Hallelujah Joy! (Karen)
The Lord has promised good to me. His Word my hope secures.
Last summer we found out we were pregnant (Blessing #1) and really felt this precious little one would be a girl and we would call her Halle Joy, short for Hallelujah. Her life would be a declaration of praise to the Lord, as was this season for our family. Later on it was confirmed that we were having little Halle (Blessing #2) and she was due to come on April 27th.
Early on we researched & decided that we wanted to have more of a natural birth with a midwife. We were grateful that we had a very healthy pregnancy and at every check up, our midwives would say Halle & I were doing great (Blessing #3). Even so, fears of labor loomed for me and I had many conversations with Jesus and with Taylor (my husband) about what labor & delivery would be like. I imagined the worst case scenarios (from miscarriage to breech baby to traumatic labor to emergency c-section) and the Lord patiently walked me through these moments of panic and brought me repeatedly to the point of surrender and trusting Him. I hoped for a natural labor with no medical intervention or medication of any kind. Ideally, I would begin labor at home and delay going to the hospital until I was at least 5cm dilated. Then we would be admitted to the Alternative Birthing Center where I would have the freedom to eat, drink, and move around as I wanted.
Then on April 5th, just before 37 weeks of pregnancy, my plans began to unravel. At a routine check up my midwife raised concern about my elevated blood pressure and other indicators of my risk of pre-eclampsia. After running some tests on me and monitoring Halle, she found that while Halle passed with flying colors (Blessing #4), my levels were all bordering unsafe, they scheduled me to return for follow up early the next week.
When I returned on April 9th my levels had worsened. I had pre-eclampsia and was immediately put on bed rest. For those who know me, being on bed rest was devastating for many reasons. Aside from leaving my 2 jobs with incomplete projects, I had countless things on my “to do” list left undone.
On April 10th, we were sent to the hospital to be monitored overnight. After checking in, my blood pressure became dangerously high and repeated tests confirmed that my pre-eclampsia was getting worse, which greatly concerned my midwives that it would further develop into full blown eclampsia. The potential risks of eclampsia include seizures and death of either the baby or mother. Reality and fear began to sink in as they warned that with pre-eclampsia everything would continue to worsen until I had the baby. Now the likelihood of being induced wasn’t a matter of if, but of when I would be induced. That night we tried to rest in the hospital room and miraculously for the first time in weeks my blood pressure normalized as I slept and my other test results stabilized- even though things were supposed to continually worsen as long as I was pregnant. (Blessing #5!) BIG Praise Jesus!!
After praying throughout the night that they would let me go home even for just 1 more day to rest and mentally prepare, God answered my desperate prayers. My OB decided I should continue being on bed rest as my stats had improved as I slept and they hesitated to induce me when I was barely past 37 weeks especially when due dates can often be inaccurate.
On Saturday (April 13th), Jesus and I had a beautiful time in which we walked through my expectations, fears, and anticipation of Halle’s birth. He called me to lay each aspect of the experience down. It was as if He said, “I will go before you and experience each part that you will have to experience. Then I will come back for you and I will walk with you through it again. I will have already done it alone, but I will be right beside you as you go through it.” Jesus was incredibly comforting to me and I experienced His complete peace in this situation after many months of anxiety and fear. (Blessing #6!!!)
That evening we invited friends over for a worship time as we anticipated the very real possibility of being induced the following day. We had an appointment at the hospital Sunday morning (April 14) to do a battery of tests again and were told we would likely be induced if nothing had dramatically changed because we would then be a full 38 weeks.
Sunday morning we left our house early with great excitement and anticipation for Halle’s arrival. However to our surprise, our midwife told us that ALL my stats had dramatically improved (Blessing #7!), which is unheard of, and that they were sending us home again. We continued to pray diligently that God will allow me to go into labor naturally to avoid me needing to be induced.
Then on Monday the midwives called to inform me that after collaborating with the OB they felt confident to induce me on Thursday, April 18th, assuming Halle hadn’t come on her own before then. I freaked out.
While I know it may seem crazy that only 2 days earlier I had been at complete peace with the understanding that God knew exactly what would happen and would walk me through each step. Now I knew however, that on Thursday I would be induced and my hope of a natural delivery flew out the window. I had already risked out of the Alternative Birthing Center due to my pre-eclampsia. And now inducing contractions would likely cause intense pain and my blood pressure to become dangerously high. This would result in me likely needing an epidural or even magnesium to manage the pain and high blood pressure. Worst case, I would need an emergency C-section if Halle was under distress and to normalize my blood pressure. I lay in bed awake that Monday night until midnight with all of this weighing on my mind.
At 3:00am I woke up abruptly to my water breaking. We were literally in disbelief to the point of deciding with our midwife to meet her in the hospital at 8am just to verify that my water really had broken. By 5am I began having regular contractions and they grew increasingly more intense. When we arrived at the hospital it was abundantly clear to everyone (especially me!) that I was in active labor (Blessing #8!). In fact, I was already dilated 5½ cm! (Blessing #9!) I had hoped to delay coming to the hospital until I was at least a 5, so I was very pleasantly surprised.
They quickly moved us to a labor & delivery room and began monitoring both of us. To my great surprise, my midwife said my blood pressure wasn’t dangerously high and that I could begin laboring outside of the bed as long as it did not become unsafe for me or Halle. (Blessing #10!) Halle would need to be continuously monitored as I labored to ensure her safety. Incredibly, just as I had prayed, I never once laid down for the rest of my labor!! (Blessing #11!!) Throughout my labor in order to relax I listened to one song almost exclusively, “Not for a Moment,” performed by Vertical Church Band. Meredith Andrews sings “You were reaching in the storm walking on the water even when I could not see. In the middle of it all, when I thought You were a thousand miles away. Not for a moment did You forsake me. After all, You are constant. After all, You are only good.”
At 1:27pm, Halle Joy Lyall joined our family (BLESSING #12!!)! It was unbelievable that after 9 months of anticipation and a few very emotional weeks, she had finally arrived. Even after all the months of anxiety and being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, Jesus walked with us each step of the way just as He said He would. God had worked miraculously to not only give us a beautiful, healthy baby but He also allowed me to experience a positive, natural labor & delivery. In fact, I believe He even used my pre-eclampsia as a blessing in disguise as it gave me the gift of 5 days of bed rest, which I know I needed and would never have given myself. Thinking back on this journey, Jesus’s grace and love were lavished on us, even as I so easily wavered in my faith and trust in Him. May this testimony be a concrete reminder to us all that “Not for a moment did You forsake me. After all, You are constant. After all, You are only good.”