I will share my true thoughts, feelings, and experiences without filter; read at your own discretion.
I’ve read Supernatural Childbirth. Twice. I’ve prayed bold prayers. I’ve asked God what for His will to be done. I’ve made my own will known. The birth story that I’ve believed God for isn’t the birth story that I had, and that’s okay.
The week leading up to Lily’s birth, I was tossed two and fro by a whirlwind of emotions. I had been praying my entire pregnancy for a birth story that would make peace with my past.
After the birth of my son, Elijah, in 2016, which was intended to be an all-natural birth at a birth center and ended in an emergency c-section at a hospital, I prayed and believed boldly for something new.
I prayed bold prayers each day.
I cried in my prayer closet.
I said, “God teach me your ways. You’re sovereign. Bring me closer to you. Your will be done,” while simultaneously praying, “Satan I bind your plan against my womb. Lily, get into position. Uterus contract. Longer, stronger, more effective. I declare that this will be a supernatural birth. Lily will be born on time. She will be born vaginally. She will have no drops in heart rate, no chord wrapped around her neck, and no complications.”
I felt so double-minded, not because I ever struggle praying or believing bold prayers, but because as Lily’s birth approached, I felt stuck at the crossroads of my will and God’s will, wondering whether or not they align. Hoping that they align. Praying that they align.
On my due date, October 21, 2018, my husband, my mother-in-law and I took a long stroll down the Atlanta Belt Line. This was our second time walking the belt line that week. We walked a total of about 3 miles.
After spending most of my week laying on the couch waiting to go into labor, walking the belt line was a breath of fresh air. That evening, right after Michael and I went through our bedtime routine with Elijah, a shift happened.I began having the strongest contractions that I had been having all pregnancy.
I practiced breathing through the contractions in the way that my doula, Nadra, taught me how to. I was proud of myself for my level of peace. As I was laying on my right side, my contractions became painful and were coming 3 minutes apart.
It felt as if something was pulling deep in my uterus. I figured if I rolled over, maybe then my right side would have some relief. I rolled to my left side and sat up on our bed. I felt a trickle between my legs, but I knew I didn’t pee my pants.
“I think my water broke,” I said to Michael.
“Really?” He asked.
I stood up from the bed, and a puddle of water splashed on our hard wood floors. Gosh, I’m grateful for hardwood floors! Michael and I began to celebrate! My water broke on my due date! Just like Elijah, who was born on his due date, Lily seemed to know when to come right on time.
After I had gotten myself into some good-ol’ depends, and about ten minutes had passed, I felt a little drop in my spirit. I wasn’t feeling any contractions. In fact, ever since my water broke, my contractions had completely stopped.
I felt my chest sink into my stomach in deep disappointment. Will this birth be like last time? I wondered for a moment. Triumphantly, I cast down the vain imagination.
I prayed to God, “Give me peace. Help me not to overthink. Give my mind rest.”
I decided that I wouldn’t stay awake and drain out any emotional will I had left. I napped for about 30 minutes. While I didn’t want anyone to get excited about my onset of labor and risk disappointment, I couldn’t shake the truth that I needed to tell my doula that my water broke.
I texted Nadra, and she told me that I needed to call my doctor. So I did.”Come in tonight,” Dr. Hsiou said over the phone.
“I’d actually like to labor at home as long as possible. I’m not having any contractions,” I responded.
“All right, I guess you could do that. The latest you need to come in is at 6AM tomorrow.”
“Ok. I’ll be there at 6AM.”
Nadra called me and let me know that she was coming to my house. When she arrived, she brought a peanut ball and positioned it between my legs while I rested in bed to encourage Lily to make her way down into my pelvis. I slept with the peanut for most of the night.
At 4am, I got all of the last-minute items packed into the car as Nadra made Michael and I eggs and sliced apples for breakfast. I still wasn’t having contractions unless I was using a breast pump to onset them.
