Welcome to our family, Cedar Faith!
Our precious daughter was born Wednesday, August 6 at 1:21am, weighed 7lbs. 1oz. and was 18.5 inches long. We are absolutely in love!
I’ve tried to write this “perfectly” since Cedar was born, and it just hasn’t happened. This will be a fairly scrambled account of things, I’m sure I’ve already forgotten much of it, and I’m sure it will be long winded, but here we go.
I had been experiencing prodromal labor since Thursday (July 31) evening. At a checkup that day I had been checked and was 6cm. dilated and 80% effaced, so we knew it was only a matter of time. Contractions got really hard in the evenings, even to the point that I couldn’t walk through them and they were coming every three minutes, but then the they would calm down in the morning. This happened Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
I had not been thankful. I had not been joyful. I had been griping and complaining and having pity parties a few more times than is really acceptable. I wasn’t trusting in God’s timing and was pridefully thinking I knew better than He did.
Why wasn’t labor continuing? Why did it keep stalling? Didn’t God know this wasn’t the plan?
I cringe now, remembering how ungrateful I was.
The Holy Spirit really started working in my heart. I realized it was wrong. I realized that joy was a choice, and I wasn’t choosing it.
I told Aaron that I felt helpless. I felt like my emotions just take over and I can’t change it once I start feeling that way. He encouraged me to pick out a scripture to repeat to myself when I felt ungratefulness coming on.
“And do not be grieved,
for the joy of the Lord
is your strength.”
This became my verse. I repeated it often, made it my phone’s lock screen image and meditated on it throughout the day. And I started to feel more able to choose joy when it was hard.
Jesus helped me to see that I had no reason to be griping, and I had so much to be thankful for.
Sunday evening the contractions got a lot harder, which, of course, had been happening for the past few days, but unlike the other times, they stayed hard the whole night and were still going Monday morning.
I had my 39 week prenatal appointment with my midwife that morning, and I remember looking around the beautiful birth room, filled with morning light.
It won’t be long until I’ll be back here to meet Cedar.
The contractions had calmed down a little bit, but were definitely still going, and Cedar was super low. I kind of just knew this was real.
I got home and within an hour things changed. By 12:30 that afternoon I was beginning to moan through contractions and really had to concentrate through them. Aaron was pushing on my lower back, because it hurt.
We started tidying the house in between contractions and Aaron finished up work.
I texted my midwife around 1pm, once contractions were looking regular, about 5 minutes apart, and she and the other two midwives on my birth team were nearby so they dropped by to observe me through a few contractions. We determined that this was almost definitely the real thing, and they left us to labor at home as long as we’d like.
I was ecstatic. Every contraction was confirmation. Every time they got more painful I rejoiced. Cedar was coming, and I was thrilled.
I ate some, and after awhile we called my mom and Aaron’s sister, Alexa, who would be photographing the birth, and they met us at our house.
All of us hanging out and visiting in between contractions was great. It felt so right to be with people who were all excited to meet Cedar.
We went in to the birth center Monday at about 6:30pm. We got to the beautiful, midwife-run facility with just one birthing room and unloaded our bags and settled in. I instantly felt more at ease, just knowing that we were where we needed to be. They checked our vitals and then just let us be. We turned on music, my mom picked up dinner for Aaron and a smoothie for me, and we just hung out. Aaron would push on my back during contractions, and we visited in between them. The four of us, Aaron, myself, my mom and Alexa, sat around a table talking, I sat on the exercise ball while we prayed. They checked me and I was 7cm and my cervix was paper thin and Cedar was a +1 position.
That time was so pleasant- more visiting with each other, chatting, praying, anticipating. Things seemed to slow down a little bit later that evening, so around 10:00 or 11:00 Aaron and I walked around outside for awhile, and that helped keep things going. It was perfect, walking in the moonlight with Aaron looking forward to holding our daughter so soon.
I got super hungry at one point and ate a full dinner. My mom said afterward that she’d never seen a woman eat as much as I did while in labor.
We stayed there the whole night laboring, but things slowed down enough for us to get about 3 hours of sleep. The next morning (Tuesday) things seemed to be stalling again. My midwife told us our options, we could go home and labor there, or we could try to speed things up. Aaron and I prayed about it and I really just felt like we needed to move forward with things. I didn’t feel like I would have enough energy for delivery if we had another bad night’s sleep, I wanted to have her then and I had such a strong feeling that it was time. I ate a good breakfast and then they gave me an herbal tincture and I used the breast pump and then went on a walk and used the pump again.
Things really picked up and got more regular and hard. Active labor started I think around 2:00 Tuesday afternoon. Things seemed to be going well and fairly normally for most of labor. Contractions got a lot harder, closer together and very painful, but kind of what I’d pictured.
I remember at one point feeling discouraged because my contractions were never back to back; I always had a minute or two in between them. I thought this meant I wasn’t in transition yet, and that scared me because it was so hard at that point. I remember crying at one point and my mom started singing, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Aaron continued with, “I surrender all,” but he couldn’t finish very well because he was crying, too.
Well, I was in transition, and my midwife said I could start pushing around 9pm. I had a really hard time at first; it was so difficult to push hard enough and not run out of air. Aaron helped me to find the best way, for me, to breath and push. He would count to 10 and I would push with my mouth closed making no noise, when he reached 10 I would let the air out with a hiss. We did this four times each contraction. It worked so well, and he counted for the rest of labor. After we figured that out it was a relief to be able to push, and I labored in a lot of different places. The tub was my favorite, but staying in one place too long can stall things, so I moved occasionally to the shower, the toilet, the bed. I’m not sure when my water broke, but it was in the tub and felt pretty crazy.
