I wrote this several months ago but haven’t had the nerve to push publish until a friend anticipating a baby asked about my experience recently. This is more personal than I would normally share with the big vast world, but after Marley was born I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to share my story. I don’t know for who or why, just that I felt really compelled to share it. So please, if you read it (and yes I know it’s looong!) just know this is my story, my experience, my opinions, but yours are yours and that’s great! Birth, labor, delivery, the whole process, are amazing and such a special event and I applaud women throughout the world for bringing all these angels into the world in the way they feel best about.
If you’d rather not read this novel you can watch the much shorter, beautiful 3 minute video Colby made here.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Our sweet little angel, Marley Rae was born almost a week ago and I’ve been wanting to write all the details and blessings of her birth. Already I feel like the sweet tender mercies are drifting from the freshness of my memory like tendrils of dust in the sunlight.
Marley’s entire entrance into this world, beginning even before her conception, was a gift, a miracle, a blessing, and a great growing and healing experience that I am so very grateful for.
Dreams. Frustration. Resolve. Determination.
Once Crew turned one we stopped preventing conception knowing we wanted another child. Also knowing that I wanted my health to be better than it had been through the brutal pregnancy and delivery of Crew, I began investing more time and effort into my health. I started doing acupuncture regularly feeling certain it would help my body along the right path to health and eventually conception. However, like with the years before Zoe, month after month after month went by with no success of conceiving. At first I felt unconcerned and patient knowing the timing would work out as it was intended, but as the months turned into more than a year I began to get agitated and frustrated. I knew my desire was a good and selfless desire — I wanted to bring another sweet angel to this earth and to our family and yet try as we may nothing seemed to be working. The circumstances were different than before we had Zoe too. Before Zoe I wasn’t a mom and I didn’t know what it was like to be a mom. I was a teacher and I loved it. I was so very fulfilled in my role, and even what I considered a “calling”, as a teacher that it filled any void I felt about not getting pregnant for nearly four years. This time around I was in full-time mom mode and the yearning to ‘be made a mom again’ was strong. I knew there was at least one sweet spirit waiting and the more months that passed the more frustrated and confused I felt that things weren’t working out. I continued my health endeavors with questionable success and progress. Migraines continued to ravage my life, my digestion had seriously struggled and deteriorated ever since having Crew and then getting Giardia in Mexico when he was 8.5 months old, my sleep was poor at best; abysmal and non-existent at worst, and each day I woke to a body that hurt. I trudged on with resolve and determination but there were many pain-filled days and tear-filled nights.
Change. Vision. Belief. Sacrifice.
In May of 2017 Colby and I took a quick trip to California for our anniversary. We both talked about feelings of change that we felt coming. We didn’t know what they foretold but we both felt them independent of one another. A few weeks later Colby’s company unexpectedly announced they were shutting down operation and life took a turn. We felt peace and grateful for the promptings we had received in preparation. Sometime in that process we both reread the book The Jack Rabbit Factor with the purpose of reevaluating and fine-tuning our goals and desires. Colby read it with the eyes and heart of a provider and I read it with the eyes and heart of a struggling, sick mom yearning for health and another baby. I renewed my determination to heal and improve my health and committed my goal to conceive another baby to paper. I think it was around July 1st that I wrote in my journal, following the pattern laid out in the book, that I would conceive by October 1st, just 3 months away. A renewed energy and determination buzzed through me as I committed myself to believing that my vision would come true, but there was apprehension and nervousness too about the possibility that it might not and facing the devastation I would face if I was disappointed. In the meantime I renewed my health efforts listening and looking for answers and promptings I so desperately needed. I began going to see my mom’s friend Moana who does what’s called Ortho-Bionomy. I first saw her when my sleep problems were at an all-time high. Within just a few times of seeing her my sleep began to improve. I also continued acupuncture occasionally and worked to process emotional issues as they surfaced. July and August both passed yielding negative pregnancy tests and my anxiety that maybe my vision and goal wouldn’t pan out began to increase. Around that time I felt compelled to switch doctors, partially because I was having difficulty getting through to my beloved midwife, Gretchen,’s office, halting any progress on the fertility efforts we had decided to pursue. Dr. Spencer was recommended several times by several different people so I nervously decided to make the switch. On my first visit with him I was very touched and impressed by how much time he spent with me (around 45 minutes or so) and how he listened intently. I could tell that his approach to health was more of a medical one than I would generally pursue and yet I felt peace that we might be able to find a middle ground that would work. I explained that we had been trying to conceive for 20 months and that I hadn’t had a period in months. He put me on Clomid and I nervously agreed to give it a try feeling like maybe it was what my body needed to reset. I also felt compelled to try Kangen water again, something I had tried several years earlier and discounted. Despite the $5000 price tag we decided it was an investment we felt we should make. As October 1st approached I grew increasingly nervous, knowing I was about to either be devastated and heart-broken, or celebrating a miracle. On September 27th, after crying to Colby the night before about my mixed emotions, I took a pregnancy test and was elated and also in total disbelief to see that it was positive for the first time in just under two years. We were having a baby!!!
