Friday, January 28, 2011

Birth Story

A lot of people have asked me about my birth story. I've been trying to work on it, and I just have a really hard time. I haven't really talked about it with many people in real life, either. I just don't have that happy birth story that everyone does. And the fact that it upsets me so much upsets me too. And, I'm honestly so tired that it is hard to spend time typing instead of sleeping when the baby is napping. But there are things I don't want to forget, and it's making me anxious to have much more time go by without getting things down.

I know I made a lot of choices that you all would not have made and some of you probably will think things could have been done differently and some of you will disagree with my doctor. I guess I'd just ask you to refrain from sharing those thoughts with me. The could-have, should-have, would-haves overwhelm me at times. Also, please know that the things I think about *myself* are not things I think about other people who made the same labor/procedural decisions. I wanted and didn't want various things for a lot of reasons, but not because I think the opposite of my choices are wrong. I don't ideologically object to IVs or epidurals or c-sections...I just wanted things differently.

So, with that disclaimer, here we go.

On Thursday I had another OB appointment and he said I was 5cm and 80% effaced. He also confirmed that baby was still face-up. He had been face-up on almost every ultrasound throughout the entire pregnancy. Thursday afternoon, I began having a lot of back pain and labor again. I had been going to the pool every night trying to float, squat, lunge, swim and do other exercises to relax, and to see if he would turn. I desperately wanted some relief from the back issues. It seemed that those weren't working, so I thought I'd try some other things. We went with some friends Thursday night to the mall and I walked up and down the flights of stairs, over and over again. I wasn't trying to bring on labor-I just wanted baby to move!

On Friday, I woke up feeling really pretty normal. Then at 8:50, I had my first contraction (I know because I still have the timer on my ipod). Then I had another about 20 minutes later. Then quickly, they were 5 minutes apart. My doctor said that if they got to 5 minutes apart for 2 minutes, to go to the hospital. In the meantime, I ate, and drank and then we took a 1/2 mile walk--all the things you're supposed to do to determine if contractions are false or real. 3/4 of the way through the walk, I knew that something was definitely different. We got home and I started vomiting pretty violently, and, problems from the other end started too. It had only been an hour and a half, but with the two new symptoms of active labor, as well as the persistence through activity, we decided to call the doctor. He said it did sound like active labor, and to go to the hospital.

We got to the hospital and they put me on the monitor in triage. The contractions were exactly the same. We decided to do a check--no change. They told me to go walk around the hospital for a while and come back. So I went and walked and climbed stairs for 2 hours. We went back and there was still no change, though the contractions were still intense and regular. We walked some more, and eventually I made it to "barely a 6."

My doctor came in and he said that he was concerned that my body was in active labor but not making any progress. He said clearly my body knew what to do, but something was holding up the process. He gave me options--go home and wait, rupture my waters, or start pitocin. He said the concern with going home to wait is that there wasn't a lot to wait ON. Labor HAD started, even if my waters hadn't broken. Contractions were regular and intense. He was concerned that there wouldn't be a good cue for when to come back. And he said that the fact that I'd been laboring that way all day with no movement meant that the only thing more time would do was make me more exhausted. He said that from everything he'd seen over the last 9 months and even at the appointment the day before, he thought that moving labor along was my best chance for a vaginal delivery. He knew how important that was to me. I asked him what he and his wife wanted for their own pregnancy and he said that his wife wanted a natural birth. I asked him that knowing that about her, what would he do if she was in that position. He said he'd break her waters. We talked and cried and prayed for a long time, and ultimately decided to break my waters, mostly for his thought that it would give me the best chance at a vaginal delivery.

So, they checked me in and moved me to my room. They came in to do my IV and I started crying all over again. I still just couldn't feel comfortable with artificially moving things along. All those things I learned in classes about the domino effect of intervention just overwhelmed me. And I was exhausted already so I wasn't feeling confident in my ability to make a decision. My mom and Todd and doctor gave me all the time I needed, and eventually I settled down. I told my doctor that I didn't want to be held to a schedule of progression and he said that I could labor as long as I wanted, so long as mine and baby's vitals looked fine. So, we decided to move forward.

I'll just say right now that you CAN fire your nurse. The first nurse they gave me had checked on me a couple of times during triage and I didn't care for her at all. But when she was assigned to me, I knew that she wasn't going to help me stay calm, or labor the way I wanted/needed to. I won't go into details; I'll just say that if you're in a position in labor where your medical staff isn't meeting your needs, ask for a new assignment. You absolutely have the right. We did, and every single hospital staff member I worked with for the rest of my labor/delivery/post-partum stay was incredible.

Anyway, they got me a new nurse and after many tries (apparently, my veins hate IVs!), we got my hep-lock in for an IV. My doctor came and broke my water and it wasn't long before the contractions picked up in intensity. The anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself and I told him that I hoped not to need his services. He was very sweet and kind and funny but respected my wishes. They asked me if I wanted to sign the consent papers "just in case" and I said no, because if I did change my mind, I wanted it to be slightly difficult and take a few minutes to do so. They said ok.

