My natural labor story about how God’s timing is perfect. Nothing is impossible with Jesus! Let’s go back a lil over three weeks ago.
Where do I begin? Hmmmm…
Labor. Expectations and reality. I wasn’t scared about labor, surprisingly. After years of infertility and then God’s blessing of a miraculous pregnancy, you’d think that I’d cherish being pregnant. I thought I would. But I was miserable. I just wanted to have the baby. I was sick of false labor and feeling icky all the time. Plus, I didn’t feel an immediate bond with Leeland while I was pregnant. My husband was smitten with the baby in my womb. I just wanted to cry all the time. Physically and emotionally I was struggling. Labor and delivery was my salvation. I longed to go to the other side of the hospital…that beautiful place where women went in with huge bellies and came out in wheelchairs holding lil bundles of joy. That was my Emerald City…
When I hit 37 weeks (full term these days), I was ready for an early delivery. I ate weird foods and tried strange things to go into labor. I begged and prayed for God to bring the baby during spring break. I prayed for my water to break. I wasn’t worried about natural labor so much. I was more concerned with how I’d bond with Leeland once he was born and how I could parent two kids. The thought of cloth diapering and caring for a newborn overwhelmed me. Would I remember how to do it? There’s nine years between my boys. Would it be like riding a bike?
38 and a half weeks. I drug myself to the appointment with my midwife, Nicole. I was miserable and she could tell. The false labor had dilated me some but still no baby. It seemed like the baby would never come. Leeland was already bigger than Michael and I began to wonder if I could push out a bigger baby…without pain meds. I couldn’t sleep at night and Leeland’s head had been so low for so long, that walking was difficult and I spent most of my time in the bathroom. Did God care about my prayers? I felt like He wasn’t listening to me.
I cried out to God, in my head. That morning in my devotions I had read Romans 8:28 in the Amplified version. I hoped that it was a sign. Indeed it was one of many that day. God was speaking but I wasn’t fully aware until after.
“We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (emphasis mine)
God had heard me all along. He was waiting for the perfect timing. I felt encouraged when Nicole told me that I had dilated more and my waters were bulging during contractions. She told me to go walking to bring on labor. That was 10:30 Thursday morning. I was on a mission. Chris took off from his classes, we grabbed lunch, and went straight to the park. I walked a path of flowers for two hours. Michael walked with me some. We took a break in between to give Michael (our oldest) to my friend Carrie. Praise God it wasn’t spring break, because Carrie was out of town that week and we had no backup plan for Michael.
Mom got off work and met us at the park (another God thing: Mom was off work). Her and Chris watched me walk. I had my mp3 player on. “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog came on. Another sign but I wasn’t sure. I took my shoes off. The contractions still felt like Braxton Hicks, but they were coming more frequently. I wasn’t in pain. I just felt miserable and exhausted. “Miles and miles in my bare feet”…a song by the Civil Wars played as I decided to walk in the grass. People stared. A woman pointed to the flowers and said my baby would like them. So I picked some flowers for a keepsake.
After two hours, I was sad that my water had not broken (I’m glad it didn’t now). I had no clue if the contractions were doing anything. It had started to rain. We decided to drive to the hospital and see if labor and delivery would check me. I talked to a nurse and explained. They told me to come on in. I worried that I didn’t look like I was in pain and they’d send me home. Mom said I looked miserable to her. I was dilated to about a 4 and I wasn’t hurting. I had only gotten to a 3 with Michael and that put me in tears. I thought that maybe my pain tolerance had went up significantly. Yeah, little did I know!
I was sad when I found out that I had not dilated any further. I was scared they’d send me home. But I was contracting a lot (which was the norm during my third trimester anyways). The midwife decided to moniter me and then have me walk another hour. Yes…ANOTHER hour. I laid on my back to be monitered and it started to hurt. I cried a bit. I did not hurt so much when I was standing. My mom and hubby walked with me. I was super tired and at times the contractions stopped me in my tracks.
