**Disclaimer: This is the story about a birth of a baby. It’s not super gross or full of weird details, but it is about birth. If the word “dilated” or “contractions” give you the queezies, you should back away slowly and scroll toward the little “x” immediately.
I just had to wrap my mind around it.
When I was pregnant with Carter, I had my heart set on my due date. I counted down months, weeks, days. I knew it could come anytime...so when I went to an appointment and Dr. Lattimore would tell me how much progress I’d made and how it could be anytime...I believed him! I thought I was about to go into labor every single day for approximately 4 weeks. That’s a pretty huge bummer. It’s like Christmas Eve for a month with no appearance of presents or ham the next morning. This time, I made plans all the way up to the week of my due date. I had a few loosely scheduled for the week after. I knew Samuel was going to be late...or at least close. My mind was all wrapped around it so I wouldn’t be disappointed.
I felt no tell-tale signs of labor. I didn’t nest. In fact, the night we left for the hospital, I looked woefully at my dirty (seriously nasty) floors and dusty furniture...thought about my messy bathrooms and quietly cursed the lack of natural nesting a little. I thought I would have some spurt of energy to get it all done! I hadn’t even packed. Mrs. Always Prepared had her mind all made up that Samuel was coming late so that I wouldn’t be disappointed. (Side note: My parents are amazing. While I labored, they cleaned my house...and took care of my little boy. So much nicer to come home to a clean house...that you didn't clean yourself when you've just, you know, delivered a baby.)
When I went to my first weekly check at 36 weeks, Dr. Lattimore said that I was 4 cm dilated, 80% effaced and in a -1 position. He didn’t think I would be back in the next week. I told him “not to give me that garbage.” Yes I did. I didn’t want him filling my head with lots of “the baby is coming soon” ideas when he really wasn’t. That was Wednesday.
On Friday, my stomach didn’t feel so great. Again, that happened at 37 weeks on the dot with Carter as well. I just knew with Carter that that was my body’s way of preparing to have a baby. This time, I chalked it up to “one of those days” and kept moving. I walked with my friend in the park, went to the gym, ran errands...all the normal things we do in a day. We had a quick supper, went to Lowes and Barnes and Noble and came home. By bed time, I felt pretty miserable...but it was just from having a sad tummy all day. I did ask Steven to put Carter to bed so that I could lie down...and I realized while I was resting that Samuel was pushing and tightening my stomach pretty consistently. It was then that I realized that I was pretty sure those movements were happening in a regular pattern...and that they just might be contractions.
Contractions with Carter were so different. Being induced and having back labor brought on a whole different feeling than I was experiencing. When Steven came back out, I told him I was pretty sure he’d have a new son by Saturday. He was a bit shocked, to say the least, since I hadn't mentioned anything but a bad stomach up until this point. We went on to bed, figuring we needed rest, baby coming or not. An hour later, I was still awake. Not from pain, but because I couldn’t stand not knowing if this was it or not. Did we need to go to the hospital, call Mama and Daddy to come stay with Carter...pack? Finally, the contractions were coming at 2 minutes apart and lasting 45 minutes. I called the doctor’s office 24 hour nurse line. I was in no pain whatsoever...maybe a little uncomfortable, but certainly nothing like labor with Carter. She advised me to go on in to the hospital since the contractions were so close and this was my second baby. So...I packed, called my parents, and were on our way to the hospital by midnight.
Though we ended up getting no sleep, it was a really nice time to be admitted. Everyone is super laid back on the weekends, there weren’t many deliveries going on, and I got lots of attention from the nurses who pretty much let me do what I wanted. When we got to the hospital, I still fully expected to be told to go home so I didn’t let Steven bring in any bags. However, I was five centimeters dilated, so they weren’t thinking about letting me go home at all. Still, I was pretty unconvinced. (I know...I can be slow to catch on.) After having a serious time getting an IV for fluids and antibiotic (they hadn’t done my Group B strep test yet and wanted to be on the safe side since I was positive last time) because of how dehydrated I was, I got settled in on a birthing ball and bounced or stood around...till morning. I started feeling a lot better with fluids in me...and I was just bored. If I laid down, the contractions all but stopped. I didn’t want them to stop altogether, I was almost 6 centimeters at that point! At the same time, I knew I needed to rest. What to do? I convinced Steven to sleep some after he took some allergy medicine chased by a honey bun from the snack machine and a order of waffles from Waffle House (a treat from the nurses...seriously, he has fans everywhere). He slept like a log while I perused Facebook and Etsy on Steven's iPhone until I was so bored I could have died from it. As long as I didn't lay down, I was comfortable.
