Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Birth Story: Version 3.0


I know these posts are coming sporadically now more than ever before, but that’s just the way it is. I have visions of revamping the blog, posting more regularly and making it work better some day. Next year, maybe. But I’m not the kind of woman who can take care of an infant and two other children, home school, promote my book, go without sleep, and run a successful blog. Some women can do that. I prefer to use my spare time mindlessly surfing the internet and watching Seinfeld reruns. At least I’m honest about it!

And yet, I do want to post here sometimes. It feels good to stretch my writing muscles. I’ve shared the birth stories of Camilla and Adrian on this blog in the past. All things being equal, I must also share Evangeline’s. So travel back with me to the early days of September . . .

As my due date approached, I was having more contractions. They were irregular and mild—they felt like menstrual cramps. I took it as a good sign that my body was working to get this baby out and figured the more work it did before labor, the better. I remember thinking two weeks before my due date that I couldn’t possibly go two more weeks. I had such a heavy feeling and a lot of pressure down low in my belly. I was sure this one would come early. But a few days passed and I felt better—really good, actually. I wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, but I was anxious for her to be born.

My mental and emotional state during this pregnancy was worse than I remember at any other time of my life. As crazy as it may sound, I think I had (still have) a touch of Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome resulting from the miscarriage last fall. I had a lot of anxiety about the baby’s well-being. I thought she was probably okay in utero, as long as I could feel her moving. I was just very worried about the birth. I thought she was going to be stillborn. It was a horrible feeling. I tried to be positive, to visualize a healthy natural birth and bringing a baby home, but deep down anxiety was wringing out my soul. Every Sunday in church I would weep through the service. I read meaning into everything the pastor said, every song we sang during worship, thinking it was all meant for me. If we sang about suffering, it was foretelling the impending doom headed my way. I prayed for the anxiety to abate, but much of the time I couldn’t shake it. As a result, I longed for the birth to happen and her to be safely here. Yet, at the same time I dreaded it in case my fears would be realized.

My prayers went something like this: top priority, I wanted a healthy baby! And if God didn’t mind too much, it would be really great if I were able to have another drug-free, un-induced, natural birth. I’d like the baby to get in the perfect position for birth. And if He was really feeling generous I would like it to be a lot like Adrian’s birth because that went better than Camilla’s. I would love to feel good after the birth, instead of passing out and not being able to hold the baby (as happened after Camilla was born). It would be wonderful if my water didn’t break until I was pretty far into labor. I hated having my water break first, because then I was on the clock and had to produce a baby within a certain amount of time. But through all these minor requests, I kept reminding God the top priority was a healthy baby! As if He didn’t’ know what I wanted. I was driving myself insane.

The day before my due date, September 10th, I woke early with regular contractions. Todd said he didn’t think he should go into work in case something happened.
I said, “If you stay home, nothing will happen!”
And I was right. He stayed home and the contractions subsided. I felt a whole lot of nothing all day long! I was disappointed because I’d been hoping to avoid a September 11th birthday for our girl.

On my due date, Wednesday, September 11th, I had an appointment with my OB. She ordered a non-stress test and an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. Because, you know, when you hit 40 weeks of pregnancy suddenly your body stops knowing how to grow a healthy baby. Enough sarcasm for now. I passed both tests with flying colors. The ultrasound technician was the same one who’d told me there was no baby in my uterus last October, so I had a little bit of déjà vu until she said everything looked great. The baby was in the perfect position for birth! Her estimated weight was almost the same as Camilla’s birth weight—6 pounds 14 ounces.

I was happy that everything looked good. My next non-stress test was to be that weekend, so I figured I had a few days before there was any danger of an induction. And I was sure she’d be born before then! Well, I ended up having to have the non-stress test on Friday because they had no free appointments on Saturday. I wished I could skip it, but (in spite of my increasing anxiety as I convinced myself the baby was in distress when I tried to understand the test myself) I passed it again. After picking up a cheeseburger from Sonic, my guilty pleasure of this pregnancy, I went home to wait . . .

Early Saturday morning, around 1:30, I woke up with regular contractions. They came about every five minutes or less for over an hour. Todd called my mom and asked her to come. (She was planning to stay with Camilla and Adrian while we were in the hospital.) She arrived in 15 minutes—and fell asleep on our couch while my contractions subsided again! I felt like such a fool having my third baby and not knowing whether I was in labor or not! But I was grateful we hadn’t gone to the hospital. She stayed for the morning and Todd and I went for a walk in the woods together.

When we came home, I lost my mucus plug! (Sorry, gentlemen, it is a birth story, you know!) I knew it wasn’t going to be long now, but I still wasn’t having contractions. So my mom went home to get some rest and I took a nap as well. My new strategy: Don’t pay such close attention to my body.

Well, I had to pay attention at about 8 o’clock that night as the contractions started up again in earnest. By 10, Todd was calling the doctor on call. I’d never met Dr. Burns but I liked him—he said I could probably tell if I was in labor better than he, as it was my third baby! And I could tell it was different from the night before. The contractions were much more intense and persistent. My mom arrived. When I made my way downstairs around 11pm, she agreed that I looked like I was in labor. We headed to the hospital. I was praying that the contractions wouldn’t disappear. And they kept up, regular waves of tightening pain radiating through my belly. I tried to relax and breathe calmly through each one.