I labored for about 4 hours. The contractions quickly became double and then triple contractions. I'd have 1, then a 30 second delay, then another, then another 30 second break, and then a third, and then I'd have a break of 3-5 minutes. The contractions were intense but through them I'd just try to tell myself, "I can do anything for 30 seconds!" I labored mostly in my tub. Let me say this loud and clear--that was the best and most effective solution for pain management. If you can labor that way, absolutely do so! For me the best position was on my hands and knees in the water, doing this sort of hula-hoop swivel with my hips throughout the contraction. Then I'd lie down on my side between them. I did ok like this for a while. But pretty soon, the break between them went from 3-5 minutes to 2-3 minutes. I also started vomiting really violently and convulsing. Then I started hyperventilating. I finally told DH I wanted the epidural. He reminded me that I didn't want it and asked me to wait 15 minutes and see if I still felt the same way. I had 15 more minutes of awful contractions and I asked to be checked again. I was "barely a 7." I told DH at that point that I couldn't go through it for what could conceivably be 12 more hours (if I continued at a rate of 1 cm per 4 hours).

I knew that the anesthesiologist I'd met before was off soon, and I thought I'd be more comfortable with someone I'd met at least once, so I wanted to move forward before he was off. He came in and was very reassuring and kind. I was terrified, and I was sobbing for what I felt was "giving in" but he was patient to work through it with me. It was hard to get to a place where there was a long enough break between my contractions but he was very patient to wait. My nurse had wanted to do another 20 minute session on the monitor before administering it but I couldn't stop hyperventilating, so they let me go ahead with it.

I had printed out all the verses that I posted a couple posts back and my mom and Todd hung them all around the room. I kept looking at them, grieving that things weren't going the way I wanted, but still confident that God would bring us through a vaginal delivery. The verses comforted me. Todd and my mom did virtually anything I needed or wanted-helped me move positions, brought food and drink for me (thankfully, my doctor allowed clear foods and liquids in labor!) and were really just amazing.

Once the epidural kicked in, things were a totally different story. My epidural was pretty incredible. It didn't scare me or hurt to go in. And I couldn't feel pain, but I could still feel pressure and movement and sensation and stimulation. One very special gift God gave me was that occasionally, I could even still feel baby kicks. Oh, how I miss baby kicks! I think that those ones I felt throughout Friday's labor (both before and after the epidural) were God's gift to me because everything was happening so quickly. Those comforted me in a way that still brings me tears to think about. I'll always cherish just sitting there and feeling him.

Anyway, my contractions slowed to a more reasonable pace. The vomiting stopped, my heartrate and breathing slowed down and I overall calmed down. They checked me 2 hours after my epidural, and I'd moved to an 8! Woohoo! 2 hours later, and I'd moved to a 9! It seemed that all my body needed was to be able to relax and calm down for things to move along. We stalled out at 9 for a little while but at 4 hours, I'd hit 10 and full effacement. It was time to push! It was between 5:30 and 6:00 am.

I began pushing. My nurse at this time was pretty traditional in wanting me to push in the semi reclined position, pulling my knees to my chest. It worked for a while but I desperately wanted to try some other things. Shifts changed at 7 anyway, and my new nurse was awesome--we pushed on my side, in squat position, semi-reclined, and on my other side. We constantly alternated. Todd and my mom were amazing to provide whatever support I needed.

I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. Despite the epidural, my back still hurt really badly. At one point, the doctor tried to reach in and turn the baby, but couldn't. We did occasional checks and I wasn't moving stations. The doctor said that really only the head was moving down--almost getting squished and sucked. His whole body wasn't moving. At one point they had me sleep through some of the contractions to try to rebuild my strength to see if more forceful pushing would help. Near the end, I was falling asleep between contractions. They'd stopped letting me eat or drink, and we were now nearing noon the next day.

After about 6 hours of pushing, I started vomiting again, and convulsing. I spiked a fever quickly, and the baby's heart rate started to be erratic. At first, it would only be after the occasional contraction, so the doctor was still willing to let me wait a little longer.

However, he said I should start thinking about a c-section, because I had developed an infection, and the baby had started to show distress. He gave us some time and privacy, and at that point, I really lost my head. I was crying and yelling out to God. I looked at the verses on my wall and felt like I was being mocked. I felt abandoned. I felt like I'd just been through hell for nothing-if I was going to need a C-section anyway, why did I labor so long and hard? Why had every hope I had for labor failed? Did I make the wrong decision at the beginning? I was terrified of surgery.

Several times the doctor held the baby through a few contractions just to ensure that I was pushing properly, with enough force, etc, etc. The baby just wasn't moving.

