This New Year’s Eve, I sit in a quiet house with two children sleeping and my husband and I enjoying peace and each other’s company. Reflecting over the past few weeks and Lily’s amazing birth story is awe inspiring to say the least. I am struck by God’s providence, direction and ultimate plan that has come together in a way that I would have never imagined. God always seems to know what I need and provides it in such unexpected and creative ways.
Lily’s birth story starts with my pregnancy, which was basically healthy and uneventful, aside from run-of-the-mill nausea and some fatigue at the end. I chose to work with a homebirth midwife and her apprentices for my care, who also happen to be friends. What a blessing! They are strong in their faith and I felt that was integral to receiving good care throughout the pregnancy and birth process. It really made all the difference.
I also received bi-weekly chiropractic care during the last trimester. That care really eliminated any aches and pains I had been experiencing and aligned my pelvis perfectly so that Lily moved into a beautiful anterior position in preparation for birth.
This year has been remarkable because in March of 2010 my Mom moved from Minnesota to North Carolina to live with us after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Two weeks after she moved here, I got pregnant. She achieved remission in a clinical trial and I thought that the purpose of my pregnancy was to give her hope and something to live for. That might have been part of it, but the past few weeks have revealed that it wasn’t the whole story.
For the three weeks before I reached full-term, my Mom went out to California to visit her sister (my aunt) Marilyn. Allen and I were looking forward to having the house to ourselves before the birth of Lillian and we enjoyed lots of romantic date nights in front of the fire. Mom seemed very healthy when she left, but part way through her visit she called to tell me that she’d been to the emergency room with pain in her abdomen. Upon doing a CT scan, the hospital saw ascites in her peritoneal cavity, along with nodules. I did a little research online and discovered that neither of these things could mean anything very good with regards to her health, but I figured we’d have some time with her no matter what happened and that we could enjoy Christmas together.
Mom came home on December 8th and had lots of doctors appointments and tests at Duke, so she stayed with our cousin Dale. I was full-term, so couldn’t do the drive back and forth to help out. The doctors thought that she had ovarian cancer.
On the morning of December 16th, I woke up to the feeling of fluid leaking out of me. I knew I wasn’t peeing on myself, so I figured it must be amniotic fluid. I called my midwife’s apprentice and decided to wait to see if it would happen again. It did, so I called her back and we figured we’d see a baby soon. My midwife’s birth tub was in use, so I scrambled to see if I could find one to borrow or rent from someone else. My friends Brooke and Molly have one they rent out and it was available. My friend Amber went to pick it up and brought it to the house for me. Allen came home from work to watch Will and I was having some contractions, so I thought things were picking up. I let my doula know to be ready when the time came. I started the Hibiclense protocol since I didn’t know my GBS status and also took my temp regularly to make sure there wasn’t an infection.
I called my Mom that morning to share the joyous news with her that my water had broken, but when she picked up the phone she was in horrible pain and said that Dale and Diane had called an ambulance to take her to the hospital. My uncle drove in from Kansas and was with her at the hospital and they ended up admitting her. While I was trying to focus on labor and contractions, I was also worried about my Mom and spending a lot of time on the phone trying to communicate with family. Mom was not doing well. Her oxygen level was 88, hemoglobin 8 and kidney function borderline. They decided to do a blood transfusion on her. We still had no concrete answers about her condition or its treatment. I was beginning to realize that I was going to have to lose my Mom and birth my baby all within the same general timeframe and that was so much for me to take in. I prayed for God to give me strength and wisdom.
Contractions started picking up that afternoon and my doula came and spent the night with us. She lives an hour away, so wanted to be close. Contractions petered out. The next morning, I figured that things would start back up again and called to check in with my midwife and my midwife’s apprentice. My midwife suggested castor oil, but I was really uncomfortable with that and decided against using it. She was respectful of that. My midwife’s apprentice came over to the house to check on me and on Lillian and everything looked good. She left her doppler with me so that I could listen to the baby’s heart rate periodically.
