Four short years…a lifetime…ago, I held my newborn son in my arms. He was only three weeks old but seemed older. I had read countless books, scoured the internet for articles, took the most in-depth childbirth class I could find and stubbornly set my mind to have a natural birth. I even switched care providers at 36 weeks into my pregnancy when I realized my current OB and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on my plan. I felt a sense of confidence in my body, my abilities and my team as my due date inched closer, and closer, and closer… and then I passed it. You know when you check your rear view mirror for something you’ve just passed but you’re already so far you can’t see it anymore? That’s the way I felt watching my due date slip deeper and deeper into history.
First, I turned down the induction appointment. Then the next one. Then the next. I didn’t have any pushback from my midwives – I was healthy, my baby was healthy and I decided to keep waiting. But you never realize what a big number 42 is, until that’s the number of weeks you’re pregnant. All the couples with due dates near ours had babies in their arms. I wanted to meet this little person I had dreamt about for months. I wanted to hide out from all the “You’re still pregnant?” exclamations. I knew this is what I was supposed to do, but couldn’t explain it to anyone.
I remembered a game we had played in our childbirth class. All the possible interventions/procedures of childbirth were laid out in front of us. We had to decide through a series of rounds, which ones we were ok with and which ones we would fight against at all costs. By the time we had finished, the last one left face-up in our pile was: INDUCTION. I knew this was the intervention that could more easily lead to every other. If your body isn’t ready for labor and your baby isn’t ready, it would make the process more difficult to come through safely and in full health. I had my next appointment on the day I hit 42 weeks. I turned down one more induction date for the following morning – even though I was experiencing prodromal (practice) labor and was so tired of being pregnant. But I wanted to believe in my body’s design; wanted to believe that my baby would start labor when s/he was ready; wanted to prove that I could do it.
That night, my husband and I walked miles and miles. I stopped a few times to catch my breath around contractions, but knew labor wasn’t really here yet. It was frustrating and saddening, and I almost wondered if it would be worth it. We prayed that night – I was too tired to speak but Eric contended for us: “God, we give up! We can’t plan or control this and we give it up to you. Thank you for our baby – a miracle! – and help us be content with whatever happens.” Then we went to bed.
I slept so hard that night. Didn’t do the bathroom trudge at 2am and don’t remember any tossing or turning (this is no small feat at 42 weeks pregnant! Can I get an AMEN?). Then, I suddenly had to pee at 5:05am. I rushed/waddled down our steep little stairs to the bathroom. Then walked back ready to sleep for a few more hours. As soon as I laid down…
POP! My water broke in a gush! Our sign! We tried to be calm – contractions could take time to start – but as I showered 15 minutes later, it was clear this was it. Two hours later we were at the hospital and after 5.5 hours of labor, we welcomed our first son into our lives!
His birth changed everything for me. It renewed my faith in God’s timing, it showed me patience like I’ve never known, it set me on my “passion path”, but most of all, it gave me complete faith in the process and design of labor and birth.
Faith in birth is difficult to grab and hold onto in today’s culture. We’re taught from movies, our friends and family, and the internet to fear this amazing process. We can be scared by stories of rare complications and medical emergencies where mom or baby was in danger. One of the most important things I learned while pregnant was that 95% of women could birth normally – without any sort of intervention. Women are amazing – God designed us to conceive, grow and birth babies! But it can be hard to remember that in the climate of fear we’ve become so accustomed to. (By the way, I am SO thankful for the medical professionals who save babies and women every day! Every intervention was developed for a good reason – but the overuse for no reason is what can get us into trouble…)
Find ways to renew or develop your faith in birth. Know how your body works and why labor is GOOD for you and your baby. Understand the sensations of labor and birth. Know your own mind and discover what options are right for you and your situation. And don’t give in to the spirit of fear that surrounds us as women. Bring back the faith! Because when you do, you’ll also find confidence, strength and wisdom you never knew you had.