While we talked and I yelled and cried, Matthew's heart rate spiked and stayed high, even when I was not contracting. We decided it was time to go for the c-section and at that point, I sort of shut down. I remember staring blankly as they talked to me about risks and consents. They tried to comfort me, but I was just numb. I felt like I was outside my body, watching this happen to someone else.

We got to the OR and they got everything ready. I asked them to turn on the Christian radio station and they did. Somehow, as angry as I was at God, that comforted me.

They did the procedure. I remember it feeling very odd. I could feel tugging and pulling. At one point, I think someone even laid across my chest to put some pressure on it. It felt like things were taking forever.

Then the anesthesiologist told Todd to stand up and look over the curtain and have the camera ready. And then it still took a few more minutes. Suddenly, I could feel that he was out. He was delivered at 12:59pm--30 hours of labor including over 6 hours of pushing. But things were silent. There were no cries-just a squeak. The nurses rushed him right past me to a table behind my head. I was screaming for someone to tell me what was happening and was the baby ok and no one would answer me. Finally someone told me that he was "stunned" but they wouldn't tell me what that meant.

Then I laid there thinking, "Oh my God, did I wait to long to consent to the stupid c-section? What did I do to my baby?" I cried and despaired some more.

Then I heard the best sound in the world-Matthew's first cry. They showed him to his daddy

And then they brought him to me. They held him down in front of me and I kissed him and talked to him. The moment he heard my voice, he stopped crying. That was the best moment of my life.

I asked if I could hold him longer but they said he needed to go to the nursery right away for medical assistance. DH went with him and I was alone again. I was being stitched up, and I was just alone with my thoughts. I tried to process everything that had happened, but couldn't. I missed my baby and my husband, and I was completely overwhelmed by what had happened.

They wheeled me to recovery and my doctor came in. He said that the baby was really really stuck and that's why I had so much back pain. He said the baby had a large abrasion on his head from the rubbing. He also said that in that position, they had a hard time even getting him out surgically--I wasn't imagining things when I thought they were taking long. DH told me tonight that he saw that they had to use this "pry-bar-like-tool" to get him out. The doctor also said that I could have pushed forever and Matthew never would have come out. He said that given the size/shape/position of my pelvis, it was unlikely that I will ever be able to give birth vaginally. He had double stitched me and did assure me that he practices VBACs and would let me try, but that's something we'll need to talk/think about in the future--I still really can't think about that right now.

Matthew was gone for what seemed like forever, and when he came in, he had an IV heplock in his hand. He also had a bruise on more than half of his head and a huge abrasion on top of the bruise. At that point, I knew we'd made the right decision in getting the c-section.

The rest of Saturday night and all day Sunday were perfect. We snuggled, enjoyed visits from family and friends, watched the Packer game, and just hung out.

Sunday night, they came to take him for his 30 minute IV infusion, and they came back shortly thereafter and said we had a problem. They said his bilirubin levels were very high risk and we needed to intervene immediately. They said our choices were phototherapy plus either IV hydration or formula supplementation. I really didn't want to do either, so I asked if we could do phototherapy and intense feedings overnight and see if that helped. The doctor consented. In the morning, they retested his levels, and they'd risen considerably. We had another decision to make and I had more tears. I'd wanted to exclusively breastfeed and here I was faced with giving that up, too.

We cried and prayed some more, and I went further into my hole that I was in. We decided to supplement with formula, but asked that we do it with a syringe instead of a bottle. We were told he needed to stay under the bili lights and we could only take him out for 30 minutes every 3 hours to feed him. I couldn't handle leaving him behind in the nursery, lying in a bed all alone, blindfolded, wondering where I was and why he was alone.

Monday was a very dark day for me. I lived for those 30 minutes. I'd sleep, get the call to come feed him, get to the nursery as fast as I could, and bask in my baby for the most precious half hour. A nice nurse figured out how to buy me a full hour each time by letting us wear our sunglasses for the second half hour and hold him under the lights. So I'd feed for 30 minutes and then DH would snuggle him and do the syringe feeding for 30 minutes. Like I said, we lived for those minutes. Matthew loves to snuggle right after his feedings. I hated having to put him down in a bed immediately thereafter. I told him that as soon as his levels came down, I'd snuggle him as long as he wanted.

Meanwhile, I hit a very dark place. I cried and cried and cried. I just couldn't get over feeling like I had failed Matthew in every way. I'd had a rough pregnancy and was unable to nourish him properly. I wasn't able to progress in labor on my own. I wasn't able to get through labor without medication I had wanted to avoid. Then I wasn't able to deliver him the way most of the rest of the world can, and then my nutrition wasn't enough for him either. I really despaired before God, and admittedly, I still really struggle with those things. My doctor came to check on me daily and said I could go home Tuesday or Wednesday. I asked if we could wait til Wednesday because I didn't want to go home without Matthew and waiting as long as possible gave me the greatest chance of getting to take him home. He agreed.

