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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thomas George - Birth Story

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I was planning your birth. The excitement was overwhelming and I just knew that it would be a beautiful entry into this world. The nine months seemed to pass slowly as our anticipation grew.  We were happy with how the birth of your older brother turned out in the hospital, but we felt there was something more to the experience that we may have missed out on due to some of the interventions that seemed to cascade towards the end of our journey. With Joey,  it was a twelve hour labor of love, three of those hours were spent pushing hard without pain medication.  After two hours of pushing, we were offered Pitocin to help get him out, and I was so exhausted that I took it.  After another hour, we were offered a vacuum extraction, which we reluctantly accepted because I had nothing left to give. I was out of energy and my resolve was fading.  I was given a local numbing shot and with one push (vacuum assisted), your dad and I became parents for the first time. It was wonderful, amazing, blissful and beautiful but the recovery was terrible.  I had second degree tears that required stitches, and my body felt like it had been run over by a semi-truck from all of that purple pushing. I shook for two weeks whenever I would exert myself at all.  Going to the bathroom was exhausting, and I needed help to do it, which was humbling and humiliating at the same time.  I wanted something different with your birth, although I wasn't quite sure yet what that would look like.

We loved the midwives that we used with your brother, and we loved that the hospital tried hard to stick to our birth plan. We never felt bullied or forced into anything, so we decided to continue our care at that practice for the time being. Half way through your pregnancy, your dad and I started researching water birth. We found that there were two hospitals and a birth center in the metro area that offered those services. We started to investigate.  We visited all three facilities and weighed the pros and cons of each. Finally, we decided that if I continued to be low risk through my 28th week that we would make the switch to one of the hospitals. My 28 week appointment was great; I was still low risk, so we made the switch.  I started seeing the new midwives at my 32 week appointment.

One evening not long after, I decided to buy the book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”. I started reading it and was very intrigued by it. I started thinking about how amazing it might be to try to give birth at home.  I felt very confident in my body’s ability to birth a baby, I was low risk, so why couldn't I do it at home?!  I started feeling excited at the possibility. I spoke to your dad, and he supported the idea, so I texted our doula and told her I was considering it. She was very excited too.  We then started the process of interviewing home-birth midwives.  We prayed about this a lot. We sought out peace in our decision, and we found it.

We interviewed three midwives and found that two of them would be a perfect fit. One of them offered all “in home” pre-natal and post-natal appointments, not to mention she had a calming presence that your father and I felt very comfortable with, so we chose her.

We continued our care at the hospital as well, since there was still one test that needed to be run (GBS) before the birth. (Our insurance would cover it, but only if we went to the hospital). The GBS test, or Group B strep test, was something that I did not look forward to. I was positive with your brother, and was concerned that I would be positive again with you. I sought out a holistic doctor and began taking immune boosting supplements, probiotics and a clove or two of garlic every night to try and avoid a positive outcome. 

When I gave birth to your brother, I needed an IV antibiotic due to the positive GBS test. Since I am severely allergic to penicillin, and the GBS strain I carried was resistant to three other antibiotics, they ended up giving me Vancomyicin. While I was in labor with Joey, I had an allergic reaction to this antibiotic also.  I realized that I did not have any good options for antibiotics if I were to be positive again. This scared me a bit. At 36 weeks I had the test preformed, and found out again that I was GBS positive. It broke my heart and my spirit. I was crushed. 

I had the option of having a hospital birth with antibiotics again, in which the reaction I had previously might be compounded and worse, or I could continue with our home-birth plans without antibiotic use. This was a huge decision, one which we did not take lightly. We researched the GBS risk, and found that it was extremely rare that there would be complications resulting from the positive result (less than 1%). (Especially if you were born after 36 weeks, my water did not break right away, and I did not run a fever during labor). 

The risk was higher that the allergic reactions to the antibiotics I would need, would cause complications. Even if we decided on a hospital birth, we would have opted out of the antibiotics anyway. We decided to proceed with the home-birth, while watching carefully for any signs of infection.  We would transfer to the hospital at the first sign something was not going right. Our midwives suggested a hibiclens wash at the beginning of labor which has been shown to reduce the GBS and even eliminate it all together.  Our midwives and doula were very confident in this approach, which made me feel at peace. Again, we prayed about this decision. We put our faith in God and did not base our decisions on fear. We based every decision on faith and evidence based research.  

I remember asking God to protect you and me. I asked him that if possible, he could birth you in the caul (the protective, fluid filled sack that you have been growing in since conception). This way, there would be even less of a chance that you could come into contact with the GBS.  I remember telling our doula, that this could happen and it gave me a peace of mind.  I left the rest in God’s hands, and began to look forward to your arrival.

Your brother arrived earth side two weeks early. He surprised us at 37 weeks + 6 days. There was no “waiting” for him to arrive, he just came…early, happy and healthy. I was hoping this would be the same case with you, as I did not LOVE being pregnant. By this point in my pregnancy with you, I was very uncomfortable; I had pregnancy rhinitis and could not breathe at night without Afrin nasal spray. I was getting about 1.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time since I would wake myself up snoring or needing to go to the bathroom. The 38 week point came and went with no sign of you. I started to feel discouraged. Every night I would go to sleep, hoping that this would be the night, and every morning I would wake up without even a twinge of labor. This went on for over a week. I was emotionally drained. I wanted so badly to meet you. I was so excited to birth you.  I prayed every day…I asked for patience and respect for God’s perfect timing.  The 39th week came, and still, you waited. Mommy cried a lot in the mornings, aching to meet you every single day.

