Posts Tagged ‘Birth’

Preparing for Childbirth

With the birth of our second little one only a few weeks away, I am beginning all of my final preparations for bringing another baby into our home.  Some of the most important preparations this time around have been actually preparing for labor itself.  While I had a vague idea of the importance of preparation for labor the first time around, I had no idea the magnitude of its significance.  Now that I have been through it once, I am excited to do all I can to ease the way for the second time around.

One of the most profound truths I learned the first time around is that giving birth can be so much more than just something our bodies do after we have been pregnant for nine months.  We can either view labor and childbirth passively as something that simply happens to us, or we can see it as something intensely spiritual and even miraculous, with the God-given ability to sanctify us and make us more like Christ through the process.

In light of that fact, here are some of the practical ways in which I am preparing body, soul and spirit to give birth.

1.  Prepare Physically

Physical Exercises.  Giving birth is a massive physical effort.  Our bodies need to be toned and ready for this incredible feat.  But preparing physically does not have to be a task of insurmountable proportion!  Simply taking a daily walk is extremely beneficial.  Most childbirth books will recommend at least a few stretches and toning exercises to prepare for labor.  What to Expect When You are Expecting has some helpful exercises.  Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor, wall-squats tone leg muscles for giving birth while squatting, the dromedary droop aids in relieving back pain and pressure, just to name a few.  I have also done German Stabilization core strengthening (similar to Pilates) throughout my whole pregnancies and felt the positive effects daily.  Find a routine that is helpful to you and build these exercises into your morning routine just as you do with washing your face and brushing your teeth. You will find yourself feeling better during pregnancy, throughout labor and following birth if you do! You will not regret it!

Use Herbal Teas and Supplements.  Herbs have been used for thousands of years in the physical and emotional preparation for childbirth.  Some of the most widely used herbs are red raspberry leaf and nettles.  Red raspberry leaf is believed to relieve leg cramps, diarrhea, and morning sickness in pregnant women, as well as tone the uterus, reduce the risk of hemorrhage, ease pain in labor and post-partum recovery and increase breast milk. Nettle leaf is excellent to add to a tea around four weeks before delivery to aid in postpartum milk production. I enjoy Traditional Medicinals pregnancy teas.  My two favorite for preparing for labor are their Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and their Organic Pregnancy Tea.    Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wonderful variety of organic herbs to brew your own tea at a fraction of the cost.  Be sure to check with your midwife before drinking these teas, though, as red raspberry leaf in particular (depending on how strongly it is brewed) can cause contractions and even induce labor.  I have been drinking Traditional Medicinals throughout my entire pregnancy with no increased contractions, but as I am at risk for pre-term labor, I am holding off on brewing my own raspberry leaf tea until closer to my due date.’

Visit a Chiropractor.  Since our experience with upper cervical chiropractic care dramatically altered our son’s life, we are new “believers” in the amazing benefits of chiropractic care.  As there are many different forms of chiropractic–many of them not beneficial–I recommend finding a certified upper cervical chiropractor in your area.  Our wonderful chiropractor is Dr. Newhouse of Newhouse Health Solutions, and if you live in our area, we cannot recommend him highly enough!  Chiropractic care has been proven to decrease pain and duration of childbirth, can help align the baby for a safe and quick exit (using the Webster Technique), and can help keep your whole body aligned as your ligaments loosen up during pregnancy. For further information on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy, visit here.

2.  Prepare Emotionally

Studying the process of childbirth as God designed it has been one of the most amazing, rewarding, awe-inspiring things I have ever done! Preparing my mind for what to expect during labor and delivery, how the body works and functions, what problems can arise, and how to work through them, has been eye-opening and empowering.  I cannot recommend enough that each woman study this amazing process before they go through it! With my first, as excited as I was to experience giving birth, I didn’t feel the need to learn much about the process myself.  I expected the doctors to handle that department.  And I figured my body would just kick itself into gear and do what it was supposed to do whether I informed myself on the process or not.  After all, women have been giving birth for thousands of years, right? What’s to know? I actually found that informing myself on the process has helped immensely in relieving fear and anxiety, as well as giving me tools to cope with labor.

Two Excellent Natural Childbirth Resources:

The Christian Childbirth Handbook. I have been so     blessed by reading this book! Obviously coming from a Christian perspective, this book details not only the body’s physical process of giving birth, but weaves in Scripture and God’s good design to offer comfort for anxiety and fear during labor.  I also love the balanced approach to a desire for natural childbirth and the reality of complications or medical emergency making that impossible.  The wealth of information on how God designed our bodies to work in giving birth caused me to stand in awe of our Creator and fall in love with His design.  The knowledge it afforded me has increased my excitement and given me tools to cope with the fear and pain involved.  It also addresses issues at the heart level and encourages belief in God’s goodness and sovereignty no matter how labor and delivery may differ from what you had planned.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth is an excellent tool for informing yourself about the process of birth, as well as what to expect in a normal birth, variations, possible complications, the risks and benefits involved in each medical intervention, etc.  A wonderful resource for understanding all that is happening and could be suggested to aid the labor process.

