This is a beautiful story of infertility, miscarriage, and redemption. This mama learned to trust God and her body in her journey. And was able to meet her precious son the way she always dreamed.
The Birth of Josiah Graham
By Cassandra Thon
This story starts years before our little guy was born. After 4 years of being married we decided to start trying to have a baby. To our surprise we struggled with the frustration of infertility and the difficulty of having two miscarriages. Our first miscarriage was at 10 weeks into the pregnancy and came 2 years after we started trying. We recovered from that loss and began to try to move forward. We became pregnant again 7 months later. We cautiously made it to 15 weeks, complications arose and we lost that precious baby, too. We were devastated and unsure of what to do next. After taking a step back and letting our emotional wounds heal we started to try again. After a year of no success we decided to have ourselves checked for infertility. We pursued fertility treatments for 6 months. After no signs of improvement we decided to stop the fertility treatments and began looking into the possibility of adoption. ONE MONTH later I became pregnant. I remember literally laughing at the positive pregnancy test. It was a miracle.
I have always wanted a natural childbirth. My mom had to have C-sections with my brother and I and not many of my friends have had a baby natural without pain medicine. This didn’t leave me with much background information on natural childbirth. So, once I was well into my second trimester I began researching natural childbirth and ways I could accomplish it. I talked with a good friend that delivered her firstborn all natural with the help of a doula. I discussed options with my husband, Ethan, about my wishes for labor and delivery and the possibility of hiring a doula. I was unsure how he would react to this somewhat crazy idea. To my surprise, he was completely supportive and interested to hear more. I contacted NDS and was connected with Sandee and Emily. When we met for the first time, I was able to voice my concerns and they were able to tell me how they could help and encourage me. They let me know I could do this! Each time we talked about labor and birth Sandee and Emily both looked so excited and passionate about the amazing journey of natural childbirth. They kept telling me two things that I would soon understand and agree with: “your body is meant to do this” and “this is what women are made to do.”
On Monday, January 16th I went for my weekly OB appointment (I was 38 weeks and 4 days), Dr. Rebele checked me and said I was a “soft 1cm” dilated and 75% effaced! She was really encouraged by the progression and that made me so happy. Dr. Rebele wanted me to schedule an induction just in case I didn’t progress into labor on my own. I have some potential high-risks during pregnancy and going past the 40 week deadline was not advisable. The induction was scheduled for Friday, January 26th, but I was praying I would go into labor on my own.
On Friday, January 20th I made it through my last FULL week of work and I was getting so TIRED! I was hoping and wishful that I might go into labor over the weekend. Ethan and I had talked about going to see a movie after work, but after a full day of work I decided we should just watch something at home. My lower back had been feeling a little different that day and I was really tired from the busy week of work. My mom brought us dinner, and around 6pm I began having my first contractions! I relaxed on the couch with the heating pad. The contractions felt minor like really bad period cramps, but nothing I couldn’t handle. At this point I had not experienced Braxton Hicks contractions, and I honestly thought that was what was happening. I texted Emily to keep her updated, she encouraged me to have a good nights sleep and check back with her once I woke up.
On Saturday, January 21st, I woke up to more contractions, it was light outside, I looked at my phone and it was 5:30am. I tossed and turned, trying to fall back asleep but couldn’t get comfortable. So, around 6:30am I finally got up and laid on the couch with the heating pad. I began tracking my contractions from 7-8am to see if I had any labor progression. I was shocked that the contractions were still consistent. I texted Emily a screenshot of the contractions app, they were not really getting any stronger but just continued to happen and not go away. I asked her if this was considered Braxton Hicks or early labor?!? I was in denial! Haha! She said it sounded like early labor, but that it could go on for days. She reminded me to rest as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and eat well during this time. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I had plans to go wedding dress shopping for one of my friends and dinner after; however, with the possibility of being in pre-labor I wasn’t sure if it would be wise to be out and about. I ended up going back to bed, cuddled my hubby, and slept from about 9am-11am. After we woke up I decided to take a bath and see if that would help the pain from the contractions I was having. It felt so good. I sat in the bath thinking… wow, I could really be having my baby soon. Once I got out of the bath I could feel the contractions were not any easier. Ethan talked me into going out to lunch with him to try and get my mind off the contractions. We had a good lunch, but the contractions were still really noticeable. After we made it back home, I planted myself on the couch with the heating pad again. We watched a movie from 2-4pm and I tried to just relax and rest as much as possible.
