“You are chosen and highly favored.”
This week I attended a birth where this was so incredibly evident, it was absolutely beautiful.
It was a long labor followed by a Cesarean.
When I first became a doula, I thought a “successful birth” was one that ended with the mama triumphantly and naturally pushing her baby out into her own hands, those of her partner, or her trusted provider. When you first become a doula, it feels like it’s your job to prevent interventions. Interventions begin a cascade of unnecessary things that all stop the natural progression of labor and generally screw everything up. When I became a nurse, I learned why those interventions are performed and all the horrible things they’re used to prevent. Things like shoulder dystocia, HELLP syndrome, postpartum hemorrhage, and the very worst – fetal demise. As a nurse/doula, I’ve learned how to work with moms to prevent the need for interventions. How to keep themselves and their bodies healthy so the interventions can be kept in the cabinet. But this week – I got to see something really cool. This story is being shared with permission from the mama.
Tracy went into a slowish labor on Wednesday morning. Her contractions slowly progressed to being regular and intense, I joined she and her husband late that night. We made our way to the hospital. She appeared to be in transition – shaking, sweating, nauseated and working very hard. We were told she was only 4cm dilated. I was still upbeat – that just meant we had more walks to take. Hey, it’s my job to find the bright side. We worked for a couple of hours, but it became harder and harder for her to get out of one of two positions – laying on one of her sides, or on all fours. The baby wasn’t wanting to descend, but the pain was too great for her to stand up so gravity could help her. Every contraction would bring her to the floor, rocking and moaning. My gut was telling me to get her upright, but the force of this big muscle would drop her down every time. Another cervical exam revealed no progress. We filled up the pool, hoping the warm water would help her relax, and allow for better positioning. It worked for maybe 10 minutes before she was back to the same position and level of pain.
By now it was deep into the early morning, and Tracy decided she needed some help and to rest. She opted for pain medicine and spent the next hour in the bed, rolled on to her side. The pain did not subside, she was just sleeping until the contractions slammed into her. We were hoping it would allow her to relax, praying for her body to cooperate and allow this baby to descend and be born.
Over 6 hours, she progressed one more centimeter of dilation. She requested an epidural. As soon as she laid back after it was placed, the baby’s heart rate plummeted. It stayed down until Tracy got oxygen, fluids running in quickly and was flipped on to all fours, then laid on her side. From then on, the baby only tolerated labor if his mama was far on one of her sides. No laying on her back, no sitting up, no leaning toward her back. His heart rate would drop, the nurses would rush in and it would crawl back up. I began to see the writing on the wall and wondered where his cord was positioned. I began preparing Tracy for the difficult conversations she may end up having, the decisions that were on the horizon.
When the midwife arrived to explain that a Cesarean was necessary, it was clear that Tracy was disappointed. I reassured her that when these things happen, the reason is almost always apparent once they get into surgery.
When they pulled him out, Baby Bo was wrapped in his cord – tightly around his neck and one arm/hand. Now we know that nothing was coincidental. Tracy was being pulled forward to keep him from descending, her body knew that laying back or sitting down would compromise his cord. Her cervix wasn’t opening because her body was protecting her son. The pain medicine didn’t work as well as it should have because her body was trying to keep her alert enough to stay off her back. What we (medical people) were seeing as dysfunctional, was actually quite purposeful. Her body was fighting to keep her son safe.
I’ve watched this mom since her son’s birth. She already knows him so well. She and her husband are already pros at reading his newborn behavior. They’re amazing advocates for him and love him so well. You know what I learned? She was chosen to be his mama, and highly favored in the process. God knew that she would listen to her body. That she would make decisions carefully, listening to her intuition. He knew it would be hard, and she would suffer, but He never leaves us. He is always with us.
“You are chosen, and highly favored. The Lord is with you.”
My pastor’s wife spoke these words to us today, as she bravely shared her recent struggles and talked to us about suffering. That sounds like a strange subject for Mother’s Day – but it was so perfect. Especially on the heels of her husband’s discussion LAST week when he basically said the “mommy wars” don’t matter. I backed him up online – I think people expected me to be upset because he listed several of my personal choices, but I wasn’t. He’s so right. None of that really matters.
What matters is that we use pregnancy and childbirth as an opportunity to get to know God. To learn how to lean on the Creator of the universe who loves us so much. He chooses every woman for her specific child or children. If we’ll turn to Him, He’ll empower us to be the best mother for our children. For my dear client this week, that meant giving up her plans and being ok with a surgical birth. For some moms it is homeschooling. Some choose to breastfeed for several years, others decide that formula is the very best thing for their child. I chose to have my daughter at home in a tub of water, pushing her out in the waiting hands of my midwife. One of my dearest friends had both of her babies with the help of beloved epidurals, and a really great physician. We both love our children dearly, and I know that we are both adored by God. We are chosen and highly favored.
Mama, YOU are chosen and HIGHLY. FAVORED. The Lord your God will never leave or forsake you. He is generous in grace in mercy. Walk in that. Hold your head high as you parent your children. And have a Happy Mother’s Day.
Jamilla Walker is Co-Owner of The Labor Ladies, LLC. She is a doula, nurse, board certified lactation consultant and childbirth educator. Click here to read more about Jamilla.