Take a Childbirth Class

Most hospitals offer childbirth or Lamaaze classes for their patients before they give birth.  These can be a one day class or a multiple week course, depending on where you go.  You can also take more advanced courses on natural childbirth like Bradley offers.  These can be pricey, but they are well worth the investment!

3.  Prepare Spiritually

Labor is, for most people, intense, painful, and exhausting.  No matter how prepared you are for childbirth, the experience can throw curves you did not expect and test even the most educated laborer.  Childbirth brings with it not only physical pain, but emotional fear of the process itself.  Labor can try your patience, perseverance, and pain tolerance!  All of these things can either cause a person to spiral out of control into panic, or you can ask the Lord to give you the presence of mind to allow all of these things to sanctify you and draw you into deeper relationship with Him.  Childbirth can be a miraculously spiritual experience of crying out to the Lord and finding his grace and strength is sufficient when you are at the end of your own.

Ushering a new life into the world and then nurturing that life is one of the most amazing tasks the Lord has given to us.  It is one of the sweetest and most rewarding blessings.  It is also one of the most intensely challenging roles we can possibly have.  I had no idea the truth of this statement until our firstborn arrived, and I found myself sorely lacking in spiritual preparation for all that motherhood demanded of me. I have prayed ever since Jeshuah’s birth that the Lord would use the lives of our children to mold and sanctify my heart through the sacrifices required of me.  In my pursuit of holiness in the calling of motherhood, I have found a couple of books I particularly refreshing.

Calm My Anxious Heart.  Linda Dillow addresses the issue of contentment in all circumstances and its relation to anxiety.  She challenges our hearts to rest in God’s sovereignty in all things and not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  As post-partum fear and anxiety was a huge struggle for me after my last birth, I am clinging to the truths of Scripture and words of wisdom found in this book.

In The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson outlines the importance of the calling of motherhood with Scriptural encouragement to not grow weary of doing good, even when we do not see the result of our labors some days! A great resource to remind us of the eternal value of our roles as mothers.

Comforts from the Cross. Elyse Fitzpatrick has a profound gift for weaving the truth of the gospel into the circumstances of everyday life. With short, almost devotional-length chapters, she addresses multiple issues that we each face daily and confronts them with the gospel.  A delightful, easy read full of long-lasting, heart penetrating truths.

Finally, as you do all you can to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for childbirth and motherhood, come before the Lord with hands open in surrender to His will in all of it.  Preparation is important and it is a wise task, but it can cause us to claim too much ownership in an area we are meant to continually surrender to God’s providence.  We can be tempted to insist that, because we have “done our part,” God owes us a labor, delivery, and baby just the way we prepared for.  But I am reminded of Psalm 84:11, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  However labor, delivery, and recovery progress, God is good in the midst of it all.

Ask the Lord to enable you to let go of your desire for control in the area of both childbirth and motherhood.  Entrust the process of birth and the life of your little one into his care, knowing that He knows what is best for us so much more than we do!

Further Childbirth Reading:

Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of Fear in Childbirth

Scriptural Encouragement for Preparing and Giving Birth

Preparatory Resources for a Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth

Hello, Baby Bunting!

20 week ultrasound photoshoot

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday.  I was counting up, and even though I have had six total ultrasounds, four with this baby alone, I could hardly contain my excitement for this ultrasound.  Every time I see that tiny little baby squirming around in there it fills me with such awe of God’s creation!

The ultrasound was just as exciting as I anticipated, including Grandma Lisa accompanying and seeing her grandchild in utero! Baby Bunting (as I have affectionately dubbed him or her) was wiggling around like crazy. We had an amazing technician who explained and pointed to everything we were seeing and informed us the baby is weighing in at 13 oz and a due date of January 26 looks accurate.  We maintained our resolve to keep the gender a secret until birth and left the room thrilled that we get to have that little mystery this time.

The ultrasound was followed by an appointment with my midwife, where she assured us that everything looks wonderful and healthy with the baby, but where she cautioned to continue to be careful and take it easy throughout the course of the pregnancy.  Last weekend I had such intense cramping that I couldn’t even stand, so even though I feel carefree because we haven’t had any bleeding scares in awhile, things are still a bit risky for a preterm birth.

