A pregnancy that began unexpectedly continued in that vein all the way through labor and delivery. Everything that I thought would be was the opposite. That’s how Rowan entered the world.
When I took the pregnancy test, I didnt expect the positive. I was only testing because I had one and knew my period would be soon. When those two pink lines appeared I was surprised but not upset. Those feelings would come later.
Over the next few months, I went through a plethora of emotions. Especially after finding out it was our third boy. I had a difficult time adjust to that and dealing with the disappointment of not getting a girl and how was I going to deal with three crazy little boys.
The first trimester, I barely got off the couch because of how tired I felt. It wasnt easy dealing with the older boys and being exhausted. My patience didnt last long and momma guilt became a constant companion. Was I doing too little? How could I handle more? The boys seemed to take my mood and multiply it with their own 10x over. Days were not always bad, but bad days were really bad.
Somewhere along the way, I entered the second trimester and the tiredness ceased but then the itching began. At first, it seemed just normal dry skin itch that would be soothed with lotion. Then, as weeks carried on, the itch became unsatisfiable. Lotion or not, I was itching. I itched where my clothes touched. I developed a rash on my armpits, similar to one I had with Gabriel, as well as other similar symptoms.
Finally, around 34 weeks, we decided to test for ICP . We took blood for liver enzymes and blood for my bile acids. The liver enzyme test gets results back in a day, the bile acids can take up to 5 days. So the next day, I knew my liver was elevated and we quickly suspected that the bile acid results would come back positive for ICP.
My world was reeling. The labor and delivery with Gabe was one of the hardest things. I didnt go into labor on my own, but had to induce with castor oil and the kitchen sink. It lasted 19 hours, and I was transferred to the hospital from the birth center.
Here I was in an unexpected pregnancy with a boy again about to travel a very hard road I didnt want to go. After all that happened with Gabe, I had done a ton of research about ICP and knew the best course of action was getting the rx to keep bile acids down and deliver in my 37th week to prevent the risk of still birth.
I was scared, I was depressed, and I was hopeless. The whole next week I lived in a dark place thinking the worst and that there was no hope that the labor would be easy and that I wouldnt end up in a lot of pain and possibly at the hospital. The midwife and I discussed what the bile level results would mean and came up with a course of action. Thankfully, she said it depends on how high they are that we would induce at 37 because of it being a white boy and them having a harder time adjusting to life outside the womb, we wanted to keep him as safe as possible but in the womb as long as possible.
A week came and went, and my bile levels came back… normal! They were a 4 and anything above a 10 was ICP. Even with this sigh of relief and little hope, there was still a high chance of it turning into ICP as the weeks went on. Our plan was to try to get him out by week 39.
So as soon as I hit 37, I started taking labor prepping pills in an attempt to induce. Things that tone the uterus, things that help ripen the cervix, pumping, etc. Anything that would help bring labor on as early as possible.
My emotions often tended toward depression in this time. It was difficult to see hope or that it would end up anywhere but in the hospital. I would try to cling to God praying that every day was the day I would go into labor and meet this baby boy. I would plead with God for what I wanted. I would surrender and say do your will. I would be angry and ask him why he was doing this. I would praise him because he knew best. Ironically in this time I was doing a bible study on 1 and 2 Kings that was themed trusting God. It kept me afloat and motivated to keep going.
Kyle came home a few times to me melting down. Just dealing with the boys and all the pregnancy hormones seemed to overwhelm me 3 of 5 days he worked.
In addition to that, the rx seemed to make me itch more rather than give relief, but I kept taking it knowing it would help keep my baby safe. Weeks came and went and although I would have Braxton hicks and prodominal labor.. labor itself was far off.
There were two times I thought for sure labor had started, only to realize nothing was progressing.
So week 39 came on a Friday, and on Saturday my braxton hicks woke me up in the night. I thought for sure this was it. They kept coming at a regular interval, I just needed them to pick up and do something. So, Kyle and I decided to send the kids on their way so we could walk hopefully making labor progress.
After hours of walking, I tried some pumping and by 3pm everything had stopped and I was exhausted. No progress and all that work for seemingly nothing.
Over the next week, I met with my midwife and she told me I was all but 1.5 dilated so we made a plan to induce by breaking my water the next week if another week came and went. I was devastated. At the rate things were going, that seemed to be where I was at. Here I lasted all this time against all odds by the hand of God’s protection hoping labor would begin only to end up at the end still inducing.
In one of the times that I was praying, praising God and trying to find hope in him, I felt God speak to me through these verse:
“Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord ; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.” For thus says the Lord : “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.
Isaiah 66:7-14 ESV
It gave me hope. I felt like God had been telling me to wait and trust him. Even though things were looking like I thought they were, he was telling me that he was doing something new. Not what I planned but he was working and it would still be perfect.
How do you continue to cling to that when the world around you is crumbling and your hope is fading?
