When you’re a first time mom and don’t have much experience with labor and birth, it all feels unknown, all new, mysterious. You don’t know what to expect your body to do in labor and how it’ll all go. Although you never really know how labor and birth will go even when you’ve had multiple babies. When you’re on your 8th baby though, there are some things you *think* you know about your body and how it usually does things. This pregnancy and birth was all about teaching me to let go of expectations and to be content in the ways God would orchestrate everything to go, because in the end He was the Deliverer, not me. This ended up revealing lots of sin in the areas of pride, control, and distrust in God’s timing. I really thought I knew what would happen, when it should happen, and how it would all go. Afterall, I’ve done this many times before, and I even teach childbirth classes. I surely should know what to expect, right? As I’ve been diving more into helping other women and their births, God has continued to broaden my experiences and challenge my thinking in this area to humble me and be able to better serve women and the wide range of normal experiences when it comes to birth.
Thursday October 6th: Night Before Labor
Tim and I went out on a last minute date. I needed something to distract myself from being past my due date. This was the first time I ever passed my due date, and my last baby came almost 2 weeks early so I had really been expecting to have long delivered by this point. It was a constant battle in my mind to surrender and trust God’s timing. We enjoyed a date night with little plans and expectations and just enjoyed being together. It was really sweet. I had tried all day not to be sad to not be in labor because this was Tim’s moms birthday and had thought it would be so sweet for them to share a birthday. I went to bed this night thinking about how content I felt and thought surely I wouldn’t even feel sad in the morning when I woke up still pregnant like I had other days.
Friday October 7th: Labor Begins
I woke up and immediately said to myself “this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I was fighting back feelings of sadness and was annoyed at myself that I felt them yet again. I laid there in bed praying and asking God to help me have joy for the day. Tim came in and said, “Are you still pregnant?” A joke he made every morning that didn’t usually bother me but this time I bursted into tears. He came and laid with me and prayed for me. I had a few contractions over this morning that felt a little different but I was determined to ignore them as I had been having contractions so much over the past 2 weeks that I thought would lead to something that didn’t. I was still so convinced that my water had to break to start labor, because “that’s just what my body does.”
I had acupuncture scheduled for 11:15am and on the drive there I had a contraction, 2 during the 20 minute treatment and another on the way home. These just felt different but also felt like they could very much stop. Spent a lot of time praying and asking the Lord to help me let go of expectations. For my last 4 babies, my water had broken to start labor for every one so naturally I just kept expecting my water to break and felt like it was so weird to be having contractions without it breaking. I came home and made lunch and continued to have contractions around 10 minutes apart. They only lasted 30-45 seconds or so.
My friend Joy had offered to come over the Friday before, sort of as a joke that I would still be pregnant, but here I was still pregnant. She texted that she was heading over around 1pm. I knew her coming might slow contractions down but also felt like it was a good distraction from them and welcomed her company. We sat and chatted and I noticed the contractions were around 7-8 minutes apart still over the few hours we talked. I was able to still talk okay through them but they were definitely uncomfortable. It was a really sweet time of fellowship that I’ll never forget.
3:30pm My best friend Dani joined us in hanging out. I hadn’t told anyone about the contractions at that point but knew Dani had plans to go to an escape room that evening with her family. I felt like maybe she should have a heads up in case something shifted. We agreed that maybe she should drive separately from them just in case. Dani and Joy also encouraged me to not just deny what may be happening, that my desire to be in labor was a good desire and that I could hope for that but ultimately trust the Lord and His plans for how it would all go. By the end of our visit, around 4:30pm, the contractions were closer to 5-6 minutes apart and needed more of my focus to breathe through them so I’d stop talking when I had one. They both left and I got to work rolling out pizza crusts for our dinner.
Tim came out of his office around 5:30pm and I let him know about the contractions I’d been having. I told him I thought it was probably early labor, but I felt fine between them and they had spaced out to be 12-15 minutes apart now but I did have some bloody show which was also a first for me. I texted Dani to tell her contractions were spaced more and about the bloody show. We joked about all these firsts for me and how different this was. I then said, “next up, en caul birth” (baby being born in their bag of water) joking because that always felt impossible to me because my water “always” breaks early.
