Here it is!!! My birth story written out for all to read! I was really honest throughout it in describing what the experience was like from my perspective. I'm so happy to finally have put it to words, just in time for Cannon's 1st birthday! :)
*The credit to all the professional photos in this post goes to Joy Breaux from Cher Bebe Birth Stories. She did an amazing job capturing these sacred moments for us!
*I reference Rene' a few times throughout the post. If you read the previous posts you'll know this, but just in case you're just tuning in, Rene' Johnson from Birth Help, was our incredible doula. I cannot recommend her enough! I am so thankful for all of the wisdom, guidance & support she lent us throughout my labor. I know my birth experience would have been completely different without her by our side! •••••••
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” ~Psalm 30:5 What a perfect verse to describe that experience, but also our entire journey with infertility, adoption, pregnancy & birth. The pain I suffered one year ago tonight was all consuming, but the joy that came in the morning was worth every.single.second of it!
The night I went into labor (40 weeks 5 days) felt like the longest & most emotional day of my pregnancy. By the time evening came around, I was dead on my feet! I remember the kids being wild, dinner being late & bedtime being long! My desire to get to the couch to prop my feet up was strong! During dinner, I felt what I thought could be contractions, but I didn’t make much of it. I’d had my membranes swept at my appointment earlier that day in a effort to encourage labor. This was a last resort move for me, because induction was looming over our heads at this point. Membrane sweeping can often cause non-progressing contractions, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. But after a while, I started to glance at the clock to see how far apart what I assumed were Braxton Hicks contractions. 20 mins, 8 mins, 18 mins, 10 mins, 22 mins...irregular, short, not painful, “probably nothing” I told Cary. Shortly after getting the kids to bed (wayyyy later than usual! They usually go to bed at 7:30, it was about 10 p.m. at this point) I finally made my way to the couch. As soon as I sat down, my alarm to check my blood sugar went off. I heaved myself up & waddled into the kitchen to prick my finger. As I finished & made my way back across the kitchen, I felt a rush of water & heard a loud, “splat.” I looked down to see a puddle of water at my feet. “CARY! I yelled, OH MY GOSH, CARY, MY WATER JUST BROKE! AND OH NOOO, IT’S YELLOW & GREEN! SHOOT, MECONIUM! CARYYYY!” Another splat hit the floor & then another as I stood there freaking out! I was equal parts excited & shocked. I told Cary, “THIS IS IT! GET MOVING! GET THE KIDS UP & OVER TO YOUR MOMS—” pause....and there was my first undeniable contraction. “Wow,” I said...“this is happening!” We called Rene’ & then Cary went into high gear loading our sleepy kids & dog into the car to bring over to his parents house (they live in the neighborhood next to ours thankfully!). While he was gone I had a couple more contractions. They were 5 mins apart, not too long but felt strong. I was surprised by how quickly the pain came on. I threw on my “labor clothes” & began pulling out our bags to add the “last minute items.” By the time Cary returned, I couldn’t do much besides bark orders in between contractions. My contractions were less than 4 mins apart, all the while getting closer together, stronger & longer. Cary was running around with his head cut off & I’ll admit I wasn’t the most calm or patient in those moments either ha! Things were moving a lot faster than I had anticipated! I was anxious at that point to get to the freaking hospital.
The car ride was not fun to say the least. It was so uncomfortable to be strapped in my seat throughout the contractions & Lord have mercy, I felt every bump on the interstate to my core. In between contractions, I alternated between yelling at Cary to speed up & scolding him to slow down. I wouldn’t let him turn on the air, so he was sweating buckets. When he turned on the radio I almost snapped. Haha! Needless to say, I did not feel in control of myself or the situation at this point. I was panicking! As we sat at the red light waiting to turn into Oschner, I turned to Cary & said, “I don’t think I can do this.” He didn’t say anything in return, which looking back was a really smart move. ;) A minute later we pulled under the ER overhang with contractions about 2 1/2 minutes or so apart. Blessed Rene’ was waiting for us. She directed Cary where to park the car & I went into the hospital with her. I don’t remember walking through the ER at all. I remember getting to the hallway & leaning into the wall as a contraction passed through me. I was pale & I was shaky, but Rene’s presence helped to calm me.
