V's Birth Story // Natural v. Medicated Birth

Click here for Z's birth story.

She's here! April 7, at 5:38am. Kyle is convinced that we're fated to have babies in the middle of the night, and I guess since we're two for two he may be right.

Taken at the hospital, with my cell phone. We did snap a few actual pictures with our actual camera, but I fear she's already doomed to the "second child" fate because I think Z's entire first 24 hours was documented on film. 

I find it interesting the way things happened with V, because for most of her pregnancy I was planning on going the natural route again. About two months away from my due date, however, I began experiencing a lot of fear about the birth itself - mainly, that I didn't want to do it.

Which is a common thing for pregnant women to feel, I've been told. The fear of birth made sense to me, even in my most hormonal moments. I don't know any woman who has children because she enjoys labor and the recovery process. Talk to us six months after, when our baby is cute and chubby and *hopefully* sleeping through most of, if not all of, the night, and the incredibly insane *whatever* that our body just did has all but left our memory.

In addition to the normal fear, Z's birth wasn't entirely smooth - and the recovery process well, sucked. But everyone was saying, "Don't worry! Second births are way easier!" God and I had several conversations about it, and the whole time I felt like He was saying, "I'll be there with you, Christina. Don't worry. Trust me."

I went to a refresher class for the Bradley Method, which we used with Z, and I walked away encouraged. Reminded about all the tools that I had at my disposal to walk through this birth without the use of an epidural.

And in spite of all these good things, there I still stood, a few weeks out and feeling a bit hesitant about the whole thing, even though I had done it before.

Over the next few weeks I focused my energy on getting ready for her to be here. I was excited about her, you know. The little one kicking around inside of me. It was just the process of her arriving that was making me nervous.

Really, looking back, I simply lacked the same confidence I had going into the Z's birth. There was this weird assurance that I could do it. Not a big deal for some, but if you know me and my very low pain tolerance - the fact that I'd be so confident to give birth without pain medication was very likely a supernatural grace.

With V - it just felt so different.

On Sunday morning, I woke up having contractions that were 20ish minutes apart. This continued all day. They were not painful at all, very much what I remember from "early labor" with Z. So I went to church, went to lunch with Kyle's parents (who came in town hoping V might show up that weekend), and then took a nap. The rest of the day I walked, and walked, and walked. We went to the mall and walked until they closed, and then went and ate dinner at a restaurant within walking distance from our house. The whole time, my contractions wouldn't get closer together than twelve to fifteen minutes.

Then, after dinner they started picking up a bit. I was excited, and we got our overnight hospital bag ready with last minute items.  Then all of a sudden, they shifted back to 20 minutes apart. LAME. Though still not painful, the contractions had bumped up to, "If this keeps up all night - I will be a hot mess in the morning," status.

At some point after we went to bed, I began to get all panicky, like, "WHAT IF I LABOR FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS LIKE THIS. WHAT IF MY LABOR IS HORRENDOUS. WHAT IF. WHAT IF. WHAT IF."

So, after I calmed down and my breathing returned to normal, that verse in Philippians where Paul straight up tells us to not be anxious in anything (I assume this includes birth) and rather to, you know, talk to God about it, ran through my head.

So I did, and for the first time during the whole pregnancy - when I finally calmed down enough to just let God talk to me, I felt Him ask:

"Christina, why aren't you considering an epidural?"

Me: "Ummm... because I did it this way last time? And because if I get an epidural that means I caved."

God: "Yeaaahh... those don't really seem like good enough reasons to me."

And you know, they weren't. Just like that, my heart was flooded with peace, and I turned to Kyle (who was asleep), poked him in the side and said, "Kyle, I'm choosing to get an epidural this time."

And he half mumbled something like, "Sounds great, Babe." And then fell back asleep.

Something I've mentioned on this blog before is how labor can slow down, or stop all together, when there's an unprocessed fear/source of anxiety. Well, as soon as I made the decision to go with an epidural, my contractions started coming super fast. They went from barely squeaking under ten minutes apart to to being 3 to 4 minutes apart in like, half an hour.

