Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lydia's Birth Story

As many of you know, with my first pregnancy, I had high hopes of how it would go when it came time to labor and delivery. However, God had other plans. At my 38-week OB-GYN visit, William was discovered breech and it required a c-section at 41 weeks (after many attempts to get him to turn). My OB-GYN at the time assured me that I would be a perfect candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) when it came time for baby #2, so that's exactly what we hoped and prayed for since the day we found out about Lydia's impending arrival.

Throughout my pregnancy with Lydia, I really fought against fear. Fear that she would be breech like her brother. Fear that I'd make it all the way to labor and stall. Fear that something would go wrong. All my fears were wrapped up in one package though - fear of another c-section. It's not that the first time went horribly, but I just didn't want to have surgery again. I wanted to feel contractions. I wanted to know what it felt like to labor. I wanted to have a baby the way God designed it. So I began to meditate and pray Psalm 20:4 every time I felt fear creeping in. "May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." 

All along, the midwives I saw were very confident Lydia was head down (the midwife practice I used did not do ultrasounds or internal exams past 20 weeks, so most of their assumptions on position were total guesses based on how everything felt externally). However, on Tuesday, May 27 (one week before miss Lydia's due date) I had my 39-week appointment at the midwife office and it was quite an emotional one. During my external exam, the midwife was certain she felt Lydia head down, but when she did my internal check she was unsure and said she wanted to send me to have an ultrasound to confirm baby's position. She also said that my cervix at that point was high, firm and closed. Basically - I wasn't anywhere near having this baby and we weren't sure if she was even in the correct position to be born. I immediately felt a wave of fear when the midwife told me this but tried blocking it out knowing that the results were still standing.

I was able to schedule an ultrasound for that day, but it would mean waiting 2 hours. I called Nathan and told him the news, and asked him to come down and meet me and go with me to the appointment. He instantly called his parents, arranged care for William and left the house. Meanwhile, I grabbed some lunch and headed over to Bicentennial Park for a stroll and some prayer time. During my walk, I felt God's peace come over me and somehow I just knew everything would be OK. If she was breech and I required a repeat C-section, God would be with us. And if she wasn't and we had a successful VBAC, God would be with us. Either way, He had not abandoned us and He quieted my heart with that truth before going over to meet Nathan. 

We were so anxious to find out the results of the ultrasound that we arrived at the clinic 30 minutes early. Thankfully, they brought us right back and started right in on the ultrasound. Nathan had to use the restroom once we got settled into our room, but the tech started the process anyway. She placed the wand on my belly and immediately said "Head Down!", to which I replied with a huge grin, "Can you wait until my husband comes out before you go any further?" Nathan came and stood by my side and I grinned with tears filling my eyes as I said "She's head DOWN!" I can't even describe the wave of relief that came over me in that moment. 

We left the appointment that day with hearts so full of thanks, and a little...errr, big surprise - the tech told us that it looked like Lydia would be a whopping 8 lbs 13 oz based on her measurements. We now had a mission - get this baby here and get my cervix working before she gained another ounce! :)


From Tuesday, May 27 to Friday, May 30 I spent tons of time nesting. I got her Pack and Play set up in our room, repacked our hospital bag for 45th time, organized our pantry, cleaned out her dresser, and had some great quality time with William. 

On Friday, May 30 we arranged for William to spend the day with my in-laws. There's a great park nearby that has a 5-mile loop and Nathan and I have been dying to hike it since we moved here 1 year ago. What better time to try it out when your toddler is away and you're 39 weeks pregnant?!? Looking back, it was a crazy idea. But I had so much energy and since my cervix was high, closed and firm I guess I thought, "may as well live it up while I can!" :)

The hike was so nice, but by the end I was tired. We came home, had lunch, and I cleaned up the house a little before passing out for a nap (looking back, I'm so glad I napped!). 