Kyle would encourage me. Some people would say why are you waiting, others would say those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint .
That night she had checked me, Thursday, I had horrible itching that woke me up for several hours. With everything going on, one thing I was glad was that the itching was not as bad as it had been with my pregnancy with Gabe. But this night was reminiscent of the nights with Gabe. I was not going to go through a week of this only to induce anyway. The next morning, I was ready to go ahead and induce. What was the point of waiting anymore?
But then, How could I not wait on God? He hadn’t failed me, and yet I was running out of borrowed time. I decided to give it Friday night and Saturday to see if I was itching as bad as Thursday night. If I did, I would go ahead and induce Sunday. The days came and went, but thankfully the itching wasnt as bad as it had been that Thursday. By Monday, I felt a little more hopeful.
Sunday during the day, I lost my mucus plug. I was ecstatic seeing a little bit of hope that something was happening. Then, I had been up several hours Sunday night with contractions I couldnt sleep through. I also felt a small pop one time as I was getting out of bed. I thought was that my water? But, it wasnt the same as it had been with Kai. There had been more water. So, I chalked it up to other things. As I went throughout Monday, there was more fluid but not constant. I kept going back and forth about what it could be. No labor progression even though the contractions I had had that night seemed to be going somewhere nothing happened.
I kept asking Kyle why I should wait. If we should go ahead and he kept spurring me on. Saying that I felt like I should wait on God and we were going to wait. His faith was holding on more than mine. I didn’t see how God was going to do it in this 9th hour.
I went on walks during the day, hoping things would help. During the day Monday, I got an email from our photographer that she was going out of town thursday and it just seemed like one more thing going against me and that time was up.
Monday night, I was again up for several hours with contractions I couldnt sleep through. Then again that morning more fluid leaked than had been previously. This time I had nothing I could blame it on besides the amniotic fluid. But, I pushed it aside for the time being. I met up with Honour and we walked for a little bit at a park then let the kids play then I went home to rest.
I was hopeless. Two nights of waking up with contractions only to have them taper off into nothing again. Leaking fluid and know that I had only one day and two nights left before induction. I cried and cried after I put the kids down for the quiet time.
I told God and Kyle that I was done and I surrendered all hope. That the last little bit before the baby was induced on Thursday I would just rest, watch tv and not try to bring labor on. I couldn’t do it anymore and I was broken.
Around 430 my itching kicked up, and I took a bath to help sooth it before I had to go cook dinner for us. I was still leaking fluid but nothing constant. By this time, I had decided that I had a leak in my sac but nothing major and just was going back and forth about telling my midwife. Dr Google told me it wasnt that big of a deal, and I knew the baby still had plenty of fluid around him.
After the bath, because my skin hurt to be touched, I put my robe on and cooked dinner. As I was standing there I felt more fluid leak out and decided I should finally at least mention it to my midwife to see what she said.
I text her and she called me within several minutes. We discussed it and decided that she should come test it to see what it was. But both of us knew what it was. Also, on the phone, she mentioned that if it was my amniotic fluid leaking it was probably time to go ahead and get the baby out. Even though on the phone I told her to bring stuff just in case on the inside I was panicked now. I had just surrendered to Thursday but not tonight. I had two nights left and here time was gone. Ripped out from underneath me like a rug.
While waiting on her to arrive, since I was still having Braxton hicks, I tried to stimulate them with pumping to see if that would help bring labor on that evening. I did have several contractions while I waited.
She was there within an hour. We tested it 3 times. The first time, it came back positive and then the subsequent times it was negative. While she was here, she checked me and the good news was that I was now at 3cm. We decided to go ahead and do a stretch and sweep to see if that would bring labor on. After she finished, I was a 4 cm and she confirmed a high leak and not that my whole sack had broken. She wanted to go ahead and break it to deliver the baby within a few hours, but I wasnt ready yet.
We decided to wait til morning to break my water in the hopes that the stretch and sweep worked. She left, what appeared to me, reluctantly and I went to work with breast stimulation to get my contractions going. This was between 7 and 8 pm. By 930, after we had gotten the kids to bed, I could feel a difference in my contractions and knew that labor had begun. We decided to go ahead and and the boys to Honour’s in case the baby came tonight or in preparation for the mornings water breaking.
Kyle took them and I stayed behind working on contractions. When he got home, it was around 1030 and finished a show while I was working through contractions then decided on a walk. They slowed a bit as I let my body take over instead of stimulating things but they continued at an even pace with me knowing that these were the real thing and all i had to do this evening was get it to a 5 to kick my body into labor.
After the walk, I got very tired and just wanted to go to bed instead of labor. So we headed that way. I laid down and with 2 minutes was back up because of the pain of the contraction. It was useless, I wasnt going to be able to sleep through them. As I stood discussing with Kyle what we were going to do, I had a pushing sensation. Kyle and I agreed to call the midwife and get her back worried that she would miss the birth.