I made pizzas and enjoyed dinner as a family. It was one of the first nicer nights that was cool and had a breeze. I suggested we go on a family walk and see what the contractions did. My kids at this point still didn’t know I was having contractions. We walked a few blocks and I did some curb walking. Contractions got closer to 3 minutes apart but spaced back out when we got home and I decided to stop timing them and just enjoy my family time. The walk felt so nice and the cool air was such a nice change from the summer heat. Once we got back home I put Boaz to bed, gave him an extra snuggle thinking it might be his last night as my baby. I had one contraction while putting him down that was a lot stronger and harder to get through holding him on my lap. I put him in his crib and called Dani. We chatted about how surprised I was by how much stronger they were getting but still 6-7 minutes apart. They felt like active labor contractions but with these weird long breaks between them. It felt really confusing to me, along with my water still being intact. Dani reminded me that the pattern didn’t have to fit to be active labor and that my water didn’t have to break to be “in labor” either. I told her I was going to just lay with Tim and watch a movie and see what happened.
10:00pm I texted Dani saying that maybe I was just out of touch coping with contractions and these really aren’t that bad I just wasn’t coping well with them. Dani replied with, “are you filling the tub yet?” Clearly she wasn’t in denial like I was. I told Dani she could come over and she said she’d pump first and then come over. The contractions felt like transition level of intensity but with these weird breaks between them. At this point I made my way to the living room and was shivering and shaking and pacing between contractions that were coming around 5-6 minutes apart. Around 10:30pm I texted Dani, “I’m not going to say I need to push at all, but the peak of the contraction is definitely so intense it feels like a lot of pressure and bearing down slightly is helpful.” I was still really confused on how far into labor I was but God continued to ask me to be content and trust Him, I didn’t have to know because He did.
10:45pm Tim was putting water into the tub, I was pacing and swaying through contractions in the living room. Dani arrived and said Karla, our friend and photographer, was 10 minutes away. I told Dani she could update our midwife but didn’t need her to come yet. I had a few contractions and just prayed the Lord would lead me and that I would trust Him. I prayed to myself about whether I should get into the tub or not and as soon as I finished praying Dani asked me if I wanted to get in and reminded me that the worst case scenario if I was getting in too early is just getting out. I agreed and we headed to our bedroom and I got into the birth pool.
11:30pm I had a slightly pushy contraction where I bore down some. I was trying not to for a few contractions and was praying and asking God to help me to know if I should be or not. It felt so much better so I did. Tim looked at Dani and then asked me if I was trying to push, and I said, “I’m trying not to.” Tim told Dani to call Debbie our midwife to come. My contractions were still 5+ minutes apart so I had time between each one. I moved around in the tub a lot trying different positions.
12:15am Debbie arrived and I didn’t really notice. She came in quietly and set up her things. I had more pushy contractions that prompted Dani to go wake up Gracelyn since she likes to be there at the end. After pushing for a little while I checked and could feel the very top of his head, 3 knuckles in. I knew he was coming down, but was still confused by how sporadic my contractions were. I’d have a few 3 minutes apart, then 5, sometimes 8 minutes apart. They were also only lasting 45 seconds or so. It just felt like such a weird pattern to be so strong and pushing.
1am Zion began moving all over. I kept saying “what are you doing buddy? Come on down.” I then had a much stronger contraction and could feel his head 2 knuckles in. At this point I was encouraged he was moving down and was thankful for how easy it had felt so far and like it would be over soon. I asked for peppermint oil to smell, my go to oil to help in labor.
I continued pushing because it was impossible not to and at one point checked again hoping he would have moved down further but I could no longer feel his head at all. He had gone all the way back up. I was so discouraged. I asked Debbie to check on his heart rate and it was high for him. I got out of the tub and sat backwards on the toilet for a few contractions.
I then asked Debbie to check me. It was really hard to feel enough myself around my belly and things just seemed so odd. I moved to the bed and she checked and said she could barely feel his head and couldn’t reach his sutures to help determine his head position. But agreed with me that I was 10cm. I did a few contractions side lying, and then on all fours and then just decided I hated being out of the tub and got back in. I asked Debbie to check his heart rate again and it was back to his normal rate.