When I woke up, I began having some stronger contractions than I had been used to but thought I probably just overdid it a little on the hike. I began making dinner (my mom, dad, and cousin were coming into town for the night on their way back to New York). By the time my parents arrived, the contractions were a tad stronger, but nothing unbearable. I just kept trucking along, trying to entertain as best I could. 

After dinner, we moseyed into the living room for conversation and my mom began talking about how much she wanted Lydia to come that night so that she wouldn't have to drive back to New York. She was planning to stay with us for a week after Lydia's arrival, and my mom just thought it would be so convenient if Lydia saved her from buying a plane ticket ;) 

Around 8:30 PM, my dad announced they were going to bed because they were tired from their travels. I didn't tell anyone this at the time, but I was so glad he said that because during all of our talking, my contractions had only intensified. By the time Nathan and I walked back to our bedroom, I said "I think you need to start timing these. They are pretty intense." 

I grabbed my exercise ball, and began rocking on it, and Nathan began timing the contractions. At this point, they were about 10 minutes apart. Since we live so far from the hospital, our midwife told us to call when contractions were 7 minutes apart. I kind of lost track of time, but the contractions continued speeding up and intensifying until they were 7 minutes apart and Nathan asked me to call my midwife. 

I spoke with her and told her what was going on, and she agreed that the hike probably made me go into labor. She instructed me to take a warm bath, drink 20-oz of water, take some Benadryl to help me sleep and get some rest. If I continued laboring then she told me to call her, but she felt pretty sure it was false labor due to the busy day we'd had. 

I took her advice, but the bath and water didn't slow things down. I'm so glad I didn't heed her advice to take the Benadryl because I would need my energy for the next 6 hours! ;)


It was getting close to 11 PM when the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. At this point, Nathan had changed clothes 3 different times and been adamant with me about going to the hospital already. My biggest fear was getting there and being sent home, so I wanted to wait until I was certain it was 'go time'. Call me stubborn, but I didn't want to drive 45-minutes only to be sent home. ;) 

I called my midwife again, and she basically said to use my discretion - she knew I planned to not only have a VBAC, but to do it naturally without any pain meds. Staying at home as long as possible would only help my chances of that, so we stayed a little bit longer. About 15 minutes after that last call, I had to go to the restroom and that's when I realized that labor was imminent! 

We grabbed the bags, hopped in the car and made our way to the hospital. The whole ride in, I was praying that the trip would not be in vain. "Lord, please let this be the real thing!" was muttered over and over and over again. ;)


Once we arrived, it felt like forever until we got into a triage room. But once we did, the midwife checked me and said I was 5 cm dilated and would be staying! 

They got me into a Labor room, and surprisingly none of the ways I thought I'd enjoy laboring felt comfortable. I tried the exercise ball, laying down in the bed, etc but what seemed most comfortable was sitting in the rocking chair. From the time we got into our room until 4:30 AM, things were what I would call very....boring. I was contracting every 3-7 minutes, but not really making much progress. Because I was a VBAC patient, the hospital rules required me to be hooked up to continual fetal heart rate monitoring (which also limited my mobility). I felt sure that if I got up and started walking it might speed things up, but I was very limited to how far I could go. 

Around 4:30 AM, the midwife checked me and said I was only 6 cm. I felt a little defeated because we had been there for several hours already. She felt very confident that if she broke my water it would speed things up nicely so I told her to do it. She also said that it would intensify my contractions...but she wasn't sure if that would happen immediately or within a few hours. Thank goodness it didn't take that long, because within 10 minutes of her breaking my waters I was definitely progressing! From 4:30-5:30 AM, I was in labor ya'll. I wouldn't say it was necessarily "painful" but it was frustrating to have so many contractions so close together...I could barely catch my breath before another would come on! This is where my breathing exercises and visualization techniques from Hypnobirthing came in handy! (most of the book was a little cooky for those interested, but those 2 things helped me through the hardest parts of labor!)

