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A Birth Story: When God’s Plan is Different from Your Plan

jill November 12, 2013

If you want to hear more about what I experienced in my first pregnancy, you can read about my first trimester and second trimester. I never got around to writing about my third trimester, even though I had plenty of time. Here’s why.

I had been planning a natural birth at a local birth center from the moment I knew I was pregnant. We had a cross country move in the middle of my pregnancy, but we had anticipated this all along and planned accordingly. I had a really healthy pregnancy with very few ailments, which I attribute to being active (water aerobics and walking) as well as a healthy real food diet. At my 38-week prenatal appointment, I was told by the coordinating physician at the birth center that I would not be able to deliver there because my baby was “too big to safely deliver.” Imagine my devastation, not to mention disbelief…I had never even heard of a midwife risking someone out because of the size of the baby (isn’t that one of the reasons midwives are so awesome?).

It was a very scary and uncertain time, knowing that my baby would be arriving very soon, and not only were our plans completely changed, but we had to find a new obstetrician immediately. We were, however, blessed by an amazing, God-loving physician who is a strong supporter of natural birth. Seriously, we loved him and felt far more comfortable with him than we had with the previous midwife. It was easy to see God’s hand in our story, and I had two wonderful prenatal visits with the OB before labor started at 40w6d.

And So It Begins

On Wednesday, August 21 I woke up after only sleeping about 2-3 hours. For the life of me, I can not remember why our sleep was sooo bad that evening, but all day I kept saying “please don’t let it be today, we are way too tired.” I had a few contractions in the afternoon but assumed they were Braxton-Hicks. At 8:00 p.m. my contractions started for real. They started slow, about 20 minutes apart and were very regular with increasing intensity. I was able to breathe through them but definitely unable to sleep. I eventually kicked my husband out to the guest room so he could sleep while I sat on the exercise ball and got in and out of the tub. Around 6:00 a.m. I called my sister who lives two hours away and told her “Today is the day!” At this point my contractions were around 8 minutes apart and my husband was having to help me through each contraction, pressing on my back, swaying with me, etc.

My sister arrived arrived around 8:30 a.m., and we called the doctor. We talked about what hospital we would go to and when we would call him. We were so excited to meet our baby girl! But, right about that time, my contractions got weird. They didn’t decrease in intensity, but the frequency went all over the place. Contractions would be 15 minutes apart, then 4 minutes apart, then 6 minutes, then 12 minutes. This went on all. Day. Long. I did lose my mucous plug about mid-morning (so that was encouraging!) but I spent the day walking up and down our stairs, bouncing on the exercise ball, and trying to relax in the tub. I was so, so tired, as I had only slept about 4 hours in the last 48 hours, and I knew we still had a long way to go.

Heading to the Hospital

Around 6:00 p.m. we called the OB to discuss things. I knew that mentally I was on the verge of a breakdown due to exhaustion, and while I knew some progress was being made, I also knew that we were still quite a long ways from delivering a baby. About 8:00 p.m. we decided to head to the hospital to get checked – I was insistent that I needed to know how far along I was. The triage nurse was pretty miffed that I had gone 41 weeks and had never been checked to see how far along I was. (Ha!) The nurse said I was 4 cm and about 80% effaced. I talked to the OB again and we decided that we would walk for 2 hours, get checked again and re-evaluate. So we did. And during this time the intensity of my contractions increased, but the frequency was still all over the place. I had a total emotional breakdown, and when we went back to get checked (by the same nurse) she told me I was closer to 3 cm now!! Gahhhh! I knew I couldn’t go home, as we were approaching night number three with no sleep, and after much discussion and prayer, we decided to be admitted to the hospital and get the epidural so I could rest.

