‘Tis the Season…for Birth!

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

This song by Sara Groves was on repeat in my heart as I opened the computer to write this morning. It’s just one of the myriad on my labor playlist, patiently waiting to fill the space surrounding us as we welcome our newest baby boy into the world. Lyrics speak to my soul and these words resonate so deeply with me during this season of life. I can’t help but stand in awe at how the Lord has faithfully orchestrated every moment of my life in both seasons of drought and seasons of blissful abundance. For all the valleys He’s carried me through and the mountain peaks He’s allowed me to exhale on, it doesn’t escape me that the only constant in life is change. Sometimes we stare so long at our valleys we don’t soak in the beauty and share our joy from the peaks. Well, I want and need to share from this peak, and pray if this finds you in the midst of a valley you will cling securely to the hope of Christ and know He will lift the fog and a new dawn will greet you soon. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I’m just entering my 39th week of pregnancy and getting a bit of solace this morning as Husband and our sweet Mr. B are having daddy/son time at a local indoor play area. I’m grateful Husband stayed home from work on this Friday, as my exhaustion is in overdrive and our 20-month-old desperately needs to run and play on this dreary December morning. Yesterday I had a few contractions, but they were just the precursor to the real deal. For me, it was a completely new experience, because I never felt them the first time around. I had a perfect pregnancy with sweet B until 35 weeks. At 37 weeks to the day, however, I gave birth via emergency c-section due to having seizures. I’d never had them before and I’ve never had them since; it was simply one of those things that can and did happen. It was not the way I envisioned bringing our child into the world, of course, but it did provide a great reminder of what ultimately matters. The fact my son and I are here and healthy is by God’s grace alone and not something we take lightly. Each day is indeed a miraculous gift.

This post is not to share all the details of my first birth experience, but it left me very passionate and sensitive about how the term “emergency c-section” is used and tossed about so flippantly in this country. Most cesareans are only called emergencies after a mother and her physician chose to induce labor (usually with Pitocin), and due to her body/baby not being ready to deliver yet, the baby’s heartrate descends and a c-section (ultimately coined emergency), is the story the mother goes on to share with the world. Honestly, and I don’t mean to be ugly, it’s irritating to hear these stories when you were the person who gave birth early because you and your child nearly died…not because you chose to play God and encourage the baby to come before they were ready. Hear me clearly– I’m not saying there’s never a time and place for medical inductions, but often they can be avoided and are scheduled too soon simply to fit with what works best on a calendar of convenience. Please, if you are healthy and not even 41 weeks, don’t put the cart before the horse in terms of your birth plan.

Having gone through my first pregnancy filled with anticipation for a labor that never occurred, I felt a little sting. I knew what pregnancy was like, but had no clue how it felt to give birth. This time, when Husband and I found out we were expecting another little gift, we began reading and researching what a VBAC entailed and if it was for us. We were quickly able to validate a VBAC was statistically proven to be the safer option than a repeat cesarean. Score! There are a lot of misnomers floating around about VBAC’s and most people don’t take the time to look into the facts. My heart hurts when women and men let fear stop them without so much as knocking on the door of education in this area. If a woman is considered a good candidate, there is no reason why she should not attempt a VBAC, and in fact, there are many reasons why she should avoid another cesarean. To each their own, but I do wish people would arm themselves with knowledge and not just buy into a certain physician or hospital’s preference…often based on the almighty dollar and the red tape of lawyers.

Back to the point. After the surprise of knowing another blessing was entering our lives, we met with an OB/GYN who is very supportive of VBAC mothers. The first thing he asked upon entering our room was “Are we thinking of a VBAC?” This physician was so kind, educated and encouraging, Husband and I were even more confident in attempting a natural birth. While I loved this particular doctor, though, we could not escape the facts surrounding the hospital and group he was affiliated with. As with all things, a little digging showed the cesarean rate (not including unplanned c-sections), at this popular hospital, was over 41%. I’ve never been a gambler and birth is certainly not the thing to start with. We knew, as much as we loved this one provider, the odds were stacked against us to have a successful VBAC. We probably would have labored, but been put on a 24-hour clock and then wound up with another c-section for “failure to progress.” Really, it’s failure to deliver in a timely fashion so they can have an empty bed available for the next person. When all was said and done, we transferred care at 20 weeks and chose one of a handful of providers AND hospitals in our area that had a walk to back their talk.

While there are numerous hospitals in close proximity to our home, we are driving 30 miles away to deliver with a group whose c-section rate was 6.2% in 2012 and VBAC success rate approximately 85%. We are going in having the peace of knowing that should this birth end in a c-section, it’s only because it was truly needed and not because it was convenience based. Not only will I be allowed to advance to 42 weeks before a medical induction is scheduled, but I will be allowed to move around and labor in the water, should I so choose. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Well, to add a cherry on top of this beautifully layered cake, should there be an actual emergency during the birth and we end up in the operating room, this hospital practices Family Centered Cesareans. Unlike a typical hospital c-section, here our baby can still receive delayed cord clamping, the drape lowered and he immediately be placed on my chest, his dad will get to cut the cord, his first bath delayed, etc. As a very natural minded mother, I can’t express the joy that comes from knowing no matter how this birth ultimately plays out, there will be no robbing of precious first moments we can’t get back. I’m so grateful!

As 2013 slowly comes to a close, my blessings during this season of abundance do not escape me. I am beyond blessed to be a mother. While I didn’t grow up dreaming of giving birth to children, I always knew I would have them. Husband and I both planned on adoption before we even married, and we still have every intent of welcoming more little blessings into our lives. While I’ve been given an incredible gift in carrying children in my womb, in the long run it doesn’t matter how a baby enters the world. Whether natural, c-section, adoption or surrogate, who cares?! Praise God, the Creator, for the gift of life and those who choose to receive it. A mother is a calling like no other and how a baby enters the world doesn’t make a mother. While this post is about our prayers and hope for a beautiful and redemptive labor and delivery, it’s also about the fact that God is faithful in all things and should be trusted to know exactly what you need when you need it. My life is proof that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He’s always been faithful to me!

If you are a believer, would you please pray with me as I near the end of this pregnancy and prepare to give birth to our newest little man? My prayer for him throughout this journey is that he be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream, and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit (Jeremiah 17:8). I want this precious child, birth and every season of life to glorify the Lord. Please pray for wisdom, peace and joy as our family grows and above all that we would shepherd these children well so they might come to know and walk with the Lord from an early age. This is the deepest longing in my heart and prayer as a mother.

Should you not hear from me before Christmas, I truly wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy HOLY Day as we celebrate the greatest miracle of Christ, the Lord.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7).

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