Around 4:30pm I got into bed and attempted to take a nap. I didn’t lay there very long, I couldn’t really fall asleep because of how much discomfort I was in. Around 5pm I felt a little pop or burst. I got up, called for Ethan and ran to the toilet. At the time we thought it might have been my bag of waters breaking, but we would later find out that it was my mucus plug. After that happened, I started getting more and more uncomfortable. I realized my contractions were at an appropriate frequency and intensity. It was time to race to the hospital. Ethan packed up the car and we drove to the hospital I tried to relax as much as possible.
We left our house around 6pm and arrived about 35 minutes later to the hospital. The ride to the hospital wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. We were about 10 minutes away and I saw a bunch of traffic backed up. I just tried to relax and close my eyes and focus on how close we were instead of focusing on the traffic. We finally got to the hospital, checked in, and were lead to a triage room. I was beginning to get more and more uncomfortable, feeling burning hot one minute and cold the next. When we got into the room the nurse instructed me to leave a urine sample and change into a gown. We followed her instruction and I sat on the side of the stretcher. When the nurse returned she began asking me questions and going over my medical history. All of the sudden I started feeling really sick, I said, “I’m gonna get sick!” Ethan grabbed a bucket for me just in time. I will just say my lunch from earlier ALL came up….ugh. Ethan and I were starting to think this was going to be a really LONG night! After that I felt better, just had continued contractions and was ready to get into my room so I could get comfortable and work through them easier with Ethan. The nurse checked my dilation and said I was 4cm. They admitted me into the hospital labor and delivery department and off we went, wheeling to our delivery room!
Around 7:30pm we arrived to the labor and delivery room and I met my new nurse. She began my IV and gave me some anti nausea medicine since I had thrown up earlier and didn’t want to deal with that issue during delivery. We agreed since the baby and I were doing well I could just have a hep lock instead of an IV connected to a bag of fluids. Once I got settled, the nurse checked my dilation to see if it had changed since we had first arrived to the labor and delivery triage. She said it felt like it had advanced to 5 cm! Shortly after, my doula, Sandee walked in and I was so glad to see her. I was ready to get this party started and get into our groove. Since I was doing well and showing no sign of distress, the doctor agreed to let me be off the monitor a majority of the time. I only had to be monitored during the first 20 minutes of every hour. While I was getting monitored the first time, Ethan and I caught Sandee up on where I was and how I was feeling.
Around 8pm Sandee and Ethan started getting the room ready. Ethan put on my labor playlist, which was a Bethel Music album. They started my essential oil diffuser with some stress balancing blends and got the lights dimmed so that I didn’t have to deal with bright florescent lighting. Once I completed the first 20 minutes of monitoring I was able to get on the ball. I sat on the ball and leaned my upper body forward onto the bed or back onto Ethan. Ethan was being a BOSS of a husband helping me relax, massaging my back, telling me to breathe properly and talking to me about how our lives were about to change with this little guy that I was about to birth. During labor I kept getting hot then I would get cold. During the cold moments I would need a blanket, but then I would quickly get hot and need the blanket removed. I was worried about explaining myself during labor, but Sandee told me to not worry. I didn’t need to waste energy in explaining something, I just needed to say what I needed and have it done so I could focus on the contractions and myself. As each contraction came I just tried to lean on Ethan and listen to Sandee’s voice. I remember talking about this process in our classes and I wasn’t sure how exactly I would handle the pain and what I would do or need. As the contractions came I just tried to really focus. I did this by keeping my eyes mostly closed, listening to the music, praying, leaning on Ethan and listening to what Sandee was telling me. She kept reminding me that each contraction got us closer to our baby. She also reminded me to just concentrate and get through that ONE contraction instead of thinking about the other contractions I would need to endure through labor. This helped me so much. She reminded me to rest during the rest time and try to relax my body and breath during the contraction. After a few contractions we got into a groove and discovered how to endure the labor. I felt so relaxed and at peace. During this portion of labor, I feel like time went by really quickly. I would breathe through each contraction and eventually started moaning as each one came and went. I felt like this helped me really relax and let the contractions do their job. The times when our baby needed to be monitored I was able to stay on the ball, which helped me to stay in my labor groove. At one point Sandee encouraged me to try and stand while holding onto Ethan in order to help the baby move down more. We did that for 2 contractions, the contractions were pretty painful and I felt like my legs were so weak. After that, I sat back down on the ball. I think being able to sit on the ball helped me to relax and really let go of everything including my body. I remember just really relying on Ethan to hold me and support me during each contraction. I am usually someone that doesn’t like physical touch when I’m in pain but this was so different. I needed Ethan there next to me holding me the whole time. It was late and I knew Ethan hadn’t eaten dinner, but I still didn’t want him to move.