Those first few weeks I was totally overwhelmed with gratitude, joy and disbelief that my dream came true. My health was definitely improved too, but no where near where I hoped. As the pregnancy settled in so did the headaches and migraines. I continued to see Moana and she suggested that she thought I might be a “psychic sponge” absorbing the energy and emotions of others. When she explained it I immediately knew it was true. I could see evidence and patterns of it all through my life. She helped give me some tips to cope and better shield myself and I learned to identify when I was absorbing the emotions and energy of other people. She also suggested I see another friend of my Mom’s, Iris Cox. Iris helped me work through some emotional and energetic issues and also suggested that allergies seemed to be big contributors to the problems going on in my body. She specifically pin-pointed gluten, dairy, sugar and chocolate after muscle testing me. This was interesting because Dr. Craig Buhler, a chiropractor I saw in the brutal first several months of Crew’s pregnancy had suggested the same thing. I had tried eliminating those things and seen little improvement. This time I was determined to give it a better shot. Within a week of eliminating them my digestion was greatly improved. That was enough to motivate me to keep it up even though it was difficult being pregnant, hungry, and nauseous and unable to eat just about every comfort food you can think of. It was a real challenge at an already challenging time but it seems like that’s when we’re asked to prove ourselves and what we’ll really give and do for what’s important to us. In hindsight it seems like a small thing, but at the time it wasn’t. I also worried those first few months because I bled several times in the first and second trimester and was scared I might lose that sweet little baby. I continued with my diet and by about 20 weeks into the pregnancy I finally began to feel gradually better. By the time I got to the 3rd trimester I felt so good and energized and so grateful for my improved health that I have no doubt that eliminating those things out of my diet helped my body. Now it seems like a small sacrifice for a big reward.
As Marley’s arrival approached Colby and I both had really good feelings that she would come quickly and smoothly and I embraced that hope. Several other people seemed to suggest the same thing. I could feel my body preparing for her arrival and felt confident about it several weeks beforehand. But then there were several nights of prodromal labor and I began to fear that my body was going back to old patterns and maybe I was going to repeat the experience I had had with Crew. Fear began to take hold and I began to doubt that my body could do it. The closer her due date came the more I vacillated between faith and fear. A week and a half before her due date Dr. Spencer asked me what I wanted to do — he seemed of the opinion that my body was ready and he was willing to induce me anytime after 39 weeks. I knew I wanted to let nature take its course and felt (at that time) confident that it would so I set a date to be induced if she hadn’t come 3 days after her due date, not really thinking it would come to that, but feeling peace about the date I chose anyway if it did. As mine and Dr. Spencer’s differences in philosophy and health approaches were contrasted again at such a monumental time I mourned the choice I had made to leave Gretchen, who I love, and whose approach aligns more closely with my own. I wondered if I had made the right decision and wondered if I was going to regret it. I sent Gretchen a message to let her know that I loved her and would miss having her there and I think I needed that closure. She seemed to appreciate it as well.
“Don’t look around, look up.”
Well, Marley’s due date came and went and people bolstered my hope that she would come on her own and I genuinely believed that with a deadline drawn she would decide to make her debut. But Wednsday, June 6th, three days past her due date I woke up and she hadn’t! I was so conflicted, torn and confused. I had had two blessings and felt peace about the timing and the date I had selected and really hoped she would come on her own. I wondered if I should postpone the induction two more days to Friday (Dr. Spencer wouldn’t do it on Saturday or Sunday, and wouldn’t allow me to go past a week overdue) but even then I knew I ran the chance that she might not come on her own and I would be back in the very same boat. I asked the advice of my sisters and mom, but even as I did I had a nagging reminder in my mind from a lesson I taught several weeks ago in Young Womens. I had drawn an image in my journal that said “Don’t look around, look up.” I really valued the advice I got from my sisters but it was in total opposition to the advice I got from the Dr. and nurse when I called and explained that I was on the fence about going through with the induction that day. That just left me more confused and torn. I knew I needed to give it back to God. So I went in the bathroom, cried my heart and eyes out and explained my confusion, fear and concern. Almost immediately I felt the Spirit whisper to me to trust the promptings I had received. Once again I remembered the feelings of peace I had felt about her coming quickly and my body being able to do it and the peace I felt about the date I selected a week and a half earlier. It gave me the reassurance I needed so I called the dr. back and told them to still plan on it and those few hours beforehand I felt a calm, quiet peace. I felt grateful that Dr. Spencer had been supportive when I expressed my desire to have him break my water rather than start me on Pitocin, despite the fact that it’s not the conventional route. He encouraged me to explain that desire to the hospital staff when they called to schedule the induction the night before and explained that it would need to happen later in the day rather than the early morning. This was a blessing because I would not have been emotionally ready for the induction if it had been scheduled at 7 or 8am. I was also grateful for the morning to spend time with my kids and say goodbye rather than be rushing to the hospital.
