The Birth of Banner Thomas

This strong mama had an “on and off” slow start to labor, but she couldn’t believe what her doctor told her when she went in for her appointment. Her story is truly one of surrender and trust. “I honestly thought I had surrendered and worked through WAY more than I actually had. Birthing is the most vulnerable and exposing experience any woman can ever walk through, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.” Enjoy!

The Birth of Banner Thomas 
By Celeste Triola

In honor of Banner’s birthday, I decided to share his birth story for the first time EVER! I wrote this story a few weeks after he was born. I would add details of the emotional support of my whole family and much more, but I am just going to leave it as I originally wrote it.
(Disclaimer: I used “Hypnobabies” for my birthing class. “Pressure waves/birthing waves” = contractions. “Birthing time”= labor)
Where to begin? Saturday, November 8th.
I started having pressure waves at 2:18 pm. With the first 2, Brandon and I both thought “THIS IS IT!” I told him to get ready. He asked if he should call his family and I said, “let’s wait and make sure” just in case for some reason it wasn’t actually time. (They were driving in from Ohio whenever it was “go time”). So I sat on the birthing ball and had an overhwelm of thoughts and emotions. Life was about to change drastically. Brandon and I hugged (after the pressure wave passed) and prayed for the birthing time to be smooth. We thanked the Lord for the past 3 years of life with just the two of us and had butterflies of excitement at what was about to take place. I popped my “Birthing Day Affirmations” CD into my computer and breathed through 2 more pressure waves. And then….they stopped.

I was a little frustrated at first, but just kept surrendering to Jesus the timing of it all. Charity, my twin sister, was only in town for 2 more days and I wanted her to meet Banner! It was a desire of my heart. At first I thought I was pressuring myself because my family had all pitched in to fly her here and I didn’t want to let anyone down. But then I kept praying and releasing that, and God told me that it was OK to desire for her to be here for his birth. He just kept saying “TRUST ME in the timing.”
So I laid on the couch exhausted for a few hours. Again thinking, “my body is just preparing for birthing! Maybe it will be tonight.”

Brandon worked outside on a table for a friend and I just rested on the couch, listening to the birthing day affirmations. I fell asleep for an hour and decided to get up and walk around. Maybe walking would help speed things along? I put on my rain boots (it wasn’t raining, they were just the easiest shoes to slip on without bending over, and they had a little bit of weight on them which would maybe make Banner arrive sooner because it was a bit more of a workout? HA…the things we think when we want baby OUT!)
I marched around the yard for 30 minutes, played with Champion our puppy, sat in the sunshine, and relished my husband being a handyman. I just kept thinking how blessed my baby boy was to have such a phenomenal dad to greet him into the world.

The sun started setting, so we went inside. We went to Whole Foods for another “this could be the last time with just us before Banner gets here” meal. I was feeling VERY pregnant. I was looking VERY pregnant too. We went to bed trusting that Jesus knew when Banner would arrive. And then I started having pressure waves again. They were every 10-15 minutes for about 3 hours in the middle of the night. I could breathe through them, so I didn’t wake Brandon up. And then they stopped again.

We woke up the next morning and decided to go to church. I have never been so thankful and at rest in worship in my life, and also seeking the Lord for this sweet treasure in my womb to be at peace. A friend came up and prayed over me, telling Banner it was time to arrive. She prayed for my body to be at peace and released my baby to enter the world.

Then, we went to my parent’s house to eat lunch and hang out with Charity. My heart was slowly waning in believing that Banner would get here by 3 pm the next afternoon when Charity had to leave for the airport, and I was getting disheartened. But Charity was so encouraging. She said she just loved spending time with me before this huge transition happened and that she would meet him when she was supposed to. I hadn’t had any more serious pressure waves during the day, but could definitely tell my body was in the preparation stages for birthing. Brandon and I went to TJ Maxx and walked around, and I bought Banner a newborn set of PJ’s. We went home and hung out and then decided to have yet another “this could be the last time with just us before Banner gets here” meal from Chipotle.