That was the longest day and a half of my life. He had gone in around midnight Sunday. On Tuesday morning, they tested his levels again and they were coming down. The doctor said he'd test again at 2:00 and if they were still down, we could take him back to our room--bust him out of what we called "baby jail." I held my breath almost all day.

In the mean time, my colostrum changed to milk and I produced a LOT. We were able to get in some really good feedings and toward the end, Matthew was refusing the formula because he was full. Around 3:00 we got the call--come and get Matthew out of baby jail! And, we could stop with the formula feeds! After all that agony, he'd only had 3 formula feeds.

Here we are, busting him out:

We took him back to our room, and we fed and we napped and we snuggled for hours. Things were righting with the world again.

I had refused to allow the nursery staff to give him a bath. I had missed out on a lot of his firsts because I was in recovery and he was in the nursery. I said I wanted to give him his first bath. The lady on duty at the time we took him out for the last time said that we could come to the nursery and do the bath there if we wanted, so that we could take advantage of the warmer. We thought that was a great idea. Here we are after his bath, and with him in his first clothes.

We came back to our room and just enjoyed the rest of the night snuggling.

Wednesday morning, they had to repeat his levels--if all were clear, we could go home. The doctor finally came in and said we were free to go! My doctor gave me the clear, too! So we spent the morning resting up, packing up, and finally checking out!

We came home and we've been spending our time sleeping and snuggling. I am in a lot of pain from my c-section. As such, all I'm really able to do is feed the baby and snuggle him. I can't lift him yet because I can't bend down enough. I can't do many things because movement is so hard. Truthfully, that's another part of my struggle. Todd and my mom literally have to do everything else. I just feel so--underqualified--to be his mommy. I still have moments where I lie in bed and cry.

I KNOW that the bottom line is that Matthew is here and that he's healthy. I KNOW that at the end of the day, how he got here doesn't matter. But these feelings of failure just haunt me. I did learn about myself that I need to stay far, far away from the natural birth community for any future births. The "your doctor and the hospital are out to get you" tactics really messed with my head when the rubber met the road. At the end of the day, my doctor of 7 years knows me and cares about me, and knows more about labor and delivery and me and my son than some woman who took a 3 day class and met me 12 weeks ago. I know she doesn't speak for the entire natural birth community, but she does speak for a lot of them. I constantly read the same things in books. But I had to trust that my doctor is a godly, educated, respectful man who truly had my best interests and safety at heart. He wasn't out to trick me or take the easy way out or subject me to unnecessary procedures. But the narrative that he was was (is!) really hard to turn off. So I'm struggling through that. The hard part is that I KNOW my narrative and self-criticism are illogical and unreasonable, so what's hard is knowing that I'm enslaved to these feelings in SPITE of those things. I know that most of it is a combination of pain, fatigue, and hormones, so I'm trying to just take it one step at a time. DH and my mom are both wonderful in helping me.

I know a lot of you have reached out to me. This is why I've not been able to reach back. Please just be patient with me. I do love you and your love means a lot to me but I'm just overwhelmed right now and I need time and space.

The happy part of the story is that Matthew is here. And he's healthy. We have his first post-hospital pediatrician appointment in the morning. We need his bili levels to have stayed down and I'm anxious to see how everything else is going.

Matthew is the sweetest, snuggliest, cutest baby on the planet. I'm just in love with him. Feeding is going WONDERFULLY, which is a huge answer to prayer because PCOS women often have nursing issues. I really do praise God for that. We're trying to figure out how to get on top of rest and still attend to his needs. I'm sure things will iron out soon. In the mean time, we're just enjoying getting to know each other. We snuggle all the time.

DH is incredible with him. He's just so cute! I love seeing this side of him and I'm so joyful that God has finally given me that privilege. He's been holding Matthew while I type this, and I think he's shot like 100 pictures in the past hour. It's so cute!

I need to feed him and we all need to get to bed, so I'll sign off now, and just leave you with the best part--more pictures! Thanks for reading this, for your support through this journey, and for your prayers as I heal, in all senses of the word. I know this will pass. Right now I'm just confused I think. But I know I'll understand it better some day, and I trust there is purpose in it all, despite my confusion. In the meantime, as has been the case with everything along this journey, God continues to use it to change and shape my relationship with Him. I am curious to see how/where this new journey will go.

Doesn't this just scream "kiss me!?" I kiss those cheeks and that nose all the time.

So sweet

Goodnight! Love to you all!


  1. Oh Jen, my heart goes out to you so much. First off, Matthew is perfectly beautiful and I just love your new family pictures. God is so good! I'm so proud of you for all you have been through. I am a doula and love natural child birth but every birth is different and I'm so thankful for your doctor and for your ears and heart being open and willing to allowing what was needed for your son to come into this world. You lovingly prayed and considered your steps so preciously..yet your love for your son is so powerful that you were willing to lay aside your hopes and dreams for labor and birthing to allow what needed to happen for his good. What a beautiful picture of a mother's love you are living. Thank you so much for sharing. Praying you heal quickly. t.