We made it up to labor & delivery to check in & Cary joined us shortly. It was there, that I first vocalized with a contraction. This was something that I had never pictured myself doing, but it happened so naturally that there was no time or energy to worry about it & no thought about fighting it! The next part of the story is a bit of a blur to me. I remember going back in an assessment room, bleeding & leaking fluid all over the floor, which I was appalled by & apparently very focused on cleaning up. We were then very quickly directed to our labor & delivery room where I was asked wayyy too many questions by our nurse. It took some serious willpower not to snap at her when she tried to ask me a question as a contraction came on. Thankfully she quickly caught on & only talked to me between contractions. After the endless questions ceased, the nurse checked me to see how dilated I was. To my surprise & disappointment, I was only at 2 centimeters, maybe not even, the same as I’d been at my appointment earlier that day! This was a mental hit, but I tried not to panic.
I was still wasn’t feeling like I was coping well. My body was tense, I was freaked out & I hadn’t gotten into a good rhythm or position for handling the pain. Everything was happening too fast & not at all like I’d imagined! The nurse started an IV & I was put on antibiotics for GroupB Strep. This was frustrating because I wanted to be able to freely move around, but it wasn’t that big of a deal & was over before long. What was super annoying was the constant fetal monitoring situation that I ended up needing for my entire labor, but at least it was wireless so I was able to move around. In the end, the constant monitoring saved me from a c-section, but it was annoying & distracting because the straps wouldn’t stay in place on my belly.
At this point, things were getting intense. Rene’ helped me to release tension, reminded me to move my hips & helped me switch positions every so often. Cary became a crucial part of my labor early on, applying much needed pressure to my aching back. Back labor was not something I expected & it was honestly one of the hardest parts of the whole physical experience up until pushing.
I labored in a few different positions before making it to the bathroom. I don’t remember much of that time though, just that I survived it. Oh & also that I was only wearing a bra at this point & for the remainder of my labor. I am a modest person & had been extremely concerned about what I would wear during labor, but it turns out that I didn’t give a flipping flip lol!!! I also had towels & a blanket draped over me at different points because one minute I’d be cold & the next hot. My eyes were closed for 99% of my labor & I had absolutely no concept of time. I remember laboring in the bathroom most vividly. I was straddling the toilet backwards with my knees to the wall. I gripped the toilet hardware & pressed my head into it as well. Rene’ put a cloth there for me as a buffer, but I still ended up with a pretty big bruise on my forehead.
Every contraction felt like it was more than I could bare. But bare it I did...somehow. It took a little bit, but I was able to get into a rhythm of releasing tension & surrendering to the pain. After each wave of agony, I would lower my head & my entire body would rest. Relief would flood me followed by dread as I thought to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had no energy for talking, so no one knew how much I struggled mentally throughout my labor. Although I did feel as if I could hardly go on almost the entire time, I also had a wealth of mental stamina built up from my months of practice with positive birth affirmations, which I drew on both subconsciously & consciously for renewed strength. I didn't feel strong, but I knew I was strong, powerful & capable. I never once considered an epidural, it wasn’t even a thought or an option to me. This was the way I was going to labor & that was that. I did wonder a few times if I had lost my mind to be putting myself through this, but I knew in my heart that this was the experience I deeply desired to have. I began to embrace the pain, submitting myself fully to labor, knowing that every wave of it was bringing my baby closer to me.
As another contraction neared, I would raise my head, which would signal Cary to place his hands back on my back. His miraculous hands & tireless support were truly everything to me in my most difficult moments. Vocalizing was a crucial part of my labor & I did it with nearly every contraction. Rene’s calm & steady presence also lended strength to me. Her encouragement after a long contraction or direction to release tension when I was clamming up was invaluable.