We started watching “Christmas with the Kranks.” And then pressure waves started again at 9:45. They were about every 10-15 minutes again, so we stayed up and waited. Then I decided to try to get some sleep. The pressure waves kept coming. I still didn’t wake Brandon up, but was texting back and forth with my AMAZING doula, Alexia, just to keep my mind calm. I decided if they didn’t stop by 2 am, I was going to shower and then wake Brandon up. (Brandon woke up every now and then when I would breathe deeply and made sure I was ok and if I needed anything. He was in no way negligent of the process! I just wanted him to have rest 🙂

The waves continued until 2, so I got up and took a shower. I prayed and breathed and thanked God for the miracle of life and birthing. And then the pressure waves stopped. I was a little discouraged, but also very thankful for the sleep. I got 3 hours of sleep that night, because the pressure waves started again at 5 am every 7-15 minutes. I was excited and scared at the same time. I had a follow up appointment that day in the afternoon, so Brandon called to see if I could come in sooner. We went in around 9:30 and my wonderful OB, Dr. Rupe, checked me to see my progress. I told myself I was probably at a 2 and to not get my hopes up. She checked me and her jaw dropped as she exclaimed “you’re at a 5 and in labor right now!” AHHHHHHHH. We were so excited!!! She told us that we could go straight to the hospital and get admitted, or we could go home for a little while, but to be ready because it would happen fast. Brandon and I were ecstatic. I’ve never had such a rush of excitement and nervousness. And then there was the time limit of 3pm. I had it in my mind that I would definitely have Banner before then, because my sister’s birthing times were super fast once she had gotten to the point that I was. One thing I learned the hard way during this process was that EVERY. SINGLE. BIRTHING. TIME. IS DIFFERENT. No matter how similar you are with your family. I definitely had a certain expectation about it that I wish I would have recognized and surrendered before it started. I honestly thought I had surrendered and worked through WAY more than I actually had. Birthing is the most vulnerable and exposing experience any woman can ever walk through, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
I thought, “Hey! If I got through this much dilating without extreme pain, the rest should be bearable and fast!” Not so much.

Brandon and I prayed again when we got in the car. He called his family and told them that they would have a grandson that day, and we drove to my parents’ to have them pray over us. My whole family was there and an anticipation was in the air. My little nieces and nephew were there too. Alethia came over and laid her hand on my leg with the sweetest look on her face while my family prayed over Brandon and me. We took pictures in the sunshine on the porch, ate some lunch, talked, and all the while I was breathing and “ahhhhhhhhhh” ing through pressure waves on my birthing ball. The time went on. The closest together pressure waves were 6 minutes. We kept in contact with Alexia the whole time, and she coached us through the process via text for awhile. She was ready whenever we were. All the while, the clock was ticking. Charity decided to change her flight, but the only availability was for 2 hours later. She did it anyway. At least 2 hours gave us 2 more hours.

Then the time kept passing. The sun set. I was praying that The Lord would make a way for Charity to be able to be there. We all were. But at the same time, trying not to pressure this precious one in my womb. I wanted a completely natural experience where my body would tell my body when “go time” legitimately was. (Holy cow, I DID NOT think it would take so long though!!)

Alexia came over around 4:30 and showed me some techniques to naturally speed along the process. I sat on the birthing ball, took a hot shower, rested, took a walk with Brandon, and breathed and “ahhhhhhhh” ed intensely as the pressure waves intensified. It was so special to have that time at my parents’ house with my whole family as my support.

Brandon knew how important is was for Charity to be there for the birthing, and asked if there was a way we could purchase another ticket for her to fly home the next day, BUT GOD HAD ALREADY TAKEN CARE OF IT. Out of the blue, she got a text from the airline that said “Your flight has been cancelled. It has been rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 6 am.” WHAT THE HECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That doesn’t “just happen”!!!!!!!!!! Jesus is so faithful! My heart was so at rest after that point!

Brandon and I decided to go home around 8pm and continue the birthing process there, since that is where we are used to being at rest. I had my older sister Bethany pray over me before we left because I was getting discouraged at how long the process was taking. She was such a source of comfort, peace, and strength for me in that moment, and I knew I could keep going knowing she was fighting for me from my parents’ house.

Charity and Alexia came with us to our house. I lit a wonderfully peaceful lavender candle, laid on my bed, breathed deeply, and made very strange “ahhhh” and “ooooooh” noises as the birthing waves intensified. Alexia continued to show me positions to ease the pain and also speed the process along as best as possible. Charity laid on the bed with me and we just talked and processed through funny memories. I almost started listening to a lecture for my online health coaching school to pass the time, but decided that it probably was not the best time for that. HA! I listened to the hypnobabies “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” CD and some instrumental music instead. As the birthing waves intensified, Brandon kept checking on me. (He had been taking care of our sweet puppy who had no clue what my deal was!). Every time Brandon entered the room, my heart settled and was at peace more than any other constituent during the whole process. He was my rock. He was so steady and present. After all, our hearts for each other is what made this process possible (and the miracle of the Lord’s plan for babies!).
The rest of the evening was a bit of a pressure wave blur. And my support system was on top of it! They brought me so much peace. I loved knowing my family was all cheering me on and praying for me, and that I had Alexia to help coach me through the process.

