Note #1: Because my firstborn, my sweet baby Elliott, was born via c-section, we had to make a choice about the type of birth we wanted to have with our daughter. A VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) has its risks because it is possible (though unlikely with the type of incision I had with my cesarean) that the uterus could erupt during labor. However, having multiple c-sections has its disadvantages as well. We spent *a lot* of time praying, reading, researching, talking to doctors, midwives, and others, and finally decided that we wanted to go for the VBAC. However, we fully trusted the Lord for the outcome…trusting that He would make it clear to us every step of the labor if we were to keep moving forward with trying for a VBAC or if we should stop and have a c-section. My doctor said she wasn’t comfortable letting me go past 41 ½ weeks, so we had a c-section date scheduled for October 8 at 2:00pm with a check-in time of noon. If I didn’t go into labor before then, then our answer would be clear…
Note #2: One of the things that was difficult about my first labor/delivery experience is that I had so much trouble REMEMBERING most of those initial moments that Elliott was born. I am so grateful for the pictures that Brian and our doula took because I have no memory of the first few minutes that I got to hold him and nurse him. It had been a long, very hard week leading up to his birth and then a fairly traumatic rush into the emergency c-section. Anyhow, when I went to write out Selah’s birth story, the words that kept coming to mind were, “I remember…”…because I did. I am so grateful for the many gifts the Lord gave me in this labor and delivery, one of them being THE MEMORIES.
The Day That Selah Came
(And the days leading up to it…)
My due date came and went, and I was desperately trying to send my body into real labor. I remember one particular day, being super determined to get contractions going. I took Elliott outside to play soccer and every time he kicked the ball past me down the street I would run down the hill as fast I could to stop it.
At one point we walked to the bottom of the hill because he wanted to see the dogs, but then he got tired and wanted me to carry him back up the hill. I gladly scooped him up and made the hike! I got home and did 5 sets of stairs (my goal was 10, but that didn’t happen!). That night I attempted jumping jacks. And although I only made it through about 3 of them, I was laughing so hard at myself that I thought my snorting laughter alone might send me into labor! But it didn’t. And I was WIPED the next day from all of my labor-inducing tricks.
So, we went to the beach. And I laid down while Grandma & Grandpa Moberg played with Elliott. I was too tired to try and force my body into labor.
Saturday, 10.6.12. I told Brian I needed a change of scenery. You can only walk around the block so many times when you are DAYS AND DAYS overdue before you start to go a bit crazy. I was officially one week overdue at this point, and the deadline of noon on October 8 was creeping up quickly… We all decided to go to San Diego for the day, run a few errands, find a fun park for Elliott to play in, and go to dinner with some family friends who happened to be in town. Little did I know that after having dinner with these same friends, Brian’s brother & sister-in-law went into labor the next day with their first…dun, dun, dun….
I got home that night and a friend asked how I was doing, knowing that my labor deadline was approaching so quickly. And I remember relaying to her the revelation that I had recently gained conviction for in my spirit: “You know, the Lord is so in control. He EASILY could have sent me into labor by now…” In the previous 24 hours, I had had such a peace come over me that the deadline set by man could not hinder the Lord’s plan for our lives. If He wanted me to attempt a VBAC, He would make it happen. If He didn’t, He would keep my body from going into labor.
So when I woke up with contractions around midnight, I remember encouraging myself (because yes, I often encourage myself!), “See…you knew He was in control…”
Labor begins…and I remember…
I remember thinking, “I can’t do this.” A lot of times. Like when we headed across the border at 5 am and I was throwing up in the car while having back labor contractions. And then Brian stopped for gas :). Like when we got across the border and daylight hit and my contractions stopped, just like they had done with Elliott. Like when I called the doctor on call to talk to her about what to do, not knowing how long I was allowed to “labor,” and she snapped at me, telling me 20 minutes between contractions is not real labor. Like when my contractions picked back up that afternoon, with heavy, intense back labor, and were 3 minutes apart for a minute long and I knew these were only the beginning stages of labor and I could barely handle it. Like when we decided to head to the hospital and I was on all fours, throwing up into a bucket, sweating from every pore of my body, feeling like someone was wringing out my gut from the inside out and scraping the nerves of my lumbar and sacrum with a scalpel.
But let’s back up a minute…
Midnight, 10.7.12. I remember waking up with contractions that continued steadily, every 5-8 minutes. Finally, around 3 am, I remember gently shaking Brian awake with a, “Happy Birthday, my love…guess what? I’m having regular contractions! Do you think we should head to San Diego?”
