Actually, my last blog – scheduled before hand and posted July 16 – was after my beautiful daughter was born. And God got all the glory!
They decided to induce me on the Thursday evening before my due date (which was July 17), and my daughter came into the world on Saturday afternoon.
One of my friends commented on that last blog and told me I should share my birth story as a follow-up. She said people had to know how all these things I talked about helped to overcome the fear and reality of childbirth.
I was very hesitant at first. Birth stories are gory by nature (we’re dealing with bodily fluids here, folks). I didn’t want to subject anyone to that, nor did I want to accidentally fall into telling a “horror” story.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. I could literally see how God had worked the whole thing for His glory; and I’m not saying that just because it’s the Christian thing to say. I’m saying it because I already see how His birth plan for me brought Him so much more glory than my birth plan would have….
Warning though: this is a long one…
When the Doctor Calls, it’s Never Good
This process actually started on Tuesday when my OB called to say the baby was measuring small. She comforted me, telling me the baby was fine, I was a small person and so not expected to deliver a large baby; but they wanted to be sure the placenta and blood flow was good. So, she told me to make an appointment with the high risk doctors to get an ultrasound.
I called Andrew, and we headed over to the hospital. They did the tests and everything was fine – but the doctor agreed with my OB: I should be induced by the end of the week.
We went to an appointment with my OB the next morning, and she had already made an appointment for me to be induced the next day. She went over what was going to happen, and Andrew and I were sent off for our last night in our baby-less home.
I will admit: there was a part of me that was hesitant to be induced. Everyone said she was fine, and I am a small person. But since it was my first baby, and I had two medical professionals tell me to be induced, I felt the prudent thing was to agree.
Next time, I would decline an induction and tell them to give me at least to my due date…but I can’t regret doing it this way. Like I said, God’s glory shown so greatly that there’s no doubt in my mind it was meant to be just the way it was…
The Induction Ceremony
So, on Thursday evening, we went to the hospital with our things and began the process. The induction began with a drug called Cervidil, and it was created by Satan. Basically, they give it to you when your body is not ready at all to have a baby. It kick starts the process of labor by giving you regular contractions. They were all manageable, but 2-4 minutes apart, which meant Andrew and I didn’t get much sleep as we worked through the pain.
I won’t tell you too much more, as it’s a pretty awful drug in other ways. What I will say is that, ladies, if your doctor says they’re going to give you a “vaginal suppository” or mentions the name Cervidil, just ask for a C-section. Trust me.
I mean, you know it’s a bad drug when you tell the doctor the next morning about what happened and she responds with, “Yes, it’s a rough drug. But it’s efficient, and rarely do women need a second one.”
Well, I was one of those rare cases. I had already told Andrew that if they came in saying I needed a second one, I was going to ask for a C-section. I already suspected I would have one at the end of this anyway. But when I asked for one, the two OBs looked at each other hesitantly…and then convinced me to take a second dose by holding out the tantalizing promise of being 9 cm dilated by morning.
To say the least, I saw nothing to glorify God in this. I didn’t blame Him – I blamed the doctors. But neither was I grateful to Him.
The Second Dose
This second dose brought on more intense contractions, but they were manageable…or would have been if we’d gotten any sleep the night before, or if this had been my first dose. Because it was my second, my legs shook with fatigue and pain, and I could not stand (which makes managing pain difficult). I did find a sitting position that worked, but that one picked up my heartbeat on the monitor rather than the baby’s (I had to be monitored constantly), and so they kept telling me to sit back.
This made the pain unmanageable. However, even if it was manageable, I knew I was looking at another sleepless night. With two sleeplessness, how was I going to push out a baby? And how was I going to be a mother to that baby, who would need instant care and require more sleepless nights?
I hated it, but I knew I needed an epidural. I knew if it hadn’t involved drugs, I could have managed the pain effectively. My mindset at this point was one of anger. The doctors “forced” me into an induction, two doses of Cervidil, and then an epidural. Granted, I could have declined them all, but what did I know of these things? I didn’t feel confident enough to say no to medical professionals who knew more about how to get a baby out than I did.
To say the least, my focus was not on God at all, and bringing Him glory was far from my mind.
While waiting for the anesthesiologist, my water suddenly broke and very intense contractions began. I was very grateful to have already ordered the epidural, as it took the anesthesiologist a little while to get there.
I hated the epidural, but was grateful for the relief. Finally, I could get some sleep.
But I soon awoke to several nurses in the room. They said my blood pressure was dropping (which is a side-effect of epidurals), and it was making the baby’s heart rate drop, too. The nurses began busily doing all their tricks to get my blood pressure regulated, and I called Andrew over (he’d been asleep when they all came, and I’m so glad he was! The poor guy got as little sleep as I did!).
Then, the oxygen mask came over my face and I saw my nurse’s brow furrowed. If that wasn’t a bad sign, I didn’t know what was. My vision board had to be put across the room, and although I could see it, I could not read the verses. But, I’d been prepared, and had sent a PDF version to Andrew for his tablet so he could read them to me if I couldn’t see them.
I tearily asked Andrew to get his tablet and read my vision board verses to me, and he did so several times. There were tears, but also peace. I also knew this was incredibly special – these nurses got to hear amazing Scripture about our amazing God. God was using this for His glory.
And I began to be thankful for this experience.
