Many of you have asked…and now that Dayla has given me a little reprieve, I have time/energy to sit down and tell you all about my experience of having a baby. The truth is I also want to document it for myself before all the “love hormones”, the hormones that make one forget all the hard parts of labor, set in. I am hoping that I have not forgotten too much in these last two weeks, though I can sense the truthfulness of the pain already slipping from my memories. For those of you not interested in the true story of it all….please don’t feel obligated to read on. I will be happy to supply the severely edited, “it was so easy” story for you upon request at a later time. So here we go…my labor and delivery story (sorry it is so long!).
As I sat with my midwife on Wednesday, August 15th, discussing the options of what will happen if I were to go past my due date; it was the first time in my pregnancy that a little panic set in.
Since long before I was ever pregnant, I always wanted to have a baby as natural as possible. I thought it would be so wonderful to experience labor as God originally intended it…as painful as it might be. God promises in Genesis that we would have pain in labor, but I knew that the pain I would have would be nothing that God had not intended my body to be able to handle. One of my customers at work asked why I would choose pain when I knew there was a way to escape it. I had trouble explaining it even to myself without somehow also coming across as a masochist, but deep down I felt like it would be a way for me to be close with God. During my whole pregnancy I felt closer to God then I ever have before. I felt like everyday he revealed a new way that we were perfectly created in his image. Everything from how your blood increases 50% to supply for the baby, to the fact that your uterus expands up to 1000x its original size squishing every other organ you have out of the way. Even now, as I am healing day by day, I am astounded by my body and the beauty of the healing process that is taking place. It just all works so absolutely perfectly. So I knew that going through the labor process was just another way to see and feel how my body worked…in God’s perfect way…in order to get a baby out…and I was so excited at the prospect of being able to experience that.
I felt the panic arise in my body as my midwife explained that if I didn’t deliver by 42 weeks, I would have to be induced and would have to deliver on the labor and delivery floor. As I looked at her, my fear just beginning to drown me, I saw comfort like a life raft in her eyes. She didn’t want me to have to go to the labor and delivery floor either. That was why I switched to the midwife and the Birthing Center, because we had like minds. She, like I, wanted to deliver this baby in the natural way, the way women had for centuries. However we both knew that neither of us could control it, we just had to trust God’s plan. I left the office that day saying one more prayer. It was a prayer of trust in God’s plan, but also a prayer of my desire. I told God…I will do all my errands and be ready anytime after Friday…and I will trust him….no matter what day he wanted that baby to come (but please make it come soon!).
That Saturday morning I awoke to the usual gourmet breakfast prepared by my loving Daniel (yes I am blessed with a husband who loves to cook), sat down for a good old episode of the Simpsons, and felt my first contraction at 11:30 a.m. I couldn’t believe it! In fact I told Daniel it probably wasn’t contractions and we should go along with our original plans of having our friends Jason, Sarita, Beth and Justin over for an afternoon of pool lounging and games. But as the morning progressed and the contractions went from feeling like cramps to sharp pains, I realized God really had listened! 🙂 Much to my surprise our friends were not thrown by the fact that I was in labor and decided to come over anyway. Little did I know then what an amazing blessing that was going to be! The girls jumped right into action, like they had been training to be labor coaches all their lives. Completely calm, loving, patient and supportive, they timed my every contraction (which were about 3-5 minutes apart) from 2p.m. to 7p.m. The men, just how I imagine it would be like the olden days, distracting my husband from worry with every kind of game you can imagine. (Thanks again guys!) Finally, by 7:30p.m., we were ready to make the trek to the hospital, everyone on our way out excitedly making bets of when that baby would come!
