This guest article is written by Kendra Thaler, author and creator of the blog Just Pretty Me. Kendra is the mother of two and a minister’s wife. Kendra’s story, 2 Pregnancies, 2 Battles and 2 Victories, is a beautiful example of someone who pioneered a new way of giving birth in her family, as you will soon read. This is also a beautifully unique story because she includes actual excerpts of her own, personal writing in the very moments of her experiences.
I hope you enjoy Kendra’s story, but, more importantly, I hope you feel inspired and encouraged that you can give birth courageously, and that you have the support and prayers of Kendra, too.
Much love and prayers,
2 Pregnancies, 2 Battles, and 2 Victories
Hello mamas! I am honored to be asked to write. Today, I want to offer encouragement and raw, real-life experience. Whether you are trying to conceive, already pregnant, or have already given birth, I want to give you strength today. Let me start by saying, if you’re reading this, take a moment and thank yourself for caring enough about yourself to seek encouragement, strength, and community. It’s something that we all need and thrive upon!
I’m a stay at home mom to two hilarious, high energy, and adorable little boys. S.J., my firstborn, is 4 and C.J., my youngest, is 1. I’m a wife to an incredible man who is my rock and I’m the daughter of the King of Kings. My journey to motherhood and beyond has been incredible. Not without challenges of course but each one has taught me rock solid life lessons. I want to give some advice that should hit you wherever you’re at in life.
Learn to Be Honest with Yourself
We have good days, and we have bad days. It’s okay. Be honest with where you are at. If you’re down, reach out to someone you trust for help! I went through postpartum depression after having C.J. and it was so hard. I had to learn to be honest with my emotions and address them. If you’re sad, lonely, depressed, anxious… it’s okay. We are only human. But don’t stay there.
Learn to live without fear
Did you know that fear is the opposite of faith? If you’re going to go through life with faith, optimism, positivity, and hope, you have to learn to banish fear as it comes. Don’t tuck it away for it to creep up later. When a fearful thought hits me, I pray. I search my heart for the source of why it made me afraid and address it.
2 Pregnancies, 2 Battles and 2 Victories
Prepare, and then let go
Preparation is huge. You know the saying, “failing to prepare is to prepare to fail.” That’s true to a certain point. Make plans, and make goals. Write them down and do your best to obtain them. But at the end of the day, there is a measure of acceptance and letting go that you have to have in life because things don’t always go as planned.
Maybe you’re planning for a natural birth and that’s amazing! But if it doesn’t happen that way, you’re not a failure. Maybe you’re planning to get the Epidural because that’s your desire. But if it doesn’t happen that way, you can still have that baby just fine! I’ve talked to so many women and listened to so many birth stories… and of course I have my own experiences. There is power in learning to just let go.
Live in the Moment
This is something I’m really emphasizing in my life right now. We’re all busy and we all have things to do. But when you’re with someone, when you’re playing with your kids, talking to your husband… whatever it is–be all the way there. Think about how many times you look back and wish you would have had more “quality” moments with people you love. It can be done! And you end up feeling much more fulfilled in the end. Look at the mountains more, talk to your kids more, listen to what people say, watch the flowers bloom, let the sun rest on your face… Learn to get in the moment and embrace life!
If I could sum up my pregnancies and child birth experiences, it would go like this:
My first birth was overcoming fear. My second birth was learning to trust.
2 Pregnancies, 2 Battles and 2 Victories
I came from a background of an entire three generations of incredible women who all had c-sections. I grew up believing that that’s just how we gave birth because that’s what happened. I remember my mom telling stories of how hard she tried to have natural births. She was in labor for hours and didn’t dilate. We are smaller framed, and shorter-statured women. I believed that this was just how it was for us. We could have babies, but just not naturally.
Two years before I was pregnant with my first son, a close friend of mine, who was in nursing school at the time, told me about a popular documentary called, “The Business of Being Born.” The first time I watched it, I cried through the whole thing for one main reason–it gave me hope that I could bear a child naturally without help, without intervention, and without surgery. This was earth shattering, literally ground breaking… I always told my husband that I never wanted a c-section. It was terrifying to me!
So here I was with an onslaught of information. I did what I always do; I decided to investigate. I spent the next 2 years educating myself and becoming passionate about natural birth. Not to put anyone down, but because with every new thing I read, it fed the hope that I could do exactly what God created my body to do.
In early March 2014 I found out that I was 4 weeks pregnant. Now I was fortified, determined and ready do to this–from the inside out, ready to nourish my baby, my body, and eventually have a beautiful natural birth. I received so much negativity it was actually sickening.
At my first OB appointment I mentioned that I wanted to have an unmedicated, natural hospital birth and she said, “oh, that’s what they all say until the pain comes and then they’re screaming for the Epidural.” I left the office heartbroken and angry. Who was she to tell me what my body could or couldn’t do?
I found a new doctor, who by contrast, started our first appointment with these words in the kindest, most heartfelt voice, “okay dear, tell me what you want for your birth.” And so I did with tears in my eyes. And he said, “okay, that is what we will do.” He kept his word.
I worked through so much fear during my pregnancy but by the end of it all, I knew one thing. I was going to give it my best and together, my baby and I were going to see it through to the end. At 37 weeks, I had a night where contractions started and began to pick up. They got intense and began to get down to 2 minutes apart. And then, at about 2 am, everything completely, totally stopped. Nothing. Not one single pain.