I received the epidural around midnight and I was so, so scared, but it was really a piece of cake and I hardly felt it. The anesthesiologist and my nurse were amazing, and my husband was so supportive. I did throw up pretty much immediately after receiving the epidural, which I had anticipated, and that was way worse than the epidural itself! They also put in a catheter and internal fetal monitor to measure the contractions. And then, I slept. I slept for about 2 hours and when I woke up I was ready to have this baby! The nurse came in and said the doctor was on the phone. My contractions still were not increasing (seriously???? I had now been in labor for 30 hours). We discussed our options and finally decided to try a low dose of pitocin to see if my body would react to it. This was really hard for me, as pitocin was one of the things that was on my “really don’t want” list. But for some reason, my body wasn’t pushing this baby out like I thought it should, so we agreed to the pitocin, and 3 hours later I was fully dialated and ready to push! (My OB said at the rate my contractions were coming I could have been in labor for 2-3 more days. My husband decided that we had gone past the point of pain and were now into the land of suffering which is why we decided to administer the pitocin.)

Time to Push

I pushed for a little over 2 hours. It was SO. HARD. I had assumed after the epidural that the baby would just slide right out. Not the case! I vomited (violently) twice while pushing. My husband was right beside me the whole time, encouraging me and praying with me. My sister was also there (she was actually at the foot of the bed). After pushing for about 2 hours I was getting very discouraged, even though the doctor was telling me what great progress I was making. It was hard to for me to tell, and quite frankly I thought everyone was lying to me! Towards the end of pushing, my sister would say “oh! oh! I see her hair!” when I was pushing, and that was so encouraging! Right before the final push I started crying telling my husband ,”I can’t do this!” and he and my sister and my doctor all yelled “yes you can!! You are already doing it!” On the next push I pushed as hard as I possibly could and I heard my sister get so excited “oh!! oooooh! ooooooh!” while I delivered her head, then I took a deep breath and pushed the rest of our baby girl out! The doctor caught her and put her immediately to my chest and it was the most awesome feeling ever. Ever ever ever!!!

This was not the birth I had planned. But it was ok. I know that if I had been laboring at the birth center, they would have transferred me for “failure to progress/exhaustion” and I may not have been so fortunate to have an amazing, supportive OB, and I think the last minute transfer would have been much more difficult for me to deal with emotionally than knowing in advance of where we would be delivering our baby. It was obvious to us that God’s plan was better than our plan, and we are so thankful for how He provides for us and always knows what we need better than we do! I still hope to have a natural birth with future babies, if God blesses us with them and if it is HIS will.

After 37 hours of labor, at 41w1d on August 23 at 9:14 a.m. our baby girl, Naomi Marie, was here! And she was healthy and beautiful with a head of dark hair! She weighed 8lbs 15oz and was 21.5 inches long. And we were oh so in love!

Have you had a birth story that didn’t go according to “your” plan?

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13 Comments

  1. Beautiful beautiful story, Jill. Thank you so much for sharing! God is good and I’m so glad he knows what he is doing even when it is very different than what we had planned. It sounds like you had a great team of people supporting you through what must have been so hard and exhausting. And Naomi is just beautiful. What a gift!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this Jill! Your story is an incredible encouragement to me as I prepare to have a birth that is not my “ideal.” I am pregnant with twins, they are both breech, and I have placenta previa so a planned c-section very well could be in my future. Working hard to trust God in this and know that his plan is better than mine 🙂

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    • Thank you Ann! Following you on Twitter and trying to keep up-to-date! (And if after your birth, however it may go, you want to share your story at MAM, please shoot me an email!!) Praying for you and those sweet little babies!

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  3. Wonderful post. I too had dreams of a natural, unmedicated birth. I got a midwife and then found out that I was pregnant with twins. Fortunately, my midwife kept me on, but I required shared care with an OB. I was still lucky enough to have a very uneventful and healthy pregnancy (I too, was active until the end). I was still strongly encouraged to have an epidural and deliver in the OR. I did everything I could to go into labour naturally. My twins had other plans. At 38.5 weeks, I was induced. Luckily, my OB was extremely laid back. She allowed my midwife to deliver the twins (a first for her!). While things did not go according to “my plan”, I am grateful for my two healthy babies. I truly believe that you need to have faith that things will work out the way that they are supposed to.

