“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Recently we did a Sunday series on this scripture at church. It was a great series for me, and a great call on my heart to focus on the good and to practice gratitude, which is the birthplace of joy. I am not naturally a joyful person. As someone who battles anxiety, it is more natural for me to focus on the bad than the good. I am grateful for this scripture and others like it that remind me to focus my thoughts on the good.
God knows my heart so well that he saw fit to give me a living, breathing, smiling reminder of Philippians 4:8 who I can see every day. On April 8th, my first born son ninja kicked his way into the world, and I know I will never be the same.
I am one of those women who loved being pregnant. I had the occasional migraine and heartburn, but overall, I was a happy and healthy pregnant lady. (I’m sure that not being pregnant in the heat of the summer had a great deal to do with my comfort and happiness, as heat and I do not mix, says the southern California girl.) I loved my baby bump. I loved the little kicks and hiccups. I loved hearing his heartbeat. I loved reading of his progress each week, knowing he was dreaming in the womb and learning to suck his thumb and all sorts of other really cool things. I loved the mind blowing idea that I was carrying a life inside of me. God amazes me in his creation of human beings. Every one of us truly is a miracle. Side-note: Did you know that God geniusly created us so that when breast feeding moms kiss their babies, whatever germs are on the baby get transferred to the mom so that her breast milk can build anti-bodies against said germ?! How cool is that?!
Later in my pregnancy after going back and forth about how we wanted our labor and delivery to be, the hubs and I decided to move from our OB to a midwife. (This was a hard decision for me, as I absolutely love my OB and have been seeing her for over 10 years.) We really wanted to have a natural birth at a birthing center. We knew that it was possible to achieve a natural birth in a hospital, however, it is sometimes a harder fight with the nurses to get what you really need and want. (I wanted all of my fighting to be reserved for actual laboring and pushing.) The hospital that I would have been delivering at with my OB allows you to squat to deliver, which is what I wanted, but you may not stand, and the squatting has to be done by repositioning the bed, as you must stay on the bed for delivery. I didn’t love that rule. I wanted to be a little freer than that, to do what my body needed.
Plus, I have a bicornuate uterus, which makes me a little higher risk. I learned that my contractions may not be strong enough to do the work they need to do to get the baby out. If that was the case, the hospital may have wanted to put me on pitocin, which could have increased the likelihood of me needing an epidural in order to be able to handle harsher contractions, which could have begun the cycle towards an unwanted C Section. My midwife had other more natural ways of getting me to contract if need be, which I was really happy about, and though she couldn’t guarantee that she could help me deliver without unwanted interventions, she gave me a 50/50 shot and assured me that she would do everything she could to help me plus be there with me if we had to go to the hospital. All in all, it was a great choice for us.
Everything was on track for my April 16th due date. The baby was low and in the right position, and the midwife was really happy with how the baby and I were both looking. I had done a big grocery shopping trip on April 7th and set to work making some meals to stock my freezer. I woke up on the morning of April 8th feeling really good and started chopping veggies for a soup that I was going to make and freeze, the last of the meals I was working on for after the baby was born.
Hubs goes to work super early. He leaves the house at about 5:30am, so he was at work before I woke up. At about 9:15am, I felt something dripping down my leg. At first I thought I had reached the point in pregnancy when you begin to lose control of your bladder. I had read about that but had made it so far without that happening. I put down the veggies and went to the restroom, thinking that would solve the problem. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening. It was not incontinence. It was my water breaking…a week early. I thought there was no way. My poor mom was pregnant for an extra month with both my sister and myself. I was a first time mom, and you always hear about first time moms being late, not early! I was about to learn that nothing about my labor and delivery would be typical of a first time mom.
I called the birthing center to let them know my water had broken or was breaking. It was not the typical “big gush” that you think of as your water breaking. It was a slow trickle that kept going for a while. She asked me a bunch of questions and said that it sounded like the baby had kicked a hole in my bag of waters. (Baby Ninja!) She was concerned about me going into labor because I was not really having contractions other than a few braxton hicks’ here and there. She told me that when I called the hubs I should tell him to pick up two homeopathic medications to help with contractions. One was Caulophyllum and the other Kali Phos. It looked like I was definitely going to need some help getting contractions going, not because of my bicornute uterus but because my baby was a ninja! If I didn’t go into labor on my own within 24-36 hours, it would be a problem. She told me to lay on my left side and gave me specific instructions of how to take the homeopathics and told me to keep my 2:00 appointment at the birthing center unless my contractions started to get really bad before then.
When I called the hubs, he couldn’t believe it. I think he may have been in more shock than I was. He picked up lunch for us both and also the homeopathics and came home. I was up in bed laying on my left side as directed, and he walked into a kitchen with a counter full of chopped veggies and a pork roast in the crock pot. I’m sure it was a sight to behold.
As I took the homeopathics and rested, we waited and talked. He took a picture of me as I “labored” laying on my left side and remarked that this would be the last time it was just the two of us, a big deal, as we had been married for a little over a year.
We talked about calling family or texting friends but decided that it could be a while, as first births usually take a while to progress. We agreed to wait until we got to the birthing center to get checked before we called or texted anyone.
