I am amazed at the love of God for each of his children, but I am particularly amazed today at His love for me. Amazed He cares enough about my heart to carefully orchestrate the perfect set of circumstances wherein I have a healthy baby and a healing birth; despite the fact that, once again, the baby came into the world via surgery. I hadn't known it was possible to have a healing birth via cesarean but I shouldn't be surprised. All things are possible with God.
Before we decided to have a third child, Husband and I prayed and prayed and prayed. We prayed for a normal birth. We prayed for a healthy baby. We prayed to know when the right time to have a baby would be and then we prayed some more. We both felt that a home birth would be the wisest course. So many people were very worried we'd made a bad choice. They were concerned for my safety and that of our baby. We understood their fears but chose not to let it affect our choices and I am so glad we trusted God to take care of us. Not only did He allow us a healthy baby, but He also allowed me the space and time I needed to heal from my previous experiences.
Emotional wounds don't scab over and heal in 10-14 days like skin. They stay raw-- sometimes for years. Even with the liberal application of therapy, an event or comment or something I read could re-open the slice in my heart. The Physician of my soul understands this and He understood how best to heal it.
My soul was in tatters after the birth of my first daughter. Words can't explain how I checked out from life for the first six months of hers. I have no pictures from that time in her life. My husband had a mighty work ahead of him helping me pick up the pieces and move on. Those six months were the reason it took me so long to talk him into having another child. He didn't want to lose me to that dark place again. He needed the assurance from God that this time would be better.
With Heavenly clearance at every turn, we made our plans. We found a midwife for my peace of mind, even though Husband felt from the start an unassisted birth would be fine. I sought intensive therapy to make sure a mental roadblock from Zsa Zsa's birth wouldn't derail this birth. All along I knew that the birth wouldn't go exactly according to plan, but I didn't know what that bit would be. I thought when the midwife fired me that might be it but when I felt that first little gush of blood, I knew we wouldn't have the baby at home.
I labored off and on for 30 hours. Sometimes I would bleed too much for me to be comfortable with and labor would slow down and so would the bleeding. We checked baby's heart tones often to make sure they were sounding great. The entire time I had a feeling of being watched over but also of expectation. Like the Lord was waiting for me to realize it was time to know I'd done all I could do to attempt delivery. To know in my heart that I'd done my part and now the safety of our baby was more important.
On the afternoon of the 3rd, I went to acupuncture to see if we couldn't get things moving along and over with. I was exhausted. Husband was tired. After my treatment, I stood up and gushed blood. That was when my heart sank and also when I felt peace with the idea of going to the hospital. I knew in the very depths of my soul God was watching and that everything would be OK. I felt as though my mission was over. On the drive home the bleeding seemed to stop, but once we were home, it started up again with a vengeance. I filled a Depends brand disposable undergarment every two contractions. Husband gave me another blessing and the bleeding stopped on our 20 minute drive to the hospital. The whole way there he was having such a hard time coming to grips with our God-approved plan being tossed out the window. I was holding out hope that upon arrival I'd be a complete and they'd let me deliver my baby vaginally but I felt such peace with any outcome the method of delivery was no longer important.
Checking in took forever. ER triage, on to registration, and then OB triage. Time started to drag and I began to feel faint.
Our triage nurse was an angel. I don’t remember exactly what happened or the order of things. I know I lost time because it seems like it wasn’t very long from when we checked in to when our baby was born, but in reality it was hours. They took some blood and did an ultrasound. I remember the contractions got significantly more painful. Because the baby was looking awesome on the monitors and the ultrasound came back clean, our nurse didn’t call the backup doc (Dr V), she waited for the on call doc (Dr A) to come in because she knew we didn’t like the backup doctor. This was yet another miracle. We hadn’t ever met Dr A but I talked to her on the phone before we went to the hospital. She seemed so calm and not the type to jump into the OR just because she liked surgery. Dr V had made it abundantly clear she thought I was an idiot for even wanting a trial of labor and vaginal birth. She was the reason we’d decided not to go back to the doctor or to the hospital for this delivery. Being cared for by Dr A was just more proof God was in control of the situation. If we’d come in the previous day, Dr V would have been our doctor, regardless.
When Dr A arrived, she was so calm and patient. Her exam produced cups of blood (yes, cups). She listened to our concerns. She explained hers and we agreed to the surgery. At the time I thought it was the anxiety of the inevitable surgery that caused my pain to increase so dramatically at this point but looking back, I think this is when the placenta really started to separate from the uterus. God had allowed me the space and time I needed to be mentally OK with another surgical birth, and now that I was in a safe place and the decision had been made, the situation devolved rather quickly.
We had enough time to visit with the nursery staff and the anesthesiologist before they took me back to surgery.
In surgery the anesthetist started the spinal. I was so thankful for it because I was really ready to be done with the pain. I was shaking so much at that point I had a very hard time holding still while the spinal was placed.
Husband and a good friend were then let into the room. I’m sure the surgery itself was the same as any cesarean except before Dr A had even gotten to the baby she said, “OK. I know what’s causing the bleeding. You have quite a few clots in here. Your placenta has started to abrupt.” Later on, she said a quarter of the placenta had separated from the uterus and I’d made the right choice to have the surgery.
As soon as Dr A pulled baby out, she held her up and Husband announced we had a GIRL! Oh, were we shocked! All this time I had known it was boy. I just KNEW.
Right away they brought her around and laid her on my chest, per our request. The nursery nurses aren’t used to that, and I could tell one of them in particular was a little put out that I’d made her job deviate from the norm.
Words cannot describe the joy of being the first to meet your own baby. Of course other people touched her on her way to me, but that doesn’t matter. I got to discover the little crinkly fold in her right ear. I got to discover that her eyebrows are different shapes and her hair and eyes are dark. I claimed her from her very first moments and it has made all the difference in our first week together.
Her newborn assessment was done on my chest while Dr A finished making sure I wasn’t going to bleed to death and put me back together. Baby girl stayed with me on our ride to the recovery room. She stayed with me every minute of my six days in the hospital and every minute was beautiful.
I won’t be going to that dark place that swallowed me after my second surgical birth. There’s no need. I was respected as a person of worth and my daughter was treated as an individual with needs that were also to be respected. I wish I could explain why that matters so much. Maybe it’s because of the heightened hormonal state that surrounds birth or maybe it’s something else all together. All I know is, being treated like a human being with feelings and a mind of my own was a very nice change.
I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for creating a situation which resulted in a healthy baby. I am grateful to know He cares for me so much that not only are my physical needs met, but my emotional ones, as well. I am thankful that the right people were in the right place at the right time. And I am thankful for the prayers and fasting offered in my family’s behalf over the last few months. My heart is so full and my cup is certainly running over.
For the story in pictures, go here.
For the reason this birth meant so much and was so healing, see this post.
NOTE: The placental abruption had absolutely nothing to do with the previous cesareans or the fact that I labored at home. It's just a random RARE complication of pregnancy.