We scrambled to throw all of our stuff in the car, woke up Kyle's parents so they could take Zeke, and took off to the hospital. At this point my contractions still weren't that intense. I wasn't able to talk to anyone during the contractions, but in between I was pretty chipper. (To be honest the only reason we left was because of how close my contractions were - if I had gone based on pain, we may have been pulling into the hospital around the same time V decided to make her appearance.)

Oddly enough - I had zero contractions on the car ride over - which didn't bother me because nothing is quite as obnoxious as laboring when you're sitting up with a seat belt on. My first contraction that may or may not have made me curse (in my head - my father-in-law was in the car with us) happened right when we pulled into the ER.

Now, if you've ever had a baby at the hospital, you know that they encourage you to "pre-register" so that you don't have to fill out a million forms when you show up and a baby is trying to shove their way out of you. We have done this both times, and I have yet to understand that in spite of this, there are still about 500 million questions you must answer about yourself and your family's health history before they check you in. To be fair, this is one of the very few issues I have with hospitals. But still, when your uterus feels like it's being turned inside out at the same time that someone is taking a sledgehammer to your pelvis, you don't really want to have to think about if your siblings have ever had asthma.

The contractions kept coming, and as I said they had now hit the, "not responsible for my words/actions," level on the pain scale. When the labor & delivery nurse showed up to escort me to my room, I was literally on my knees leaning over the check-in counter, and asked her if I could, "please... please... not use the wheelchair." She let me walk up to the room. Bless her. (Contractions, believe it or not, are actually way less painful when you can be up and moving.)

I labored for about an hour and a half before the anesthesiologist showed up.

Another thing: I hate needles. To be honest, it's one of the reasons that I even began to consider a natural birth with Zeke. Who wants a GIANT NEEDLE being plunged into their spine? I was incredibly nervous. Especially because they make you watch this video (I kid you not, again, while the sledgehammer is going) about all the things that can go wrong with an epidural.

Here's the thing though, they shoot you with a local anesthetic so I didn't even feel the epidural. I mean, I felt a weird little poke but that's it. Getting my IV hurt worse than the epidural did. And after that weird little poke?

I felt nothing. And it was glorious indeed.

I giggled and talked with my sister-in-law for the next two hours while Kyle slept on the floor. (I was too full of adrenaline to sleep.) And then I began feeling the urge to push a little bit, and with each contraction it became harder not to push. The nurse told me that she'd come and check me at 6.00, and around 5.15 I buzzed her because I really didn't think I'd make it that long. Sure enough she came in and after checking me, quickly called my doctor to come.

My OB walked in around 5:30, I woke up Kyle, and after a few pushes, V came into this world eight minutes later.

My recovery, compared to Z, has been light years easier.

So now you may be thinking, "Um.... are you trying to convince me that natural birth is crazy?"

No. I believe that natural birth was exactly how I was supposed to have Z, and I'm not ruling it out for future children, either. In fact, my OB told me when Z was born that not getting an epidural likely played a huge role in the fact that I wound up not needing a C-Section. Since I didn't get one, I was able to feel everything that was happening, which made my pushing way more effective.

However, with V, my OB told me that getting an epidural is probably what made the recovery so much easier. I was able to wait and not rush through the last few pushes, which gave my body plenty of time to relax.

I believe birth, like everything in life, is a spiritual thing. There were times during this process that part of me kept feeling like I might be "over-spiritualizing" it, or something. But that just wasn't the case.

So now, where I stand on natural v. medicated is to be Spirit-led each time. I will tell you that I am so grateful that I live in a time that I have a choice. And I'm overwhelmed with gratefulness that our V is here, safe, and so am I.

God has this crazy way of giving us exactly what we need, even when we try and fight it.



Y'all, I Love My Friends

I spent a lot of this weekend writing out thank you's to the many people who have been blessing Kyle and I with gifts for our little girl. Most of them were women, because, well, that's who came to my baby showers. 

Anyway, it got me thinking how amazing and beautiful these women are; and how it'd be crazy if I was friends with one of them, but how really it's the grace of God that I count myself friends with all of them. 