I labored in more positions, side-lying on the bed, in the hot shower (the water was amazing on my back), back on the bed & in other positions that I can barely remember. My legs were shaking, time meant nothing, the pain radiating through my belly & my back was all consuming. There was no thinking ahead, it took everything in me to survive the present. Contraction by contraction, my only focus was surrendering to the next one. In my mind, I imagined my baby moving down, my body opening up & desperately longed for it to be over. I thought to myself, “This is torture!” But still, I endured.
It’s so funny to me how much stuff I brought with us for labor vs. how much we actually used, which was basically nothing. Cary fed me bits of food along the way & kept me hydrated. He put on our labor playlist, we used an oil or two & that was really the extent of the tools we used. But still, I’m really glad I was so prepared & brought all the things we did, because it helped me to feel confident going into everything! Cary was definitely my rock throughout labor. Just knowing he was with me & he believed in me meant so much. Although things were a little rough to start, once we got to the hospital, he was exactly the servant-hearted, calm, strong, connected presence I needed.
I vividly remember the contractions getting longer, stronger & more intense. I was side-lying at this point. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t speak, my eyes were glued shut, & I could hardly move, it took every bit of strength I possessed to persevere. Cary says I fell asleep a few times in between the monster contractions, which isn't uncommon in this stage of labor. I knew this must be transition, the hardest part of labor...the part that takes all of your strength & makes you want to give up or simply die, either would suffice. I had held off on getting into the labor tub for when I felt like I absolutely had to have it. Water is used as a comfort measure in labor because it can distract from the pain & more. The time had come for some relief! I asked Rene’ to fill the tub. Then, at the end of what felt like the king of all contractions, my body started to push on its own. I let out an involuntary sound that came all the way from deep in my gut & then another as the pushing happened again with the next contraction. Pushing ruled out the tub, thanks to group b strep & the presence of meconium (baby bowel movement from in utero - which was apparent when my water broke). At that point, the nurse checked me again & I was nearly 9 centimeters dilated! PRAISE THE LORD, I thought.
Things began to move quickly & the energy in the room shifted as nurses began bustling in & out of the room. I stood up with my hands on the bed, my legs wide apart & moved my hips in circles as my body continued to push, all the while with Cary’s hands still on my back. I asked for my mom to be called into the room because I didn't want her to miss the birth. I was told she was there, by the door behind the curtain, quietly praying. She came out & put her hand on my shoulder for a brief moment. I remember sensing that the room was lighter, I peeked open my eyes to see the sun rising. I got my first idea of how much time had lasted as I realized I’d labored throughout the night.
A few minutes later, I heard a familiar voice enter the room. Amanda, our mid-wife! I was so excited because she hadn’t been working the night before & I didn’t know her weekend schedule. She was a breath of fresh air, full of energy & encouragement. She could see baby’s head! "Only a few more pushes" she told me! I continued to meet my body’s natural pushing with all my efforts. Pretty soon, my legs grew too weak & I had to change positions. I tried a few pushes on hands & knees, up on my knees & similar positions on the bed, but between the horrendous pain in my back & the total exhaustion that was consuming my body, I couldn’t hold myself up any longer. And so, in an effort to save any remaining bit of my strength, I ended up on my back - the position I had never imagined I would deliver from!
The final parts of my labor are hard to revisit & there’s a lot I would like to block out. I was in total agony, completely & utterly exhausted...giving it all I had but it didn’t seem to be enough. “HELP ME!” I screamed. I just wanted the baby OUT. I pushed and screamed and pushed but he wasn’t coming. I felt defeated but I kept going, all the while hearing, “one more push, one more push!” At one point I had charlie horses in BOTH of my legs AT THE SAME TIME! Nurses were literally holding up my legs for me in the end & Rene’, Cary & my mom were close speaking words of encouragement & praying for me. At some point, my doctor, who had been monitoring my labor from down the hall the whole night, had come into the room. Finally before the final push, after trying a few other things, she stepped up & cut an episiotomy. This was uncharacteristic of her to do at all, especially without permission, but at that point, we all knew baby needed to come & I didn’t care what it took! “He’s here!” I heard Amanda say & then there he was, my beautiful baby boy, born at 7:43 a.m., which we later realized it also the exact same hour & minute that I was born!!! Crazy!
