Our Birth Story, Baby #4

I truly can’t believe I’m writing out this story on September 4.  Our baby was “due” September 20!

This isn’t simply a tale of labor and delivery, of contractions and pushing.  This is a story of growth, of disappointment, of lessons learned.  It’s a story of fright, and trust.  A story of letting go of my imperfect expectations and embracing God’s Perfection.

During one of many nightly awakenings on Wednesday, September 1, I rolled over and felt a leak at 4:00 a.m.

Surely not.

A quick trip to the bathroom, and I laid back down, praying that I was imagining things.

4:30.  Gush.  Not imagining things.

Wide awake now, I got up and walked around in total disbelief.  Today was the day before school started and the day before our first football game.  My husband is a teacher and coach; our oldest is in the second grade.  Not great timing.

My freezer’s not full.  My house isn’t cleaned.  I have zero baby clothes washed and no fragrance-free detergent to wash them in.  The bassinet’s in the basement and how on earth am I going to get my girl to school tomorrow if I have a baby today?  So not ready.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.  Ecc 3:1

At 5:00 I sat by my husband in bed, waking him with my tears.  “Are you ready to have a baby today?”

He laughed an – everything will be just fine because babies come when babies come – laugh.  I love him.  And then he suggested that we consider some girl name options again.  It would be pretty embarrassing to deliver a girl and not have a name!

And what is with me defying the water breaking statistics?  I already know (twice) that laboring without the bag of water intact is so much harder.  And now, again?  Three out of 4 labors? So not fair!

I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Acts 17:11

Based on previous experience, I figured I had probably 10-12 hours or so before labor would kick in.  Hoping for the 18 hour labor rather than the 22 hour version, I got busy calling family to come get the kids and making arrangements for our daughter’s first day of school.

The kids were gone by 8:30 and I busied myself with paperwork after calling the hospital to let them know what was going on.  Mail, preschool papers… stuff.  No contractions. I tidied up the house and did some laundry.  No contractions. I rolled around on the birth ball and walked.  No contractions. I packed our bags and dug out some baby clothes.  No contractions.

Knowing it was likely to be a long day, and since I hadn’t slept well at night for the last month at least, a nap was in order.  Good thing… it would be a long time before I sleep again!

The hospital called while I was sleeping, wanting us to come in.  That’s when I knew:  I’m on the clock. Once you water breaks you’re given 24 hours to have the baby before the risk of infection sets in and antibiotics are given.  ***I’m sure there are all sorts of varying opinions on that subject, and my guess is that the midwifery circle would give me plenty more time, but that’s neither here nor there, because I’d already chosen and trusted my medical care.***

On our way to the hospital, I finally had a couple of mild contractions… in my back.

Laboring after your water breaks is hard.

Back labor is hard.

Back labor after your water breaks is the most painful experience I’ve ever been through, and I wasn’t looking forward to facing it again. But I would, and I would be okay.

Once settled in at the hospital (dilated to a 2… no surprises there), we went for a walk and I hopped in the whirlpool.  I’ve not seen this written anywhere, but in my experience the stimulation from whirlpool jets gets the contractions going.  They were mild and tolerable for a long time, but the back labor was fierce by 8 p.m.  I was glad, actually, because even if it was back labor… it was labor.  I needed to be in labor; I’m on the clock!

After 4 hours of walking and squatting and rocking and praying through the pain, I was spent.  I’d been there, done that though, and knew I could do it again.  If only I didn’t feel so light-headed.  And what was this dizzy feeling?  That was new.

They checked again.  I was at 4cm. It’s midnight now, and the hospital staff is talking pitocin.  I’ve got 4 hours…  I can handle the contractions.  I can handle the back labor.  But why, oh why am I not dilating?!

Around 2 in the morning (22 hours into it) I was dizzy, light headed, and sweaty.  And scared. They gave me two rounds of electrolytes via IV.  Four labors and this was all new territory.

Around 3 in the morning baby’s heart rate started dropping during contractions and they had to push on his head to get it back up.  Scared me.  (And yes, that would be pushing on his head up in my cervix.  You know how I feel about my cervix!)

At that same time I was at a 7.  I knew I was starting transition, I knew the end had to be in sight… but since his heart rate was dropping and my blood pressure was shaky, everyone was pretty concerned.  That was when I threw my birth plan and pride and whatever else out the window and did something we thought we’d never do

I got the epidural and pitocin.

