My Fitness

Thursday, December 12, 2013

in which a child is born

Nut shell version, tl/dr:
Edit 12/18 to include links to appropriate references and for clarity. Also to include this link of prayer requests and other needs. Thank you for reading.

I’ve been trying to think how to write this story. This is by far the most amazing thing to happen to me (aside from salvation) and looking at all the details leading to this event it is obvious that God was very much orchestrating it and sending his messengers to deliver key points of help along the way. I don’t know which details to share and which will only be relevant to me. SOO, first the nutshell version then the information overload version.

I was in labor and had not progressed very far. So I went home. Thinking I was still not very far along I stayed home too long. I got in the bath to ease the discomfort when out popped a baby! 

A month ago I had 30 hour “practice labor”, as I’ll call it. It did not fool me one bit since the same thing happened with Caleb two weeks before he was born. But this did make think that Holly was only two weeks away. The next week though I had some very strange contractions that lasted very long, almost 2 minutes and were four minutes apart. Those of you who have not been through labor, that’s weird. They shouldn’t last that long. I remember thinking it was especially odd because after a couple of regular ol’ contractions I felt the baby fall over. It was a kind of popping. Something was wrong and I went to my birthing center, All About Babies in Argyle, Texas. 

My normal midwife was still at home so Lincey checked me out (this was my first time meeting her). Sure enough, something was wrong. Despite being told “don’t freak out”, I of course was freaking out. Holly had fallen transverse. She had previously been properly oriented from the beginning. Transverse means she was lying with her back parallel to the ground in a kind-of hammock position. She was not comfortable there and kept trying to get back into position. I was shown some techniques to encourage her to get back into position from but when I did them she would *almost* get into position and then fall transverse again. At one point she was completely breech. [She was just sitting there and I felt my tummy and could feel the details of her face. I imagine she was thinking, “huh. How’d I get here?” before she frantically tried to swim back downward. haha!] In my opinion, breech is better than transverse because at least she can be born in that position. 

Oh, and a transverse baby cannot be born. It’s death or c-section. 

I have never been to a chiropractor. But my midwife insisted that I go to one down in Burleson…took forever to get there in the middle of rush hour the next evening. I was over an hour late and strangely that was perfect timing because all her other patients showed up an hour early for whatever reason. The receptionist assured me that God’s timing was better than our own. That was very comforting to hear at such a time as that.

So while visiting this chiropractor, she let me know that my sacrum was “messed-up”. Well, after over two decades of abuse from ballet and contortionist work, that was no surprise! She adjusted it, and Holly magically swam right back with her head down. It was incredible and I wouldn’t have believed it except that it happened to me. Something was in the way and the chiropractor got it out of the way. 

The next week starting on Monday for an entire week I had false labor all day every day. This was the two week mark, but still no baby. Instead of driving to Burleson, I saw a new chiropractor (Jessica Martin) in Argyle at an office very near my birthing center. Her job was to make sure my messed-up sacrum stayed in place! And she did! Also Thanksgiving was that week! The next week was uneventful except that the forecast showed a horrible ice storm coming to northern Texas that would last all the way through Holly’s due date of December 8. 

We’ve had forecasters be terribly wrong in the past. While I was excited to see some snow, I was prepared for disappointment. I went to my prenatal appointment on Wednesday and was talking about the latest sermon series at church (Free Indeed series at Gateway Church) and some events that had recently occurred when my midwife, Joni, a member of my church, suggested I pray through the house and speak out any evil spirits living there. Well, despite that being too spiritual for some of my readers, I did just that. And I felt like the entire house was now lying under a banner of peace and love, protected by the blood of Jesus. And I spoke out any oppressing spirits in my personal life as well as the boys’ lives. Specifically I spoke out against the Spirit of Anxiousness and the Spirit of Fear. I was immediately filled with peace and an acceptance and understanding that no matter what happened, it would be okay because my goal in life is not to have health, wealth, and “perfection”, but rather to glorify God. And if that means something that seems horrifically bad happening, then I wanted to be okay with that. Since then I have had thoughts that would have sent me into worry-mode but with the Peace of God surrounding my heart I was able to dismiss those thoughts and continue living with joy. 
Looking down our street this week.

