When Fear Drives The Bus
Please Note: You will notice how much I emphasize that my entire experience panned out the way it did because of the choices I MADE. No one else.
You will also notice that I emphasize that this is my own personal testimony. Some may not agree with my choices or opinion BUT this is my story and observation from what I personally experienced.
I am choosing to use my story to empower other women to make an educated decision on how their child will enter the world, if it is left by choice and not circumstance. If that’s not for you there is a corner of the internet that is for you, but it won’t be here. Bless yourself and release yourself to that corner ❤ with love.
How it all began
It was a cool damp June morning. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t exciting. Well a little exciting, but not with that adrenaline rush like I had hoped it would be. I knew I was going to get to meet my sweet little love soon, but I’m not sure things were happening the way I had always dreamed.
I woke up, bags were packed. A 5:30 wake up call. By my alarm. I hopped in the shower, cause ya know… People were about to be all up in my business and so of course I wanted to be fresh and clean (idk if that is humorous, but I laugh at myself anyways. However, I think it’s a common fear that you’ll go into labor and not get to shower first.) We got dressed and headed to the hospital.
Showered. Bags in the car. A sitter lined up for Jude. Everything was so strategically planned and my Type A personality was satisfied. Because it was all so strategically planned…
And if my flesh was so satisfied why did I feel so guilty? Why did I feel like I was doing something wrong? Why was I so unsettled? I told Jesse several times that I felt like I was robbing Mayla of her real birthday. Like I was robbing the Lord of the glory and the beauty he was desiring for her birth. I was trying to control something that the Lord asked me to hand over to Him.
PAUSE: Most of you know me, but if you’re new around here you will quickly realize I am a very spiritual person. Birth is no exception to that deeply rooted part of me. By striving for control I missed something truly so beautiful that the Lord asked over and over for me to give to him… but redemption is near and will show up in a mighty way during my sons brith. I can’t wait to share!! But for today let’s continue to reveal the naive nature of my first birthing experience.
But we went forward with the induction anyways out of fear and ignorance. A 7:00am appointment with Pitocin. We were prompt and hesitantly ready for what was ahead.
If there is one thing I learned from this experience it was to follow my gut. My gut is well trained and seasoned to follow Jesus. Yet, for some reason I will second guess those seemingly “meaningless” convictions. You know, the ones that maybe aren’t leading to apparent sin, but cause you to miss the beautiful blessing the Lord has before you.
Now, let me be clear, no one forced me to choose an induction. No one bullied me or made me feel like it was something I had to do. No one even pled a compelling case to try and talk me into it like many of the other practices do in our area. I choose to be induced and here is why:
I absolutely love and adore the midwife we had during my pregnancy with Mayla. She was a dream come true. Natural minded and so supportive of every choice I made. She answered all of my questions and was in full support of the oils (iykyk). She was kind, soft spoken, encouraging and all the things I could have dreamed of.
The Womens Health Operation
As a new patient and it being my first pregnancy I had no idea how Womens Health practices worked. I’ve actually found that many first time moms don’t have any idea how they work either, it wasn’t just me. And it makes total sense! But being clueless lead to a great disappointment so close to brith. Let me explain…
In a women’s health facility the practicing nurse midwife operates under a board certified OB/GYN. Understood.
Typically within that practice there is one or more midwives working with the OB/GYN. You can see one or all of them during your pregnancy. It is typically recommended that you rotate through and meet all of the practicing midwives and the OB to form a relationship with before your due date. They typically work on an “on call” rotation and so unless you are scheduled you don’t truly know which doctor or midwife from your practice will be working the day you go into labor. I didn’t know this, but it makes sense. It would cause a serious level of burn out to be on call 24/7 without a break.
(I’d highly recommend this information be clearly addressed at the first appointment of every client. Just a personal opinion. A quick FYI spoken in the moment as if the client should already know has proven to not work.)