This was the beginning of prodromal labor. Most would call this “false labor” but if you’ve been through it before, you would know that it’s nothing of the sort. I had 12 hours of prodromal labor every day for the duration of my pregnancy until my son was born at 40 weeks and 1 day. It was emotional and frustrating and caused so much fear that maybe my body couldn’t do it. Maybe this was happening because my body was trying and failing.
The night true labor started, I began to cry. I told my husband, if this isn’t the real thing, I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. He laid hands on my head and prayed for me. And then he told me these words, ” The Lord wants you to know that you don’t have to be afraid. It’s going to be worth it all. ” I was silent for a few moments as I took his words in. And then I simply said, “thank you.”
This led to a night of contractions growing in intensity and frequency. When my husband arose around 7 am I told him that if this wasn’t active labor, I didn’t know what it would be because I was in the most pain of my life.
I was in active labor for about 12 hours. I wept, I gritted my teeth, I relaxed, I sang, I doubted myself, I lost hope, I trusted, I endured… and in the end of the fight against fear, I gave birth to my firstborn son. It didn’t happen until I let go. I found it so symbolic that my doctor didn’t make it to the birth because S.J. came so fast in the end. I was able to reach down and pull him up onto my chest.
This is an excerpt that I wrote after he was born:
“I’m still trying to find a word to describe the emotions that I felt when I held him for the first time! Joy, exhilaration, an absolute thrill, pure bliss, empowerment, the deepest love I’ve ever felt… Can all of those emotions somehow be combined into one word? I don’t think so. It was the greatest high I’ve ever felt. The greatest mountain I’ve ever climbed. I cried and cried and told him how much I loved him, how much I had waited to meet him, my baby was finally in my arms! The moment I waited my whole life for! God gave us a beautiful son!!”
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves [with him].” (Psalm 126:5-6)
Before we knew it, I had the surprise of my life. I was 6 weeks pregnant with another little one and had no idea! My firstborn had just turned 2. I wasn’t ready, but ready or not. This time around it wasn’t the fear that gripped me. I was confident and knew what my body could do. I jumped in with ease and excitement (after the shock of course! Ha!)
Until 35 weeks hit and strong contractions came. We went to the doctor to get checked because it was so early but deep down I knew… and the hospital only confirmed the fear that I had. It was prodromal labor. Again. This time it was starting an entire week earlier. And it happened differently in its frequency. It would pop up every few days and then everyday. And then nothing for 3 days. Totally random. We ended up going to the hospital 2 more times, only to be sent home.
My confidence was shattered. I didn’t trust my body. I realized that even though I conquered the fear… I hadn’t conquered the trust of myself, of my instincts. Of my body. Finally, my doula had a heart-to-heart with me with many tears. She said, “Kendra you know that you can have a natural birth. You know what your body can do. And when it’s time, you will know. Trust your body.”
Let Go And Trust. Again.
And that is precisely what I had to do. Let go and trust. At 41 weeks and 5 days (with an induction scheduled in 3 more days) my body went into full, active labor on its own. When early contractions started, I felt the presence of God so strongly and wrote these words down:
“I believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. When God made the decision to make me a female being, He placed within me the power to reproduce, and be fruitful. There is nothing wrong with my body’s ability to conceive, grow, nurture, and produce a full-term, thriving, healthy baby. Out of my womb will flow abundant life. My body is completely capable of going into spontaneous labor without medical assistance. I release all anxiety, fear, doubt and misgivings about my body’s ability to go into labor on its own.
“God, this morning, this moment, I cast all of the uncertainty and nervousness that I have been feeling upon You. I rest in Your Word, in Your peace, and I dwell in Your shelter. Thank you for allowing me to be relaxed, and able to release the beautiful love hormone of Oxytocin throughout my body. You created me as a woman, with specific hormone responses, that would lead to the natural, unmediated delivery of my children.
I Trust the Process
I trust in the process. I accept the pain. God, I am coming to You for rest. Your yoke is easy, and Your burden is light. You have given us C.J., and he will be born naturally. He was created in Your image and Your likeness…and C.J.’s birth will bring You glory. Thank You for the privilege to be a vessel of honor. Your grace is sufficient and You will carry me through, all the way until the end–for You promised that You would be with me always, even until the end of the world.”
I slept that night holding my son because I had a feeling it was my last night being a mom of one. At 4:30 am I was awakened with a strong contraction that I couldn’t sleep through. By 5 am I knew I was in active labor, and by about 5:10 am my labor took a turn to extremely intense, fast and painful labor. Within 30 minutes I began to feel the pressure of my baby’s head. We arrived at the hospital at 7 am and at 7:36 am my beautiful, second-born son entered into this world. I wrote these words of his birth:
“..on a glorious Friday morning, as the birds were still singing their morning songs and the dew was still fresh on the grass. Unbeknownst to nature, there occurred a miracle that forever changed our lives. The early sunlight peeked in at 7:36 am when you made your appearance into the world. I heard your first, loud cries, and love overwhelmed my heart.
“my journey to get you safely into this world was complete. Our family never felt more complete. C.J., our sweet, gentle giant. Our lives are richer than ever because of you. You are our promise of revival, given by the Lord Almighty. And you will do great things for His namesake. You showed Mommy what it truly means to fight, when you feel like you have nothing left, to obtain God’s promises.”
And his birth taught me the word… Trust.
Written by Kendra Thaler, mother of 2
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