This is a REALLY helpful visual of the difference between effacement and dilation!!!
The baby was supposed to have been born on his due date – Friday, November 2nd.
We had it all planned out. We’d welcome in the Sabbath with all of our extended family present, enjoying our tradition of reading the creation account and several other passages of scripture. We’d sing, then I’d run upstairs, have the baby, and come back down for a great dinner and fellowship.
On top of that perfect plan, my good friend Mari had a dream that she was at my house asking if anything was going on with the baby. As I sat at our dining room table, I told her nothing had really changed and then immediately had the contraction to kick labor off. It was 2 pm. She saw our midwife, a young blonde woman, come.
Given that our midwife is youthful and blonde, and that Mari is always at our house on Fridays, which is when the baby was due, I was hopeful that she had been given a prophetic glimpse into the big day.
But 2 pm that Friday passed by without the start of labor. We thought maybe she misinterpreted the dream and that it was really 2 AM when things would kick off. But alas, 2 am came and went with no change in baby status. Mari and my other good friend, Katelyn, stayed at our house that whole weekend eagerly awaiting labor to begin.
By Monday morning, since still nothing had happened, everyone left to start their regular week. Erich and I had an 8 am appointment with my midwife that I was sure I wouldn’t need when we made it the week before. But there I was, waddling into her office three days overdue.
A Change in Status
As the kids played together on her enclosed patio, she checked me. I was 90% effaced and 4cm dilated – not nearly as far along as I had been at the end of my last two pregnancies. But during the check my membrane separated. That was a good sign!
Erich and I hung out and talked with her for a long time. At one point, she looked at my belly and noticed I was having a contraction.
Reaching over to touch, she said, “Wow! That’s a good one!”
“Really?” I said. “I wouldn’t count that as a good one. Decent, but not as strong as they get sometimes.”
“Well, be sure to let me know if anything changes. I won’t be at all surprised if you have this baby today.”
Today worked great with me. Today my husband was at home with me, and my midwife was close-by. Tomorrow he was supposed to be an hour and a half away and she would be an hour away. Not good news for a girl whose last baby arrived just 25 minutes after the first real contraction.
Glad that today might actually be the day, we loaded the kids up and left. During the 20 minute drive home, I noticed that my contractions, which were a very regular part of my pregnant life, were coming even more regularly. I payed attention to the clock for the next few. Sure enough, they were consistently 2 minutes apart. I waited a little bit longer just to be sure they weren’t going to space back out. When they didn’t, I called my midwife. Even though the contractions weren’t any stronger than usual, she said she would be over shortly. Her assistant would make her way over too.
Let the Party Begin!
I called everyone to let them know what was going on. They all began heading over, with the exception of Myrna. She was out running errands. Her husband said he’d pass the message along to her when she got back home.
Excitement energized me. I bustled around the house, moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, washing the sinkful of dishes, and reminding the kids of expectations for this home birth. Through it all, the contractions remained consistently spaced two minutes apart, but pretty mild in intensity.
The regularity of the contractions reminded me of my first labor with Madeline. With Anson and Kieryn, nothing was consistent until the contraction, the bottom-wagging, can’t-talk-through-it contraction that kicked off the fast sequence of events that brought our babies forth.
While part of me was rejoicing that my body was giving us enough warning to get everyone and everything in its place, another part of me was growing more anxious with each perfectly-timed contraction. If they were so closely-spaced now, what was going to happen when the one came? Would labor completely overwhelm me this time? Was I strong enough to endure it all again?
Mari’s Dream Come True
The flutter of activity and conversation kept me from entertaining these worries for very long. My midwife needed to check the baby’s heart rate. Mom was cleaning up from the lunch of quesadillas she made for the kids and was already beginning to cut vegetables for a stir-fry dinner. Kieryn was ready to go down for a nap. Erich decided to grab some rest too while things were still quiet. Katelyn needed to get some homework done. And Myrna had just arrived. It was 2 o’clock.