I was scared to death. Labor pains hurt, but they are natural.  They are productive.  A needle and medication in my spinal cord???  Dear God, please let us be doing the right thing.  Please take care of my baby.  Please show us your will in this.  Please.  Please.  Please.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  Prov 3:5

The epidural kicked in a few contractions later.  Even in the throes of labor, even before the baby was born, I was facing feelings of failure.  My heart was breaking, mourning the loss of my baby’s natural birth.  And yet… confirmation was there.  It wasn’t over.  My baby’s head had to be stimulated through my cervix many more times before birth.  I was told to push (at about 4:00), then told to stop because my swollen cervical lip was ready to tear.  And then to push again when his heart dropped… again.

Constant stimulation.  Constant heart rate monitoring.  Constant… it was then that I knew It wasn’t about the pain.  It wasn’t about the back labor.  It wasn’t about my will.  It wasn’t about how tough I am or what kind of birth I wanted.  It was about what my baby needed.  What I needed.

It was about surrendering.

I surrendered, and our beautiful baby boy was born at 5:08 AM.  Twenty-five hours after my water had broken the day before.

Have I changed my tune about unmedicated childbirth? Nope.  I still think it’s best for mom and baby in most situations.

Have I changed my tune about the “evil epidural?” I hate that I had an epidural, but I’m almost glad for the experience.  I’m glad that it’s available when needed.  I was glad to erase the epidural myths in my own head and those that I had heard from here and there.  I was super-glad it worked and helped me deliver a healthy baby boy into the world.  The epidural is not from satan.  😉

Will I try for another natural birth next time? You should never ask a woman who just gave birth about next time!!!!!!  (But yes.  If there is a next time, I will most certainly try for an unmedicated birth… and I will pray for 9 months that my water doesn’t break and that I don’t have back labor!  And I will take all my vitamins, and iron, and…)

Welcome to the world sweet boy!

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  1. aww what a cutie!! Congratulations on your sweet addition! I had 2 c sections, so obviously I was happy to have drugs before the cutting began. That needle in the back thing, though freaks.me.out. If I could do it without a c section I would definitely try to avoid the needle in the back. I am so impressed you’ve found the energy to write up your birth experience already. I hope that means you are recovering well and have all the help and rest you need!! Congratulations!

  2. Congratulations! He’s fantastic! I definitely didn’t win the “guess the baby stats” poll. Maybe next time 🙂

    I think it sounds like you had a wonderful birth. It caught you sort of by surprise and didn’t go how you expected it to, but you rolled with it and did what your baby needed you to do.

    I’m a natural birth advocate (I’ve had one myself, and I’m praying for another this December at a birth center) BUT I know that I have to give myself permission to let the birth be as it needs to be, and to not beat myself up if it doesn’t go as I had hoped.

    I may end up transported to the hospital to get an epidural. Or even a c-section. Or who knows?

    I hope that in time, you will be 100% ok with how your birth went. I know that some people say, “The health of mom and baby are the most important thing,” and while that has truth, the mother’s birth experience is important too, and it shouldn’t be totally disregarded.

    When you have time, I’d love to hear your experiences about what the epidural felt like for you and how it improved your labor.

    Rest easy! I hope your family and friends will bring things to stock your fridge and freezer 🙂

  3. oooh what a perfect little face! Congrats! Sorry it didn’t go as planned 🙂 but happy to hear there was a beautiful ending.

  4. I’m sorry that it was so painful and scary, but I’m happy that you both are well in the end and he is so cute! Congratulations!

    Three pregnancies ago I planned for a natural birth for months. Weeks before the end I was told she was breech and it would end in a c-section. I tried and tried everything I could think of including changing doctors to one dozens of miles away who was supposed to be better in these situations, and I still ended up with a section. The next one was a mid-term stillbirth and while I insisted on going through that “naturally” it was in the midst of all the sadness and really wasn’t the same at all, but I figured it was my only chance. This last one was 2 months premature and their insistence on a c-section due to the previous one turned out to save my life in the end.

    No one can really understand exactly another’s experience, but I can certainly empathize with your pain and disappointment and fear. I hope that in time the disappointment will fade, and if you do have a next time I wish you the best of circumstances. 🙂 Give him a kiss for all of us.

