Jan 24, 2011

The Story.

Many of you have asked about Aliza's birth.  Well, it was unique.  Nate says I got the worst of two worlds. :)  But I love how it happened. And he really does, too.  And I'm so happy with how things went:

(I'll be pretty blunt with the vocab, just so you know....)

I came into this pregnancy with two c-sections.  With Malia, my water broke but I didn't progress, so I had to be induced.  All I ever felt of contractions before I got the epidural were pitocin ones.  I never felt any natural progression of labor.  After a long period of labor and Malia's heart rate dropping a few times, we ended up with a c-section.  (The last heart rate drop was pretty long and scary and hard to get back to normal.)

Josie was scheduled c-section.  We had thought about a VBAC but decided that we'd go ahead with the c-section.  Everything went normally.

Aliza's Pregnancy:
At the beginning, we again considered a VBAC.  Having two c-sections in my history made it more difficult.  Most doctors won't do that.  My doctor (who is wonderful, in my opinion) was supportive of my desires and gave me the name of a doctor in Wichita who would help me do it.  In the Manhattan hospital (where he delivers) he told me he would be required (for insurance purposes) to induce me if I wanted to do a VBAC.  Which he was willing to do, but it would put me back at starting with an induced labor.  Not what I was hoping for.  I really wanted to experience natural labor.  Or at least some of it.  I just wanted to know what it felt like.  And if I thought it was safe, maybe even deliver vaginally.  I didn't want to be induced.  I also visited with my friend Rachel about some midwife options that we considered.  But given our busy time of life, we decided we didn't want to travel out of town to do all of our prenatal care/appointments.  So we decided to just go ahead with a c-section.  We scheduled it for January 14th.

Until...my doctor made an off hand comment.  We were talking about the date of the 14th and he reminded me that there was no pressure to schedule if I didn't want to.  He said it was totally fine for me to wait until I went into labor naturally and then came in for a c-section.  Just so I could know that God, not me, chose the timing of birth.  (My doctor goes to my church.  Thought that would be weird...but it's not.)  Then he added..."But...I will warn you, some women do that and then come into the hospital at a 7.  At that point I just tell them that it might be better to go ahead with a vaginal delivery."  What I thought was "Hmmm.  That sounds like just what I'd want to happen.  That would be awesome!"

So, at my next appointment I was pretty direct with him and just asked him what he thought about me laboring at home, trying to get far along, with the intent of coming in far enough along so that a VBAC would be possible.  I told him I didn't want to do anything he thought was stupid/risky.  And I didn't want do anything that was shady/trying to work around the system.  He was so, so supportive of the idea, which blew me away.  He told me he thought I was a good/safe candidate and that he was totally willing to let me try that.  We had several conversations about it and felt on the same page.  He even gave me a card that I was supposed to give the nurses when I came in telling them to call him, so he would come.  He knew that if he wasn't there, the other doctors probably wouldn't let me try for a VBAC, but just usher me to the surgical room.

As time passed, I just couldn't decide what I really wanted to happen.  Both options (c-section and VBAC) presented different risks and different benefits.  I felt unable to really know which was "best" for Aliza and me.  I felt like I needed to have a "plan" but it just seemed so difficult to make one.  What we finally settled on as our plan was: Nate and I would try to labor at home for as long as we could.  When we went into the hospital, we would let our doctor help us evaluate what was best based on how far along I was.  I knew that never having been through labor before, I wouldn't have a good idea of how far along I was until I got to the hospital.  So in a way, this put things in God's hands and took the pressure off of me deciding which route to go.