As we made our way through the hospital parking lot, I felt an incredible calm. I would take glances at Daniel and see that he was trying as hard as he could to stay calm for me too, though I swear I could see the glimmer of both excitement and panic in his eyes. As we ascended in the hospital elevator, so did my excitement. I had a flash of realization. “This is it!” I let myself feel the warm rush of anticipation and joy for the first time. The fourth floor was quiet, no gurneys rushing about or screams of labor as I had expected. In fact by that time my contractions were so hard and painful I was a little disappointed at the lack of panic by the nurses and midwives walking around. I wanted the television drama, “oh miss…you are in labor? Right this way…hurry!” but everyone’s demeanor was sweet and mellow, which helped me relax once again. We were escorted to a dimly lit room with a queen bed, two high back chairs, a rocking chair and a strange painting on the wall. There were remnants of a hospital room here and there, an emergency call button and oxygen mask on the wall, but mostly it felt warm and homey just like I had hoped. Then the long night began. There was a lot of walking in circles, breathing deep and praying. Nurses came and checked my vitals every 2 hours or so, and every time they came I thought to myself, “It has been 2 hours already?” It was a strange mixture of feeling like it was rocketing by and feeling like it was taking forever. At 10 p.m. Daniel and I were both sure by the look on my face and the whites of my grasping knuckles that we had hit the hardest of the contractions. When 2 a.m. rolled around and the whites of my knuckles had become the purple of my knuckles, we knew that we had been wrong. It is hard to describe with words this kind of pain. It is not an aching or even a stabbing sensation. I didn’t feel it in only one spot in my body, but everywhere. At the peak of it all, it is truly like no other pain. In the moment of the contraction I felt it, and the echoes of my screams bouncing off the corridors let everyone else know I was in pain, but part of me felt completely out of body. Finally, after hours of contractions, 3 a.m. came and so did the time to push. I felt a wave of relief completely wash over me, for the end of the agony was in sight.
Three hours later I was still pushing my heart out, barely breathing in between each push, and still no baby to show for my efforts. I couldn’t help but joke in my head that she better not be this stubborn once she is out. My midwife and doula encouraged and coached with inspiring words. “Millions of women have done this before you, you can do it to.” “Yes, God” I encouraged myself. Suddenly I looked up and saw a panic, troubled look in my midwife’s eyes. “You have to get this baby out,” she said “because if you can’t deliver her in the next half hour then you will have to go to the labor and delivery floor.” My heart sank into the depths of my stomach. I had been pushing too long and they said my body would give out soon. All this work for so many hours and I had to go where I dreaded to go? Really, I didn’t want to leave my spacious room and my comfortable queen bed that I had already gotten so attached to! What could I do in the next half hour that I wasn’t already doing now? And then the doula came up with the most encouraging, inspiring line of all, “It hurts so bad because she is stretching you, making way for all her brothers and sisters that will come after her. You can do this. Embrace the pain.” I don’t know what it was about that thought, the thought of our future family and the thought that there was a purpose for all this pain, but it was the thought that got me to the finish line.
I pushed again, what I thought was just another push in the barrage of pushing, when I heard startling screams of joy. “You are doing it! We see her head!” Before I knew it I felt a strange burn and then relief. It was a relief more wonderful and relieving then a cold pool on a 100 degree summer day. My body was finally calm. A baby’s cry sounded out. A warm, slippery, small body was placed on my chest. I looked up and saw a blur of people rushing around the room, then looked down and saw the most beautiful, peaceful sight I have ever seen. Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt an emotion that was unlike any emotion I have felt before. People had told me how much the love for your child is unlike any other love, but I think it is a stretch to call this love. I have felt love. I love my family. I love my husband more then I ever thought possible. The feeling I felt for that little bean on my chest was much more than love. I wish I could give a word picture of what it felt like. But telling you it is a rush of warmth or a joy or a feeling of love just doesn’t do it justice. I truly believe there is literally no word to describe the feeling a parent has that moment they first meet their child. There I was though, meeting Dayla, smiling and drowning in emotion.
And that is how our little one made it into this world. I survived. Now I can say it was a wonderful experience and I know that this is just the beginning of our adventures together!