I cast down every worrisome thought as soon as it came. “I won’t mistake the beginning for the end. My story isn’t complete yet,” I engrained into my mind.
At 5:30AM, Nadra, Michael, and I drove to the hospital and got settled in. I was still thinking hopeful thoughts. Still wearing depends as my water continued to leak. Still not having contractions.
By 8AM, I had discovered that my preferred doctor was not on call, that Lily was laying face-up instead of being in the preferred face-down position, I was only 1 CM dilated, I was hardly effaced, and that Lily hadn’t dropped at all.
My extremely, very-much-so un-preferred Dr. on call, Dr. Cohens, didn’t honor my birth plan.
My birth plan said to have intermittent fetal monitoring, not continuous monitoring; Dr. Cohens forced me to have continuous fetal monitoring. My birth plan said that I should have the opportunity to eat throughout labor; Dr. Cohens ordered that I not eat… at all.I fought her on these decisions, but she didn’t budge. I was wrought with disappointment.
Why, if I had prayed for this birth for months, would I get the worst doctor who didn’t honor my birth plan? Why if I played for this birth fervently for the past week, had my water broke while Lily was high in my uterus and laying face-up? Why did my contractions stop? Why were the odds already stacking up against me?
Since my contractions didn’t pick up with the use of a breast pump, I was placed on a low-dosage drip of Pitocin. I was glad to be on Pitocin, because I figured that it would give me my chance to have the vaginal birth that I’d believed God for.
I began having light and infrequent contractions. I listened to worship music and diffused essential oils as Nadra and Michael spoke kindness over me. I was sniffling, holding back tears at the thought of my current circumstances.
As I began to bounce on the birthing ball and perform labor-encouraging squats, nurses would come into my room, nearly every 10 minutes, to readjust my wireless fetal monitor. Since I was being continuously monitored and the wireless monitor was quite faulty, Dr. Cohens ordered the nurses to ensure that I not move in such a way that they couldn’t keep up with the baby’s heart rate.
So there I was, unable to move and unable to eat, laying on the hospital bed. I’d had so many nurses prick me, prod me, and readjust me.
Rather than face the frustration of the situation, I figured I’d have more peace if I just slept. My contractions picked up to about 5 minutes apart and became stronger. I’d nap in between contractions and breathe through them. I became more at peace and more hopeful with each strengthening contraction. I felt victorious! Not only was I progressing, but I was also back in a state of peace.
Little did I know that these were the strongest my contractions would ever get.Dr. Cohens visited me again as the constant bearer of bad news. She told that as I was resting and contracting, the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She also checked my cervix and told me that I hadn’t dilated any more.
She also told me that my blood tests came back, that I was extremely anemic, and that a blood transfusion might be needed. She also told me that I was running low on time because it’s not advisable for baby Lily to remain in-utero 24 hours past my waters rupturing. Dr. Cohens ordered that I be taken off of Pitocin.
At my summit of hope, I plummeted with disappointment. My soul ached.After I was taken off of Pitocin, my contractions stopped. After an hour of monitoring, Dr. Cohens said that Lily’s heart rate had stabilized and that she’d place me back on Pitocin. I figured I couldn’t give up hope. I had to keep fighting.
Nadra and I decided to help labor along by taking a walk down the hall. So, we lugged the IV, the wireless monitor, and my big belly out the door.
The nurses wrapped me with another hospital robe around the back of me so that I wouldn’t flash anyone.I could only walk back and forth down a narrow and shallow hallway. I could see the look on the staff’s faces that sat at the desk across from my room–every time I’d walk, my monitor would stop.
I kept up with this walking as my contractions picked back up. But I knew it wouldn’t last. Cohens ordered again that I stop walking so that they could monitor the baby’s heart rate. I couldn’t help but think that I was set up to fail from the beginning.
Why hadn’t she just followed my birth plan from the beginning?
That evening, about an hour after being taken off Pitocin yet again, Dr. Cohens came in with the words that I had been dreading.