I called my doula/ best friend, Hannah, and she prepared to come if they checked me in. Nicole came in and checked me. I had dilated to a lil over 4. She decided to check me in to the hospital. I praised God that the midwife wasn’t sending me home. My mom got out a list of encouraging scriptures that I had written for labor. She read them to me when I was being monitered and hurting from lying on my back. I walked around the room and got on a birthing ball. I told the nurses and the midwife about the miracle of Leeland, how I was told I couldn’t have more kids. God was glorified and that makes me happy. Hannah had already arrived and she brought a box of coffee for Mom and Chris. What a blessing she was.
The contractions were getting stronger. I talked in between them. It was nice to sit on the birthing ball. It was after nine pm and I had not dilated any further. My midwife was frank with me. I could be there laboring all night and exhausting myself, or they could break my water and see if I’d progress. I was nervous. I didn’t want any interventions and I was scared of opening the doors for complications and a c-section. Once again God’s sovereign hand was in my labor. I asked Nicole and the nurse to step out so I could pray with my support team (Chris, Mom, and Hannah). Hannah prayed. There was a peace in the room but I was still scared of the pain to come and the unknown. My water had been broken with Michael but only after receiving an epidural. Hannah and Nicole let me know that I could use low doses of pain meds to take the edge off if I needed it. The thought was comforting, and I agreed to have my water broken.
I got in the bed so they could break my water. Nicole assured me that this was the least painful part. As the fluid gushed I remembered one of the verses Mom had read. It said God would be with me through the waters. I rolled to my side so the contractions wouldn’t hurt as bad. Then I began to get sick and to throw up. The contractions started to become very strong and painful. It hit me that my pain tolerance was not that great. The real deal had started. The contractions before were nothing compared to these. I could not see these as birthing embraces or waves. I had told the nurse that I was calling contractions “intense” not “painful”. Yeah, that went out the door. These hurt. As I threw up more fluid gushed out. I got scared and I worried about Leeland in there without fluid. Nicole told me that Leeland was doing great. I could hear his strong heart beat.
I started to wimper and tense up. My support team surrounded me. I started to cry out and everyone began telling me to breathe. Nicole kept telling me to relax my forehead. I tried to focus on their voices instead of the pain. I could still talk in between contractions. I asked Nicole what came next and how we’d know I was progressing. She calmly said that my “demeanor” would change as I transitioned into the last stage of labor. Yeah, I’m glad she didn’t explain any further. You’ll see why. Anywho, Hannah encouraged me to visualize to get my focus off the pain. I could barely think of what to visualize. I was not doing well on my own and the online birthing classes weren’t doing much good. I praise God that I had cheerleaders there to tell me how to breathe and think, because I was not able to think much on my own. I did manage to visualize my son Michael saying “I love you Mommy”. I could barely hold on to that image but I tried very hard to focus on it. I also focused on the voices around me. At that point I was able to get through the contractions and rest in between. My midwife left to go to the bathroom and get something to eat. Chris held my hand, Hannah sat beside him, and my mom was on the other side. Nicole had not been gone long when it happened…my “demeanor” changed.
Transition. I could no longer visualize. All I could do was scream. I had never imagined such pain. My vision went blurry. I was in another world. I could hear them telling me to calm down…to breathe. But I couldn’t focus anymore. My insides were moving…convulsing…pushing. There was no thought of medication. There was no time for that. This was happening and nothing could stop it.
I sounded like a banchee. I had never heard such an animalistic cry come from my throat. It was raw. It terrified my husband. It would’ve been bad if my son was in the room. Again, praise God that Carrie wasn’t out of town. I squeezed Chris’ hand as if to break it. I cried out “I can’t breathe!” I screamed “I think I’m pushing something”. And God was there. Hannah knew from her own natural labor experience that I had transitioned. She called the nurse frantically and told them that she thought I had transitioned and was pushing. She said my “demeanor” had changed. I screamed really loud and the nurses could hear me. My midwife Nicole rushed from the bathroom and a whole bunch of people hurried into the room.
