This past January (2021), I gave birth to my second daughter, Jubilee. I was really hoping and believing for Jubilee’s birth to be a redemption of some aspects of my first birth. In many ways, the birth of my first daughter took me on a journey of healing that eventually led me to where I am today: a nutritional therapist and RN supporting moms in pregnancy and postpartum. Yet, I also knew that not every birth story needed to culminate in a struggle. My heart and prayer for Jubilee’s birth were that it would afford me the opportunity to redeem moments I felt I lost in my first pregnancy. God exceeded my expectations. Without further ado, here is how the birth of Jubilee Grace unfolded.
Preparing For Birth
At 37 weeks pregnant, I switched birth providers and began preparing for our second birth at home. You can read more about why the switch took place here. I felt so much peace after we settled that decision and so much anticipation for Jubilee’s birth.
Because I was managing gestational diabetes with nutrition and exercise, I was walking 2-3 times a day during the last trimester of my pregnancy. Every night during my walk after dinner, I’d listen to a podcast called Birth in God’s Presence, which was all about the ways women experienced God’s presence during their pregnancies and births. Hearing these testimonies helped build my faith that I could experience His presence during my upcoming birth. Some of these stories included labors that were pain-free, which is certainly miraculous. However, a pain-free birth ended up not being the most important aspect I was believing for.
Of course, I was praying for a safe and complication-free labor and delivery. But beyond that, I prayed for a few specific things to be redeemed after my first birth. This time I was hoping for less pain. There’s a theory that fear causes tension in the body, which can lead to increased pain. So I’d focused on leaving no room for fear during this birth. I was also praying that my water wouldn’t break until during the pushing stage or closer to the birth. The amniotic sac is thought to create a cushion that helps labor be less painful. With my first, my water broke at 4 centimeters dilated when active labor began. This is also when back labor began—a stabbing pain that never went away. It was almost impossible to cope with such relentless pain. So this time I was hoping for a labor without back pain so I could experience what typical labor feels like.
Although I was praying for less painful labor this time, I actually wasn’t afraid of the pain. With my first birth, I wasn’t able to cope with the pain because it was back labor. This led to suffering, which I define as when a woman is not able to cope during labor. So with Jubilee’s birth, one of my greatest desires was that I would be able to cope during labor. I spent a lot of time developing different methods of support to be better prepared this time. And a key part of that was also the willingness to surrender to the process and trust God to carry me through it, no matter how labor went.
Speaking of which, one of my other greatest desires for Jubilee’s birth was to really be aware of God’s presence during it. Because I suffered during my first labor, I ended up feeling really alone. Since I wasn’t coping with the pain, I went to a really negative place in my mind. I lost touch with God’s presence, although I know He was there. The same felt true regarding my husband, and I wanted to feel more connected to him this time as well. I was hoping that this labor and birth would be a bonding experience for us.
Lastly, I really wanted a redeemed “golden hour” which is the first hour after birth that is reserved for bonding between mom and baby. I struggled with fear and anxiety following my first birth, and it really put a damper on our opportunity to bond. So with Jubilee’s birth, I was really hoping to be able to focus in on her and enjoy her once she arrived. I wanted a birth without fear and full of God’s presence.
Happy Birth-Day, Jubilee Grace!
Since our first daughter was born 8 days before her due date, we knew it was a possibility Jubilee may come early also. By 39 weeks pregnant, most things had been checked off my to-do list, and I was excited about giving birth soon. It was such a blessing to feel that excitement. Because I had some fears about becoming a mom, I never really got to that point where I felt ready and excited to give birth the first time.
So when I saw some pink discharge after going to the bathroom at 2:30 a.m. on January 20th (5 days before my due date), I had a feeling labor may begin in the next day or two. Sure enough, within 30 minutes, contractions began. They felt different than the Braxton Hicks I was used to, and they were about 10 minutes apart. So at that point, I suspected I was in early labor.
Instead of going back to bed (normally you want to rest as much as possible during early labor), I decided to sit on the birth ball and finish an article I’d been working on about what I wish I’d known during my first postpartum! I’d been in the zone the night before while writing and couldn’t resist finishing jotting down my last few thoughts.
