He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through ages to come immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) and His kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (amplified)
Our fourth pregnancy created such excitement with three kiddos ages five and under eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new baby brother. At 33 weeks, my same struggles of elevating blood pressure began to present themselves. Again, I was baffled given my healthy lifestyle of exercise, good nutrition, low stress, thriving marriage, life giving faith, not to mention this was the first pregnancy I wasn’t working full time and was able to nap with the kids. What was with this blood pressure?
A safety measure of an ultrasound revealed fluid levels were low. All we wanted was the health and safety of our little guy and as I began to feel responsible for the weakening of my body, fear set in. Each subsequent week, we would have an ultrasound to check fluid levels. Every visit I felt as if I had to go in mentally prepared for delivery on that given day, if the fluid levels were too low. I was relieved the fluid levels were staying put, so he could continue developing, but my blood pressure wasn’t doing the same. There were still no symptoms of preeclampsia, but at 36-and-a-half weeks, we agreed to an induction the following week, given all the current challenges. I was given a shot of steroids to be sure baby’s lungs were helped along, given the anticipated early arrival. It had already been concerning up until this point, but now it felt fairly serious. Full term was best for baby, but my body was failing.
Two days later, my husband and I taught an all-day marriage retreat as I breathed through hours of sporadic contractions. My husband lightened the atmosphere by telling everyone not to worry as I was a professional at this by now (not sure that is ever the case). Maybe baby was more ready than I realized. As we walked in to the hospital three days later on March 3, 2009, it was comforting to know today was the day rather than being thrust into induction moments after a frightening doctor’s visit. As always, we yearned for the moment we could look into the eyes of our little one and meet face to face the one whom we had been praying about for months.
We arrived at 6:00 a.m., the day started with the sunshine. As they prepared for my IV port, my mind quickly went back to the previous induction and 17 needle pokes. I was afraid, though I had never been afraid of needles in my life. We settled for 15 pokes this time. It felt like we had lost before we had even began.
Clearing our minds, we entered in. I was comforted that this was the third delivery we’d had with our doctor and I trusted him. He would give me straight answers when I knew the nurses were withholding information and giving padded answers. I was so grateful to have my husband their to advocate for me as I needed.
After seven hours of consistent contractions every two to three minutes, I urged my husband to go grab dinner, so we’d be ready for the evening ahead. He reluctantly agreed. I enjoyed some beautiful, prayer-filled moments breathing through contractions as I watched the sun glisten out the window. And then it changed. The pain deepened and intensified, and I allowed fear to set in as I focused on being alone. Oh, to have a midwife by your side the entire time, rather then nurses and staff popping in sporadically as they divided their time between patients.
Just then my husband walked in. At the infamous stage of 3 cm—we had been here before—we agreed it was time for an epidural. Little did we know that despite 15 pokes, my IV wasn’t working. What did that mean? More pokes for a new IV. The best part was I’d have to wait an hour for the IV specialist, since the nurses had seen the previous damage and weren’t willing to try, and then wait another hour to have the fluids given before the epidural could be had.
Trying to be strong, tears flowed. The pain was a nine and I had to endure this for two more hours? I wish I could say I calmly regrouped and mentally rose above, but I didn’t. Instead I broke. I wanted to quit. I was done. I silently turned inward. In that moment my husband spoke compassion and encouragement as he offered to walk the halls with me to pass the time. I was grateful for the strength in his voice, his arms and most importantly his heart.
Several minutes into walking, I realized this was just as hard, the only difference was I was standing. The IV specialist arrived and it only took two jabs. An hour later, we were ready for the epidural. I slept for 30 minutes as it set in. My mind was grateful for some relief. As previously experienced, it was just enough to re-establish my endurance to persevere.
We had made it; time to push. During all the other deliveries I had torn, pushing as hard as I could to get baby out. This time the nurse, who had stuck around past her shift because we had bonded and she was determined to see me finish the race, urged me to push gently. What? Gently? It was the best advice all day. I did.
And with a new way of thinking about the delivery, at 9:33 p.m., Dane Justice entered the world with no tearing. He was fabulous! A huge sigh of relief washed over me. He was here and he was healthy. Like his siblings, he had a full head of hair. This time the nurses let us bathe him. His daddy loved talking to him as he gave Dane a spiked hairdo. All was well. He was here; with so many incredible days of discovery ahead.
Read Angela’s first birth story “Birth #1: Trusting in an Induction,” her second story “Birth #2: I Knew My Body,” her third story “Birth #3: Having Learned a Few Things” and “Birth #5: Finding Faith Through Adoption.” Stay tuned for Angela’s other two stories that are to come. Sign-up for email updates, so you don’t miss a single one.
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Would you like to share your birth story? We’d love to hear it! Take a look at our “What’s Your Story?” post to find inspiration and direction.
Angela is a woman passionate about connected, committed families and encouraging others as a licensed counselor to intentionally choose ways to love well in marriage and parenting. She is grateful to have walked alongside her husband for 14 amazing years and feels privileged for being entrusted by God to care for their six kids. It’s a continuing journey of learning through the beauty of other people’s stories.