Monday, March 29, 2010

An Unexpected Rescue

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

After Caleb was born, I was sure that I never wanted to have another c-section. It's not that I thought labor was a piece of cake because it sure wasn't. Nevertheless, I felt so grateful that I was able to participate in his birth by laboring. I carried him for nine months. I wanted to finish the job. We've always wanted a larger family too and so one of the reasons I wanted to VBAC in the first place was to have less wear and tear on my body. However, the main reason I wanted to VBAC was to have the do it myself and to not have the major recovery afterward.

When Caleb was nearing a year old, I found that I was feeling sick in the mornings. I hadn't gotten my cycle back yet but was suspicious of another pregnancy. I was right. I was due with number three in late September. This time I didn't anticipate anything being amiss. I was simply planning for another birth. Caleb's birth had been so smooth and usually the first VBAC is the sketchy one. After that, your scar has been tested and things usually go just fine.

So, based on those things, my husband and I started considering homebirth. We went back and forth on it for months. We knew a midwife who was extremely skilled and experienced, and she had been at Caleb's birth. We felt safe having her deliver our next child at home. However, we didn't ever feel quite at peace about it. We decided to wait and see how things played out and we didn't actually decide for sure either way until the night Joshua was born.

I've already posted Joshua's birth story on this blog as it was one of the hardest, scariest yet wonderful nights in my whole life. So I don't need to re-hash all of the details but I'll retell it in short. I went into labor naturally four days overdue. It didn't start and stop like Caleb's did. It just started in the early evening on a Saturday night. It was during our Sabbath Dinner and so I waited until afterward to even tell my husband that the contractions had been coming steadily for an hour or so. I still wasn't even sure I was in labor. Yet, I knew the contractions were steady and strong.

We called our midwife and she headed out to check me. In the meantime, I started bleeding. Now, everyone bleeds some in labor but this was different. It started all of the sudden and it didn't stop. It progressively got worse and I was passing clots...some very, very large. Once the midwife saw the clots, she told us to get into the car. No homebirth. I was trying to stay positive but deep down I knew something was terribly wrong.

Yet, I still felt strong. The contractions were coming fast but I was more worried about the bleeding than about the pain. When I showed up at the hospital I was at 6 and the baby and I seemed to be doing fine when we were monitored. That eased me a bit but the bleeding continued to worsen and I saw the looks of puzzlement on all of the nurses' faces. I knew it wasn't normal. I knew there was a problem. And I was desperate for it to go away.

When my doctor showed up he took one look at me and told the nurses to prep for surgery. I totally lost it. I had held it together up until that point but when he said those words, I just knew that not only was I going to have another c-section but that something was horrifically wrong and I wouldn't be able to fix it. No amount of hard work, no mustering up strength, no just getting through was going to fix this problem. I was going into surgery in 20 minutes flat and I didn't know what kind of world would face me on the other side.

Would I have a baby? Would he be okay? Would I be okay? Would I still have a uterus? Could I have anymore children? All of these questions flashed through my mind as I silently sobbed. I had come to the conclusion over so many months' time that c-sections were overdone and I do still believe that in some respects. But there I was, literally bleeding to death and barring a c-section, the baby and I wouldn't make it. Ironically, the very thing I loathed was going to be used to save me. My husband asked our doctor, who was very supportive of me having vaginal births, if there was anything else to be done, and he answered very curtly, "Get out of my way...I am going to save your wife's life."

And that was it. I was knocked out a few minutes later. Steve was told to wait outside (he was not allowed to see Joshua be born) due to the emergency situation and our little Joshua, which literally means, "Saved by the Lord" was born late that Saturday night to a very thankful group of doctors. A very thoughtful nurse brought our camera into the delivery room so that we could have pictures or else we wouldn't have any. He weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz and was 20 inches long. Once they got in to do the c-section they discovered my uterus was rupturing at the site of my original c-section scar (which is extremely rare....1.5 % chance after 1 c-section and even less after having a successful VBAC). Our doctor had caught it just in time. I hadn't fully ruptured and Joshua and I were safe.

I'll never know why God chose to give that birth to us. Like I previously mentioned, the chances of that happening are so, so small. I would encourage anyone that I know, who wanted to try for a VBAC, to go for it!! Yet, for a long time, I chose to see it as the biggest nightmare of my life. I felt like such a failure. I felt like I had done something wrong and I struggled to simply be grateful for my life and the life of my child. My husband, on the other hand, saw that night as a rescue. In his mind, God had saved us from so much. Where I thought God had taken away, Steve believed God had relented. Now that so much time has passed, that is really how I see it too and am convinced that it's the way I must see it.

I'm not going to lie and say that I don't care anymore about his birth. Just thinking through that night moves me very deeply even though so much time has passed. I think it always will. Yet, God had prepared me in a lot of ways prior to him coming without me even knowing it. It started with Isaac and the crazy life we led right before he was born. God taught me that I can never rely on what I think might happen but that through it all, He would always be there to get us through. Then in Caleb's birth, he taught me patience and in His kindness, allowed me to have a beautiful, natural birth that will always mean so much to me. This kindness, this mercy showed through to the next one. Caleb's birth brought me much healing. Joshua's birth was crazy and unexpected like Isaac's but written all over it was God's mercy to me, to Joshua, to Steve and to our family, which was just like Caleb's. It was a marriage of the two and without the two proceeding births, I wouldn't have been able to see it that way.

"Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save."
Isaiah 46:4

It took me many months to process through and accept the events of that night and I still have a hard time talking about it without wanting to cry. It was so hard for me to accept. It was so hard for me to be grateful. But God chose to give us that night and whatever I was to learn from it, I needed to learn. If anything, it was clear that God had intervened once again in our lives, in a way we didn't expect or even want, to bring about His beauty. And those glimpses of His beauty and glory are what helped me to eventually lift my eyes.

So where does that leave me now? I've known all along that I will have a scheduled c-section with this next baby. It's the first time I've ever known that from the beginning so that has helped. Even though I'm such a fighter by nature, I haven't fought it. I've had to accept it. And even though I'm not looking forward to the surgery, I am definitely looking forward to meeting my little girl and am determined to make the best of the situation when it comes.

I feel so thankful to be a woman; to have the opportunity to be changed personally by the lives God places in my family. I'm not a theologian at all but, to me the verse "Yet she will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." 1 Timothy 2:8 speaks volumes. God has changed me so much through this process even though it wasn't at all what I expected. And I don't think that it ever is for any woman.

God started with "Laughter"...showed Himself strong with "Bravery"...and amazed and humbled us when He reached out His hands to proclaim "Saved by the Lord."

I'm excited to see what He does next.


  1. Do you have any names picked out for your sweet little one on the way??

  2. We have a few picked out but we usually like to see the baby first before they're named. All of the names we've used for our boys were picked out and front-runners (or between two) when they were born and the meanings helped us determine the final name. We'll have to see what we decide when she comes.

  3. Ooh, wow. No doubt about it, she'll have a beautiful name with special meaning! I've read this story of yours before, but it still amazes me. I still get chills. Such beautiful writing, Nikki. Thank you for sharing your heart.