Wow. What a whirlwind of events and emotions that have occurred the past couple weeks. Our boy is finally here! He took his sweet time arriving at 40 weeks + 6 days, but he also got out in record time, 2 ½ hours from my first contraction until he was on my chest breathing his first breath! Below is the story, in detail, of how our sweet guy was carried Earth-side by our awesome God. I am writing this as a testimony of how great God is and how faithful He is in the lives of His children. I am also writing so we can share the story with Jasper one day and so we can have the memories fresh forever. All glory and honor be to our God for every detail in Jasper’s birth.
Why a home birth?
So, as this was our second time around, we knew that we wanted to have Jasper with the assistance of a midwife either at a birthing center (Edenway Birthing Center) or at home. Knox was born into a birthing tub at a hospital in San Marcos with the love and support from our wonderful doula, but we used an OB. Thankfully our OB was the only one in town who would “allow” me to not only labor in the water, but also deliver there if I felt like it. The hospital had rules against that, but she said if it “accidentally” happened, it would be ok. Our birth experience was great with Knox, but we felt that it could have been even more peaceful and stress free had it been in another setting. We also saw the ridiculous bills that were thankfully covered by insurance since I had it at that point…and do not have currently. So we decided it was also the more cost effective route. But overall we liked the idea of having WAY more flexibility, more options and much better pre and postnatal care as far as what is important to us as a family (spiritually, holistic/natural, hands off, emphasis on diet/exercise, and allowing baby to choose his birthday).
There are MANY other reasons we would no longer prefer to have our babies in hospitals such as the fact that pregnancy and birth is not a sickness or problem that you have to intervene in if it is a normal, healthy pregnancy. Most health care professionals who work in hospital settings are trained in intervening when problems arise, but some have never even witnessed a normal, natural birth firsthand. Therefore, many (not all) are more comfortable with taking control of the pregnancy in means of induction, using medicine to interfere with the normal hormones and then responding to the issues as they often times arise. Midwives’ MAIN experience is in the normal, natural birth process…so they know normal very well and can identify when problems arise which will require intervention/transfer to hospital. Also—since hospitals are where people go when they are sick…there is a much higher risk of infection than if you are at a birthing center where healthy mommas and babies congregate, or your own home.
When we found out we were pregnant we were living in a rent house in Burleson, so we figured it wouldn’t be that special to have him where we wouldn’t be living long-term. During my pregnancy we were house hunting with our awesome realtor, Tina Kothmann, hoping to find our home before Jasper arrived. We ended up closing on our sweet old house, which we named Casita Wells, in August but didn’t move in until October because of all the renovations we wanted to do prior. Shout out to my husband who worked SO hard to insure that his family moved into a comfortable home. I had attended one of my best friends’ amazing homebirth in Waco in late June and ever since felt drawn to that possibility. Billy was more on the fence because of all the extra preparation and expenses, but I was pretty sure he would change his mind once we were in the new house. I thought that attending a Birth Boot Camp refresher course may help him see the benefits of birthing at home, but it just kinda got us re-fired up about giving birth period. So around 37 weeks we had pretty much decided that we would plan for a home birth.
Midwifery Model of Prenatal Care
When people found out we were planning on having a homebirth their first question was usually, “How does that work?”…followed quickly by, “Well you’re more brave than I am!” What’s funny is that I think THEY are the brave ones choosing to give birth in a setting where intervention is first choice, you are treated as a patient, and outcomes are not favorable in the US. I love talking to people about our experience under a midwife’s care. We chose our midwife, Terry Gyde, based on many recommendations but MAINLY based on the fact that she is known for being very open and vocal about her faith in Jesus with her clients. We didn’t even interview multiple midwives or search around…she was our lady! When we did meet with her, it was just confirmed. One HUGE difference between the care of a midwife and an OB is that it’s a genuine relationship. You are treated more like a friend, and eventually a family member, instead of a patient. Terry was literally a text, call, or facebook message away any time I had concerns, questions or ideas regarding our pregnancy/birth. She prayed for me after our appointments if there was anything I was worried about and never let me leave without one of her awesome hugs. When things arose during my pregnancy that could have been cause for seeking out medical care, she had a list of natural/holistic treatments I could try and then covered it in prayer. We did our part to make sure I was eating real, mainly organic food, staying hydrated, taking my prenatal vitamins, pre and probiotics, remaining active, receiving weekly chiropractic care near the end to encourage baby to be in correct position, but trusted God with the ultimate protection of our boy and myself.
