Our Birth History: Because I Know You’ll Pray…

**My husband says that posting this post on a “Not Me Monday” is like opening up the paper to the comic section and finding the obituaries.  So I apologize to those who were visiting for a chuckle.**

Last week when I posted my updated ‘To-do’ list of things to accomplish before the baby arrives.  I was surprised and blessed by so many of you who took the time to comment or email and let me know that you are praying for me, for this baby, this birth and our family.  Thank you!  That outpouring of prayer support prompted me to write this post, because I know you’ll pray…

Our birth history is unusual.  As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard of anyone who has experienced anything similar to us and I’ve asked.  A lot.

Until after the birth of our last baby, we were told by every health care professional we spoke with that the complications that we experienced with our births were unrelated to each other.     Each time we explained our history we were told we were not at risk for more trouble, that our history was simply a string of unexpected, unforeseeable complications.

It wasn’t until after our last child was fairly severely injured at birth and needed to be seen by specialists at Shriner’s Orthopedic  in Philadelphia that Dr. K sat down with us and explained that while he didn’t know WHY these things were happening, he did strongly believe that all of these complications were related and that we had a very high risk of another Brachial Plexus Palsy or worse happening again.

I was hoping to get through more birth stories before I posted this, but since I’m a little extremely slow allow me to summarize for you the way that Dr. K did for us.

Out of 9 births:

  • We’ve experienced 6 shoulder dystocias.  (Until Dr. K pointed it out, we did not realize that we should count those babies who suffered from broken collar bones as a dystocia.  Dr. K said, “If there wasn’t a problem with their shoulders being stuck, their bones wouldn’t break.”  Um, yes, that makes sense.  Why did no one tell us sooner??)
  • 4 babies have suffered a broken collar bone or humerous during birth due to SD (shoulder Dystocia).
  • 3  babies, because of SD, have suffered from a lack of oxygen to the point that the doctor/midwife was concerned about possible brain damage..
  • 1 of our children suffered Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy – paralysis of his arm) because of SD.

There are risks factors for shoulder dystocia, but we don’t fit into those risks.  We’ve experienced problems with small and large babies, difficulties when I was carrying no extra weight, we tried chiropractic care, stayed active during birth, avoided unnecessary interventions and had two home births (both resulted in SD with broken bones).

As a matter of fact, our most severe dystocias have come with completely natural child birth and the three births that there was no dystocia and no injury were the three births that I had an epidural.  (Go figure)

The most severe injury (broken humerous and Brachial Plexus Palsy) was a homebirth where the midwife did everything “right” in dealing with a shoulder dystocia.

God has been very merciful to us.  Nicholas (our Erb’s Palsy/Brachial Plexus Palsy baby) has had an amazing recovery and none of our children have been left with any brain damage.

However, when we found out that God had blessed us with the child that I’m now carrying, we knew we had a difficult decision to make.

It has been a decision that I’ve struggled with for the past 8 1/2 months.  Mark and I are firm believers in natural childbirth and chose to have our last two children at home because of the unusually high c-section rate of the hospitals in our new city.

If someone could tell me that our child would be born uninjured, I would choose homebirth again.  My heart is homebirth and I’m grateful that the Lord allowed me to experience the joy, peace and rightness of delivering two of our children at home.

However, this baby will be born via planned c-section on July 6 (unless I go into labor sooner).

Even though I KNOW that this is the best decision, even though God has shown me through my husband (who has no doubt whatsoever) that this is His plan for me, I struggle.  I really am Gideon, I want my fleece dry and then wet and even with all of that I wonder and just as God was gracious to Gideon,

(T)he LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” ~Judges 7:9-11

God is gracious to me.

For the last several weeks I have been praying that God would please confirm our decision by allowing the baby to be breech or transverse (something that we’ve never experienced before).  Our babies have all been head down by 36 weeks and this was the ‘fleece’ that I set before God.

Last week at my OB appointment we found out that this baby is indeed breech.  I know that we could try to flip her and I know that she may flip on her own, but for me this was God reaching down and reassuring me that we’re doing all right.

