My sweet Bear Bear! I’m not going to lie this was my favorite birth experience. Not my favorite kid- I don’t have a favorite kid, but I will forever be thankful for Indie’s birth. Though this is a bit of a crazy story, it changed the way I view birth and our bodies…
I was shocked- and simultaneously not shocked at all- to find out I was pregnant with Indie. We had decided to leave family planning in God’s hands, but I didn’t expect to be pregnant before Ivy was a year old- but I was. Up until this point I had relatively easy pregnancies. Of course I had typical symptoms like most women but they were always very mild.
Not with Indie.
I somehow managed to catch a recurrent stomach bug at the same time that morning sickness began. I distinctly remember being hunkered down in the closet with the kids during a tornado warning and having to run out and get sick and then climb back in. Isaiah likes to talk about our vacation to Tim’s Ford and how Mama got sick on the story trail and they could hear me puking across the parking lot. I had vertigo, motion sickness, and bruises on my wrist from pushing on the pressure point so hard to try and curb my nausea.
I was miserable. Dehydrated. Exhausted. It took a bag of IV fluids to get me through Ivy’s first birthday party. I lost too much weight and my family lived off take out and sandwiches. And then one day it stopped- and I felt okay again.
God’s Hand at Every Step
Nineteen weeks rolled around and this strange pelvic pressure started. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but it lingered in the back of my mind. My anatomy scan came and the entire time I could feel that something was off. Back in the waiting room I confided in Rafael that I was scared something was wrong. I told him I was worried about Indie’s heart because they had looked at it for a long time.
“His heart is fine,” he whispered. “but I think you have a placenta previa.”
I could tell he was upset as he said it, but my first thought was “just as long as it is not his heart.”
We had dealt with a previa before and by God’s grace- it had moved.
For those who don’t know- a placenta previa is when your placenta is fully or partially on the opening of your uterus (cervix). Vaginal birth is off the table if a previa persists since the placenta would emerge before the baby. Previas can cause the cervix to dilate too early as well.
He was right.
Indie’s heart was fine, but I had a placenta previa.
I felt like I could breathe just knowing that Indie was okay. I left the office feeling certain that God would move this previa as well.
But then the Braxton Hicks started and the pelvic pressure became more intense. I was 19 weeks and wondering if we had come this far to lose it all…
Mamas, there are simply no words that can ever capture the goodness and the magnitude of God. When I look back I see me knelt beside the bed- weeping and gasping for breath- begging God to let me keep him and have him naturally.
And spoiler alert- He answered.
Every single prayer I had during this pregnancy- He answered.
And I will forever lack the words to properly say thank you.
Gripped with Fear
A few weeks later we found out the previa had indeed moved. But this was by far my most uncomfortable pregnancy. It felt as if everything was unaligned and every bone and ligament I had below the waist seemed to be giving out.
Alone in the night I would wake with the horrifying reality that there was a baby in me and it had to come out. If you read my last birth story then you probably know why. I was terrified to face labor again. I would lay in bed with tears pouring down my cheeks praying that God would help me to do this again.
Here’s the thing about labor- fear makes the pain worse. I knew that, but I didn’t know how to move past it. And then one night I was awoken to the strangest thought- “If I could just shut off my mind, my body would birth him.”
I really believe this was such a God moment. After 3 births it still hadn’t dawned on me that I didn’t have to do anything. If we could shut off our minds our bodies would literally just deliver a baby. Labor is a mind game. It is repeating to yourself over and over that your body knows what it is doing. Birth is a native language to our bodies and a foreign tongue to our minds.
You were made to give birth. In 95% of cases our body is completely equipped to deliver a baby. It doesn’t need assistance or guidance. No one needs to tell you when or how to push. No one needs to guide you through movements and transitions. You just need to learn how to listen to your body over your mind.
A Part of Creation
Before the serpent spoke in the garden. Before sin entered the world. And before all of creation fractured- Eve was made to be a Mother. She was designed to give birth. Yes, it is part of the curse that we now feel the pain of that process, but birthing a baby is not a punishment- it is a gift. It is part of our purpose. Just as flowers blossom in the spring and leaves drop like soft paper in the fall- we too are a part of creation. Designed and hand crafted by God. He doesn’t have to remind the bees to make honey, because He made them to do that. He doesn’t have shake the grass to remind it to grow each spring because when the sun and the rain come- it just happens naturally. And you, Mama, are part of that same creation. Designed. Handcrafted by God.
I realize not everyone gets the birth of their dreams or gets to experience birth, but you are still fashioned after Eve- built to birth. You are clothed in a gentleness, a beauty, and a strength that is purely that of a Mother- even if you don’t have children of your own.
It was on this idea that I finally rested. A peace overcame me as I realized that the strength that I needed was not my own. I had all I needed and when I came to the end of myself I trusted that God would take over.
Prepping for Labor
With all of this in mind I began to really search out how our bodies are designed to birth. All of it matters- how we eat, move, drink, and prepare for labor. Armed with dates, Miles Circuit, and raspberry tea- I faced it head on- still terrified but trusting. (For natural birthing encouragement check out Bridget Teyler’s YouTube channel: Built to Birth)
December 17th rolled around and I went in for a routine appointment. I could barely even walk into the building between the pelvic pain and the chaotic contractions. I was dilated to three and barely effaced. They stripped my membranes and sent me home assuring me that he couldn’t possibly be here before Christmas. He was turned wrong- his head was stuck behind my left hip bone and his feet were resting in my right rib cage.
