Sharing a family’s birth stories . . .
And philosophy is a bit of soul sharing. However intimate, it is good to pass down and around these stories that shape our lives. Our Bailey birth stories share our faith in our amazing Savior, Jesus Christ. It is He who sustains us and faith in Him brought us through the difficulty of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I want to share how our birth stories connected so perfectly with the names we had chosen for our children.
When I became pregnant with my first in the fall of 2007 I was the farthest thing from crunchy. My motto was “give me the drugs.” As I learned more during the course of my pregnancy I began to rethink my ideas of pregnancy and labor. I came to see pregnancy, labor, and birth as normal and not something to be feared. However, I had moved cross-country to California halfway though the pregnancy and did not know how to go about finding a midwife. I stuck with an OB who gave me an (what I later believe to be unnecessary) induction at 36 weeks for trace protein in my urine and elevated blood pressure. My body was not at all ready for labor. However, with cytotec, pitocin, stadol, AROM (without my consent!), and an epidural my labor lasted 22 hours and Ian Dawson was born posterior July 9, 2007 at 10:10am weighing 5lbs 2.5 oz. He was a little peanut!
As happy as we were with Ian’s safe (and vaginal!) arrival, we were disappointed with a kooky hospital system. The nurses cared more about checking off their lists than caring for us as patients. I was ill-prepared for the challenge of nursing and allowed Ian to be given a bottle. Though I worked at nursing and pumping for a month, it never got easier, and Ian never actually latched. Needless to say nursing did not work for us and I grieved this loss.
I later learned that for me to deliver Ian vaginally when several cards were stacked against us (early induction, posterior) was a little miracle. Ian means, “God is Gracious.” We knew it then when he was born and love the name so much more now. We pray Ian will know the grace and mercy found in our God.
By the time I got pregnant with my second . . .
In the summer of 2009, I had come a long way in my crunchiness. Deciding how to feed Ian solids opened up the door for me to learn all about a healthier lifestyle. We ditched the Standard American Diet and learned all about whole fresh foods. Also at this time I studied more about a natural, low-key approach to pregnancy and childbirth. I desperately wanted to nurse this time around and became convinced the best chance I had to nurse would be to ditch all the drugs! We had moved to North Carolina by this time and I met a lady who had 3 home births. I thought, “sign me up!”
Labor started one evening after I put Ian to bed. Contractions had been about 10 minutes apart all day but since my first labor was induced I was unsure if it was actually labor or just a lot of Braxton Hicks. That evening I put Ian to bed and tried to relax but starting around 9 pm the contractions kicked into high gear. Justin got home around 10 pm and found me moaning and contracting on the toilet. He quickly got things ready and got to work as my “coach” (we had taken a Bradley Childbirth class). I was in denial about it being real labor—I kept thinking all these contractions would stop and I’d feel like an idiot for calling the midwives. However at around 10:45pm, Justin was convinced we should call. He called O and she asked if she could talk to me. Justin asked, “do you want to talk to her?” From the toilet (yes, there again ‘cleaning out’) I shouted, “NO!” O said, “I’m on my way.”
O and her assistant, M, arrived around midnight. Labor was intense and oh so fast. All evening I felt like I was just barely keeping my head above a raging current. This labor seemed like drowning and enduring an earthquake all at once. Contractions were strong and fast, but before I could even think straight, my body started pushing. It felt so much better to push out a baby. Finally all that pain got me something! M reminded me to look in the mirror and I saw my bag of water bulging. It broke and two minutes later Elliana Martin was born on February 20, 2010 at 1:41 am weighing 7lbs, 4 oz.
O and M were instrumental in helping me get Elliana latched and basically teaching me how to nurse. They were wonderful. Their encouraging words gave me the courage to persevere in learning to to feed my baby. She nursed exclusively for 8 months and weaned at 15 months.
Only after it was all said and done did Justin (and later my mother) tell me they thought this whole home birth thing would end in a hospital transfer for some pain relief. Justin was amazed and we both agreed it was only the work of the Holy Spirit enabling me to endure such a labor. Interestingly, I never once through this labor even thought of leaving the comfort of my own home and transferring to the hospital.
Elliana means, “My God has answered me.” He answered me by granting me another child, the birth I desired, and allowing nursing to work so wonderfully well. We pray that Elliana will grow strong in the Lord and will know He cares for her every need.
I got pregnant with our third . . .
In the winter of 2011. We were on the verge of a move to Tennessee so I did not even tell Justin till after we moved! Thankfully TN has recognized CPMs so finding a midwife was a bit easier this time.
This pregnancy and labor really tried my perceptions. Throughout the pregnancy I had unexplained anxiety at times regarding the birth. I tried to keep praying about it. I know all about Braxton Hicks but my contractions did not seem to follow the BH pattern. I felt like a nervous first time mother thinking for about three weeks that I was in labor.
Finally, one day after my “due date” I had a bloody show. I had never had one so it was very exciting! Justin had already arranged that week off work so we were praying labor would come soon. That day I had contractions about 10 minutes apart all day. Finally that night contractions kicked up a notch. Thankfully I was able to sleep some. Around 6 am the next morning I could not ignore the contractions any longer and got up. Whoa! Getting up increases that pressure! The midwives arrived around 8 am.
Around 11 am on labor day it seemed like I had transitioned so my midwife, M, offered an internal exam. Unfortunately while she gave it I had another severe contraction. I am convinced the pain of that exam made my cervix close up some and I had to keep laboring for a while. Eventually it seemed as if I transitioned again so the other midwife, B, offered an exam. I had zero urge to push (unlike with Elliana) so I agreed. She found me to be 9cm. I labored a bit more then just decided to push. (In retrospect this may not have been the best idea.) Pushing was hard and the baby kept slipping out from under my pubic bone. At this point I must say I did think, “Oh an epidural would be nice!” I am so glad I was at home where that just was not an option. Justin was so patient and loving through the whole labor. He never left my side and even eventually got amniotic fluid all over his arm (something that totally grosses him out)!
In many ways this labor was the hardest of the three. It seemed so long and drawn out. I’m not sure what time my water broke—I think around 1pm. The contractions spaced out in such a way that I had enough time to really ponder how painful they were. (I say all this as kind of a weird encouragement—even though it is painful you can do it! Its hard but completely worth it.) B encouraged me to feel the baby’s head inside of me—that was so amazing! Still, I was in so much pain I was having a hard time focusing on pushing the baby down. Finally at one point, B told me, “Amanda, you are just going to have to push through that pain.” Ok! That was it. Through the screaming (boy am I glad my friend came earlier to pick up my other kids!) Ebenezer Daniel made his way into the world on October 27, 2011 at 1:26pm weighing 7lbs, 15oz. He had a nuchal cord and came out pooping! He was mad as a hornet at birth and took some time calming down. Once he calmed down and relaxed we worked on nursing. He nursed that day with a perfect latch. As I write this, he is still nursing exclusively at 8 ½ months. I think one of the reasons he nursed so well from day one was the confidence in myself I had gained in nursing my daughter. (I think one of the biggest hurdles to nursing can be lack of confidence.)
Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In the Bible, an ebenezer is a monument (literally a pile of stones) to God’s faithfulness. The term is also found in one of our favorite songs, “Come Thou Fount.” Eben (as we call him) is a living monument to us and others of God’s provision, faithfulness, and love.