Have you ever heard of the rule of six? More specifically, in education some call it The Principal Connection. Or maybe, you have heard of the six degrees of separation? Some believe for every six names you throw out to a stranger, you typically have a mutual connection. Others call coincidence, divine appointments. No matter how you sum it up, when you consider such statistics, you can't help but reflect on how terribly small our world really is.
In this birth story, expectant couple Josh and Elyse, were referred to me by Megan Tipton. I met Megan years earlier in my Athens, Ga Bradley Method® class, where she and her husband Gregory, also trained twelve weeks for their first labor and birth. Josh and Elyse are very special to them also. Megan and Elyse were church friends during college years as Elyse attended UGA in Athens, GA. Gregory, Megan's husband happens to not only be a friend, but now is also their Priest. Part of the reason both couples resonated with The Bradley Method® was their desire to experience a less medical, more natural birth. From a religious perspective, the New Testament shares in John 16:21, the laboring woman is full of sorrow, but as soon as the baby is born, her heart is full of Joy and she can remember the pain no more.
The birth process is the most athletically challenging event a woman will ever do.
Elyse was no stranger to the immense physical training athletes endure. She formerly ran track for the University of Georgia. She understood likewise, labor and birth would challenge her physically. What she underestimated was the mental and emotional challenges she would face and even long before her first labor commenced.
Fortunately, she had a loving husband and his support through it all. Many experience hardships and trials while to conceive, let alone a variety of complications during pregnancy, labor, and the birth itself.
Although practicing Catholics, Elyse and Josh were not actively practicing Natural Family Planning. They had decided to leave it up to God and his timing of when to bless them with a child.
For readers who may be interested, Natural Family Planning is a highly effective means to avoid or achieve pregnancy. It does take daily dedication to the process. Contrary to popular belief, it is not specifically practiced by those of the Catholic faith. In fact, many other religions use and also even non-religious people resonate. Most find it to be a healthy natural approach. For more information, you can visit usccb.org
A rainbow baby is a term used to describe a baby born after loss. Many believe to bring forth life after loss is a miraculous event. I am sure Elyse and Josh would agree. Unfortunately, loss is not a topic of common conversation as many feel awkward discussing or sharing for the fear of instilling anxiety, guilt or fear not only in themselves, but also in others. So many young mothers and fathers suffer in silence. In fact, statistically 1 in 5 will suffer loss before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most are familiar with the term miscarriage. However, “Rainbow Baby” doesn't just refer to miscarriage, but also stillbirth or death during infancy, such as SIDS. The loss, nevertheless, at any stage of development or after birth is tragic and most often unknown. To better prepare couples who may experience loss, I have asked the new parents to personally share with our readers who may face such trials in the future how they overcome the associated emotions and daily challenges to press forward again.
I submitted a list of relevant questions to them and here are their responses...
What were the biggest challenges for you or Josh after miscarriage?
The hardest part was trusting God and that he loves us. We had actually decided after our second loss to wait and take some time to heal. The next month we were shockingly pregnant again. I was overwhelmed and felt ill prepared to take on the journey of pregnancy again but God provided a lot of grace and healing through the 9 months.
Any advise for others who have suffered loss in getting through the first 12 weeks mentally & emotionally?
Don’t stress that you “aren’t doing enough” or “doing the right thing”. Miscarriage is not the fault of the mother, you didn’t do anything wrong before. There’s no “moral of the story” – God isn’t trying to teach you a lesson. He gave you a beautiful soul to carry and you did the best job any parent can do, you got them to heaven. The first 12 weeks of my pregnancy with Kyrian I worried I wasn’t getting enough nutrients because I couldn’t swallow my prenatal vitamins without throwing up. The minute I realized that vitamins weren’t the answer nor the reason I miscarried in the past I was able to be more positive. You simply have to do your best – but doing your best isn’t about being OCD about your pregnancy. Do the best you can but don’t stress if it isn’t perfect – life hardly is. I also found a doctor who was willing to help diagnose why I was having multiple miscarriages and found my progesterone to be low. He prescribed me suppositories the first 12 weeks. Try and find a practice that will help you get to the root of what’s going on if you have subsequent miscarriages or think you have an underlying condition.
Obviously, sciatica was a huge challenge for you, (having formerly been a runner), how would you describe the physical challenges near term?
I could not walk the last 3 weeks of pregnancy without excruciating back pain. At work, I started wheeling myself around in my swivel chair – that’s when my boss let me work from home, for anyone that needs any tips.
What did You two find most helpful along your journey into parenthood?
The support of our family and friends throughout the pregnancy and subsequently after when Kyrian was in the NICU. People were generous in ways we can never repay and it’s helped us be more humble and grateful.
I teach that timing of interventions matter. That couples should always weigh pros and cons to determine all aspects, ask for time to discuss privately, etc. before making final decisions that could change the course of labor or your target birth plan. What do you feel were your personal pros & cons of choosing late administration of epidural use?
Pros: I had a short break to regain some energy and strength before pushing. I could enjoy the third phase of labor after Kyrian came out and I got to hold him.
Cons: I had a hard time feeling some of the contractions. I couldn’t walk after for a few hours, which was a huge downside when the nurses took Kyrian to the nursery for monitoring. Josh went with him and after a while, I had to ask for a wheel chair to go see my boy in NICU.
What did you find most exciting during your birth experience.
Seeing Kyrian come out and crying joyfully at the sight of him. He was born at 3:44 p.m on Ash Wednesday, 2020.
What was the scariest part of labor/ journey?
Fear of miscarriage and having to decide to induce vs. wait – Kyrian made it especially hard since he was 10 days late.
Elyse’s labor had been on again -off again for several weeks. A process I like to call pre-labor. I think we should give moms credit for All of their contractions not just the ones that result in birth. Many women accomplish a lot of prep work this way. Including partial dilation and effacement, lower station, and getting baby’s into optimal positions for labor. In addition, the breasts are undergoing changes in preparation for baby’s arrival also. These things all take time.
Elyse shared this special prayer she clung to after her two miscarriages...
I asked for intercession from Blessed Charles I of Austria (he was the last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in WWI. He is one step away from being declared a Saint. He had a very Holy marriage and a big beautiful family of 8 children. He died in exile at the age of 35.
Dad Josh admires both his new baby boy and the amazing strength of his wife.
We named our son, Kyrian, which comes from the greek. We say at mass meaning “Lord have mercy”. We consider it a great mercy for God to let us carry a child to term. Elyse Bray
Proud Dr. Goggin, shares in the happy “BIRTH” day celebration. Our rainbow babies and those who help them into the world, are extra special!
Dr. Fernandez in Florida was instrumental in the success of helping Elyse overcome the issues which contributed to her former miscarriages. Although out of state, she highly recommends him to any who may have experienced loss. https://www.jmjfamilypractice.com
A special visitor Fr. Tipton stopped in to pray over the laboring couple and was shocked and excited to see the baby had already arrived. A special bedside service was held in honor of Ash Wednesday.