I remember packing up and trying to keep down an egg sandwich despite the nausea attempting to push it back up. I remember the moment the nausea won. And I remember collecting barf bags to bring in the car with us.
6 a.m. I remember arriving at the YWAM Hospitality house in San Diego, eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes, and laying down to rest for a bit because the contractions had almost entirely stopped…
Noonish. I remember being “that pregnant woman” walking through the Bonita Mall, trying to get my contractions going again but so badly wanting to celebrate Brian’s birthday…and I remember him saying over and over, “This is the exact way I want to celebrate my birthday…preparing for our baby girl to arrive!” And I remember realizing, once again, that I married the most incredible man on earth.
Now, back to the “I can’t do this…”
3 p.m. ish. I remember laying down to try to rest when my contractions and the scalpel-scraping back labor all came back with a vengeance. I remember pushing against the wall with each contraction–the only position that was remotely “comfortable.” I remember finally getting down on all fours, head in a bucket, and trying to drown out the “I can’t do this’s” in my head by saying out loud over and over, “You can do this, Sus…you can do this…” After an hour of this, 3 minutes apart, we decided to head to the hospital.
I remember crying most of the way to the hospital. Not “I’m-in-so-much-pain” crying (even though I was!!), but “totally-overwhelmed-with-the-(amazing)-reality-that-this-was-actually-happening” crying. I called the hospital between contractions to tell them I was coming in. The first woman I talked to was sooo nice to me (God bless good ol’ fashioned NICE PEOPLE!!) and was sooo excited for me. “Oh, you are?!” the stranger exclaimed (as if she were my best friend) upon hearing the news that we were coming in. “Let me connect you to triage. Do you know what you’re having?!”
“It’s a GIRL!!!!” I sobbed as the dam holding together my composure came crashing down with a flood of tears…almost as a proclamation from my spirit that she was finally coming…Yes, she was coming!! We still didn’t know how, but we knew she was coming…now. Months and months of overcoming my fear of what could happen during this labor were coming to an end…now. Months and months of building up my faith, of learning how to trust the Lord in a whole new way…and now, now! Now the muscles of faith that I had been building for those months would get to participate in Game Day. Now…
“THANK YOU!!!” I sobbed back, and would have thrown myself into a big bear hug in her arms had she been standing in front of me.
She put me on hold and I just cried and cried…the lady picked up from triage: “May I help you?”
I quit trying to hide the fact that I was a blubbering mess, and I unashamedly cried like a baby into my cell phone. “Hi! I-I’m (sob) in (sob) labor and I-I’m (sob) coming in to the (sob) hospital!”
“Yay!! Congratulations! We’ll see you when you get here!”
“Okay!!!” I sputtered back through my stream of tears.
I remember being so overwhelmed. So grateful my contractions had stayed at 3-4 minutes apart for the last hour and half…so grateful that SOMETHING was going to happen.
I remember being checked into triage. I remember the nurse telling me that I needed to cleanse, pee a little bit in the toilet, and then pee in a cup. I remember looking at her like she had just asked me to do a handstand…was she cuh-RAZY? It’s hard enough to pee in a cup when your 10+ months pregnant, but to do it while having horrific back labor and to pee a little, stop, and then get the rest in a cup?! Okay…moving on…
5pm. I remember finally getting to the bed where they checked me. I remember the nurse checking me and telling me I was… (drum roll please…)
…at a 1 and a ½.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I remember thinking. A 1 and a ½???
I remember her saying, “Well, but your contractions are so intense and so close together (every 2 minutes) that I can’t imagine they’ll send you home…I’m sure they’ll admit you. You’re about 80% effaced.”
I remember being so grateful for that, thinking back to my labor with Elliott. (“Just please, please don’t send me home!!”) I remember them taking me off the c-section schedule for the next day, because even if I were to end up with a cesarean, I didn’t need that scheduled appointment anymore.
5:59 p.m. I remember meeting the doctor on call, and not being a big fan. And why had it taken her an hour to get there?? But she admitted me, and advised me not to get an epidural (which I was very adamant about making sure everyone I came into contact with knew that I was very eager to get started) until I was at least at a 4. I remember thinking that would be hard, but it was a good goal.
6:45 p.m. They finally got us upstairs to the delivery room.