Aliza's Birth:
The 14th came:
5:00am - contractions woke me up and kept me up, but I stayed in bed, wriggling around through them.
7:00am - got up and contractions let up.  The day felt kind of normal, but there was this thing in the back of my mind saying "I think this could be the day".
3:00pm - contractions picked up again, some more intense than others
4:00pm - went to visit my friend Joanna who was watching the Classen kiddos - while with her, I had some contractions that I couldn't sit still through and had to stop talking
5:30 - 7:00pm - My father-in-law came for dinner.  Contractions picked up in frequency.  I was having them about every 7 minutes, some not too bad, some I couldn't talk through.  I had to leave the room a few times - I was trying to be discreet.  But Nate and I were also talking like "I think this could be the night."  Father-in-law goes on home to Topeka.  
At this point, Nate tells me: "I have to tell you something.  I learned earlier today that [our doctor] is out of town."  What??  We text our friend who is with him to ask when they are returning...Sunday afternoon.  Oh crap.  What that means is that, if this is real labor, I'm going to have this baby before he returns.  Which means a VBAC is nearly impossible.  The only way that my doctor could deliver is if this is false labor and it stops and comes back later.
7:00 - 9:00pm - Contractions are coming every 2-3 minutes.  Most of them are the more intense kind.  Some I could still talk through if I walked them off.  I was really craving cookies so we start making chocolate chip cookies.
9:00 - 10:00pm - eating cookies.  I sit down and my contractions, though still intense, become less frequent.  This was confusing.  Is it false labor?  We try to go to bed.  Um....ain't happenin' for me.  Contractions are a BEAST lying down.  I get up and look online, read my Bible, and pray, unsure of what to do.  
Jan. 15th, 1:00am - I figure, if this is real, then there is really no reason for me to wait if a c-section is going to happen no matter when I go in.  The contractions are REALLY hurting at this point so I wake up Nate and say..."it's time."
1:05am - call Nate's parents - they come back to Manhattan.
2:00am - drive to the hospital
3:16am - Aliza is born! via c-section.  The other OBGYN who goes to our church was actually the doctor on call and she did my surgery, which was a great blessing.

The bummer in the deal....I didn't ask them to check me and tell me how far along I was!!!  After all of that work, I don't even know how far I made it!  But Aliza came out with a ridge on her head and cone-headed which meant she made it into the birth canal.  And given how long I labored I think I at least made it a decent part of the way into the process.  

So Nate says I got the worst of both worlds - labor with no meds...and surgery. :)  But I'm so, so glad that I got to experience that.  Maybe I wasn't in the moment, but now I am!  And God clearly led us by beginning labor while our doctor was gone.  That made the answer pretty obvious.

So there's the story.  If you've made it this far, I feel loved. :)  Thanks for reading.


  1. Oh Erika, I am so encouraged by your attitude toward everything. There is no doubt all of these things were arranged by God. You have now had EVERY labor experience! I miss you and can't wait to come and visit soon 'once the pass opens'(name that musical:). Love, love, love you guys!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I loved the story. Part of me is really sad I never got to experience myself go into labor too so I get it.

  3. Nanette11:08 PM

    Thank you, Lord, for keeping my baby girl and her baby girl safe and healthy through pregnancy/labor/delivery.

  4. Erika, thank you so much for posting this! I love the peace and joy you have about Aliza's birth. And I love how much choice you had in the matter. I bet your cervix was pretty dilated by the time you got to the hospital -- you did such good work, laboring all day! :) And I bet it was really good for Aliza, too.

  5. Anonymous10:08 AM

    Rejoicing with you in God's perfect timing and the way He orchestrated the birth events and your and baby Aliza's health and safety. Thanks for sharing! Love, Priscilla

  6. i made it all the way to the end...you are loved! such a great story! enjoy these days!

  7. Congratulations!! I've been out of town (and away from a computer) so I hadn't realized she was here. It's a great story, and it's always good to know that God is in control of it all. Love to you and the family!

  8. what I think is hilarious is that you were bummed that you never knew how far you got...i'm assuming you and nate were comparing to see who could guess the closest to the number without going over (you know, price-is-right-style) so the not-knowing is murder! you are so competitive sometimes! cracks me up. love ya, see you saturday!

  9. What an awesome story! Way to go girl!

  10. beautiful story. i didn't know about any of your labor with your past girls. it is remarkable to get to feel real contractions for the first time without pitocin. this story almost made me want to get pregnant again... bless you, girl.

  11. Thanks for posting your story, Erika! I've been wanting to hear all about it. Labor and delivery are such a bonding time for husband and wife. I'm so glad husbands get to be so involved now and aren't shut out of the process!! Jenni, I think that would be a quote from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!

  12. I LOVE reading labor stories...thanks for sharing yours!

  13. thanks so much for sharing your story! maya's delivery was pitocin hell for many hours with no epidural (crazy--why did i do that?!). then an epidural. no progression. c-section. i totally get wanting to experience labor. every time we see a birth scene in a movie (which is suprisingly often) i feel a little bit like i didn't really "deliver" maya and wish i had gotten to have natural labor. don't know if vbac's are even an option where we live, but next time we would love the chance to choose like you guys did. great story!