At seven, I got a new nurse who freed me from my fetal and contractions monitors (at that point, I had a pretty long record of health on both) and let me walk. And walk I did. I walked that circle around St. Francis until I thought Steven might die from boredom and maybe from some level of exhaustion. At that point, I was on a mission, so I was walking like I was training for something. By 9:30, I was almost a seven. How very disappointing. It felt, at that point, like I might be doing this forever. However, I was still comfortable, so that was encouraging. Dr. Mazzoli, the doctor on call from my practice, wanted to hold off on breaking my water since I was 37 weeks, but wanted me to just keep walking. That actually turned out to be really great. As long as my water hadn’t broken, I was comfortable...just bored! While we walked, I actually saw a friend and her husband, walking around the hospital. She was walking through contractions as well...and it was fun to see someone I knew...who was going to have a son on the same day Samuel was born! We made small talk through contractions, and then smiled at each other tiredly as we passed each other over and over. Finally, at 10:45, my water broke while I was walking. I was so excited. The nurses in the hall cheered (they’d been watching me do laps for hours) and I headed in to the room where I was sure things would progress quickly. When the nurse checked, she saw that some water had leaked, but it had not broken completely...and I was still pretty much a 7.
Back to the halls. Seriously, I was starting to tire out just from the walking and was concerned that I wouldn’t have the strength to actually deliver Samuel! Even then, I was elated. I was elated that this didn’t feel anything at all like Carter’s delivery that had been so hard. I had no particular plan about an epidural. I am a staunch believer that they are awesome for some deliveries and not so awesome for others. Everyone and every situation is different and an epidural is completely a choice to be made in the moment. At this point, it was nice to be able to walk...and I felt pretty comfortable.
Finally, Dr. Mazzoli decided to just break my water around 3. By 3:15, I felt like I was in serious, can’t-talk-through-contractions, uncomfortable labor. I was quickly an 8...went to the restroom, walked around the room one time and was a 9. I remember my nurse saying that this would all be over in about 30 minutes. I remember just steeling my brain, knowing I could do anything for 30 minutes. People started pouring in and I stopped knowing what was going on around me. Finally, the nurse told me to hold on through one more contraction and I let her know that I would be pushing on the next one, no matter what. I could tell there was no stopping now. At this point, I mostly felt all my bravery, strength and general cheery-ness vaporize and just wanted to die a little bit. Of all the things you might say during delivery, all I remember repeating was that everything hurt so much in this really weak, whiny voice. It was far from epic strength. At some point, I told Steven that I was going to die...and then...I pushed. Steven spoke so much truth in my ear, the nurse coached me back from the whiny-ness into an ability to focus and get the job done, and one sweet nurse sat and purred encouragement in my ear for every complaint I uttered. Three contractions later (it was an absolute eternity) at 3:46 pm they were putting Samuel in my arms, everyone beaming around me. There is nothing in this whole world like that moment. The relief of knowing that the pain is over, the triumph of knowing you did it, the love that fills you down to your bones when you see that slimy, purple infant. There’s nothing like that in the whole world.
I hardly ever backspace when I write. I’m just not a big editor. What I write on the first go-around is generally what you get. I’m not getting a grade on this blog. But I have backspaced a lot on that last sentence. Trying to capture in words that first moment when you see the one you’ve loved but not known in sight for 9 months. I think it’s the tiniest glimpse of what it will be like to be in heaven. When suddenly, all our faith and belief becomes sight and reality. That breath that was taken away by Samuel’s appearance in the world will be nothing compared to that gasp. The love that filled me to the point of not being able to breath or move...the tears that came unbidden as I wrapped my arms around my precious son...the emotion that overwhelmed me immediately is the smallest view of what it will be like to know and understand the fullness of Christ.
I can’t wrap my mind around it.
I’m so, so grateful for that.
**More to come on the “rest of the story”. I had to break it up. This was seriously a bit of a novel.