After pushing for a long time we decided to check me to see how things were going. I don’t remember much at that point, but I hadn’t progressed as much as we’d hoped. I was fully dilated but Cedar wasn’t descending past a point. They had me labor on my back on the bed for a long time while they massaged my perineum and stretched things and I pushed… I don’t know how long that went on, but it was quite awhile. They could see her head, but she just wasn’t coming any lower.
I had been pushing for at least two hours by then, and I remember begging God to let her be born soon.
Please, Jesus! Help her to come quickly!
I asked my midwife so many times how close we were, how much longer, why was it taking so long, was there any way to speed things up?
Finally, after a long time, Cedar did descend a little bit, but right after that her heart rate started to drop during contractions. They had me switch to my side, but it kept happening, so we tried the other side and it still was happening. They gave me oxygen and had me stop pushing (hardest thing ever!) and the heart rate went up after awhile, but then started dropping again. That was when they decided we needed to transfer, so they called an ambulance. I was in so much pain, way more than when I was pushing; I had lost the amazing rhythm I’d had for the past few hours. Instead of hearing Aaron counting and having pushing to direct my energy toward I just had to deal with the contractions. And I could feel my body pushing, anyway, which scared me. I was still on oxygen and Aaron was in the front seat, and my midwife was back with me. The rest of our birth team followed in their cars, and met us there shortly after we arrived at the hospital.
I was praying the whole time, praying so hard that Cedar would be safe; gasping for more air, always more air for my baby and me.
We got to the hospital and they wheeled me into a room. Thankfully the on call doctor was already there for another patient and she was a miracle worker. I stayed on oxygen the whole time, and they hooked me up to the monitor.
The doctor had me push through quite a few contractions. Cedar still wasn’t descending like she should, and the heart rate was still dropping, but then they lost it altogether. It was so terrifying to have to keep pushing for the rest of labor without knowing if she was alive or not. Her heartbeat had been so steady and strong throughout our whole two days at the birth center, and now we couldn’t hear it at all. I remember telling myself that it didn’t matter, that I needed to keep pushing anyway, because she had to come out either way.
I remember the doctor saying something about waiting for the next contraction and then we would do something. I lost it at that point.
I don’t care about the next contraction! Do whatever it takes. Do anything, I don’t care! Do whatever it takes!
We did work with the next contraction. I continued pushing and the doctor used the vacuum to hold Cedar’s head so it wouldn’t go back in in between pushes and contractions. We did that through a couple contractions, but it wasn’t enough, so she performed a pretty serious episiotomy and then used the vacuum to hold her while I pushed. It still took quite a few contractions.
I remember everyone telling me to push harder, to keep pushing, to make this contraction count. It was difficult to be pushing as hard as I possibly could, and still it was never enough.
When she came out her cord was splurting blood all over the bed and floor. It had torn in multiple places. The doctor removed my placenta and the cord was only about a foot long. The whole thing looked like it was shredding.
By the end I had been preparing myself to deliver a dead baby. I had been praying so hard, but not hearing the heartbeat for so long had almost convinced me that we were too late. I’m so thankful that Cedar cried quickly. That sound was so beautiful!
The reason she hadn’t descended for so long was that she was being held in by an extremely short cord. I was pushing against the cord. When she descended right before her heart rate went down it tore the cord, and then when they pulled her out it tore even more.
Looking at the cord was crazy, it had been weakened in so many places. Basically this happens in 1/5000 births. If we had waited much longer at all to go in Cedar would have bled out in my womb, and I was in danger, too.
They took her to the warmer and quickly evaluated her before they placed her on my chest. That few minutes felt like forever. My mom went over next to her so that she had someone nearby, and Aaron and I were calling to her.
Cedar! Mommy’s right here, Cedar! Mommy loves you!
They gave her to me and the student midwife on our birth team helped me breastfeed the first time while the doctor was stitching me up.
It was much more emotional and hard than we anticipated, but I’m so thankful right now. So thankful for the beautiful laboring experience we had at the birth center. So thankful that my midwife didn’t hesitate to transfer me to the hospital. So thankful for my whole birth team. So thankful for Aaron. So thankful for the doctor and nurses and modern medicine. So thankful that Cedar is healthy and came away from that with only a few scrapes on her head.
Through all of it I saw God’s hand. He was so involved in every detail of the birth, and I’m so humbled and grateful.
“He has made everything
beautiful in its time.”
Yes. Yes He has.
Cedar and I are both doing really well. I was extremely exhausted after pushing for four and a half hours, it was hard to hold her the first day because my arms were so tired,and my eyes were swollen for a couple days from pushing so hard. I have a lot of stitches I’m healing from, but I’m recovering a lot faster than I thought I would, and Cedar is doing just perfectly. She’s nursing really well and is already gaining weight quickly.
Another crazy part of the story was that the closing date for the house we bought kept getting pushed back. They ended up sending the escrow officer to the hospital the afternoon Cedar was born so that Aaron could sign on the house. God definitely has a sense of humor. She was born the 6th and we moved on Saturday the 9th. And again, God’s timing is always best. We had so many people helping us clean, pack, move, unpack, bringing us meals… I just feel so blessed.
Obviously life is a bit crazy right now, but I’m excited to share bits of our new life with you soon.