“…Not as the World Gives”

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“We need to get that debris out of there.”

After I gave birth at home to my tiny but perfectly formed miscarried baby, those words still make me recoil.  It didn’t matter how amazing I thought the hospital was or how well they worked with my birth plans for my other children.  After their response to my loss, I was never going back.

{important fact: not everyone’s response to our loss is equal.}

About three months later, when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with my “subsequent/rainbow” pregnancy, I supported a client delivering at New Birth Company, a brand new local birth center.  It was so brand new, in fact, that most of the building was still under construction.  I fell in love immediately anyway – it was exactly what I had envisioned of a birth center.  I worked alongside an amazing midwife, and the lovely birth that the mama had just solidified my desires for me.   Then, after the mama’s birth, the midwife said that she wanted to find my baby’s heartbeat!  What a tremendous surprise and wonderful blessing!  I came home to tell my husband not only how amazing the birth went for the mama, but that I got to hear our baby’s heartbeat!  I told him that I definately wanted to birth there.

{important fact: not all birth centers are created equal.  Neither is every midwife.}

But, they didn’t take my insurance.

So, my children’s pediatrician recommended his friend, an OB.  Both are Christian, and I fully trust (and adore) my pediatrician, so I felt confident in the switch.

The first couple of months of the pregnancy were wrought with complicated feelings, as I explained in Irish Twins.  I really enjoyed the OB, and we discussed many of the feelings associated with subsequent pregnancy after loss, and it was nice to be open about my Christian faith and how it plays a part in my life, my pregnancy, and my healing.

At my 12 week appointment – the same week my miscarried baby died – the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat.  I looked at my husband and the tears, oh the tears, they just spilled out as I gasped for air.

 Not again, Lord.  Please, please, please, not again.

So, I walked the long hallway, clutching my middle, praying and clinging to hope, as I was led to the ultrasound room.  Paper gown tucked, warm gel applied, and…..

…..swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh…..

…the beautiful sound of a perfect, tiny heart beating!  The ultrasound technician told us we were having a girl, but my husband quickly laughed it off.  I didn’t.  I was so overwhelmed with joy at the site of that beautiful, swishing heartbeat, and in the back of my mind, the thoughts, the wondering, of which gender my baby was, just made it all even more wonderful.

Just around the same time as we celebrated and mourned the due date of our fourth baby (November 2011), we also found out the gender of this one, our fifth baby.  The ultrasound appointment was uneventful which was a tremendous blessing.  Finally, the ultrasound technician printed out the photo that revealed the gender, placed it in an envelope, and handed it to my husband.  Then, we left.

My husband dropped me off at home, where my mother in law was spending time with our crew of kiddos.  He left and headed to the local baby store, where he opened up the envelope to discover the gender.  He laughed later and told me that he read it several times, making sure he didn’t get it wrong.

He selected some gender-specific items along with a green and yellow gift bag.  He came home and placed the bag in front of me…

…I pulled off the yellow tissue paper, and asked my oldest son what color he saw…

…and he exclaimed…


I was elated!  I screamed, and my one year old started crying, poor guy.  With three little John Wayne’s in the house, it was the first time we’d ever had pink!

Several weeks later, I submitted my birth plan with one of the OBs.  I am used to advocating for myself and helping my clients do the same, but I wondered how things would go at this particular hospital.

At 36 weeks, I began having prodromal labor.  I never did have sporatic Braxton-Hicks contractions with this pregnancy, but instead had series of contractions for several hours at a time.

I posted a little about this on Facebook.  The midwife from New Birth Company posted a reply,

“I wish you were delivering here with us!”

Oh, how I wished too!  I told her that I would, but that they don’t take my insurance.  She replied, “Yes we do!” and that was it.

I switched providers at 37 weeks.

I had a 37 week appointment with the OBs early in the morning.  I kept the appointment, and ironically, of all days, that was the day that one of them went over my birth plan with me.  She pulled it out of her papers: printed on pretty pastel paper, written in a pretty font, was my plan.  It had my name, my husband’s name, and my daughters name at the top, a scripture in the middle, and a few “wishes” at the bottom.