Myrna had barely settled at the dining room table where several of us were talking when I had the contraction. I was in the middle of a sentence. As the contraction warmed, I stood up to lead forward on the table and wag a bit. I was still speaking, but as it continued to rev up, it silenced me. I managed to say something like, “Hang on. Can’t talk.” I closed my eyes and breathed through it. I remember hearing my midwife say it was time to top the birthing tub off. I couldn’t have agreed more. As it faded, I told Madeline to go get Daddy. It was time.
The Power of Prayer
The worries that started to bubble up in my heart earlier began boiling hot. Instead of feeling like a seasoned birther, confident and ready, I was more fearful than I had been for any of my past labors – the first one included! Fear kept me from following the ebbs and flows of the contractions. Instead, I resisted them. For a few contractions, I had no rhythm. No peace.
Moments of clear connection with the outside world were interrupted by contractions that pulled me into a frenzied inner birthing world. I was aware that everyone was buzzing around with last minute activity – filling the tub, getting cameras ready, putting a movie on for Madeline and Anson. I didn’t think anyone could tell I was struggling to remain calm, and I didn’t have the time between contractions to explain it. But at that exact moment Erich held me and prayed for me.
I don’t remember what he prayed exactly, but I was reminded that I could trust the One who held me and our baby in His sovereign arms. He would be with me. I could trust Him. And I did.
My fear subsided, and the contractions became manageable.
I cried, held Erich’s face and said, “I’m so glad you are here with me.” My faithful God had heard my prayers. Erich was right at my side for this labor, just as he had been for all the others.
As I stood in Erich’s arms waiting for the tub to be ready, my sisters, Mari, Katelyn, and Myrna gathered around me to pray. More strength and peace covered me as truth further saturated my mind.
Another Water Birth
At 2:05 pm the tub was ready. As I lowered myself into the hot, buoyant water a familiar joy rose up, manifesting itself in a smile. Hot water surrounding a laboring body is a beautiful thing.
And this tub experience was the best yet. The unpleasant chemical smell from my first two births at the birthing center was absent. And unlike the last tub I birthed in that had hard sides and a confining shape, this tub was soft with a wide edge and plenty of space to move.
I was in for just fifteen minutes when I whispered through a contraction that it would be time to push soon. With the next contraction the pushing began, and my water broke. It was 2:20pm. Within one minute, his head was crowning.
“Good girl,” my midwife praised.
She grabbed my hand and put it on the baby’s head. Other midwives had offered to let me reach down and touch the babies’ heads, but I never took them up on it. Once I was in a comfortable position, latched on to Erich with all of my might, I didn’t want to move. But I was glad that she unlatched me so that I could experience touching my baby’s small head as it emerged from me. His fine hair felt so soft and sweet.
In another couple of minutes she told me to reach down and catch my baby. “That’s okay,” I managed to say between pushing. Touching his head was great, but I was interested in returning to the inner work of getting him out. Catching him was her job. 🙂
At 2:23 pm, he arrived in fullness. Like his sister Kieryn, he was a beautiful purple baby. It took him a while to get a good cry out, but he finally did and checked out perfectly healthy.
We prayed for a healthy and strong boy who would hear and see our Savior, so we named him Simeon Valentine.
Simeon is related to the Hebrew word, “shema” which means “hear and act.” It was the name Leah gave to her second son, saying that God had heard her plight (Genesis 29:33). Simeon was also the name of the righteous and devout man who was promised that he would get to see the Messiah before his death. Indeed, he did, and he rejoiced saying, “my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:25-33).
Valentine is related to the Latin word meaning “strong and healthy.” It was also the middle name of Erich’s grandfather who passed away just before Simeon’s birth.
At an even 9 lbs and 22.5 inches long, he is definitely on his way to fulfilling the healthy and strong part of his name. 🙂
As I caught my breath and left the inner birthing world, I noticed that Madeline and Anson were in the room. They had been down in the living room watching a movie, but Madeline paused the movie when she thought she heard something upstairs.
We had watched Kieryn’s birth video together the week before in order to prepare them for the sounds and sights of labor. Madeline recognized the pushing noises I was making.
“Hurry,” she said to Anson. “Mom’s pushing out the baby!”
