Why I Carried My First Child 42 1/2 Weeks

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know a whole lot about pregnancy before I entered that stage of life, but if there is one thing that I picked up somewhere along the way, and that you can’t possibly get through pregnancy without a million people telling you, is that you “can’t go past 42 weeks”.

I had a normal, low-risk pregnancy with our first. I was sick and awful tired for the first 16 weeks or so, didn’t gain a whole lot of weight, but I totally made up for it after I started feeling better. There were never any indications that we should be worried about anything. It honestly did not occur to me that I might not go into labor within the “safe” 37-42 week window. Even at 40 weeks, I remember sitting in my midwife’s office and thinking, “The baby will come before I hit 42 weeks. It just will.”

If you’re not aware…it’s not really super popular or common for anyone to go past 41 weeks. So everyone was pretty cool about everything until oh, about…40 weeks and 5 days. Then, friends and family started getting stressed out. I think this happens to everyone who still has a baby inside their body on their due date, but the texts and calls asking if the baby was here yet, or any signs of baby, were constant. When you’re told as long as you can remember that you don’t go past 42 weeks, it starts to get a little stressful as that day approaches. I’m sensitive and if you remember, I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of support throughout this pregnancy about the decisions we were making. And if you know ANYTHING about pregnancy, it’s that it causes you to be all sorts of hormonal and emo. I could not handle everyone expressing their worry to me about my baby. Didn’t they think I cared more about my baby’s health than they did? Several people actually said things along the lines of “this isn’t good for the baby.” I was hurt by others’ assumptions that I wasn’t caring for my baby, or concerned about the possibilities. At 42 weeks and 1 day, I turned my phone off. I knew I couldn’t handle any more questions or (what felt like) accusations. I was beyond stressed as it was, and I didn’t need anyone else contributing to it. It’s been said that stress can delay or stall labor, and while I have no research to back this up, I really believe the anxiety I was dealing with slowed things down. Which might go right along with why my labor lasted for 3 days. Anyway…

The basis for the decisions we made regarding pregnancy and childbirth were not just about doing things “naturally”, it’s more than that. It’s deeper than the newest trend. Our decisions had everything to do with the Lord’s design and His sovereignty. We chose to trust that He created my body to give birth, and that His design and timing is perfect. My midwives said all the time, “there’s never been a woman who didn’t go into labor!” We really believed that the Lord was in control, and that He was completely capable of bringing a healthy baby into the world outside of the time frame that has been deemed safe by medical organizations. Now I know about The Fall and how sin and brokenness has entered the world. But we believe that the creation and bringing forth of life belongs wholly to the Lord. This was not a process we were okay with interfering with. Induction was never on our radar. I can’t say what we would have done differently if there had been signs that something might be wrong. But there weren’t, and we recognized that if our baby happened to not be perfectly healthy, that it would be within the will of God. Not that God brings about brokenness, but that He does, in His sovereignty, allow it, and that He could allow these things to occur at 39 weeks or at 43 weeks. We have research and a little bit of knowledge, but His ways will always be higher than ours. He is not bound by our knowledge of how things work, or what’s normal.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

It was pretty evident through all this that a lot of people have issues with trusting the Lord…and issues with other people trusting the Lord. It was apparent that A LOT of people put a lot of faith in the medical industry and in the wisdom of man. So much so, that it seemed incomprehensible to them that we wouldn’t do the same. I realize there isn’t much we have to wait for in America. We can easily take matters into our own hands pretty often. But what about when people don’t? Is there really anything wrong with that? Is there anything wrong with waiting on the Lord?

Thankfully, I eventually went into labor when it felt like I never would, a beautiful, healthy baby boy was born, and we named him Jones. We had a couple wonderful, peaceful, uninterrupted hours with him before we announced his arrival to anyone. He is sweet, outgoing, loving, defiant as all get out, and I praise God often that he is happy and healthy all the while praying for his rebellious soul.

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I know my friends and family had the best of intentions, and were genuinely concerned. But here’s to hoping that next time we find ourselves disagreeing with the decisions of those we love, that we can evaluate why it makes us uncomfortable, where we are putting our trust, and if we’re giving them the space to follow the Lord where He leads them.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12

What I Would Say to Those Who Want A Natural Childbirth

I knew next to nothing about pregnancy and childbirth when I first got pregnant three and half years ago. I knew even less about the medical industry. Thankfully, my husband and I had talked about a few things before hand, like using a midwife and having a natural childbirth (which didn’t seem like a big deal before I got pregnant), but I was pretty much clueless. I think some people thought Johnathan was brainwashing me/making all my decisions for me (not true, for the record), but I could not be more thankful that he encouraged me to research and learn. So, I hope you do, too. I hope you research and know what you are getting yourself into with childbirth. I am super passionate about informed decisions. 😉

Even though it’s gaining much ground in the US, I still think it’s pretty common for people to roll their eyes when they hear the words “natural childbirth”, “midwife”, or “waterbirth”. It seems to me like there is a growing animosity towards the whole “natural living” thing. I’ve realized that a lot of people are offended when you make decisions different from them, even though it most likely has nothing to do with them. A lot of people are not going to understand why you would want to have a natural childbirth, and by that I mean un-induced, un-medicated, no medical intervention birth. (You do not have to be in a birth center or having a homebirth, it is possible to have a natural birth in a hospital. Some places just make it harder than others.) So it is likely that some people will think you are crazy or dumb.