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  4. Wow! This sounds so much like my first birth, only I WAS the home birth transfer and got a strange doctor with a horrible bedside manner. Thankfully, I did have her vaginally (after the epidural and the pitocin). In total, my labor was 42 hours. I get the exhaustion!

    It took me a LOT longer to see God in my birth. I remember crying in the shower the next day saying, “God! Where were you? Why did you abandon me?” I had PTSD type dreams and flashbacks. Thankfully, I did not have postpartum depression and LOVED motherhood and my precious baby daughter. But I had a LOT to work through during my next pregnancy. Reading “Birthing From Within” really helped, as it clearly said I made the best choices for my birth. Coming to the realization that I hadn’t “failed” and I wasn’t “broken” but that the medical support I had fallen back on was a blessing and had kept a potential train wreck in “normal” territory. I also did a lot of praying “Thy will be done” and truly tried to accept what God had in store for us. At the same time, I decided that instead of running from the contractions and fighting the pain, I would embrace it and take responsibility for it and just do the hard work. 🙂

    My second birth was long (17 hours) and I labored all night, but I sent my husband to bed and bounced on the birth ball and enjoyed the quiet, drinking my homemade laborade and reading birth stories and articles online. 🙂 My contractions were spaced out and I tried to doze between them. My midwife was informed. Anyway, to make a long story short. The next day, hour 16 of my slow, spread-out labor, my water broke, and our second daughter came VERY quickly. My midwives got stuck in traffic and even my mother arrived minutes after her birth. My husband caught her. It was the most healing birth possible for me. My body was NOT broken. I could birth babies–on my own even! I told my husband I just wanted to name her Blessing, so we gave her the middle name, “Grace.”

    Anyway, thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. I am so glad you had such a supportive husband and doctor! Congratulations, Mama!

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    • Wow Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing-what encouragement it is to hear other people’s stories! My husband is incredibly faithful and wise, he is able to show me where God is working even when I can’t see it from being bogged down by the details. Once we found out we would be birthing in a hospital, we started praying “Thy will be done.” I was very accepting of it and actually was glad we were there because my OB was so so SO awesome (seriously, I totally loved him!). But…I still struggle with “my body didn’t work like it was supposed to.” I am praying through it and look forward to future births-I was encouraged by your story! Thanks for reading and God Bless!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story! Your daughter’s birth story is SO similar to that of my daughter’s…so, so similar and it gave me a bit of peace about our story. Our daughter was born healthy at 8 lbs 10 oz, 20.5 inches long after 50+ hours of labor, an epidural, pitocin and a vacuum assist. NOT at all the natural birth that I wanted but praise God she was born healthy! Thank you again for sharing and God bless!

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  6. Yes, two births, actually. I gave birth to twin girls via c-section at 34w2d who were NICU babies for 3 weeks. I couldn’t breastfeed them, and mourned the birth I had wanted. Then, my son was born at 38w0d via emergency c-section under general anesthetic. Thankfully, my post partum experience with him was fairly normal and breastfeeding was a success (just weaned at 14 months) I sometimes get emotional when remembering my births… wishing things had been different. But, by the grace of God, I have 3 beautiful, healthy children, and I’m here to be their mommy. If I had tried to birth them the way I wanted, all 4 of us could have been in danger. God is good!

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  7. With my first, I was induced at 38 weeks and was only in labor 7 hours.

