I have had so many thoughts running through my head about writing Silas’ birth story. I never could have imagined what the experience of pregnancy and birth would teach me. His birth changed me, yes into a mother, but it gave me strength that I didn’t know that I had, it taught me so much about myself and it brought Zach and I closer. It taught me that my body was strong but my God is stronger and that He has complete control of any situation when you have faith in Him.
When I found out I was pregnant, Zach and I began going to the Vanderbilt midwives. I thought that for my first birth, even though we wanted a home birth, we would go ahead with a hospital birth. When I called to make my first appointment they asked me which midwife I would like to see. I had no idea so I looked on the website and saw a beautiful midwife who happened to have graduated from Texas Tech and since I was born in Lubbock, I picked her. At my first appointment we had a laugh when I told Lauren that because she had only been to Lubbock once since she had gone through an offsite program. At my next appointment, she told me it was her last day because she was moving to Arkansas to open a birthing center. Just like with any practice, you are not guaranteed who will be at your delivery unless you are choosing to have a C-Section or scheduled birth but I was still really bummed that there was no chance of Lauren being there. She just had a sweet and calming spirit which is what I wanted at my birth. Zach and I had gone to a couple’s pregnancy yoga class and everyone was talking about their “Doula.” When it came time for us to introduce ourselves they asked if we had a doula and we had never even heard of one. The more we researched it we knew we wanted and needed one. So when Lauren told us she was leaving, I asked her if there was a doula that she would recommend. She said yes as a matter of fact, she lives really close to you, her name is Gaylea McDougal. ( No doubt in my mind that this was a God thing!) As soon as I left the appointment, I was on the phone trying to contact Gaylea about an interview. She came to my house for lunch the following week and we hit it off. She has a company called Roots Childbirth that focuses on Christian child birthing. My dear friend, Karen Elkins, had given me a book called Supernatural Childbirth when I first found out I was pregnant. Zach and I began reading it and praying daily for a pain free birth and for every system in our little baby’s body. The Lord was blessing us with this baby and we wanted him to be a part of every step of the birth process so we were excited to learn that there were Christ centered childbirth classes.
Silas’ due date wasn’t until May 23rd and I never thought about him coming before then. I felt great throughout my entire pregnancy (other than being tired my first trimester) and was thinking I still had a couple of weeks to get things together. On May 9th, I went and got adjusted by my friend Liz Totty, who is a chiropractor. When I got home from dinner I got in bed. At about midnight, I woke up and told Zach that I thought my water broke on the way to the restroom. It really hadn’t but was just the beginning of things starting to happen. I think getting adjusted helped line everything up for labor. In our childbirth class, they said the best thing you can do is to try and go to sleep to build up energy for what was ahead. So I did, (I never have a problem sleeping) I woke up at 7:00 the next morning and started having some mild contractions. I called Gaylea to see if Zach should go on to work, she said yes, just go about your day as normal and that she would come by and check me. I kept working and just stayed calm. I had been praying that a peace would come over me during labor and delivery like nothing I had ever experienced and it did, I was so calm the whole day. I don’t think I even thought about how I was going to be meeting my baby that same day!
When it comes to medical procedures and hospitals, I have a lot of anxiety so for my labor to not slow down from anxiety, I wanted to be at home as long as possible. When Gaylea came by about 10:30 am she was able to time my contractions and she said that I was in pre labor and for me to text her when I thought she should come back. Shortly after Gaylea left, my mom pulled in the driveway. She had gotten word that things were starting and that is what mothers do. She didn’t want me to be here alone and I was glad she was here. She was such a huge help throughout the entire day and evening. Zach got home and rubbed some kind of essential oil on my feet and it sped up the contractions. At that point, we called Gaylea and told her that I was going to get in the labor tub. From the beginning, our plan was for me to labor at home until I was at about an 8 and then get in the car and drive to Vanderbilt. We had a relaxing area set up on our breezeway where I spent about 4 hours. The water was amazing and took the pressure off of my back. Throughout active labor I was very vocal, not because I was in pain but because of the pressure and just being vocal helped me. At one point I heard an ambulance and thought a neighbor had called because they heard me. When they say the contractions are like waves coming over you, there is no better explanation. I would be laughing one minute and then the contraction would come over me and then release.