My midwife at the time had done all of my annual pap appointments years prior. There was never a need for me to meet the OB in the past. So, during my pregnancy I also wanted to see my midwife. I’m one of those strange women who did not want to see a man during my pregnancy and was very determined to ensure that my midwife delivered my baby. I trusted her. I adored her. I had formed a positive relationship with her. I didn’t want to make it through my whole pregnancy and then end up having some male surgeon deliver my baby who I barley knew. You get me right?
So out of ignorance I made sure every appointment I could possibly schedule with her I did. I met with the OB one time while she was on vacation, and then another nurse one time as well.
Now, 2 weeks before my due date my body had started progressing pretty fast towards active labor. I was 3 cm and about 50-75% effaced. At my final check up my midwife jokingly told me I needed to lay low for the week, because she wasn’t on call that weekend and we were both afraid I’d go into labor.
My heart internally dropped. WHAT?? You aren’t on call? What does that mean?? That man who I avoided for the last 9 months could very well be the one who delivers my baby?? Who ushers me into motherhood. I thought he was only there for emergencies. My fears: What if he doesn’t love and appreciate birth the way I need him to? What if he isn’t kind or gently spoken? What if he isn’t patient with my body? What if he loves and glorifies surgical intervention? What if what if what if!?!? All the things…
She could see the look on my face and I know she knew how badly I wanted her to be there.
FEAR. Fear again had driven my bus.
This is all it took. She said she was available to induce me at 39 weeks (only a few days away) and said she would be glad to scheduled it if that’s what I wanted.
Thats all it took. An offer laid on the table and my fear driving the bus.
I chose to not be informed about the induction process. It would have been so easy for me to do my research and decide it wasn’t for me (and very important to do so). It would have been so easy for me to trust God and let him drive my bus. To trust that His timing was perfect and that the person who needed to be at my delivery would be on call that day. It would have been so easy for me to allow him to orchestrate the plan and to watch as the beauty of his majesty unfolds. But I wanted control. I let fear drive.
Friends, I wish that was the only poor choice I made, but there were so many other pieces to the puzzle. So let’s enter a side story here just for a moment. Stick with me, these pieces are important to address.
The Twilight Sleep Method
Have you ever seen those photos and videos of the “twilight sleep method” to birthing? This was a common practice from around 1915 to almost the 70’s!!
I remember seeing these videos as a young teen learning about birth. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about… google it (with caution). Women were given an immense amount of drugs and strapped to a bed during labor. The drugs sometimes would cause them to lash out or even cause harm to themselves so strapping them down was a safety precaution. This method was used to eliminate pain and even “erase the memory” of the birth all together. UM… HI… TERRIFYING!! Those images were engraved in my brain for the longest time.
Here is what has been going through my head for the last 15ish years: If women had to resort to these methods to bring life into the world it must be really really awful. The pain must be too much to bare. It must be terrifying and traumatizing for them to wish no memory of it period. To choose to be strapped to a bed and drugged. Can you even imagine?
I decided in that moment that if I were going to have children (which I so deeply wanted) that I was going to do everything in my power to not feel the pain. I mean “in this day and age there’s no need to feel pain during labor” anyways right?
It is so sad (in my opinion) that the absolute beauty in natural birth has been covered up by decades of fear drilled into women from a very young age. I almost never heard about the amazing goodness that is available to us through a natural birth. Some may have been well informed, but I was not. I think that’s a common story these days. I want to break down those barriers of fear and help you step into an empowering experience that is yours for the taking. (please don’t come at me if you are pro-medicated birth. I fully respect medical intervention which saves lives, but thats not what this blog is about. Let’s be respectful of my personal story kay?)
I don’t think that it takes education on the twilight sleep method to instill fear. A lot of times its those simple -negative- comments people make to pregnant women. “Your vagina is going to be ruined.” / “You’re going to be screaming for an epidural” / “I had a 3rd degree tear. Just ask for a episiotomy. Save yourself.” / “Are you sure you’re not caring twins?” / The list goes on!
Friends… JUST STOP. We are already busy working through our own fears and not looking for extra baggage to carry. Kay? Just tell your pregnant friends they look beautiful and are doing a good job and leave it there. Nothing else is needed or necessary.