And the very next day we had several inches of ICE covering everything. 

It looked like snow, but wasn’t nearly as fun. People died just outside our neighborhood on I-35 and others got stuck for 10-20 hours. Felipe missed work two days in a row. I was surprised the ice lasted that long. Saturday I had some contractions and told Felipe that if Holly tried to come after sundown, we’re just going to have her here, on our own because surely that would be safer than trying to navigate in the dark on the ice. I said, “If Sacagawea could do it in the middle of nowhere, I can do it in my clean house with running, hot water and electricity. You know Lewis and Clark didn’t help her.” How hard could it be? (those of you who don’t recall history class:

Holly’s due date came and went and the ice stuck around. It is still here as I write this a week since it came. I had a prenatal appointment that we moved to Tuesday because Monday was too difficult to navigate still. I tried to coincide a chiropractor visit but couldn’t due to no availability on their end. 

My mother and I went to Sam’s Club afterward because my family really needed a few grocery items after being stuck at home for an entire week. While there, my water broke. Or maybe it was just the “fore-water” breaking. In either case my denim jeans were soaked through. It felt gross, yes, but with it being so cold no one could see anything as I was wearing a longer jacket! I thought it was amusing. I wasn’t excited because I have read of several women who went weeks after their water breaking before giving birth. I thought for me, it would be by the weekend. 

That evening Caleb, my 3 year old, decided to fall asleep around 4 or 5 and then woke up at about midnight. I was so tired. I let him watch a marathon of Kipper while I slept. He’d wake me between episodes to press play for him and get him water or a snack. I was exhausted. Contractions started around 2AM. It was slow going, but I could tell this was going to lead to real labor.

I texted (or called, I don’t remember) Joni, my midwife, and asked if she thought I should get into the chiropractor and she answered with a resounding, “YES!” I called right away and got an appointment for 10AM. Minutes after the adjustment was done labor started. I was still functioning, and was in good spirits. Between contractions, I felt like I could go swing dancing, and during contractions I couldn’t even look at anyone. This was the first time the boys had been out in over a week so we took them to Chik-fil-a to eat and play. 

Somehow word got back to my parents that I was in labor, which I wasn’t prepared to tell anyone yet. But it worked out just as well because they were able to come get the boys and Felipe and I were able to go for a walk around Target. Then we headed home for a nap because we knew we had a long day ahead of us. We knew so little.

After our naps we headed out to walk around the mall. It’s closer to the birthing center and the maternity jeans that I was wearing were really uncomfortable during contractions. I thought maybe I could find a skirt to labor in and Felipe was looking for a hat. -useless information for you. Everyone at the mall had some opinion on how we should procede with our laboring. Some man who thought he was an expert after two kids let us know that we should be at the hospital already because they come so quick. Well, unfortunately every woman, baby, and pregnancy is different and there is no way to magically predict how long a labor will be. Thanks for your advice, strange man at the mall. (There was one lady who let us know we were doing things exactly right and she should know after SEVEN children. Yes, strange lady, you sound more like an expert than any man especially one with only 2 kids.) 

At this point, I was doubtful we were very far along. We decided to go to the birthing center and check for dilation and effacement (seeing if labor was progressing). If I was at 5cm, we’d stay. Anything less meant we’d go home. I was at a 2-3cm. I was still in good spirits. Contractions were difficult but labor in general was almost enjoyable due to my terrific preparatory class, Birth Bootcamp ( and my amazing midwife who I want to be just like when I grow up. I even commented that I could keep this up for quite awhile! 

If only things had stayed so “easy”.

Around 11:30PM I felt like I was dying. I was crying. I couldn’t control anything. I wasn’t able to do what I knew had to be done to get through contractions. I wanted to die. Felipe called Joni so she could give me some help. She told me to get Felipe involved and communicate with him on how I needed help. Felipe was amazing. He was so helpful and did exactly what I needed him to do. I am so lucky to have him by my side! During labor a mother is often not thinking clearly and it is understandable that I would need to tell Felipe to tell me to relax into a contraction. It’s weird how I would tell him to tell me that and then I would immediately forget as soon as a contraction hit and he would tell me and I would relax and the contractions went by. At some point I thought, “ok, I’ve got this.” And I let him go back to sleep. Almost immediately I was right back to dying. 