  5. Aww beautiful baby boy, and yes you did what was best for him and you. I don’t blame you one single bit, of course I had a epi with the twins. But like you if I do have another singleton birth I will try to go au natural. So happy that he is here and you are both happy and healthy! Take care and give him lots of sweet snuggles from me!

  6. Congratulations on the handsome new addition! I know it was all scary, but it is so worth it when you finally see them. 🙂

  7. I’m so glad he is here and you are both well. That’s what is important. God bless you as you adjust to your new family member!

  8. There should be no judgements about childbirth choices – even from YOURSELF!
    Congratulations on that beautiful baby boy and the growth you went through while bearing him. He’s adorable – hope that first day of school was a success too!

  9. charna scarpati says:

    Congratulations! he is beautiful.


  10. You have a beautiful baby boy and that really is what is important, not the specific facts of how he got here. You did what was best for him. Don’t beat yourself up or feel bad or that you have to justify your choices and decisions made. You don’t have to answer to anyone and just because “they” say “xyz” doesn’t always make it right for every situation. Enjoy your baby, Amy, and give yourself a break. You’re a great mom!

  11. Congrats on your cute baby boy! I was due on 9/17 but my daughter decided to come on 8/20 – I was just 36 weeks! My water broke at 220am and she cam at 440am. (I did not have any contractions before my water broke.) Once my water broke the contractions came hard and fast! She was healthy and we were all able to leave the hospital after 48 hours. I had an epidural with my first. With my second it was a fast and very scary breech, vaginal delivery. With this baby I had a little pain medication (I felt the pain but didnt care) but I was so happy to experience a pretty natural birthing experience. My only regret was that I had not put in my contacts yet and my glasses were off – so things were a little blurry 🙂

  12. Congratuations! He is beautiful.

  13. Absolutely precious. I’m so proud of you and even more, I’m so thankful for God’s protecting hand on you and your sweet little man. 🙂


  14. Amy, thanks for taking the time (so soon after your little one’s birth!) to share this with us. The Lord is so good–happy that He preserved you through the labor and to see your healthy boy in your arms. 😀

  15. Congratulations, Amy! I’m impressed you were able to write this so quickly after you gave birth! He’s gorgeous!

  16. Gorgeous, Amy! The story and the baby boy! So love your honesty and…oh, all of it!

    God bless your first few weeks together! Love you!


  17. Congratulations again on your beautiful baby boy!

    I confess I was considering not sharing my birth stories on my blog because they are so far away from the “natural / ideal” births that it seems like everyone but me manages to achieve. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us once again what’s really important.

  18. Praise the Lord for his protection over you and baby! So thankful for a happy ending.

  19. Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy! Thank you for sharing your birth story, now relax and enjoy your newborn. They grow-up way too fast!!!

  20. What a cutie!

  21. Congratulations to you and your family, Amy!
    It’s not always about how and why and our grand birth plans; it’s really all about the prize at the end. In the end you delivered a healthy baby and that is all that matters.
    Best wishes for a quick recovery.

  22. What a beautiful birth story. Don’t ever let ANYONE try to convince you otherwise. Second-guessers drive me crazy.

    You were graceful and precious in the rollercoaster ride of your adorable baby’s birth story.

    Many congratulations.

  23. You did everything you could to deliver a healthy baby – and sometimes that means an epidural. It is very hard to push, knowing that it is causing your body so much pain. You did the right thing and it seems like your precious baby needed the extra help as well. BTW, my fourth was born 2 days before school started and I could only stay in the hospital 24 hours because I wouldn’t have a ride home otherwise. Just like you can’t always plan when you get pregnant (God is in control for sure!) you can’t always plan when you are going to have the baby either. Or how you have the baby for that matter.

  24. Congrats! He’s precious. For me, painful and scary is all I know. I pray that will be different next time, but who knows. It’s so not how we intend it to be at times, but I think somehow it does get you to understand that only God can create that little miracle and we aren’t the ones in control. Hope all else is going well, and I’m glad to hear he’s here safe and sound!