I should also mention here, that Nathan was a tremendous support. He was my "silent encourager", holding my hand every time he saw another contraction coming on, and softly whispering "you're doing so good", "I'm so proud of you" every once in a while. 

Around 5:30, I told the midwife I felt the urge to push and she wanted to check me. This is how our conversation played out...

Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: OK. Then I need you to turn over and let me check you. That would be amazing if you were already 10 cm!
Me: I don't want you to check me.
Midwife: Why?
Me: Because I don't want to be discouraged. I want you to check me when it's time to push!
Midwife: OK. But if you keep feeling the urge to push, let me know and we need to check you.

5 minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Let me check you
Me: No. Not yet.

5 minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Let me check you
Me: No. Not yet.

a few minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Turn over. I'm checking you. 

Once I got flipped over and she checked me, she said "You're complete!" To which in my delirious state I replied, "What does that mean?!?!" She chuckled and said, "It's time to push!"

At this point, pushing out those contractions felt so good!!! I could finally do something with the contractions instead of just breathing through them. I pushed for 45-minutes, my head spinning with thoughts like "I cannot believe I made it this far. I really hope her head fits through there. Lord, please don't make me push too long!"

During my pushing, I could feel Lydia's head descending. It would come down, and then go back up, come down, and go back up. The midwife sensed I was starting to get frustrated so she instructed me to push and hold it for 10 seconds. She counted off for me, and I began to push with all of my might. I also remember saying things like "Come out of there, Lydia!" (Nothing like a little encouragement from your mama to pick up the pace!)

Pretty soon I had one big push (and an intense amount of pressure!), and felt her head arrive. The midwife told me not to push and to take a deep breath (what a relief to take a break for a millisecond!). Then with one last big push, her sweet shoulders, tummy, and legs arrived as I wailed out in a somewhat warrior-womanish cry. She was here! 

In my whole life, I've never done anything more physically demanding or rewarding. The instant she was in my arms, the pain went away - which is saying a lot because her head was 14.5 inches, y'all and she came out with her hand beside her head (so maybe add another 2 inches? - yowza!) It's so true what they say about natures anesthesia though! I was on top of the world. 

Not only had God allowed our sweet girl to be born vaginally, but He'd also equipped me with the strength I'd need to do it the way my heart desired - totally natural. 

I honestly can't explain the feelings I felt over the next few days. I stopped several times throughout my days with tears filling my eyes and asked "Lord, why do you love me so much?" William's birth taught me so much about faith in God when we're going through the unknown, and Lydia's birth taught me so much about trusting God with my hearts desires and how He delights to give us those because He's our loving Father. 

Since she's arrived, we've also experienced another wonderful answer to prayer - she is a pro at nursing and we have been breastfeeding really great these first 2 weeks! I'm so happy we can have this bond and special time together (although it is quite demanding right now with a toddler running around too). 

One of the best things about delivering naturally and vaginally is the little time you spend in the hospital! Lydia was born at 6:30 on Saturday morning and we were reunited as a new family of 4 by Sunday afternoon! 

I'm not going to lie, our new life with 2 small children until 2-years of age has been tiresome so far (there's a whole other post about that down the road!), but each night I crawl into my bed I'm thankful for these 2 healthy, beautiful kids and our crazy busy, sleep-deprived life. :)


  1. Rachel, my heart sings with joy for you and joins you in praising God for His goodness manifested in Lydia's birth. Thanks for sharing your journey; you are beautiful, friend.

  2. beautiful birth story!!! just love it :) so thankful you got your natural vbac - though as you said, God was with you either way. and so thankful hypnobirthing helped!!!! i agree, the breathing and visualisations REALLY help, though the deep meditation stuff was not really my jam ;) Anyway so thankful she is here :) congrats again xx

  3. Congratulations!! Doesn't natural child birth make you feel like a warrior? I've had all 4 of mine that way and honestly wouldn't have it any other way (unless medically necessary). She's a beauty!


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