[edit to add: For the month leading up to the birth I had been having visions of my younger son helping me through parts of my labor. I dismissed it as ridiculous but remembered the joy those visions gave me. If we had been at the birthing center, he would not have been able to help me. Since I was at home, he woke up after we called Joni and he found me in tears on the sofa. He came to me, petted me, and hugged me. He helped me through some of my hardest contractions. I can't explain why it was helpful. Maybe he has the gift of Healing, or maybe it was his love and gentleness that helped release dopamine. There was one contraction that I needed to push him aside for, but right after it was over I embraced him again and he fell asleep while labored on. His touch, although nothing special by themselves, were special because they were from the abundance of love overflowing from his heart.]

For 3 hours I suffered and cried and knew something was wrong. I was hoping it was just gas. But every time I went to the loo, I felt like [tmi warning, stop reading now] I was going to develop and pop a hemorrhoid. Then I was hot. No, I was cold. Was this the infamous “transition” period? Around 3AM I needed relief. I got Felipe to wake up and drive me around. The car vibrations were soothing to my aching body. I was finally able to sleep while Felipe drove. For about 45 minutes we drove around until I was back to dying. (I knew I wasn’t actually dying though.) 

I thought, “I need an epidural. I should go to the hospital. I’ll call Joni and let her know. No, if I call her she’ll talk me out of it. I’m not strong enough for this. I’ll just go to the hospital and tell her afterward. No, I can’t do that, she’ll be too sad. And that’s really expensive. Besides I hate hospitals and Ob-Gyns, unless there’s an actual emergency.”

I texted her to say that contractions were 45-50 sec long about 2 min apart. I was in horrible pain. Something must be wrong. She said to come in and we’ll figure it out.

Felipe couldn’t keep his eyes open. We were parked outside our house in the ice with the engine running. We decided Felipe should nap for 10-15 minutes and then we’d drive. Joni suggested I take a hot bath to try to combat the pain.

We went inside thinking Holly was just in a weird position that was causing me pain. Felipe filled the tub with water. It took FOREVER! Meanwhile I got on several of my private Facebook groups begging for prayer because surely I was dying. To get me through contractions I sang, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.” And then I’d have a break. And repeat. 

Finally the bath was filled and right when I was about to step in I felt the baby turn and drop. Someone must have seen my request and been praying for me! Praise God! This will help the contractions. But no. Contractions were much, much worse. 

At this point I knew what it was - gas. [it was not gas] Lots of gas building pressure and needing to be released. So I tried to release it. My body started rocking back and forth from hands to knees. I felt two Angels come beside me and remind me of what human anatomy looks like. They reminded me of the key points of how to deliver a baby in an emergency when no care provider is near. They were my doulas. Felipe was asleep on the floor near the bath. I told him, “The baby is coming!” And he said, “oh so we should get in the car.” and I responded, “NO! She’s crowning!” I could feel her head. It was a really difficult position for me with this giant belly in the way. But I felt it. Felipe stepped out of the room [edit for clarification: he went to get the phone to call Joni again]. I was so filled with peace and incredulous giddiness. I had fantasized about this scenario. It was just how I dreamt. There was no pain at this point. The actual delivery was pain-free. I had even half-thought earlier that I didn’t feel like driving all the way to the birthing center again and maybe I would just have the baby at home. ha! When Felipe came back in, I had delivered the baby! It was seconds long! Only 3-4 pushes and there she was! I had a bulb syringe prepared for the ice-storm emergency situation. It was still there and I told Felipe to grab it and hand it to me.

She was blueish purple and not crying. So I frantically sucked out her nostrils. Then her mouth. Then her mouth again. And again. And I rubbed her back. And blew in her face. She finally made a squeak. What a relief! I started nursing her and we just waited. I didn’t know what else to do.