So, here’s hoping Baby Bunting continues to incubate for another 4 months!

I discovered an amazing Scripture this morning in my reading.

Psalm 71:6 “Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.”  Whenever it is that this baby makes its entrance, it is an amazing comfort to know that it is God who will bring this baby into the world. What an awesome God we serve!

Taking Refuge in the Gospel

Willcox Baby, Week 16

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13: 5-6

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure…You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill my with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:9, 10, 11

Stephen and I have been reading the Psalms lately. It has been awhile since I poured over them, and I had forgotten what a balm to the soul they are! If anyone knew suffering and trials, it was David! I love how honestly he relays his struggles, “How long will you forget me, oh God?”, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger…be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint.”  He grapples with serious, painful situations, but in the end, he always comes back to preaching truth to himself. Even while David may feel abandoned by God, he knows that God has always been faithful in the past. The Psalms always end with truth and rejoicing in God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Two major things have weighed heavily on our hearts these past few months.  The intensity, difficulty, and increasing demands of Stephen’s job, and this pregnancy, which seems to be ever hanging in the balance.  While we are grateful for his job, because it brought us to the Quad Cities and First Baptist Church, it is taking its toll on our family. The ever-lengthening hours and physical requirements take everything Stephen has to give, and he has practically nothing left when he gets home.  While we have been crying out to the Lord to provide another job the whole time we have been here, in the last few months, our cries have reached a new intensity as we both have reached our breaking point. Some days it is tempting to wonder if God has indeed forgotten us.

And then there is this little life within me.  It seems every couple of weeks, we are shakily calling the doctor again (it always happens to be after hours, too!) asking what we should do in light of the current situation.  When I get into the ER or the office, the answer is always the same.  They simply do not know what is wrong, if anything is wrong, what to do about it, and if or how this pregnancy will continue.  On our last visit, the doctor’s main concerns were 1)possibility still may miscarry 2)risk of preterm labor.  While it is wonderful to hear a heartbeat every visit, and amazing to see that tiny little body on the ultrasound screen wriggling around inside me, I am always left with the reality that that doesn’t promise anything for the future.

I have good days and bad days. I have days where I feel confident, hopeful, and peaceful, that everything is going to be fine, and I will deliver a healthy, full-term baby.  And I have days where I cannot climb out from under this weight of heaviness over my heart, gnawing at me that I will not get to raise this baby either.

That is why I am grateful for the Psalms! In God’s wisdom, he inspired men like King David and others to detail their heart’s wrestling over similar struggles, and in the end, to point them to God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his sovereignty.  In that is my hope found, and in nothing else.  God has placed us in such a way that we really have nothing to place our hope in, other than him. The doctors are baffled. They have no answers, only more questions. They have no promises that everything will be fine. They can quote statistics and say “You’ve carried the baby this far, hopefully that means something good!”  But that is a false foundation on which to build my hope. If I placed my hope in all of that, I would crumble and fall if that all fell through.

But if I hope in the Gospel, Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf, in God’s love for me, in his faithfulness and control over all things, I can rest securely that his will will be done, and he will be with us through it all, whether painful or joyful.  And I can trust that he is working all things together not only for my good, but for his glory.

“I have set the Lord always before me…I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

One Year Ago Today…

It is December 22, 2010. On this day, one year ago, our lives changed forever!

One year ago today:

-We awoke with a sense of relief and expectancy. Stephen had finished driving into Chicago for work and I could now officially have the baby any time I wanted, although the due date was still a full 11 days off. The Dr had told us not to hold our breath on making it to the due date.

-Since we had a strong feeling we wouldn’t be sitting around on Christmas morning, we celebrated our Christmas that Tuesday morning, with coffee, cinnamon rolls, and lots of wonderful presents!

-Due to impending bad weather, my Mama, whom we hoped to have with us during delivery, called and said it was now or never for her to drive the 4 hours over. While fighting guilt for not being in labor and stealing Mom from Dad for Christmas, I plotted all sorts of delightful things we could do together to while away the time while we waited for Baby to make his appearance.

-Mama arrived at 6pm and at 6:30, as we sat on the couch, Daddy called to ask if I was in labor. As Mom meekly replied that no, I was not exactly in labor and Dad may have to spend Christmas alone for no good reason, my water broke! We plunged into action.

-I ate supper and sat around, determined to wait until the last possible minute to go to the hospital. Mom timed contractions, and Stephen flew (and I mean FLEW) around the house trying to finish packing the hospital bag and collect all that we would need.

-By 8pm we were driving the thirty minutes to the hospital and I was texting everyone the news. My contractions were rapidly increasing in frequency, though still quite mild, and Mom and Stephen were growing more and more apprehensive. I was in the “excited, energized” stage of labor!

