I’ve received the request a number of times to share the birth story of our little Jack. It’s not super polished, but neither is birth, is it? I hope it will be a blessing to you to read. Every birth is an incredible event that points us back to our God, the Author of life.
I woke up just shy of 4am on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 20) feeling off.
The three days prior to this had been spent at a conference, walking many more miles than I had for months. When we returned home on Saturday evening I could tell my body was stressed. I had severe swelling, was pretty sure I was dehydrated, and having Braxton-Hicks every five minutes or so. I told Judah, “I think I need to take it easy tomorrow,” as I sat on our couch elevating my sad-looking feet.
Back to 4am Sunday morning. I decided to get up, and as soon as I did my water broke. And let’s just say it was one of those dramatic versions like you’d see in a movie. I was only 35 weeks 6 days along, so I was shocked and disoriented (and my water has never broken earlier than a few minutes before my other kids were born). I gasped to Judah that I thought my water had broken; I’ve never seen him jump out of bed so quickly in our almost-decade of marriage. I tried to get myself cleaned up enough to get in the car while Judah texted the ladies who rent our basement to see if they could listen for the kids. I texted and called my doula, which I realized later I didn’t need to do yet, but I had no idea what was going on or when this baby was coming. My last labor was so quick, we only made it to the hospital 40 minutes before he was born (and that combined with car troubles) had meant she wasn’t able to make it. I really didn’t want that happening again.
Then we were off to the hospital.
We arrived to an empty ER, where they brought me a wheelchair. An OB nurse came to take us to the Mother and Baby floor, where they confirmed my water had broken and got me hooked up to monitors. They had a hard time starting an iv due to dehydration, which isn’t normal for me since I usually have great veins (they think this may be one of the issues that contributed to my water breaking).
I was having only mild contractions every 10-15 minutes, with no indication that they were getting stronger or closer together. I was 2-3cm dilated, but Jack’s head was not engaged at all. And it became apparent from the get-go that he wasn’t tolerating even the mildest contractions. He was having what I believe they call “late heart decelerations,” which indicates an issue with the placenta. These, the nurse told us, they can do very little to reverse, but that they would do everything in their power to try.
The next couple of hours involved visits from the pediatrician to fill us in on what they usually see with a baby who is born at that gestational age and possible complications, a steroid shot to prep his lungs, and all the normal paperwork. The midwife brought a doctor in to get a second opinion on where things were at, and she concurred: things didn’t look promising for a vaginal delivery. They had me continually switching positions and gave me extra fluids to try to change the decelerations, but nothing was working. They had hooked me up to pitocin, but they could only use the smallest amount because of his continual heart rate dips.
About 5 or so hours in, my on-call midwife (who we’d only met that day) came in to talk with us. She actually started to cry as she told us it looked like there was no other option but c-section (she knew I’d delivered 4 other babies naturally, and was feeling for me; how sweet is that). She said they would give it as long as they could, but prepped us for the probable outcome and all that would entail. She and our nurse were so kind and sensitive, and left Judah and I to process. Judah texted our pastors and several other people to pray, then we sat together quietly. We’d heard an incredible message on prayer just days earlier at the homeschool conference that was resonating in both our hearts. I told Judah that although I was peaceful about whatever needed to happen, I felt that out of honor to the Lord I needed to pray specifically that He would turn this situation around if it would bring glory to Him. So we did just that.
About an hour later, the heart decelerations just… stopped. The nurse came in, clearly excited, telling us they could up the pitocin to get labor going. The midwife came in, too, almost giddy. She said she couldn’t believe what had happened—that she’d never seen that kind of turn-around. We’d told both of them that we had people praying, and the nurse had told us she was also praying (the nurse was a believer, but the midwife was not). Both of them said there was no other explanation. God had clearly done something miraculous, and the glory was truly His.
I messaged Lauren (my doula) that she could head our way. I’d been keeping her updated all day, and had been so sad at the thought of her missing another birth. But the Lord also granted that request, and it was an incredible help to have her there (in fact, it’s probably the only labor I would’ve had a really hard time coping with if I hadn’t had a doula there).
Judah was such a steady presence throughout the whole process. I will forever be grateful for this man who comforts and leads even in labor, which is so out of his control. I’m also so thankful he led us to go to the Lord in prayer first instead of simply relying on the wisdom of man.
Labor was fast (around 3 hours), and I only pushed for about 10 minutes, but it was definitely my most painful. I’ve never labored with my water broken, and I think the combination of that with the pitocin (I’ve labored with pitocin one other time, but it was much easier), and the fact that my body wasn’t quite ready to deliver a baby was what made it more difficult. Although it was incredibly painful, I was so full of joy. The Lord had answered our prayers in an astounding way, and I couldn’t help but rejoice. God’s joy truly was my strength, and His peace truly ruled the whole process.
Jack was born just over 12 hours after my water had broken, and hearing his hearty cry was so sweet (they had prepared us for possible breathing issues, which he didn’t have). The placenta had quite a few spots of calcification, which is often a sign that it’s beginning to slow down; they said this could also have been one of the reasons my water broke so early.
We were able to snuggle him for an hour or so before they did all the usual newborn things like weight (6lbs 1oz) and length (18″). Then we were taken to the recovery room. That’s when they tested his blood sugar—which was really low—and they took him over to the “special care” nursery (which, thankfully, was just a few doors down from my room). Thus began our next little adventure of our days in the NICU (they’d projected up to 4 weeks there, so the fact that he came home just 6 days later was a whole new set of answered prayers). But that’s another story for another time. I did, however, document quite a bit of it on my Instagram.
God used this birth and the surrounding events to grow my faith and display His love and care for me in precious ways. Just when I was tempted to think I’d learned all the lessons I could from labor and delivery, the Lord showed me He’s not done sanctifying and making me more like Him. He is good in all His ways!