I cannot believe I gave birth to Honor 9 weeks ago. Time has flown by so quickly. As I shared before, Honor came exactly two weeks early. Her birth coincided with just the beginning of this pandemic. Although it was earlier than we thought, she came right on time. Read more to find out how!
For the few weeks leading up to delivery, I was experiencing higher-than-normal blood pressure readings. In addition, Honor’s heart rate had not been as healthy all the time (since our December visit to the labor & delivery unit (“L&D”), her heart rate kept dropping unexplainably).
I went to my 36 weeks appointment. My doctor ordered that I also do weekly non-stress tests (“NSTs”) to continue monitoring the baby’s heart rate. Her heart rate dipped very low and did not have any accelerations. I was thus promptly sent to L&D. Joshua had to stay home with Raegan since the hospital had a policy prohibiting visitors under aged 18 during flu season.
The L &D doctor diagnosed me with gestational hypertension, a precursor for preeclampsia. The doctor told me that patients with gestational hypertension are induced between 37 and 38 weeks. I immediately panicked (on the inside) since we were not prepared! I had been working for weeks to get the baby’s room prepared, clothes washed and put up, hospital bags packed, car seat installed, etc., but still was not done. Joshua, Reagan, and I worked so hard even though I felt exhausted and swollen — I could not fit anything comfortably except leggings and one oversized shirt. Once discharged, I pushed hard to get everything done.
At my 37 weeks appointment, my blood pressure was still elevated, so my own doctor also felt that I had gestational hypertension and wanted to induce me right away.
Joshua and I wanted to wait to allow family to drive in to care for Raegan, so he and I agreed on coming in for a NST and ultrasound that weekend and then being induced that Monday.
At that point, I went into hyper-mode with nesting. I had more energy those last three days than the entire pregnancy. I finished up packing bags, cleaning up the house, finished up her nursery, and washed and styled Raegan’s hair (since I knew I would not be up for doing her waist-length hair while recovering from childbirth).
3 days before
I was preparing my home but also my heart, especially since just that week our Governor issued the nation’s first shelter-in-place order. Here is an excerpt from my journal entry on March 20th:
“With everything going on, I have a choice to either walk in fear or peace. I choose peace. I am not scared of the Coronavirus, even with the Governor now mandating a lock-in. I am sad that it affects Raegan being able to come to the hospital to see the baby or even my family visiting. In keeping with my revelation that You are doing a new thing, and to forget the past, I have surrendered my expectations. I expected to labor at home, spontaneously, and in April. Now I have been diagnosed with gestational hypertension and will have to be induced on Monday…, exactly 38 weeks.”
2 days before
My dad, stepdad, and two stepsisters drove in from San Antonio all in one day that Saturday. Thus, I did not head into L&D for my NST and ultrasound that Saturday, and decided to go on Sunday.
1 day before – “Labor” Day
On Sunday, we had church via livestream since a stay-at-home order went into effect just that week. After church, I then cooked brunch for everyone. Joshuas was at work since it was his last day of his work week.
Later on, my family dropped me off at the hospital for my NST and ultrasound. Joshua met us in the parking deck. I brought my labor ball just in case my doctor decided that I should just stay for the inducement, and Joshua already had our bags in the car.
Meeting up with Joshua in the parking deck, hoping they would go ahead and induce me!
We went up to L&D , and no one was there except for me. After I checked in, the nurse walked me back to be monitored. As I waited in the hallway while she checked on a room, who should round the corner but my doctor and her resident (this resident had seen in L&D on a number of occasions)! My doctor asked me if I wanted to be induced right then and there, since I was already at the hospital the evening before my scheduled induction. Of course, I wanted to be induced, and thought it made sense to stay and be admitted for labor. I wanted to go ahead and start, but I wanted Joshua to be in agreement. He was talking to some charge nurses, so I called him over and he agreed. From there, they took me and Joshua back to the delivery room to begin the induction process.
It felt very surreal to be taken back to the delivery room, even though that is what I was hoping for. Joshua went to the car to get our bags. We accidentally left our camera at home!
I switched into my delivery gown. We spoke to the resident, and we all decided that we would start with a membrane sweep and then insert a foley bulb.
