The Before

The breeze was especially nice on May 15th, 2019. That Wednesday marked the day before my induction–the possible day of my baby’s birth. My heart was a little heavy because this was not the way I had planned on meeting our little one. Over the last nine months, I had prayed and prayed and prayed that God would allow me to give birth to my daughter as naturally as possible: a vaginal, unmedicated birth.

It wasn’t because I thought epidurals or inductions or cesarian sections are bad. I’m deeply grateful for all the tools we have to get our babies into this world safely. But something told me at the very beginning of this thing that I needed to do it without theIMG_1682.PNG medication. Call it a hunch. Call it paranoia. Whatever it was, it led me to research like I had never before, listen to hundreds of birth stories, and think through every aspect of what it could possibly be like. I had a birth plan drawn out. I had an incredible birth team set up. I had everything working in my favor.

And even still, my baby was a week and five days late already.

That day, I walked and prayed and prayed and walked through Centennial Park. I asked God to bring my baby before hospital time the next day. I asked Him to start my labor as soon as possible. I asked Him to bring my baby swiftly and safely. And behind it all, I asked Him for His will.

We put in every effort to naturally induce my body that night. Every effort. Each hour came and went just like the last, and before I knew it, it was time for bed. I laid down and whispered to my baby, “I love you, sweet girl. I get to see you very soon. I am so ready to meet you.”

After asking God for labor to start one more time, I closed my eyes. The next time I woke, it would be time to meet our girl. For the first time in two weeks, I felt at peace with the next step. My heart and body finally relaxed and drifted off to sleep.

The Beginning

And then it happened. An hour later I awoke to what I thought were stomach pains. I scurried to the bathroom. But these pains weren’t normal. They were coming regularly. They were intense.

Could this be it?

The last few weeks were full of fake-out contractions. They came nearly every day. They were sometimes even timeable. But they left every time, teasing me, sometimes torturing me, and always keeping me on my toes.

But these were different. I crawled back in bed and started my timer app. Forty-five seconds long and coming every five minutes.

This is it! I was sure of it.

Austin got up with me, and we moved to the living room where we practiced the techniques we had learned. I worked to relax my body through each wave and breathe through it, allowing each contraction to do its job and bring my daughter.

MUCH easier said than done, by the way.

For reference, I was told to come to the hospital when my contractions were four minutes apart and lasting one minute for at least an hour. They were at least that with one exception–they were sometimes 45 seconds. We called my parents and my doula and continued laboring, deciding to wait until the contractions were lasting one minute in length. I focused like I had never focused before. These were intense. Surely these were the real thing. Surely my body was bringing my daughter to me.

IMG_1683.PNGThen I woke up. Austin and I had fallen asleep around 5 am and woke up an hour later. Everything stopped. Or at least slowed significantly. My parents had arrived and were making themselves at home. We called the hospital to cancel the induction because clearly, something was happening. Instead, we headed into the midwives’ office. I had dilated, indeed. Three centimeters that night! But my contractions were much less intense. They were fifteen minutes apart and very inconsistent.

That pretty much defined the next two days. I went to bed that night, waking up regularly to breathe through the waves, but by the time we woke up on Friday, nothing seemed to have progressed. Back we trudged to the midwives’ office.

She checked me. Again. Oh, I had dilated alright–one-half centimeter.

Back we went to Centennial Park. I walked the stairs of the Parthenon replica. I watched as people stared at the poor pregnant lady trying to get her baby out. I started to notice that something was happening.

The contractions were coming. They were really coming this time. Three to five minutes apart and lasting at least a minute long. It was Friday afternoon. We came home. We called the doula. We prayed. We prepared to meet our girl.

The Bad

A little while later, my doula Vicki arrived at our home. Of course, as soon as she got there, my contractions spaced back out to six or seven minutes.

Do have performance anxiety?

But after a while, they were back with a vengeance. From 4 pm to 8 pm, we labored at home. I swayed on my birth ball. I laid in my bed. I leaned against the counter as Vicki did this amazing Doula rub down my back. It was heaven.