As Cannon was lifted up & brought to my waiting arms, relief flooded every part of me. Tears filled my eyes & I kept saying, “Hi, lovebug! It’s your momma. Hi, baby! I love you! We waited a long time for you!” I rubbed his sweet little head as tears fell from my eyes. Cary was absolutely overcome with emotion of course! It was the most precious moment! Cannon had a short cord so he couldn’t immediately come up to my chest. It wasn’t long before the nurses grew a little concerned about his color & breathing, so he was whisked away to the corner of the room for a few minutes while they checked him out. Finally, he was able to come back to my chest, but sadly only for a moment before taking a trip to NICU assessment center where he would have to stay for a few hours. I was so sad that I wasn’t able to spend that precious time with him on my chest, bonding & nursing during the “golden hour”...but I felt strangely at peace with it. Mainly, I was just beyond exhausted at that point & so deeply relieved labor was over.
Cannon had low blood sugar thanks to my gestational diabetes, but within a few hours of nursing (& with a little help from the colostrum I'd harvested at home & brought to hospital - we used syringes & an SNS system to give it to him), we were able to get it stabilized & he was released to stay with us in our room! Hallelujah! He was beautiful & looked so healthy. He weighed 7 lbs 11 oz & was almost 21” long. I was so proud & in love with every inch of him! There was nothing sweeter than soaking up his perfect face & snuggling him in my arms! Our long journey to meet each other was finally over, and the rest of our lives together had begun!
I really can’t believe my miracle baby is ONE today! Cannon is such a joy & a gift to us. I’m so thankful God created him & allowed me to bring him into the world! Thank y’all so much for letting me share our story with you. So many of you prayed for us every step of the way & we will never forget how powerful your prayers were! I hope our testimony continues to encourage others in their own journey to grow their families.
Now for ALL the photos!
But first I want to give another shoutout to Joy Breaux of Cher Bebe Birth Stories for capturing Cannon’s birth so beautifully. And thanks again to my parents for giving us such a priceless gift! These photos are so cherished.
Hi friends! I’m excited to continue the countdown to Cannon’s birthday by sharing a series about his birth! If you missed Part 1, you can find it by clicking here. The first 3 posts lay the foundation for the final post, which is the story of my labor!
As Cary & I dove into the process of educating ourselves on birth, we were connected to Rene’ Johnson. Rene’ has over 30 years of experience as a doula & runs her business Birth Help, through which she teaches birth classes & supports couples as they prepare for birth. Her Natural Birth Series classes are incredible & I highly recommend them to everyone, regardless of if you’re pursuing unmedicated birth or not.
In the beginning of our research into birth, the idea of hiring a doula was pretty foreign to us. As we looked at the pros & cons, the only con seemed to be the expense. When I asked my friend who’d recently gone through her second unmedicated birth if she felt hiring a doula was worth it, her response was a resounding YES! She even said something along the lines of “have a garage sale or do whatever you need to do to bring the extra $ in because it’s so worth it!” Ha! I trusted my friend’s experience & knew I would need all the support I could get, so I didn’t take much convincing! (She was right by the way, I would pay Rene' triple her rate in a heartbeat! What she brings to the table is priceless.) Once we met Rene’, there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted her to be with us for our birthing experience. I remember Cary turning to me within 5 minutes of our first ever birth class with Rene’ & saying, “She’s amazing! We have to hire her!”
Rene's classes taught us about how to prepare for birth, what was going to happen to my body throughout the process of labor, what emotions I would face during each phase, how Cary could support me from start to finish, how to advocate for myself in the hospital setting, how to feel empowered in my choices, how to create a birth plan that I felt comfortable with & how to navigate the many decisions that could arise before & during birth. We learned about the medical mindset vs. the midwifery mindset, we explored what hospitals in our area were most supportive of natural birth. Cary & I discussed our fears around birth, our expectations & our hopes. Doing all of this together strengthened our relationship & ushered in a lot of healing to wounds we’d sustained during our years of infertility.