That was tough to do when we got to the hospital. I was surprised at my presence of mind, though. I was giving Todd directions, telling him we needed to go to the front desk. It still amazes me how hospital policies change constantly and the lack of communication between the different parties regarding said policies. When I was having Adrian, I’d been told I would not have to go to triage when I arrived at the hospital. That was false information—and I ended up in triage until the doctor could confirm that I was actually in labor. This time, I’d been told if I arrived at the hospital after hours, I could either go in through the emergency room, while Todd parked the car, OR I could enter through the parking garage and go to the front desk. I preferred to have Todd with me every second, so I opted to walk in with him from the parking garage. When we got to the front desk, though, they told us we’d have to go to the emergency room. I was thrilled.

I can’t remember much about getting to the emergency room, but I do remember sitting on a chair there while Todd took care of whatever needed to happen before we went to Labor and Delivery. It seems absurd to me now. Make a laboring woman run all over the hospital and jump through hoops before she can be settled on an uncomfortable bed in a paper-thin gown with machines hooked up to her so she can welcome new life to the world. But that may be material for another post.

The first thing the nurse told me was that everything on my birth plan was fine except that the hospital has a policy now that they take the baby to the nursery about an hour after the birth for a bath and some assessment. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to tell her the hospital would have to change its policy, but I was in labor, so all I said was, “Okay . . .” I cringe now to think of it.

When the nurse checked me during triage, she said I was 4½ to 5 centimeters dilated. I was disappointed—I’d been 6 when we got to the hospital with Adrian, and I was sure this labor was similar in intensity. She took us to the labor and delivery room, where Todd talked me through contractions. I went to the bathroom at one point and while I was gone, Dr. Burns came in to introduce himself. So I still hadn’t met him. Looking back, the next hour or so is a blur. I remember thinking this pain was so much worse than those early contractions I had mistaken for real labor. I had read during this pregnancy about verbalizing during the contractions to help with labor management. So I moaned through the contractions. It was weird, but it really helped! It took the edge off the pain. I also remember having a moment of panic and the nurse looking at me and telling me to slow down my breathing because I was going to hyperventilate. Most of the time, though, Todd and I were alone in the room, with my incessant moaning.

It must have been around 2:30 am that I felt the urge to push. Or maybe my water broke first. It happened so close together. My water broke, and it was almost unbearably uncomfortable then.
Todd called the nurse in and said, “She thinks her water broke.”
I said, “I know my water broke!”
It had. I also had to push.
They were saying the doctor was delivering another baby.
I had to push.
“It’s going to take me half an hour to push this baby out,” I said. “Just let me start.”
“It is not going to take you half an hour,” the nurse said.
“Yes, it is,” I said. “I take a long time to push.”
“It’s not going to take you half an hour.”
I had to push.
I think I had a lip of cervix and the nurse pushed it over the baby’s head while I started pushing. I was also extremely afraid I was going to poop on the table. I have no idea why I was so obsessed with it, but I kept talking about it and the nurse kept reassuring me.
While I was in mid-push, the doctor arrived in the room.
Between contractions, I leaned back and said, “Nice to meet you, Dr. Burns!”
Everybody laughed.
The doctor said there was a lot of dark hair. 
“There is,” Todd looked at me and nodded. “Just like Camilla.”

I think that was the first moment that I thought maybe this baby was real. And then I was pushing her out and she felt huge as she slid out of me and I couldn’t believe my body was really opening up to deliver another real live baby into the world. And then there was an enormous baby there on the bed between my legs. And I was saying, “Is she okay?” about fifteen times. And Dr. Burns was saying, “She’s fine. She’s fine.” Over and over. And I was saying, “She’s so fat!” The doctor lifted her up and guessed she was 8 pounds 6 ounces. And I was reaching for her and it took forever for them to finally hand her to me, all wet and slippery and alive and moving and fat!
“You’re so fat!” I said. “You’re so big!”
I was shaking and exhausted and amazed.

Amazed. I had pushed a human being out of me. I’d done it before. Twice. It seemed a miracle all over again.

I didn’t get sick. I didn’t pass out. I didn’t need Pitocin. I didn’t need pain medication. My water hadn’t broken until I was almost ready to push. I pushed her out of me at 2:49 am, less than three hours after we’d gotten settled in the hospital. Her birthday was September 15, not September 11. She was alive. A real baby. Every prayer answered with a resounding yes!

“I told you you wouldn’t push for half an hour!” the nurse said.
“That wasn’t even twenty minutes,” Todd said to me.
“Really?” I asked. “We’re getting better at this. We should have another one.”
We laughed. I was kidding.
They weighed her and the doctor was exactly right! 8 pounds 6 ounces.
Photo Credit: April Roskos
Evangeline Grace.
Grace because of His grace. It still stops me in my tracks and leaves me breathless. He didn’t have to even answer the most important of my prayers. But He answered every one. Even the silly little petty, maybe even prideful, ones . . . It’s really lavish, this grace He has. And the love. Sometimes I forget. I don’t know how. But if I look at my Eva Grace, I see His love again and His grace and remember how it’s changing me.
Photo Credit: April Roskos

6 comments:

  1. This made me cry! God is soooo good and you, dear mommy, are such a blessing! As a mother of 5, two of which were birthed at home, I relived my births while reading yours. Our precious Lord, knows exactly what He is doing through us, if we can just trust Him. Amen?! Blessings to you and yours, sweet woman of God!

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    1. Awww, thank you! He does know exactly what He is doing. Blessings to you, also!

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  2. Loved reading this, Alison! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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