-When we arrived they hooked me up for some tests and then released me to walk around to my heart’s content. I laid out a bunch of games for us to play while we waited, but it soon became apparent that there would be no waiting!

This video cracks me up because I look extremely drowsy, and I’m not sure why. Maybe just laying down in that warm bed made me sleepy. But that didn’t last long!

-I was able to stay up on a birthing ball or walking around until the baby became distressed in the transition stage and things began progressing so quickly it threw everyone into a panic. As I inhaled oxygen (I should say “tried to” as Stephen was smashing the mask against my nose and mouth in his haste so that it was mostly counter-productive.) We soon righted that, and within 15 minutes, the baby’s heart rate was back up.

-Everything was in full swing. Stephen was counting and breathing with me, Mom was quoting Scripture, making up hilarious tunes about labor, and coaching me in what to think about (and what NOT to think about, like bears in the Boundary Waters!)

-Within minutes, I met the Dr. for the first time as he waltzed into the room, pulled on his gloves, caught the baby and threw him on my chest. I announced his name (complete with my hard won “h” at the end:-) and they began scrubbing him up so I could snuggle him.

It was 11:02pm. Jeshuah Paul Willcox had entered the world of the breathing. Our lives were changed forever. And we are so thankful!!

Here are some sweet videos:

Every day I am more amazed at God’s gift of children. There have been many, many difficult lessons thus far, and I know there will be many, many more. But the joy of motherhood so far outweighs the trials that I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness. Jeshuah is such a sweet delight!! I continue to pray that we will have wisdom in this weighty and lofty task of parenthood. I am convinced raising and training a little human is the most difficult task on earth. Such a responsibility! We can only do it with God’s help! Thank you all of you who have joined with us in this journey and offered advise, comfort, counsel, and shared in the joy of our son. There is nothing like seeing someone else love on your children!

And today, we are going to love on this little Bundle of Joy all day long!

Unto Us a Child is Born

Last night at 11:02, Jeshuah Paul Willcox entered the world! He is a healthy 8 lbs. and is 20 inches long and seems to be enjoying his time out of the womb:-)

It was all really quite amazing, how it happened. On Monday I felt lousy all day and had minor contractions. I felt super weird and had an inkling that Stephen and I should celebrate our “Christmas” Tuesday morning instead of waiting for the 25th. He agreed, and we excitedly looked forward to spending the day opening presents, eating cinnamon rolls, and making brunch together.

My contractions continued into the night and Tuesday, and I called Mom to give her a status report. She said she and Dad had been looking at the weather and thought if she was going to be able to come for Baby’s birth (which we were hoping would happen!), she probably should just leave and hang out until the Little Guy made his appearance–however long that might be!

Even though I was feeling progressively crummier, I still had the “this baby will never actually be born” delusion going on and felt really bad to steal Mom from Dad and The Kid for such a long period of time to just wait around. But Stephen thought it’d be a good idea, too, so I squelched my false guilt and just tried to think of it as a nice visit with Mom.

She arrived at 6pm. Thirty minutes later, we were visiting on the couch and Pops called to check up on her. Just as she said, “Nope, she’s not in active labor,” my water broke!! Within an hour, we were heading to the hospital, and a total of 4 1/2 hours later, Jeshuah entered the world of the breathing!

The Lord’s goodness was so evident during the whole process, I am continually overwhelmed by it. Stephen and I had a sweet Christmas Tuesday morning. Mom made it for the delivery. She never would have gotten here in time if she had waited for the “I’m in labor” phone call we all had planned on. I could never have survived labor without Mom and Stephen with me! They were like soild rocks the entire time, breathing with me, reminding me of truth and sweet memories, feeding me ice chips:-) And a major praise is that my back handled the entire thing wonderfully. I went without any medication and cannot believe how strong my back was! I continue to praise God for His goodness regarding that for my whole pregnancy!!

Now everyone is sleeping peacefully–except me:-) I haven’t been able to sleep tonight–probably adrenaline and hormones! But I have gone without sleep for much of my life, and the Lord has always proven faithful to be my strength. I do not doubt He will see me through this phase as well!

I will post more regarding his name, pictures, and his adorableness in subsequent posts.

Thank you all for your prayers–I FELT THEM!!! There was a time of intense panic when things progressed incredibly quickly (and oh, so painfully!) and the baby’s heart rate dropped drastically in response. But all of a sudden, during the last and most intense part of labor, a calm came over me, and I was completely relaxed and peaceful. I can only attribute the drastic change to the many of you faithful friends whom I know were praying into the night for us. Thank you!! We cannot wait for all of you to meet this Little Bundle of Joy!