Matt and I began "trying/not trying" a few months after our daughter, Clara, turned one. We decided if it was meant to be, it was meant to be and we would see what happened. Needless to say, about a month later I took a test and was shocked to see two pink lines! I immediately began to brainstorm ways to tell my husband. Clara and I went to a toy store and picked out a doll. After work he met us at a park to take a walk. He asked "Did Clara get a new doll?” and I casually answered "Yeah, I thought she should practice being a big sister." I could tell he was shocked, confused, excited, and generally in disbelief! He slowly said "Wait... do you mean now, or sometime in the future?" To which I replied, "I'm freaking pregnant!!!” We both cried happy tears.
I immediately began planning my VBAC - Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. Clara was born on her due date via cesarean due to very low fluid and a breech presentation. Matt and I had been told since 32 weeks that she was head down and ready to go. When we came in for an ultrasound on my due date we were not at all expecting the news that I would need a C-Section. It was all very scary, overwhelming, and incredibly disappointing. I felt heartbroken and lost, and I had no time at all to grieve the birth I had dreamed of having. Although the cesarean itself was gentle and I was able to do almost immediate skin-to-skin, the experience overall was not what I had envisioned for 9 long months.
After all I had been through, I knew the desire of my heart was to have a vaginal birth. I felt good about my chances and I started doing more research into all things VBAC. Two of the main suggestions I saw again and again were to 1) find a supportive provider, and 2) get a doula! I googled doulas in my area and found Natural Baby Doulas, who were very highly rated. I immediately contacted and hired them, hoping to increase my chances of a vaginal birth. They had many wonderful suggestions for resources, including books, videos, and articles that talked about how to have a natural and gentle birth. I loved that they were so supportive of my goals and available from the minute we began working together.
After more and more research, I began to worry that perhaps my OB (the same one who I had been with since I was 15, and the same practice that had delivered Clara) was VBAC tolerant and not VBAC friendly. I prayed that I would find the path that would lead me to the birth that I needed and wanted - a healing birth. At church one Sunday we received star words that were meant to help us focus on a trait. My word was "openness." I took that to heart! I began to try to be open to where God was leading me. I prayed that He would give me a sign to help point me in the right direction.
The morning of my anatomy scan I saw a beautiful rainbow as I left for the appointment. Although I didn't know what it meant, I felt so peaceful and as if God were telling me everything was going to be alright. At our appointment that day I asked my doctor several general questions about the VBAC, trying to learn more about how things would work (for example - how long past my due date would I be allowed to go? Did they induce? Who would deliver me and what would happen if the doctor on call was not VBAC tolerant?). My doctor immediately became defensive. At the end of the appointment, she told me "this isn't a wedding, you can't pick and choose your experience.”
After a weekend of prayer, I made the difficult and scary decision to switch doctors halfway through my pregnancy. I switched to Dr. Taavon at Wendover OBGYN. Throughout the experience my doula was so encouraging and supportive, giving me facts but never pushing me one direction or another. In retrospect, I believe God put people in my path that allowed me to achieve my ultimate goal, beginning with hiring my doula and leading me to the decision to switch providers to someone who would truly support me. I also began to feel drawn to the name Samuel. It translates to "heard by God", and I truly felt that God was hearing my prayers and that He would answer them.
After I switched doctors, the rest of the pregnancy was focused on preparing my mind and body for my VBAC. I did it all - red raspberry leaf tea, prenatal yoga, spinning babies, regular chiropractic care, hypnobabies, and lots and lots of research on VBACs and natural birth. I also took the VBAC class offered by my doula, which was really helpful and informative! The day before my due date I saw Ruth at Touch of Serenity for a prenatal massage (absolute heaven!) and several days later saw Michele Salinas with the Lotus Center for labor induction acupressure - both recommendations of my doula. Although I'll never know what exactly did it, I believe that the combination of all these factors, along with LOTS of prayer, brought Baby Samuel to me!
At my 38 week checkup, my OB told me that he would be on vacation the week of my due date. After spending time finding a VBAC supportive provider, switching halfway through my pregnancy, and going through my prenatal care with him this was quite a shock! However, I immediately felt at peace. I knew that if I did go in to labor while he was away, I would be taken care of by one of the wonderful midwives at the practice. Not only was this ok, I reasoned that it may even be more ideal in my pursuit of a natural labor and vaginal delivery! I knew God would take care of me and all would be well.