After my mom boiled water for a couple of hours to try and keep the temp up in the tub up, We decided it was time for me to get out. At that point, the pressure on my back was pretty intense and I knew that I was not going to get in the car for 40 minutes to get to Vanderbilt. We went in the bedroom and Zach put counter pressure on my back during each contraction. Gaylea called Jessica, who was our childbirth instructor, to invite her to be there with us and be an extra set of hands. Jessica and Gaylea are both women of God and continually spoke positive words and prayers over us as I labored. Between Gaylea and Jessica, Zach and my mom and dad I couldn’t have asked for a better support group.
I definitely did some unnecessary pushing at first because once it was time, it was a completely different feeling. At one point Gaylea checked me and thought she was seeing an ear instead of the crown of his head. At that point, we started talking about a transfer to the closest hospital. Zach and I went into another room and prayed and Gaylea figured out that Silas was in Military presentation.When we came back to the bed room things just started happening and we were able to stay put. (Note: Military presentation is when the baby is coming out with their chin raised instead of their head tucked)
Throughout labor, I just kept reciting Mark 11: 22 in my mind. The whole night was full of words, prayers and confirmations.
The room was filled with tears and praise. I remember hearing Jessica’s voice just saying “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Father.” The Lord reminds us in Matthew 18:20 that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there with them” and He was there bringing forth life. I have heard that once you experience birth and see the miracle of life, it is hard to deny that there is a God.
The feeling of them placing Silas’ body on my chest was indescribable. What we had been waiting, praying and working towards was finally here! A few minutes after he was born, I did have some bleeding so we transferred to the local hospital which was ok because we were able to meet with a lactation consultant and get some rest. The whole experience of several firemen and medics at our house just made the night more eventful. (That is a whole other story!)
When we woke up the next morning Gaylea and Jessica had both posted on Facebook about Silas’ birth.. They are both writers and I love how they put Silas’ birth into words. I have been so blessed by them and especially having them there for Silas’ birth.
“Oh night divine, brimming with miracles … Birth brought me to my knees again! I was invited by one of my dearest friends, Gaylea, to assist in the homebirth of my Alpha students, Sara Beth and Zach. Their home was a sanctuary of peace and their hope was fixed on God as they surrendered to his way… And WOW, did he show off?! Welcome to the world, sweet baby Silas! Your mommy is brave beyond measure, your daddy is tender to the core and your home overflows with love! You are blessed! And so am I for having witnessed your first breath and cry… What a way to ring in the 2nd birthday of my beautiful, Eve Amelie! I was flooded with remembrance of her journey to my arms as I watched Sara Beth courageously open to receive Silas!” – Jessica
“I have attempted several times this morning to pen the thoughts that are dancing in my heart after the amazing birth experience that I witnessed last night, but every time I sit down to type, tears fill my eyes, mercy fills my heart and I am too caught up in humility for expression… I find God most often in the empty spaces in my life. The space between the flowers. The silence between the verses. The breath between the contractions. The confusion before the understanding…and last night, so much was revealed to me in the silence and the empty space of waiting. My mentor, Kathy Pitt Williams, told me recently, “it’s not about the learning, it’s about the listening.” I assumed at the time she meant listening to the mom, but last night, as things started to quickly go differently that I had planned (home birth instead of hospital, military presentation that totally threw me for a loop, and silently wrestling with my own fears and limitations of my flesh and skill set) I realized quickly I had to turn off my brain and listen to the voice of God. And boy did he show up and show off! By listening to Him, I was free to really SEE what was in front of me. The tenderness of a husband’s eyes attending to his wife’s every need, the strength of a mother protecting her son at all costs, through her own sacrifice and surrender, the precious spirit of adoring grandparents inviting peace and serenity into the home, the love and wisdom of sweet friends willing to help me sort stuff out when most people have been asleep for hours, and the power of God, ushering forth life in His timing, His environment and even His presentation… Last night, things didn’t go as I planned. Thanks be to GOD!” – Gaylea
After Silas’ birth I was finishing up the Ina May Gaskins book, Birth Stories and I came across this and it basically summed up what I was feeling about the experience of natural childbirth.
And trust me, I completely understand that natural childbirth it is not for everyone and every birth does not go as planned but I just wanted to share my experience!