Writing can be difficult sometimes. The motto I have created for myself is this: “If only one person benefits from my writing, then I have succeeded.” Often times and in this case, that one person is… well… me. To have this experience recorded is a blessing to me, my husband Ed and someday my daughter Emilie. But it is also a pleasant surprise when my writing actually touches and helps someone else in one form or another. For you, whoever you are, I also write.
I admit that I was, and still am, worried about releasing this. If you haven’t realized by now, Emilie is over a year old. I have not released this for a year feeling that one, or all of the following would happen:
1- Receiving criticism that I would post my private experience. If you don’t want to know, then please don’t read.
2- Receiving criticism about the methods I used or did not use. I have a healthy baby and we have a beautiful relationship that wasn’t inhibited by anything we did or did not do.
3 – Being accused of lying or over exaggerating the experience. I felt my first contraction at 10:30 and less than 4 hours later I was pushing. There, I said it. I was one of those. Think what you want of me.
Phew! I am glad that is out of the way.
Friday October 17th
It was my due date. I had been fully effaced and dilated to a 4 for a week. I had felt nothing in terms of any contractions, discomforts, or pains. What was going on? I started praying that I would feel something, anything. I could feel her move and kick and punch of course, but still nothing else. This is the part where my mind went to war, do I help the process along or do I wait? Through many tears and increasingly fervent prayers from both me and my husband, Ed, we got the feeling that we should help her along – something I spent 9 months not wanting to do. I admit I felt pressured to let it come naturally. Yet, I could not dissuade the feeling.
That morning my doctor stripped my membrane and said that I would start having contractions within the next 24 hours. I was really looking forward to having a contraction. Call me crazy. Looking back on it, that was crazy.
Saturday October 18th
24 hours later I still had felt nothing. Through tears I called the doctor again, now starting to really wonder what was going on in there. We decided to break my water that morning. It was yellow. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I later learned that it was due to meconium in the womb, which meant my baby would immediately have to have her lungs pumped upon delivery. It is best that a baby not stay in that type of environment very long. Below is a list that Ed kept throughout the day, such a wise man. I cherish these words.
Ed and I walked into the maternity ward at the hospital. They asked how they could help us and I replied that my water had broken. A few of them laughed and asked me if I was sure that my water had broken, because I seemed awfully calm. A little bit upset that they didn’t believe me, I then told them that I still hadn’t felt any contractions and that is why I was so calm. They took me to a room and hooked me up to an IV. I tried to avoid telling the nurses the fact that my doctor had broken my water, thus forcing me into a spot in the overbooked maternity ward. But alas, I told them the truth and they were not very happy with me or my doctor. I held back my frustration. This was not at all the feeling that I should be having. Couldn’t they just be happy for me? Before leaving, they told me they would come back when things started to move along. So Ed and I sat and talked and waited.
I felt something and then it was only a few minutes following that the contractions hit. And they hit hard. I was told that it would hurt more since my water had already been broken, which lessened any cushion that had been there. My nurses came back in and explained everything about epidurals, if I should choose to have one.
I realize how lucky I had been not to have felt pain during my pregnancy. What was I thinking asking to feel something?! Smashing my finger in a car door that summer had been a pain max of 10 for me, folks. God knew this and probably helped me out in that department all along, knowing full well my pain tolerance. I was now grateful for not feeling anything prior to this. I called back for an epidural.
I’m curious if anybody else has had contractions like these before. I had heard and planned on a contraction coming and then going and then coming again. But for me there was no break; there would be a painful contraction but still pain in between. It honestly felt like it was a continual contraction with no relief.
Ed and I had practiced, through many forms, handling contractions. Needless to say they didn’t work at game time. Gratefully, Ed came up with something on the spot that helped. We are both musically inclined and it came to him to hum several different notes in a row and then I was to repeat them back. (I just wanted to include that for anyone to try).
The Epidural went smoothly. My anesthesiologist gave me the monitor and said to push this button if any pain comes. The pain lessened dramatically to a bearable pressure. I was determined to leave this pressure there so that I could feel when I needed to push.
My doctor arrived to check my dilation. Two seconds later he responded that I was ready and it was time to start pushing! It was not until this moment that the nurses let go of their annoyance and actually got excited that I progressed so quickly. This brightened my mood quite a bit too, except for one thing…
Since choosing not block out the pain completely with the epidural, there was still this continual pressure down there to push. The nurses told me to push when I felt the need, and I kept responding that I was constantly feeling the need, that it wasn’t coming in waves or anything. So that’s what I did…. PUSH, for two hours.
Through all the amount of pushing and bouts of nausea, Emilie wasn’t coming. So they used suction… and then came forceps. I had a nurse on one side bending one of me knees up against my chest and Ed pushing the other knee. And I too, was pulling my legs in toward my chest with all my strength, anything to help. I felt like I was the worst woman on Earth because I could not push that baby out. I was failing…
My doctor sat back for a moment, a look of defeat on his face as he paused and then looked to my husband and said, “There’s nothing left we can do…” Ed turned and walked to the nearby chair to sit down, head in his hands. I started to panic. Why wasn’t he looking at me? Why wasn’t anybody mentioning C-section? Were we really past that point? Was she… gone? Still feeling the constant pressure to push, I frantically said, “I can push some more, Doc. I can. Please let me try.” Although we all knew my pushes were well below par at this point. He finally looked at me and said, “Things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, I’m sorry… we are going to have to do a C-section, she is stuck.” My heart jumped. Hallelujah! We still had an option! Without thinking twice, I quickly responded, “Yes, of course!” Looking back now, maybe the constant pressure I was feeling down there was due to the fact that she was stuck, although I’m still not sure. I knew that this is what we needed to do. Surprisingly, I did not feel scared or worried; all would be well. I never spent too much time researching C-sections like I researched other birth processes. That’s why I believe I was so quick to answer, because I hadn’t filled my mind with statistics and stories. I know God’s hand was in that as well… he knew all along.