Pregnancy and birth are an amazing opportunity to build faith. Billy and I truly believe this and have experienced the sovereignty of the hand of God through our boys being born. You literally have no control in the situation. For a control freak like myself, this is something I have to actively fight against in all areas of my life. We researched the benefits of allowing labor to start spontaneously, un-medicated vaginal birth, water birth, etc when I was pregnant with Knox, so we do have many reasons for choosing our philosophy of birth. But when it comes down to it, anything could happen and your plan can be completely changed based on circumstances beyond anyone’s control. We are so grateful to God for the outcomes of our birth stories: natural water births and healthy baby boys…but this second time around did throw us a bit. We were forced to trust that God would work it out for our good and His glory even when a few things did not go as planned.
My 28th Birthday
So begins the actual “birth story” part of this blog post entitled “Jasper’s Birth Story”. Everyone tells you that your subsequent pregnancies will come earlier. Whether or not there are actual statistics to support this, I do not know, but it’s what you are told. I was told this so many times; Especially since Knox came the day after his due date and after “pre-laboring” all day and a short “active labor” for a first time mom of about 3 hours. All this to say, I was certain that Jasper was going to come days before his estimated due date of November 12th…and it was going to happen fast. Well at least part of my prediction played out.
I decided to stop working the week before my EDD just so I could have a few days (maybe) to do my last nesting to-dos and to rest up before my baby boy arrived. The 12th passed and I felt completely normal. I had been having consistent Braxton Hicks contractions for months, but they weren’t getting any stronger and nothing else was changing. People had been telling me he had “dropped” for probably 6 weeks, but I just carried him low the whole time. The kid liked to hang out on my lap, and sometimes felt like he was between my legs about to fall out! I wasn’t really stressed about going past my EDD, but I was surprised. Then my birthday, the 17th, started creeping up on us. We all thought SURELY I would have him before my birthday. He would be nursing while I devoured a huge Great American Cookie cake at my birthday dinner with our family. Surely! NOPE.
We had an appointment scheduled for the 20th to have a biophysical profile done to check up on the little guy. Terry called on my birthday to see if we wanted to just do it that day because someone else had cancelled. Billy had decided to work a half-day for my birthday, so we decided to go ahead and do it. We arrived at the appointment at 1:30pm and were told to go to the next office over because we were going to be seen by the midwife who works at Cleburne hospital and has a great relationship with the birthing center midwives. NOPE. Oh how I wish that would have been the case. Instead, we were unfortunate enough to have a new doctor who is not yet accustomed with the relationship with the birthing center or midwives. It seemed as though she had no clue about midwifery care in general, and was very skeptical. She spoke to us with a condescending tone, implying that she did not think we were caring for our baby in a responsible way. She was concerned that we had not “monitored” our pregnancy because we did not have frequent ultrasounds or cervical checks. Although I had been monitored regularly with urine testing, blood pressure/heart rate monitoring, weight monitoring, measuring my uterus, baby’s heart rate, palpation, etc by Terry at the birthing center. Personally I believe cervical checks are pointless and can do more harm than good by mentally stressing the mother if she hasn’t progressed as much as she had hoped or by giving her too much hope when active labor wouldn’t start for days later. Frequent cervical checks also introduce bacteria to the area you want as clean as possible when baby is traveling through it! But I digress. To each their own.
The lady had no idea what our family valued and was being very pushy. After measuring via ultrasound, she found that my amniotic fluid was low which we would have expected since I was nearly a week past my EDD. She said that if I were HER patient, I would not leave the hospital and would be medically induced immediately. Well thank GOD I was NOT her patient…and I pity anyone who is even just based on her bedside manner. Billy immediately started researching and discovered that measuring amniotic fluid was not an exact science, and it being low was NOT an evidence-based reason to induce. Thankfully Terry was with us at the appointment and assured the doctor that we would try to naturally induce using various techniques at the birthing center and at home. The doctor kind of scoffed at that idea, but agreed to it with the added stipulation that if we did NOT have the baby within 24 hours, we would HAVE to be admitted to the hospital for induction. WOW. What a great way to put a mother’s mind at ease and help her body/mind relax to allow labor to start naturally. She also highly encouraged us to stay for a non-stress test to monitor Jasper’s heart rate response over a 20-minute time span. Billy and I considered declining the test because we could tell this lady wanted to have a reason to keep us at the hospital, but we reluctantly agreed. His heart rate went up with activity like we wanted, but the doctor was unhappy that it only rose 10 beats per minute (bpm) and not 15bpm. Ridiculous. Thankfully we got the heck out of that hospital because she went and asked for a second opinion from the midwife, who we should have been with in the first place, who told her it was fine. Dramatic? Yes. But it was very stressful and made for a very unhappy 28th birthday for this Momma.
