Perfect Birth, Part 2: It’s Personal

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my heart about an issue that I know plagues expectant mothers everywhere: what does it take to have a perfect birth?

I touched on the fact that while childbirth education is imperative, and support during labor is helpful, we still don’t know how any woman will react to the labor process until she is already in the moment. I made the point that all births, no matter what they look like, are victories to be celebrated. And I mean that. All births are their own brand of perfect. But sometimes, for some women, the truth is this:

Even perfect birth can be traumatic.

I would be foolish not to acknowledge that some women have frightening or even life-threatening births and are forced to come to terms with their experience. For one reason or another, the process simply doesn’t “work” in some situations. For some of these women, my testimony about my disappointing birth experience and my injured feelings of self-worth might be exactly what they need. But for others, well… maybe not so much.

Beyond our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies, we are each also composed of our own complicated list of experiences. We have a mind, which we discuss in class, but we also have a subconscious mind, which we couldn’t even begin to cover: immature in its ability to make sense of our experiences, and endlessly vulnerable to the hoaxes of the enemy (again: see the Devotional). Working quietly behind the scenes, beneath our cool, collected exterior, it shapes our reactions to every one of our life experiences.

It’s personal.

In the five years since starting my childbirth services company, I have had no choice but to grow as an individual. I have been brought to my knees by some of my own life experiences. Shaken to the core of my beliefs. The shaping of my character as an adult has been arduous, and I have fought hard to find—and hold on to—what is true. In the process, I have also come to see some of that which is not.

I have learned something very important: We are each fighting our own battles. Maybe that sounds cliché, but this is relevant in all areas of life – including the quest for a great birth. For me to come alongside a woman and preach “worth,” when her own personal life experiences have shaped her to need a message of “safety” (for example), would mean that I have missed her altogether.

But how can I help? How do I know what someone needs, when it is beyond their own understanding? How do I discern the tune of their song, unless they themselves can sing it to me?

It’s possible.

The message I offer in my classes about worth and birth idolatry and relationship problems is—in all humility—good. It is quality stuff, and I will continue to teach it. But if I am to partner with God in caring for souls, then I must work from the heart with all of the skill allotted to me. There is more I can offer on an individual basis, seeking hearts and re-adjoining them to God’s in a way that is so much bigger, so much more personal, than the quest for the perfect birth.

It’s time to integrate more. Eden’s Promise is ready to offer you – each mother, father, and child- more than I ever dreamed possible. Click here to find out more!

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

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The Birth Story of Anna* (2nd Child, VBAC, Induction, No Pain Meds)

The Birth Story of Anna*

*names changed for client privacy

I started meeting with Dana and Ben in their home during their second trimester of pregnancy. Each time we met it always amazed me, just as it had when Dana was pregnant with Carson, how pretty and comfortable she looked. Most women aren’t so lucky. Ben has a relaxed, gentle way about him and a remarkable ability to make Dana laugh. I always felt comfortable in their home, and little Carson’s sweet (and smart) interactions with me only made spending time with them that much more enjoyable.

Dr. Baine* had done a good job of tracking Dana’s progress, and reports always indicated that the baby was strong and healthy. Everything was obviously fine, but a good doctor knows when to take precautions. As Dana approached her due date with no sign of cervical dilation, Dr. Baine went ahead and made the call to have Dana induced just to make sure everything stayed fine.

At 8 p.m. on April ** (which was Dana’s actual due date), she and Ben checked into the hospital to begin the induction. Various factors had ruled out the use of Cytotec as a cervical dilation medication, so Dr. Baine chose to go with a more natural method for stimulating Dana into labor. An over-inflated Foley catheter was used to apply pressure to the cervix (similar to how a baby’s head would, helping to soften and flatten out the cervix and causing dilation), and a low dose of Pitocin was given over the course of the night. The plan was for Dana and Ben to get some sleep, and I was going to come in once she was actually in labor.

Around 6 a.m. the following morning, I got a text from Dana asking me to come in. She said her contractions were getting more regular. I bought some breakfast & coffee for Ben and arrived at the hospital at 7:20 a.m., just after the nurses’ shift change had taken place. When I entered the room, I noticed that the daytime nurse, named Elaine*, was the same nurse I had just worked with a few weeks prior at another hospital. I was excited to see her. She was a joy to work with the previous time; she was knowledgeable, caring, and very much on board with ‘natural’ childbirth. While I don’t know that she is a believer along with us, I still think her presence was a gift from God.

