Early Sunday morning I received the call saying Mrs. W was in labor and the contractions were enough that she felt she wanted to head to St. Joe’s Hospital. In the truck I jumped excited for them to begin the journey of bringing their baby into the world. It was about 2:30 in the morning and the traffic light, the air crisp and cool, and I enjoyed the smooth drive to the hospital thinking about the incredible moment they were about to have.
They had experienced a stress free pregnancy (minus a little nausea, but that gets the best of women), a healthy baby and had little to no interventions including ultrasounds and tests. So, they were being surprised at the hospital with their little bundle as they did not know if it was a boy or a girl. The unknown was very exciting.
I arrived just minutes behind them and caught them on the walk from the parking garage to the entrance. We chatted as we walked up and traveled the elevator to the labor and delivery triage.
I waited in the waiting room while she was in triage. Mr. W came out to chat with me from time to time as they got all their ducks in a row. We were together again once she was able to get moved to a room.
She was 4cm and making progress. We didn’t quite expect what was about to transpire in the coming hours.
As she labored and the contractions came on in regular intervals we began the process of breathing and sending all the energy south. She was smiling a radiant smile between contractions and accepting the labor that was impending with great joy.
Her husband was right by her side. Holding her head for each contraction. Rubbing her back and staying close. It was truly precious to see. He was so devoted to her and what she needed. His ability to be in tune with her emotions and then appreciate her joy in between the hard moments.
As she pressed on towards transition I was so confident she had made huge progress. She had been laboring in the bathroom really utilizing the pressure of sitting to bring the contractions down. With each wave she’d speak out loud “go down baby, go down”. She knew exactly what she was doing.
The early hours had done more thinning of the cervix rather than dilating. This can sometimes be discouraging for a laboring mom as each time she is checked she desires to hear a larger number. In this instance the first check since admitting to the hospital resulted 5 cm but much more thinning than before.
She wasn’t dismayed. We pressed on, each swell and wave bringing her back to her body while resting in between. Time ticked on and the hours past. Each hour bringing a new confidence to her ability to handle the contractions but strangely at the same time wearing her down.
The body can only take so much before it becomes exhausted. She was moving from the bed to the bathroom to the birthing bar on the bed. Her back labor was intense and we weren’t able to really relieve it. The toilet seemed to be the most comfortable but not the most restful place to be sitting.
Many hours past and another check came. She hadn’t made much progress at this time. The morning had come and gone and we were traveling into the afternoon. Sometimes a clock can be a laboring mother’s worst friend. Thankfully I don’t think she was looking at it very often so she remained positive.
It was in the quiet moments, in the stale, hallowed light of the bathroom, her husband began to tear up. It was so hard to watch her battle and his perception of her suffering was high. She, in her hard moments, reminded him she was okay. All was okay. Baby was sounding great at each check and there were no signs of concern, only hours were making them weak and discouraged.
His tears were precious to witness. His devotion to her and his patience with the waiting had brought him face to face with his love for her and this unborn baby. I will remember those moments for a long time.
A few more hours tick by and she’s at an 8. Oh my, an 8. This is when you start to believe things might pick up and this baby might come. The Lord had other plans. To make a long couple of hours short, for some reason baby wasn’t coming into the birthing canal at the ideal angle. This was causing lots of delay and lots of back pain.
We began to aggressively try to figure out how to help this stall of labor. She didn’t progress from an 8, rather at one point she went back down to a 7. Fortunately the wonderful nurse we’d been given by God didn’t really say much about it, but rather helped us figure out how to try and help mommy.
We tried so many things. She was in real, active, transition labor but for a long time. Hours it ended up being with contractions coming in even intervals but with breaks in between where she was falling asleep. She became so exhausted that relaxing became very difficult no matter how much she was trying.
At one point the nurse checked her and her water broke in the hopes this would wedge the baby down against the cervix and really kick things along. Again, the Lord had other plans.
Eventually at 7:00pm, after checking in at 2:30am, everyone agreed she should have a little epidural and a small amount of Pitocin so she could relax and get some much needed rest in order to be able to push later on as well as to try and get baby down into the canal a little faster. She needed the break so much.
At this time I headed home to nurse my little man and put my kiddos to bed as well as get a shower so I could be alert. After about 2.5 hours Mr. W let me know she was 9 cm and fully effaced. The plan had worked. She was rested, hydrated, and the baby had made his way down.
I headed back down to the hospital and walked into the room after she had done 1 push. The epidural had been just enough to help her relax but not enough to keep her from feeling what was going on. As the contractions came on she knew to push and was able to concentrate enough to push effectively. She moved the baby down within 45 minutes and was at her final pushes.
Her doctor arrived in those final moments and she bravely pushed her baby into the world and gave him life in just a little over 1 hour of pushing. She was remarkable. She felt everything. She had the natural labor experience (in some ways more than most women could imagine) and exhibited a super human ability to trust her body and allow labor to take place.
She also remained flexible when she needed to divert from her birth plan and do what was best for her and her baby. And, thankfully the Lord blessed her each step of the way with natural labor and delivery nurses and staff who encouraged her to press on and made that path possible for her.
As the baby slid out daddy looked for a sign as to whether it was a boy or a girl and just as we had suspected it was a precious baby BOY!
Theresa held him skin to skin caressing his precious head and talking to him. He was instantly worth the wait and the intense 22 hour labor they had endured. It was a roller coaster of emotions for everyone, even the nurses were so relieved and excited for them and that it was finally all over and at the same time just beginning.
I’ve never met someone so brave and so committed to a natural birth with a partner so trusting and supportive of her desired journey.
Their journey to having their first born child was stamped by Gods enduring and faithful love and provision each step of the way. The bricks of a good foundation were laid. They were faithful to read and educate themselves regarding their choices and informed consent. And then, through it all, we were able to pray and invite the Lord into the labor room. His presence was tangible and His love overwhelming.
I’m so proud of them and can’t wait to see them grow as parents. Welcome to the world Wesley…God has big plans for you!