7:05 p.m. I remember my sweetest little Elliott, who got to come up to visit. I remember having a contraction while he was there, and desperately trying to smile through it for him. I remember him seeing the yellow exercise ball in the room and shouting, “Boh!!” and I remember just wanting him to laugh and run and play with it, filling the room with innocence… I remember that he wanted to sit on my lap and he kept pointing at all the “bracelets” I had on my wrist. And I remember that it was one of those moments where you are so glad he doesn’t understand that the red one is in case I need a blood transfusion and the IV in my arm is in case I have to be rushed into surgery…and his naivete brought a sort of refreshing calm to my spirit…it wasn’t his job to worry about anything other than why I was so blessed with some new “jewelry,” just as it wasn’t my job to worry about anything other than resting (well, ahem, laboring!) in the Lord’s hands. Constantly grateful for the ways my son reminds me that I am my Father’s daughter, His little girl, His baby.
7:15 p.m. I remember getting iv drugs—Zophran to help with the nausea and some pain medication to help relax my body to hopefully help me dilate and make some progress.
9:27 p.m. I remember the nurse checking me and telling me I was at a 3. And I remember thinking I didn’t want to deal with the back labor any longer. We had decided ahead of time that it would be the best thing for me to get an epidural in case I needed an emergency c-section, and so if I was going to get one anyway, I wasn’t willing to endure the back labor anymore. I remember praying with Brian, and feeling peace about getting the epidural right then, even though I wasn’t at a 4.
9:40 p.m. I remember Dr. K. coming in to give me the epidural. I remember them telling Brian to sit down in a chair in front of me so he couldn’t see the needle, and giving him a mask. I remember the needle going in, and it feeling off-centered…like it was to the left of my spine.
10:55 p.m. I remember the nurse checking me, and relaying the news that I had made no progress. I remember being discouraged (this scenario was all too familiar…), but still at peace. They put the catheter in, and I tried to sleep, knowing they were going to relay the news to the doctor.
11:19 p.m. Dr. R (the OB) came in and checked me. I remember her telling me that I was actually still at a 1 ½. Ha!! How do you dilate backwards?? I remember wanting to ask for someone with smaller fingers to check me again. 🙂 I remember feeling like she thought I was the biggest wimp, and I remember not caring at all. She broke my water, and it was clear. A great sign.
I remember so badly wanting Selah to be born on Brian’s birthday, and realizing that it wasn’t going to happen…
I remember joining hands with my husband and praying boldly for our hearts’ desires…that God would allow us to have a VBAC.
I remember sleeping, and suddenly being woken up with panic. I couldn’t feel my left leg (which felt like it was the size of a tree trunk) at all and the back labor had returned on the right side of my back. I remember panicking…feeling so out of control…wondering how I would get on all fours if her heart rate dropped like Elliott’s had. Wondering if I could do this…feeling so tired of the whole process. I remember my husband taking my hand and I remember praying with him…I remember him boldly declaring truth over me and our sweet Selah, and I remember feeling peace. I remember asking him to get my ipod, in which I had just put on a new playlist of 4 songs specifically about the Lord’s faithfulness, specifically for Selah’s birth. And I put the ipod by my head, and rested beneath the promises of the Lord…
4 a.m. I remember Dr. R. checking me and telling me I was at a 4. Hallelujah. I remember her saying I needed to keep dilating in order for this to keep going…
I remember texting a couple people to pray for dilation breakthrough!
6:55 a.m. I remember them checking me and telling me I was at a 6…that could be stretched to a 7!
7:00 a.m. Doctor’s shift change, praise God. I remember Dr. Huskey coming in, and cheering for me. We had made it this far. I remember being in her office the previous Wednesday and I had been at a 0. We had talked through the c-section protocol. But now, here we were…on c-section day, but I was in labor. I remember being relieved that she was on call, not the other doctor anymore… I remember her saying, gently but firmly, “Okay, I’ll give you as much time as I can–until 10 o’clock—and we’ll check you again. As long as you’ve made progress, we’ll keep going. Now, if you’re still at a 6, we need to talk about a c-section, okay?”
I remember saying, “Okay,” and not being afraid. I remember simply being so confident that the Lord was going to bring Selah into this world in the perfect way…whether it was vaginally or through surgery.
