You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
As i come here to share this story with you, I’m immediately overcome with hesitation. Our culture has somehow created the narrative that childbirth is to be feared. That unmedicated birth is impossible. That positive stories shouldn’t be shared because birth is a sensitive topic and we don’t want others to feel “less than”. So we share the stories that hold pain and difficulty and hold back the ones that display childbirth in a positive light, creating an unhealthy picture of the beautiful mystery that is birth.
I deeply believe both types of stories need to be shared. We need to fight for a more realistic picture. A picture that isn’t to be feared, but to be respected. Whether we have an unmedicated birth, a birth with the assistance of an epidural, a cesarean section, an easy birth, an extremely difficult birth, or somewhere in between—our stories are important and deserve to be shared. The birth of a child. The birth of a mother. There is so much strength and beauty in every single story.
Our Ember Joy. Her birthday was filled with peace, joy, and the most wonderful people surrounding us. It was a day that has greatly deepened my faith and transformed me in ways I could have never imagined.
On Tuesday May 7th, I went in for my 39 week appointment. I decided to get my first cervical check that day and I was 3cm dilated! I knew this didn’t mean I was going to go into labor anytime soon, but I was happy to hear that my body was already doing some work to prepare for labor at 39 weeks (I was induced at 41 weeks with Ezekiel). After discovering what my cervix had been doing, I decided to have my doctor do a membrane sweep to see if we could avoid another post due date induction this go round.
After my appointment, I went to see my chiropractor, spent a little bit of time utilizing the breast pump, and went on a long walk to try and capitalize on the membrane sweep. On my walk, I spent time praying for the rest of my pregnancy and my labor/birth journey. As I prayed, I listened to the song Not in a Hurry by Will Reagan over and over. I prayed the lyrics “Lord I don’t want to rush on ahead in my own strength when You’re right here”. I was overwhelmed with so much peace for His timing and His story. Up until that point, I had been struggling to believe that I could have an uncomplicated, spontaneous birth. But as I walked and prayed, my fears melted away and I began to boldy pray for the kind of birth I hoped for once again.
For the rest of the day, I was having very mild, inconsistent contractions. This is pretty typical the day of a membrane sweep so I ignored them and went about my day as usual. As the evening came, the contractions died down and I figured that meant Ember wasn’t quite ready to be born. I was truly at peace either way.
The next morning I woke up and didn’t notice many contractions. I went to the gym with my friend, Melissa, and did my normal work out. As I was exercising, contractions started to come more consistently, but not intensely. An increase in frequency is definitely typical with an increase in activity toward the end of pregnancy. So again, I chose to just ignore them and went on with my day. I went on a walk that afternoon and I spent a little bit of time using the breast pump again to see if the contractions would intensify at all. That evening, we were sitting outside after dinner and I started to notice that the mild contractions were coming more frequently. I decided to time them just for fun, and to my surprise they were very consistently 7 minutes apart. I was sure they were just going to die out because of how mild they were. I went to bed that night and had no idea I would have a baby in my arms the next afternoon.
At 3:30am I was woken up by a contraction that felt different than the others. It still wasn’t painful, but I figured this was the start of early labor. Because early labor can last a while, I tried to go back to sleep but ended up just rolling around instead. All my rolling and moving woke Dillon up, so we talked for a bit before deciding to get out of bed at 5:15am. At this point, contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart.
At 6:00am, I still had every intention of taking Ezekiel to school and attending the Mom’s Day program that morning. I was walking around the house, packing his lunch, and getting ready for the day. I assured Dillon it was okay for him to go lay back down to get some rest. By 6:30am, contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes and were getting more intense. I still wouldn’t have called them painful. I decided it might be weird to stop and breathe through a contraction every 5 minutes at Mom’s Day, so I called my grandparents to come get Ezekiel and asked my Mema to fill in for me. Even though I tried to convince my doula, Lauren, that it was too early for her to come-she knew better and started heading our way. Dillon decided he probably shouldn’t go back to sleep anymore.
Our doula, Lauren, showed up around 7:15am and my grandparents came to get Ezekiel around 7:30am. By 7:50am contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and I mostly labored doing side lunges on my hands and knees while listening to worship music.
My best friend and birth photographer, Melissa, showed up at 8:50am. The 4 of us went on a short walk around the neighborhood. It was trash day, so it wasn’t the most pleasant smelling walk i’ve ever been on, but going a walk outside was always something I envisioned myself doing, if i were able to labor at home. When we got back to the house around 9:15am, Dillon started making breakfast. At this point, Lauren started hinting at maybe heading to the hospital soon since my contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes. I was SURE we would be getting there too early at this point. Since I was induced with my first, I was waiting for my contractions to be as intense as they were during my first labor. But they never grew to that intensity. Even though I thought it was too early, I decided we could head to the hospital after Dillon finished breakfast. We left the house at 9:55am.
We were settled into our room at the hospital by 10:35am. I felt so calm as I stood and swayed through contractions. Dillon prayed for us, we listened to worship music, and Melissa even washed my smelly feet because she’s the greatest. At this point I was SURE I had a long road ahead of us because of how peaceful and joyful I felt.
Dr. Brunnabend came to check my cervix at 12:11pm. By the look on her face and tone of voice, I was preparing to be told I was 3-4cm dilated. Much to my surprise, she said I was 9cm (almost 10cm) dilated! I was SHOCKED. How in the world was it possible to feel that calm at 9cm?! Dr. B broke my water and stepped out to eat a rather quick bite of lunch as I labored through a few contractions standing and doing side lunges.
At 12:30pm I began to feel pressure and a small urge to push. Dillon looked at me and said “You look so beautiful right now. You look so strong”. I felt strong. I felt beautiful. Everything from that point felt like a whirlwind.
At 12:40pm I moved to my hands and knees on the bed and pushed with each intense urge. The room was peaceful and so respectful. Everyone just holding space for me. Everyone was patient. No one told me when to push. No one told me I had to push in any certain position. The power was given to me.
At 12:47pm, our Ember Joy was born while the song Oceans by Hillsong played in the background. I reached down and pulled her up between my legs and looked at our daughter for the very first time. Suddenly, all the fears I had of being a mom to a girl didn’t matter anymore. All the fears of being a mom to two kids disappeared. She was here.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
My first birth helped me believe in myself for the first time in a long time.
This birth helped me have a deeper faith in Christ and His power.
My first birth made me a mother.
This birth gave me confidence in who I am as a mother.
My first birth gave me hope.
This birth gave me peace and joy.
7 pounds 1 ounce
18 inches long
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior