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Jane’s Birth Story

definitely- my firstborn son made his entrance into the world( although this idea confuses me a little, because i think he was every bit as much alive and therefore “part of the world” when he was inside of me… andrew and i both think people should count years by conception dates rather than birthdays – its a more accurate measure of age… a baby who is a week past due really is not the same age as a baby born on the same day who is a month early)… at 8:41 pm via cesarean section.

birth should be beautiful. it is the entrance of a new life. it is the culmination of the rite of passage that makes a woman a mother. it is truly truly a beautiful wonderful thing. but in a way, to me it felt a bit like dying.

i immersed myself in information about birth; spent 12 weeks intensively studying how to do it naturally. i am a big baby. i am scared of pain. but i was facing my fear … ready to just do it. to experience this thing. to be . to birth. (this may sound insane to most of you — most people think it is a painful thing one should try to get through with the more pain killers the better….but i don’t care this is my blog, and i can just put this out there if i want to… and maybe that will help me process everything and move on). i had scripture in my heart ‘do not fear for i am with you do not be dismayed for i am your God… i will strengthen you and help you i will uphold you with my righteous right hand…” i was prepared to do this incredibly hard, incredibly scary, incredibly important thing. and it is important. i really do believe that your experience in birth can definitely set the tone for your mothering(we had a rocky start… it is hard enough to go into it at your best…).

i was past my due date. i had various other issues at play with regard to pressure from my dr. i did not want to be induced. i think babies know when it is time to be born. we were doing every trick in the book to try to get this baby to be ready w/ out pitocin(an induction drug)… i had contractions all weekend… didn’t get but a few hours of sleep all weekend and then monday(memorial day last year) the real thing started- slow, predictable… 1am until maybe 6am things went along just as they should. i focused and relaxed and just let the contractions come and go. but then they started spacing out and i was asking andrew to put pressure on my lower back. i became more and more uncomfortable… this wasn’t just contractions, this was back labor! that is when the hardest part of the baby’s head- the back- is hitting the mother’s tailbone. babies are supposed to be turned the other way… head looking toward the mother’s butt, so to speak.

if you haven’t experienced back labor… i can’t even … it just isn’t something you can explain, except to say that it is unbearable. i had expected to go through labor ‘one contraction at a time’. i was going through it one breathed prayer for mercy at a time.

we went to the hospital around noon. the one dr. in my practice that i really didn’t want was the one on call. he had been delivering babies for 50 years. he said that he treated obstetrics like war- he looked for problems and fought them before they happened… this meant that he didn’t see birth as a normal, healthy thing– he saw it more as an illness… not as something a mother does— something a doctor does. granted there are maybe 10 percent of births that are truly dangerous and a c-section is warranted… but the avg. is upwards of 30 percent and a lot of that is because of people with this mindset.

he took one look at me and said “she’s going to need a section.” {how do you like the thought of being sectioned? i think it is inhumane terminology} i was not in danger(pain mind you… but not danger) and elisha was not in danger so we kept fighting for more time… those hours are like a black hole to me. when you are laboring naturally you lose all sense of time. you are just doing it. breathing, being, and definitely praying. it really could’ve been days or minutes for all i knew or cared… i didn’t have the leisure to notice. but it was hours. around 5:30? i got an epidural. i knew i had to get my wits about me to deal with this whole c-section thing that the dr. kept pushing. if i had to get a c- section i would have to get an epidural anyway. i was shaking … epidurals make me shiver uncontrollably. i was still not dilated much. as to be expected, my contractions slowed down once i got the epi, so we had started the whole snowball of interventions. they put me on pitocin to get the contractions going again… they upped it… after countless times of my dr. telling me ‘no real progress… we are going to have to section her” i had actually dilated all the way! he was willing to give me a try. i was so weak and exhausted that they told me to try to rest and let the pitocin push the baby down more because when it came to pushing him all the way i would need strength. after crying over what looked like was going be a c-section, i was as giddy as i could be(for as exhausted as i was)… a chance; i was at least going to have a chance to push him out. but after ?? an accurate timetable is really hard for me to figure out?? he came back in. he checked me. elisha still had not turned and since it would’ve been a tight fit anyway, having opimal position was key. he had not dropped much either. the dr. put his hands on elisha’s head and tried to turn him himself, but to no avail.