Then, I remember realizing it was time to put my game face on. My Deborah face. It was time to stir up the Mama in me that was created to rise up and fight. There is this balance (that I have been learning about) of relinquishing my plans in the Lord’s hands, trusting Him to bring about the BEST way, but also knowing I was created to fight, to war, to cry out for my heart’s desires. So, I rose up. I began to pray and talk to Selah constantly. I even moved my iPod down towards…how do I say this…”The Exit” (tmi?) so that she would hear the music, singing of God’s faithfulness, and know which way to get out :). I talked her down…I told her which way to go and what to do. I prayed for her. I prayed for me. I remember being so filled with peace, and so filled with a confidence that she was moving…
And then, I remember feeling the urge to take a big poop…that’s what everyone had said it would feel like. I remember being half in and out of sleep/prayer land and feeling that and suddenly, urgently, excitedly, hopefully calling Brian. “I feel like I need to poop!!”
“Okay…” he responded. (Oh, the things my husband puts up with!) 🙂
“That’s what everyone says it feels like when you’re ready to push!”
I asked him to get the nurse, and when she came in I relayed the news with incredible eagerness to her, just like a toddler who’s potty training. “Well, I’m only allowed to check you every 2 hours. So let’s wait until 10…”
9:55 a.m. I remember the nurse coming in just before 10 and saying, “Well should we check you?! I can’t wait any longer to find out if you’ve made progress!” And I remember thinking, “You’re telling me! Check me!!”
And time paused in that moment and a heavy stillness fell in the room as if all of creation was waiting for her answer. And then it came…And I remember…oh, I remember her smiling, and saying…
“You’re at a 10. Her head is right there…you’re ready to push!!”
I had never heard those words before!! And I remember crying and saying, “Really?! Really??? I get to push?!!!”
I remember her saying, “Now don’t push yet. Wait for me to get back in here so I can show you how.” And I remember thinking, “Are you crazy? I have NO idea what I’m doing…I’m not pushing without you!”
I remember other nurses coming in and setting up the room. It was happening. I remember Brian taking notes on his phone. I remember us trying to figure out how to set up the tripod to take pictures. I remember putting one song on repeat and putting the ipod up by my ear. I remember being so at peace…I remember being so confident in our God. I remember the room being a place that was calm…not panicked…and I couldn’t believe this was how birth is supposed to be…
I do remember wondering how I was going to push since I couldn’t even feel my left leg…
10:30 a.m. I remember them getting my legs in the stirrups.
I remember asking for a mirror.
10:33 a.m. I remember the nurse teaching me how to push, and I remember doing a practice push. I remember thinking pushing was going to be so challenging, but I was so eager, ready, and excited to face it. I remember doing the practice push and asking, “Is that it?? Am I doing this right??”
I remember thinking that I would need a lot of help, but I didn’t. At one point, I remember the nurse had to walk out of the room and Brian was trying to get the tripod set up, and I just push, push, pushed on my own…so eager to see my baby girl. I remember thinking that pushing was a lot easier than I had thought it would be, and that was PURELY the grace of God…
I remember smiling the entire time that I pushed. I couldn’t help it…I was pushing!! I was pushing my baby girl out!! This was it!!!! I was filled with an all-consuming peaceful joy…serenity…
10:43 a.m. I remember seeing the top of her head!!!!!
10:57 a.m. I remember the nurse calling in the doctor and the team…
I remember Dr. Huskey coming in and pushing once for her. Then I remember her saying, “Okay, I want her to come out on this next push, alright? Can you do it?” And I remember saying, “Yes!”
11:07 a.m. And then…oh, and then!! I remember seeing Selah’s perfect head followed by her perfect body come out, and I remember her crying right away…
…And I remember thinking, “We did it!! We DID it!!”
…and I remember watching everyone’s faces and I remember that none of them were panicked…I remember thinking, “It’s all okay…everyone is okay…”
…And I remember them putting Selah on my chest and I remember being absolutely overcome with gratitude…
…I got to hold my baby girl!! I got to hold her right away!! And I remember those first few moments of holding her in my arms….
…There she was, crying on my chest…she was mine…and I was filled with overwhelming gratitude…
…And I remember talking to her and just loving hearing her cry…
I remember telling her that she did such a great job over and over and over again…that she knew exactly what to do and she did it…
I remember holding her on my chest and loving being her mom…loving getting to see her up close right away…loving every minute…
I remember thanking the Lord…over and over and over again…I remember being so, so grateful…I remember somewhere in all that my doctor said, “You tore a little bit…to a 2.” And I remember instantly saying, “That’s okay!!!” What a small price to pay for my sweet baby Selah!! And I remember…I remember it all…
“You have given her her heart’s desire, And have not withheld the request of her lips. Selah!”
Oh, how she is and will be a constant reminder to stop, to pause…to remember the Lord’s faithfulness and to lift up praise to His name!!!