Anthony's Birth Story - Part 1
The birth of our third son amazingly turned out to be the natural, divine, but once again, unexpected, experience I had spent months praying for. Now that I am joyously soaking up every second of my precious newborn, I am able to reflect on the power in sharing our birth stories and identifying God’s hand in every detail. Sharing our birth stories has the ability to bring healing, empowerment, unity, freedom, and validation among us females treading water through the fertility years. In these years where our ultimate feminine gift to bring forth life is met with the crosses of infertility, miscarriage, unplanned pregnancies, and birth plan abandonment, where us modern women are far from the Red Tent days of a female birth community…we can use our stories to revive our femininity and open the beautiful path of vulnerability to each other. I hope sharing my story inspires you in some of that way...
Our Anthony’s story began with a pregnancy of intentional birth preparation. Unlike my first two pregnancies, one of which I was in the middle of grad school, and the other in the middle of moving into our new home, this time I was able to dedicate mental space to consuming childbirth books, blogs, and podcasts, and spend time, possibly obnoxiously, repeating my birth plan & affirmations to my husband. The more I prepared, the more empowered I became that the act of birth can be this beautiful, divine experience I can allow my body to surrender to. Yet, as wonderful and necessary as preparation is, I think I overlooked the key ingredient of also preparing my reaction when things didn’t go the way I planned, (which seems to be God’s repetitive theme in all things female, fertility and birth related ;) Thankfully, my mom will later enter the scene.
As his due date approached, my prayer simply became to make it to 40 weeks. For our own reasons of my husband having some out of town work obligations the week prior and my own selfish social and work related goals I wanted to accomplish. With our first son a week early and our second son a week late, it was hard to predict. I called in my prayer warriors, told the baby not to come and limited my activity. Well, the prayers worked, I was feeling great physically, and in mental heaven soaking up every minute of the “extra” time I was handed. I was confident the baby would come when he was ready, and handled the overdue time as a gift.
I happily drove to my 41.1 overdue appointment, with my husband encouraging maybe today is the day, just like our #2 who was 8 days late! I was seeing an independent OB provider, we’ll call her Dr. T, who had also delivered our second. She really was wonderful and we had a great rapport. We had thought about a non-hospital birth, but sticking with her now just made sense…maybe a home birth for the next one, I told my friends. I liked that I consistently saw her for every prenatal appointment, that she took the time to review my birth plan wishes, and reassured me she was on board with minimal labor interventions, as well as happily yielding to my desire to refuse internal exams until 40 weeks…(mental note, every time I saw the IUD adds in the office room I promised myself I would bring up Napro…next appointment for sure!)
“Still pregnant!” smiled Dr. T as she reassured the baby on the NST looks wonderful, and found my cervix 3cm dilated and 70% effaced. “I would like to schedule the induction for tomorrow.” WHAT??? Induction? Tomorrow? Suddenly I’m tachycardic and hyperventilating. “Remember we talked about this, I told you 10 days was my limit.” What? No. Well, yes. I do remember the 10 days…but 10 days would be Wednesday, today is Monday…“Wednesday is a major holiday so we won’t schedule inductions for then.” How was I so shocked by this? Clearly I should have realized this would be the plan…did I purposefully ignore the dates prior to my appointment? “Why can’t we wait until Thursday?” I pleaded, “I have never let a patient go that long. None of our doctors would do that. Its not safe.” Not safe? My baby is completely fine! This is ridiculous! Adrenaline rush of quotes… We should think of the due date, as a ‘due month,’ say the midwives …One intervention leads to another. Labor is a natural process…Why induce an otherwise healthy pregnancy at 10 days? Why not 11, 12, 13? ACOG clearly says 42 weeks…” My thoughts continued to race as she kindly reassured, “Alex, I am just going to break your water, that’s it. I will leave you to do the rest of the work on your own. You will be a very easy induction. Your body has done this before. I will make sure you have a nurse who is experienced and comfortable in natural childbirth. I will be right back to make the call to the unit, get dressed and I’ll be back to review.” I was numb to words and just shook my head yes as she walked out. The tears immediately came flowing as I texted my husband in a panic. I think he just said well ok just schedule it, and when I argued, I don’t want this! He tried to calm me down, ok well then we don’t have to. I raced out of the office to explode on my phone, and I think I texted my mom right away, who has the wisdom of raising 8 kids…”That is standard, Alex. They did the same thing to me 30 years ago! Just accept it.” Standard? Just accept it? No way, too bad, they should have changed things since 30 years ago then, this is not good medicine! Maybe there was harm in reading too many Ina May horror stories of medical providers interfering with an otherwise healthy birth…No! I am following my intuition, and there is no reason I need to go to a hospital to break my water just because I am 9 days late!
I spent the next 5 hours letting my sons watch Toy Story & eat crackers while I called dear friends, internet searched, and facebook group page posted hoping to find any validation in my thinking…I found what I was looking for as friends reassured this was my decision, you can switch to a provider who will let you go to 42 weeks, you don’t have to show up tomorrow….I tried to pray but had a hard time quieting my heart. Peace is of God, anxiety is from the evil one, I repeated as I tried to discern if it was my pride preventing me from just following my doctor’s advice, or my uneasiness to say yes to something I believed was not medically necessary. I was determined this birth was going to be the ones I read about…a peaceful, beautiful labor that would come naturally when the baby was ready. I became so attached to that plan, I was having a hard time accepting anything else. By early evening, I decided to call Dr. T and explain that I was just not comfortable being unnecessarily induced. I will come in for another NST the next day, and surely she could give me a few more days for things to naturally happen. We spoke for about 30 minutes where she firmly explained that she could not medically advise waiting past tomorrow. Malpractice was a principal reason, with the 100+ physicians in her group holding the same standard of a 10 day overdue limit, along with citing the risk of stillbirth that increased each day overdue. If I didn’t show up tomorrow she would ‘not abandon’ me, but I would clearly be going against medical advise, and have to deal with whatever repercussions came along with that. I left the call still undecided, but more empowered that it was ultimately my decision. No one was going to show up at my house and drug me into the hospital, & my husband was supportive in whatever I choose…oh prudence how I need you!
Hours and prayers later, the deciding factor came from text messages from my mom…she kept encouraging me to stay calm. Your cervix is ready, she assured, and once they rupture your membranes labor would start soon. She continued to send positive labor wisdom from 8 birth experiences, and most importantly was 100% supportive in helping with our boys, “We are available. What do you want us to do?” Could having our boys already taken care of be part of God's plan for this birth? There was just something undeniably comforting hearing from my own loving, trusted mother in this stressful time. The decisive message was hearing from her:
“Don’t be upset, Alex, don’t fight it, try to relax. There are going to be many things in your young life that don’t go exactly as you planned. And that’s just the way it goes. That is life! The will of God for you is many times shaped by others. The best thing you can do for you and your baby right now is just relax. Let go of negative emotions. Send them out the door!”
Her message filled me with such peace, I texted Dr T. that we will be there tomorrow morning, and she immediately responded “I spoke with the charge nurse and you will have Nurse Nancy, the very experienced nurse in natural childbirth.” Within the hour my husband had our 2 sons bags packed and on their way to Grandma’s, while I would spend the time trying to start labor at home. I still had about 12 hours.
Stay tuned for part 2 on the birth story coming next!