So against my better judgment, at the advice of that nurse I saw one time, I decided early in my pregnancy that I was going to request an epidural the moment I got off the elevator. I was not going to feel pain. I was going to smile though the entire labor and delivery process. I wasn’t going to be afraid, because pain was not going to be present (LIES).
BOY WAS I WRONG! (have you ever been medically induced? YO… IT SUCKS.) Stay tuned for Silas’s birth story to hear the difference between the two.
(and let’s get one thing straight fear DOES NOT EQUAL presence of pain. Also, purposeful pain is MUCH different than injury inflicted pain).
7:00am we arrived at the hospital, got checked in and up to the delivery room. I was hooked up to an IV right away to prepare for what was to come. The nurse who did my IV was incredible. She was gentle. She got the vein in the first poke. She was kind, personable and a beautiful soul.
Honestly every single nurse I had during my stay at the Bradford Hospital was incredible. What a beautiful team they had there. My care was like no other.
I will repeat myself until I’m blue in the face because I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m blaming the healthcare workers or facility for MY CHOICES.
Once they hooked me up to the monitors one of the nurses said to me, “did you know you were having contractions?” And of course I was like um what? No?? I mean the fact that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced should have been an indicator that I was having contractions that I couldn’t feel, but you know… first time mom.
So, my body was already doing what it needed to to go into labor naturally. I’d say for an induction this was the best case scenario for a good outcome. We weren’t forcing the start of early labor when my body was clearly not ready. Best. Case. Scenario.
I spent the entire day in bed, only getting up to pee. (I learned from Silas’s brith that laying in bed made everything way worse.) Now keep in mind I told the nurses that I wanted an epidural at 7:00 in the morning. So it was on the schedule and in the plan. I didn’t end up getting it until mid-late afternoon which was totally fine.
I laid in bed. Slept. Talked to my husband. My midwife came in, in the afternoon and swept my membrane to get the process going. The Pitocin was pumping and contractions were picking up. I remember I was laying on my side talking to my husband when I suddenly felt a trickle of water run down my leg. I laughed. It felt so strange, but I knew it was my water. My water broke and little did I know all hell was about to break loose too. It saddens me a little bit because the beauty of my water breaking on its own was gone (I know some never experience this anyways but again, its my story.) It was planned. My flesh was satisfied, but my heart longed for more.
My contractions started to pick up. Y’all this part of the story is not glamours or juicy. This is why I didn’t share the story before. My birth was beautiful. All births are. But it was so indepthly planned and just not interesting lol… I mean until we get to the epidural. Then the story really gets juicy and not in the way I had hoped it would.
Epidural – This is where it gets “juicy”
A sweaty cold mess. I was drenched in cold sweats. So much so that my pillow and bed sheets were soaked. The medicine pumping in my body did not make me feel good. AT ALL. I didn’t puke or get nauseous but I also didn’t feel great.
On top of shaking and sweating, my contractions started to pick up immensely. I was not nearly dilated enough for the way they were coming quick and stacking on top of each other. The pain was almost not bearable and I was not getting a break. The epidural hadn’t come yet and man I needed it (my fear coming to life). Keep in mind we started the process between 7:00 and 8:00am and it was now HOURS later.
When the anesthesiologist finally made his way up I was in a place where I was willing to do just about anything to take this pain away.
Y’ALL… It just goes down hill from here.
Most people are terrified of the needle they use to give you the epidural. I hear its ridiculously large and intimidating.
I’m the type of person that the “out of sight out of mind” theory works for. If I close my eyes its not as bad as it seems. It works for me every time.
If my spine wasn’t a special case scenario and he was able to get the needle in the first or second try this story would be totally different.
One poke. Two pokes. Three pokes. Friends… It just didn’t work. The last try he got the line in and left it to see if the medicine would spread over time.
If there’s one thing you don’t have during labor… it’s the certainty of time.