Next, I finished nesting by preparing my room for the birth. There were a few last minute details to take care of once I was pretty sure labor had begun. I also packed my daughter’s lunch for school and connected with my parents about dropping her off for us.
By 7a.m., I’d let my midwives know about the pink discharge and contractions were still 10 minutes apart. Some of them were a little challenging to talk through and some were uncomfortable. But because they weren’t getting closer together, I wasn’t sure if this was actual labor or just prodromal labor. I was able to nap from 8:30-9:45 a.m. and the contractions must have either spaced out or stopped while I napped because I was able to sleep soundly.
When I woke up, I figured that getting out of bed and changing position might help me determine whether I was actually in labor. I was in contact with a few friends, my husband was working from home, and I was still trying to figure out what was happening! It sure didn’t seem intense enough to be true labor.
I still had an appetite at 10:00 a.m., so I went to the kitchen to have something to eat while spending time in prayer and worship. I was a little puzzled why the contractions weren’t getting stronger or closer together. And then I realized that I needed to really surrender to the process. Because the contractions were uncomfortable, I had some fear about them becoming more painful. I remember telling the Lord that I trusted Him to guide this process and for however it unfolded. And I asked Him to help me lean into the pain and embrace it instead of fighting it, because it was helping bring my baby to me.
I’d been trying to time my contractions since I’d woken up from my nap and my midwife had said she’d come to check on me soon. Around 11 a.m., my contractions were closer to 5 minutes apart, and they were getting stronger. Now I felt more confident that I was in labor! The funny part is because I’ve taught prenatal classes about labor and delivery, I’ve had it drilled into me that labor becomes more active when you’ve had contractions every 5 minutes, lasting 1 minute long for at least an hour. So at this point, in my mind, labor is just beginning to get serious.
It hadn’t even been an hour of contractions every 5 minutes, but I noticed they were much harder to breathe through and more painful. By 11:45 a.m., I realized we had better call our doula so she could come in the next hour, now that things were really picking up. I also figured my midwife was coming soon to check on me.
Chris began filling our birth tub around the same time. And I had him start doing hip squeezes during contractions to help manage the pain. It was suddenly getting intense and my water broke during a contraction at 12 p.m. He contacted both our doula and midwife to let them know while they were both on their way to us.
My midwife arrived around 12:15 and checked me. Here comes the shocker—she said, “You’re complete! It’s time to have this baby.” I was SO surprised I’d made it that far into labor and through transition without realizing it. As I got into the birth tub, my body started involuntarily pushing. I let my body take the lead pushing through 2 contractions and then pausing through another 2 as Jubilee crowned. Our doula and the birth assistant arrived a few minutes before the birth. And they were such a great support coaching me through the last few minutes before Jubilee was born with Chris at my side. She was born at 12:28 p.m. I’ll never forget how fast and intense those last 45 minutes were and how shocked I was at how quickly it progressed from contractions 10 minutes apart to birth in 1.5 hours!
I will also never forget how, despite the intensity and some pain, there was absolutely no fear during this birth. I felt so supported and the room was full of God’s presence. It was unexpected how quickly the baby came—our birth team made it just in time! We had the sweetest moments bonding after her birth. It was so relaxed, and I was overjoyed to have had such a redemptive experience.
Every Birth is Unique
Looking back, I can see how God had me on such a journey over the years of personal growth and gaining spiritual freedom to get to the place of being able to partner with Him for that kind of birth. It takes such courage and strength to surrender the process to Him and trust Him with the outcome.
I’m grateful for both my births and the transformation they brought about in me. The reality is that birth doesn’t always go according to plan, and that can be painful. We must hold space for all types of birth experiences. I had to take time to process my birth with Brielle and receive healing from the feelings of failure and abandonment. But I think the gift is how God meets us through our births, whether it’s in the moment (like my birth with Jubilee) or after the fact when He takes us on a journey where we get to see Him work all things for our good (like my birth with Brielle).