The March of Time
Spending time with my sister Kristy and her little girl Emma was a big highlight of my February. They came to Michigan for work purposes, and I got the joy of babysitting Emma a few days.
Time seems to march on ever so quickly, doesn’t it?! Even with a long and lonesome, bitter cold, and rather snowy–the snowiest since I moved up here eight years ago–Michigan winter, which kept me home more often than not, the days have literally flown by. Six months ago, when I first learned I was pregnant, never did I dream the days would go by so speedily. You see, today marks Week 31 of my pregnancy, leaving me just about two months away from my due date of May 31.
Now over the course of these six months, I’ve been through alot of stress between my first trimester food aversions, nauseousness, and increased anxiety issues to my second trimester midwife problems, but the Lord has been so gracious and kind to me throughout. Not only has He continually assured me of His ultimate control over the life of this baby He is creating within me, but He has also so graciously and miraculously directed me to a “real” or old-fashioned midwife not submersed in and relying on or pushing the typical things of today’s “modern” medicine.
All of my problems began though with just “assuming” that hospital midwives were your typical midwives of the past–simple, natural, holistic, and not promotional or pushy as far as testings, shots, medicines, and such–but I was very wrong as I discovered too late. So after my last dealing with one of today’s modern, medically-indoctrinated midwives in early January, I set out on a quest to find one of those rare relics of the past, if such a woman even existed however.
I was sad to see them go, and Emma looks sad too. I love that little girl so much.
Life Out of Death
Never did I imagine that I’d find my relic or my dream come true so soon after my quest began though and by way of a funeral of all things! You see, back in early January, after my last midwife appointment, I called our local Child Evangelism director to seek new teaching materials for our Good News Bible Club over the winter. Well, as we were talking, she mentioned that she had two funerals to attend over the next few days.
Thinking that was a bit unusual, I asked her who died, and much to my surprise, she said the first funeral was for Penne, a very dear, sweet, radiant Christian lady I knew who had been struggling with cancer and whom I had been trying to keep track of as far as her health was concerned.
I initially met Penne at her small church I believe when I first moved back to Michigan in 2005, and then she turned out to be my neighbor after Micah and I got married in 2010. Like me, Penne had a great heart for evangelism and children, so we even did a Good News Bible Club at her home for the neighborhood kids over the course of one fall.
I had not contacted Penne or her pastor’s wife, whom I am friends with, to check up on her in awhile though, but I had been meaning to, so it was truly divine providence that I learned of her death and was able to attend her memorial service on Saturday, January 11, held only a day or two after I found out.
At the luncheon following the service, however, I sat next to a girl named Amber, whom I had met before but only about once. She was the relatively-new wife of a guy I knew from Penne’s church, and since Amber was pregnant as well, we started talking about pregnancy stuff and my midwife frustrations. Amber then told me of her midwife and how she wanted to get together with me and Micah and go over some stuff seeing how she is heavily involved with natural medicine and childbirth.
So the following weekend Micah and I had Amber and her husband over for dinner which led to them inviting us to go with them to their next midwife appointment on Friday, January 24. We went and talked to their midwife Jeannie for at least a good hour after their appointment, and I left feeling joyful and very much at peace for the first time. I was just impressed with . . .
- Her proficient knowledge and successful and extensive experience in delivering babies, both as a hospital nurse and as a midwife (She has delivered over 2,000 with rarely a problem!)
- Her view of labor as a joyful, beautiful, and sacred experience, and thereby, her treating it, not as a dreaded, painful disease, but as a gift from God
- Her calm and non-paranoid, non-pushy demeanor
- Her common bond as a fellow follower of Christ
That night I could not help but want to seriously celebrate, and since then, I have been further reassured of Jeannie being the woman for us by her minimalistic, simple methods and mindset. I mean, do you realize how weighed down our medical personnel and system today are with the fear of getting sued or “covering themselves” so that they want to perform every test imaginable and warn you and treat you like a worst-case scenario?
To prove my point, remember my whole fear of my hypothyroidism early on due to the hospital midwife I initially went to wanting me to do everything from 1.) taking a chemical drug called Synthroid to 2.) having monthly $200 bloodwork tests done for my thyroid to 3.) finding a regular medical doctor to regulate my thyroid. And all of this because I had “mild” hypothyroidism! Do you know much money that would equal over the course of my pregnancy? A lot! The medical system seriously thinks they can charge or perform whatever they want on you because “Oh, medical insurance will take care of that!” They easily forget that they we do have deductibles to meet which are not always low for everyone.
And on top of that, this hospital midwife added the emotional trauma of telling me my child could have “mental problems” if not treated. Okay, what do you immediately think of when you hear those words?! I don’t know about you, but for me, it meant “mental retardation” which no parent wants to hear.
But then I went to Jeannie for my first appointment on February 13 and showed her my bloodwork results, and how did she respond? Basically, that I had nothing to fear because my thyroid was not “that” bad! Wow, do you realize how much of our culture is driven by fear and darkness? It’s so sad to think of how many lives are negatively affected and how much money is needlessly spent on things people do not really need.
Home Sweet Home
Anyways, another way the Lord has been so gracious and kind is allowing me to do a home birth. Yes, you heard me right . . . We are having my labor and delivery at home, Lord willingly, and it won’t be the first birth in our home as Micah’s youngest cousin was born in this house.
I never thought I’d be open to this route, especially with my first child, but that’s what Jeannie does and of course recommends. After talking to her and several others though, I am more and more convinced and at peace that this is the way to go.
Jeannie has even assured me though that she is not a risk-taker and will send me to a hospital if need be, such as for delivering a breeched baby. And thankfully, she can even tell before your labor if a hospital will be necessary. She will also have an assistant mid-wife along to help which is good.