“And she said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a child.'”

Now, however, my birth plan had marks written all over it.  Arrows, question marks, and conversations between doctors littered my few wishes.  The OB began to explain to me that I could have something close to my birth wishes if I were to deliver between 9am and 5pm, but if my labor starts going past 8pm and she has to start waking people up to come support me, she would become more aggressive in moving my labor along.

I have worked with the most high-risk hospitals in my area, and worked with the strictest policies and most rigid medical practices to bring my clients a comfortable blend of safety, interventions when necessary, but also comfort and joyful memories.  I had never encountered such a rigid interpretation of birth wishes before.

I asked if I could have my birth plan back, so that I could revise it.  She told me that I could not have it back.

{important fact: not every hospital is created equal.  Neither is every OB.}

A couple of hours later, I had my first midwife appointment.

She and I agreed that we were not expecting it to be very much longer before my daughter would be born.

I continued to have bouts of prodromal labor.

April 19 came, and I had another midwife appointment – it wasn’t planned this way, but it sure was a blessing.  April 19 was my miscarried son’s first stillbirthday.  In the midst of grief and joy, I was able to be surrounded by people who knew the situation intimately, who were the first to find my daughter’s heartbeat, and who understood the mix of my emotions.  And, I got to hear her heart beating again.  Of all days, it was very encouraging.

…..swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh….

What a beautiful sound.  After the appointment, I spent time at the cemetary.  It was the right place to be: sitting, crying, chatting, praying.  I needed to be there.  Processing.

April 20, her “due date” came and went.  I was still pregnant.

On the morning of April 24, I woke up to a deep, clear voice that penetrated right down to the center of my soul:

“My peace I give you, not as the world gives.”

The contractions felt pretty regular, but I had had enough prodromal labor that I didn’t keep track of their frequency.  They were definately manageable.  I logged online, and found an issue that I attempted to help resolve, while I supposed the contractions began to increase in intensity.  I held onto the message I received that morning, and just figured that God was speaking comfort to me to let me know that I can give as much as I can to resolving the issue, but that ultimately, it would be Him, in His timing, that would show the answers for anyone who took a little time to look for them.  As the issue only seemed to escalate, I logged offline and remembered that God was speaking peace into my heart.  Ironically, somebody sent me a message just that morning saying that she had a dream the night before that I would be online trying to resolve a conflict while in labor.  And, that’s exactly what happened.

At about 4:30pm my husband pointed out that the contractions hadn’t yet subsided as they had before, and he wanted to call the babysitter.  I wasn’t ready to leave yet, so I procrastinated.  The sitters came at about 5:15, and my husband was very eager to get me out the door.  I stalled, and he started to raise his voice.  I raised mine right back, and he said, “Honey, I’m just excited!  Now, let’s go!”

{important fact: even if you are sure of what is going on in your own labor, you can be wrong.  And, of course, not every husband is created equal, either.  Mine happens to be pretty amazing.}

I called the photographer.

The contractions were 10 minutes apart.

In the car, the next contraction was 9 minutes later.  We drove in the opposite direction of the hospital.  The next contraction was 8 minutes later.  We drove past another hospital.  The next contraction was 7 minutes later.  Then 6.  Someone cut us off in traffic, and my husband said, “Let me know if I need to drive on the shoulder.”  I laughed it off.  Then 5.  We drove past one more hospital – the one where we were told our fourth baby was “debris”. The next contraction was at 4 minutes.  I laughed as I began pulling my pants down a little, as the elastic on the pants band was right where the contractions were at.

We arrived at the birth center.  He walked in first, while I had a contraction on the sidewalk.  I walked in casually, and enjoyed a few pieces of a chocolate bar as the midwife came in.  A pregnant mother was signing in for a birthing class, and I laughed to her and exclaimed,

“We’re having a baby today!”

I look back on that now and realize that the lady probably thought I was totally crazy.  The midwife came in.  She checked me, and said,

“You need to let me know when you have the urge to push.”