As excited, educated & empowered as I was becoming, I still had a long way mentally & emotionally to make myself ready for the experience of birth. I remember watching a birth video in class that showed moments from many different women's births. The follow up question, "Was there anything you saw the women from this video do that you can see yourself doing in your own labor?" At that moment I realized I actually couldn't imagine myself in labor at all. I had no idea how I would act or cope. There was still a disconnect for me. I knew that despite all the support & education in the world, it would ultimately come down to me to prepare for this experience. I needed to dig deep within myself & begin connecting my heart & mind with my body.
The walls I’d built around my heart & mind when it came to birth were not easily removed. It would take a gradual, consistent chipping & reforming of my mind to go from full avoidance to fully embracing. For a long time, my mind had been in a dark place when it came to trusting my body & believing in my body’s capabilities. I had been let down by my body for years as we walked through infertility. I felt so disconnected from having a natural confidence in my body because I’d grown to prepare my mind & heart to distrust my body.
In my walk as a Christian woman, I know how important it is to use scripture to renew my mind. When it came to renewing my mind with positive birth affirmations, the process was similar. I was in a war, with myself. It took months of daily affirmations, worship & work for to me to uproot the lies in my heart about my body & my ability. I slowly began to believe that my body was capable, strong & trustworthy. This was hard, but I knew that doing the heavy-lifting now was going to give me the strength I needed to push through those difficult moments in my actual labor.
I’ll be writing a post separate from this series to share in detail about the specific ways I prepared my mind, heart & body for birth. One of the most important things I did was to counter my specific fears with positive birth affirmations. For example, a fear of mine was that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain of labor, so I wrote note-cards with the words, “I CAN handle the contractions. I am strong! I will not give up! I can do anything for a minute.” I hung them up around the house in different places. Seeing the affirmations in my own hand-writing was powerful. These affirmations constantly ran through my head, combating my anxiety & laying an important foundation of mental strength for my upcoming birth experience.
Mid-late second trimester was the most wonderful time of my pregnancy! I woke up every day so full of gratitude. Every tiny baby movement was magical to me! To my delight, my baby bump grew bigger & more round every week! I embraced & celebrated all the ways my body was changing. Cary & I decided on our baby boy's name, started talking to the kids about their new sibling & bought a minivan for our growing family. Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday & Christmas were extra special for us. We thanked God every day for answering our prayers in His perfect timing.
Finally writing this out has been so wonderful for my heart! I’m so glad to be sharing it with y’all! Thanks for reading along. Check back tomorrow for part 3!
If you're just now tuning in, I've been sharing a series of posts I wrote about my experience with unmedicated birth. If you missed Part 1 & Part 2, you can find them here & here. Sorry for being so incredibly long-winded, but for me it was important to re-visit all of this as I prepared to write about my actual birth experience. If you’ve read along this far, stick it around, we’re almost there! ;)
As I left off sharing in my last post, my focus towards the end of my second trimester was on preparing my mind & heart for birth. I had birth affirmations hung up all around the house so that every day I could read truths like, “My body was made for this! I am strong! My birth will be beautiful! I can handle the pain.” I filled my ears & mind with worship music every chance I could. I was beginning to make huge progress in breaking down the lies I’d believed about myself, my body & my strength. I started to believe that I really was strong enough to take on unmedicated birth!
In the midst of all our education & preparation, we decided to switch my prenatal care from Woman’s Hospital to the Birth Center. I was just entering the third trimester & had one last visit at Woman's scheduled. I planned to take my glucose test & then say adios to my OB. Let’s just say things didn’t go as planned. Hearing the words gestational diabetes was shocking & so disappointing. It changed things. For one, I was no longer considered low-risk enough to switch care to the birth center. On top of that, I had to see a dietician, eat on a strict schedule, create the perfect balance between protein & carbs with every meal, check my blood sugar levels 4x times a day, take a small amount of medicine at night to control my “fasting number”, walk every day & be monitored by a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor. It all felt so overwhelming on top of everything else that comes with the 3rd trimester of pregnancy & oh yeah, taking care of two toddlers. Once gestational diabetes entered the picture, my moral took a huge hit. It seemed like the odds for an uncomplicated birth experience were stacking up against me.
