You guys. Gavin’s birth story. GAH. Insane. I wanted to have Heidi naturally, and what happened? I had to induce her (high blood pressure), had an epidural, and was in labor for like 19 hours.
This time, I was going to take it easy on myself. This was a no-brainer. Epidural. Nap during contractions. Pop out a baby. Bam. Done and done.
FACEPALM. Yeah, no. It did NOT happen that way. People. DO NOT PLAN. Anything. EVER. It will end up going the opposite of how you pictured and you will be forever traumatized.
Ok, so I am not traumatized by Gavin’s birth…although I was DURING it…the whole two hours. Yes, you heard me. Two and a half hours. That’s it. From start to finish. Are you feeling panicky yet?! I get a little sweaty just thinking about it still. *shudder*
I would have thought things would be switched around. I would have thought that Heidi, with her fiery personality and opinionated little demeanor, would have come at the midnight hour faster than a bat out of hell.
And Gavin…who only grunts and fusses to eat, rarely hollering and screaming at the top of his lungs like his sister did for days and days as a newborn…would have stayed tucked inside, not showing any signs of making his appearance. It seems HE would have been the one to make me endure a 19-hour labor, snug and happy right where he was.
But no. Flip flop those scenarios with the kids and that’s how it all went down.
Two nights after my due date, I woke up with contractions at 1:30am. I began timing them using an app on my iPhone, only to find they were five minutes apart right from the start. This was slightly concerning to me, but my labor with Heidi was so long I was sure we had plenty of time (GARGANTUAN MISTAKE NUMERO UNO).
I did what the doctor would have told me to do. I counted. I timed. I waited. After a full hour of fairly intense labor pains that never wavered from consistent five-minute intervals, I called my doctor.
She sounded doubtful, since I had just woken up. But seemed resigned, and said, “Ok, well, I guess you can head on in and I will meet you there.” I called my parents to let them know we needed them to come stay with Heidi.
First phone call at 2:30 a.m.: “I think it’s time, mom and dad! But please take your time. The roads are awful, we have plenty of time.”
Ten minutes later, I start crying from the intensity of my contractions. I called them back.
2:40 a.m.: “Yeah, are you close? Hurry.”
My bag was packed. I merely slid on a coat and slippers the best I could, doubled over in pain. As soon as my parents walked in, I walked past them, tears streaming down my face, and slid into the car the best I could. Our drive was literally only two minutes, and a few hours later, we’d be thanking God for this fact.
The nurse in the ER took one look at me and rushed for a wheelchair. They tried to check my progress in triage, but I wouldn’t let them, I was in so much pain. So Cody and the nurse wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery.
We checked in at 3:12 am.
Now comes the part where I am just going to be real with you people. You know when you watch movies and the actress in labor is like…insane?? Screaming profanities and biting nurses and it’s pretty hilarious watching from your living room eating popcorn?
Ok, that was me. No joke. You can ask Cody.
Let me lay it out for you. I shouted some words I would never say in front of my kids or my parents. I was screaming during each contraction (no breathing exercises and “finding my center” here. No, I was simply trying to NOT DIE). And at one point, I had my arms wrapped around the hospital bed railing and I was thumping my forehead on the rail. Anything to make the pain stop. (Obviously this wouldn’t help, but I wasn’t in my right mind).
I had a nurse on my right holding my hand (i.e. trying desperately not to cry because I was squishing her hand SO TIGHT) and I literally went to bite her during each contraction because it was just instinct. If I could have said words and strung together sentences, I would have asked for a rope or a stick to bite. Because you know…people do that. NOT.
I told them in no uncertain terms that I was going to die right here on the table and there was no way I could have this baby without an epidural. And the nurses’ favorite thing to do was tell me, “Yes, you CAN do this! No, you WON’T die!” in the most chipper, obnoxious voice possible. (No offense to my friends who are nurses…).
To my left was my superhero…I mean, husband…Cody. He had already asked for water, feeling a little woozy himself, and the nurses were a tad worried about him. But he pulled through. He had my other hand and also had to watch out for gnashing of my teeth. I tried to hold onto him around his neck to endure contractions but at some point that just turned into a misunderstood headlock. Or so I’m told. Oops.
The anesthesiologist strolled in…took one look at me, and asked the nurses if I should be checked first, insinuating it might just be too late for that blessed epidural. The nurse began to ask me if she could check, and I snapped, “NO, I want an epidural!”
You guys know me. I’m normally super nice. But this night…oh, this night…I was NOT super nice.
The anesthesiologist started getting this stuff together. And he is going slow. SO. SLOW. I gave him a dirty look several times, and rolled my eyes when he started asking about my medical history. He began cleaning up my back and telling me I needed to be so still.
He passed the waiver to me to sign…something about the possibility of being paralyzed or dying from the epidural probably…and just as I finished signing my name, a strong contraction hit and my water broke.
According to Cody, I fell over on the bed and told the nurses that the baby was HERE and I had to push. The doc walked in right then, he and the nurses quickly got me set up, and within three minutes…THREE MINUTES…I pushed Gavin out.
He was born at 3:54 a.m..
If our hospital was not across the street, that baby would have been born in our car.
I don’t tell this story to brag. I do not tell it to get accolades nor to shout, “Hey, I had a baby without an epidural.” I don’t feel one with the earth because of my experience. I don’t feel like I was any more connected to my baby. It was not a spiritual high.
I am just happy to still be alive. I wasn’t sure there for a little while. Truly.
I apologized to the doctors, the nurses, my husband, EVERYONE at least a thousand times. I was so embarrassed by how I had acted. Looking back, I wish I had not been so scared to just go ahead and have Gavin sans epidural. Why are we so programmed to think we can’t do things?? I want to approach everything in my life as though I CAN. No matter what comes, I CAN do this.
All this to say, life is always a little messy and unplanned, isn’t it? We don’t always handle the changes quite so gracefully (let’s hope you don’t yell obscenities or bite anyone when life doesn’t go how you’d like). And the journey may be longer or shorter or bumpier than we had hoped.
But it’s a story, nonetheless. A story God is writing for us. And we should always remember there are two sides to every coin…and two sides to every Facebook picture posted. I’m a realist, so I’m going to be real with you. I posted some pictures of Gavin and our new family today, and I glowed inside just looking at them. They made me so happy. But the past two weeks have also included tears…SOOOOO many tears….snapping at each other….copious amounts of coffee….frustrated yelling….and many apologies. It’s just tough bringing a baby home.
Let this be a reminder to us all…for every happy new mama you see on Facebook, there’s an exhausting and beautiful birth story behind that smile.
For every adorable picture you see of that baby with his big sister, there are about a million other moments she wants NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. Unless she’s kicking him in the head.
For every sweet, sleeping angelic newborn face, captured so perfectly on camera, there are countless other moments not caught on camera where that same face is bright red and screaming angrily at mom because she can’t figure out what he wants.
And then vomit will also shoot from that same, sweet face. And it will pool in your bra. On a day when your washer is broke. (Yes….me…yesterday).
For every “we are such a happy family” group shot, there are a thousand other insanely messy moments where we hurt each other’s feelings, get mad from lack of sleep, have unmet expectations, have different ideas of what our new normal should look like, and moments where we fail to fill the role we are supposed to because of the chaos wreaked by a tiny baby.
The transition to being a family of four is not nearly as pretty as I had pictured it. BUT…we are doing it. And it would not be without the help of our family and friends. Sometimes you just have to say YES when people offer to help. And in that small act of humility…in accepting hot meals from people, letting your sweet neighbor do all your laundry, begging for last minute babysitting so you can get a break, allowing others to do your grocery shopping, opening notes and mail and Facebook messages… the loose ends become a little tighter, the colors a little clearer, and the story actually does turn out even more beautiful than you pictured. You think, wow! This IS a pretty great story! We don’t look half as tired as I thought we did!
No person or story is perfect, and no family is without its rough edges. But I am so thankful that God gives us grace to start again each day. Nothing reminds me more of that than a brand new baby.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” ~Lamentations 3