The next thing I knew, they were pulling my legs apart and sliding me down the bed. My midwife was shocked that I had already transitioned. She could see Leeland’s head. All of these people (several nurses I didn’t know) were telling me to push. My body kept convulsing and it was like an alien was inside. It was an unworldly experience. I was worried that I’d curse during labor and ruin my witness. That wasn’t a problem. I could only manage to cry out to God and I kept saying “God” and Jesus” and “Help me”. I could hear Hannah saying “He is here. He’s with you. You’re doing it. You’re having your natural birth!” My husband was silent but he held my hand still. My mom kept repeating what the midwife had said before “breathe Amber. Relax your forehead.”
I kept screaming and pushing back on the bed. Then the strangers started fussing at me. They couldn’t safely get the baby if I was lifting my bottom off the bed and pushing away. They told me to hold my legs and push.I kept wondering why they couldn’t hold my legs for me. Why were they so upset at me? Why were they telling me to calm down and to stop screaming? Didn’t they know I was in pain! Then Nicole said something that helped. She told me to take all the energy I had from screaming and put it into pushing…to focus…that I was going to have this baby. And somehow I grasped onto her words. Despite the pain, I began to channel my screaming into pushing. And then…
The ring of fire I had heard about. It’s real. The baby’s head crowning…coming through the birth canal…ready to come out. It got stuck there for a moment as I rested. It WAS like fire. The verse came to my mind…that God would be with me through the fire. Leeland’s head came out and I heard everyone talking about it. Labor really was work (pun intended)! Surely, I was done. He was here. But no I was not done. They told me on the next contraction to push out his shoulders. I couldn’t believe there was more. I was tired. I didn’t have any more to give. Jesus is our strength during weakness. One more push and I felt Leeland come out. I actually felt him. I had not felt Michael much because of the epidural. The feeling was a rush of relief. It was like a sigh…a cool breeze in a sweltering desert. And then they put his little body on top of mine. And we bonded. I fell in love completely. No more fears. This was my child. I had went through fire for him. I’d die for him. I had survived. I was in awe. My body actually reached that threshold of pain and I survived. I knew instantly it was all God. He had carried me through. I was weak but Christ was my strength.
Every birth story is different. Many women say that natural birth leaves you feeling like super woman…like you can conquer the world. I did not personally feel this way. Immediately afterwards I flinched as the midwife massaged my uterus. I still cringe at needles. I was not stronger. I still felt weak. Instead, I knew that my God can do anything. I knew that God had never left me. He was there all along orchestrating every step. The God who created the stars, had knit my baby inside my womb. He had delayed my labor until I was in the hospital where I felt safe. His timing is perfect.
It was a blessing that my water had not broken at the park or at home as I tried to naturally induce labor. Here’s why: I delivered only an hour after my water was broken. Everyone was surprised by how fast it went. Had I been anywhere else when my water broke then I would not have made it to the hospital in time and I would not have had my support team to get me through. God used my team (Mom, Chris, Hannah, & Nicole) to help me labor. They never once offered an epidural or acted like I couldn’t handle a natural birth. I held on to their voices for strength.
Leeland was born at 10:47 PM, about 12 hours since my prenatal appointment that morning. Hannah had time to go home and breastfeed her own baby. Mom was able to go home and get decent sleep before work the next day. Leeland was 7 lbs and 1 oz. He was 19 and a half inches long. I was able to breastfeed right away and it almost brought tears to my eyes. God causes the barren womb to rejoice. He brings life where there was death. Miraculous!
Mom held Leeland then had to leave. Poor kid looks like he was in a fight.
Well, I looked like I had been in a fight too. Compare the after pic of this birth compared to my medicated birth with Michael. I recovered faster though than I did with the medicated birth. Also I didn’t tear where most women tear. I only needed three stitches but in a different spot. I was given an episiotomy with Michael but not with Leeland. I had a lot more energy after my unmedicated birth. So although I look rough, it was better later.
Hannah was awesome and ran to Krystals to buy me a meal. I savored french fries and being able to drink Coke again! :) Hannah thought that was funny. Hence the picture of me eating fries. I am so thankful for my “doula”. Hannah was such a blessing to us all. Her experience gave me the courage to pursue a natural birth.