They allowed my husband and I to have a moment together. It was quiet. I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I closed my eyes and started singing a favorite hymn of ours, “Come Thou Fount” through silent tears. Ed then gave me a blessing, a whispered prayer of strength and protection over us. To have a man of God by my side was truly a blessing. Something I am grateful for everyday. The spirit of God was strong in the room and continued to be with us. The air was thick and a swelling and warmth dwelt within my chest. I could feel my heart beating. Peaceful, quite, calm. I do not doubt that God is present as his children come to Earth.
My anesthesiologist came back in and made sure I could feel absolutely nothing down there. I was then wheeled off to the operating room. Some nurses took Ed to get changed into scrubs. While lying in the center of operating room they hung a sheet in front of me so I couldn’t see the process. But that wasn’t enough to keep my mind from going woozy with surgical thoughts. So naturally I started humming Christmas songs. I like to blame that part on the drugs; it was only October after all. My doctor was then joined by another doctor and I was grateful that I knew him as well. How it works is that there is one doctor in charge of the Mom during the surgery and the other doctor is in charge of the baby. You’ve really got to appreciate these professionals – on call at a moment’s notice. Ed came in shortly after, a bit giddy in his scrubs, disposable hat, and mask. It makes us wonder if he should have been a doctor instead! I asked him not to watch, to which he responded, grinning, “too late.” I could tell he was fascinated. Me, I kept on humming and thinking of which song to hum next. And yes, I was loud enough for all to hear. Ed even joined in a little.
There was crying, a voice so foreign yet bursting with life. The cord was quickly cut, the sheet taken down, and outstretched before me, held in my doctor’s hands, was my daughter. I saw her for three seconds and then she was whisked through the opening in the wall to another room where they were to clean out her lungs. Through tears, I said to Ed, “I didn’t even notice what color her hair was.” (It’s common knowledge that I love red heads). Ed just smiled.
And then we waited. Surreal. It was the strangest feeling to wait – did that really just happen? Anticipating the reunion and racking my brain with what she looked like were all I could think about. A few minutes passed and they handed her back through the opening in the wall. Ed took her and brought her over. Still immobile at this point, and amidst receiving stitches, I was only able to turn my head toward her and touch her warm, sleeping face with my hand. Her face was red, her tiny head bruised here and there and cone shaped. She looked nothing like I had imagined, but she was perfect too me. My heart ached for her and how much she had been through already.
While finishing my stitches we realized that the doctors had been discussing something. They then turned to us and explained, “She had a really short umbilical cord… about 7 inches.” One of them then raised his hands to demonstrate the inches. Ed was on his way out the door to take Emilie for a bath, when our Dr. stopped him on the arm and said through misted eyes, “We did the right thing.” It was then that I started to think, “How exactly could a baby with a short umbilical cord have been able to drop vaginally?” In my simple terms, she simply did not have enough rope for the drop… What if she hadn’t gotten stuck? The list of “What if’s” is still on going… To say Emilie is a miracle is no understatement. A wave of peace and understanding came over me. It now made sense why she stayed in the same position my whole pregnancy too. I knew without a doubt that God’s hand had guided both of us in our decisions and the decisions of my doctor.
I was taken to a comfortable room in which I was to wait for Ed and Emilie while she received her bath. I would eventually stay there for three more days. I got instructions about post operation and got hooked up to a catheter and leg massagers to wake my legs from the epidural.
It was about a half hour before I saw Ed and Emilie again. Ed brought her into the room. She started to cry, which made me cry. I felt so inadequate and scared. Reaching out to hold her for the first time, she seemed so tiny and fragile. Hearing my voice and feeling my skin, she calmed down immediately and my heart soared. I thought, “I can do this… God will help me.” And my tears turned to joy.
I am so grateful that I had Ed by my side. For one thing, I couldn’t get up. So Ed’s presence was very much needed in taking care of Emilie. There was no damage to our mother-baby bond, but I know because of this experience that Emilie has a special spot in her heart for her Dad. She’s a daddy’s girl through and through and I love it. I have to admit it was hard the first little while to watch him do what I felt like I should be doing – changing diapers, swaddling her, walking around with her. I wasn’t jealous, no, it was just the fact that I couldn’t be the hands-on Mom that I wanted to be from the get go. As I let that feeling go my eyes were opened to what was really before me – a husband who remained by my side through the good and bad, in sickness and in health, a Father who took on his role so naturally and with ease you would have thought he was a Father of many. I learned that no matter what life brings he will be there for me, for us. He is perfect for me in every way.
We actually hadn’t named Emilie until the day after she was born. The name Emilie had crossed Ed’s mind a few days before and when he approached me with it, it caught me off guard and I emotionally responded that I had named all my baby dolls Emilie when I was a little girl. Jean was a middle name that we always fancied. It is my mom’s name and the name of a dear friend in Ed’s life. We didn’t know the meaning of the names until we looked them up while there in the hospital. Emilie means industrious; striving. Jean means gift from God. There was no question of what her name was to be after that.
In all of this I wish to impress that we have to remember that God sees more than we ever could. Trust in Him. Have faith in Him. Seek him in humble prayer and he will show you the way.