My right leg from my mid thigh to my toes went numb… that’s it. Nothing else. I curled in a ball. I tried to breathe through some of the most intense contractions while this guy poked and prodded deep into my spine for what felt like an eternity and only my right leg went numb. I could still feel all the parts that mattered. My fear coming to life. It came… and didn’t work.
Now let’s talk about catheters. Kay? Did you know that when you get an epidural 9 times out of 10 a catheter is paired with the service? Well I didn’t know that. It makes sense, but it was not on my radar when I requested pain relief.
So now I’m stuck in bed because of my dang right leg. I have a needle coming out of my spine and my arm is hooked up to an IV. Im in-prisoned to the hospital bed and I have to pee.
Have you ever had a catheter put in when you weren’t numb? 10/10 do not recommend.
So now let’s add a tube shoved in my lady bit on top of all the other things.
**Now I feel compelled to mention that I had the sweetest and most supportive nurse during it all. She held my hand, encouraged me and helped me mentally make it through. I am so thankful for her kind and gentle spirit.
At one point after maybe laying there for about an hour I turned and looked at her and said, “If this isn’t going to work can he just take it out? I want my leg back.” I was literally just laying there in my own misery with contractions stacking and no end in sight.
She looked me in the eyes with the most compassionate stance and said, “Honey, I’m going to call him back. We are going to fix this.”
They did just that. The anesthesiologist came back and poked me 3 or 4 more times before he found the “sweet spot”. He also mentioned that my vertebrae were very small and super close together making it more difficult than most to get the needle in the right spot. (Mercy).
I was progressing in labor at that point rather quickly and we were running out of time. So quickly that they forgot to kick my husband out while he poked me for what felt like the 100th time.
I remember the nurse looking at my husband while they were back there poking me, and said “are you all right?” His face had turned white from watching the process (and here I am giggling because they had my spine numbed from top to bottom with numbing shots. I felt nothing.)
Finally after multiple tries the anesthesiologist got it in. I felt the nerve’s in both legs radiate with a shock and I knew in that moment something was different.
He taped me up and they rolled me back over.
It wasn’t an immediate relief, but with several pushes of the medication button and some maneuvering of the position I laid in bed we eventually had my body numb from my belly button down to the tip of my toes.
I felt nothing. Not a dang thing.
Id like to say it was worth it, but I’m really not sure any of it was. I mean worth the process of bringing my baby girl into the world, but not the choices I made to get there. I truly believe that the entire process was a lot harder and lasted much longer this way than with my natural birth experience. I experienced more pain, more mental and physical trauma to my body and the spark of excitement was gone.
PUSH PUSH THAT BABY OUT
Around 4:00pm the same day, my midwife had made her way back to the room to check my progress. It was time to push!
Let’s cut to the chase…
I had 4 solid hours of pushing with a small break in the middle so she could run and deliver a baby in the other room. 4 long hours. I can’t even tell you how many times I pushed or how exhausted I was from pushing and pushing and pushing. When I was done my body was sore from head to toe.
I was however so impressed with her patience. She counted every single push for me with a calm and confident voice. She coached my breathing. She helped me to get in different positions and made the experience the best it possibly could have been. As passionate, patient and caring as she was I’m confident that we would have had an incredible experience had I choose a natural birth in her care. I was so stinking thankful to have her by my side helping me usher my beautiful baby girl into the world. I felt safe with her. I felt seen and cared for. I was so happy with the way she cared for me that when she moved practices and stopped delivering babies I was heart broken. I was truly terrified to find a new midwife with Silas. I didn’t want to. I wanted HER to deliver my next baby and all of the babies after. I knew her heart and that she was for me. That she loved and respected my choices and was there to help in any way she possibly could. So, if you read this, know how thankful I am for you. You are amazing. I used to joke with her that I’d just have my 2nd baby at home and she would have to just so happen to show up as the baby was entering the world and she may just so happen to catch the baby and say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” in the same joyful way she did with Mayla.
8:09pm on June 27th, 2019 was the moment of truth. The glory hour our beautiful flower from heaven was laid on my chest. The moment my midwife shouted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” with a huge smile on her face and handed me my joy in all its glory.