They regulated everything, and we were able to get a little sleep. I was only 5 cm dilated in the morning, so they started me on pitocin. Before i knew it, it was time to push! I pushed for about half an hour; and then they told me the baby’s heart rate was dropping with each push.
I needed a C-section.
I was so scared. As I’d said in previous blogs, I had never been afraid of the pain. I had always been afraid of being exposed. I knew enough about C-sections to know this would happen.
Again, a bunch of nurses began coming in, and a lot was just left open on me. I understood that they were medical professionals, and it wasn’t a “thing” to them…but it was a big thing to me.
One of my main objectives during labor was to be an advocate for myself. I’d done this in various ways throughout the ordeal, but this one really stood out to me. When I mentioned to my nurse, Maya, that I was afraid of being exposed, she instantly began protecting me like a lioness. She covered me whenever anyone came through the door, even if she it meant stopping what she was trying to do.
I also asked if it was possible to have an all female staff in the operating room, saying I understood if they couldn’t, but I’d prefer it. They were incredibly kind and accommodating. They asked, and said that it would be all female except one anesthesiologist. I nodded, and was grateful that most of them were female. I knew he would be professional; but I suspect they’d told him about my fears,, for I was not prepared for how sweet he would be…
The Operating Table
That’s when things began to get really chaotic. They prepared me for surgery while Andrew gathered our things to take to the recovery room. We were separated, and the tears began to stream down my face. I closed my eyes and only opened them again when Andrew and I were reunited in the operating room.
The C-section table, by the way, is literally shaped like a cross. Your legs are on a long table, and your arms are out to the sides (not strapped, thank goodness!!!). It makes sense, as they need to ensure the arms don’t get in the way of the operation.
But it is just like Jesus.
It was so reminiscent of all I’d blogged about. Here I was, so like Christ, delivering my child. To keep calm, I thought over and over: “Jesus was in this position to give me life; I can be in this position to give my daughter life. Jesus was exposed to give me life; I can be exposed to give my daughter life.”
Tears fell swiftly, as they still do when I think of this. The Lord’s sacrifice gave me the courage to be strong for my little girl.
As I wept, the anesthesiologist bent near and asked if I was crying because of pain or because I was overwhelmed. I replied it was because I was overwhelmed.
And he took a tissue and gently dabbed the tears from my eyes. It was one of the sweetest acts in the world, and I thanked him profusely (although still with my eyes shut).
God Directed it All
Finally, Andrew was in the room with me. He held my hand, and I could tell his eyes were glassy, too. I instantly asked if he’d brought his tablet, but he’d forgotten it in the chaos.
“That’s ok,” I said. “I think I can remember.”
Which is crazy. I have a terrible memory, and have always struggled to memorize scripture.
But I’d looked at it so often in advance, and Andrew had read it often enough the night before, that I was able to remember every single one. Not verbatim, and I personalized them for myself by inserting my name. But I remembered them all.
As I did so, I knew these people were also being blessed by the scriptures we were reciting. Many of them may not have been paying full attention, and it’s not like I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s presence. I simply knew He was there, the ultimate Physician, directing the operation. Because God was using this for His glory.
And then my beautiful daughter was out! I heard her cries, and Andrew got to talk to her as they cleaned her. He got to hold her skin-to-skin immediately as they cleaned me up. As it turns out, her umbilical cord had been loosely tied around her neck; but because of the quick C-section, she was not admitted into the NICU. God had really been looking over her, protecting her from harm.
And then, as they rolled me to recovery, I held her for the first time and felt a deep abiding sense of peace, love, and contentment.
To God be the Glory
It wasn’t until we were home from the hospital that everything began to sink in. As I reflected, there were two main, overpowering thoughts.
Overcoming the Sense of Shame
First, there were several aspects of the C-section that left me feeling humiliated and ashamed. Things I knew were necessary, but still not pleasant. Part of it was related to the male anesthesiologist, who was very sweet; but I still felt a sense of shame at being exposed because he did occasionally need to look across the curtain to see what was going on so he could do his job.
Talking through these things with Andrew helped me overcome that sense of shame, as he told me what I didn’t see: how the anesthesiologist would look quickly, but then immediately look back at me; and how he would constantly move his side of the curtain up so he couldn’t see what was going on. Hearing those things, and realizing the depth of his sweetness, helped me overcome those feelings.
As an aside, I want to highlight my husband Andrew. He went through this process with me – getting as little sleep, having as much worry, and helping me cope with everything I was up against; but he also has taken such sweet and loving care of me postpartum. Andrew does so much of the housework since I can’t bend over from the surgery: cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry. He does almost all the diapers and burpings as I figure out nursing, run to the restroom for the umteenth time, or get a quick bite to eat. He tells me I’m doing great, and encourages me in so many, many ways. Andrew is the silent hero of this story – secondary only to Jesus.
To God be the Glory
The second thought was far more humbling. As I reflected, I began to realize that had all of those things not happened – had I not been induced, had I not needed the epidural, had I not needed the C-section – then this would have been a different story. The nurses and physicians would not have heard the Gospel. I would have had a birth story centered around me and my desires. And I would not be closer to the Lover of my Soul.
God would not have received as much glory through my plan; but through His plan, He received so much glory.
This has been the most spiritually intense experience I’ve had since my dark times in college. I can’t even say it’s a feeling of being close. It’s a knowing – truly knowing – that I am His, and He will never abandon me.
To God be the glory.
Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me; The Lord has forgotten me!” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands… – Isaiah 49:14-16a