Three years ago today my first baby was born into this world. As we celebrate Abel’s birthday, I can’t help but recount the events leading up to his birth.
The March 7, 2006, due date had come and gone. I had left work early on Friday, March 10th, still very pregnant and very uncomfortable. I was scheduled for a non-stress test on Monday morning, March 13th, to make sure the overdue baby was still doing okay. In case of anything concerning, we were to go to the appointment prepared to be admitted to the hospital for induction. And if everything looked okay, we would be given until Wednesday night, March 15th, before being admitted for induction.
Sunday, March 12th, was a bit of an anxious day. We went to church that morning and spent most of the remainder of the day at a large family gathering. People kept telling me that I didn’t look very good. I just remember feeling really pregnant and really tired. Once at home that night, my husband and I sat down to relax and started attempting some natural methods of labor induction. We both strongly desired for labor to begin spontaneously before that March 15th deadline, but little did we know that it would happen that night.
Just after 11:30 p.m. Travis and I were in the bathroom getting ready for bed when suddenly my water broke. I sat down on the toilet as fast as I could and told my husband from the other side of the shower curtain what had just happened. He hurried out so that I could get in and began packing the car. I had had no signs of labor prior to my water breaking; but while I was in the shower just minutes after it had, I began having contractions five minutes apart.
We left for the hospital about an hour later, and by the time we got there my contractions were consistently three minutes apart. I was dilated to 1 1/2 cm, and by the time they could get me moved from the exam room to a birthing suite, I had progressed to 4 cm.
Labor continued to progress rather quickly. The next time I remember being checked–just a couple hours later–I was dilated to 7 cm. And it wasn’t too much longer after that–around 5:30 a.m.–that I was told I could push.
I pushed through one contraction, and oh how good it felt. I had made it through all of labor with no pain medication, and pushing relieved all the pain and pressure I had been enduring.
Then my doctor checked me. “I think this baby is sunny-side up, and you still have a little lip of cervix on one side that I don’t think I can stretch around the baby’s head. And with as strong as your contractions have been, I think this baby should have come down farther by now. We can either go to a c-section right now, or you can stop pushing and labor for another hour to see if you make any progress.”
If there was one thing I didn’t want, it was a c-section. I had only been laboring for six hours total, and though I had now had a taste of how good it felt to push, I agreed without a moment’s hesitation to labor for another hour.
That extra hour passed quickly. By the end of it, I was pretty much having one solid contraction, and my body was heaving with the urge to push. But I was in the game mentally, and I was coping as I looked forward to finally getting back to the pushing stage.
But the news that came at 6:30 a.m. was not in the least what I was expecting to hear. After checking me again, the doctor informed us that though I had finished dilating, the baby had not descended at all during that extra hour of labor. He told us that the baby was still too high to use forceps or vacuum extraction, and he felt that proceeding with pushing could be potentially harmful to the baby. His advice was that we go to a c-section.
I was devastated. For nine months I had been praying for a natural, complication-free labor and delivery; and now at the end of all that hard work and determination, I was being told it was all for nothing. My husband and I just looked at each other, both hoping the other would have the courage to make the right decision. Minutes later, I whispered to my husband through pain and tears. “Honey, I think we have to trust the doctor’s wisdom.” In spite of my complete and utter disappointment, I remembered the many times we had asked God to cause the right doctor to be on call for this birth and to equip that doctor with much wisdom; and I knew that at that point all we could do was to trust that God had answered those prayers.
It was about 6:45 a.m. when we made our decision to go to a c-section. Upon announcing that decision, I was told I would have to wait a while before being prepped for surgery. The anesthesiologist had a couple mothers ahead of me, and since we were right at shift-change time, it would probably be at least 15 minutes before I could get my spinal.
I could not handle that answer. All mental control was now gone, and the will to endure even another 15 minutes of solid contractions had vanished along with my hope of a natural childbirth.
I guess the Lord had mercy on me, because somehow I got moved ahead of those other mothers who were in line for the anesthesiologist and, once catheterized, was almost immediately wheeled into the operating room to be prepped.
My husband was sent somewhere to put scrubs on while I was forced to move from my birthing bed to the cold, hard operating table. Somehow I had to find another ounce of mental control and self-will as I was instructed to sit on the edge of the table, pull my knees up to my chest, curl my back, and sit perfectly still for my spinal.
As soon as the spinal was administered, I was laid down flat on my back. I remember the immediate feeling of all pain just melting away. And then my dear husband appeared at my side.
The doctor proceeded with the surgery while Travis and I waited and listened. At 7:42 a.m. came the words from the other side of the blue drape: “It’s a boy.” With joy in our hearts, we looked at each other and in exact unison repeated the words, “It’s a boy!” Soon we heard our baby’s cry, and Travis was invited to come meet our son and to watch him get weighed, measured, etc. Not too long later, my husband and new baby boy appeared at my head, and with arms still heavy and tied down, all I could do was look at him.
Shortly after that I fell into a drug-induced sleep, and I remember little of what happened before waking up five hours later to the sound of my crying baby. Finally, five hours after his birth, I held and nursed my new baby boy for the first time.
As I recount the details of Abel’s birth, I am reminded that God knew every detail of the story even before there was time. His birth may not have turned out just as I had hoped and planned, but all that matters now is that God has given me a beautiful child whom I love and thank God for every day.
Happy birthday, Abel. I love you more than I ever knew a mother could love.