the doc. dashes all my hopes so quickly. he said” she needs a section… or it will be an ugly forceps delivery, but the baby could get stuck and then have to be pushed back up and cut out anyway… he has been showing some signs of stress with some heart decelerations(which by the way are extremely common when you flood a baby with pitocin… usually just means you need to lay off on the drugs!)…. well, let me know … i think she needs a section… if you want a second opinion that’s fine, but i’m doing a section!….. let me know now b/c i have the operating room scheduled for twenty minutes from now and we need to start prep” …he is throwing all of this at us while we are constantly asking him to give us a minute… we need to talk about this, pray about it, process… but he wouldn’t leave until we said a half way ‘fine’ to buy ourselves a second. andrew and i just looked at each other. we had been fighting this all day. i had been fighting this my whole life. the only thing more terrifying to me than having a giant needle stuck in my spine and left there was being cut open to have a baby pulled out.

it was a whirl wind. i remember staring at the ceiling of the hospital hallway as they wheeled me around. i was all alone, i had been shaven and now was stripped and laying on a cold metal table in a room full of people that i didn’t know. men talking about me and scrubbing me, taping me off. i am shaking uncontrollably, partially because of the epidural, and partially because of the cold sterile room. blue blue blue everywhere… surgical blue… where as birth should be red … and maybe green for life. i don’t quite understand how elisha had not dropped low enough and yet he was low enough to require a nurse to push him back up while the c-section was performed.???

andrew was allowed in at the end when elisha was pulled out. we heard him screaming. i craned my head to catch a glimpse of him across the room… no one can ever describe what that moment is like when you first lay eyes on your child. it was a complete letting go of self. you know even more than you did at the beginning of this ‘letting go”– pregnancy and labor journey, that you will do absolutely ANY thing for this person…

there i was laid out on the operating table (andrew had gone with elisha to the nursery to oversee the whole bathing, measuring, etc) i was catching bits of concern in the doctor’s voices(turns out oops-they cut through my cervix instead of my uterus– he later tried to make it seem like it was my fault “for insisting on laboring for so long”… really he was just too old and it was getting late for him— sorry for the bitterness in my voice)… i could feel my body being moved around… but i was numb, so i couldn’t really feel it. i was more exhausted than is possible… it was all i could do to not fall asleep…. which considering the utmost drama of the occasion, is saying a lot!

i felt so keenly that death is how we get life. i don’t at all want to be taken as blasphemous, but i felt a bit like Christ crucified there on the feared table, stripped of everything. all of that for a life. and it was worth it.

-there are so many other details, and so many other ways to tell that story. this is the first time i have written it all out. there are sweet things, like how elisha stopped crying the instant andrew started talking to him b/c he recognized his voice…. countless other precious things about my darling son. but, just as this is his first birthday… it is the anniversary of my first giving birth day as well and i guess i just needed to get this out. i made elisha a book with photos of the day to read to him every year and i struggled so much with how to present this birth- which was not what i want him to think of first when he thinks of how babies are born.

- disclaimer- i know there maybe a few people who might read this and be scared out of getting pregnant… or may be pregnant and now be terrified that this will be your story…. (or God forbid- you have dealt with things much worse than this — i know that this is not in the same universe as losing a child) we each have our own story that God is writing with our lives. he will bring you through your trails; he has brought me through mine… i feel like i died and came back again…. but i am back again and hoping that he uses this story he wrote in my life for a great purpose.

i’m having a lot of misgivings about publishing this post… i would say it definitely classifies as intimate. but i guess i see it as a story God wrote and what good can it do if people can’t read it. we are called to be vulnerable. to be a picture of sacrificial love. sacrificing self…. i am not who i want you to think i am … i am who he has written me to be, and i may as well have out with it.

-that being said, i feel like this a pretty personal conversation and i think it would be nice to know with whom i am having this conversation…