Beautiful Favor

Giving birth to our baby girl, Belle, was one of the most grace filled, empowering things I've ever done. Not to say that it wasn't a little scary, but ultimately even in the moment of things it was amazing. I wrote out all the details of Belle's birth story last year shortly after having her, but I wasn't brave enough to post it on the internet - I didn't know if I wanted to share it with the masses and have something so personal known. I was also afraid that someone would scold us for the choices we made. I realize now that thinking someone can tarnish our story of bringing our precious little Belle into the world is just silly. The more I hear people talk about birth as something terrifying or something gross or something that's traumatic, I can't not tell our story. I think everyone only sharing their negative experiences is giving the impression that that is what happens the majority of the time, and I just don't think that's true. Bringing new life into the world (though yes, a little painful) is amazing!

I feel that my birth story should start with the fact that our being able to get pregnant & have our beautiful Belle was a gift from the beginning. Every baby is a gift in my opinion, but in our case I was told from a young age that getting pregnant probably wouldn't be something that happened easily. I was never told it was impossible, just that it would be hard and there was the possibility I wouldn't be able to due to my health condition. It was something I went into marriage very anxious about because I knew we both wanted kids of our own someday and I wouldn't know until we started trying whether or not I'd be able to conceive. About six months before getting pregnant with Belle, while my husband was still deployed overseas, I talked to my doctor about the possibility of wanting to start a family soon and some of the concerns I was having with signs my body was showing. She "looked into things" and sat down and told me that no matter what happened that God had a plan for us to have a family. She then explained that we may need some help in getting pregnant, but we'd have to wait and see. I soon after had to switch doctors and had my new doctor tell me the same thing. It's funny how God placed each doctor in my life, because both of them have the same condition that I do and both of them have been able to have kids. Anxiously hoping, I went on the medication prescribed to me to help my PCOS a couple months before Barry got home from his deployment and low and behold if we weren't pregnant shortly after he came home! It wasn't our plan - it took both of us by complete surprise! We were a little beside ourselves and God used the situation to strengthen my trust. Once we found out it was a girl we named her Belle Anne which means "Beautiful Favor", something I believe fits perfectly with our story.

My pregnancy, though full of nausea and sickness for over half of it, was a healthy & happy one. The only complication we had was that she was sideways footling breech, so her head was on the right side of my stomach with her butt on the left and her right foot was directly against my bladder. It was HIGHLY uncomfortable the last trimester. We had a 'version' procedure done so that my OB could push her into place, in hopes that I wouldn't have to have a c-section. Thankfully she stayed put and we had her the following week!

The weekend I went into labor, quite a few stressful things happened in my family and I was doing my best to keep myself distracted so that I wouldn't go into labor early (although let's be honest, any woman hopes that her baby comes a few days early). I was distracting myself so well with friends and tasks that I didn't even realize I was in labor for a couple of hours. We had our friend Kelli over helping us get our new room painted and cleaned. After she left it hit me that I was possibly in labor, due to the fact that I was having to stop cleaning paintbrushes due to the harshness of the contractions I was feeling. I had been feeling what I thought were probably Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple of hours but didn't mention it because I didn't want to make a big deal out of what was probably nothing. When I finally told Barry that they were getting pretty regular, he started timing them and I was so regular that he could tell me when I was about to start another - I was having them every THREE minutes! Barry was ready to go to the hospital after the first few, but me being the stubborn-butt I am, wanted to wait for an hour of consistent contractions. So wait we did. When I still didn't agree that we should probably go to the hospital after an hour, he had me call my nurse who sure enough chuckled and told me to get my bags and go check into the hospital immediately.

The car ride was just long enough for Bear and I to talk things through and for me to get it in my head that it was happening... our baby girl would soon be here! I think in a *dramatic* moment I joked that our lives as we knew them were OVER. Barry being good humored just laughed and kept joking with me the whole way there. Luckily it was about 8pm, so there was zero traffic and checking into the hospital was a breeze. The triage nurse thought I was hilarious for waiting as long as I did and for still questioning if I was in labor or not. She had us in the labor and delivery room within about 15 minutes and paired up with the sweetest nurse in the world. While they got me checked in, in the hideous hospital gown and let me pee for the umpteenth time, Bear went back to our car and brought in all of our bags (I was all kinds of prepared with the hospital bags).

I originally had planned to put the epidural off as long as possible so I wouldn't be confined to a bed for more than a few hours, but I had forgotten how low my pain threshold is. I waited for Barry to bring me my "birthing ball" or exercise ball or whatever you want to call it, hoping that sitting and bouncing would help take all the pressure off, but my body was saying all kinds of NOPE. I agreed to the epidural the minute my nurse offered it to me... which was less than an hour after being admitted. Seeing as I had to have an epidural for the 'version' procedure the week prior, I knew what to expect and I wasn't nervous about it whatsoever. But HOLYHELL that needle hurt. Pretty sure it was because I was having a hard time sitting still while leaning forward because my contractions were so close together, but this one brought me to tears, unlike the previous one. My sweet nurse while holding my shoulders was telling me what a good job I was doing and wiping my tears, while I squeezed Barry's hands with all my might. Once it was in and the medicine was flowing, I was living the good life. You really can't feel anything after you get those. I got the "shakes" like I got with the previous epidural, except they were worse because I couldn't focus quite as much to make them stop. Yay. However, in my mind, my teeth chattering every few minutes was a much better thing to experience than the contractions. So I felt right as rain.