And as we laid there together while my underworld was being cleaned up. All was right in my heart and mind as she laid there and we locked eyes for the first time. My baby girl was finally here healthy as can be with the breath of life breathed deep in her lungs (my precious was screaming her head off lol).
It’s true. The moment you see your baby, you forget everything that just happened. Thankful that we were both healthy and breathing was all I cared about in that moment. A sigh of relief every mother feels moments after one of the most physically challenging experiences of their life (notice how I said physically challenging, not terrifying or painful… pay attention 😉 don’t let fear in).
Another important piece to this story is my recovery. As if labor wasn’t crazy enough… let’s talk about the after affect.
Even though I was filled with joy. Even though I was thankful for my midwife and the nurses. Even though I was so thankful we were healthy and breathing. I hurt. Everywhere.
I vividly remember the moment the 3 of us were left alone I began to process the events from the day. I looked my husband dead in the eye and very sternly told him, “I am NEVER doing that again.”
I remember thinking very deeply, “What in the HECK just happened to me??”. Apart of me was left feeling helpless, pained and defeated. It was hard. Disheartening and not what I expected birth to be like what so ever. Now I do believe there is a difference between coming in with a “Plan” paired with an open mind and being close minded and upset that plan didn’t follow through.
I however came in with a FULLY open mind and zero plan -> other than knowing I wanted an epidural. So let’s mention that technically my plan worked. I got my epidural and I was totally numb for delivery. I was still just so over it. I’m going to be a mom of one and that’s perfectly okay with me. Maybe we will just adopt the rest. (I am not down playing adoption and that’s still on the table. I Just want to emphasize how much I did not want to birth another child myself.)
My spine hurt so badly from the many many pokes it took to get the epidural needle in my back that I ended up taking pain meds AFTER DELIVERY. I refused them during and then needed them so badly after. THE IRONY. My back hurt for WEEKS.
THINGS GET A LITTLE GRAPHIC HERE… pass by to the next section if you don’t want to read about my personal bodily things.
I tore. My 6 lb 9oz baby caused a mild tear. So stitches.
Jesse informed me recently that May was crowning for the majority of the time I was pushing. MERCY. I thought I was swollen from normal circumstances. My lady bits were so swollen from my girl crowning for literal hours. After my first shower I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Everything down below drooped so low I felt like I now had elephant ears dangling between my legs. I was in pure shock… and hurt so badly. (You’re welcome. Hope you sleep wonderful tonight 😉 )
I remember telling my sister in law about it the next day and she told me, “oh yea those things don’t go back.” -> that was a lie LOL. Everything went back in its time. (I think she may have misunderstood what I was telling her.) BUT STILL. I lived on pain meds and ice for DAYS.
When my midwife came in to check on me the following day I remember asking her if my butthole had fallen out. She laughed and kind of dismissed my question. Which I can see why. It’s kind of a funny question. BUT IT FELT LIKE MY B-HOLE FELL OUT. It also felt like my pelvic floor was going to cave in every time I stood up.
My closest friends will tell you that I complained about my b-hole and my pelvic floor for weeks and weeks after. One of my friends even messaged me after I had Silas and asked how I was doing (haha but for real it was a serious issue.)
I thought… well I guess that’s just normal.
Then the swelling. My feet and ankles were so swollen I could barley walk.
We ended up in the hospital for two extra nights (3 days) which were absolutely miserable. My hormones were crashing. We were struggling to breast feed (we can dig into that later). My feet were the size of beach balls. My undercarriage hurt so badly to sit. My daughter had to lay under a light and I wasn’t allowed to hold her unless we were feeding. It was emotional, painful and just plain sucked.
Once we got home I had to keep my feet propped up and iced for at least a week. The recliner in the living room was the only chair I could sit in that didn’t cause pain. The glider up stairs that I had to use for night time feeding was like a torcher chamber.