Though Anson didn’t make it in immediately, Madeline arrived just in time to see Simeon’s birth. With tears in her eyes, she welcomed her new baby brother into the world. (I didn’t have any siblings, but Madeline makes it look just how I always imagined it would be.)
And in another demonstration of the kindness of our heavenly Father, Kieryn, who went down for a nap just before labor started, woke up just after I finished.
As if things weren’t great enough at this point, my midwife started running a soothing herb bath for me. AND as the water was running, she busted out a big Ghirardelli sea salt and almond chocolate bar as a treat for my hard work.
I told her she was pre-hired for the next delivery!
A friend just sent me this photo he took one Shabbat as I danced with Kieryn and Simeon in worship. What a great memory!
So many things about my fourth pregnancy were different.
For the first time, I would be giving birth in the fall, not the summer. This made me nervous. What would I do if I couldn’t bring my screaming baby outside for a walk in nice, warm weather? (I always have screaming babies.)
For the first time, I craved cheese. Slices of cheese, melty cheese, gooey cheese, cheese crumbles, cream cheese. The form didn’t really matter.
For the first time, I had evening sickness, which was really just gross, burpy nausea each evening. (Could it have had something to do with the cheese?…)
For the first time, I would be bringing a baby into the world in a different town. This was because we were living with my parents, which also meant that…
For the first time, I’d have my mom with me for the whole pregnancy, birth, and newborn time. My mom is amazing. Having her support through those tough early weeks of pregnancy kept our home from becoming the nightmare it had become during each of the other first trimesters. And knowing she wouldn’t have to drive an hour-and-a-half to try to make it to the birth was a great relief. On top of that, I’d have another set of arms eager hold the baby anytime I needed a break. Just a few extra reasons to rejoice that our family was living together.
BUT… for the time, I had a flash of worry that I might end up giving birth without my husband, mom, or midwife here to support me. It was somewhere mid-pregnancy when it occurred to me that I could very well go into labor when Erich was in Knoxville (an hour and a half away), when my mom was at work (40 minutes away), and when my midwife (who lived only 20 minutes away) happened to be somewhere further away. Last time I had only 20 minutes from the first “real” contraction to the time I held my baby girl in my arms. I assumed this time wouldn’t give too much additional warning. Thankfully, I have a sovereign and trustworthy God. When I placed my worry in His hands, trusting Him to bring the baby forth in His perfect time, I was able to rest knowing that whoever was supposed to be here would be here. On top of it, Madeline was excited about the prospect of assisting me through it all by herself. Given how mature and capable she is, I knew she would do a wonderful job! (Details on the actual birth are coming next…)
What remained unchanged this pregnancy was the miracle of it all. Even though this was our fourth pregnancy, none of the joy or wonder was diminished. The growing belly was just as exciting. The movements were just as exhilarating. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat was just as awe-inspiring.
And having three older kids to share in it all was super-fun!
I love it when we see God’s wisdom through his perfect design! I have a special appreciation for it in the realm of birth.
The trailer for the documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, is below. Without directly giving glory to God, it does reveal his wisdom. Many medical experts speak about the dangers of intervening in the “natural” birth process, which Christians know to be God’s designed process.
Unnecessary Interventions (which lead to more interventions)
Man never makes things better when we add to, or take away from, God’s perfect ways. Admittedly, sin and sickness affect his perfect ways, so I do believe we are blessed to have skilled doctors able to intervene when there is a true need. But only a fraction of the massive amount of intervening we are doing in the US is in response to true need.
In addition to being unnecessary most of the time, interventions often create a need for more interventions. Consider this fact presented by one of the experts in this documentary, “If you get an induction that is unnecessary and you’re not really in labor, there is a 40% chance you will end up with an emergency section.”
Nearly one in THREE women giving birth in a US hospital will end up with a c-section. Sadly, only a small fraction of them would have been necessary if the birth had been allowed to unfold naturally, at its own pace.
Medical Model vs. Midwifery Model
Even more stunningly, for all of the medical know-how we have here, the United States ranks 46th in infant mortality rate. This means 45 countries have better statistics than we do. Our medical performance is on par with that of Guam, Cuba, Croatia and Belarus. We have over double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world according to the CIA World Factbook.