  2. Jen- After reading your story, I am moved to tears, and impressed with how prepared you were for Matthew's arrival. Every decision you made, even in complete exhaustion, was made out of love for your baby~ you are a wonderful mommy! And, you're right. Things will level out! I'm praying for each day to get sweeter and sweeter, and for your body to recover quickly!

  3. Jen, your hormones will settle out in a few more days, I promise. You know my birth story, and the fact that I have almost the exact same story. Which is why I don't believe c-sections are evil and the natural birth community can kiss my ass over VBACs.

    You are a perfect mommy because you made the right choices. You chose to take care of your son over everything else. Recovery is hard, but right now your MOST IMPORTANT job is to sit there and snuggle that little guy. The time under the bili-lights, the couple of formula feedings, heck, even this recovery from surgery will all be a blip on the radar very soon, I promise. Before you know it, you'll look at him and say "How did you get so very big?"

    Congratulations again on Matthew's birth, welcome to this edition of parenthood. I pray that you take in every little gurgle and sigh and remember it always. Because pretty soon he's going to be crawling then walking then running!

    Love you guys so very much!

  4. I keep saying it, but he's super adorable! Just precious! We have pretty similar birth stories for our first babies. My first was entangled in her cord and would not descend down the birth canal at all after 3 hours of pushing. I opted for a c-section as well and she had to be pried out of me and had bruises and abrasions to prove it, too. After a few years, I was able to resolve all the negative feelings associated with her birth and know that the c-section saved her life. The natural birth community tends to be militant towards those of us who had complicated births, so I agree with you that staying away may be for the best.

    That said, I rejoice with you that he is here and that you're a Mommy now! It's been a long road but it's so rewarding to have watched your story unfold.

    ((Hugs)). Your feelings are valid. Time helps. God's grace helps more! Love to you!

  5. I hate that everything was so traumatic, but am so glad all is well in the end and that you had a medical team that was able to help. You made great decisions. Enjoy your sweet angel and rest as much as you can.

  6. Oh, bless your sweet heart! I just want to hug you. I can relate in so many ways and just want you to know you're not alone. There are lots of women who have wonderful, ideal, textbook births and everything seems to go just as planned. But that's just not always the case. Thank God for modern medicine and godly doctors!

    My first birth ended in a c-section after 30 hours of unmedicated labor, 3 hours of pushing and some very rosy expectations on my part. Like you, I got a fever, had blood pressure issues, and baby's heart rate was all over the place. I felt like I had failed. As my precious, godly doctor was sewing me up in the OR I was asking him if I was a good VBAC candidate. I was already planning my next "perfect" birth. I hated my c-section.

    Our second son arrived 22 months later in a fast, whirlwind, natural delivery. But I don't even remember it b/c it was the most excruciating pain of my entire life! I pushed him out with no meds but ended up having to get an epidural AFTER the birth for the 2.5 hours of repair that were required from tearing all the way through! It was horrific. Again, I was thrilled about our big, healthy baby but I was in so much pain I couldn't even think straight or be present in the situation.

    With our third son I was not afraid of the labor but was terrified of the pushing and "exit". Despite pleading with the Lord for peace, I remained so fearful that I went from 7 cm to 5 cm in labor. I regressed! I was working against my body. Everything I'd ever read or learned from the natural childbirth community told me pitocin is bad (I had it unmedicated w/ my first birth and knew I couldn't go there again) and epidurals are bad. But you know what? Pitocin and an epidural saved me from a second c-section. They were used well in my situation. I pushed out a 10 lb, 5 oz baby and had very minimal tearing. And I ENJOYED the birth. Loved it, in fact. I was present and marveling at the miracle. It was my favorite birth yet, even though it went against everything I expected or planned for.

    So now I'm pregnant with #4 and I have no idea what my ideal birth is anymore! I was so militant about natural childbirth before and now I've done it every way. My husband jokes that our next birth will be an unmedicated c-section so that I can truly say I have done it every way. Ha!

    But I can honestly say that a c-section was very, very difficult physically and was the hardest to recover from. I sympathize with you b/c your body is recovering from major surgery. Hang in there and give yourself grace. Enjoy that sweet baby and rest up.

    Praying for you, and so thankful that Matthew is here and healthy, and that you are not having difficulties with nursing! That's a huge blessing!


  7. What a raw, painful, and ultimately beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Brought tears to my eyes. I know it is so hard when things don't go as we have planned -- and for those of us who have struggled with IF -- we know it all too well. God loves to use our strongholds to bring us to our knees and recognize our dependence on Him. Praise be to Him for looking out for you and that precious baby boy!