Then I had the contraction that got my attention. Four. Minutes. Long.

Hospital time! I announced.

We arrived when I was in between contractions and feeling pretty good. I was so excited to be in the place where we would meet our girl. My heart ached to hold her little feet in my hands, kiss her forehead, hear her cry for the first time. I could tell that the nurses at the front desk hardly believed I was in active labor when I smiled and said, “I’m in labor!”

We made our way to the triage room where I was checked by the midwife on call. I was sure I would be at least seven centimeters and gearing up for transitional labor, but as soon as I saw the look in my midwife’s eyes, I knew we were going to be waiting longer than I thought. I hadn’t dilated.

At this point, I had three choices: I could walk the halls of the hospital until I dilated more (meaning I was committing to another two hours without any sleep). I could be admitted even though my daughter had yet to drop into the birth canal (making the possibility of medication pretty real). Or I could go home on therapeutic rest. They would give me a shot of medicine that would help me sleep in between contractions, and *hopefully* the little bit of relaxing would push me into active labor.

So we packed back up and went home. That night was the hardest part of my labor. I was so glad to be in my bed, but when each contraction washed over me, I just wanted to be asleep. The three days were piling up on me. I didn’t see how I would ever be able to make it through hours and hours of labor like this.

So I prayed. Every time I woke up and breathed through the labor pains, I asked God to IMG_1684.PNGgive me strength beyond my natural capability. I asked Him to give my family peace as this was not the experience we had all planned on. I asked Him to help me sleep in between my contractions.

And friends, He did.

The next morning when I woke, I was still tired, but I felt new energy that I hadn’t in at least twelve hours. Maybe it was the sun peeking through our blinds. Maybe it was excitement as I was positive this would be my girl’s birthday. Mostly I think that the Lord had given me rest. I believe that in the one-minute increments between contractions, He gave me the best sleep of my life. I believe He gave my body new energy that would allow me to face the next nine hours.

Thank you, Jesus, for this renewal. I am so excited to meet the child You have for me. 

The Birth

We got settled into the hospital around 9 am, and thank you JESUS, they had a birth tub available.

My body contracted in the water. Weightlessness surrounded my belly. I floated as my mom held worship music next to my ear.

It felt like a dance. A painful dance, mind you. But with each note, I fell deeper and deeper into myself, giving into what the contractions felt like. They were helping my daughter move into place. They hurt, but they were bringing my girl.

Oh, and then the very best part. I went to labor in the bathroom for a little while, and behind me, I heard a familiar voice.

“Hey Lauren, I’m going to be your person today.”

My heart swelled.

My very favorite midwife walked in the room. Over the course of the last few weeks of my pregnancy, we had developed a bond. She had answered all my obsessive questions. She had been there to tell me that I was dilating for the first time. She hugged me as hormonal tears flowed on my due date. She was not the midwife on call, but she happened to be helping out that day, and she chose to spend it with me. I am forever grateful.

There is nothing better in birth than being surrounded by people who are special to you. Nothing better than feeling supported and loved. It is the most vulnerable and powerful thing I have ever experienced, and having one more person who I knew was in my corner was extraordinarily special.

Soon after, I was in transition and beginning to feel the brunt of my exhaustion again. My doula reminded me that I could still take nitrous oxide to which I gladly agreed. If you’re not familiar, it’s the laughing gas you might get at the dentist before the numb your mouth.

Y’all. It was the bomb.

Did I plan to give birth without it? yes. But that was part of the plan that went out the window. And I’m so glad it did. Again, I could rest in between contractions. I could ignore any stress that was happening in the room around me. I was focused on myself, my baby, and keeping that mask held tight to my face.

During these hours, I was fully immersed in labor land–fairly unaware of what was actually happening around me. My baby had still not dropped into the birth canal. My baby’s heart rate was bouncing around. My water was still intact, and I was at either eight or nine centimeters. There were two people in the room who were very familiar with natural birth: my midwife and my doula. They were not worried.

Everyone else–well let’s just say I was later told it was a pretty stressful environment.