I had some pretty strong contractions that hubby helped me through as best he could. We had been taught in our birthing class that the point of contractions is to move the baby down and eventually out. The pain is not a sign that you are in trouble but a sign that the body is doing what it is supposed to do. We were taught that the more a mommy could keep the tension out of her body during a contraction, the more work that contraction could do, making the labor progress. It is so counter intuitive to your natural response to pain, but that’s what I tried to do, with my hubby’s help, remain relaxed during each contraction so that the contraction could do its work.
At about 1:30 we got in the car to go to the birthing center with my packed bag and the car seat in tow. The drive seemed to take forever, as I was in a lot of pain. The contractions seemed to get worse just in time for us to drive over there. It seemed I couldn’t really even count the time in between contractions. To me it just felt like one long contraction.
When we arrived, they asked me if I was having contractions. I told them yes, but it was one of those things that, if you have to ask… They had me pee in a cup and then walk back to the birthing room where they hooked me up to a monitor to hear the baby’s heartbeat and monitor my contractions. They could hear the baby’s heartbeat just fine, and it sounded good. They looked at what the machine was telling them about my contractions, and they told me that I wasn’t in labor. In fact, they told me that according to the machine I was in “anti-labor”. What?! What the heck is anti-labor. I thought to myself that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I mean, I’m not an expert, and I’ve never had a baby before, but if this isn’t labor, I thought I might just kill myself…because this hurt!
There were two midwives attending to us, both of whom I trusted implicitly. They were going back and forth about whether to check me because if they checked me and I wasn’t in labor, they didn’t want to put me in labor before my body was ready. They talked about sending me home and waiting until there were stronger contractions. (Stronger contractions??!!!) As they were talking to each other and occasionally to me and the hubs, I began to feel nauseated. I asked for some help and threw up my lunch. Not pleasant. They looked at me and asked why I was throwing up, which I didn’t have an answer to. I mean, what would be a good answer to that? That is when they decided to check me. And guess what? I was four to five centimeters dilated and so relieved that they hadn’t sent me home without checking me! (Can you imagine?) At this point, one of the midwives looked at me and said, “You have a pretty high tolerance for pain, don’t you?” I guess I do.
At that point, neither the hubs nor I were thinking about much but getting through each contraction, but I believe he did send out a text to our families letting them know I was in labor and how much progress I had made. I was so impressed by my husband and the amazing job he did as a first time father and coach through labor. He was with me and for me and did exactly what I needed as I needed it. He was constantly re-adjusting himself to my needs without me having to direct him at all. He re-focused me again and again and reassured me when I was afraid. I remember several times during the process stating out loud, “I am afraid.” Labor is a scary thing sometimes because you’re not sure what to expect or how you will be able to handle it. I was so grateful for his calm and collected presence through the entire labor and delivery, and even afterward when I had to have some stitches, which seemed like the longest part of the whole ordeal.
The midwife who was second in command helped me immeasurably by putting pressure on just the right places to help relieve some of the pain so that I could more easily relax my body during each contraction.
After I had thrown up a few more times, they decided I needed an IV and that I should probably go in the tub to help relieve some of the pain. They began filling the tub and also tried to start an IV. This would be a good time to mention that I have an extreme needle phobia. It stems from a traumatic childhood experience, which makes it neither rational nor any less terrifying. I was laying on my side as they tried to get a vein in my hand during on and off contractions. They couldn’t get it, so they tried to roll me onto my back so that they could get the darn thing in my arm. I was having none of that being on my back stuff. It hurt way too much. This prompted them to check me again, only to realize that it was too late for the bath and that it was time to push!
When they tell you that your body knows what to do in labor, they aren’t joking. Nothing could have stopped me from pushing at that point. It was more than an urge. I pushed and pushed harder, and I felt so much relief when the head came out. At this point, they told me very sternly to stop pushing because the cord was around the baby’s neck. I did as I was told, which was much easier to do with the head being out. The midwife tried to slip the cord over the baby’s head, but since my uterus is heart shaped, too much of the cord was in the other side of my uterus, making the cord very short. They had to cut it before the rest of his body was out, which they did, and he was totally fine, thankfully. His shoulders did a little damage to me when they came out, but other than that, we were both healthy and came through the labor and delivery with no complications.
The euphoria that you feel after giving birth naturally is like nothing I can describe. It was almost like an out of body experience. Oxytocin is real and powerful! All I can remember after he was born was looking at him and stroking him and saying, “My baby! My beautiful baby!” It was like I couldn’t stop saying it or touching him or looking at him. My husband jokingly says it was like the baby was lost at the supermarket and we had been reunited again.
After my husband cut the cord shorter and we spent a little time as a family, fawning over the baby, and after I had delivered the placenta, which was so not as bad as I thought it would be, the hubs sent out a text to our families letting them know that the baby had been born, and, of course, attaching a picture.
My mom, in particular, was in disbelief. The first she learned of me being in labor was at approximately 2:30pm or so, which is when she was told I was at 4 or 5 centimeters. At just about 5:30pm, she got the text that the baby had been born. Yes, this first time mom was in active labor for three hours and pushed for twenty minutes, and the baby was born. To God be ALL of the glory in this experience. I did not know how my labor and delivery would be. Who ever does? But I do know that God showed up and showed off and gave me a very special and very merciful labor and delivery. 4:8 indeed.