In contrast to our medical approach to birth, and its dim success, is the midwifery system. Midwives attend the vast majority of births in the industrialized countries with the best outcomes. Yet in the United States, midwives are the principal attendants at only a small percentage of births.
“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that uses surgeons to attend normal childbirth,” states Marsdsen Wagner, MD Former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health in the World Health Organization.
US Women Fear Birth
Why aren’t more US moms using midwives to assist them with birth? Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, a Family Practice Physician, thinks it’s because most moms in our society believe that they could not have a baby without some kind of medical intervention. She says, “We’ve gone so far off course in our prenatal care and in our public policy messages, that most women don’t think they can deliver a baby without technology-driven interventions. And we know certainly that that is just not true.”
Those of us who have seen or experienced midwife-assisted births are saddened by this fear. Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM, and Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth, Inc. says, “Of all the experiences you have in your lifetime, having a child is one of the most miraculous and amazing times. And I am so saddened by the amount of fear, and trepidation, and concern, and worry that surrounds that event.”
Questions and Answers
How much better off would mother and baby be if the events of birth were left to unfold without the restrictions of time, convenience, or fear of liability? How can we reduce the infant mortality rate and increase the health of babies? How do we educate women so that they are free to enjoy the birth process without the fear that so many in our society automatically have?
This 17 minute documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, explores these questions and proposes solutions.
Having just passed the anniversary of Roe v Wade, this is a STRIKING reminder for us. It’s from 2 years ago, but is just as true today. . .
And if you still disagree or think it’s not the big deal we are making it out to be, I challenge you to watch the gut-wrenching, graphic video here. The title of the video is This is Abortion.
If you’re like me, you have seen images like these before. But I had never seen an image like the very last one.
All of it is tragic and terrible.
It is heinous and hideous.
As Christians we must pray for moms scared or selfish enough to do this.
We must pray for doctors dumb or numb enough to do this.
We must pray. We must help financially. We must volunteer. Thank you to all of you who already do. In moments like these, I am reminded of what an important work this is.
Last time I addressed the topic of vaccines it was to make sure we were all clear that vaccinations are not a matter of salvation. If you missed that post, please read it here.
But I also gave my main reason for continuing a discussion about it, namely because we should be seekers of the truth. Scripture tells us to “test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
To this end, I have a few more pieces of news to share specifically with my precious, pregnant friends. With the fear-mongering going on in the government and media, and with so many pregnant friends who are still trying to determine what they should do, I feel obligated to share this information. Especially in light of the recently reported miscarriages.
So, here’s some critical information for your consideration. If nothing else, please view the six minute video below to hear dozens of medical professionals voice their concerns about the vaccine.
Our media and government are targeting pregnant women.
We are being inundating with stories of the danger this virus poses to pregnant women. We are told daily that young, healthy people are dying. The truth is that 73% of hospitalized H1N1 patients have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other immune suppressive diseases.
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board certified neurosurgeon, author and lecturer says, “The Minister of Fear (the CDC) was working overtime peddling doom and gloom, knowing that frightened people do not make rational decisions — nothing sells vaccines like panic.”
Which is worse: H1N1 or the Vaccine?
This is the big question. Is the risk from this virus significant enough to justify mass vaccinations with a vaccine that is essentially experimental, poorly tested, and of questionable benefit?
The H1N1 virus is quite mild even for pregnant women.
According to Dr. Michael Bronze, chair of Internal Medicine at University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, 0.32 per 100,000 pregnant women (or about 1 in 300,000 pregnant women) were hospitalized because of the H1N1 flu or something that presented like H1N1.
(It’s important to note that even these small numbers aren’t limited to confirmed H1N1 cases. The CDC’s H1N1 numbers include any confirmed or probable flu cases along with any confirmed or probable pneumonia cases. For more information on this shady counting system, see National H1N1 Health Emergency???)
The vast majority of people who get H1N1 have a brief and mild illness. Based on the Australian/New Zealand experience (at the peak of their flu season, which has already passed) and the American data somewhere in the middle of our flu season, pregnant women have about a 99.97% chance they will not become so sick as to require hospital care at any level.