Barry unpacked the necessary items from our bags and we settled in for the night. The nurses brought me water and ice and kept our lights dim so that we could both try to get some sleep. I slowly and consistently dilated but my water never broke. We both went in and out of sleep for the next several hours. Being the light sleeper I am, I woke up every 20 minutes from my blood pressure cuff squeezing or the nurse checking my vitals. Around 2/3am a new nurse walked in and realized I was running a fever. So in came cold washcloths all over my head and neck (gross, but understandable) and on went an oxygen mask to keep Belle's heart rate where it needed to be. They gave me some tylenol to nix the fever but for whatever reason, it never broke. I had the fever and subsequently the oxygen mask on until right before Belle was born. Though this was less than comfortable to deal with, I'm so thankful this was caught and I was taken care of in the way I was. Around 5/6am I was completely effaced and about 6 inches dilated but my water still hadn't broken. So we kept waiting. They offered to help break it, but I wanted to wait for my OB to be back at the hospital. So maybe I subconsciously kept it from breaking, who knows? Maybe I'm a weird sort of superhero. 

Sure enough we reached about 10am and my doctor was ready to get the ball rolling (14 hours into labor she was speaking my language) so she came in and broke the water herself. She then turned the lights off, told me to keep resting and said she'd be back when it was time. Within about 20 minutes my contractions suddenly worked themselves past the drugs to where I was gripping the bed rails and nearly in tears. Bear immediately went and got the nurse who then got the anesthesiologist to up my dose - [praise to the Lord]. Shortly after it kicked in, they checked me again and I was fully dilated and ready to go.  After a few practice pushes with the nurse (confirming my stance on not wasting money on birthing classes), Belle's full head of hair was already showing and my doctor arrived. Within about a half hour and only 10 pushes, Belle Anne greeted the world whimpering and crying! She was the most perfect little thing either of us had ever seen! While she was wiped down, weighed and measured, my doctor informed me that the umbilical cord had broken off due to being wrapped across her chest. So that was dealt with, disposed of and I was patched up quickly. Within minutes our beautiful little human was on my chest being her sweet, perfect, little self.

We were both wrapped around her teeny fingers immediately! I've never felt so much love flood my heart so quickly! She didn't leave my arms for a long time, she latched and nursed and cuddled and cooed. It honestly felt like time had stood still, it was my nurse that had to suggest to me that Bear should have a turn with her. Ha, WHOOPS! We were very blessed to have friends bring us a good non hospital food lunch very shortly after and my dad was once of the first people to hold Belle. Something that will always be so special to me. Those couple of days spent in the hospital with her seem like such a blur. All I know is that they were filled with so much love, the sweetest nurses tending to my every need and caring for our little girl so that we could sleep in the evenings and some of our closest friends bringing us food & goodies to keep us from having to eat whatever was on the menu at the hospital that day.

Leading up to giving birth I was told so many things. 
Things about hospital births and home births and how one was better than the other.
Things about how painful & horrific labor could be.
Things about doctors ruining the labor experience.
SO many things.
I did have some encouraging voices speaking life into me about the whole process, but a lot of times to expecting moms fear of the unknown latches to the negative stories.
So I was a little nervous going into it.
But I'm SO thankful I had people encouraging me and building me up.

I want to be one of those people for other first time moms not knowing what to expect, or wondering if what they are doing is best for their baby. Whether you're on a farm or in a hospital, whether you get an epidural or you decide not to (seriously you're superwoman if you decide not to), whether you get a c-section, induce labor or baby doesn't come until you feel you're about to explode. In the words of my OB (the best OB there is, in our opinion), "babies have been being born for thousands of years and the bus pretty well drives itself." I think your birth experience is all about your perspective. If you're hung up on a birthing plan you're going to be disappointed, because your baby has no idea what YOUR birthing plan is. If you just let baby do it's thing, and you take things as they come, you'll probably be golden.
Personally I feel I had the perfect birthing experience. It didn't come without a few complications, but I was very thankful to be where I was with the medical care I had and in the end, all that mattered to me was holding her beautiful life in my arms.

Having a baby has changed my entire world.
It's changed the way I view myself, my body, my relationships, my faith. It's incredible.
The pain in childbirth may be a curse, but childbirth in and of itself is truly a gift and one that I'm so honored and thankful that I've gotten to experience. I pray I get to do it again someday.

What about you? What kind of birthing experience did you have?
Share it! I would love to hear it!

I would like to take a second to state that I understand that there are traumatic things that happen to some women during childbirth, there are some experiences that all the perspective in the world couldn't make better, there are tragic losses and stories of utter heartbreak. 
It is not my intention to devalue those stories. 
I only wish to counteract the stories that incite irrational fears.


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