Earlier in my pregnancy, we were looking for options of where to birth our little baby and discovered that it's not as easy here in North Carolina as it has been elsewhere. While our preference would be a home birth, the laws here make it very difficult to do that legally. Since I didn't realize all this at first, I took my time finding someone to go with. My reasoning, was that this is number four and I didn't need appointments so early on. Once I finally realized the difficulty we were up against, I was almost half way through the pregnancy.
We found a birth center that we were interested in going with, but when I called, they told me that they were full for October but if I really wanted, I could come for a tour and they would see what they could do.
The night of the facility tour, I received a call from the birth center asking if I was still planning to come, and did I realize that they were full for October. I said I did understand, but was still planning to come.
"But I say to you, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open to you."
And so, Victor and I went to the birth center for the tour... at the end, we talked to the director and she said she really didn't expect us to come, but since we were so persistent and since this was number four, they would take me and see how it all worked out.
We were thrilled and amazed at how God worked it all out for us. After fully believing that we would have to go to the hospital to have this baby, God opened the door so we could be able to have her at the birth center. Or so was the plan...
Fast forward four and a half months to October. Everything had gone well to this point and we were doing everything we could to prepare for a nice birth at the birth center. I had hoped I would go early (what mother doesn't) so that we could attend the Worship of God conference in Asheville at the end of October. But with each passing day, it became apparent that not only was she not going to come early, she was quite content to stay in her warm little home for as long as possible. At my appointment on my due date, they scheduled me to come in the following week for an ultrasound to check fluid and also non-stress testing, but I really didn't expect to need it.
A week came and a week went and little Abigail had not made her appearance. Victor went ahead and took off of work to be able to be with me and help out. I would become so grateful for that soon.
Monday morning, some friends of ours took the girls for us and we went to the ultrasound together. It was scheduled for 10:30, but we were not seen till 12:00. Once we finally got in, they discovered that not only was there enough fluid, there seemed to be too much. And on top of that, they were concerned that her stomach was a little on the small side. At the time, we didn't realize exactly what this meant. And so, after grabbing a quick lunch we headed to the birth center to see the midwife and do the NST. The NST went well, but when the midwife came in, she informed us that because my fluid level was 26 and their max was 25, they would have to deliver me at the hospital. When there's that much fluid, there's more of a danger of a prolapsed cord when the water breaks. They also warned us, that if my water broke at home, I should get on my hands and knees with my shoulders lower than my hips and check for the cord. If it was there, we should call 911 immediately and I would most likely have a C-section.
The rest of the day was sort of emotional for me. Not only was I a week over due, but now to receive word that I would have to give birth at the hospital and there might be a problem with the baby's stomach. It was definitely a test of faith and a growing time for me. The name we had agreed upon for our baby, began to take on a new meaning. The name Abigail, means "My Father is joy". Truly, I had to come to the place where my joy was in God. All of my circumstances were temporal and many were hypothetical, but I was easily getting overwhelmed by them. I had to keep coming back to the truth in the song we had sung in church the week before:
What God ordains is always good:
His will is just and holy;
As He directs my life for me,
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed in every need
Knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.
What God ordains is always good:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.
What God ordains is always good:
Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness,
I take it without shrinking.
For after grief God gives relief,
My heart with comfort filling,
And all my sorrows stilling.
What God ordains is always good:
This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, for with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.
Oh what a blessing to rest and trust, knowing that my God is in control. And yet, my constant prayer was for grace to accept His will, whatever it might be. Thus the special meaning of the name Abigail Grace.
Now back to the story... the midwives had agreed that we could go on Thursday for another ultrasound, and if the fluid had decreased, they would agree to deliver at the birth center. I would never go in for that ultrasound.
