This is Ethan's story; it is his birth. And someday I hope that he will read this and know that, although our journey seemed at first like a run-away train, from the beginning he has always been a gift from God. Kurt and I feel the importance of sharing our journey....
Last summer, our older two children prayed diligently for a younger brother, and we were thrilled on Kurt's birthday to tell our children that we were having another baby. Then the wild ride began, or maybe just continued. Our daughter Andrea had been a c-section born through a terrible set of medical interventions, which were not medically necessary in hindsight. Nathan, our energetic two-year old, was born naturally at the hospital through the help of a caring doula and wise nurse. Our OB was supportive and came in time to "catch." However, with our third, our supportive OB did three unnecessary procedures and tests in the first two visits. Then there was the double billing for the same procedure and the inability to even address the problems with the dr. I was treated like I did not know anything. After much prayer we left the practice.
The next practice started out better but ended worse (and my husband and I are not confrontational people). The dr. who did our ultrasound at 20 weeks threatened me with the death of our child for attempting a VBAC (never mind that we had already had a successful and safe arrival of Nathan) and yelled at me so loud that the receptionist came running. In his rant, he scoffed, "why don't you just go have a homebirth and be stupid." I wish I were making this up. The death-curse of his words was something that I fought the rest of my pregnancy.
Needless to say Kurt said we were not going back and suggested we seek out a midwife who performed homebirths. We did. From the moment we met Kathy we knew this was where God wanted us to be. She addressed Kurt as the head of our household and thoroughly included him in everything. She educated us more than any other of my OB appointments throughout every child! We learned volumes about how God has created us and formed women's bodies to perform the miracle of birth - all from a Christian perspective. Still, this was going to be a wild ride. Instead, though, of having the vision of a train wreck, God gave me the vision of an unfolding blossom - white, new, and a gift from Him. His promise to me was that this birth would be a gift. I did not know how desperately I would need to cling to that promise in the coming days.
I had always been early with my two older children so when my due date approached I was more than a little antsy. Then, early Friday morning, I thought that my water broke, but only a tiny amount. Saturday Kathy confirmed what was a slow high "leak" in the outer sac. Not a problem when at home she reassured me. But being used to the medical intervention model, we were worried. Then, Sunday came and went with nothing but strong braxton hicks contractions. Monday, Memorial Day, I woke up still pregnant and in almost utter despair. I left Kurt a note and walked to Walgreens at 5:30 am. I held three small strands of hope, one of which was that God had promised this birth would be a gift. Two miles and I was home and started the herbal induction that Kathy had suggested. By 6 pm, dark and fearful thoughts had taken hold in my mind. I was in tears and lying on the floor of the kids' room when Kathy came to check on me. I was holding Ethan's birth outfit and weeping loudly. The fearful words of death replaying in my mind. I just wanted to hold my baby and know that he was safe. Kathy said I needed to surrender this birth to God and I did.
After a shower and a late dinner, the contractions started again but were still not painful. It was 9:30 pm. Just one contraction was very uncomfortable and one hurt while I was trying to walk upstairs. I made it to the birthing ball in the bedroom and Kurt called Kathy. In a few minutes I was feeling the pushing contractions and told Kurt who promptly called Kathy back! I slid down to become horizontal because I knew that would slow labor down long enough for Kathy and her assistant Rachel to get to me. I still thought that it may be braxton hicks that would stop again.
Rachel arrived quickly from across town and delivered the bag of waters, which was intact confirming that I had had a high leak. Kathy arrived shortly and the pushing was incredibly intense but not at all painful. I could feel the outline of my hip bones shifting to make room for my baby. I remember thinking with great comfort that this was the hardest work I would ever do and I was able to rest completely in between pushes. Kurt was coaching me through everything quietly reassuring me. Kathy and Rachel only whispered to each other when necessary. It was peaceful and I felt safe and calm. I got upright against the bed on the floor and within a couple pushes felt the burn of crowning. I don't consider that painful; it was actually a relief. Kathy coached me quietly through delivery of his head because his hand was next to his head and he wouldn't move it. Then Kurt delivered his body and carefully handed Ethan to me. The moment was indescribable. I held my Gift safe and beautiful in my arms. He tried to nurse a little and was so content we were amazed at how peaceful he was. He was born at 11:38 pm - just over 2 hours of labor. Kathy weighed him and asked Kurt how much he thought Ethan weighed. Kurt guessed correctly 8 lbs 7 oz. Shocked that he was so accurate, Kathy asked how he knew. Kurt replied, " I guess because I'm a UPS man!" That brought down the house as we all burst out laughing.
Kurt bathed and dressed Ethan while Kathy and Rachel put me in an herbal bath with fresh flowers. What luxury! Then, to crawl into my own bed - fabulous! I felt guilty for being so blessed, but it was an enormous relief to simply hold our son. Kurt and I just held him close with us as the sun came up. We named him Kurt Ethan Phillips - Ethan meaning steadfast in God's truth and Kurt meaning wise counselor.
Kurt and I both feel that Ethan's birth brought us healing in ways we cannot even articulate yet. We feel as though we have only just discovered what God intended birth to be - a blessing for the whole family. God used the metaphor of birth to describe His plan of salvation - the new birth to be born again - we saw in new, profound ways the gift of life God has given us in our son, and in His Son - Jesus.