In 2015, the arrival of September meant so much more than fall, pumpkins, and the beginning of school.
Finally, after months of pregnancy, I was full-term.
Any day, we would welcome the arrival of our second-born. We finished prepping the bassinet and folding the diapers. We finalized babysitting plans for Brookie.
I typed up my birth plan. Water birth, no epidural, at the birthing center. No hospital. Then, I typed up a contingency plan. If something happened, and I had to deliver at the hospital, what would I do? No, it wouldn’t happen. But just in case.
At thirty-seven weeks, my husband couldn’t attend my midwife appointment. I gathered Brookie in my arms and headed out.
At the birth center, a nurse took my blood pressure. She frowned. “It’s a little high. We’ll check it again at the end.”
Oh, boy. My stomach twisted. All my life, every doctor appointment, my blood pressure had always been great. Why would it be high now? Brookie flipped through books at a child-sized table while my midwife finished my exam. Then, she checked my blood pressure again.
Still high. She tossed up the possibility of preeclampsia, and sent me home with a kit and instructions to test. About two days later, I returned to the birth center. Protein in my urine: check. Three times where my blood pressure was elevated: check.
Just like that, all my plans came crashing down. I couldn’t deliver at the birthing center. I couldn’t have a water birth. I’d most likely be induced. I leaned on my husband and cried, as she sent me to the hospital.
“You’ll most likely be induced today,” she said.
Nothing about induction fit my plan. It wasn’t just that I wanted an unmedicated birth. I had a terrible experience with Pitocin and an epidural the first time around. Nothing scared me more than an epidural. The first two weeks of Brookie’s life, I was barely able to stand because of the blinding headache the epidural left me with. By the time I got relief, I couldn’t nurse because I didn’t have milk anymore. Not to mention, when they gave me the epidural, I blacked out. I lost all feeling, then when they cut off the medication, it didn’t come back. Not until well after Brookie was born.
No. I couldn’t get an epidural.
We arrived at the hospital, and I had an amazing doctor. She calmly agreed with my midwife’s assessment, but decided I could go home. “You’re blood pressure’s high, but not alarming. I want to see you in three days, and we’ll see where you are then.”
I went home, and prayed. Prayed that I’d go into labor on my own. Prayed that I could find a doula to help me through labor. Prayed that I would somehow make it through a Pitocin-induced labor without needing an epidural.
We dropped Brookie off at a friend’s house and headed to the hospital. On the way, two incredible things happened. Contractions started, and we received a call from my midwife who had found me a doula. By the time I changed into my gown at the hospital, labor had begun on its own.
Each contraction filled me with excitement. I still had to have magnesium to control my blood pressure during delivery, and Pitocin to speed it up, but for the first time, I believed God would help me through it.
They told me I was four centimeters.
“I don’t want to know from now on,” I said. When I was in labor with Brookie, the times they told me how dilated I was, was when I chose to get the epidural. The magnesium made me sick, and gave me a horrible headache. The Pitocin increased the pain of my contractions, but the doula arrived. My husband massaged my forehead through the contractions while the doula helped me find more comfortable positions from the bed.
I practiced the relaxation techniques I’d learned from my childbirth class, and I didn’t fight the contractions. I relaxed and breathed. As labor progressed, the pain increased, but so did my understanding of labor.
Twelve hours later, my water broke. I overheard a nurse say that I was eight centimeters, and that’s when panic set in. For the first time, I felt out of control. I couldn’t imagine two more centimeters of labor. I cried, and considered asking for an epidural.
I don’t remember the rest. Just pain. My husband says my mean side came out. Either way, the worst part of labor to the birth only lasted half an hour.
At 3: 29 a.m. on September 19th, Little Man was laid on my chest. Safe, healthy, and crying as if he just wanted to go back in his cozy home.
My labor didn’t go the way I wanted. I didn’t get the water birth at the calm, homey birth center. Instead, I felt God’s love surround as He still took care of me when my health was at risk.
Even without the epidural, I still had a headache after Little Man was born. But it only lasted the first day. Once they stopped the magnesium, it left. Little Man had lip and tongue ties, but once those were snipped, I could nurse him without pain.
Just like that, we settled in as a new family of four.
Little Man is rambunctious and crazy, and can’t get enough of his sister.
Tomorrow will be his 2nd birthday, and I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. He’s 34 pounds, nearly as big as his four-year-old sister. He loves noise, trucks, chicken, and hot dogs. He doesn’t talk yet, but I’m certain he will soon. He’s rough and robbed me of sleep for exactly twenty-two months before he finally started sleeping through the night.
I love being a mom to my little guy. Just as much as I love being a mom to Brookie. I don’t know what God has in store for our family, but I know that He’ll lead us through all the times of our lives—even the unexpected.
Share a time that God’s led you through something unexpected. How did it help you grow closer to Him? What did you learn?