Zero studies to prove safety
There have been no studies to prove safety of the H1N1 vaccines in pregnant women. Even the vaccine inserts themselves say so. Simply follow the links and do a search for the word “pregnant” to find these statements yourself.
All of them say either word-for-word or very closely word-for-word:
- “Safety and effectiveness of [this] vaccine have not been studied in pregnant women or nursing mothers.”
- “Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with [this] vaccine. It is not known whether [this] vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity.”
- “[This] vaccine should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.”
- “It is not known whether [this] vaccine is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when [this] vaccine is administered to a nursing woman.”
The studies that have been done show serious risks.
Perhaps even more concerning than the admission that no one has studied the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines in humans, is that studies that have been done on pregnant animals with non-H1N1 vaccines show that a single vaccine produces damage in the offspring’s brain exactly like autism and schizophrenia.
In this article, Dr. Blaylock refers to compelling research that shows that stimulating a pregnant mom’s immune system during mid-term and later term pregnancy:
- Significantly increases the risk that her baby will develop autism during childhood and schizophrenia sometime during the teenage years and afterward.
- Increases the baby’s risk of having a seizure both as a baby and as an adult
- Can trigger preclampsia in the mother
- Can trigger hypertension when the baby becomes an adult.
(See also Dr. Blaylock’s article entitled, Vaccines, Neurodevelopment and Autism Sectrum Disorders or listen to the interview linked at the very bottom of this article.)
Vaccinating pregnant women has gone seriously wrong in the recent past.
Gardasil vaccine was recommended to pregnant women, but was immediately pulled once women began losing their babies or delivering malformed babies. Now they are careful to say, “the vaccine is not recommended for use in women known to be pregnant.” But it’s a little late for all those women who lost their healthy babies.
1% vs 100% chance
Yes, a serious flu infection during pregnancy can cause damage to the baby because of the immune system stimulation it would cause in you. But Dr. Blaylock warns that getting the vaccination will guarantee immune system stimulation.
So, we’re talking less than 1% chance that you’d get a serious case of H1N1 and have serious immune system stimulation vs 100% chance that you will have serious immune system stimulation because of the vaccine.
Vaccine manufacturers have legal immunity
If you or your baby are injured by a vaccine, you have no access to the legal system. According to the Public Readiness and Emergency Act (the PREP act), unless you can provide evidence of willful misconduct AND you get permission from the DHHS Secretary, you can’t sue to receive compensation or justice. The manufacturers are completely shielded from liability. This also means that they have no incentive to test their vaccines for safety. After all, if they test and find that something is dangerous, they have to start all over again. So, you take the vaccines completely at your own risk.
To me, this is the most compelling reason to avoid the H1N1 vaccine if you’re pregnant. Here are just a couple of the first-hand reports from a June 2010 birth club.
I am so upset. I was so excited to be pregnant after trying for a year. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I joined this birth club and I was due June 25th. We have two healthy boys with no history of miscarriage. Everything was going great. Last Monday, I got the H1N1 vaccine thimerosal reduced (mercury reduced for pregnant women). On Tuesday morning, I started cramping and on Wednesday I started bleeding heavily. My hcg was 50 on Wednesday and I was almost 6 weeks along so it was low. They still thought that I might be pregnant but on Friday my hcg was down to 22. I am an emotional wreck. I feel like I had a healthy baby and I caused this by getting the H1N1 vaccine. My doctors pushed it. I researched online and there have been many miscarriages after the H1N1 vaccine but they haven’t been reported since it is hard to say what caused the miscarriages. I hope that I did not cause this. I wish everyone the best.