Debbie suggested everyone clear out of the room and leave Tim and I to talk and pray. I told Tim how discouraged I was. I didn’t know what to do but felt like Zion just wasn’t coming out. I didn’t know what else to do or try. I was getting so exhausted from pushing now for 2+ hours, little did I know it would still be more than another hour to go. We prayed, asked the Lord for strength and wisdom. We talked about going to the hospital but just wasn’t sure what the best thing to do was. Tim prayed and read me Scripture Cards aloud.
Around 2:30?? (ish, it’s all a blur) everyone came back in and I told them how I felt like he wasn’t coming but I didn’t know what to do. I had been pushing for almost 3 hours and he just wasn’t coming down anymore. Everyone began praying out loud begging God to help him come out. I felt pretty desperate and like I had no option. Trying to leave and go to the hospital felt next to impossible in the state I was in, but also felt impossible to keep doing what I was doing. I can’t remember a time I felt so desperate for the Lord, so completely incapable to do anything else on my own. I remember asking God over and over to deliver me from this. I had come to a place where I was completely dependent on Him to finish this, in a way I never had before in labor. I was desperate, I think everyone in the room was, for God to move and make clear what we were supposed to do. The contractions began to get ever so slightly closer together, around 3 minutes apart. This entire labor they had stayed so sporadic and never close together consistently.
Around 3am I looked at Tim and told him we needed to start packing to go to the hospital. I didn’t know what else to do, and felt like God hadn’t made him come out so maybe that was our answer and we needed to go. Tim started gathering things but my contractions got closer and at this point I needed 2 people pushing on my back and Tim holding my hands for every contraction. This made it difficult for anyone to pack anything. At one point I sent people to go pack and seconds later said, “aaaaand we’re back.” and needed them to come back to their spots to help me. Get yourself a good birth team my friends. Having the right support can make such a difference in your birth.
We kept praying while also trying to get ready to leave for the hospital. I felt Zion move down on a particularly strong contraction. I knew he would be coming out. Next contraction I felt his squishy head crowning behind a bag of waters. Remember, my water still hasn’t broken yet! My midwife reached down to see if he was crowning and said, “oh his head is out”. I held his head in my hand waiting for the next contraction where I pushed the rest of him out at 3:14am. I turned over and tried to pull him up but his cord was short and wrapped around him. Debbie and I managed to unwrap him and pull the amniotic sack off him and I pulled him up. I started bawling. God did it, He answered our prayers and delivered me and Zion came out! I couldn’t believe it and was so incredibly thankful we didn’t have to go anywhere. The relief was so great, but knowing how faithful the Lord was in answering our prayers had me bawling. Praise Him!
The birth tub had gotten a little cool, and since we were planning to go to the hospital there wasn’t really time to add hot water once we knew he was coming out. So I pretty quickly felt like I needed to get out and deliver the placenta on the bed instead so Zion could stay warm. We marveled at his giant cone head that was off centered which tells us he came out with his head tilted (asynclitic), and also posterior (sunny side up).
Debbie was telling me in her experience with babies with short cords, they usually do seem “stuck” and hang out up there until they are fully ready to come out, instead of inching their way down, to help prevent the cord from being too compressed and pulled. This seems to fit with even my weirdly spaced contractions, allowing Zion to have time to rest and recover between them. These are all things we didn’t know at the time, but looking back can easily see how God worked these “abnormal” things as a way to help protect Zion. There is so much mystery when it comes to birth. So many unknowns. This can be scary and can even cause us to want to try to take control of the process. Sometimes interventions are needed, sometimes things do occur outside of normal that it is wise to intervene, but sometimes things may occur that aren’t typical but are supposed to be and intervening can cause more harm than good. The mystery of birth should draw us into deeper dependence on the Lord for wisdom and not into deeper fear and desiring of control. He is so faithful and as we look to Him, He is mighty to deliver us.
Psalm 62:7-8 “On God rests my salvation and my glory; my might rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
Zion David Schweitzer
Born at Home
10/8/22 40+5 weeks
8lbs 12oz 20.5 inches long