Maybe this is a Southern thing, or a Christian bubble thing, or a Southern Christian bubble thing, but it seems people are often nervous to talk about facets of their lives that are actually pretty freaking sweet, because they don't want to make other people feel bad who may not be in the same place. 

Which is a good and sensitive thing, but I wonder if it also keeps us from really reveling in specific areas that God has blessed us in. It all comes down to approach, I'm sure. 

Like me being clear that I haven't done anything, really, at all, to deserve a community of women like the one I have - especially if you knew more about my backstory; and that I know many women who do deserve one, but don't have one, and I don't really understand why. So the biggest reason I felt compelled to write anything down was because this huge wave of absolute gratefulness hit me - that God's given me this circle of women for this season. 

A circle of women that I feel safe enough with to cry in front of (like, rage-cry), or make inappropriate jokes with, or be angry about something that I probably shouldn't be but am anyway, and I know they won't jump on my bandwagon but they won't make me feel like a jerk either. 

That I can talk about the hard parts of my marriage with, and I know they know my husband and they know I love him even if there are days you wonder, you know, how "forever" is going to happen. And they listen and nod and encourage and send me back to Kyle with a heart full of hope and not resentment. 

That I can vent about how hard motherhood is, and (again) they listen and nod and encourage and know that I love Z even if there are days you wonder, you know, how raising a healthy human being to adulthood is going to happen. And they send me back into the trenches of raising little ones with joy and not bitterness or boredom. 

A circle of women that are at different stages in life, and have walked different paths in life, and each have their own Jesus-story. Being able to watch each of them love Him, and maybe even more so watching Him love each of them, has taught me more about how wide and how long and how high and how deep the love of Christ is than any amount of sermons or books could. 

It hasn't always been scented candles and soft laughter over coffee mugs, mind you. There's been sharp points meeting vulnerable spots and apologies needed and misunderstandings cleared. But these women, they're willing to work hard at friendship and community and connections that are deeper then a quick smile and nod as we pass each other on Sunday morning. 

Because what motivates them is much deeper then a mere sense of sisterhood. 

It's Christ. Christ, who exists in a constant state of community, and therefore as His followers the need for deep connection echoes through our souls. 

These women, I've seen them do it many times, roll up their sleeves and head into the scary world of female friendships, ready to fight for each other. I've had the privilege of watching them on the front lines for several years, and let me assure you that no battlefield can wound like the one of friendship with women. The risk is great, yet they continue. 

And so, I am thankful for these women who have walked before me in marriage, motherhood, ministry, and life, the women I can look at and ask, "How did you make it through?"; and the women who are walking behind me, who I can look at and say, "Come! Be brave, follow Christ, and let us help you as sisters." 

And I soak in each day I have to walk alongside them. 


Every Day Revival

This past Sunday my friend Sarah spoke about revival, and it was good.

Because when you grow up in the church, sometimes all you can really picture when people talk about revival is huge stadiums of people singing worship songs and dedicating their lives to Jesus and crying a lot.

Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but it's not an every-day-life sort of thing, either.

She spoke about revival, but more specifically about how revival is really all about bringing about life, again.

And she talked about how sometimes, we lose things - life-giving things - in our every-day. Because of fear, or tragedy, or hopelessness, or maybe even just the painfully average wear that certain seasons can bring.

So we need Jesus to revive these things, things we thought long dead. To send a second wind of the Spirit, if you will, raising our Lazarus hopes when we had counted Him too little, too late.

This kind of revival requires an unnatural amount of trust though, doesn't it? In this sort of revival we wait for Christ to restore and renew hopes with the knowledge that it may not happen for a good, long time. Indeed, maybe not even before He restores and renews all things.

But our hope is that it will happen. Revival will come. Whether it's like a blazing fire or a burning coal - we will be renewed.

I'm learning to stand by the empty tombs in my life, and rejoice in the hopes and dreams Christ has revived.

And while waiting by stones still rolled shut, to remember that no matter what happens, the one I needed rolled away the most was the first He took care of.