I don’t have an answer for you, but a friend of a friend just had a miscarriage 2-3 days after getting the shot. She was 7weeks. She had no previous history of m/c… No one can answer if they’re related…it hasn’t been out long enough and there haven’t been any studies done on pregnant women. I will tell you, that it has made up my mind on getting it…I won’t and I’m not going to get it for my DD either. My daughter and I both had H1N1 last week, and although it truly sucks…I think I’ll take my chances. One doctor will tell you to get it and the next will tell you not too…you have to do what’s in your heart.
my heart goes out to you as i recently miscarried as well and was due in june. i had a healthy heart beat at 6wks. then at 7.5 wks my son got the h1n1 mist vaccine which has live vaccine in it. the nurse said to be careful b/c it could technically spread if he rubbed his nose and touched a surface etc. the next night i miscarried and 5 days later was diagnosed with h1n1. i work from home, kids are home, hadnt been anywhere during that time. so the chances that it is all related are very high. the flu mist vaccine warns for immunocompromised patients (which includes prego) to stay away from recipients of the flu mist for 21 days.
You can read the full story along with many, many more first-hand reports of miscarriages here.
What Experts Are Saying
Suspicion about the H1N1 vaccines isn’t coming only from moms who have recently lost their babies and a single neurosurgeon who has dedicated his retirement years to studying these things more in-depth. Here is what some other well-respected professionals are also saying.
Dr. Bob Sears, a board-certified pediatrician trained at Georgetown University School of medicine and co-author in the Sears Parenting Library, says:
As a doctor, we swear an oath to “First, do no harm.” So I have a hard time recommending a treatment that doesn’t show it causes no harm. It’s not just the H1N1 vaccine that’s not been tested. The regular flu vaccine has not been tested in pregnant women, either, to show that it’s safe in babies. That kind of boggles my mind, because the regular flu vaccine has been around for years, and there have been plenty of opportunities for the companies to do some safety testing on them so pregnant women can feel more comfortable about them.
Dr. Larry Palevsky, a board-certified pediatrician trained at the New York School of Medicine says:
When I went through medical school, I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective, and I had no reason to believe otherwise. All the information that I was taught was pretty standard in all the medical schools and the teachings and scientific literature throughout the country. I had no reason to disbelieve it.
Over the years, I kept practicing medicine and using vaccines and thinking that my approach to vaccines was completely onboard with everything else I was taught.
But more and more, I kept seeing that my experience of the world, my experience in using and reading about vaccines, and hearing what parents were saying about vaccines were very different from what I was taught in medical school and my residency training.
… It didn’t appear that the scientific studies that we were given were actually appropriately designed to prove and test the safety and efficacy. It also came to my attention that there were ingredients in there that were not properly tested, that the comparison groups were not appropriately set up, and that conclusions made about vaccine safety and efficacy just did not fit the scientific standards that I was trained to uphold in my medical school training.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, board-certified in family medicine and NY Times best-selling author, says:
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m not anti-vaccines, but rather pro vaccine-safety. That means, I strongly believe that we should only inject substances into our bodies, and especially into the bodies of infants and the unborn, that have been rigorously studied and proven safe both short-term and long-term.
As it stands now, we’ve spent decades injecting materials into the bodies of young and old alike, without sufficient amounts of safety testing of the ingredients, and our society is showing the signs of this neglect.
Neurological dysfunction and disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s have been growing steadily and show no signs of slowing down.
More resources about vaccines and pregnancy
- 9 Minute Audio: Mercola’s interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock
- Audio and Article: Expert Pediatrician Exposes Vaccine Myths
- Article: Concerns over Swine Flu Vaccine During Pregnancy
- Article: Safety of First Trimester Flu Vaccines
- Article: Updates on Flu Vaccine Safety Research
- Article: Dealing with Unexplained Miscarriage
- And for a whole page of articles, visit organichealthadviser.com
(This comes straight from my Cross-Centered Discussion of Vaccines? post I mentioned at the start of this post. I thought it would be good to re-print after sharing all of this information.)
I hope that my communication on this topic informs you.
If you’re a wife, I hope you bring everything to your husband and ultimately rest in his leadership.
I hope that those of you who disagree with me never feel condemned or judged by me.
I hope that you will engage with me in this topic. If you disagree, I’d love to hear why. I am SO grateful for those willing to engage in debate, not just on this issue but on any! There are certainly things I haven’t thought of, studies that I am not aware of, and sources I don’t know about that would be beneficial for consideration. I am not seeking to be right. I am seeking the truth.