I spoke with my friend Molly, who suggested a long bath, prayer time and some special essential oils, which Brook brought over to me. My friend Angela brought over some hypnosis CD’s for me to use, as well. That evening, after a nice long bath in the essential oils, contractions really started to pick up. I had to concentrate through them and truly thought “this is it.” My doula, Patti, came over to the house again and I got into the birth tub, as suggested by my midwife’s apprentice. Once in the tub, contractions stopped. I decided to go to bed.
The next morning, I thought I’d try to give my body a good jump start and tried inducing labor using cohosh, nipple stimulation, essential oils and a brisk walk. My body did nothing. After that, I realized that I might be trying to force labor rather than letting God direct it. I prayed for God to direct my thoughts and actions. I asked for forgiveness in trying to control something that is ultimately not within my reach to control. Patti suggested that my family just take a normal day to enjoy being a family together and relax. Upon listening to God, I basically heard that I hadn’t slept for more than two hours at a time in four nights and that with all the drama going on with my Mom, I was not relaxed or rested enough for my body to endure labor. If I wanted to go into labor, I had to let go of what was happening with my Mom, stay away from my phone and get some rest. I spoke with my midwife and her apprentice and we agreed in prayer to wait on labor as long as baby and I were healthy and we didn’t hear otherwise from God. I decided to cease trying to force labor and to wait for God to start things up naturally in good time.
Once I made the decision to wait for labor to begin naturally, I felt much better. I meditated on 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” and on Isaiah 66:9 “Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the Lord; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God.”
I know that not everyone is comfortable waiting for labor to begin once amniotic fluid is leaking. Certainly, not even I would be comfortable with that in all circumstances. But, God let me know that was what I was supposed to do in my circumstance this time and that the baby and I would be fine. So, I took hygienic matters and trusted God. I learned to wait and to have faith in God’s promises to me.
During this time, Allen was blessed to have the week off from work. That was essential because he was able to babysit my phone for me and keep distractions to a minimum, as well as help with Will while I was trying to rest. Friends were essential for support. People stopped in and out and our friend Stephanie even brought us a wonderful dinner of homemade vegetable soup and bread one night.
Each day that went by, my Mom was in worse condition than the day before. Her pain was worse and her body was weaker. My grandparents flew in to be with her and I was so glad that she was not alone at the hospital, though I wanted to go and be with her more than anything. I also wanted to bring her Lily while she was still alive. But, I prayed to God for those things and the only message I received in reply was “wait.” I had this feeling that God’s plan was not my plan and it broke my heart but I knew that I had to trust the Lord and focus on first things first. I needed to take care of myself so that I could birth this baby that God had given us.
While we were waiting for news on my Mom’s condition and for true labor to begin for me, I felt kind of like we were in this space of the unknown, like everywhere I looked was foggy and I couldn’t see anything clearly at all. I just knew I had to trust. I meditated on Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I also listened to “While I’m Waiting” a lot. I really felt like I was in the middle of that song. You can watch the video for that on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3b2jw1rjBc
I also meditated on the nativity story from the book of Luke. I found myself relating to Mary in some ways. She had a lot of pressure on her and uncertainty in her life. She didn’t even know where she was going to birth her baby and she was turned away no matter where she looked. Yet, the Lord made sure the birth was perfect, even in a manger with all the animals and the unsanitary conditions there. It reminded me that though things were rough with my Mom and though I didn’t know when labor would begin, God would be faithful and things would work out just as they were supposed to. If Mary could birth our savior into this world with all the societal pressures and stigmas she was up against, as well as without a room to stay in, certainly I could birth Lillian according to God’s will and timetable.
Finally, December 23rd I started getting into a regular contraction pattern, with contractions coming 5-10 minutes apart and lasting for 45 seconds to a minute each. The 23rd is Allen’s birthday, so we originally thought the baby might be born on his birthday. But, contractions didn’t grow closer together and I was even able to catch a couple of hours of sleep that night. Contractions continued in the same pattern during the day of the 24th, Christmas Eve. We went out to do a little last minute shopping and I was having contractions in the store and had to hang on Allen a couple of times to cope with them. During the afternoon, I was able to catch a 45 minute nap.
True labor began at 6:00 pm, with 60-90 second contractions that were spaced 2-2 ½ minutes apart and growing stronger and stronger. Will was trying to open his Christmas presents and I wanted to participate but I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the contractions. I asked Allen to call the midwives and our doula. He filled the birth tub with warm water.
