Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Story for Bradly

I feel like I've told it a million times to anyone who stills reads here, but I wanted to type out my birth story to, I guess, officially have it down. And more specifically, so if Bradly wants to, so she can read about her first day here.

I expected to deliver early. Very early. Like Mimi did with me and with Sara. But I didn't, and in the end, I got impatient and uncomfortable and irritable, bursting and stiff in my hips, frustrated with the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having for way too long. It hurt to sleep, and it hurt to walk when I went to work the morning of February 15th.

I decided to let my midwife do an exam that afternoon at my scheduled appointment. I thought it would settle me down to know where we stood. She told me I wasn't even dilated 1 cm, and I wasn't effaced at all, so in some ways that was disappointing, but it was good to have a more realistic time line. So I adjusted my expectations, and your dad and I went out for a date, and I stuffed myself full of pasta and tiramisu and generally had a good time. But my hips still hurt, and my body was sort of groaning in a way it hadn't before.

That night I woke up around 2:00am to some, uh, wetness down below. I wondered if my water had broken, but it seemed pretty anticlimactic and unremarkable so I just laid there for awhile and started timing the very mild contractions that didn't feel any different than they had for months now. But they came about every seven minutes. Then they came every five minutes. And I thought this might be something. But I was sleepy, and I didn't want to sound a false alarm, and I thought that it didn't hurt anything to just rest and wait and see what happened. About 4:30 Dad got up to go to the bathroom, and I apprised him of the situation. He promptly got out his phone with its contraction timer app and started timing. We laid in bed together and talked in the dark and got excited about what was happening. The contractions still didn't hurt any worse than cramps, but they were coming every four minutes.

About 6:30 we called the hospital, and they said if my water had broken I needed to get there soon and they might need to give me something to induce labor, but I felt okay and thought that this was a stinky idea and didn't want to rush and definitely didn't want them to mess with me any more than necessary. We got up and had breakfast, and I took a shower and shaved my legs. I sort of figured I wouldn't be shaving again for awhile, so I might as well prepare myself. Gird my loins, so to speak. But with all the moving around and excitement, my contractions picked up. I realized with more certainty that this wasn't just Braxton Hicks. Now they felt like bad cramps, but they came and went, and I could still function normally when I had a break. We said good bye to Lu, told her things would be much different when we got back home, and headed to the hospital.

We checked in around 7:30 or 8:00, and after an exam in triage, the nurse told us I was dilated to 4 cm, 80% effaced, and officially in active labor. Needless to say, I'd progressed quite a bit since the exam the day before, and I would say this was when contractions started feeling more like I'd imagined them. I couldn't move much or talk during these. I just held on to your dad's hand for the most part and waited for it to pass. They put me in our delivery room, and I shuffled around the room, leaning on the wall and Dad when I needed to. I got in the shower to help make my back feel better, and by the time I got out and they checked me again, I had dilated to 8 cm and effaced 100%. I got in bed and stayed there, bossing Dad around and telling him to rub my back with the tennis ball and then to stop touching me and then telling him to be quiet and then to rub my back again. I still felt like the pain was manageable--I just had to hold on and wait it out, and it would pass. I spent so much of this time with my eyes closed that I sort of felt like I was in a trance, sort of outside of myself or dreaming.

But then around 11:30, I felt like it was time. You were ready. And you were the one who seemed to be calling the shots... as you still are. "Ahem, minions... I mean, parents. I am ready for my debut. Prepare yourselves."

I told the midwife that I was ready to push, and I made some attempts at pushing, and IT WAS RUFF. Absolutely beyond any pain or nightmares of pain I'd ever felt. Not even in the same room with 14 hours of hiking up Longs Peak or the half marathon. Not. Even. Close. I don't mean to scare you or make you feel guilt or pity because we wanted you so much and this was absolutely our choice, but to say that it was anything less than HORRIBLE is to lie. It was childbirth after all; it hurt.

I thought I had been pushing as hard as I could, giving it everything I had, but my effort was not nearly enough, and I soon realized that it wasn't nearly enough, and I realized how much more it was going to take, and I told them all that I couldn't do it. I sort of just wanted to whisper it to your dad and let him handle the details of stopping everything. The midwife was one tough broad, and she promptly retorted, "You have to do it. If you don't do it, who's going to do it?"
I realized with no small amount of terror that she was right and that there was no stopping this. And life is like that. Sometimes you have to do the hard things. And it has to be you and no one else. But I hope you know that there was someone who did the hardest thing, and He is sympathetic to going through painful times, and He makes all the difference.

I realized that the fastest way to make the pain stop was to get you out, so I started pushing with my contractions and with their help, counting to ten. The midwife told me to hold on to my legs and put my chin down and breathe differently, and I did those things, and it helped. Oh, and I screamed like an animal. I screamed so loud that Mimi and Poppa and everyone else down in the waiting room could hear me, which is embarrassing, but there was no way for me not to scream. One thing that was a comfort even during the pushing was that I only pushed when I had a contraction. The struggle wasn't constant. There were breaks built in for me so that I could rest and then go at it again. And I think that this is a pattern or echo of the way God made life in general. You'll have hard times, but there's usually time for rest or progress or celebration, a time to recover before you have another trial. And that seems to help.

So we kept on working at getting you out. Your dad kept encouraging me the whole time, like he does, knowing just what to say. He saw your little head covered with dark hair peak out, and then he saw it go back in. You were teasing us. Then I said enough is enough, and you pushed your head out to see what the ruckus was. And at 12:27 the afternoon of February 16th, the rest of you shot out, and it felt, to me, just like it seems like it would.

That moment felt so surreal and crazy with 900 people in the room, scrambling around, and I just laid back and rested. They looked at you, saw you were healthy, and in seconds, you were on my chest, eating. The placenta that connected us for nine months came out, and the midwife finished her work, and relatively quickly, the three of us were alone in the room together. You were beautiful from the very beginning. You had lots and lots of dark hair and pink cheeks and the prettiest lips. You knit your brow and sucked your thumb in those first minutes, and when Kiki and Pops and everyone came in to meet you, you greeted each new person who held you with a little grunt or sigh to say hello.

And I don't think your Dad or I could believe it. It felt like the biggest change ever, unbelievably pivotal, but all in all, it happened really quickly, and we just stared at you, not knowing how to process it and just trying to understand what had just happened. And we're still trying to understand it and understand you. And it seems like there's so much of you to know and to try to understand, and every day you come up with something new, a new part of who you are. And I like that. I like that you're already changing. I hope I don't ever wistfully look back, but I probably will. I want to try to look forward with you, to welcome the new you that comes each step along the way.

I'll tell you quite honestly, little one, you are a very exciting person to know. I hope we can keep up with your adventures.


Michele said...

Beth, this was such a poignant story for your dear daughter. I read it yesterday and didn't comment. Today I was telling a lady I teach with about it, and it made me tear up. The part where you said, "But I hope you know that there was someone who did the hardest thing, and He is sympathetic to going through painful times, and He makes all the difference." The way you compared life to labor was so true--periods of rest and periods of trial. Beautifully written!

Kristi said...

This is great, Beth! Bradly will enjoy reading it someday for sure. I'm so happy for you guys! ;-)