I finally started to release this to God and push back the fear of going past my “due date".  I prayed that you would come when you were healthy and ready….(secretly hoping it would be during the day rather than in the middle of the night). I never really said it, but that’s what I was hoping for.  A birth during the day would make it a lot easier with your brother around.  Easter weekend was approaching and I had given up on hoping you would come early, so your dad and I decided to go on one last date night before you made your arrival. We feasted at Texas Roadhouse. I enjoyed a nice juicy rib eye steak with mashed potatoes and Caesar salad. After dinner we got ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, I had amaretto flavor with chocolate chips and cherries.  I was so full and sleepy that we went home and right to bed.  

At around 3:30 in the morning on Friday 4/18/2014, your bother Joey woke up. He started screaming a terrible scream that startled your dad and I. We ran into his room where he was very upset. He cried and cried. We read to him, held him, fed him, but nothing worked. He would not go back to sleep. This was very unlike him, he never did this.  After about an hour, we took him into bed with us, and turned on some television. That did the trick. He stopped crying and snuggled up with us. Your dad decided to work from home that morning, since we were both so tired and I needed some help with Joey.  

Around 5:00 am, we decided to get out of bed and make breakfast since mommy was hungry.  Mommy worked on cooking egg sandwiches while daddy started setting up his work computer to check some emails. That is when I felt my first contraction. It was a very mild, dull ache in my abdomen; it did not last very long.  I checked the clock, 5:31 am. Maybe this was it? I wanted to believe it, but did not want to get too excited.  I waited. Another one, 5:37 am.  Nice.  I asked your dad to start blowing up the birth tub, just in case you decided to arrive today. I still wasn’t fully convinced that this was “it”, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared. Dad worked on getting the tub set up, and I kept having contractions about 7 mins apart. I texted our doula and midwife to let them know that it might happen today. I told them not to rush here, but it might be a good idea to come when they can get around to it.

I tried to keep myself busy in the kitchen, cleaning the microwave, sweeping the floor. I played with Joey for a while. I knew that this must be happening rather quickly, when I started feeling annoyed with your dad for working on the birth tub. At around 8:30 am, my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart and starting to get quite strong. I had to stop playing with Joey and just concentrate on getting through each one. I used the exercise ball to lean on through each one. I made your dad stop getting the pool ready and come help me. We laid Joey down for a nap.  I texted our doula and midwife again, to tell them to hurry up. Things were progressing much faster than I anticipated. Stacie, our midwife arrived around 9:30 am and helped me with contractions, while your dad continued filling the tub with hot water. The tub was ready about 10 am, so I got in.  Our doula, Misty arrived shortly after. The hot water really felt good, and helped me relax through each contraction. I moaned low and loud through each rush and envisioned you moving down.  Your Aunt Jenna and Jessica arrived and listened for Joey to awake. Once he awoke, Jenna took him to her house to be watched by uncle Justin. She quickly returned to our house afterwards.

I held onto Misty’s hands and knelt over the edge of the pool. Your dad rubbed my lower back and kept a warm towel over my back.  Our birth playlist was a compilation of Christian music. I prayed for strength and a healthy baby. I trusted in our Savior. I leaned on HIM I prayed to HIM, HE was faithful to his word and never left my side, not for a moment.  

Sometime right before your arrival, our second midwife, Jen showed up.  I saw her and acknowledged her presence.  I was in the zone, non-focused awareness; I think is what they call it. I was aware of all that was happening, but I was not focused on any one particular thing. I allowed thoughts and feelings to come and go, they flowed in and out like water. Like the rush of labor, my thoughts ebbed and flowed. I thought I should try to go to the bathroom, so I exited the pool and your dad helped me walk to the bathroom. I could not go, but I yelled out that I felt pressure. I was probably ready to start pushing, even though I did not quite know it yet. I hugged your dad through another rush and got back into the pool. I remember feeling scared for a moment. Scared of what it would feel like when you crowned. I never got to feel that with Joey due to the local shot they gave me right before the vacuum extraction. I remember a fleeting thought of worry that I would be pushing for a long time.  I remember telling Misty that I was scared. She reassured me, held my hands and softly stroked the fear from my limbs.

I started to push. It was involuntary. I had no control over it, but it felt good. I never felt the urge to push with Joey, but I was sure feeling it now. I could feel your head moving down. Every sensation was amplified. Emotion rushed through my body as I knew deep down that this was the end. My song came on right at that moment. (The song I listened to throughout the pregnancy, it was calming and helpful). “Oceans” by Hillsong United. I started to cry tears of great joy when the song began. I knew you were just minutes away. I knew God was with us. I knew it would all be ok.

I gave into the feeling; I surrendered all to our Lord and Savior. Each wave came stronger and stronger. I was not afraid anymore. Misty cried with me. I heard someone ask your dad if he wanted to catch you.  He moved behind me. I pushed so hard. I felt your head coming out. I screamed. It hurt, bad.  Your shoulders were stuck a bit, I had to stand up and lift my leg up. Another push, out came your shoulders…I screamed again…the pain was even more intense. Next painful feeling was your butt coming out and it was done. You were here. 

My joy could not be contained. I cried at what we accomplished, together. What a team, you, me and your daddy. We worked so hard. We did it. They told me you were born in the caul. My heart leapt in joy, you were protected, just as I had prayed! It wasn’t until later when I saw the pictures of your caul birth that I could fully appreciate the miracle that just happened. They say caul births happen so rarely, 1 in 80,000. I say praise Jesus.  Your dad announced that we had a boy! Thomas George Lawson, born 4/18/2014  at 11:17 am, Good Friday, in the Caul. 20.5 inches / 8 lbs 5 oz. Perfection. A true miracle. Amen.

Oceans by Hillsong United

Verse #1
You call me out upon the water
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Verse #2
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior x 7

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine

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