It was a little after 10pm and I felt like my back was literally breaking. It felt like I had so much pressure on my lower back as if I had bent over for hours in the flowerbed pulling weeds. I got in bed to lie down for a minute. Once I got in bed Sandee suggested we use the peanut ball between my legs while I layed on my side. I stayed like this for a few minutes and remember the contractions started to feel different and more intense. My body started shaking involuntarily so we took away the peanut ball and I remember my right leg was comfortable lying straight out on the bed while my left leg was more comfortable bent with my foot on the bed. My moaning got a little louder and my nurse came in and decided to check how far dilated I had progressed.
It was 10:30pm and the nurse said I was 7cm dilated. I was happy to hear I had progressed but was still unsure on how long it would take for me to be completely dilated. I kept my eyes closed a majority of the time so I could focus through the contractions. But I opened them after hearing the nurses begin to get the lights and sterile equipment ready. At this point I realized I must be getting close, I just tried to concentrate on each contraction and get through each one while trying to relax and let it all happen. Ethan could tell that the nurses were preparing for delivery. We had discussed having my mom in the room during the delivery, so he went to the waiting room to bring her back. I still wasn’t fully dilated, but could tell I was in transition and on my way to 10cm. I feel like this was the hardest part of labor. I was thankful to have Sandee, my mom, and Ethan by my side. The encouragement helped me to push through the pain and focus on having my son.
At 11pm I said, “I feel so much pressure”. I was thinking that this was SO HARD! At that moment I felt the need to push, but the nurses and Sandee encouraged me to just breathe short quick breaths instead. I needed to endure the feeling and try not to push at this point. As the contractions came it felt like my body took over. I wasn’t trying to push but I could tell my uterus was moving all by itself. After each contraction the nurses would lift my blankets and check my progress. They kept doing this, but never made any comment other than to not push. Its funny now, but I was thinking can they see a head?!
At 11:15pm the nurse said I had completely dilated. Dr. Cox, the doctor on call, walked into the room. The delivery was a blur, but slow and vivid at the same time. The nurses helped my legs up into the stirrups while Dr. Cox told me instructions on how to push through during the contractions. She explained I needed to wait until I had a contraction, take a deep breath, try to hold the breath in and push as long as I could. It took a couple of contractions to get the hang of what I needed to do. Sandee and Ethan were on one side and my mom was on the other. They helped support my neck and upper back as well as my legs. Sandee told me to try to push as hard as I could and visualize my body doing what it was built to do. She told me to think about my uterus pushing my baby down. I put my chin to my chest, closed my mouth, and pushed as hard as I could through every contraction. At this time I remembered reading that some women can possibly push for hours. So, I tried to mentally prepare myself, but little did I know it wouldn’t be anywhere near that for me. The doctor and nurses kept saying they could see his head and that he had so much black hair. The room was full of nurses and everyone was yelling different things. I just tried to focus on the directions Sandee was speaking in my ear. I also listened to the nurse counting during my contractions so I knew how long I was pushing for each contraction. My heart was racing, my mind was focused, I was burning hot, and I felt like my bottom was ripping open. It took exactly 15 minutes of pushing and our sweet boy was here. He was quickly put on my chest, his tiny warm body, umbilical cord still attached, making the most precious little noises. He opened his eyes and looked around, this moment was incredible. I looked at his sweet face, all that black hair, and was just overwhelmed that he was here in my arms! He was perfect, and I couldn’t believe he was finally here… our baby was finally in our arms! Ethan kept telling me how proud he was and how beautiful our boy is. After we had a few minutes to see him and catch our breath, Ethan had the honor of cutting the cord. It was the sweetest moment. What an incredible experience. The pain was real, but unexplainably worth it.