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I first had the privilege of meeting Chelsea when she came over to pick up her order from The Surrender Shop. She was overdue and had purchased a Scripture Banner to hang up in her hospital room to encourage her heart. It was so wonderful to meet her and pray with her for her upcoming labor. We are so honored that she chose to share her recent birth story with us and how God used, and continues to use this story!

Chelsea’s Birth Testimony

Shepherd Haven

Being married for over 4 years, my husband Anders and I already had discussed baby names before even trying for a baby. When we found out we were pregnant with a boy, we named him Shepherd Haven. My favorite Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, has been tattooed on my side since my 18th birthday and has been an important part of my walk with God. The middle name, Haven, describes the refuge we find when we seek and trust in the Lord wholeheartedly. We prepared to have a natural hypnobirth, with no medical intervention or drugs. I was looking forward to it going smoothly and exactly as planned. “What if it doesn’t go as planned?” My mom asked this a week or so before he was born. I remember saying the words I should be saying “I’ll be okay with it!”, but inside I honestly wondered how I would handle it, should things veer from my dream birth plan.

I was almost 2 weeks overdue. I had gone in every other day for a week to have my membranes swept, trying to induce labor in the most natural way possible. I remember the night before my third membrane sweep, I broke down crying with my husband. I felt so frustrated that my body didn’t seem to be doing what it was made to do – I felt inadequate. He held me close and we prayed together. Friday morning, at 41 weeks + 5 days, we went in for my third membrane sweep. The sweep went fine and we discussed having a biophysical profile performed to ensure our baby was still doing alright. The BPP measures baby’s heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. During the ultrasound, the tech did not observe an example of Shepherd practice breathing. A hiccup (which he had ALL the time) would have given him a passing score. Because it was not observed, they advised us to go to the hospital to have a non-stress test performed.

He passed his non-stress test with flying colors, but the on-call doctor wanted us to remain at the hospital to have the BPP performed again to get a passing score. As I sat up to discuss it with the doctor, Shepherd’s heart rate suddenly plummeted from a healthy 140-160 to 79. Immediately the nurse and doctor had me lay back down and turned me on my right side, and then my left side. It seemed like an eternity (but was probably only a minute or so), but we were able to find a spot that brought his heart rate back up. As a result of his heart rate dropping, I was told that I would need to be induced that day.

We were in a room, and I was given Pitocin within the hour. Our families were in the room with us and our spirits were high! I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and was not allowed to leave the bed except to use the restroom. For the next 7 hours, Shepherd’s heart rate continued to dip with each surge and as a result, they eased me off of the Pitocin. I was given Cervidil to help soften my cervix, and I settled in for the night to try to rest up for the next day. Within a few hours I was unable to sleep, as the surges had become too strong. I felt that surely my body was making progress!

Saturday morning the Cervidil was removed, and I was told that there had been no change to my dilation or effacement. I recall crying out in frustration – I was so frustrated with everything that was happening so far and felt like I was failing the birth plan we had so thoroughly thought out. I knew I shouldn’t care so much about it, and that God had His own plans, but I was selfishly frustrated and could not get out of my own head.

I was grateful that my body was continuing to have surges on its own at this point, and I was given clearance to move around my room. I took a medicine ball into the shower and was able to enjoy the benefits of the warm water and getting to move my legs and body … what a relief. My spirits had lifted significantly, and I felt a renewed sense of confidence in the day.

Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC
Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC

At 10:30am, they placed me back on Pitocin and allowed me to walk around the room and use the medicine ball more frequently. I was still hooked up to the fetal monitor, so I requested a mobile one that I hung on my IV pole and pushed around the room with me. By 5:15 Saturday evening, I was exhausted. I didn’t know this at the time, but the labor pain caused by Pitocin has been known to be far more intense than natural labor pain. I hadn’t slept more than an hour since Friday morning, and my surges were rolling one into the other with barely a break in between. I begged the nurse and doctor to take me off the Pitocin – I was so tired that I didn’t think I would have the energy or stamina to push if the time came for it. I wanted a nap!

After much consideration and prayer, I decided to have an epidural so that I could get some rest; it would allow me to remain on Pitocin so that things could continue to progress. My family prayed with us before leaving for the night. Within 15 minutes of receiving the epidural, I was surging without pain, but I was still able to feel each surge. By 11pm I had dilated to 8cm, but Shepherd’s heart rate kept dropping significantly, so I was placed on oxygen while they cut the Pitocin dose in half, and eventually turned it off completely. The Pitocin was turned on and off for the next few hours while they tried to find a balance that worked for both progressing labor and keeping his heart rate at a safe place. I was sleeping in 10 minute increments at this point, as my surges could be felt more intensely through the epidural.