From that point on, I had to advocate & quite honestly, fight like hell for what I wanted. Through this experience I learned just how strong & incredibly determined I am.
I also had to fight daily for joy. This was not at all what I had imagined the last trimester of my pregnancy to be like. Gestational diabetes was draining, frustrating & frankly really sucked, at times it beat me down, but I refused to let it break me! During those first few weeks after being diagnosed, I went shopping for maternity clothes, had maternity photos taken, we finished up our last birth class & my family threw me a baby shower. Those events really helped to lift my spirits, help me celebrate my pregnancy & keep my eyes focused on all my blessings. At 34 weeks pregnant, I decided to switch doctors & hospitals to put myself in the position to have the most possible support when it came to my birth plan. Our final destination ended up being Oschner & I was under the care of a mid-wife, with a doctor also monitoring my case.
At 36 weeks, we met with our doula, Rene’, to go over our birth plan, talk through concerns & make sure we were all on the same page! That meeting was really important for me. I walked away feeling excited & also aware of all I still needed to do to be & “feel” ready. That week, I focused on packing our bags for the hospital. What a surreal feeling it was! I, of course, went overboard with it in an effort to be prepared for every possible scenario ha! But the act of packing our bags gave me some sense of calm & control for entering into what I knew would be anything but predictable.
To combat stress & continue to prepare, Cary & I practiced comfort measure techniques together often. We read a few pages of Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth together each night, talked through every birth topic imaginable, watched positive birth videos & read research on sites like EvidenceBasedBirth.com. I sat on my yoga ball night every night, moving my hips in a circle while we talked & built our labor playlist. I remember feeling so connected to Cary & so incredibly grateful to be fully supported by him. We were in this together & that brought me so much peace.
The next couple of weeks were filled with some disappointment & stress, as my doctor “informed” me that I wouldn’t be “allowed” to go past week 39 of pregnancy because of gestational diabetes. I won’t go into the details, because even a year later it’s traumatic for me to remember, but he used daunting language to try to scare me into making a decision I did not feel comfortable with. I did not appreciate the way he approached talking to me about all of this. I didn’t feel heard by him, I didn't feel like I could trust him & I knew I did not want him in the room with me when I delivered.
I did not want to be induced & if it was at all possible to avoid. Induction often leads to more inventions, complications & a higher risk of c-section. I fully understood that factoring in the risks associated with gestational diabetes was important for making decisions, but I really wanted to let my body go into labor when it was ready - as long as baby was looking good & there were no concerns. (Around that time, I also found out I was positive for Group B strep, which was annoying, but as Rene’ assured me, was something we could easily manage.) So what did I do after that unfortunate appointment with my doctor? I prayed, I cried, I talked endlessly to Cary about it, I called Rene’ (thank God for that woman) & she encouraged me to advocate for myself & to make decisions based on research not fear. At my next appointment, I spoke to my mid-wife about my concerns (LOVED HER!) & switched doctors again, this time at 39 weeks! My new doctor was amazing. She heard me, understood my desires & eased my fears. My gestational diabetes was well-controlled & there were no warning signs, so she had absolutely no problem with me going to 40 weeks & possibly beyond. What I appreciated about her approach was that it was an educated conversation between doctor & patient, unlike my previous fear based encounter that didn't allow for conversation or value a patient's desires. We scheduled NSTs twice a week to make sure baby boy’s size & movements looked good & to keep an eye on amniotic fluid.
The week of my birth, I was emotionally spent! The weight of what-ifs & worrying if my baby was ok was a lot for me to carry. Honestly, as someone who struggles with anxiety & doesn't handle change well, I am so proud of the way I handled everything throughout all the ups & downs during this time. My journey with infertility & adoption taught me not to give up on what I want. We'd been knocked down time & time again over the years, but we'd also seen the incredible blessings that come when you persevere. I got up every day, big ole belly & all & focused my energy on I wanted, which was to experience childbirth with as little medical intervention as possible. It's pretty awesome to me that at 40 weeks pregnant I was still feeling so great physically, which was such a gift. I walked every day & soaking up both the beautiful spring weather & the joy of feeling my baby move around. I loved my big round belly so much & was already mourning saying goodbye to pregnancy. I tried my best to savor every bit of magic up until the very end!