So are you wondering about natural birth? I’d say if I can do it then anyone can but that’s not exactly right. It’s better to say that with God anyone can do it. Here are the three most important things that got me through an unmedicated birth, and they have nothing to do with breathing and meditation.
1. A close relationship with Jesus~ God gave me strength. I was comforted each step of the way as I prayed and in the last bit, as I cried out to God. The Lord spoke to me in lil ways through out the experience. He used His word, other believers, and the beauty of creation to help me along.
2. A good birth team ~ I was super blessed to have my favorite people with me for Leeland’s birth. My mom and Chris were there for Michael’s birth as well. They are my heroes and have always encouraged me. Then I had my best friend Hannah as a doula. Her experience was a huge help. It’s very important that the people on your team actually believe in and support your natural birth. They need to be positive people who will cheer you on rather than pity you or bring you down. They need to know how to cheer you on and to make sure that the don’t offer pain meds at the first sign of discomfort. My team did mention low dose pain meds as an option but they never talked about the big stuff like an epidural. They knew I was opposed to that. All of them were aware of my birth plan. My midwife Nicole completed the team. She never tried to push me into anything. She respected my wishes. She wasn’t afraid to instruct me even when I was in so much pain I didn’t want to listen. She showed tough love. Her lil tips like relaxing my forehead and focusing my screaming energy into pushing, gave me what I needed to succeed. I held on to those little things. She broke through my bubble and helped me focus.
3. A safe place~ Whenever animals give birth they find a nice quiet and safe space. My safe place was the hospital. I felt most comfortable there. I had toured the hospital many months before and I loved everything about it. The staff were friendly. We were able to warm the room and adjust the lighting. It felt like a spa. I would not have felt as safe at home or anywhere else. It was quiet and peaceful.
So those are my three tips. Do you plan on having a natural birth? Have you had one before? What was your experience? How did you feel afterwards? Please leave me some comment love. If you’ve been encouraged by this post I’d love to know.
Would I have a natural birth again, even though it was painful? I think so. If God wanted us to have more kids. It’s not easy but I believe it’s worth it. There was something supernatural and very spiritual about feeling the whole process.
I feel like I have a fierce and strong bond with Leeland because I walked through fire for him. I have a strong love for Michael as well. I’m not discounting his medicated birth or anyone elses for that matter. Every birth is beautiful and unique. I’m just saying that my experience with Leeland was special. I had never went through so much pain for another human being before. It made me think of Christ’ sacrifice for us. Unmedicated labor is the closest I’ve ever gotten to fellowshiping in Christ’ sufferings. I’m still in awe of what God did.
Not every woman experiences so much pain in labor and some people don’t feel pain at all. I’m not sure how. But I definitely had pain. It was pain with a purpose. I didn’t have to worry about the cascade of interventions because of meds. I didn’t have to worry about pitocin leading to a c-section.
We stayed in the hospital two nights. I wanted to stay longer. The room was nice and the food was great. Carrie brought Michael to see Leeland the next day. He’s such a good big brother, and he really loves his lil bubba.
Carrie holding Leeland.
We are so blessed with our friends. My three closest friends (Carrie, Hannah, and Erin) all brought meals the week we went home. We had friends from church bring a meal too. God’s provision is amazing. He keeps remindng me and showing me that He came to give me life, not take it away.
We’ve had a couple issues but not many. Leeland was jaundiced for a bit but it’s went away. He also had a tongue tie which can cause breastfeeding problems and a number of other things. Thankfully we were able to have it clipped last week.
It was strange taking Leeland home. I was scared at first. Also the drive was anxiety producing. I was so glad when we finally made it there. We had many sleepless nights though Leeland is an easy baby. Still, I’m exhausted and I feel like I haven’t quite recovered. But I’m thankful and overcome with the blessing of Leeland. At 3 weeks we are starting to get into a routine. It’s been nice to be able to eat the things I want. I can actually drink milk! Yaaa :). I’ve been eating cereal like crazy.
Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
PS: When it all began…