Thankfully the pushing sensation didnt last long and seemed to be nothing. Labor was going on but we still had time and my midwife was on her way. We went back out to the living room. We had the birth tub ready to go and put on the Greatest Showman while i stood and swayed through contractions. 20 minutes or so passed and I got a call from my midwife. She got a flat on her way and so Kyle went to get her. Just as he Got there though, she had been able to put the donut on so they both returned back to the house.
I dealt with contractions and watched the movie while they were gone. They got back. We chatted for 5 or 10 min and she sat up things. Then she checked me to see where we were. Thankfully, by now I was a 6cm. My water sac was bulging and she asked if she could break it. I said no that I wanted to wait so she agreed. After only 30 to 45 minutes more, in the middle of a contraction, my water finally broke fully. Thankfully, I had been standing on the tarp that the birth tub was on and it didnt make a huge mess everywhere else.
We started filling the tub and I got in as contractions pick up in intensity. We had finished greatest showman and had put on Sense and Sensibility as a background noise. Mostly we chatted through contractions though. It was relaxed and peaceful besides the pain of the contractions. The birth tub felt like an amazing hot tub I had been missing out on for months. But the contractions were pretty bad.
Thankfully, as I got through them, the talking and the movie helped distract me from the pain. I began to mention my fear of the upcoming pushing . With the pain level, I knew it was right around the corner and I was scared.
The midwife encouraged me saying that I could do it and it would be fine. It would be the final step to having my baby. I had made it this far and there was no stopping it.
I didnt really feel encouraged but her words rang true. I knew there was nothing I could do and eventually I would have to embrace it and not fight it. With each contraction, I started to feel the urge to push.
Each contraction was now unbearable. I was coping with some self applied counter pressure. Kyle tried to help but with the pain, I couldnt stand the addition of touch to my skin. My midwife encourage me to try pushing, both of us thinking it was time. I tried and felt what I thought him coming down a bit, but one or two more contractions didnt seem to amount to anything plus I needed to use the bathroom now.
I didnt want to get out of the water but couldnt just pee in the tub. After one or two more contractions she checked me and told me I was still an 8 and had a lip. Not time to push but time to go to the bathroom.
So finally I worked up the courage after a contraction to run to the bathroom, go potty and try to get back before the next contraction. I managed to get there and almost back before the contraction bit. After doing that, it cleared the last little bit of lip and the baby started coming. Mentally, I started praying for strength to get through the pushing. Christina and Kyle encouraged me telling me I could do it. It took a couple of contractions but finally I hunkered down and embraced the pushing. I was pushing before then but it was a mix of pushing it and not pushing it because of the pain. I felt him move down and the ring of fire begin.
I told my midwife between contractions I didnt want to tear and she said she would help as much as she could and tell me when I needed to stop and wait. So the final few contractions, I focused on pushing but not too fast so that it would have time to stretch and not tear. Between contractions, I held back tears from the pain, but was able to manage. This whole time I was praying while dealing with it. I later found out that right as he was being pushed out, and I was praying for help, my sister’s dream had changed and she was praying for me in her sleep. She woke up praying and looked at the clock she was it was 310 am. God is so good to have a great cloud of witnesses and support for us when we don’t even know it.
She said he is coming and finally I pushed him out with a declaration of “oh, thank God, he’s out!” I held him and he did a small cry about 10 sec out. Then he did a full cry 30 seconds or so later. I cried a little bit from the pain and relief of being done and then I focused on Rowan.
The rest after the birth was uneventful. I moved from the tub to the bed, delivered the placenta. He was weighed and measured. Other after birth stuff. It was finished, all by the grace of God. My labor started and finished before we had to take measures to “induce”. He is a healthy 7lbs 11 oz, 20.5 in long and 13 in head.
All the hope I lost was redeemed in the end. Even with things spiralling out of control, God remained faithful and in control.
Two days later, I am so grateful to be free from all the ways pregnancy held my body captive. Unfortunately, I’m still experiencing the itching but know with time that too will return to normal. This story is about hope, God’s faithfulness. Trusting God to the end and knowing that He will be glorified and his word does not go out from His mouth and return void. If you feel God leading you, do not depart from it. One of the last things before Tuesday evening I felt God speaking to me was the story of Saul as he waited for Samuel to offer the sacrifices to the Lord. As he waited and Samuel was long in coming, he got impatient and offered the sacrifices himself just as Samuel arrived. Because of this, it cost him the kingdom.
A week later, I am happy to report my itching has stopped completely. Things have ticked up in the world with social isolation and corona but things here have settled down.
Rowan is a sweet little guy who makes the noisiest noises when he is awake but hardly ever cries. He sleeps more often then not and seems to have a chill personality. Only time will tell if he will be as rambunctious as his two older brothers.