At 8 a.m., a cervical check showed that Dana was already measuring between 4-5 cm. I think we were all pleasantly surprised. Dana was definitely in a good labor pattern and had to focus through contractions, but it still felt like everything was just getting started—and yet here she was, more than halfway done already. Dana utilized the birth ball, while I offered a few suggestions for coping with the labor pains. I applied aromatherapy to Dana’s feet, and wrote some scripture on the dry-erase board: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14). Ben prayed over Dana and put in some Bebo Norman. They were both in a relaxed state, smiling and joking with each other between contractions. Even though we were sitting in a hospital room, I could easily imagine that the morning was probably similar to any Saturday morning at their house. The two are great together.

The time between when I got there and when the baby was born was a whopping 2 ½ hours. Changes occurred in Dana and she progressed very quickly. Never, however, did she lose her composure. The two of them labored beautifully together. In the hour following Ben’s prayer over Dana, the two of them ‘slow danced’ to Sinatra (this is technically a ‘labor’ position), turned on ‘Justin’ (their favorite Saturday cartoon), went to the restroom (which takes a while), and then decided to rest a little.

As the intensity of the contractions built, they found a rhythm together and went with it, with Dana’s hand thumping the ‘peanut’ ball between her knees as she lay on her side in bed, and their voices raising and lowering together in a kind of patterned song as they focused together on each contraction. As they did I found myself reveling in why I love doing what I do. That moment when I realize they don’t need me—it’s exactly why I’m there.

Around 10 a.m., Dr. Baine stopped by to check Dana’s progress and found her at 6 cm. She decided to keep the Pitocin at the same level (as opposed to turning it up) because things were progressing nicely. There was a good labor pattern and Dana and Ben were coping together very well. I could see she was encouraged. None of us, however, expected the changes that happened next.

A mere 10 minutes later, at around 10:20 a.m., during Dana’s routine potty break, her water broke. Thankfully, Elaine was in the room when it occurred, as we all knew exactly what Dana meant when she expressed a desire to push. Elaine sent Danielle directly back to bed (which took a few more minutes because the contractions were strong and very frequent). Ben was right there with her the entire time, supporting her and helping her to focus on relaxing and vocalizing properly as she made her way back.

At 10:30 a.m., Elaine checked Dana again and found her dilation to be complete. I must admit, I was amazed. It was already time to push. Ben prayed over Dana as we waited for Dr. Baine to return and as he did, I could feel God’s presence in the room. He was there, and He was responding with mercy and loving kindness. He had brought Dana hurdling past the Transition Phase, the most difficult phase of labor. Meanwhile, Dana had remained grateful for the ability to just know the experience. All of it, every last contraction, was such an answer to prayer. God is so very good.

Dr. Baine arrived at 10:40 a.m. Ben looked Dana in the eye right as it was time to begin pushing and reminded her, “I can do all things through Christ…” (Philippians 4:13). She nodded, and between her contractions and pushing, Dana prayed out loud for Jesus to help her. And as she did, I found myself praying silently for Dr. Baine and Elaine, praying for God to show Himself to them; to come and get His glory through the answer of Dana’s prayers. It occurred to me then that maybe Elaine’s presence wasn’t just a gift to us, but a gift to her as well. She’s His child, too. He wants her to know Him. I pray she caught a glimpse of Him that day.

At 10:52 a.m., baby Anna was born via successful VBAC. She weighed in at a healthy, yet petite, 6 lbs. 0 oz. Dana’s words to me then will always remain with me: “It was everything I hoped it would be.” Her daughter was beautiful, healthy and strong. And just as God had been present for the birth of their son, He had also been here for their daughter’s. With Carson, He had confided in them. With Anna, He delivered.

Dana and Ben, thank you for including me—again—in your amazing birth story. May your children always serve as a reminder to you of the way God works: He confides in those who fear Him (Psalm 25:14) and He delivers those who call on Him (Psalm 50:15). Anna, may you always know that God was present on the day of your birth, providing peace and showing mercy and kindness. May you learn His traits well, and call upon them when your own time comes. And may your presence in this world always bring Him glory, just as it did the day you were born. It was an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,

Jen DeBrito (Your Doula)

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a doula and childbirth educator in Colorado Springs. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional and is the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC.