|Liam a few weeks old|
While I was cooking dinner, the labor with my second son, Liam, began at 5:05 on August 4, 2011. I could tell I was in labor because the pain I had felt for months had left a few days before, and now the pain was back but different. I called it at 8 o’clock and set the wheels in motion for my Mom to meet us at the hospital, a 2 hour drive for her, and for our friends to come and stay with Ethan.
We arrived at the hospital at 10:30, and I was already at 4cm. I asked if I could have the epidural soon, since my doctor had said anywhere from 2-7 cm was okay, but the triage nurse said she would be back in an hour to check on me to see if they would admit me or send me home. I ask, “Is that likely? Because these really hurt?” But she left Jeremy and I there anyway.
An hour and fifteen minutes later I was in a LOT of pain, but the nurse hadn’t materialized. I finally beeped the nurses station and a calm voice answered, “Hello, what do you need.” My own voice was pretty gruff as I replied, “The nurse!”
When she finally came and checked me, Liam was coming. A full 10 cm and she could see his head. As she scrambled to grab her stuff and wheel the bed from the room, my Mom showed up. The nurse pushed the bed down the hall as they all ran for the elevators.
In the elevator, I asked, “Can I have the epidural now?” The nurse replied, “Sure, as long as your water hasn’t broken yet.” (At that point my husband said, they all knew I wasn’t getting the epidural, but no one wanted to tell me that.)
As we reached the delivery room doors, my water broke, and even before the bed was into position, I yelled, “I’m pushing!!!” The next 15 minutes were the worst of Hollywood yelling, screaming labor. Jeremy said I could be heard clear down the hallway.
It hurt. Bad. Since I had plenty of time to get an epidural with Ethan, I completely blew off childbirth classes and anything my friends wanted to tell me or books they tried to share about natural childbirth. I was not prepared. At all. It was so nuts it felt like riding every ride and Six Flags at once.
After the fact, though, Liam was a happy healthy baby, and I recovered so much faster than I had with Ethan. As I held Liam in my arms, I thought, “That was nuts! But from my friends, I know it doesn’t have to be.” I determined next time to be prepared…
I began preparing for Luke’s birth when I found out I was pregnant. I read the books my friends suggested and polled other friends on the best method. The majority said the Bradley Method, so I bought the book Natural Childbirth the Bradly Way by Susan McCutcheon online and began studying it.
Though we couldn’t attend classes, for weeks Jeremy and I practiced the relaxation techniques, breathing, positions, and visualization talked about in the book. I was determined not to have a TV like childbirth again.
Some of my biggest fears this time were that I would go into labor faster than I had with Liam, and I wouldn’t have time to get the boys to my in-law’s house and Jeremy and Mom with me at the hospital. As time for Luke to come neared, I had a couple of false labors in the middle of the day where the contractions were so close together that I should have already been at the hospital. This made me even more nervous, so I began to pray about it and even had some of my prayer warrior friends praying, too. I wanted them to pray specifically that I would have enough time to get all my ducks in a row before baby came.
|Luke a month old|
I went into labor with Luke at 8:30 Sunday morning on August 31, 2014, with contractions that were 10 min apart. Because of the two false labors in the past few weeks and because the contractions felt more like strong pressure, we went on to church. During church the contractions began to slow down and seemed to stop. As I sat there, I prayed, “Not this time, God. Please let them them start up again.” Then during communion they began again pretty strongly. I joked that if someone looked at me then, I probably appeared to be fervently praying instead.
We went on to lunch, and after lunch my in-laws came to pick up Ethan and Liam, The contractions then began to be strong enough that I started the techniques we had practiced.When they got around seven minutes apart, we went to the hospital as planned, since Liam had come so fast.
When the triage nurse hooked me up to the monitors, she didn’t see the contractions I was feeling. Before she left the room, she told me that they appeared to be possibly related to dehydration, so she was going to go check with the doctor. I thought, I’ve been in labor twice before. These are not dehydration!” I then prayed that even though I was trying to relax through the contractions that God would make it show up on their monitors. The next time she walked in the room they were registering on the monitors, and she quickly saw I was in real labor and got me over to delivery as fast as she could.
I continued what we had practiced with Jeremy coaching me to concentrate on relaxing, laying like I do while sleeping, to breathing deeply, and visualizing what was going on inside me instead of fighting it, all while he used a tennis ball to ease my back pain. At one point a nurse told my Mom that she couldn’t tell I was even in labor.
Like Liam, Luke came very fast at the end and again the doctor didn’t have time to catch him. Instead they grabbed a Resident who happened to be standing in the hallway. By the time I turned over from my side to push, Luke was on his way and with one push he was here. Though the labor wasn’t pain free, it was much more painless than Liam’s and there was no screaming or yelling.
Through both of these experiences, I learned a few valuable lessons. One, don’t ignore other’s advice when they’ve been there. But more importantly, I learned that when I’m going through something hard and very painful, if I fight it and have a melt down, it will still happen but the process will be much harder. However, if I instead relax and keep my focus on what God is doing through the pain, then, yes, it may still hurt, but the pain will be much more manageable and probably won’t overwhelm me.
You may be thinking, “Sure, that might help with labor that lasts a short time, but not in the real world.” I have been there, too, friend. Just today my Monday went from bad to worse. My husband is traveling, again. My three year old threw up due to Halloween candy. Fail. Then he had an utter melt down later in the morning because I couldn’t push him on the swing and had to feed baby brother instead. He finally fell asleep in his bed, but I had to wake him up to go get big brother from school. He had another utter melt down that resulted in him running down our driveway as I grabbed him and wrangled him into his car seat. All witnessed by our neighbor. I smiled and waved at him as a drove away. Then I got the “Monday morning talk” from a cop for speeding through my son’s school zone…
When we got home, I wanted to check out. Facebook. Kindle. Email. Be mentally somewhere other than here. But instead, I stayed present. I took a deep breath and prayed. I found somethings to be thankful for even in the middle of crazy. It wasn’t easy. I really wanted to fight my circumstances and whine. I wanted pity. But in focusing on God and being thankful, I was able to muster up some patience and smiles for my kids, even when I wanted to sit down and cry.
Looking back on other times, when I fought to stop the pain and run away from it, like my parents’ separation and divorce while I was in college, it overwhelmed me and almost took me under. But the times that I sought God and focused on his promises and what he was doing in my life in that moment, those were the times that with God’s help I wasn’t overwhelmed and simply survived, instead I was able to grow through the pain.
Friend, if you’re dealing with something hard today, try to focus on God and his work instead of fighting. Find something, anything, to be thankful for in your day. Try to relax and hold on to His promises for you, instead of melting down. Your circumstances may still be hard, but you will be able to bear up under them as you focus instead of fight.