Joshua and I set the atmosphere for God to move in this situation. We began playing our birth playlist from our phone (since our speaker we brought wouldn’t pair over Bluetooth) and began reading my Scripture cards aloud.
We started the induction right before 7:00 p.m., right before Joshua’s shift ended. The membrane sweep was very painful. Then they inserted the foley bulb, and that too was very painful process for me! was uncomfortable to have it in at first. They asked if I wanted an epidural and I declined.
Then, my contractions became very strong and kept coming close together, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes apart.
My blood pressure was being continuously monitored, plus I was induced and had the foley bulb, so I was not able to labor in the shower as I planned. I tried to use techniques like having Joshua push on my back and hips, and I also began to make noises to help me. Joshua also used tennis balls to massage me.
The contractions began to be so strong and so frequent that I could not catch a break. I also felt like I was losing my common sense — the contractions were very intense, so intense that I could not think rationally. On top of that, my blood pressure continued to rise with each reading, which happened to coincide with each contraction! The doctors expressed concern that my blood pressure continued to rise and that I may need a c-section. I became very anxious, which I am sure did not help my blood pressure. My blood pressure reached pre-eclampsia levels! I was so worried about my blood pressure and a seemingly impending C-section, something I personally did not want! Plus, my contractions were so painful and my right hip was bothering me (something I had been experiencing during pregnancy and was hoping my chiropractor appointments would help). Joshua suggested that I get some form of pain relief because it would lower my blood pressure. I declined because I wanted a natural birth!
I wanted a natural birth when I had Raegan nearly 8 years ago, but I was really not prepared for it. I had back labor and was in so much pain. I learned at my labor and delivery class that back labor would mean a slower, longer, and more painful labor, and that was my experience with Raegan. When I was admitted into the L&D unit during my labor with Raegan, I wanted and received an epidural. It worked, at first. Then my labor began to stall, so I was given Pitocin. After that, my epidural began to wear off! My contractions overcame the epidural, so the doctors increased my dosage! However, that dosage was so strong that I could not feel anything. I was too numb to even push her, which resulted in me needing a vacuum to deliver her. I was elated when I saw her, and was so overcome with such a strong love for her that I burst into overjoyed tears. I wish that I did not take the epidural or Pitocin back then, and it felt like I “had a baby” instead of “gave birth,” but I forgot about everything once I saw my baby girl!
My experience with Raegan came back afresh in my mind during my pregnancy with Honor, and was a very vivid memory while I was in labor with Honor. In the end, I began I began to cry and leaned over on the bed. Joshua leaned with me, and I began to pray. I cried and asked the Lord what should I do, as my blood pressure was rising, I did not want a c-section, and I did not want pain intervention like my previous delivery, even though my contractions were just about unbearable.
I heard God say, “You want peace.” I said, “Yes” in my spirit. I wanted a peaceful birth experience more than a natural birth. I knew then that an epidural was the best idea, and it confirmed what my husband suggested that I do.
I asked them to remove the foley balloon and for an epidural, and the anesthesiologist came in like 5 or 10 minutes! This was so shocking to me, since I remember waiting for quite a while when I had Raegan. He explained everything as he was doing it, which is something I noticed that each doctor at my hospital does. It is really a sign of great care! The anesthesiologist went to medical school in Virginia, so it was so cool to have that Virginia connection! He gave me a medium dose of the epidural. This dosage would take the edge off the contractions and would allow me to feel the contractions.
Once I received the epidural, my labor was indeed peaceful.
My contractions began to come more regularly, more spaced out, and were stronger. My body progressed on its own. The epidural dosage worked just as the anesthesiologist said it would — I could still feel everything, except my contractions! I could move my lower body freely. I used my legs to scoot myself around and to turn onto my side! It was incredible! It was nothing like my previous experience with the epidural. As my labor progressed into the night, my blood pressure remained raised but I was able to avoid a c-section.
We kept thinking the baby would come early in the wee hours of Monday morning, but she did not. There was a shift change that morning, bringing my doctor, her resident, and a new nurse. This nurse was amazing! She was a big fan of Marvel, like Joshua, and she was so positive and upbeat!
At about 8:15 a.m., I was 6 cm dilated, 90 % effaced, and Honor was at a -1 station.
Joshua reading Scripture over me.
I continued to dilate, and she helped me get into new positions like using a peanut ball, and later into an upright position.