Really? I went to our beautiful birthing suite, changed into my gown, while my in-laws got settled in.   I had a pretty strong contraction while changing, and heard the voice again through it,

“My peace I give you, not as the world gives.” 

The contractions were intense, but still manageable.  I knew God was leading my baby girl out to me.  When I came out of the bathroom, I knew this was it and told my husband, “We’re almost done.”  The midwife snapped a picture of me in my gown…

And then,

I asked if someone could dim the lights, I leaned over the bed and whispered,

“I’m pushing.”

And then, quietly and simply, our beautiful daughter was born.

The birth was so fast that the photographer never made it.

The midwife snapped a photo of us together moments after we met our daughter for the first time.  What a blessing that this very first photo turned out to be so unexpectedly pretty!  Later, a sweet friend of mine from Treasure Beans even edited it a little by writing the caption on it.

Then, the staff baked a chocolate cake, we all sang Evelyn “Happy Birthday”, my tiny, sweet daughter and I shared a lovely herbal bath together,

and then, we went home.  Mommy, Daddy, and little Evelyn Mae.

That night, Evelyn listened as I whispered stories to her, telling her all about her brothers – the three that she would meet the next morning, and the one whom she won’t meet until Jesus says it’s time to.

{important fact: pregnancy is the time when we mothers are the most interested and the most vested in our birth preparation.  Whether you are expecting a live birth, preparing for a known stillbirth, there is a difficult diagnosis involved, or you are pregnant with a “subsequent/rainbow” baby, use the time wisely.  You will likely not get every single thing you desire during or for your birth (we had all sorts of special things we had planned on using during the labor but didn’t get to), so it is best to learn now, as much as you can, about what your options are.  If pregnancy automatically equals hospital birth for you, take some time to visit the birth centers and midwives in your area.  It will give you a chance to consider including some special natural options into your birth wishes.  If you are hoping for a home birth, take a maternity tour at your local hospital just so that you will feel familiar with those surroundings.  Even if you don’t utilize their services, when else are you going to get such a chance to ask questions and get information?  Get to know all perspectives and philosophies surrounding birth.  And, regardless of what birth experience this is for you, or where you are planning on delivering, visit with our doulas and consider inviting one in on your plans and experiences.  In the end, it was extremely important for me to pray about my options and lay them all out before the Lord.  I let Him speak into my heart of mixed feelings, of anxiety and hope, about what the best plan was for my baby’s arrival, and it made all the difference.  He gave me peace, and not as the world gives.}

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  1. Wonderful. I am crying tears of great joy for you.

  2. immigrationassist says:

    peace not as the world gives… that pretty much says it all. it is a peace the passes our understanding:) very beautiful story and one that give hope to so many who need hope.

  3. BEAUTIFUL! Praise the Lord for His peace and blessing!

  4. shanon pruden says:

    Beautiful!!! <3

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! It is such a blessing to read!

  6. Amanda Hartman says:

    Beautiful. So many emotions I felt as I read your story. How absolutely beautiful! Congratulations to your family.

  7. Anjanette says:

    Amazing! I switched providers at 36 weeks with my first – it’s quite a ride, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m so glad that you were able to use the birth center and that the God of all comfort was with you every step of the way! 🙂

  8. King's Daughter says:

    I am so increadibly happy for you! You are so beautiful! I am so happy this birth turned out so beautifully for you! Praise the Lord for His perfect peace!

  9. Becca Pencak says:

    What a beautiful birth story! I am so blessed to be a part of StillBirthday! God is good and faithful!! What a beautiful testimony to the power and presence of God walking along side you in this journey.

  10. teshapapik says:

    What a blessing, you look beautiful in Labor! I also had three boys then my little girl, they really adore her. I am so very happy for you! She is gorgeous.

  11. Your story is incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t help but think; your Evelyn has already met her little sibling while she was waiting in Heaven to come to you.

    When God gives something he sure gives over-the-top! I rejoice with you for your peaceful birth. What a gift. What a treasure!

  12. This is beautiful..I appreciate you sharing with us.


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