So welcome to mom life. My vag was excessively swollen and hurting and now I’m desperately waiting for my “milk to come in”. Breastfeeding was a STRUGGLE at first. It opened my eyes to why so many women end up giving up so early in motherhood.
Side note: I fully believe that the initial struggle to breastfeed stemmed from the labor stress on her, the labor stress on me, then the pain meds I took afterwards (I wasn’t even thinking when I asked for them), then the physical trauma my body was trying to heal from between my back, my lady parts, internally, my feet and my head.
Im gong to do a separate post about my breastfeeding journey, but in short she struggled to latch so we ended up using a nipple shield (no shame). I could squeeze colostrum out, but it didn’t seem like she was getting any when she would nurse. She wasn’t passing the meconium quick enough because of it and her bilirubin levels started to raise to a dangerous level. Which is what landed us in the hospital for several extra days.
(The story ends well. We fought through those hard first weeks. We both cried a lot. Now we have been nursing for 2 years and two months solid. We nursed through my pregnancy and now “share” our milk with baby Silas 😉 ).
So add that stressor to the entire operation. It was emotionally draining. I cried A LOT. I felt helpless and broken.
Healing at home
Once we were home and in the clear from Jaundice things began to settle. I iced my entire body regularly to stay on top of the inflammation. I also took 2 baths a day (prescribed by my midwife) to soak my tush and aid in the healing process.
I would also make bath bombs out of Lavender and Cypress essential oils. These two oils aid in soothing all the areas that needed soothed and also helped decrease inflammation. I will definitely be making a separate post about all the natural remedies I used to support myself during birth and postpartum. If you are impatient and would like to hear more about now, shoot me a message firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d be so happy to give you more details! All I can say is it was a complete game changer for some very important issues I was having both for my first and second delivery.
Memory Erased NATURALLY
If you are forever loving babies and dreamed your whole life of being a mom… THERE IS HOPE! 😉
It only took about 3 months for my “I AM NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN” to turn into… hay babe… baby #2? LOLOL.
It’s true. The love you feel for your baby when they are here on earth side makes all of those labor pains and even the most undesirable brith situations fade in your mind enough to provide you with a lapse in judgment as you try for round 2 or 3 or 4.
No need for a twilight birth. It happens naturally when you see your sweet peach smile.
As Jesse and I began to talk about baby #2 and praying over the Lords timing, I really felt a strong urge to become better educated on my birthing options.
I still wasn’t sure that no epidural was the best way, but I wanted to know for sure before I tried again. In the next post I’m going to share with you some valuable resources that I strongly encourage you to look at, read and watch before you fully decide what your birth plan is.
But for now I will leave you with this:
My brith with Mayla was beautiful.
It also sucked.
I believe that there is room for both of those things.
I don’t think that my undesirable experience took away from the beauty of her entrance into the world. It didn’t take away from Gods glory to create life inside my womb and bring it fourth into the world. It didn’t take away from the answered prayers of heath and full lungs. It didn’t take away from the beauty of her life or how much I love her.
The experience was perfect in that it gave me my child. My first child. My everything.
But it was also a great learning experience. It is my hope that some of you can learn from my mistake of going into labor uneducated.
Ladies, we can’t blame our doctors or the healthcare workers for our lack of education. We MUST take ownership of our lives and our choices and educate ourselves. Bring those important questions to a trusted midwife, doula or OB – BUT DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. There is SO MUCH information out there, it would be impossible for your doctor to address all the things in one visit or even 9 visits.
Maybe you still want a medicated birth. You do you boo boo… but at least you know some of the things to expect. Theres no shame in that. Just don’t go into it uneducated. PLEASE do your research and prepare yourself for what is to come. Learn about how these things affect your body and why often medical intervention can actually make things worse.
You will soon get to see the difference in my own experience between a medicated birth and a totally natural birth. You will also get to see why I will always choose to birth 100% natural in the future as long as I am left with choice and not circumstance.
I’m so thankful to have had you here with me today as I shared the brith story of my first child. If I haven’t totally turned you off then I’ll see you in the next post where I’ll be sharing educational resources ❤
Love you guys always,