  25. Congratulations!!

    I am so proud of you for doing what was best for your baby and yourself. I too took Bradley classes and had my heart set on a natural birth, but nothing went according to *my* plan, and I ended up getting the epidural. I was blessed with a beautiful AND healthy baby boy. Thank you for being an inspiration and reminding us that every birth is a miracle, no matter how it happens!! 🙂

  26. Your little boy is so sweet, Amy. And I just wanted to add my voice to the ones saying “thank you” for being transparent. I really appreciated your desire to have a natural birth–the thought and research you put into it, your own stamina in sticking it out so long in the hospital, your up-beat attitude. . . . But I also think the most important thing in these cases is to be led by the Lord and your husband. It sounds like you were. And you definitely were not a failure–you successfully brought a beautiful baby into the world!

    It’s possible to care too much about something, such as natural childbirth. I’m learning that lesson myself. I have had two unmedicated births at a birth center with a midwife, and my labors were pretty easy: eight hours for the first, four for the second (incl. 7 minutes of pushing!). But not everyone has it so easy, and we all need to leave each other free to make choices. I have a friend who just recently had an elective c-section with her second child, even after I’d talked to her a lot about the benefits of natural birth, etc. Among other factors, she was just too scared because of her first birth experience less than two years ago. I had to realize that I cannot, as a Christian, get on the natural birth bandwagon and let that become more important an issue than Jesus. These things can ruin relationships if we let them, and I need to remember that when I’m talking about this topic; am I as passionate about Jesus as I am about natural childbirth? (I recommend Nancy Wilson’s chapter on “Principles and Methods” in her book “The Fruit of Her Hands” for more on how we Christian women should relate to each other in these areas.)

    Anyway, congratulations again–on a great blog series and a sweet little baby boy. Enjoy each moment of the next few months–they will fly by!

    • Cindy, you are an angel!! If only every Christian mom could read this and take it to heart! I’ve been very very guilty of the judgment too, especially with breastfeeding, and God has shown that to me. I posted about that recently on my blog and it was hard to be so transparent, but I can only hope that others can learn from my mistakes too. I wanted a VBA2C so bad with my last baby, but God had other plans and wanted me to surrender to Him and let Him take control. In doing so, I had the most incredible c-section birth experience I could ever imagine. I still think natural is best in most situations, but it wasn’t for me this time. And I can finally accept that. God bless you!

  27. Congratulations! thanks for sharing your birth story. i’m due sept 20th too. i’ve been ready to be done with this pregnancy for the last 2 weeks but now your birth story is making me think maybe waiting a week or two might be not a bad idea.

  28. What an adorable face!

    Good for you for doing what had to be done for your baby and not regretting it. I have a friend who had a C-section with her 5th and a year later is still mourning the loss of her perfect planned birth.

    It hadn’t occurred to me until now – the difference between my wonderful third birth and not so wonderful first two was the absence of back labor. WHAT a difference!!

  29. I’m so glad you both came through the experience safely! I know firsthand how it feels to have a cherished birth plan railroaded by unexpected complications. Don’t rush yourself into feeling “over it.” It literally took me years to grieve and process the experience–and my doctor told me that’s completely normal. Your commitment to natural birth is obvious from your history, and I think you maintained the integrity of that commitment and set a wonderful example for other moms by keeping things natural as long as possible and minimizing the interventions once they were necessary. God bless you and your new baby!

  30. Congratulations Amy! I’m so thankful that everyone is healthy and well.

    I have had a couple births where God was teaching me important lessons through the process. It’s always beautiful.

  31. Preciousness!! I love your story, I felt like I was experiencing it with you. Well, except the contractions and the tearing of the cervical lip part. I ran past that without feeling anything (sorry!). But, I knew you’d be fine.

    And, Amy. The epidural is a gift from above :). I remember with our first son and I received the epidural. The anesthesiologist said, “Now, you’ll feel something in your back and then it will feel like..” “Heaven” I said. We laughed. But, it did.

    In all seriousness, I’m glad you surrendered to do what needed to happen. God works in mysterious ways. I would never think He would teach in a way that take pain away. This lesson was something so very different for you it seems…

  32. Thank you for sharing your story. I am due with my third child and am hoping to have a natural birth. I received an epidural late with my first child, and did not have a good experience with the epidural nor hospital with my second. I had horrible back labor with my second and am terrified to have it again. My husband keeps asking me whether or not I am sure I want to try it natural this time around, but it is our last child and I would like to try. However, I am scared…and was feeling like I was pressuring myself to stick with it. I realize though, as I am sure you just did, that each experience calls for its own choice. There is no black and white answer. We all have limitations and ultimately the choice that we make is going to be different for everyone. That in no way means that we are weak…should be judged, or doing something wrong. It is about the beautiful life we have created and bring into this world…nothing more. So happy that your beautiful baby boy and you are healthy and doing well.