So we headed to the birthing center where my midwife checked me for the first time. I was 1.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. She gently stretched me to 4 cm and separated my bag of waters from my cervix. All things considered “intervening” which ideally we did not want, but we had to do it to avoid a more aggressive and medical induction in a hospital. I felt that we were being bullied into doing things we did not want to do…but again, things happen beyond your control. This chain of events had forced us to rely on God. Either we were going to naturally kick start this labor or we would be going to the hospital. Terry also sent us home with homework to take herbal supplements that are supposed to help labor start, use the breast pump and some other labor inducing activities. We ordered Babe’s takeout (because I really wanted it), watched some Once Upon a Time and Parenthood, sent Knox to my parents’ house, and got to work. I was having Braxton Hicks contractions like normal, but nothing painful and not increasing in frequency. We took showers and went to bed like normal, really having doubts that anything was going to happen.
Then came 3:50am with a click feeling that woke me up. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or if it was a punch or kick from Jasper because it wasn’t followed by a gush of fluid. I waddled to the restroom and felt some definite super low pressure and some menstrual like contractions starting immediately. I woke up Billy, grabbed my phone, and fell to my hands and knees quickly to breathe through another contraction. Those things were already coming at about 5 minutes apart and were getting progressively stronger. While on the floor I started reading some scripture I had saved, mostly verses that brought me comfort and helped take away fear. Looking back it’s pretty crazy how I was led to these verses and he was born on the 18th!
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118: 5-6
“I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118: 13-14
“The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” Psalm 18: 32-33
I called Terry, our midwife, to tell her to come ASAP. I texted my mom a few times…“OK it’s real now.” “Water may have broken. Thinking Yes.” “Terry on her way.” “3 minutes apart 1 minute long.” “Can you come?” I got no reply so I called my dad and had him wake her up. In the meantime I was experiencing the type of contractions that required me to breathe heavily, hum low, and have pressure applied to my low back and sacrum. I remembered having those soon before transition with Knox, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would desperately need that tub. Poor Billy was sprinting around trying to get the pool filled up while having to come mash on my back every 3 minutes. After one contraction, he went to check the water and noticed that it was not hot. We had emptied all our hot water into the tub, but it wasn’t full! This was very worrisome since I am the type of person who needs things to be VERY hot…lukewarm would not cut it. Billy knew this, so he filled up every large pot we own and started heating up water. Terry got to our house at 5:00am, followed by Mary, another midwife, and they started helping Billy and preparing. My mom got there at some point; I just remember feeling comforted when I heard her voice. As soon as the tub was full enough I knew I needed to get in. I had already had one contraction that gave me the urge to push. I wanted Billy in there with me, so he got in too. I can’t remember how long I was in the tub, but it couldn’t have been long before I was pushing. The relief I felt from the warm water and how it took away my weight was beyond amazing. I was a little scared my contractions would slow down too much, but that wasn’t an issue. At some point I was feeling the need to push…and my body was going to do it no matter what. I decided to have Terry check me just to make sure I was dilated fully, but she said if my body was pushing, it was probably fine to push. Sure enough, it was fine. I felt Jasper’s head move down more with each contraction and I suddenly felt afraid to push. Terry could tell based on my body language, so she asked me if I was. I told her yes, because I really didn’t want to tear based on how fast everything was moving. She prayed aloud for God to take away my fear in Jesus’ name. I tried to gently push along with my body to get his head out, while supporting my perineum some with my hands to try and make sure it wasn’t too fast. After his head was out, the rest of his body wasn’t coming as easily, which was due to his cord being around his neck not letting him descend. Terry took it off of him and instructed me to give a good push. I tried a wimpy one, which did nothing and then realized I would have to do better than that. Billy grabbed my thighs and I pushed one HUGE push accompanied by a high-pitched, 1 second long scream which did the job. My face and entire body immediately relaxed as I pulled my baby boy up onto my chest while quickly apologizing for screaming. Haha. I think I was afraid I had traumatized my mom for life. Jasper was covered in thick vernix and felt so smooth and chubby. There’s no feeling in the world like the feeling AFTER the pain of childbirth. You feel no pain. You can only focus on this amazing new creation that God had perfectly formed and entrusted to your care. We couldn’t stop rubbing his head, face and squishy arms. His first cry was so precious to our ears. Our baby boy was finally here! Jasper Hosea weighed 8lbs 8oz, was 21 inches long and his head circumference was 14 1/8 inches. We adore him, and his big brother couldn’t be more excited or in love with him.
Thank you, Jesus.
Birth Photography By: Kourtnie Elizabeth Photography
Newborn Photography By: Holly Bollinger Photography & Design
Maternity Photography By: Sara Seeton Photography