Each time I feel her tiny little , gigantic head up under my ribs (ouch!)  I’m reminded of God’s mercy and goodness to me in that even though He gave me clear direction through my husband, He was still willing to deal directly with my insecurity and fear.

I’ve never had a c-section before, so if you have any tips, suggestions or encouragement, I’m all ears.

You may be interested in reading:

Birth Story #1
Birth Story #2
Birth Story #3

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122 Responses to Our Birth History: Because I Know You’ll Pray…
  1. Meghan Wilson
    August 2, 2012 | 4:45 pm

    I had a c section on #6 of 7 children. It was a hard thing for me to accept as I never wanted to have one! Things aren’t always as we want, though. It had to be done. I just tried to focus on the end result, which was a healthy baby! Very great reward, indeed! :)


  2. Melissa
    August 3, 2012 | 7:00 pm

    I had my first c-section with my last baby #5. We are very much for natural birth as well. Two of our children were born at home and it was beautiful experience. Our C-section was not planned and it was a horrific emergency situation but through it all I am so thankful that the Lord has provided the knowledge for c-sections, it truly saved mine and our son’s life. Our sweet little boy has cerebral palsy from lack of oxygen at birth and has suffered a great deal of brain damage. He was flown to a Children’s hospital right after birth. We were told he was already gone, we were headed to the Children’s hospital to say goodbye before the machines were removed but he hadn’t had any brain activity in 24 hours so there was no hope. We told them that any activity at all and we would not give up on our son and will not consent to machines being removed. We called on the body of Christ to storm the gates of heaven with prayer for mercy. God in all His mercy granted our request, 2 hours before we arrived, while we were stuck in traffic trying to get to him, I got a text from my sister in law, who miraculously was in the area when this all happened, saying that his EEG machine has started jumping with activity! They told us he would never be anything more than a complete assist in a vegetative state. We told them his life has value no matter how God chooses for his body to work. You are welcome to read my blog to see how incredibly wrong they were. Augustus Rapha (Comes from the Hebrew text, Jehovah Rapha, meaning “God Who Heals”) has much work to do for everything he learns but the Lord has blessed us with a son who knows how loved he is and he is far more than a “vegetable”! So I didn’t set out to share that story but my point was that we have c-sections only because God has granted us the knowledge. Rest easy in knowing that when they are necessary to protect, they are a wonderful gift. May the Lord bless you and give you peace in your decision.

    Living In His Mercy,


  3. Rebecca
    August 14, 2012 | 8:48 am

    Sounds like you have made a much prayed about and wise decision. The Lord gives us these options so we can use them when needed. I will be praying that all goes well. He will be with you through this. It is scary, but once you see that precious little one, it is worth it. Congratulations to you on this new blessed olive!
    Love in Christ,


  4. tara quinn
    August 14, 2012 | 1:10 pm

    I had c-sections with my first two and I would say don’t over do it but do as much as you can. The more your up and walking the less stiffness and pain from the gas that gets trapped inside affects you. You get horrid pains up near your chest and shoulders and get so stiff you hunch if you dont. Well in my experiences. Dont lift things to early but otherwise do as much as you can. I was 24 and 25 but I imagine it gets all the more important with each year. I hope and pray the best for you and I am so glad your c-section will be family friendly. God bless.


  5. Carol
    August 26, 2012 | 9:36 pm

    I love knowing that God still works through all the “unnatural” doctor methods available, he knows that because of sin there are complications with birthing, but He also wants each of these lives here, so He reassures us and sends us into the care of the practitioners…my first c-section was an emergency with my first child, and all I felt was peace as God had brought in a doctor who prayed with my husband, sang He’s got the whole world in His hands, and prayed with the staff before the surgery! God is so good! Take it extremely easy as life long pain can become an issue if you don’t heal well!


  6. Christine
    February 17, 2013 | 9:28 pm

    I’ve spent some time browsing through your wonderful blog tonight and as a mom of many myself I found the birth stories section. :) I have 7 children and have never heard about anyone having shoulder dystocias more than once either. My first 3 babies had SD with broken collar bones too. Thankfully, they’ve not experienced any long term issues. With my last 4 my dr was willing to induce me at 36-37 weeks. It worked for us and have not had a problem ever since. We still cover all pregnancies with prayer and know that a c-section might be needed in the future.