  8. I'm sure you'll hear this a hundred thousand times (and probably never get tired of it), but your son is adorable.

    Life is not simple. That you have a sweet son like Matthew to hold in your arms and love fill me with so much joy - peace and grace to you and your family.

  9. You are healing. Writing it out is a good first step. You know God's truths and you can trust them. The miracles of what you have experienced will one day outway the disapointments. Your baby is in your arms...not a snowflake any, with God's might and power, gave this little soul life...what could be more perfect?! You did everything right to bring him into the world. What an amazing mother Matthew has!

  10. First, congratulations! He's beautiful. Secondly, your birth story is so clear and honest. Thank you for sharing.

    Your doctor is amazing! I am glad that you stayed with him, it sounds like he did everything just right and in a respectful and kind way. Your journey to have this precious little life has been difficult, no one will deny that. You have had to fight all along the way. But each decision you made and worried over during your labor was such a clear example of mothering, of loving that little guy. You were doing the absolute best for him. Each decision you made was the right one, and it lead to a healthy baby boy. Your feelings and processing of the disappointments is VERY normal and natural, keep working through them and I hope you come out on the other side knowing that you did what was best.

    My daughter had jaundice at birth and had to stay in the hospital for a whole week (in pediatrics). It was the most horrible time for me, although looking back I know that she was happy (under the lights) and getting good care. At the time it was such a disappointment (and scary). Anytime something is "wrong" with our children it can be terrifying.

    Blessings to you for a quick recovery. Be kind to your body, it has been working SO HARD the last 9 months. Let others care for you as you take care of your little Matthew.

    Warmly - Anne

  11. I am so proud of you.

    You endured so much and persevered so much when many people would have given up. I was amazed by how intentional you were in your decision making even while in so much pain. You really did a great job of managing your care by asking your doctor good questions and praying and considering each decision. Your choice of a doctor proved invaluable. It sounds like he did a great job of explaining things to you and was patient to let you make decisions. He gave you his medical opinion but didn't condescend to you. You made great compromises with the doctors and had such great ideas that I don't think I would have had the presence of mind to negotiate while in labor. I also loved your whole pushing breastfeeding and supplementing formula with a syringe idea. I am amazed that you had the guts and the wherewithall to ask for a different nurse. Not to mention the fact, that you did what every good mother does, which is self-sacrifice in every possible way to ensure the welfare of your child.

    If the goal of the natural childbirth philosophy is really to empower women they should not get sucked into the specifics of what that should look like. You were a very empowered women who was involved in every aspect of managing a very difficult and complicated birth experience.

    Natural isn't always better. We are naturally sinful and the world is naturally fallen and death and disease are natural too. This is why we need Jesus Christ to save us from our 'natural' selves and can thank him for modern medicine which often brings great grace and mercy to a suffering world. Sure, if everything goes perfectly, people should realize that natural childbirth is their best option. But, I really don't understand how Christians who believe in the 'curse' of pain in childbirth can really be consistent in their beliefs if they fail to realize that medical intervention isn't often necessary.

    I have a good friend who two months ago went through almost the same thing as you. Her son was also turned wrong and stuck and she labored and pushed about as long as you to finally need to have a c-section. You are not alone!

    Blessings to you.

  12. Jen, you are AMAZING!!! No matter how, you have given birth to a beautiful baby boy!!
    When I read your birth story, I almost felt like a wanted another baby, and I hardly ever have those feelings! :)
    Reading through your birth story, both as a friend and from a doctor's perspective - I can't blame you for a single thing! No matter how bad we feel about certain decisions, I think you made the right ones, if that matters. :)
    Also, as you know, I wasn't able to breast-feed Gabriel. He turns two next week, and it's still hard for me to talk about. I know he got adequate nutrition, none of my sisters have been able to breast-feed their children (although my mother breast-fed all four of hers), and I know intellectually that I'm not a bad mother for that, but it still makes me feel like one. It still hurts, two years after the fact.
    I have felt more bad conscience during those two years, for various things, than the rest of my life. So being a mother is hard! And I think almost all of us feel this way - and perhaps that is a sign of us actually being good mothers?
    I don't know. But I DO know that you are AMAZING, and that Todd and Matthew are amazing also!!! Love you!!

  13. Jen
    I am so sorry you had such a difficult birth.I am not sure if you read my story with Nanner but I too was very upset and depressed for days afterwards as I had a bad experience too. It took me a long time to get over it but it does and will fade as you begin to enjoy your beautiful baby boy. I know right now it doesn't seem that way as I didn't think I would ever feel better.Even though I still don't like how things went I love that my son is here and healthy and I have learned to focus on that.But it was so hard to do so at first.So much of what you wrote and experienced feels so familiar to me.Please know that I am here if you ever want to talk.((hugs)) P.s I was wondering where you had been :-) He's so precious! Good job momma!