“I would advise you to get a c-section.”
“I figured you might refuse,” Dr. Cohens said as tears ran down my face.
She wasn’t surprised, because I had pushed back on her inconsiderate wishes from the moment we met. After she spouted off a list of reasons why C-section was advisable, I refused yet again. She left the room. I burst into sobs as Michael and Nadra comforted me.
“I don’t want that woman cutting into me! I don’t trust her! She set me up to fail from the very beginning!”
The three of us decided that I could wait until the morning to see which doctor was on call the next day. That doctor would perform my c-section. So, we asked a nurse which doctor would be on call the following day.
To our misfortune, Dr. Bills, our other least-preferred doctor was on the job the following day. There wereonly four doctors on staff at my OBGYN office, yet the two doctors that I prayed not to have while in labor were my only options.
“I just wanted a supernatural birth that I prayed for,” I told Nadra and Michael; “but I guess forgiving Dr. Cohens can be supernatural in itself.”
We agreed to a c-section that night. The anesthesiologists came in and numbed my body.
“If you feel any pain during the surgery, let us know,” said the anesthesiologist.
“If you tell us you’re in pain and you ask us to stop, we will.”
“Thank you,” I agreed.
I was rolled into the surgical room with tears strolling down my face. One of the male nurses that strolled me to the room stroked my forehead and told me I was beautiful and that everything was going to be okay. I’m not sure why, but that was the most comforting touch from a staff member that I had had all day.
When I reached the surgical room, I see about 25 medical professionals swarming around the very small room. I wondered why so many people were here. Dr. Cohens muttered to me some medical jargon, which I can’t remember.
After she finished, I asked, “On my birth plan, I asked to see the baby immediately and to decline the shot. You’ll do that, right?”
“They’ll take care of all of that after the baby is born,” she responded haphazardly.
My husband sat next to me squeezing my hand as the surgery began. I felt so much more tugging and pulling than I felt with my last c-section.
How is it possible that I’m in this room? How is it possible for me to be feeling this? I thought to myself.
Less than five minutes into the tugging, pulling, and pushing, I felt a small pain in my chest. In a matter of seconds, that pain grew.
“I feel pain,” I said to Michael. “My chest hurts.”
The pain grew and grew and grew. It felt as if a blade sat in between my rib cage. It became excruciating. “I feel pain! My chest HURTS!”
‘”She feels pain!” Michael yelled. “Stop!” He said.
“We can’t stop now,” I heard a voice say. “We’re too deep in,” they finished.
I was in disbelief and writhing in pain. I was told that they would stop if I felt pain.
Why did they lie to me? Why hadn’t they honored my words? Why did this whole day feel like me vs. the hospital? Why did I feel like I was abducted by aliens and being inhumanely experimented on against my own will? Why did this hurt so bad?
“MY CHEST HURTS! MY CHEST HURTS! MY CHEST HURTS!” I yelled. I felt the medical team pushing on my abdomen harder than ever before. With each yank, my chest hurt more.
“The baby’s almost out!” I heard someone say.
After one huge yank, I heard my baby girl crying.
I burst into tears! “My baby! Let me see my baby!” I said, in pain.
A mask was placed over my mouth by the man who said kind things to me in the hallway. “Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay,” he said softly.
“My.. chest… hurts…” I said softer as I drifted away. I’d been knocked out by laughing gas. I hadn’t seen my daughter.
I went on a trip. Like, a real trip. I painlessly drifted some very vivid dream… probably about being abducted by aliens.
My eyes blinked open as I came to. I coughed as softly as I could, as if to clear my throat without hurting my insides. I suddenly remembered where I was. On a hospital bed, under bright fluorescent lights, surrounded by 25 of my closest strangers.
“How long was I out?” I asked the nice man who knocked me out with laughing gas.
“About five minutes,” he said.
“Wow, thank you. It felt like 30. I think I went on a trip. Thank you.”