Wednesday came and I had no signs at all of labor. I was now ten days overdue and the next day we were planning to go for another ultrasound. That night, though, I encouraged Victor to go to prayer meeting. I mean, I wasn't even having any signs of labor and other than a stomach ache from something I ate, I was feeling fine. And besides that, I always had really long labors and my water never broke till labor was well under way and I was close to delivering. And so, I talked him into going. (Side note here: wives, when your husband has a catch in his spirit about something, don't push for what you feel.) And so, Victor took Hannah and Sarah to the prayer meeting and I kept Rachel at home. After putting her to bed, I sat down to rest and read a while, but while there, my stomach really started hurting, and I ended up vomiting. I didn't think much of it, until I felt a little trickle. Then I stood up and felt a gush. By the time I got to the bathroom, there was a flood everywhere. I was terrified. I was here by myself and wasn't really able to feel if there was a cord. I called Victor and asked him to come home right away. Those were the longest 15 minutes of my life as I tried to keep my shoulders low to keep pressure off the cord if it was there.
Victor arrived home and said he didn't feel a cord. That was a relief and we decided to go ahead and call the midwife to see what they wanted to do. The midwife on call asked some questions to determine how I was doing, and then said since my water had already broken and the danger of the prolapsed cord seemed to be mostly passed, that we could probably come into the birth center and have the baby there. But, she wanted us to come in right away so she could check on the baby and make sure everything was really OK. We called the family who would be watching our girls (their oldest daughter is interested in midwifery and would be attending the birth as well). Once they arrived, we left.
I was so excited to be able to have the baby at the birth center as I had hoped... or so I thought. We arrived at the birth center and the midwife checked me. What she found, though, was that the baby's head was not fully engaged and I was still leaking fluid. She was concerned that there would be another gush later in labor and the cord might wash down then, so she said she would be more comfortable going to the hospital. Once again, I had to go back to truth that God's will is always perfect. He's still in control even when things seem to go "wrong".
And so we transferred to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, I had a few contractions, but nothing very strong or promising. Once there, they checked us in and did all the things they love to do at the hospital. And my labor quit. We tried walking, eating, anything we could to get it going. Finally, in the early hours of Thursday morning, we decided to try to rest and get up our strength for what was coming. In between all the checks and nurse visits, etc, we were able to get a few hours of sleep. Then around 7:00 or so, the midwife came in and said she wanted to do Pitocin to get my labor started since I wasn't really laboring and they had started the 24 hour clock since my water broke. We refused it at first, but after she kept coming in and insisting, and we realized that at the 24hour mark they usually go for a C-section and I tend toward very long labors, we felt we didn't really have a choice, so we agreed to try it.
The nurse started me on Pitocin at 8:30 and started slowly upping it until I felt I couldn't take it anymore, and I very insistently told them I wanted them to back it off a little. A new midwife was on call then, and told them to back off a little (for which I was thankful). During this time, they told us, that since they were concerned about her stomach, they were going to have the NICU unit there just in case, to check her out after the birth.
I continued to labor as it got more intense and painful (way more than anything I had ever experienced before) and around 2:00 in the afternoon I began to push. Because I had had so much fluid, my uterus was distended (the midwife said) and as Abigail was being born, she turned twice as she came out. The midwife called it the corkscrew effect (quite painful I might add). At 2:20 pm, little Abigail made her appearance. She was a beautiful little baby, but I saw her for just a minute before they whisked her away to have the NICU team check her out. Alas, she was fine and I finally got to hold her.
They then moved us upstairs to the recovery unit, and there while the nurse was checking us in, she said she thought Abigail might be having trouble breathing because she was grunting. So, they whisked her off again to monitor her breathing for 1/2 hour. She was fine and they returned her (thankfully Victor was able to be with her the whole time), and we then proceeded to try to get released as quickly as possible. She was born at 2:20, and by 10:30, we were leaving the hospital (one of the blessings of having given birth with the midwife).
And so, in the end, we look back and marvel at the goodness of God to us in working out every little detail and giving me grace through every crazy twist and turn of the story. The end result, a healthy baby who is SO sweet! We love her!
I plan to post more pictures soon. Especially once we get some pics of the girls in their matching dresses on Sunday.