Charlotte will be 11 weeks old on Tuesday. As we approach the end of the “Fourth Trimester” I am finally beginning to feel settled as a mom – we have a routine (even though she changes it up on me regularly), I am comfortable taking her places without worrying about all of the “what ifs”; I can get more things done around the house. She is a happy, adorable little bundle of joy. David and I thank God every day for her.
I wanted to share some of what I learned through Charlotte’s birth. The last month of my pregnancy and my labor and delivery taught me that all I can do is lean on God. I wanted and prayed for a lot of things at the end of my pregnancy, and basically everything that happened was the complete opposite. It was extremely difficult to understand when it was happening, but now that I can look back – I see God’s hand in every little detail. He was with me the entire time, guiding me, loving me, protecting me and my baby. He was in control. He knew what was going to happen – it was a surprise to us, but it was not a surprise to God. I might not have seen it at the time, but he was faithful to me throughout it all.
When I went to my 36 week appointment, I handed my birth plan to Dr. Boyd. He said, “You know this is the kiss of death, right?” I should have listened to him and ripped it up right then. I thought I had an “open mind” because I kept saying I knew I couldn’t control labor but that this is what I wanted in an ideal situation – and I really did believe I would get most of my ideal situation. Let’s review quickly:
– I wanted to go into labor spontaneously and avoid being induced. I was induced at 41 weeks 5 days.
– I didn’t want a csection. I had one after 36 hours of labor.
– I did not want Pitocin. I was on it for over 30 hours.
– I wanted intermittent fetal monitoring. I had a monitor strapped to me the entire time. Thankfully David kept asking the nurse for the floor’s only portable monitor for my use, so I was able to move around as much as I liked.
– I didn’t want an epidural. I begged for one after 24 hours on Pitocin. And it was awesome.
– Artificial rupture of membranes. That happened after I’d been on pit for 7 hours.
– Immediate skin-to-skin, optimal cord clamping, spontaneous delivery of the placenta – nope.
Prior to having Charlotte, I was all about natural birth and no interventions. And I still think that natural, unmedicated birth is amazing and if that is what a woman wants and she can accomplish it, great. I support her. I have close friends who have had multiple children that way. It’s wonderful. God created our bodies to carry and deliver babies.
But you know what? All of my interventions needed to happen. I firmly believe that. One of the themes of the natural birthing movement is letting the baby decide his/her birthday. Charlotte might not have decided hers – but God did, and he knows best. I had an induction scheduled a week earlier than when I finally went in, and I did not feel comfortable with that date. I finally cancelled it and eventually rescheduled. God knew Charlotte was going to be born on the 17th and he prompted me to listen to him and wait. And when the second scheduled induction came around, I knew it was time.
I was dead-set against that epidural, even knowing I was going to be given pitocin. Now, looking back, I have no doubt that if I had not had an epidural, I would have collapsed and needed an immediate emergency csection. I hadn’t eaten or slept for over 24 hours and I was on my third bag of pit. It was basically one never-ending contraction. My doula tried to encourage me by saying I was close, to just hold on, that I could do it. I had the nurse check – 5.5 cm. I told them to get the anesthesiologist, stat! She kept saying, just hold on, one more hour, I’ve seen women go from 5.5 to 10 in an hour.1 Two hours later, after I finally had my epidural and was resting, the nurse checked again – 6 cm. That was 2 am, and it took until 8 am for me to reach 10 cm. Tim the anesthesiologist may not know it but he remains my best friend to this day. 🙂
I’m also thankful that Dr. Boyd broke my water early and that there was meconium in it. I have no idea if there was meconium because I was on pitocin and it had caused Charlotte some distress, or if it was there because I was past due. I don’t care and it doesn’t matter. The meconium guaranteed that there would be a NICU team present at her arrival, and having my water break early meant her lungs weren’t sitting around in all of that meconium for the next 30 hours.
The most terrifying moment of my labor and delivery was laying on the csection table, knowing that my child had just entered the world, and not hearing her cry. “Why isn’t she crying??” I pleaded and was told by a nurse that she hadn’t been breathing but the NICU team was giving her oxygen and getting her cleaned up and that she was going to be okay. I don’t dwell on “what if the NICU team hadn’t been there” – I’m just immensely grateful that they were. Charlotte spent a week with the NICU nurses and doctors. With their efforts, and God’s providence, she came home on Christmas Eve. She remains happy and healthy to this day.
One of the themes I came across in my months of research into natural childbirth was that “a healthy mom and healthy baby isn’t enough.” That women NEED to have a specific type of birth experience – free of interventions, a natural, empowering birth, one of which they can be proud. If you don’t get all of that, then you will be cheated, even if you and your baby are perfectly fine. Let me be clear – I know that this is not what everyone who supports natural childbirth believes; but I did come across it a lot. And prior to my own birth experience, I totally bought into it. I thought I needed to have “the experience” that all of the blogs, articles, and books told me I needed to have.
Now that I’ve actually had a baby – that is an extremely unhealthy way to think. At my postpartum meeting with the doula she started talking to me about how if I have negative feelings regarding my csection, that it was okay. Do I have negative feelings about my csection? None. Zero. It has never even crossed my mind to feel upset about not getting my natural vaginal birth. My daughter’s birth was beautiful and I have zero regrets. It doesn’t matter to me that I didn’t get to hold her immediately or that her cord was cut within 30 seconds or that my OB took out my placenta. She was born the way she needed to be born, she received the help she needed, and she is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to us. I am so grateful to my OB, to the nurses, to the anesthesiologists, to everyone who helped Charlotte and me along the way. The person I am most grateful for is my amazing husband, who was with me through the entire journey of pregnancy and through 36 hours of labor (while I don’t regret them, they were still extremely grueling). Charlotte brought David and I closer together from the minute we knew she existed, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Praise God from whom all blessing flow!