“Where’s Lily?” I asked my husband.
“They took her away,” he said. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was at a loss. I sat there, tears rolling down the sides of my face back to my ears. I sat there sniffling while the medical team placed more IVs in my limp arms. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak for myself. I couldn’t see my baby. This had to have been the most traumatizing moment of my life.
After another 10 minutes of waiting, I was rolled into my tiny recovery room. There I see her–Lily Blair. She was as beautiful and as pink as ever. My heart fluttered with joy.
“My baby!” I said! “Can I have my baby?!”
The woman who was standing near Lily’s hospital bassinet completely ignored my request. With a blank, sarcastic face, she started rambling on about how I needed to care for Lily and how she was going to be taken to get bathed. I couldn’t believe it.
“CAN I SEE MY BABY?” I said firmly, exhausted by anger.
The lady realized that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She stopped talking and gave me Lily.
Lily’s eyes were wide open. She was so small, pink, and perfect. Seven pounds and three ounces of perfection. She looked straight into my eyes, and I burst into tears and laughter. She was all worth it. If you read through the entire birth story, then you probably understand why it was so difficult for me to share.
The last thing that I would want to do is incite fear or doubt into the minds of pregnant women who are praying for a perfect birth. But I couldn’t let that worry keep me from sharing what I learned.
After I had prayed and fasted and believed God for this birth to be a supernatural VBAC, yet ending up with the most traumatizing moment of my life, all I could conclude was that it was meant to be.I found out later that the chord had been wrapped around Lily’s neck at birth. This may had contributed to her drops in heart rate.
What if I had had the doctor that I’d prayed for? Would he have followed my plan? And if he followed my plan, would he know that Lily’s heart rate was dropping?
If he wasn’t as rigid as Dr. Cohens was, would he have had the instinct to make the right calls?As much as I despised everything leading up to Lily’s birth, she was healthy. She passed every single postpartum pediatric test with flying colors.
Even though I was extremely anemic and had borderline gestational diabetes during pregnancy, she was the perfect size and lacked not a thing. She had perfect hearing, a strong heartbeat, and was full-term. She latched onto my breast perfectly and ate well.
So many women have miscarriages, stillbirths, children with abnormalities, and issues breastfeeding. How ungrateful would it be for me to not thank God for Lily’s perfect health? How foolish would it be for me to sulk about my birth story while Lily could have stopped breathing, yet she was in perfect health?
I’ve learned that God knows best. While I didn’t ask for the birth that I had, it was a moment of strengthening in my life.
I learned to stand on God’s sovereignty even when I didn’t get what I prayed for.
I learned to swallow the reality of plans changed, knowing that those plans were probably for Lily and I’s good. I walked through an experience to prove that I truly believed that good times and perfect stories don’t indicate God’s love for me. I actually feel like the experience brought me closer to God, and even closer to the woman that He’s called me to be.
I know that the more I’m pressed at all sides, the more oil is produced in my life. I know that when my faith is tested, its true colors are shown. And I still love God. I still trust God. I still think His plan for my life is good.
If your story isn’t perfect, then join the club. When things don’t go as planned in your life, it’s okay. The Word of God says that it’s for your good. All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
You don’t have to know why.
You don’t have to have the answers.
You’re becoming who you need to be. You’re growing in faith. You’re learning to trust God when it’s hard. It’s for your good.
Hard times shouldn’t be a surprise to us as Christians. Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.”
I love the way the message version translates this passage. It says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.
Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”
This isn’t strange. It’s a part of the process. Glory is just around the corner.
I’m looking forward to when I get to heaven. I imagine myself sitting by a stream, surrounded by bright lights and white, fluffy clouds next to Jesus in glory.
I’m looking forward to asking Him why my birth story played out the way it did, even after I prayed and believed and prepared so fervently. I have peace knowing that whatever that answer is, I’ll be able to say, “it was all worth it.”