We dropped Zoe and Crew off at Bek’s house around 11:30 and then headed up to McKay Dee in Ogden. Once there I suggested we take the stairs to the 4th floor, still hoping maybe my water would break or something on its own. Haha. We asked one of the receptionists where the stairs were and she looked a little incredulous and was like “are you sure that’s a good idea?” haha and I said “I didn’t want to be induced, so definitely!” But taking the stairs two at a time at a quick pace didn’t do the trick. Once there they had us wait for a little bit in the waiting area. Some friendly grandparents were awaiting the arrival of a grandbaby and were in disbelief when we told them this was our third baby. They were certain it was our first.
We got checked in around 12:30, then settled and changed in the delivery room. I brought a robe of my own that helped me not feel quite so much like a patient in a hospital gown. To my slight disappointment, when the nurse first checked me I was dilated to a 4 and 80% effaced, the same I had been when Dr. Spencer last checked me. He arrived around 2pm and broke my water. I was surprised by the quantity and warmth of the water I felt come gushing out. The next few hours passed uneventfully and my head hurt a bit, I think partially from the emotional anxiety and tears I cried that morning, so since nothing was happening I declared that I wanted to take a nap. After a quick rest for me and some food for Colby and others I felt energized and motivated to get things going. Colby and I started pacing the halls around 4pm. We had until 6pm for labor to start on it’s own before they would start me on Pitocin and I was still hopeful and determined that if my body could, I wanted it to do it on it’s own. Around 5pm and several laps around the halls with no progress I knew it was time to give my body a nudge so I rubbed my nipples briefly to try to get things going. Well, it worked and it didn’t take much! Much to our surprise contractions started right up and unlike other times they continued pretty regularly on their own. I was so delighted! Haha! When the nurse came to check me at 6pm and update Dr. Spencer with my progress I was even more excited to find that I had progressed to a 5.5cm, still 80% effaced, but the baby was lower than before. That meant I didn’t have to do Pitocin and I didn’t need to be monitored continuously either, making roaming around and bouncing on the ball much easier. I was so grateful, relieved and happy! My body was doing it!
Believe. Love. Do.
We paced the halls some more, stopping once each lap as the contractions took over and Colby pushed on my back to ease the pain, but much to my chagrin, and the nurse’s, I had progressed little by 7pm. I was about a 6cm. She said Dr. Spencer said we would need to start Pitocin if things didn’t progress in the next 45 minutes or so. She unhooked my monitors so I could move about freely again and once she left I got emotional because I knew what was stalling things; I was scared. The excitement and elation had passed and I was on the verge of a very terrifying cliff. I’ve been through birth unmedicated before. I know what transition feels like and it was coming. I also remember, even if only foggily, what it was like to push for an hour and a half unmedicated and not be successful in getting Crew out on my own. I was absolutely terrified of repeating that experience. I cried and Colby and my mom consoled and reassured me.
My mom helped me shift my focus away from the fear and to the baby waiting in the wings for me. She encouraged me to embrace this new experience and let it be different. Her words resounded with truth and I knew I needed to step off the ledge trusting in what awaited me on the other side. I knew I wanted to embrace faith and not fear, so I did. I pushed the fear aside, I got off the bed and I moved to the birthing ball. I channeled my energy to the little angel inside me and rallied our strength and energy together. I knew we needed to be a team. And things went fast after that.
The contractions got really intense and seemed really close together. My focus started to get hazy as all I could focus on was the intensity and pain of the contractions. I breathed with each one and envisioned my cervix thinning and opening and breathed Marley downwards with each contraction. At one point I had the overwhelming sense that there was an entire band of angels surrounding us bringing Marley from the other side. I could feel their very real love and support and it buoyed me up. Not a moment later my mom said that she had been emotional when she saw Marley’s furniture in her bedroom because it looked just like her sister Carolyn’s, (who passed away at the age of 19) and she felt that Carolyn would be bringing Marley. I was touched that we both felt the support and love of family on the other side at the same time.
