Wow! I feel as if I am emerging from a long winter’s nap! Except to say that implies sleep which anyone who has recently given birth knows there is little of. Those commercials don’t lie when they say “Having a baby changes everything!” As many of you know Michael and I welcomed our first child, a son named Ephraim, on February 18th of this year.
While having a child is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced it has also changed every aspect of my life. First and foremost I realize and live dying to self on a daily basis now. As I type this I am listening to my IPod and it is a playlist titled “Labor” that I made the night before I went into the hospital to give birth to Ephraim. I remember searching through the 1000’s of songs in my library and trying to select the exact songs that I wanted or felt would help either motivate or calm me during labor. Michael and I had elected to induce labor because of some blood pressure issues I was having so I knew what to expect from the coming day … or so I thought. Let me just say the experience was entirely “other” than what I had envisioned and in reality prayed for.
From the get go I had wanted to do childbirth as naturally as possible. Even “Supernaturally” if possible, meaning without pain. I had prayed everyday of the pregnancy for my son and his health and even his personality, physical attributes and attitudes. I tried to leave no stone unturned and sought the Holy Spirit for how to pray. It wasn’t until the approaching due date was upon me that I started to focus on labor. I was naive, I’ll admit it. And probably a little double-minded too. See I had confessed with my mouth what I wanted my labor experience to be, but I am not sure I really bought into the confession i was making. In the end, the fatigue of a long 40 weeks, mounting fears about the babies safety and amidst incredible internal anxiety I gladly gave into my doctor when he suggested inducing me the day before my actual due date.
I realized that would mean giving me Pitocin to bring on the contractions and intensify them and that he would also want to break my water himself. I also accepted the inevitability of an epidural which I initially had opposed. We arrived at the hospital at 5:00 am and by 9:30 the IV was in the pitocin flowing and the bag of waters busted. They came in every half hour and increased the pitocin. For those of you who don’t know, pitocin causes the uterus to contract (just like it would normally) only it “ramps” up the intensity and pain commonly associated with labor. By noon I had taken all I thought I could and begged for the anthesiologist to come and put me out my misery. Too late they said … she was already in a c-section and I would have to wait at least an hour. You can imagine how I felt right about then …
So an hour and a half later, fully effaced and dilated to an 8 she arrives, drugs in hand. They sat me up and tried to insert the catheter but the problem was my contractions were piggy-backing each other and I was getting no break from it. Finally they got it in and after thirty minutes of full body shakes I was feeling pretty good and ready to chill until it was time to push. By 3:30 we were ready to go and they assured me I would be holding baby boy within the hour. Not so much ….
I pushed and pushed and pushed, to no avail. His head would crown but as soon as I stopped pushing he immediately sucked back up. The doctor realized that he was “hung up” in my pelvis because he entered the birth canal at an angle. After 2 1/2 hours of intense pushing I was faced with a choice, either use forceps or suction to remove him vaginally or have a c-section. I opted for the c-section and immediately preparations were underway. All I could do was cry. I crumbled into tears from the emotional upheaval of exhaustion and failure I was feeling. My sister cried, Michael reassured me and the nurse (heather) brought quick encouragement. I will never forget her telling me “There are variables at work her that we just don’t understand but for whatever reason you are meant to do it this way.” It comforted, but also brought confusion. I kept thinking, this is not what I prayed for. Not what I “wanted”.
Once in the operating room they got to work right away and at 6:54 pm I heard the sound I have waited my whole life to hear, the cry of my child. He was perfect (except his cone head) and healthy. My doctor then informed us that the umbilical cord had been around his neck and that we made the right decision to have the C-Section. If we had waited any longer, pushed any harder or used the suction to pull him out we would have had a devastating outcome. Indeed, Heather’s wisdom and intuition were right on the money.
Ephraim is now a few days shy of seven months old and a living miracle in too many ways to mention in this blog. He is a promise fulfilled and 1000 prayers answered. As I type this I can see him asleep in his crib on the video monitor and my heart is full. In retelling the story of his delivery God is showing me his hand at work. I am realizing that so many times when a circumstance has an expectation other than what we envisioned it can bring confusion and disappointment, but also opportunity. The opportunity to better understand ourselves and God.
I realize now that I wanted the natural childbirth, but was perhaps not as committed to it as I would have liked to believe. There was a multitude of anxieties bearing down on me and I was overwhelmed (Psalm 94). I confessed yes, but was not committed in my belief. I heard a quote this past Sunday that “What we believe about the end will directly affect how we behave in the middle.” The truth is I was so engulfed in the battle of the middle that I was unprepared for the end. Here is the miracle though, it didn’t matter. God was still there and still at work and still in control. He knows my days and Ephraim’s and that is that.
The reality is that if I had been patient in my endurance and waited for labor to come on naturally the baby probably would have been in the right position and labor much easier. I don’t know if that would have changed the umbilical cord thing and I never will. It doesn’t matter at this point. The allegory that see in all of this is my professed plan at odds with my own impatience. This resulted in me trying to control the outcome because I didn’t trust my body to do it on its own. How much is that a reflection of how I handle other situations in my life. I say I trust the plans God has for me, that they are for my good. His intentions are to bless and not to harm … but do I live like I really believe that? Depends on the day honestly. Sometimes yes and others, no. It is in these times that things get the messiest for me. I tend to put my grubby paws on the wheel and control things myself. Thats bad enough, but it also opens a door for the enemy to ramp it up. Like pitocin, it takes the trial I am in and intensifies it beyond what I can do for myself. Praise God, He makes a way of escape for me and saves the day. He delivers me from the enemy and from myself, sets my feet on the rock.