  14. First, I think the most useful things I got out of my Bradley class were a detailed explanation of the stages of labor and the importance of chosing a doctor whom you trust. You have been your own advocate and have done a truly outstanding job as such.

    Second, hormones are CRAZY in the first week or so after birth. I would cry because of nursing difficulties. And then cry because I was crying. And then laugh at myself. And then repeat the process.

    Third, one would think that birth, to an infertile couple, would be a uniquely joyous occasion. And it is. But, as the process doesn't proceed how we envisioned it, it's often just one more slap in the face about how our bodies can't "perform" how we want them to. It took me some time to look positively on the experience.

    Fourth, I am totally amazed that you had the presence of mind to type up your birth story all ready! You are such a strong, faith filled woman.

    Fifth, and final, hooray for successful nursing! That was another area I just expected to be easy and yet it was anything but.

    Congratulations, again, on the birth of your adorable son!


  15. I totally understand. I had a rough delivery too. But, I'm so happy for you!!

  16. I'm so sorry you had such a long, tough labor. You made all the right decisions and the fact that Matthew is here and healthy is testimony of that. I hope your recovery at least goes smoothly!

  17. Dear Jen,

    What a good job you've done setting down your birth story. Thank you for sharing it with us, and including all the dark parts. And the bright joy of your little Matthew! It is clear that God was with you in a special way, and that he has blessed you also in Todd and your mom. I'm mother to two sons in their 20's. Reading your story reminds me of strong feelings from the days of their births: disappointment, regret, powerlessness, but also great joy. May the LORD be with you as you warmly snuggle your little snowflake. Let the tears flow along with the prayers of thanksgiving.


  18. Oh Jen!

    I read your story earlier this afternoon and it makes me sad that you are beating yourself up over how this went.

    You are a GOOD mama! Thank you for writing with such honesty. There are so many women out there who could benefit from reading this! I am very proud of you. If I've learned anything at all from my journey and from the journey of women who have already given birth, it is to be flexible. Know that whatever is best for you and the baby is the perfect plan.

    I, for one, never understood the desire to go completely med free. There is no ribbon awarded to you for having a workhorse of a uterus and vagina. No trophy for enduring pain that can be so easily alleviated so that you can enjoy the experience a little more. I say, "Yes please! to the possibility of an epidural. I know some of you will be pissed, but I'd take it a step further and accept, without hesitation, a scheduled c-section. Not that I'd push for one, but I have been though so much and just TERRIFIES me to think of all of the things that could go wrong. I say, the faster and safer that they can get that baby into my arms, the better.

    Read this blog post and the comments that follow. You will pee your pants.

  19. I hate that Matthew's birth didn't go as you had planned, but do take comfort in knowing that it went exactly as God had sovereignly planned. I'm so glad to hear that he is in your arms and is healthy - Praise the Lord!

  20. He must have had quite the little headache! I'm sorry things didn't go as you had planned but think of what might have happened if you had insisted. Like you said, all that matters is that he's here and he's healthy. Praying things start looking up!

  21. Thank you for being so honest and posting your detailed birth story. It really spoke to me and my desires of having an all natural birth. God has used your story to remind me that I need to be open to things going a little differently than I have planned. I guess it is all a matter of taking it one step at a time with prayer the whole time. You are amazing and Matthew is so adorable!

  22. What a birth story. It reminded me so much of my story with K that I'm in tears. Just remember Matthew is Gods little gift and you are so blessed. Hug and kiss him as much as you can. Take it easy love

    Miranda from

  23. Oh Jen!!!! Your birth story brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for your honesty, which has always been your style, which I so respect. I am so glad you had such great nurses and hospital staff (for the most part) and that you felt as though your doctor really wanted what was best for you.

    I am glad he is healthy and HOME with you now. Your husband is adorable, and all of your pics with you together as a family is just precious! I remember how sweet my husband was with Amelia when she was born. Parenting just brings out a whole new side of your spouse that is so fun to watch.

    Jen, I too, can identify with the frustration of just wishing my body would do just things "right," for once. Coming from the IF journey, it IS important to feel as though your body is doing what it should. It is definitely something I am still working through and have not yet resolved in my heart (for me, it's ability to conceive).

    I also smile when I hear that the breastfeeding is going well for you. HURRAY!!!! That was a challenge for me w/ Amelia (but we did get through it).

    Well, I can't wait to see more pictures. Matthew is beautiful, and a precious gift from God!

    From a fellow Snowflake Mama Heather

  24. I have been following your story from your first transfer to now... PLEASE do not beat yourself up over having a C Section- that probably saved Matthew's life... I did not even attempt a vaginal birth- even though I had wanted one- with my embryo adopted twins... Part of being a mom is putting your child's needs before your wants- that is just what you did- try to think of the C Section as a lesson God lovingly taught you... Put Matthew's needs first... God was on your side... if Matthew was "stunned" and not crying, can you imagine if you had waited any longer for the C Section???