On Friday (2 days past my due date) I had an appointment with the midwife on call for the week of Dr Taavon’s vacation, Daniela Paul. She checked me and reported that I was 1cm dilated, 80% effaced, and at a -1 station. I had very light cramping off and on all day Friday, but Friday night the contractions seemed to fizzle out. On Saturday morning we went for a 2 mile walk around my parents neighborhood and afterward I lost my mucus plug. Following the walk we went to breakfast, where I lost a bit more that seemed to be blood tinged (my bloody show). At 2:30am Sunday morning the contractions woke me up from my sleep, about 8 minutes apart. They continued to stay constant and about 8 minutes apart into the mid morning, but spaced out to 15-25 minutes apart after taking a nap. They followed the same pattern into the afternoon when I took another nap (8 ish minutes apart, but spacing back out to 15ish minutes after a brief rest). Around 6pm they were anywhere between 7-9 minutes apart but occasionally farther apart (11-15). Things were inconsistent but moving along, and we decided to take my daughter to my parents house just in case things picked up overnight.
Contractions continued to get closer together, about 5-6 minutes apart, into the evening. I went upstairs to take a shower and see if they picked up or spaced out. While in the shower they got closer to 3-4 minutes apart. After laboring in the shower for about an hour we decided it may be time to go to the hospital so we got a few last minute things ready. Contractions were coming very consistently at this point. We called the doula (Jessica was on call) and the midwife. When we got there the midwife checked me and assessed me to be 4-5cm dilated, 90% effaced, 0 station with a bulging bag of waters. They got me to a labor room. Baby’s heart rate looked good throughout the entire labor, something I had prayed for. I vocalized through my contractions, especially using low moaning sounds and horse lips/raspberries. Contractions were coming right on top of one another. At this point I had gotten in the shower to labor. It really helped to have Matt run the water over my back. I labored often on my hands and knees and over the birth ball, as well as the shower. I attempted to use gas and air but for some reason it just would not work for me and I removed it during contractions because I couldn’t breathe deeply enough. I thought it was pointless when I wasn’t experiencing a contraction (and wasn’t working anyway) so I just didn’t use it.
Around 3am, after approximately 24 hours in labor, I began to beg for the epidural and became convinced I couldn’t do it. Luckily Matt and Jessica continued to support me and remind me that’s not what I wanted. I finally asked to be checked so I could know if I was anywhere close. The midwife came in, checked, and... I was 9cm!!!! I began to cry tears of joy and never looked back. Shortly thereafter I was complete and ready to start pushing. I pushed laying on my side with a peanut ball in between my legs. Between pushes I pictured a perfect beach in the moonlight, lit only by the stars, moon shining brightly overhead, waves rolling in. I was quiet between contractions picturing my beach. I rested, knowing my baby would be in my arms soon. Matt blew a fan over me and put cold washcloths on my face and neck while Jessica gently rubbed my back and spoke encouraging words.
After only 10-15 minutes of pushing through about three contractions my sweet Samuel Ryan Beam came into this world, alert and so beautifully alive. They placed him on my chest and I felt overwhelmed with love, joy, and pride - I couldn’t believe I had done it! Matt got to cut the umbilical cord, which was a beautiful moment for him. They didn’t move him for at least an hour, and we stayed in our little love bubble, admiring our beautiful son. They stitched up 2 minor first degree tears, but I barely even felt them.
It was such a beautiful and wonderfully healing moment for our perfect family. I felt elated, joyful, ecstatic, and full of awe at God’s love. I was so grateful in that moment, first and foremost to God, but also to my husband, who supported me through every single moment of the pregnancy and encouraged me to have my VBAC; to my doula, who also encouraged and supported me, mentally, physically, and emotionally, not just on the day of but also all throughout my pregnancy; to my nurse, who was so lovely and kind, and created space for me to labor in my own way; to my midwife, who was gentle and calming, and helped me to feel confident in myself; and lastly to my baby and my body. I knew I was capable of birthing my baby naturally if given the chance, and because of that confidence I was able to trust in myself. I was made for this!
Throughout my pregnancy, labor, and delivery I prayed constantly that I would birth my son naturally and that I would have the birth experience I always dreamed of. I prayed that God would put individuals in my life who would help me achieve my goal, and that I could have my own calm energy for the sake of my baby. Samuel’s birth was everything I could have even begun to dream for and more. Every step of the way I felt redeemed and God’s love was present for me in so many ways. I reclaimed some of my heart through Samuel’s birth, and I would do it a million times over again. His birth was perfect, and I will forever treasure his birth story.
Samuel Ryan Beam
6 lbs 9.3 oz
40 weeks + 4 days
The following photos were taken by Lauren Jolly Photography - she specializes in birth photography also!