Monday, August 29, 2016

My Birth Testimony: A TOLAC Success Story - Part 3

The Learning Points

(Before reading, you may want to check out Part 1 and Part 2)


So, as I mentioned, it was clear that God was protecting baby #2 and me in our crazy labor and delivery!

There are many things I've been learning as a result.


I am still sad my deliveries had to happen this way.

My doula told me about a website called Surrender Birth, where people share their birth testimonies. She encouraged me to write my own (hence these posts).

Anyway, as I read these testimonies, I sensed some bitterness when I read the stories that were along these lines: "I've never felt as close to God as I was during my delivery! It was magical and went exactly the way I wanted—home birth in the birth pool and everything! What an answer to my fervent prayers!"

Or this mom who accidentally had a natural birth. (How is THAT fair?!)

I've spent a bit of time fighting that bitterness and the "why couldn't I just be one of those women who can birth naturally?" question. I've visited Scriptures that remind me who I am and who God is... like the end of Job. He gives and takes away. 

Why does God say "no" to anyone about anything? 

Why are there some who can't have kids at all? 

Why are there some whose loved ones die too young? 

I get that, in the grand scheme, my problem is small compared to some others. But that doesn't mean I don't still have to process through the Big Question: Why pain? 

I've spent some time reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis to grapple with this question more. This Big Question is something I've been wrestling with for the past few years, as many friends and family have passed away in the past few years as well.

I still don't have all the answers. But God's been humbling my heart to come under His sovereign authority over all things—life, death, and birth stories.

Job 42:1-3 - 
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.


For a while at first I felt embarrassed that this VBAC I talked about wanting so badly was not something I ended up accomplishing. People kept asking about it, and I sometimes I felt a little silly having to tell everyone it didn't work out how I'd hoped.

I've had to wrestle with that a bit, too. There's simply nothing to be embarrassed about. 


As I mentioned in Part 2, they (not just the OB's, but the midwives, too) told me no more VBAC attempts—only c-sections from now on. That was sad news to hear.

But it also helped to provide closure for me. No more wondering or open-endedness. Just a closed door that I can fully grieve now, which is a blessing in a sense.

And the planner in me intends to fully enjoy the benefits of a scheduled cesarean next time, like lining up all my babysitters and getting a good night's sleep beforehand!


There are so many Small Kindnesses from God that I'm thankful for and don't want to overlook. Some of the many (besides the main one—that God obviously protected our lives—and my ability to continue having more children) include:

  • The entire staff at Mt. Sinai (besides the OB's I had to deal with afterward for an infected incision) was AMAZING. The whole time during labor and delivery I felt heard and respected. With each step the midwives took they explained my options and allowed me to make the decision that I wanted. They were not in a hurry to get the baby out. I knew I could trust them completely. Even the anesthesiologist was wonderful. And every nurse. They just have amazing staff there.
  • They gave me time to process and grieve even during the labor, when things didn't go how I wanted. When we decided to have the c-section, I knew better this time. I knew I needed to process. Last time I was whisked away too quickly (and for no good reason, since it was not an emergency) and sobbed the whole way to the OR. This time, I asked to be left alone with Eric and Amanda for a while. I had Eric come sit on the bed and hold me and tell me true things while I cried and let out all the things I was feeling. It was SO GOOD to have that time beforehand to process the surgery before it happened. 
  • That awesome epidural that allowed me to still move around easily.
  • I had the opportunity to TRY. I know I did everything within my power to make a VBAC happen. The only "what-if" I'm left with is "what if there was no knot in his cord?" There are no other questions like the many I had last time (such as "What if I'd known to choose a different provider or tell this one no?"). I have no regrets and wouldn't do much differently if I could.
  • I didn't feel laughed at. I didn't feel like they thought I was silly for trying, or like they were looking down on me or questioning my decisions.
  • I got to labor outside in the sunshine on a perfectly beautiful day (something I didn't even know I wanted till it was happening).
  • Despite the One Big Request being answered with a "no," there are many specific prayers that God graciously answered with a "yes," just to remind me that He hears me. These "yes" requests—these Small Kindnesses—included: 
    • being able to labor in the whirlpool 
    • making it past 7cm (where things stopped the last time) 
    • being able to experience natural/non-induced contractions
    • not having my water break before contractions began
    • having Eric with me the whole time
    • having Amanda AND Eric in the OR (not typical)
    • having Eric present for everything they did to the baby
  • Recovery has been a thousand times better this time—even with the infected incision and much resulting antibiotic ridiculousness. I'm much more able to do things and feel already at three months the way I felt at a year or more after my oldest was born. I think this is because I'm pretty sure I had mild PPD (postpartum depression) after my first delivery, which is not the case this time. Now, I'm like "What?! You mean I can feel mostly like my normal self and not living in a dark cloud after having a baby?! I had NO IDEA!"
  • Amanda (my doula) was able to be present for the actual birth. This was a concern because she had to leave a few times since my labor was so long. But when the actual birth happened, she was there for it.
  • My little guy has been a super nurser! He had latching figured out from the very beginning and is efficient, too. He's also been a good sleeper overall (despite his recent sleep regression). He's such a happy, low-key, straightforward kid.


One thing that's been hard/fun/interesting/sad/happy has been the switch to a family of four. Big sister loves him but is also having a rough adjustment period. It's hard to watch her experience grief. It's hard not to give her the time I'd like. But it's fun to see her bond with Daddy in a new way, and to see her love on her brother and learn about babies and how they grow, etc.


One other thing I've thought about is the fact that, at its root (though perhaps I held it too highly as an idol), the desire for a natural birth is a good thing! After all, vaginal delivery is God's good design and the healthiest route if possible. And the fact that I'm disappointed it didn't happen makes a lot of sense.

We were created for heaven, so life under the sun is bound to be less than what our hearts long for (recent Ecclesiastes sermon series influence there).

When God cursed Eve after the Fall, He said she would bear children in pain. It never says that pain is limited only to the pain of contractions and pushing. It very well can be the pain of births not going as planned, of surgery and resulting complications, etc. it also never says anything about my being exempt from the effects of the Fall.

It is my hope that, as I process through these ideas, my "mad at God" attitude will continue to dissipate and become instead humility and a longing for That Day.


Well, there it is, guys. My whole birth testimony. I hope you can see how I can call it a TOLAC Success Story despite a repeat cesarean, and I hope you enjoyed reading these posts! It helped me so much to write them.

If you had a disappointing delivery or a difficult recovery, can I encourage you to write out your story? Grab a journal or a computer... and just write away. It can be so therapeutic. I'd be happy to read it if you want to share 

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