One really cool way though that God confirmed to me or gave me more peace about having a home birth is by having a very friendly lady, and a total stranger at that, stop me at the gym one morning. I was about to walk my usual two to three miles on the track when she excitedly stopped me and commented on my “baby bump” and inquired about my pregnancy.
Come to find out, this sweet lady named Susan is a labor and delivery nurse for the very midwives I left at an area hospital. When I told her I was going to potentially have a home birth with another midwife, she was wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supportive of it and said “they all” (I’m guessing she meant the hospital nurses) would recommend it. Needless to say, I was shocked!
She went on to say how it has not been until the last 100 years that ladies started having hospital births and that I’d be totally fine. What a confirmation from God that was for me that I was on the right path. When I saw this lady again on another day, I curiously asked her why she recommended a home birth over a hospital birth seeing how she was a hospital nurse of all things. She gave me the following reasons which I thought were so good and enlightening and some of the same ones that Jeannie gave me:
- You are in a familiar, comfortable environment being that you are in your own home instead of a morbid hospital. (Micah is thankful for this as he does not do well in hospitals himself.)
- You have less risk of infection. (Just this month I learned of a toddler who got a staph infection when he was born at a hospital three years ago and has not been doing well since then. I had no idea such things happened.)
- You don’t have doctors trying to rush you in labor and perform needless operations.
- You don’t have nurses trying to give you IV’s or drugs you don’t need or want.
Now since we made this decision to have a home birth, it has not been easy to tell people as we’ve gotten mixed reactions and as we have seen childbirth can be such a sensitive issue. While most have been very supportive, like my own parents and random people like this nurse, others have not been. This has been very hurtful to say the least as we are doing this only because we feel that this is where God has led us personally and given us the most peace about. We don’t condemn those who choose to have a hospital birth by any means as God equips and directs each of us differently. I think so often it is easy to forget God works in vastly different ways in each of our lives, or in other words, He can’t be “put in a box.”
A Most Unusual Birthing Class
Moving on though, not knowing anything really about labor and delivery, Micah and I felt we should educate ourselves by taking a natural birthing class as I’d really like to go through this experience without any drugs as much as the pain people always talk about scares me. I have heard that your after-birth recovery is so much better and quicker when you don’t use the drugs though.
So in later February, I asked Jeannie whom she’d recommend, and she told me of Pat, a Mennonite lady in the city right next to us of all things. What a blessing as I was afraid she’d recommend someone farther away as Jeannie herself is in a city about an hour from us.
I called Pat the next day then and found her to be very refreshing–such a joyful, encouraging, knowledgable, and easy-to-talk-to woman of God–and once again, I felt very much at peace in the path God was taking us on. Pat even said she could be our doula, a woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth. This brought me much comfort as it was recommended to me to have a doula, especially at your first birth, and as Pat lives much closer to me than Jeannie does and could be at my home in the matter of 15 minutes.
Shipshewana, a big Amish community, has always been a favorite place for me to visit. While the Amish live radically-different lives than modern society, they are a much more relational and probably content people because they are removed from the technology, materialism, and conveniences of today. While I’d never want to be Amish, I think their close ties with family and friends is especially wonderful!
Now what is so interesting about our childbirth class is that we are meeting at the home of a young, very kind Amish couple in Shipshewana, Indiana, about an hour from our home. Pat told us she could meet us at our home or at their home, and we opted for theirs because how often do “the English” (the non-Amish) get to interact with the Amish?! Some people may think it strange, but I’ve found it to be rather exciting and interesting. I am always up for a new adventure though and love simple, down-to-earth, friendly people which is what the Amish are known for, so I’ve heard.
We have been meeting now then since early March but just once a week for two and a half hours. Since we started, we have learned much about labor–from what to expect in its mounting stages to its different breathing, coping techniques to its preparatory exercises to be in our best shape possible when it comes.
We even watched, via video, a couple of births, which none of us had witnessed before and which were rather eye-opening and kind of gross to be quite honest. I felt especially sorry for the guys having to see all of this, but I guess they need to be prepared.
A Continual Learning but Strengthening Process
So life is definitely a continual learning process with new and challenging experiences, isn’t it? And based on what the mothers from the birth video said, childbirth is an empowering or confidence-building experience. Seeing how I have a low tolerance for pain and can often lack a lot of confidence in my seeming weak abilities, it shall be most interesting to see how God uses this childbirth to change me. Lord willingly, it will only make me better and much more confident in myself and in my God.
There’s the story of our baby journey so far then. It did not start off easy or pleasant by any means last fall, but I can look back on the hardships now and praise the Lord for them because without them we would not be on the current path we are on and see God’s tender care, faithful provision, and gracious love for us and even the baby. As that Christian song Through It All so accurately states:
I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.
Me and Micah as of yesterday, on our last day of Week 30 . . . God has been so faithful to us by bringing us this far, that is for sure! Please pray the next 10 weeks will go smoothly and well as March as been a very hard month for me as I’ve been sick a lot between having a sinus cold, an ongoing cough that’s been hard on my body, and the stomach flu this past week. Thank you!
P.S. Just to let you know and help explain my background, I have the viewpoint of today’s modern medicine that I do because I started dealing with a lot of health problems in college and was never really helped by regular medical doctors. My greatest help or solutions came through the means of alternative doctors but ultimately through the Lord. Because of my health problems also, I have done quite a bit of research on modern medicine and not been impressed. I realize everyone has different experiences though and once again that God works in a multitude of ways. This has just been my own experience, and I just want to be clear that in no way do I want to be offensive.
P.S.S. Remember Amber, the girl who first told me of Jeannie our midwife? Well, she had a handsome, healthy baby boy this week at her parents’ home, and everything went so well and just beautifully I heard. Praise the Lord!