Around 8:00, my midwife’s apprentice arrived, followed by Patti and by my midwife. I still wasn’t sure if I was actually going to get a baby out of what was going on. But, I focused inward and prayed to God, who held me through contractions. Even though Lillian was in a nice OA position, I had back labor, so I used my thumbs to provide counter pressure during contractions. That worked nicely and seemed to work better than when others tried to provide the pressure for me using their hands or massage implements.
At 8:30, my water broke with a gush and I was leaking like someone turned on the faucet. Contractions intensified quickly, but I retreated to my God-zone and made it easily through them one by one, vocalizing with deep low moans.
Around 9:30 or 10:00, I decided to get in the tub. The water felt good, but it took me a few contractions to figure out the most comfortable laboring position. I ended up alternating between sitting on my knees and resting on both hands and knees. Each contraction washed over me like a wave and Patti poured water on my back in between contractions. The atmosphere was intensely spiritual and calm.
I didn’t even realize when I was in transition. I was so focused on God and on allowing God to use my body to birth this baby that it never dawned on me that labor was progressing quickly and easily. That God-connection was the strongest element of my internal life at that time. By 10:40, I started making grunting noises. I figured it was impossible that I was pushing already and I laughed to myself when I saw my midwives putting on their plastic aprons and long plastic gloves. I figured they’d be wearing them all night long and getting mighty hot in all the plastic that doesn’t breathe. LOL!
It didn’t take long until the grunting noises became wonderfully powerful pushes, with me on all fours in the tub. Allen supported my chin and shoulders to keep my face out of the water. Pushing felt wonderful, intense and productive. I let God move through my body and use it to bring my baby into the world. Pretty soon, I heard everyone saying they heard the head. They were all so supportive as my body naturally pushed my baby out. I felt her head crown and next thing you know her head was out. My body rested for a minute and then pushed her shoulders out. My midwife pushed her through my legs and I picked her up myself and brought her out of the water and onto my chest. Lillian Agnes Kinsey was born at 11:12 pm on Christmas Eve.
Immediately, I started crying and praising the Lord for the sweet baby in my arms. I was laughing and bawling and everything all at once. It was an amazingly spiritual moment and I could feel the Holy Spirit very strongly in the room. There was this amazing feeling of joy and wonder. It was awesome to me that my body felt good after birthing the baby and I was not in any way crippled or in pain. I started trying to nurse Lily in the pool. Seven minutes after she was born, the placenta came out and Allen cut the cord which had stopped pulsing on its own.
My midwives had me get out of the pool and dried me off so I could get in the bed. They wanted to make sure my bleeding was okay, and it was. Lily latched on a few minutes later and they did the newborn exam after that. Lily weighed in at 8lbs 7oz, 20 ¾ inches long, with a 14-inch head. I did not tear at all and didn’t need stitches. Praise the Lord!
My midwife’s assistant brought me a piece of lasagna once I was ready to eat and I was able to relax in bed with the baby. Shortly after, she left to go home and our little family settled in to relax for the night. Will slept through the entire birth.
After Lily’s birth, my Mom took a sharp turn for the worse. She started calling me multiple times per day from her hospital room screaming in pain, telling me she was in misery and begging for help. On Christmas day, she asked why I wasn’t there with her, where my Grandparents were and why she was all alone. Listening to her phone calls was a certain kind of hell for me. I wanted to rescue my Mom, yet there was nothing I could do but pray. Christmas night, my Mom called me again to tell me that she had decided she wanted to go home to Jesus. This life was too much for her and living had become a burden. I truly believe that the Lord knew that I could not handle my Mom’s downward spiral without a beacon of hope and new life. That new life was Lily and she brought me laughter and smiles during a time that would have otherwise been too hard to bear.
