Monday, November 16, 2015

Hannah's Birth Story - God's grace

There is a lot of pressure, or the illusion of pressure anyway, to do things naturally when it comes to parenting.  So, for me, there was some sense of guilt associated with our entire pregnancy and planned birth.  From the very beginning, from conception on, we relied heavily on medical intervention.  I know without a doubt that the doctors would not have been successful, that we could have had no embryo, failed transfers, miscarriage, etc if it was not God's plan.  But still, we did nothing "naturally."  My body was made ready by daily shots and hormone patches, Hannah was transferred in a sterile medical facility, the contractions were controlled with weekly injections, and we had countless ultrasounds and tests.

I had a strong desire to deliver Hannah naturally.  Or at least to have a vaginal delivery, even if I did end up getting an epidural, which I was going to extend myself the grace to do if so needed.  But after an emergency cesarean with the boys, my options were limited.  And with a history of stillbirth, going past my due date was not an option.  So, we scheduled our c-section for 39.5 weeks, fully expecting my body would go into labor long before then.  But by 30 weeks, my anxiety was picking up.  I was dropping weight and it all felt very much like Reagan.  I began having twice weekly monitoring visits which helped easy my anxiety and fears for short time windows, but ultimately I was waiting for my body to fail.  I was waiting for my body to cause hardship and pain in the life of my family again.  It's a terrible way to live.  Our OB has been with us for all 3 pregnancies and knows us fairly well after all these visits.  He had suggested long ago to consider doing an amnio at 37 weeks so we could deliver earlier.  I flat out refused, partly because of the risks of the amnio and partly because I was so sure I would deliver early without it.  But as time drew near, we prayed about it and both felt at peace with the earlier birth plan.  So, we changed things, and Hannah's delivery was moved up 2 weeks.

As I prepared for the amnio, I had so many doubts.  Was this right?  Were we rushing things?  Was I not showing faith in God's ability or His goodness?  I walked into the doctor's office that day stressed and worried that this test could cause damage to our sweet daughter and still reveal that her lungs were not mature, pushing her deliver date back again.  After the initial ultrasound, the doctor did some more scans and informed me that the fluid was too low for any tests.  Hannah would be delivered the following day.  I was so thankful for God's answer to prayer, for His sovereignty and how He carried us through something so simple yet so stressful for me.  No large needle AND I was going to get to see my daughter face to face the following day!

After the surgery, as I'm lying in recovery, our doctor comes out and finds us to talk.  And he shared with us even more about God's provisions.  See, my uterus was weakened from the surgery with the boys and considerably thinned.  Had I gone into labor, my risks of uterine rupture were high.  We prayed and prayed that God would allow me to deliver, that I wouldn't need a painful surgery and the recovery while home with 3 kids who all need their mommy, but God could see the bigger picture and answered our prayers with a "no" that could have saved my life.  Second, Hannah's cord was tied in a knot.  How scary is that??  It wasn't pulled tight yet, but could have easily tightened if we had waited 2 more weeks or tried a vaginal delivery.  It's so scary to think that something so simple could have sent our world crashing down again.

I write all this because sometimes God's plan is not the natural one, because sometimes we don't need to feel guilt that we plan things out, because one birth plan is not better than another.  God showed us such incredible grace and love, directing us toward this early delivery and major surgery.  God prevented my contractions from causing dilation and allowing me to deliver as I wished, and saved the life of our child.  My heart longed for something seemingly better, but something that would have ultimately been detrimental.  It's amazing to see God's hand in every aspect of this "normal" pregnancy.  A pregnancy without any major complications, with all normal development and milestones, and yet so fragile.   Just like our boys, Hannah's life is a miracle.  And, despite the sleepless night and endless feedings, this little girl is a precious child of God and a beautiful gift entrusted to us.  I am grateful.

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