After making the decision to become Quiverfull in our beliefs, my husband and I decided it would be best to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), even though I had 3 previous c-sections (all of which, I feel, were medically unnecessary – but that’s a post for another day). Since we didn’t know how many more children God had in mind for us, we felt this was the best way to ensure that we could safely have more. I found a great midwife who was willing to let me try for a VBA3C (vaginal birth after three cesareans) here at home. I understood the risks involved, but I also understood that my risk of complications with c-sections goes up significantly with each one I have, so much so that I am at a higher risk of complications to have a fourth c-section than I am to try for a natural birth after three c-sections.
So far my pregnancy has been a breeze, but way in the back of my mind, an unnamed fear always whispered to me. My response has always been to pray. I constantly asked the Lord to reveal to me whether or not I was meant to do a homebirth. I never, ever want to jeopardize myself or the baby, so I asked God that He would make it unmistakably clear to me if I was safer in a hospital with a c-section.
Now fast forward to this past week. I had just turned 31 weeks pregnant and had not had any pregnancy complications. In fact, this has been my easiest pregnancy of them all! I became very ill with what I believed was strep throat. I went to the urgent care and after various tests were performed, I was told it was viral. They advised me if I had trouble swallowing to head to the ER. Sure enough, the next morning I was unable to swallow Jello or even take Tylenol due to the severity of the swelling in my throat. I went to the ER and was given medication to help. As part of their routine protocol when seeing pregnant women, they sent me up to L&D (labor and delivery) for monitoring. Everything looked great with the baby, but the nurse started asking a lot of questions and seemed concerned about my risks for something called “accreta.”For the most part I blew her off, but she kept pushing me to have an ultrasound. I wasn’t even in the hospital for pregnancy-related complaints. I couldn’t understand what she was so concerned about; I had never had any issues with that pregnancy! However, since I hadn’t had a “real” ultrasound (only one to determine the baby’s gender) because my midwife doesn’t do them, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a peek at the baby, so I finally agreed. After a very long ultrasound and lots of looking at my sweet girl on the monitors, the ultrasound that confirmed I do in fact have placenta accreta. A high risk OB was immediately called in to speak to me. She explained to me that my placenta is growing across the previous c-section incision, and is now actually growing through the incision and into the uterus itself. This rare complication means that the placenta cannot detach at the time of birth; the only solution is to perform a hysterectomy after safely delivering the baby. There’s roughly a 10% chance of misdiagnosis, but that means there’s about a 90% chance that this baby will be my last. At first I didn’t believe the doctor and brushed her off. She finally got right in my face and told me that if I attempted a home birth, that I would end up bleeding out before I could even make it to the hospital. Finally, it sunk it. Understandable, I was initially devastated at the sudden loss of my fertility; however, the truly scary part is that if this had been missed (which was very likely, had I not been to the hospital for that illness), I would have bled to death in childbirth here at home. (The doctor informed me that it takes only 30 minutes to bleed out through the uterus, which is nowhere near enough time to get to the hospital and into surgery.) I must admit that in hindsight, I’m actually incredibly thankful that I became as sick as I did, as this virus may very well have saved my life.
Even in times like these when I am having to come to terms with not being able to have anymore children, I can’t help but see the Lord’s power and protection. I had prayed without ceasing that God would make it abundantly clear to me if I was meant to have a home birth or not, and there was my answer plain as day. My prayer was always that He would make is so very obvious that I would not question it, and boy, did He ever! You can’t really get anymore obvious than being told to have a c-section or face certain death, you know? God is so good, He really is.
Another lesson learned from all this is that He exercises sovereignty when we allow Him to. When we decided to leave our fertility in His hands, we were also leaving it up to Him to decide when we had reached the perfect number. Truth be told, I pictured myself with at least one or two more beyond this baby I am carrying now, but clearly God knows that four is the perfect number for us. While I am deeply saddened that this will be the last time I get to experience pregnancy and having a new baby, I trust the Lord’s plan for our lives. I also realize that now this opens up a possibility for adoption, which has always been something my husband and I planned. I do not know what the future holds for our family, but I know the Lord has wonderful plans and will do great things with our lives. Of this I am certain:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)