So swollen and exhausted, but excited to meet Honor!
At that point, there came another unexpected turn! My doctor came in and advised me to get Pitocin, since I had not progressed past 6 centimeters. I was against it at first, because I remembered my Pitocin-Epidural cycle from my past experience! However, my doctor said it would only be a small dose.
The small dose of Pitocin was just what my body needed. After that is when my nurse helped me change positions. My doctor informed me that Honor would be here before noon!
My cervix was checked around 11:30 a.m., and the doctor informed me that I was fully dilated and the baby was at a +3 or +2 station. I was ready to have the baby!
The nurse said to let her know when I would have the urge to use the restroom, as that means it would be time to push. I felt the urge, but the nurse informed me that my doctors were prepping for another mom’s c-section. I told her I wanted to wait for my doctors, but then the urge to push came very strong! So, I said, “Just kidding. I want to push now.” I did not care which doctor came at that point. I had the main doctor I needed — my husband!
The nurse then left the room and came back with my doctor and her resident! I was so happy to see them!
I began to push at about 11:40 a.m. or so. It was such an amazing experience. Joshua was able to scrub up and get ready to catch the baby. He was so amazing — he coached me and cheered me on! Joshua was yelling, “It’s Honor’s birthday, babe! You’re strong, babe! You can do this babe!” He was so supportive.
The nurse was counting and helping me push. I could not believe I was able to push! I was taking deep breaths and pushing. My doctor came to my side and leveled with me — she told me to breathe out with each contraction and not to hold my breath because it was depriving Honor of oxygen. All the while, my birth playlist was still playing. As I was pushing, one of my favorite songs was playing: “The King is Here” by Kim Walker-Smith.
With my husband’s cheers and my medical team’s coaching, I pushed her out! I was able to give birth to a baby! Joshua caught her.
About 20 minutes after we had her!
She came in at 5 lbs 9.6 oz and 19 inches long. Honor was the same length as Raegan, and she and Raegan weighed just about the same at birth (with only a .4 oz difference!). When she was born, another of my favorite songs was playing: “Love Came Down (Live)” by Brian Johnson. This song still lulls her to sleep every time I play it.
I cried when she came out — I loved her, and was also so relieved. Joshua and I were both so happy and exhausted. I felt so incredibly connected to Joshua. How cool was it that he was so active and participated in her delivery! He cut her cord after we did delayed cord clamping. Honor came out smacking her lips, excited to eat!
My doctor said I had a very superficial tear and hesitated to call it a first degree tear. After they stitched me up, I had to deliver my placenta. That was super painful, just because they had to push on my stomach, and I felt so sore from laboring. When it was delivered, my doctor noted that it was a 30-week old placenta, so it stopped growing 8 weeks prior and was calcifying. This fact, coupled with my rising blood pressure, were good indicators that Honor need to come sooner than later.
One proud papa!
So over the moon to have her!
Beautiful baby girl
Postpartum in a Pandemic
If I can be honest, it was pretty tough having her right at the beginning of the pandemic. At the time, we were one week into our shelter-in-place order issued by our governor. Our hospital did not allow more than one additional person in the delivery room, so it was just me and Joshua with our doctors. I am grateful that I got to have him, as I know there are many mamas who have had to go it alone in the hospital room without their husband or support person due to hospital policies. However, there were no visitors allowed to come visit us, including Raegan. I had dreamed of the moment Raegan would come to the hospital to meet her baby sister, and for our family to gather with us at the hospital. We also planned to have our entire family come down to help us, but that could not happen due to airlines cancelling flights into California. Pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum did not go as planned.
Yet, the Lord has taught me so much in all of this. Nothing went as I planned, but it was far better than what I imagined because it was peaceful. I had world-class care, and my husband was willingly right by my side encouraging and advocating for me. He went above and beyond. I can see the hand of God working for my good in the midst of this pandemic. The onset of the pandemic brought an extended paternity leave for Joshua, which delayed his potential exposure to COVID-19 as a hospitalist. We also had Raegan home for the remainder of the school year, which helped her bond with Honor and kept her from getting sick. We got to be home, together, for weeks, a blessing I do not take lightly.
Scripture everywhere for her birth!
Thank you all so much for your support and love for our family.