I realized that I still was holding on to some expectations and worries about the actual delivery time. So Alexia asked what they were and what would happen if they came true. I told her that I really wanted Dr. Rupe to be the OB on call because I trusted her the most. So Brandon called the hospital– and SHE WAS. I felt release! I then said I wanted Charity to be at the birthing. Which is something we had no control over, but if God had worked the miracle of changing her flight, why wouldn’t he follow through with the rest? So I felt more release.

About 30 minutes later, my water broke! IT WAS THE MOST BIZARRE FEELING IN THE WORLD. I literally thought I had exploded haha! My mind started freaking out at that point. My body was saying “THIS IS IT! IT’S GO TIME!” I started asking Alexia questions like “Is he going to fall out of me??” and bracing myself for the pain to start. And then I said, “We need to go to the hospital now!!!”

As we drove to the hospital (which took all of 6 minutes!), I had 2 pressure waves. One of them was on the ginormous speed bump in front of the hospital (where I had thought numerous times during my prenatal check-ups, “how funny would it be if I had a pressure wave while we were driving over this bump during my birthing time?”…) and Brandon was a champ for driving extremely slow over it!
We pulled to the front entrance where we had taken the tour, got out with our hospital bag in hand, I had a very intense pressure wave, and then we solicited the help of a concerned passerby who told us the front entrance was closed and we needed to go to the ER entrance. So I hobbled back in the car, somewhat chuckling to myself that I hadn’t planned for that and somewhat thinking OH MY LORD THIS IS SO PAINFUL. We arrived at the correct entrance and handed them the “pre-registration.” BUT the thing with pre-registration is that you have to turn it in BEFORE you arrive to have your baby. So Brandon calmly started filling out paperwork and Charity helped him find my license while I moaned and “ahhhhhh-ed” through some more intense pressure waves. Two young men in the waiting room yelled out (maybe they didn’t yell, I just heard it as that) “Are we going to have to deliver your baby for you?” I laughed and said, “Quite possibly, yes!”

Alexia coached me through several more pressure waves, and I went to the bathroom and hunched over the sink. Then the belching started. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I can belch with the best of them, and the feeling of release as I vigorously burped gave me some relief. Therefore I added belching to my list of birthing relief noises.

Brandon, Charity, and Alexia finished signing me in. And then the receptionist realized she had double-booked the room she had just assigned me. She genuinely felt bad, probably because I was moaning like a dying horse at this point…but still with decent composure and good spirits (I think?).

By the time my nurse Carly came to get me, I could no longer sit without being in pain, so I tried the wheelchair and quickly decided it was NOT for me. I was on a birthing mission at this point. We got to the elevator and a nice gentlemen was about to escort an elderly person inside. The nurse said “go ahead, we will wait for the next one.” To which the gentlemen took one glance at me and said “no, no, no, birthing women first! I know better!” (Or something like that). We hopped inside (well, I waddled) and as soon as the door opened on the second floor, I said, “Ok which room? Get me to that room!”

We arrived in room 229 right around midnight, and I’m assuming Charity had contacted my mom and sister Bethany because they arrived shortly after. I had thrown off my “pre-birthing outfit” of a nike shirt and Brandon’s shorts (no, I didn’t pick this out beforehand. I had a much cuter outfit laid out….HA. The plans of first time birthers!) and draped myself with a black long nightie from Target. As I threw myself onto the bed, Brandon handed everyone our “Birthing Preferences.” (He may have done this beforehand. At this point, my eyes were mostly closed for the rest of the time). The nurses did a saline lock and tied an external fetal monitor on me per my request. I said in my Birthing Preferences that I only wanted to be connected for 20 minutes every hour, but by this time I was pretty unable to walk around because of the intensity of the pressure waves, so I just stayed connected the whole time. Carly then checked how much I had dilated and said “you’re at a 9!” I was so relieved to know I had gotten that far outside of the hospital. I remember when my mom and Bethany entered the room, I had an overwhelm of peace and joy (as much as I could while being in excruciating pain). Seeing their smiles made me so thankful that they were part of the experience, even if I couldn’t really show it at the time.

