My Birth Story 02.11.23
**This story contains sensitive information that can be quite confronting. It is not intended to evoke any fear, especially for those expecting, but to testify of God's goodness even in the midst of great sorrow. **
May 2022, God began knitting together a precious child in my womb. My husband, Devin, and I were overjoyed to say the least! I had longed to be a mother for as long as I could remember. This deep longing was finally being fulfilled, and my heart was so full! <3
Our first priority was choosing a provider that aligned with our faith, values, and views regarding birth. Literally days before finding out we were pregnant, God brought an incredible midwife into our lives- Hannah Penaluna with Sovereign Heart Midwifery. This was no coincidence. After interviewing a number of providers and praying fervently, we knew Hannah was our midwife.
From the very beginning, our pregnancy was such a joy! I can honestly say I loved every moment. As time passed, my belly grew and grew. Little flutters turned into big kicks. My walk became a waddle, and before we knew it, 39 weeks had come and gone. We eagerly anticipated our little one's arrival.
On February 10, 2023, what began as a regular prenatal visit abruptly paused when our child's heartbeat could not be detected. I tried my best to remain calm and not jump to drastic conclusions. We immediately hopped in the car and went in for an ultrasound. The drive felt like an eternity. We worshiped. We prayed. As soon as we arrived, we went straight back for an ultrasound. I laid there with my eyes closed, waiting to hear that beautiful thumping beat. Only silence. I opened my eyes as the provider walked to me. Shaking her head side to side, it was confirmed. Our child was now in heaven, just one day shy of 40 weeks. Our hearts were shattered. Our world was shaken, deep to the core. I thought to myself, "This can't be real. This isn't really happening! No! NO!" Devin embraced me. No words could be said. Deep groaning and cries were the only sounds that could be made.
"Fetal hydrops." This was all we were told. With this condition, fluid accumulates in the baby’s tissues and organs causing substantial swelling. It is a rare yet potentially fatal occurrence that is sometimes unexplainable. We were told our options moving forward, involving various methods of medical induction. Everything in my being did not want to receive these words. I knew birth could go a million different ways, but the idea of an induction in the hospital was so unsettling. It wasn't a matter of not wanting to do it. It simply went against everything my intuition was telling me.
We went home to process and decided to rest before making any decisions. We prayed hard, bold prayers. With tears streaming down my face, I cried out, "God, open my womb! This child is yours. Release this child's earthly body from my womb. Take your child's body from me Lord!"
Immediately, I felt a cramp low in my uterus. I tried not to read too much into it. I showered, hydrated, and laid down to rest. Another cramp. Then another. I informed Hannah but knew that it could be nothing. Regardless, I needed to rest. As I laid down, the cramping continued. A wavelike pattern began to form. I couldn't believe it. My body was naturally going into labor! I had long awaited being able to experience labor as a mother, not as a doula, and it was finally happening!
I suddenly felt engulfed in God’s peace. His presence was so palpable. I was overcome with joy. In the depths of great anguish, my God was so merciful! He heard my prayers and He was answering them. Everything in me surrendered. My body knew exactly what to do. I simply had to let go and fully trust.
Within the hour, contractions became consistent but felt manageable. I knew early labor could last for many hours and that my body needed rest. I relaxed in the bath for a bit and then crawled back in bed. The time was after midnight. I dozed off, only to wake to an intense sensation in what seemed only a matter of minutes later. Leaning forward while on my knees, I continued to rest as much as I could through a few contractions, beginning to feel them wrap around to my back. I remember thinking to myself, “I know this feels intense, but just breathe. We are still in early labor. We still have a ways to go.”
I told Devin I needed to go to the restroom and asked him to come with me. As soon as I sat on the toilet, to my surprise, rectal pressure became very evident. I knew birth was imminent. Devin called Hannah, and she immediately jumped in the car. With the very next contraction, the urge to bare was uncontrollable (Ferguson reflex), and I felt a great bulge. This baby was coming. Devin called Hannah again. She calmly reassured us and instructed me to get off the toilet. As soon as I stood, another contraction came and baby’s head emerged. I slowly went to towels on the ground. The next contraction quickly came and our baby was born.
“It’s a boy!” Devin announced. We have a son! Sitting on the bathroom floor, we embraced our baby boy. A sacred moment of God’s tangible presence. No words will ever be able to describe the moment we shared. It is one we will never forget. We held his body so close to ours. Lifeless he appeared yet greater life consumed our souls. We had birthed our son to be in his heavenly home. Tears flowed yet great peace prevailed.
The miraculous earthly birth of our son, Elijah Michael Simpson, was Saturday February 11, 2023, at 4:30 AM. It was evident at birth that Elijah had signs of a rare chromosome condition, Trisomy 13 or Patau syndrome. With this, most babies never experience this side of heaven due to severe abnormalities that can occur while in the womb. It is a blessing to have had 40 joyous weeks with Elijah. We rejoice knowing he is with our Lord and Savior, full of life and free of pain, suffering, and sin.
This experience has had a profound impact on me and has shaped me in ways that are still unfolding. As a doula, I now possess a deeper understanding of the complexity and fragility of birth. I have witnessed firsthand great beauty and goodness while in the deepest of pains. My faith has expanded beyond what I could have imagined. I have released all boundaries in what God can do and continue to be in awe of His grace and mercy.
We are forever grateful for the love and support from our family and community, who have been a source of comfort and encouragement throughout. We also extend our sincerest gratitude to our midwife, Hannah, for the exceptional care received during our pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She is a true blessing to us and the Atlanta birth community. Special thank you to Lindsay Wend for capturing precious moments we will forever cherish. Above all, we give our greatest thanks to God, who continues to carry us through this journey every step of the way.