Our little Olive Leaf was born on September 2, at 2:30 am. She weighed 4 lbs 4 oz and measured 18 inches. Although I did end up having a c-section, her birth story was clearly orchestrated by God’s hand. I had prayed for a peaceful birth experience and while there were many bumps along the way, God answered that prayer.
Week 32: C-Section Attempt #1
I had started having contractions the Saturday before and the doctor on duty had been ready to operate then. When I heard the news, I really struggled to trust that this was God’s plan. I got out my coloring book and index cards that I had filled with scripture earlier in my pregnancy and began reading through them to calm my heart. I prayed that God would protect me and my baby from unnecessary surgery. Thankfully another doctor was called in. She figured out that I was dehydrated. After getting a boost in my IV fluids, the contractions subsided. This pattern continued for several days.
Week 32 Day 4: C-Section Attempt #2
On Wednesday evening I started bleeding. The doctor on duty monitored me and was prepared to operate, but again my symptoms subsided. When she was getting off her shift the next morning, she stopped by to see me and said that she was amazed that I was still pregnant. She said that I was a fighter, but I knew it was God who was fighting to keep me and my baby safe while increasing my faith and showing His power to those around me.
Later that morning the maternal-fetal medicine specialist told us that my placenta was slowly abrupting. Placental abruption is common in PPROM pregnancies since the uterus often starts contracting to accommodate the lower fluid levels. At that point I was put on continuous monitoring and I was unable to leave my bed except for bathroom breaks. I started having contractions again and this time the extra IV fluids did nothing. That night was a dark time for me. I was scared and in what seemed like unnecessary pain. Afterall, if I was having a C-section, shouldn’t I be able to skip out on the hard labor stuff?
Week 32 Day 5: C-Section Attempt #3
Friday morning, the doctor told me to prepare for a c-section that afternoon. She said she was going to stay to help with the delivery. It seemed like an answer to prayer since it meant that two of my favorite doctors would be performing the surgery. However, the doctor coming on duty had a different plan. She had been the doctor on duty when my water broke as well as when my placenta started abrupting. She again told me that I was a fighter and she wanted to wait and see what baby would do.
Is this Labor?
My contractions got closer together. The monitor often did not pick up the intensity of my contractions (probably because baby was so small and low), so the staff seemed unconcerned. When I told the nurse that I thought this might be the real thing, she called the doctor who increased my fluids and told me to keep emptying my bladder.
By bedtime the pain was unbearable, especially since I couldn’t move through the contractions very well while laying in bed. Eventually I was able to find a rhythm that made the contractions more bearable. I listened to my labor music playlists I had created on my phone and on YouTube and tried to focus on the words of God’s promises. I could feel God’s peace washing over me as I surrendered my cares and uncertainties to him. As much as I wish my husband could have been with me in those moments, I was learning to pray and depend on God for comfort and companionship.
33 Weeks: Yes, this is Labor!
At midnight I changed the week marker on my whiteboard to 33 weeks, one whole week from when the first doctor wanted to operate. Finally, after a bathroom break at 1:30 AM, I had 3 contractions 3 minutes apart. Then they came on top of each other. I called the nurse again and this time the doctor came too.
At 1:45 AM She checked me and announced that I was 3-4 cm dilated and told me it was time. I was shaking as I tried to call my husband. I told him that this was the real thing and that there wasn’t much time. He dropped Em off at my Mom’s house and then headed to the hospital.
Meanwhile the nurses prepped me for surgery between more bathroom breaks. They kept telling me not to push since baby was still breech. I had no intention of pushing since the image of a limb or a cord slipping out had been on my mind throughout the labor experience.
Delivery: God’s Perfect Timing
I was in the OR with the anesthesiologist preparing for the spinal tap when my husband arrived at 2:20 AM. I had intended to listen to my music during the surgery, but my bag had gotten put on a shelf so I could barely hear what my phone was playing. The doctor could hear it though and commented on how peaceful it was. As the doctor and her assistants were operating, my husband sat at my head and read some of my favorite Psalms as I called the chapters out. Throughout the days leading up to my delivery Psalm 71 and 91 had become especially meaningful to me.