    With my 2nd, we decided on a natural unmediated birth. I was 40wks, 2ds with her when my midwife prodded and poked to see if we could avoid an induction, and it worked! I went home from her office about 3 and contractions started about 4-4:30. We went to the hospital around 11 and I was at a 5 and 100% effaced. I had to go to the bathroom and while walking back to the bed in triage, my contractions shifted and I went into active labor. 20 minutes later, my midwife checked me again and I was at a 10! I kept telling them I had to push and they kept putting me off. So between the next contractions, I told them I was pushing, like it or not. My midwife delivered with only the nurse (no doctor, no nursery nurses.. Just them). I pushed once and my water broke, then twice more and she slid right out. My husband was amazing and so supportive the whole time, even when I was panting through contractions because I literally couldn’t catch my breath. 7lbs, 4oz and 20 inches long, completely beautiful and perfectly healthy! Our little Aspen Paige!

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  8. Oh Jill I can relate to so many aspects of your birth story. I was in labor for three days with my first. By the evening of the third day I had finally (after five hours of pushing!) gotten him to the point of almost crowning. His head was RIGHT THERE but I couldn’t push him out. I had already used up all of the oxygen my midwife brought, I hadn’t eaten or been able to keep fluids down for several hours, and I was just.so.tired. I had double vision even. We transferred at that point. Even today (six years later) that part is a nightmarish blur. How did I get a robe on, make it up two flights of stairs, and the 10 minute drive to the hospital with a contraction every minute? I was thankfully too out of it to realize just how serious things were. They could no longer get a read on him. When we checked in I just remember the nurses being so so nice. They never once made me feel like a crazy person for trying to birth at home. They allowed my midwives to be present for the birth. The OB on call was the dr who had delivered my last five siblings! He was wonderful, and I know that God arraigned that perfectly. As soon as he walked in a one second exam revealed my baby’s head was tipped. I had been pushing him out forehead first. The OB tipped his head down, and my baby was born all at once on the last contraction. Praise God he was fine!
    I struggled for years with my birth story. My son also couldn’t breastfeed despite all of my efforts and all the wonderful support I had. I definitely had to work through all of this with my second birth. I had another home birth (different state and different midwives) in February. Everything went the way it was supposed to. She was born in a birthing pool in our living room. Her daddy caught her. She latched on an hour after being born and nursed four hours straight. God is so gracious in meeting us where we are. I don’t know what your next birth will be like (or if there will even be one), but I do know that He will bring you through. Thank you for sharing your story. I really wish I had shared mine much sooner. It would have helped.

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  9. It’s so hard when your birth isn’t your plan. My first born, Locke, is almost four months old now and for the most part I’m simply grateful for God’s hand in it. But I still struggle with feeling like I was cheated.

    I was 37 1/2 weeks when my midwife found my blood pressure had spiked dangerously high. It had been perfect the whole pregnancy. Blood tests were done, coming back positive for pre-eclampsia. (This was after I had tested positive for GBS.) Same day as tests, my birth pool came in the mail. It never left the box, because two days later, with a headache and vomiting, my midwife said, “Meet me at the hospital. You need to have this baby NOW.”

    Picotin, monitoring, antibiotics, blood pressure meds…all the stuff I didn’t want. I went from 1/2cm dilated to pushing 18 hours later. We had been adamant for NO epidural. Our dr the midwife worked with was AWESOME. He respected our wishes for as natural a birth as possible.

    I remember pushing my son’s head out…then nothing. I had a seizure and the dr had to pull the rest of Locke out of my body while my husband had to watch and do nothing. We have pictures of me kissing my baby for the first time that I don’t remember. A night in ICU kept me from nursing him right away. And then during recovery, my BP didn’t cooperate and we were in the hospital for another three days and on medication for another three weeks.

    I know as time goes by God will give me more and more peace about how things happened. And He was there the whole time! What if the seizure had hit while Locke’s head was in the birth canal? What if he had complications? But Locke was perfectly healthy! What if that doctor wasn’t available? The normal protocol is giving magnesium to prevent seizures (huh) and that fights against contraction. Result? C-section.

    So many things to be thankful for. God is good. All the time.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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