So the first thing I would say, is that it’s ok to figure it out. IT IS OKAY to not have your mind made up about all this the moment you find out you are pregnant. Give yourself the space, and demand the space from others, to think about it all. It is also not too late to change your plans as long as that baby is still inside your body. I have heard countless stories of people who were unhappy with their care provider, but stayed with them anyway. There are some amazing doctors, nurses and midwives, and there are some horrible ones. I have read articles making fun of “that mom with the birth plan”, but let me tell you, you have every right to want your birth to go a certain way. Depending on who/where you choose to deliver your baby, it is possible that you will be the only one fighting for your birth to go the way you want. The biggest thing you can do is find a provider that you trust, that respects you, and gives you room to make your own decisions. Of course, you have to understand that hospitals have certain policies and protocols that may interfere with some of your plans, and each provider has certain preferences as to how they provide care.  There are different freedoms and limitations depending on if you are at a hospital, in a birth center, or at home. So talk through how you want things to go. A good provider will be able to tell you what is within and outside of their control, and will do it without insulting your intelligence.

The internet is a wonderful thing, so google the crap out of everything. This is another thing people want to scoff at, but the truth is, there is a ton of good, quality information out there. Of course, there is bad information, too, and you have to use proper discernment to figure out what is valid and what isn’t. It’s always a good idea to click on the links in any articles you read, and make sure more than one person/site is giving the same information. I can’t tell you how many times I have clicked on links to find that they don’t actually back up what the author is saying. Be very wary of any info you come across that is more or less attacking one side or the other. If an author sounds like they think this option is great and this option is stupid, then that’s probably what they think, and they aren’t being realistic about both sides. The most common approach I’ve seen people take in trying to persuade others that they are right, is trying to convince them that the alternative is unintelligent, which is powerful stuff if you aren’t aware of it. Another good rule is to not put too much stock in personal stories. I’ve read an article about a mom’s waterbirth that went horribly, and the article made it sound like this was the norm. There are articles out there about how someone’s waterbirth was beautiful and blissful. I had a waterbirth with Miles, my second, and you know what? It wasn’t that great. I probably won’t do that again if I ever have another kid. You can read these stories and learn from them, but then move on. Every single person’s experience is different and it is unwise to think yours will go the way someone else’s did. On the same note, while the internet is a truly amazing resource, so are the people who have been through childbirth. It is all too common for us to turn to the internet and never ask our questions to real people with real brains and insight. I would have never known that some people eat or encapsulate their placentas (yes, that is a real thing) if I hadn’t talked to a real person about it. I actually only knew two people who’d had a natural childbirth, and I think I would have been much better prepared had I had more conversations with people who had done it before.

Understand that part of making decisions is being prepared for the potential consequences. If you are educated about the options, and aren’t making decisions out of feeling pressured or manipulated, then you need to accept that you will have to live with your decisions, whatever the outcome. Part of being able to do this peacefully is knowing the risks, benefits, and the likelihood that those things will occur. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard someone say “I would just be so scared something would happen” but it felt like people were really trying to say, “Wouldn’t you blame yourself forever if something horrible happened? Cause it would be your fault, ya know.” The truth is, there is absolutely the chance that something could go wrong no matter where you give birth. (People seem to forget that horrible things happen in hospitals, too.) There will be things that no one can predict or control. But thankfully, there is a God who is completely in control of all things. There is no decision I can make that will abate His sovereignty. We are human, and we have to do our best and be wise in the choices we make, but the Lord is always bigger than us, and fully capable of accomplishing his will regardless of us.

Lastly, know that natural birth is excruciatingly painful. In all honesty, I am saying this because I was not prepared for this one. I don’t know if it’s just that most people get epidurals or what…but this is something that I didn’t take all that seriously. I have actually heard more than one person talk about how much they enjoyed childbirth, but most people tend to just gloss over and joke about the pain. I know it’s not the same for everyone, but they usually say something like “It hurts, but then you have your baby and it’s all worth it!” They don’t say (or didn’t to me, at least) that having that baby in your arms at the end of it will not make it hurt one ounce less in the middle of it all. I wish somebody had sat me down, told me to listen really close, looked in my eyes and said, “This is going to be the worst, most unimaginable, “kill me now” kind of pain you will probably ever be in. It is going to absolutely suck.” Then maybe I would have paid attention. My default mode of thinking was “Women all over the world do this every day without medicine, and I can do it, too.” Which was 100% true, but I did not know that during labor I would have truly given absolutely anything for someone to just cut that baby right out of me and end my misery. Not in a joking kind of way. In a very real, get me a doctor with a knife, I don’t care what my research has told me, I want this over now, kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, “they” were right and it was totally worth it, but I won’t be sad if I never have to do it again.

For us and our “low-risk” pregnancies, the potential for unnecessary intervention inside a hospital was riskier than having our baby outside a hospital. We believed that a natural birth was the safest option for our babies and for me.  For every risk of birthing a child outside a hospital, there is a risk to birthing a child inside a hospital. The likelihood of those risks coming to fruition is what pushed us towards a birth center.

Unless this is a completely normal thing where you live or among your friends, be prepared for some judgment. The people who go against the grain don’t get the luxury of making uninformed decisions. That privilege is only afforded to those who do what everyone else does. Believe me, people will ridicule you for doing something different no matter how much research you did. Maybe things are different now, but the first time I got pregnant I had pretty much no one around me, besides my husband, encouraging me in this decision. I felt pretty lonely in all of it, but we did it, and I couldn’t be happier that we took the route we did, and I would absolutely do it a third time…if I had to.