Again, thank Jesus for nitrous oxide.

Then it all started happening. My water broke, my baby dropped into the canal, and soon enough, it was time to start pushing.

“Either this she is in a weird position, or we have got one big baby, ” my midwife remarked.

At this point, the nitrous was off and I was totally there. I felt every half centimeter that my baby moved down. I felt pressure like I never had before. This was it. This was the final stretch. One way or another, I would soon meet my baby.

Quick side note–my birth team was amazing. My doula knew just how to talk to me, rub my back, and remind me how to breathe. My midwife knew how to remind me that I was a superhero. My mom knew how to comfort me, and my husband knew how to do all of it. My sweet husband. He pushed himself a little too hard that day.

In between every pushing contraction, he ran to the other side of the room to get a cold rag. He made this his mission. The only problem is that he hadn’t really eaten or had water all day and he too hadn’t slept in three days. And down he went.

It was such a scene! My mom and doula running to me during contractions, helping me push, then running to him in between to make sure he was still conscious. My midwife encouraging us all the whole time.

The pressure built and built until I didn’t think it could anymore.

“Lauren, reach down and feel your baby’s head.”

I touched her for the first time. I didn’t know it, but I would forever cherish that squishy little touch. At that moment though, I was ready to get her out. Now.

They rolled Austin over to the foot of the bed and I locked eyes with him just before pushing our baby into the world.

Out came this small, purple, slimy, body with the weirdest shaped head I had ever seen. It was also the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

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The Beautiful

Eden Celeste Groves was born on May 18, 2019 at 3:18 pm. Or 3:19. That was a bit of a disagreement amongst the room.

There was a reason for Eden’s long, weird birth. She came out asynclitic (her head was turned sideways). It’s why I wasn’t dilating quickly. It’s why she wouldn’t drop into the birth canal. It’s why pushing took so long. It’s why our story happened like it did.

ACS_0065.JPGI won’t ever forget the sweet feel of her against my skin for the first time. She looked up at me with her little purple face and brown eyes, stuck out her bottom lip and let out the sweetest, smallest cry I had ever heard. That was her voice. Her cry. My Eden’s cry. It was the beginning of the best season of my life thus far.

I won’t ever forget looking into my husband’s glassy eyes. I won’t ever forget how he mouthed, “thank you”.

You’ll recall that at the beginning of our story, I’d felt almost a conviction to give birth without much intervention. I’m sure this was why. Most asynclitic babies cannot drop into the birth canal. It was because I could move around so much that we were able to birth her vaginally.

I spent the next few weeks floating on the birth high. I was so thankful that God had given me just enough foreknowledge to know there was a reason I should be fighting for a natural birth. I was so thankful that we were actually able to follow through.

But most of all, I was thankful to be holding my little love. I was thankful she was healthy. I am aware that’s not everyone’s story.

Birth is a beautiful thing–however it happens. Whether Eden came into the world via C-Section, vaginally, at the hospital, in the car, with an epidural, or however God planned it, it is just the way God brought her here. All our stories are special because they are how God gave us our babies.

May 18, 2019 was both the hardest and sweetest day of my life. It was the day Austin and0ED662AF-12E0-42C4-A1E2-DFF0B03C68B7.JPG I took on new roles together, the day we became one in an even more intimate way. It was the day we first felt the brunt of sacrificing for your child. I am so thankful for God’s presence that day. I am so thankful He loves us enough to have made us the parents of this child.

His grace was sufficient. His power was made perfect. His children saw His face a little more clearly. He was with us the whole time. With us on our journey to meet our girl. Our journey to Eden.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thank you so much for stopping by to read Eden’s birth story! I hope her story can be an encouragement to someone out there. It was hard. But so incredibly worth it. If you have a story, I would love to hear all about it! Comment how God worked through your birth story or contact us so we can celebrate His goodness alongside you or encourage you. Or if you are expecting, let us know your due date and desires for your birth so we can be praying. 

God is so good. Parenting is the most rewarding journey so far. We can’t wait to continue sharing it with you. 

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