Within moments I had two really strong contractions almost on top of one another and I said “I think I can feel her head!” It realized then “I think I just went through transition.” I felt a bit relieved to know I was close to being done but also nervous knowing what lay ahead. Someone went to get the nurse and Colby and my mom helped me get on the bed. I saw the clock on the wall as I climbed in and it said 8:00pm. I remember thinking “that would be awesome if this baby was born by 8:30. I can make it a half hour.” The nurse came in to check me and once again everything was mostly a blur as the contractions demanded almost all my focus. I heard her shout “she’s complete!” with surprise and felt a bustle all around me as they scrambled to get a team of nurses in place. I heard people telling other people to call people and bore down for each contraction as the urge to push started to take over. A young female doctor, on-call for the hospital, came in and introduced herself. Immediately I was flooded with relief and gratitude. I knew her presence was an answer to my prayers. Gretchen couldn’t be there, but the calming female energy that I was sad to have left could. One of the nurses said “she’s complete and getting pushy” and began to pull the stirrups out, but gently the young doctor stopped her and said “Wait. Emily, this is your experience, how do YOU want to do this? Some of my patients who go unmedicated push on their backs, some like to push on their hands and knees, and some like to push… (another way I can’t remember, maybe on their side?)” As soon as she suggested pushing on my hands and knees it felt like the right way. Fear had gripped me a little bit as I got on the bed and remembered the back pain, migraine and intensity of being dilated to 10cm and pushing with Crew for so long and I remembered my mom’s advice to let this be a different experience. I began pushing on my hands and knees. I don’t remember who was around me or where everyone was, but I remember saying “I need some pressure on my back!” and the dr. responding immediately and saying “how’s this?” and it was exactly what I needed. I could also feel the nurse pushing on the monitor on the front of me and the combination of the two were very helpful and supportive. Colby was reiterating loving supportive words of encouragement and my Mom kept motivating me to channel and focus my energy like when I was a kid playing soccer and determinedly chasing the ball down the field. I did a few big pushes and the intensity of her head emerging is beyond the description of words. At one point I could feel that her head was partially out but the contraction was past. Waiting for the next one on my hands and knees with her head stretching me to that point seemed excruciating. I knew that she was out with the next one though. And in no time she was out and I sank to the bed in exhaustion and watched as Dr. Spencer, who had arrived literally 3 minutes before she was delivered held her between my legs. I felt so completely taxed, but so totally present and relieved it was over. It was 8:18. EIGHTEEN minutes from the time I got off the ball and to the bed and she was born. That is amazing and everything and more than I could have asked or hoped for. It was painful and intense beyond description and yet blessed beyond words too.
In the few days that followed Marley’s birth and entrance into the world there was one word to describe how I felt; grateful. I was absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude. My eyes would wet just thinking about it and still do. After such a long journey and so many trials it felt like I could finally look back and see how the stars were aligning and my prayers were being answered. There were so many blessings. I wore my grateful heart shirt for the 2 days after she was born because I couldn’t bring myself to change it because it felt too fitting for how my heart felt — so full of gratitude, and not just to God for the many answered prayers, but to all the people along the way who helped be the answer to those prayers. For Marley, who I thought I was being patient waiting for, when in all actuality, I think she was actually patiently waiting for me to be ready and put the puzzle together and begin healing — and her large part in my healing. For Colby who has always supported me unfailingly in my journey and is never a skeptic. For my mom who was there to champion me to the finish line during Marley’s birth. For Dr. Roberts, the young female doctor I had been praying for and didn’t know I was praying for, for Lauren, the delivery nurse, whose calm demeanor put me at ease after the nurse before, who was awkward and tried to ease the awkwardness with off-humor, for Bek, who watched my kids for me and sent oils and instructions with me — something else I had a prayer in my heart for, and for all the angels that banded around us all to bring Marley.
Welcome to the world sweet angel. Marley Rae you are a ray of light from heaven and we are so happy you’re here.
Lessons I learned:
Trust the promptings you receive
Walk by faith, not fear
Be present in the moment
Embrace the support and let others help you
Rejoice with gratitude
Feel the sweet spirit fresh from heaven
Let new experiences be their own
Open yourself up to the support of those around you. Don’t retreat in fear. Lean on them.
Channel only positive energy and thoughts. Banish all negativity.
Celebrate and appreciate your body.
Communicate with it. Give it instructions, love and thanks.
Work with your baby.
Birth can be a spiritual experience. Feel it.
Answers to prayers:
My body did it all on its own besides having my water broken!And it responded to the time limits set (will need to start pitocin at 6…7… etc. That would be amazing if she was here by 8:30)
A female doctor was there!
It all went quick
Marley is healthy
My recovery has been so smooth
I didn’t have to have any drugs!
I was able to labor upright
It was a totally different experience than Crew’s birth
I had considered trying to use some essential oils but felt out of my element and ran out of time — Bek sent her oils with instructions
Dr. Spencer supported me getting my water broken instead of using pitocin