Tender Mercies in our Birth Story
Timing was perfect. It was honestly miraculous. I had gone to a doctor's appointment and non-stress test earlier on Tuesday, Sept. 20. This entire pregnancy I have been less than thrilled with my medical experiences with Kaiser. Luckily, towards the end, I did eventually find a doctor I kinda liked, but even she had differing opinions at times and would say things that would make me feel judged. I left that appointment that day with an unpleasant feeling, and I told Andrew when I returned home, "I really don't want to go back to another doctor's appointment next week. I think we should have this baby this week."
And heaven must have heard my plea because that night at 11:35pm contractions started. They were about an hour apart and I was able to sleep between them. Then at around 2am they started getting closer. By 3am, I was sure we were having a baby that day, so I woke up Andrew.
Another timing miracle happened when I then called my parents to tell them to come over. I called my mom and she didn't answer, and a pit grew in my stomach as I imagined her sleeping beside her silent phone and not receiving the notification in time. I then proceeded to call my dad, and he answered! HALLELUJA! He often wakes up in the middle of the night, and luckily he was just trying to get back to sleep when he heard the buzz of my phone call. Honestly, it was a miracle. Notified of my labor pains, my parents quickly dressed and started driving over to my house. They arrived a little after 4am and my mom was able to witness Harper's birth (the first time she has been able to make it to the delivery of one of my babies).
Heaven was clearly aware of my hopes, and God planned a way to make them happen.
News Flash: Labor is not easy.
I had learned about relaxation techniques and pain management ideas from a class I took (see Resources below for more details). I had practiced breath work, meditation, calming visualizations, and positive affirmations. Even so, it was difficult to put it all into practice in the moment.
But heaven sent a few other tender mercies to help me deal with labor:
- When we first got into the car to drive to the hospital, a Christian station was playing the song "I Can Only Imagine". I love this song, but it took on a new meaning as I started to imagine meeting my new little baby so soon. It was a beautiful thing to visualize.
- Then, as the car ride continued, my foot started cramping. Now this may seem like a cruel joke to have a foot cramp on top of contractions, but surprisingly the discomfort in my foot was an effective distraction to split my attention.
- Speaking of music, I had made two playlists for labor: a birth party mix to dance to if labor stalled and I needed to move my body, and a relaxation mix. Once I was admitted and Andrew and my mom were allowed to come to the room, Andrew put on music. I was expecting him to put the relaxation mix, but I guess he didn't see it, so he put on the birth party mix. At first I thought I'd be annoyed with the upbeat music, but I actually found the beat and lyrics to be a nice distraction in between contractions. It was a surprising blessing.
- I have had terrible luck finding a provider that I like through Kaiser. I've finally found a decent doctor in my third trimester, but it all made me feel really anxious that hospital staff would be pushy about their policies and that I would have to fight for the birth story I wanted. Miraculously, the labor/delivery hospital staff were (for the most part) very respectful of my wishes (there were still some yucky moments, but I will have to give details about those in a different post). The room was quiet as I listened to my body and labored mostly on my own (up until the last 2 pushes when Harper's shoulder got a little stuck).
- And when Harper did get stuck, I am grateful for a skilled midwife who helped rotate her and get her out.
- During labor, a wet washcloth was my best friend. I had packed a ton of supplies (rice packs, a fan, affirmation cards, etc), not knowing what tool I would want to use. Cold water on my head and back of my neck was the one thing I really wanted. Oh, and gripping tightly onto Andrew's hand.
- Speaking of Andrew, he was an amazing support to me: a rock of calm and encouragement through the contractions. Once again I am so glad I married such an amazing man who stands right by my side through it all.
- And then meeting Harper for the first time filled me with so many sweet emotions. It was truly love at first sight. I loved holding her and relishing in the calm after the craziness of labor.
The preparation for this birth was really empowering. I learned so much: about my my body, about baby's experience in labor, about God's perfect planning, about my mental ability.
I bought a course: Pain Free Birth- can't say enough good things about it! It's a Christian-based natural birth course that taught me so much!
I also listened to a podcast: My Essential Birth. This podcast is AMAZING! So many great topics that help moms be informed and prepared. From labor positions to informed vaccine choices, from the importance of the golden hour to how to find breastfeeding support. Even after having had a baby, I still enjoy listening and learning from this podcast.
Andrew and Maichael
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