I spent most of the day in and out of a side lying release position. Around 7pm I suddenly felt the need to clean the sink. I scrubbed the sink while the kids built a gingerbread house at the dining room table. Bedtime came and I tucked them in. As I kissed Isaiah goodnight I almost told him not to be surprised if he woke up to my mom rather than me because I was about to have baby brother- but I bit my tongue.
9:30pm- I laid down to go to sleep and immediately I knew I was in labor. I laid in bed until Ivy was asleep and then I got up- leaving Rafael to sleep while he could. The next few hours I spent going from resting and relaxing to walking laps and doing squats across our playroom. I prayed the entire time, trusting that this was mine and Indie’s first dance together and we knew how to do it.
A Sweet Reminder
Around 1am I called my mom to come over and stay with the kids and I woke up Rafael. Rafael sat on the couch sipping coffee and eating peanut butter. I could feel his eyes fixed on me- studying every contraction and every twist of my face. In an instant I was ready to go to the hospital and started to question if I could do this.
Then came the sweetest reminder.
A pitter pat of little feet came down the hallway. I stared at my sweet Ivy girl with her dark curls and sleepy eyes, and as I sat down to rock her back to sleep I was reminded of her birth. But not in a traumatic way- I was reminded that she was worth it. In a few hours I would hold my new baby for the first time and on that thought- I knew I could keep going.
2am- Rafael and I loaded up in the van. I turned the music up loud and we followed the curvy back roads to Cookeville.
Finally Rafael spoke up, “Ash, are you sure you’re ready to go to the hospital? I feel like you aren’t as far along as you usually are when we go.”
Fear gripped me. What if he was right? What if we got there and I hadn’t made any progress since the morning before?
“Let’s just drive around.” I whispered.
I watched the dead cornfields in the dark December night and trusted that come spring they would grow and bring forth fruit of their own. But for tonight they rested. But my spring had come.
We stopped and bought some bottled waters and then we drove all over.
“I can’t do it anymore.” I whispered as we pulled up at a red light. “Go to the hospital. I just can’t do it this time, I’m sorry. I need an epidural.”
“Well, let’s just go see where we are, and then we can decide.”
“No, I know you think I am strong, but I can’t do it anymore.”
At the Hospital
Pulling into the hospital was such a relief, but I was brokenhearted to have to make this call- especially knowing that Rafael wasn’t on board. I went to the bathroom in the E.R. and started to think maybe I was closer than I realized but I brushed off the thought and we treaded down to labor and delivery.
They handed me the hospital gown and exited the room while we got settled. I was overwhelmed by the heartbreak of making a choice without including Rafael in it, especially because I had largely excluded him from this labor so far.
“I’m sorry. Whatever we do, I want to decide together. I’ve been trying to do this without you and I need you, so whatever we do- I want you on board.”
He nodded, kissed my forehead, and started rubbing my back and hips.
The nurse came in to check us in. My contractions were close and Rafael was largely handling all conversation at this point. Another nurse came in to check me and see where I was at.
I was praying so hard that I was making progress!
Her eyes bulged a little. “Did you say you were a 3 this morning?”
She turned to the other nurse handling the check in. “Call the midwife. She is like a nine and a half, her water is bulging, and baby’s head is right there.”
Those were some of the best words ever spoken. Although Rafael looked like he was about to hit the floor.
And Speaking of floor…
The midwife came in and broke my water and pulled up a seat in the edge of the room.
I stood up to walk around. We made a lap around the room and then Rafael suggested I try doing some squats since they had helped me earlier. I squatted beside the bed. In an instant- I saw everyone moving towards me and my hands gripping the sheets on the bed scratching and clawing.
“God I can’t do it. I need your strength.”
“Amazing job Ashley! Just reach down and pull him through.”
I reached down and grabbed the slipperiest baby I had ever felt.
And just like that- he was here. Tiny with gigantic eyes that were already locked on me.
I glanced around the room. Rafael was up against the wall- everyone was standing around oohing and awwing at this sweet boy who had just been born in the floor of the hospital.
No one saw Him, but I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus was in the room that night. And when my strength failed- His carried me. There was so much joy and laughter following his birth, but there was also a closeness to God that I long for again even as I face the fear of this upcoming birth.
Indie has brought so much love and laughter into our home. He is sweet, silly, and would literally play peek-a-boo 24/7. When you name a child something like Independent Praise (praise fully independent of our circumstances, which is what Indie Jude means) expect to be tested in that. The days that followed- the year that followed- has pushed us and grown us in ways we never saw coming. But I look at my sweet Indie and it all seems to melt away. He is a constant reminder that God has equipped me to fulfill the purpose He is calling me to- and when my strength fails, His is perfected.
Indie and I shared a first dance that I will never forget. A dance mothers have done for generations, but God had finally allowed me to embrace it. I will always be thankful for this birth experience- but even more so- I will always be thankful for the wild haired, blonde headed little boy who reminds me there is always a reason to praise.
In the Coming Days
You probably think after such a wonderful birth I am fully confident in facing the birth of baby #5. I thought I would be too. But if I’m being honest I have shed many, many tears in the fear and uncertainty of what is ahead. But I know Isaac is worth it- just like all the others. So Mama friends, if you feel so inclined, please say a prayer for me and the birth that is looming in the upcoming days. You have no idea how much I would appreciate it.
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