On what would become the last day of my pregnancy, I had an appointment. I was 40 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Even though everything looked great & my doctor wasn’t pushing me towards a decision about induction, the fear my previous doctor had instilled in me was rearing its head & I was having pretty bad anxiety. We talked it over with the doctor & although I still desperately did not want to be induced, we all agreed that it was probably best to schedule induction for sometime in the coming days out. It was a Friday. We left that appointment with two options for scheduling induction, either on Sunday or Wednesday. I was extremely emotional about the decision! Rene’ & Cary were so great at calming me down, talking through our options rationally & letting me know everything would be ok. Cary & I decided we would take the night to talk about our options & make a decision. I went home completely & totally exhausted both physically & emotionally. As the sun began to set, I sat outside & I asked God to take the decision out of my hands because I really really did not want to make it. Little did I know, He would do just that!
Thanks for reading along! Stay tuned for my final post detailing my labor & Cannon’s birth! I’ll be posting it tomorrow on his 1st birthday! :)
Hi friends! For almost a year now, I’ve wanted to sit down and write a blog post on my experience with natural birth. With Cannon’s 1st birthday being only a few days away, I’ve been reflecting more than usual on what an incredible experience it was to carry him & bring him into the world. I’m excited I finally had the energy to sit down & share our journey & my heart here with you! This is part 1 of a 4 part series. The posts are long, but this is my story & it is important to me to tell it in its entirety!
photo credit by Cher Bebe Birth Stories
P.s. After finishing my final post & then coming back to edit this one, I'm amazed at the work God did in my heart throughout my journey. The transformation I underwent is clearly reflected in the progression of these posts & I'm really excited for y'all to get a peek into it all!
There are many losses to grieve when you are faced with infertility. The experience of pregnancy was at the top of the list for me & birth wasn’t too far down. When I conceived Cannon after 5 years of infertility, the process of celebrating, embracing & preparing for something I had accepted probably would never happen wasn’t simple. My pregnancy & birthing experience was a journey of healing, of growing, of surrendering...and of discovering strength within myself that I never dreamed I could possess.
While experiencing some of the darker times of infertility, it frustrated me that women put so much importance on their birth plan. At the root of that emotion was pain, disappointment, grief, sadness, jealously, bitterness & of course, a lack of education. I thought to myself, “What a privilege it is to get to make those types of choices. If I could get pregnant, I wouldn’t care how I gave birth!” In my season of infertility, as someone who was trying everything to have a baby & I couldn’t - to me it felt trivial for women to complain when things didn’t go the way they planned when it came to their birth experience. I was in a season where exploring how important birth can be for a woman was an impossibility. I was grieving so deeply that the pain of thinking about it, much less understanding it or connecting with it, was far too brutal.
***I do believe that in the end, no matter how your baby comes to you, by vaginal birth, c-section, adoption, OF COURSE the most important thing is simply to have your baby in your arms!!! Although I believe birth to be an empowering & important experience, & I am so thankful to have been able to go through it, I also know from personal experience that our motherhood is not defined by how our babies come to us! Our worth as a woman is not tied to or based on how we birth or even if we birth. It’s sometimes difficult for me to talk about the topic of pregnancy & birth, because I remember how painful it was for me to hear about. I never want anyone to feel like the way they became a mother is “less than” in any way. Please know my heart on this! If you are in too sensitive a season to read this blog series, please stop now to protect your heart. I’ve been there & I understand!***
Although I had attended the births of my first two children Isabel & Noah, who were both adopted at birth, I didn’t really know a lot about the process of birth. I knew that it was painful, there often seemed to be complications & at the end of it, one way or another, there was a baby! During our adoption experiences in the hospital I grew in emotional strength, admiration for my children’s birth mothers, deep love for my babies & gratitude for gift of motherhood, but the physical connection to birth was still much of a mystery to me.