  25. Oh Jen,
    I'm so sad to read of your remorse! I'm just barely pregnant, but I already know what I think I "want" in terms of a natural childbirth. But I feel like you're allowing the ENEMY of your soul to destroy you with the coulda/woulda/shoulda's. How many times have you thought you knew what you wanted and God's plan turned out to be better? I know this birth doesn't *feel* better than what you had in mind, but you had to do what was necessary for your son. In the end, you made the selfless choice and gave up what you wanted for your son to enter the world safely. You gave up your desires for his - just as Christ did for us. Meditate on that - and when those nasty doubts creep in you tell Satan that he has no place in your home and kick him out. Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ!!!
    Congrats on the arrival of your son!

  26. Jen, I am SO SO SO glad that Matthew is here, and healthy, and completely perfect! I love the picture of you holding him (third from the last, I think). So sweet.

    Your birth sounds like it was really, really hard. I'm sorry that you had to deal with so many complications. Labors like yours make me glad for skilled surgeons! It sounds like you did an amazing job of advocating for yourself and your baby, and making great decisions (even in the midst of labor - dang, woman, that is HARD to do!) :)

    Rest (as much as you can) and hang in there with the hormones. You're being a great mom.


  27. thank you so much for sharing your story- open and honest and raw. you made the absolute right decisions and i applaud you for trusting your doctor and for the things you wrote about him. you're right- they are not "all out to get us"... as a birth doula, i've seen births go very much as hoped for and many go very differently than hoped for and i'm so SO proud of each woman who gives birth to her baby in the very best way that she can.
    enjoy these first weeks... smell your son's head often... it's a scent that you'll never forget.
    all the best to you.
    (and go pack! i'm originally from green bay :)

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  29. I have been off the computer for several days due to all day m/s. I got back on this morning and read your birth story. Oh Jen, I am praising God you are home with your precious Matthew. I am sure it was very painful and emotional to share your story. My first L&D was NOTHING like I planned and in fact were quite similar. You made all the right decisions and had a doctor who was really watching over you. I love all the pictures and just LOVE that you are HOME!! Do enjoy these first few weeks as exhausting as they are. Cuddle, nuzzle, love, and stare at him often. You truly will blink and these weeks will be cherished memories. I know you are doing all of that and more. I loved that Rhea would take a nap on the couch and there would D-man be on his chest asleep too. I picture the same in your home! Love you and know I am so proud of how you have carried yourself through a challenging pregnancy, labor and delivery, all for God's glory to bring a life into this world to raise for Him. You did it all with humbleness, meekness, grace, and love. ((hugs))

  30. Whenever Andrew sees his picture he says "I just want to rub his fuzzy little head. " LOL I don't know if you'll remember, but my birth story was fairly similar, in that I tried like the dickens to push him out, but he was sunny side up and not descending, so ended up with a c-section. I remember being very upset about it, and definitely needed to allow myself to mourn the things I missed in things not going as I'd planned, specifically that first hour after birth you hear so much about. That was really hard for me. But before long the whole experience will seem, as your other friend put it, like a blip. I opted for a scheduled c-section the second time around and the experience was night and day different. So much calmer and relaxed (plus we were able to have child care arranged beforehand!) I am thoroughly impressed with your strength and control you maintained, in firing your nurse (wish I would have done that. Ask me about Nurse Candy sometime... that's a funny story), the bath and the bottle. Hospitals and their staff can be intimidating, but you definitely held your own! I'm so proud of you! I'm so happy to hear nursing is going so well, and that your milk came in so quickly! Being strong-armed into formula feeding in the hospital definitely sucks (been there, too!) so I'm thrilled it all worked out so well! :) Enjoy that little baby boy! Love you!

  31. Oh my goodness! What a story! I am also preparing for a natural childbirth, so your story was really helpful for me. You did such a great job making decisions and so glad that sweet Matthew is finally here! I know you will be a wonderful mommy. I pray that God continues to give you peace about Matthew's birth as you process more in the weeks to come. Enjoy this newborn stage. It goes so quickly!!

  32. You don't know me, but I just wanted to say that my daughter's birth story is similar to yours, though we didn't wind up with a c-section. Forget woulda/shoulda/coulda. It sounds to me as if you made wise decisions under less than ideal circumstances, and that's the best any of us can do! I pray that you are able to heal from your experience. I'm getting there and my daughter is 18 months old now.

  33. You did not fail. You did not fail yourself or your son. 6 hours of pushing is EPIC. You are AMAZING. You are brave and mighty and strong. The trial of fire that your labour and c-section were MORE than qualify you to be a mother. Be kind and gentle to yourself. You should be proud of yourself.

    much love from a stranger on the internet.
    ps. you might want to read this if you have a moment.