I used to laugh at the thought of me laboring without pain medicine. I thought, yeah right, I could never do that. I’m such a wimp. Epidurals are God’s gift to laboring women in the world of modern medicine, right?
I chose to have an epidural with my daughter. Due to a variety of factors during labor, Margaret ended up coming into this world via c-section. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but Mama and Baby were healthy and that’s what was most important to us.
When I got pregnant with our son, who will be joining us in about 3 weeks, I figured I’d be having a scheduled, repeat c-section because that’s just what people do when they’ve had previous c-sections. After hearing from my friend Meg that she was planning on having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), I reached out to my friend Ashley to get her thoughts. Ashley gave me the following response:
“I’m all for going as natural as you can. I believe so much of the process has to do with your mental/emotional/spiritual body and your ability to approach childbirth as a natural and beautiful process. It’s hard in the Western culture to fully connect in that way, so VBACs can be difficult – you will be going into it with more people expecting failure. But it is completely possible and natural and so worth it to give it a shot if you are ready to.
“Explore it and really do some soul searching on it- your body is only as capable as your mind allows, and it’s hard when the odds are against you. Know that the bottom line is a healthy baby and mama, so go with your intuition and see what feels right for you. I don’t regret for a second trying for vbac with [my second daughter] Ellie. I felt like I would always have a ‘what if’ in my head so I needed that!”
This was so encouraging to hear. I discussed VBAC with my obstetrician at the next visit. He was on board and said we would continue to discuss further as the pregnancy progresses.
Fast forward 6 months. I was sitting in my living room, daydreaming about baby, when I started to feel a bit of unease. Something that had been in the back of my mind (and stayed back there somewhat forcefully) started to creep back into my thoughts. I started to wonder, “Might God want me to pursue a natural birth this time?”
My immediate reaction to this thought was, “Whoa, slow it down there, partner.” Was I losing it? I know women get a little coo-coo with all the pregnancy hormones and whatnot, but this? Was I seriously considering something that had been laughable to me up until this point?
You see, God has been challenging me a lot lately. He’s nudged me to challenge my beliefs about family lifestyle choices, including nutrition, education, healthcare, and more. He’s encouraged me to do my own research so my husband and I can make well-informed decisions that we feel are in our family’s best interest.
So why would God put in on my heart to pursue natural childbirth? After all, it’s incredibly painful, I’m a wimp, and epidurals exist for a reason. Seems pretty logical that I’d just go ahead and take the meds, right?
But there’s so much more to it than that. One of the biggest things God has been doing in me is showing me that I am capable of so much more than I’d ever imagined, if only I allow His strength to work in me and through me.
I felt like this was the next step God was calling me to take. I discussed my thoughts with Jeremy, and he told me that if it’s something I felt God calling me to do, then he was on board.
So there I was, 9 weeks before my due date, making a pretty big decision. I knew Jeremy and I needed to act fast if we were going to get the information and support we needed to pursue and increase our chances of a successful natural childbirth.
I reached out to my friend Anna, who delivered her precious son Simon naturally. (She and her husband and labor coach Adam are the rock stars in this post’s featured image). Anna recommended I look into the Bradley Method (husband-coached childbirth). I reached out to a few local instructors and connected with one who offered to do a condensed, private class for Jeremy and me and another couple since there wouldn’t be time for the full 12-week class.
Several instructors that responded to me encouraged us to consider hiring a doula who would act as additional support during labor. Jeremy and I connected with a young woman who is working towards her certification as a labor doula.
So here we are. We’ve hired a doula and are almost finished with our childbirth classes. Everything seems to be falling into place. I feel like that’s God’s way of saying, “Thanks for listening. You got this, kiddo.”
I don’t know what lies ahead, and that thought both terrifies and exhilarates me. Regardless of how our birth turns out, I will be glad to have gone into it feeling informed and empowered. I’m so thankful to have such amazing people supporting Jeremy and me as we prepare for welcoming little Charles into the world.
If you’re considering (or maybe have never considered) a VBAC and/or natural delivery, know that it is possible. Know that you are capable of having the birth you want. Do your research and seek the help of knowledgeable professionals. Believe in yourself and listen to God’s little nudges. This is your baby. This is your family. Do what you feel is best.