When we conceived Cannon, I could hardly believe that I was pregnant. I was beside myself with joy, but in the first few months, I also struggled with paralyzing fear that I could lose him. There were initially so many emotions to wrestle through, that it took me a while to realize birth was actually something I was going to experience! I really didn’t even start thinking about birth, besides feeling afraid of it, until about halfway through my pregnancy. Birth sounded intimidating & I was so disconnected, it was like “the great unknown” to me. I honestly never would have thought I would end up going on to learn an incredible amount about birth, make an empowering birth plan & have a natural birth!
My exploration of natural birth came after a dear friend who I greatly admire asked me if I was at all interested in learning more about it. I admit I was very hesitant at first. I thought, “Oh, I could never do that!” And to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure I saw the appeal. Why put yourself through pure & total agony when you could easily avoid it?! Despite my hesitation & skepticism, I find myself drawn to learning more. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned why I would doubt myself so strongly. After all, women have given birth naturally since the beginning of time. Why would my reaction be that I couldn’t handle it? I decided to do some research.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned throughout this experience, it’s that information & education are empowering! Once I started asking other women about their natural birth experiences, something clicked in me. If they could do it, maybe I could do it! I remember bringing up the topic of natural birth to Cary. He had no idea what natural birth even was...he thought it meant not having a c-section. Boy did we have a lot of learn! When I explained that I was potentially interested in an unmedicated, vaginal birth, potentially at the birthing center, he actually laughed at me. He really thought I was joking & he also didn’t think that was something I could handle. But once I told him I was serious, his interest was peaked & he said he would look into it with me.
We watched the documentary, “The Business of Being Born” & Cary was suddenly on board. Once we dove into the world of natural birth, there was no going back for us. I was still afraid, but more-so, I was deeply intrigued & now felt fully supported by Cary which ignited confidence within me. A switch had flipped inside of us & we wanted to know as much as possible about how to prepare for this experience!
In seeking out birth education resources, we were directed to Birth Help & doula Rene’ Johnson. I can confidently say that connecting with Rene’, learning from her & hiring her as our doula was the best decision we could have ever made! You can find information about Rene's services here: http://www.birthhelp.com
In my next post, I will share more about how with Rene’s guidance & Cary’s support, I grew in knowledge, confidence & determination as I began to prepare for birth!
Thanks so much for reading along! I am really looking forward to sharing the next few posts with you. Check back tomorrow for part 2!
Hi friends! Happy New Year! It's been a little bit since I've posted. Just wanted to pop on here for a quick post.
Cary & I have been on a tidying rampage for the last week & it is seriously the.best.thing.ever! We started with a major overhaul of the kids' toys & have kept the ball rolling. It's been so therapeutic! Our efforts to purge, simplify & organize have made such an incredible difference in our home already!
I’ve been sharing our progress on my Instagram & have received many messages from people who want to do the same, but don’t know where go start. I thought I'd share some helpful tips to help you get started!
Tips for de-cluttering:
Get your mind right! You can do this! It’s overwhelming when you’re in the middle of the process, but sooo worth it in the end!
Set aside as much time as you can. If you have kids, plan to have them watch a movie/play outside/have someone babysit them so you can have as much uninterrupted time as possible. Plan to order out/have food delivered so you don’t have to worry about cooking & cleaning.
Prepare by gathering boxes/bins/bags to use for sorting your items into the following categories: trash, donate, sell, keep.
Focus on one category at a time. I’ll use clothing as an example: Gather all your clothes & put into one big pile. Every single item! Sort piece by piece. If an item doesn’t “spark joy” (sounds silly but makes so much sense! Why would we want a house filled with possessions we don’t like?), doesn’t fit, is stained/worn out, you don’t wear/use it, doesn’t have a purpose - then GET RID OF IT! No ifs, ands or buts!
It takes a while to get going, but once you find your rhythm it will become much easier to let things go!
Find a home for everything! This is huge for staying organized & using what you have.
Complete your task & all loose ends before moving on to a new category.
Get ready because once you get going you won’t want to stop!
Happy New Year & happy tidying friends!
P.s. Life with three littles sure does keep me busy, but I'm looking forward to continuing to blog here & there this year.