Turns out this was all perfectly normal for a water birth. I did not know that. When a baby goes from amniotic fluid to air the shock makes them gasp, open their lungs, and cry. But when they have such a gentle transition from amniotic fluid, to warm water, to air, they take their time. It’s normal for babies to be that color even. Just not to stay that color. She was covered in vernix and meconium. It was gross looking. The bath was just fine when she initially emerged. But by the time the midwife team showed up, it-was-disgusting! haha! They’re used to it. 

not the most glamorous shots of mama

Felipe had Joni on speaker phone and she was saying stuff I couldn't quite hear and giving directions on how to deliver the placenta if it started coming.

Lincey and Adria (an intern) showed up first. And went to work taking vitals etc. Joni showed up (with her baby!) a little while later. We moved over to the bed to deliver the placenta. That was surprisingly uncomfortable. Lincey stitched my 1st degree tear, which is the smallest degree. That hurt even with the local anesthetic. Felipe cut the non-pulsating cord. My tailbone hurts a little from sitting in the tub for so long, but I haven’t taken any medicine! It is interesting that after my other two medicated births I needed medicine and a lot of it afterward. But this has been the easiest labor and delivery of the three.

Holly's cord knotted lying across my belly. 
When Holly came out her umbilical cord was draped fashionable around her shoulders like a shawl and across her chest and down around her thigh in a loop. There was even a knot in the cord. With all her acrobatics in the womb, it was no wonder that she’d be so tangled in her cord! If this had happened with either of the other two babies I would have thought it was bad, but Joni had just told me a story of another baby born with the cord wrapped around him several times and it was fine and normal. Just a random story that was actually God’s way of preparing me for what would happen the next day.

She was born at 4:50 - precisely the time that my old friend Jerrica Watts Snyder saw my post and prayed for me. Thank you, friend. You prayed my baby into this world. And I’m so thankful to everyone who was praying for me and those of you who are still praying for me. I am so grateful and encouraged by all the facebook posts and messages. You have all helped me feel very loved!

She was 20.75 inches long and weighed 8 lbs 13 ounces. I forget her head circumference. She was 40 weeks and 5 days along.

Her cry is more like a whimper and much easier to listen to than the boys’ war cries of injustice. And she has a head of hair that surprised us considering our other two were bald little monkeys. 

Joni put me on strict bed rest for 3 days, which is different than the other providers I had. They just said to take it easy. Joni is coming back to the house to give me a follow up. (I’d like to see a doctor willing to do that.) 

Basically, it was the most horrible and exciting and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. What just happened? I was alone in the bathtub and delivered my own baby. I just can’t believe it. I’m so grateful for Felipe’s help throughout labor. I am amazed. This has been a spirit-filled experience. I can see the premonitions and fortuitous conversations were divinely orchestrated. 

Everyone around me became so self-centered when my other babies were born without thought of mama or baby. But this was my ideal birth experience - by myself, without pressure, focussed. God heard the request of my heart and granted it. Sometimes he just leaves me in awe.
Each pregnancy, labor, and delivery gets easier with each baby! Maybe we'll have ten!

She tries to smile at Dada but it only reaches her eyes so far. Very adorable!

Look at that curly hair!

Ah, so peaceful!

Her shirt is of Seuss Whovians with "Sweetie" across it. Whoville must be on Gallifrey.


  1. Congratulations! What a wonderful story!

  2. Oh wow. I'm in tears. The idea someone gave you to pray over your home was advice someone gave us as well. It's a beautiful thing, and helped us to deal with some fear and issues we hadn't realized before. God's Spirit is powerful, and of course He cares about birth!! Just-in awe- of how things turned out. Wish I lived close to help you stay on bed rest, it's a huge help, and you deserve it! Even though the pain is terrible, the fruit is sweet beyond words. :)

  3. What a beautiful story Lauren, I am in tears! So happy for you and Felipe:)
    -Jennifer Sommerville

  4. Lauren, you can take something that, to me, seems ridiculously scary, and see it as a blessing. Instead of fearing you saw it as a joyous experience, you had me in tears of joy. You and your family are so beautiful. I'll be sure to contact you when I next come to Dallas, being around you and your family is sure to be a blessing from God.

    1. Ashley, your words bless me. I look forward to seeing you! Just don't come tomorrow - the house is A MESS!