God’s Comforting Truth
Psalm 71 begins with the writer praying that his trust in God not be put to shame. This had been my own cry in the times I felt my faith faltering.
Verse 6 says that God is the one who has taken us out of our mother’s wombs. This verse was a comfort to me because I knew God was the one ultimately in charge of when this baby would be born.
Psalm 91 speaks of God’s protection from fears and dangers.
Here are a few highlights:
Verse 3 helped me when I started to worry about disease and infection.
“Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”
Verse 4 reminded me that I needed to protect my mind with the truth of God’s word. It also reminded me that no trial can harm me when I am under God’s loving protection.
“He shall cover thee with his feathers and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
Verse 7 rang true when all the other antepartum patients delivered but I was still pregnant. And when the first doctor performed one c-section after another when my contractions stopped.
“a thousand shall fall at thy side . . . but it shall not come nigh unto thee.”
And verse 15 reminded me that God was with me through all my pain and sorrow and that he would use it for His glory.
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer Him: I will be with Him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
At 2:36 AM our baby girl was born and the wonderful sound of her crying filled our ears. We were able get a glimpse of her face before she was rushed off to NICU. Later my doctor told me that I was most likely completely dilated by the time I reached the OR. I had no doubts about the timing of my baby’s birth. It had God’s hand all over it.
A Redemptive Birth Story
The whole experience was very peaceful and healing for me. I had a long and stressful labor and delivery with Em. (I was contracting for a week without progress and hadn’t slept in 3 days by the time she was born.) Although the contractions still lasted several days this time, I was well rested and relaxed before the hardcore labor started. With Em’s birth, my contractions never properly regulated so I ended up needing pitocin. With this baby my labor progressed naturally. Although I delivered this baby via c-section, my body did everything but push the baby out on its own without intervention.
My sister and husband had both coached me through Em’s birth, but this time I learned to depend on God for support through my pain. With Em’s pregnancy and birth I clung religiously to natural methods and saw the hospital staff as the enemy. Throughout my 24 day hospital stay I learned to see them as God’s servants. I realized that He was ultimately in control of their decisions and actions.
With Em I wanted a perfect delivery which is impossible with an imperfect body in an imperfect world. With this baby, I prayed for a peaceful delivery and that is what God gave me. Peace does not come from my circumstances. I can only have God’s peace by resting in his promises- something I must fight to do every moment of every day.
A Story of Peace
Peace. That is why I call this baby my little Olive Leaf. I don’t share my children’s names on public internet spaces, but I can share the special meaning behind one of her names. The Olive leaf is a symbol of peace and prosperity.The first mention of the olive leaf in Bible was in the account of Noah and the worldwide flood. Noah’s story is special to me because this baby is a rainbow baby–a baby conceived after a loss (more on that story in this post). The term rainbow is used because rainbows come after a storm. The olive leaf was a symbol that the flood was over. When Jesus is my peace, I can escape from the waves of life’s storm and rest in Him. (You can read more about how I learned to rest in God’s peace during my high-risk pregnancy in this post.)
Right now we are in the storm of the NICU experience for the second time. (Em had some unexpected complications at birth and required a 5-day stay even though she was full term.) God has been very gracious and has allowed our Olive Leaf to grow and thrive without many complications up to this point. At the beginning she had a small air leak in her lung which quickly resolved. She was quickly weaned off of respiratory support and is now mostly stable at room temperature. Her oxygen level does still regularly drop below the preferred level. Although her oxygen has recently been high enough that it is not alarming to the doctors, we are praying that it will fully stabilize soon so that we don’t have to be concerned about it when she comes home. She has been eating well, but the staff still occasionally uses the feeding tube to help her get the rest of the milk that she doesn’t finish from her bottle.
I have been healing well from the surgery. Unfortunately I have been fighting a cold which has kept me from the NICU for several days. I think I am at the end of it though and hope to be able to visit her this weekend. Being separated and sick has been hard on my milk supply but thankfully I have been able to make enough for what she needs at this point.
Further Reading/ Listening
When God Writes a Better Birth Story Part 4: She’s Home from the NICU!
You can read the updates from my hospital stay on my Instagram account here.
You can read more posts about the lessons I learned throughout my high-risk pregnancy with Little Olive here!