On the 26th, we finally had answers about my Mom’s condition. It wasn’t ovarian cancer as previously thought, it was plasmacytomas causing her body to fail her. Plasmacytomas are from multiple myeloma and the kind they found in Mom were highly aggressive and untreatable. The fluid in her peritoneal cavity was pressing up on her diaphragm, causing fluid in her lungs and pushing up on her heart. Her kidneys and bowels had failed and her urine output was very low. She and my grandparents decided on hospice and the doctor called to confirm with me. Of course, I agreed. The doctor let me have one last conversation with my Mom to say my goodbyes before they started giving her the strong medications. The next night (the 27th) at 11:55 pm, Mom went home to our Lord with my Grandparents at her side.
I had hoped to travel to see Mom with Lily before she died, but things didn’t work out that way. I needed to wait until after my 3-day check on the 27th, so I couldn’t travel until the 28th. I actually now believe that God was protecting me from seeing things I couldn’t handle with regard to my Mom’s death. Because of God’s protection, the last memories have of her were of a week and a half earlier when she was still quite vibrant, functional and herself. I also believe that God was looking out for my dear children.
Lily has brought such hope to me and to my family during this time. I smile every time I look at her. She is such an easy going baby. As long as she’s nursed and changed, she is good to go. She is hope and joy in the fullest sense of those words and God knew she was just what we needed. The rest of the family has also called to tell me how much Lily’s birth means to them and how she represents the circle of life, hope and God’s perfect timing. I am so grateful for this sweetie and praise God that I have such joyful things going on during a time that would otherwise seem desolate. Thank you Lord!
In other senses, Lily’s birth has also been important, empowering and healing. We lost a son, Lucas, at 18-weeks before I got pregnant with her (12-26-0 and her birth has healed so many of our hurts from when Lucas died. Also, we had a traumatic hospital birth experience with Will in 2007 and so having a beautiful God-directed home water birth with faithful caregivers, 5 hours of labor and a healthy mama and baby have made all the difference. I no longer feel any sense at all of having a broken body. I know without a doubt that God created my body perfectly and knows how to use it to bring babies into the world. It is amazing and empowering!
Postpartum stuff is going amazingly well. I have to remind myself that I had a baby a week ago because I feel perfectly fine and normal. Recovery was an absolute breeze this time.My milk came in within 24-hours. Lily is such a happy baby and that makes it very easy to take care of her. I want to snuggle her all day long! My mood is excellent and I don’t feel any twinge of baby blues at all. I am so grateful for this entire experience. I have truly learned to wait on the Lord and my faith has been so enriched by the rollercoaster of the past few weeks and by the amazingly blessed birthing experience that God brought to my family. Thank you, Lord, for little Lillian Agnes Kinsey. This is a baby with a special purpose who brings a special blessing to our family, as a shining beacon of hope and joy. Hallelujah!
Anne, mommy to five:
Lillian, born 12-24-10
Will, born 10-19-07
New little one, due 9-19-2012
Lucas Robert, born to Jesus @ 18 weeks on 12-26-08 (due 5-28-09)
Ectopic Angel 10-24-06
what a beautiful story. I am glad you were able to use your faith and prayer to help you through it and listen to what God was saying to you during such a tumultuous time. Once again, congratulations on the arrival of Lillian...the pics on your blog were amazing. Love Allen's proud daddy look in all the pics!
I love that song you linked...might have to add that to my playlist.
What an amazing story Anne and thank you so much for sharing. Your family is in my prayers. Congrats on the birth of Lily and I am so very very sorry for the loss of your mom.
Christy birth doula, Hypnobabies instructor, small business owner & most importantly MOMMY.
Thanks so much y'all!!
Here are a few photos from the birth and the past week
Anne, mommy to five:
Lillian, born 12-24-10
Will, born 10-19-07
New little one, due 9-19-2012
Lucas Robert, born to Jesus @ 18 weeks on 12-26-08 (due 5-28-09)
Ectopic Angel 10-24-06
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us, and you look amazing.
DD - Nov/06, DS - Sept/08, DS - Mar/11
What an inspiring birth story! Thank you for sharing it with us. Lily is beautiful!
Chase-13, Trey-11, Layton-9, Zander-5, McKay-3, Declan-1, Keely born 9/6/2012
Beautiful pictures and such an inspiring birth story. So sorry to hear about your mom passing. You are one amazing woman!
DS Ethan 1/29/08,
DD Lola 2/2/10
DS2 Weston 2/18/12