They called in Dr. Rupe after several more pressure waves. I felt immediate calm when she showed up. She checked my dilation progress again and said I was actually at an 8 and to call her in when I felt ready to push. I was upset that I was only at an 8, but definitely knew it wouldn’t be much longer before I progressed.

Alexia and Carly started suggesting things I could do to alleviate some pain and speed along the process. They put the back of the bed up and suggested I squat while facing the back of the bed and hold onto it. I suddenly had the urge to push after just a few more pressure waves. It’s really amazing the innate response a woman’s body has to start pushing the baby out. So I said, “I really feel like I need to push!” I started making the lowest cow noises I have ever heard and thought to myself “Is this noise coming out of me??”

They called in Dr. Rupe and told her, “She says she’s ready to push.” To which Dr. Rupe replied, “She is already pushing! Let her body keep going.” All the while I was still belching extremely loudly in between birthing moans, and one of the nurses piped up “are you going to throw up?” And then asked to the people in the room, “How long has she been doing this?” Charity quickly responded, “Since she was about 11!” I then chimed in as I was draped over the back of the bed, “Yep! Just call me the ‘Belching Birther.’” Everyone laughed hysterically and I felt a little more relief. I’m so thankful that God gave me a sense of humor during the process!

Then the pushing sensation got extremely intense and I asked if there was any other position I could try to help GET THIS BABY OUT. Carly told me to lay on my back and hold my legs up, a position I now remember is one of the hardest because gravity does not work with you. At the moment, I couldn’t think about gravity, I just wanted to try anything to help alleviate the pain and get my baby boy out into the world. OK, mostly to alleviate the pain!

By this time, I was getting very direct in what I wanted. I told Brandon to turn down the music to a certain level and got mad when he turned it off. “I said turn it down, not off!” I got mad that my mom’s ringer went off and said “MOM! TURN YOUR RINGER OFF!” Sweet Alexia was trying to coach me and I told her, “I need you to get out of my face right now!” Someone dropped my leg (at this point, everyone was taking turns holding my legs up while I pushed) and I yelled, “Grab my leg! Grab my leg! GRAB. MY. LEG!” I was burning up, so Brandon fanned me. For the entire 3 hours I was pushing. If he stopped for a minute I said, “IT’S SO HOT. SOMEONE FAN ME NOW!” Although I was very impressed with myself that I didn’t swear once, I felt really bad for being so forceful. It was definitely something I had to process through and apologize for, to which everyone was very forgiving because they saw the intense amount of pain I was in. The one phrase I did say over and over was “HOLY COW!” I also remember exclaiming, “I feel like my butt’s coming out of my butt!” And “It is just really hurting for some reason!”

The pushing phase was a complete blur. I only remember pushing for a very long time with my eyes clinched shut. Even though they said to push 3 times for 10 seconds each time, being the over achiever that I am, I thought “if 10 seconds is good, 15 must be better!” Which in turn made me feel like I literally was going to pass out. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t push one more time. And then I felt Holy Spirit ask me to ask Him for help. So I did. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this anymore. You have to help me or I am going to pass out. They will have to do the rest to get Banner out however they can. Please help me!” Immediately I felt peace. I had 2 more pressure waves back to back and didn’t make one single noise during them for the first time in the entire birthing process. I braced myself and pushed harder than ever before. Banner arrived moments later! I had a rush of relief and joy as they put him on my chest. Brandon grabbed my face and wept as we looked at our precious, cone-headed, little son for the first time on Earth. We all cried together as a family in a beautiful song of miraculous birth.

They wiped him down, and Charity got to hold him for a few minutes before she left for the airport 20 minutes after he was born. HOW COOL IS GOD. His timing is perfect. I have always loved the date November 11th. Brandon and I were going to get married on 11-11-11, but decided to get married in September instead. When I first calculated my “due date,” I thought it was going to be November 11. God knew all along. He is such a giver of gifts! Even the simple ones like special dates.

I am still processing a lot from the birthing time, but I am so grateful to have been able to have an uncomplicated, natural birth with the people I value the most in the world by my side.

Banner Thomas Triola. 7 lbs, 14 oz, 21 inches long. 3:17 am on November 11, 2014. Perfectly healthy.

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