At 6:20 Sunday morning, Shepherd dropped into my birth canal and the doctor checked my dilation. During the check, I had a surge, which caused my waters to break. My cervix was dilated to 6cm; the sac had been bulging out, which caused the dilation to recede once it had broken. Shepherd’s heart rate was not responding well to surges at this point, and the doctor started talking about a c-section. I asked her to give us more time to birth him naturally; she told us that we could see what happened naturally over the next hour or so. My mom asked at that time if I had heard ‘Glorious Unfolding’ by Steven Curtis Chapman, and it was added to our playlist because it seemed to fit our situation so perfectly!

The next shift of nurses came on – I was overjoyed to learn over the next couple of hours that both nurses assigned to us were strong Christians. They were both all for birthing naturally and gave us encouragement during our time with them. One of the nurses kept commenting on how happy she was to come into our room and hear worship music playing. Shepherd’s heart rate was beginning to decelerate after my surges instead of during, which prompted more medical concern. At 8:30am, we were told that we would need to be prepped for an emergency c-section. The operation had the potential of being risky since I had been laboring for so long at this point. I was told that my uterus could be tired out and may not stop bleeding as it normally would. I was also 2 weeks overdue to the day, and was told that my placenta was considered to have passed the ideal gestational age and may not perform as it should. One of the many glorious details that the Lord had orchestrated was that I already had the needle in my spine required for anesthetics during the surgery, and I likely would not have to be put completely under.

The nurses were so sweet and talked me through what would be happening and assured me they would both be with me the entire time. They told me they believed they had been placed with me for a reason, and that things would go according to God’s plans. They were so encouraging and reassuring – I know that God placed me in their care for a reason. At this time, Anders and I were praying for my safety as well as Shepherd’s safety. Amidst all of the preparations the nurses were making, I got some paper and wrote letters to both Anders and Shepherd. I wanted to leave them both with something in case anything went wrong during the operation.  We prayed together and cried together. Thinking back on this short time, it felt like the minutes dragged on. I think God gave us the perfect amount of time for us to process the situation and seek His will and acknowledge that He is in control of all things.

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Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC

Anders had to wait outside of the operating room while I was prepped. Although I had received a fresh dose of my epidural at that point, I was able to move myself from my bed over to the operating table- I recall the medical staff in the room exclaiming “Are you sure you have an epidural??” I replied with “I sure hope so!”. I was shaking from adrenaline, fear and cold. At some point I threw up while medicines were being administered. My baby’s heart was not being monitored and my body was stressed … I had no idea how my baby was doing, and I was scared. I prayed the entire time. I felt broken, but in the most wholesome way possible. I felt tested beyond my means, yet I knew that God was only giving me what I could handle, and He wanted me to come to Him to shoulder the rest. He was my refuge at the scariest moment of my life, and I rested in His strength and infinite foreknowledge of the outcome, no matter what He had planned for us. He was my HAVEN.

By 9am, I was prepped, and Anders was allowed in. He brought our birthing playlist in and we were able to listen to worship music during the operation. I tried to keep my focus off of the pressure and sensations I was feeling and focused on the words of praise to our Lord. I felt a sense of calm wash over me and peace enter my thoughts, and the song my mom had shared with me early that morning began to play. Soon after, the anesthesiologist exclaimed, “Look, they are about to pull him out!” Anders stood as I heard my son’s healthy cries. Tears ran down my cheeks as they brought Shepherd by and dipped his face to me before whisking him away to check him out and clean him up. He was laid on my chest while I was sewn up. His little face was so, so sweet. He was so alert and awake, his eyes were wide open and he was staring right back at us.

Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC
Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC

We learned from our incredible nurses that the umbilical cord was trying to come out alongside Shepherd’s head in my birth canal, which was causing his heart rate to drop with every surge. Had I tried to birth him naturally, he may not have made it through the birth. I am so thankful and grateful that God had His hand through every single detail of his birth. Only He knew that Shepherd’s heart rate would fall moments before we were going to be taken off his heart rate monitor that Friday morning. While every single line on our birth plan was being crossed off, the Lord was writing a birth story that would finish for His glory.

Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC

Thank you, Father. I pray that I will never forget my moments of weakness, for they were the moments in which you met me and gave me strength. Thank you for giving me a healthy baby and strong husband. Thank you for showing me your mercy and grace in our lives.

Photography by Julie Griffin Photography LLC

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

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One Response

  1. Praise the Lord! What a beautiful testimony, Chelsea. I’m in tears over the sovereignty of our Mighty God!

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