  7. Krista
    November 5, 2013 | 4:16 pm

    Did any of your dr.’s ever say you had a low pelvic bone? My sister is 39weeks w/her first baby and that’s what they are telling her. I read somewhere about shoulder dystocia being possibly related to a low pelvic bone. Have you heard anything like this?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Krista,

    No, none of my doctors mentioned that, although my first OB did say that my pubic bone does not have the typical curve, but he never said that would cause problems (and he delivered our first 7 babies).

    However, I visited a couple chiropractors and none of them saw anything that would indicate that I would have difficulties with childbirth.

    In my research, I haven’t seen anything about bone structure being related to shoulder dystocia, but it certainly makes sense that it could.

    Hope things go well for your sister.


  8. Anna
    March 5, 2014 | 6:13 pm

    I’m curious as to why neither your OB or midwife ever tried the gaskin maneuver with shoulder dystocia. Ina May says that in all the cases they had on The Farm they were able to deliver baby without problems.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Your assumption that the Gaskin maneuver was never tried is incorrect. In fact, both times the baby was actually stuck (most of the injuries occurred when the baby was stuck for a very short period of time or not stuck at all) the Gaskin maneuver was attempted.

    The Gaskin maneuver was attempted twice. The first time it was completely unsuccessful and my son ended up being delivered by a combination of McRobert’s maneuver and Wood’s maneuver. He was uninjured.

    Nick, who suffered both a broken humerus and a bracial plexus injury ( the most severely injured of our children) was delivered via the Gaskin maneuver.

    Having the history that I have, it is interesting to me how many people assume (and feel free to tell us) that we didn’t do something right (like trying the Gaskin maneuver) because, I suppose they think, that if we had done the ‘right’ thing then we would certainly not need to be having ‘unnecessary’ c-sections.


  9. Rosie
    March 22, 2014 | 3:06 am

    Pondering this because it is interesting. Also a huge advocate of natural birth, but have seen enough to know it sometimes needs a medical helping hand.
    Do you think perhaps, that it may be the shape of your pelvis? There is a saying that “a TOL (trial of labor) is the true test [of the baby fitting through the diameter of the pelvis). There are 4 (?) main female pelvis shapes, some being more “favorable to birth than others. The clincher is the work of the hormone relaxin upon the pelvic ligaments. Typically these will loosen everything enough to allow baby easy passage, unless the pelvic shape is very unfavorable (or deformed). If the pelvis had an issue, the presiding OB at the Cesarean would be able to positively ID it. I do not thing a chiropractor could assess that particular aspect from the outside.

    I have another possible theory :) birth depends upon the vessel and the passenger. Babies make seven cardinal movements to get from womb to stateside. Perhaps, whether by shape of your body or the cleverness of your wee ones, they were not sufficiently rotating enough to avoid getting hung up.

    Whatever the case, the success with the epidural a is quite telling. The relaxation offered by the pain relief is sufficient to open the channels enough to let vessel and passenger complete the birth.

    Shoulder dystocia falls in to a “rare” category for birth complications. They are scary and extremely painful. That you have had so many with no “fetal demise” is a true gift from God.

    I have read this story through and know it had a very happy ending. You made an excellent and informed decision.


  10. devonshire
    June 8, 2014 | 4:01 pm

    Hi Kimberly,
    I have a story similar to yours, 3 SD births out of 4 kids so far. No one ever explained anything until number 4 was born and now has life long erb’s palsy. We also saw Dr. K and helped my son with one surgery. I’m expecting number 5 and I believe the safest way to get him/her out is via c-section. Like you, if someone would assure me the baby would be born ok even if birthed naturally, I would be all for it. I just feel like I cannot take that chance into my own hands. I found your blog when my last baby was born, about 3.5 years ago. I came back to it today just so I could reread the process of acceptance you’ve gone thru as I need to do the same. I don’t know how I’ll ever do this. I like your comparison to Gideon (funny, that’s actually my husband’s name!) and I know I have to be strong and trust G-d. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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