  33. What a beautiful baby boy! You are so blessed! I had severe back labor (and hip labor!) with my first. It’s definitely not a fun experience but God always pulls us through 🙂

  34. Congrats to you! I was due on Sept 25th, born on the 5th (Labor Day 1977). I gave my mom a similar surprise! So glad you delivered a healthy boy regardless of your plan and so good to know God is always in control! My first birth didn’t go according to plan but 6.5 years later all I think about is the sweet boy I have to show for it. 🙂

  35. Amy,

    Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations on your beautiful baby boy!! Thank you for so bravely sharing your story of surrender with us.

    As someone who really wanted natural childbirth but ended up with two very complicated pregnancies that did not allow it, I can relate to your struggle of feeling the failure and disappointment and throwing in the birth plan for the sake of the mommy and baby’s safety.

    But could there be a more perfect outcome? What a beautiful baby boy.

  36. Congratulations!!! I’m happy that everything worked out for you and your precious baby boy! Yeah, sometimes its not about what we want, but what is best for all involved. I have 4 kiddos and my oldest are twins. I didn’t want any meds etc, but agreed to a epidural just in case something went wrong and I had to be wheeled in for an emergency C-section. Thankfully, there were no complications, tears etc and I only pushed for two hours. It all worked out, not as I planned or wanted, but as I felt it needed to at that moment.

  37. Awesome story. Our baby is due Sept 24. I am ready to be done, but still wanting time. I am glad for you that everyone was okay in the end. Congrats.

  38. I was told to take some Vitamin C during my second pregnancy, b/c my water may have broken early for the first…Just a thought for the future. 😉

  39. Awww, Amy…I have so been there. I’m even there now as I wonder what this birth holds for me (because unlike you, my due date appears to be my due date ;)). Your story makes me cry because I know that disappointment and the resolution that what happened was for the best. I’m hoping for another unmedicated VBAC, but only God knows what’s in store.

    Your new little son is gorgeous and well worth it all! Many blessings to you during your babymoon! 🙂

  40. Congratulations on your new little guy Amy! I can’t believe you already have written his birth story…that was fast!! So sorry that you didn’t have the birth you were hoping for but I’m so happy that you and the baby are healthy 🙂

  41. Kim Kauffman says:

    This post has a whole new meaning for me now that I just delivered our first baby 🙂 First of all, I had to be induced (um, next time I will NOT unless it is absolutely necessary). I now believe pitocin is from the devil ha! 🙂 It was not bad until they broke my water and then those contractions really kicked in. I had horrible back labor and I can honestly say that was the most pain I’ve been in my life. So I finally caved at 5 cm and got the epidural. It was quite the day and I was terrified when her heart rate was going down because of her cord. But, we now have a precious baby who I wouldn’t trade for anything. And I only had to push for 17 minutes so that was wonderful!

  42. Kim Kauffman says:

    Oh and congratulations on your new little one. He’s precious!

  43. Congratulations to you! I got here from MPM and loved the picture and clicked to the story. I am glad everything worked out for you all, and enjoy that sweet baby!

  44. I have been off blogging the past few weeks and I logged on and read your blog – which I love. I saw something and I said “she had her baby” I did not think you were due yet = well I guess you weren’t but the little one wanted to meet his mommy. Congrats on your little boy. I have had back labor with both kids – I actually don’t really know what un-back labor is! Both of my kiddos were in the 22 plus hours in labor so I also surrened to the epidural. Knowing that you have done the natural birth thing and then reading this story makes me feel better about having an epidural. I wanted a natural birth but after 18 plus hours in labor I needed relief.

  45. Just wanted to add my congratulations and a thanks for your knowledgeable and practical series of posts on unmedicated births. We’re expecting our first child at the end of October and are praying for an unmedicated birth, but thankful that, if it’s necessary for me or the baby, there things like epidurals and pitocin and c-sections.

  46. I haven’t been by your blog in quite some time, but have always enjoyed it. Wonderful birth story post and congratulations on your latest blessing!


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