crying out to God and listening to David Crowder’s “Here’s my heart, Lord” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvl-MfqvgkE), a song that had brought me much solace during that time. I could not eat or drink before the procedure, so I just sat, prayed and cried. I cried because this was not how I pictured my last few days of pregnancy. I cried because meeting my baby seemed so close, and yet the means of how that was going to happen were so unclear. I held my frustrations and heart out to God and something amazing happened … I realized I had not given Him everything.
I was ready to surrender my body to birth but not my will, and that is what He desired. He wanted me to trust Him whether or not I knew the outcome.
As I was getting ready to leave for the hospital, my phone rang. There was a scheduling conflict and the procedure could not be completed that day. It was rescheduled for Monday, May 12th, the day before my due date. I hung up the phone with a small grin and my heart oddly at peace. I remember thinking, “Alright God, let’s see how this all plays out.” I took a long bath that evening; I dimmed the lights and played worship music. I sat for a long time in the tub just listening to the words of truth that filled the air.
A beautiful song called “Surrender” by Hillsong began to play and I felt so at peace. I hugged my belly tight and knew that the same God who had surprised me with this baby was the same God holding both of us now.
That night I woke up to use the restroom and discovered I was bleeding. It was not extreme, but I knew it needed to be monitored. A few hours later, around 6am, I noticed it had increased. This prompted me to call the midwife hotline to see if I should be concerned and what the next steps were. After a series of questions, I was told by the nurse to go the hospital. I decided to take a quick shower before leaving and while in the shower I stared up at the ceiling and sent out a prayer. I asked for mercy on the day. I asked for strength of heart and mind. I knew He heard every word. My heart was calm as we headed to the hospital.
I didn’t really know what would happen that day. My husband thought we would be sent home, so he was dressed and ready for work. After sitting in triage for a few moments, I started to feel contractions. I was 4 cm dilated. This was the real deal. I told the nurses my baby was breech and I wanted to know my options. My doula arrived shortly after and began to walk me through some options as well. The doctor and midwife were called and it was decided that they would perform the ECV. The only location was in triage. So, with curtains drawn, I was told to start prepping for the procedure.
This is where my memory starts to break into fragments, and I praise God because every piece I remember from that day is nothing but a calm strength that only the Spirit provides. I remember asking to use the restroom, and while in the restroom I decided I was not going to let my fear or my emotions steal this day. My logical and loving husband wisely told me a few weeks back that “it’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage” … meaning the same with our son’s birth.
I was ready to surrender all of my plans for how I wanted this day to go and gladly embrace whatever came in its place. Sometimes you need to be strong physically in labor and other times you need to be strong mentally. Today, for me and my birth story, it was going to be the latter.
With the triage room prepped and the epidural given; the doctor and midwife began the procedure. The ECV process itself was incredibly intense. Though numb, I could feel every push and tug and I could physically see my baby’s body changing position. I remember being rolled over on my side and an oxygen mask placed on my face. I remember being told his heart rate had dropped and they were giving it a few minutes to come back. In the midst of all of this, my mind was calm. I knew every moment of this had been bathed in prayer and that He was in control. The doctor and midwife attempted once more but again found a strong resistance to fully turn him. His heart rated dropped and they allowed for some time to let it return. During that time the doctor spoke to me sincerely; he advised that something seemed to be hindering the baby and he felt it best to proceed with a C-section. There it was. My fear was being spoken and yet it did not make me afraid. It was as if all those moments of hanging upside down on a couch in prayer had prepared my heart to receive these words. I was ready to meet my baby and I was ready for it to be a strong and beautiful birth just as I had prayed.
With lights dimmed and a sense of calm that I cannot describe, my little boy entered the world via C-section on May 8th, 2014 around 1pm in the afternoon. David Crowder’s “Here’s my Heart, Lord” filled the operating theatre as he emerged. It was peaceful. It was strong. It was beautiful. And it was nothing like I had planned or wanted. Yet it was exactly everything I had asked for. God is so good.
It was discovered during the C-section that my uterus was a heart shape, which explained the breech position and unsuccessful ECV. It also made me smile to think of my little son ‘growing’ in a heart.
It is only by His grace that my heart did not grow bitter or angry throughout this birth story. I fought it so hard. I think I cried more those last four weeks of pregnancy then I had most of my life. But the tears needed to be there, to draw me to Him. Being a mother is humbling and it is beautiful. It means putting your heart and desires boldly in front of Him, but all with open hands. I am proud of my C-section birth story and hold it close to my heart. And that, that statement alone, shows how amazing it can be when you simply trust His plan.