A Gift From God
I knew I couldn’t go through labor by myself. My good friends Robin and Cindy had agreed to be by my side in the delivery room. I’m so thankful for those two women. Cindy arrived at the hospital shortly after Annette and I, and Robin got there a little after 1 p.m. I used the hot tub in my delivery room to help ease the contractions and did a lot of walking.
By this point, I was five centimeters dilated. Everyone cheered at how fast I was progressing. I, however, burst into tears because I was only halfway there. I didn’t want an epidural, and – so far – I had been doing pretty well dealing with the pain. But by 2 p.m. the contractions were becoming overwhelmingly painful. By 2:30 I gave up walking in favor of the bed and started crying out during contractions. I kept apologizing every time I complained from the pain. My friends tried to convince me this wasn’t necessary, but complaining and screaming were uncomfortable for me.
It wasn’t long after 3 p.m. when I couldn’t remember why I didn’t want an epidural. However, I was told that I was already dilated to nine centimeters and would be pushing soon. My friends and the staff were all so supportive. They kept telling me how proud they were of me and how well I was doing. I remember being amazed that it hurt so much. I asked why anyone would have a second child after going through labor once.
The nurses kept telling me to let them know when I felt the urge to push. Suddenly I knew what they meant and started screaming. It took the doctor using a stern tone to explain that I couldn’t scream and push effectively at the same time. That quieted me, but I was afraid I couldn’t do it. I had no idea how hard it really was to go through labor. The professionals tell you in childbirth class about the pain and exhaustion, but it’s hard to imagine just how much pain and exhaustion there will be until you’re experiencing it. Having my friends there to encourage and support me made all of the difference. They kept telling me I could do it.
Finally, the doctor told me that if I followed his directions, my baby would be born in three more pushes. And, praise God, she was!
When they placed her on my stomach, I was just in shock. She was 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and a little more than 21 inches long. I named her Avita Grace. The nurses asked who was going to cut the cord, and I was so thankful that Robin was there to do that for my daughter.
They took Avita to clean her up, and two doctors and several nurses continued to work on me. Having never given birth before, I assumed everything was routine. Finally, the doctor said he had to give me some medication because my uterus was hemorrhaging. I’m not sure how or why I didn’t panic. Maybe I was just too exhausted. Or maybe I knew that God was there with me. Finally, they got the bleeding to slow.
While they continued to work on me, my friends called over details about Avita. “She has so much hair!” “She has these long delicate fingers.” “She has your nose.” “Wait until you see her long eyelashes.”
After a while, the doctor told me that I was going to need surgery to repair a tear that had happened during the childbirth. I insisted that they let me feed Avita first. They agreed, and the nurses put her in my arms. She was so tiny! Had I really ever held a baby this small before? She was just so delicate. I looked over at Robin and said, “Can I kiss her?” She laughed and reminded me, “She’s yours!” I couldn’t believe that this precious baby girl was really mine, that I really had a daughter. She was so beautiful. And I was so in love!
I was disappointed, angry even, that I had to have surgery. I wasn’t scared; I knew I would be OK. I was simply upset that I couldn’t spend every minute with my baby. When I came out of surgery, I was irritated that after going through the whole labor without painkillers, there I was, groggily fighting my way out of anesthesia before I would be able to hold my little girl again.
The funny thing is that even after all the added drama and pain, as soon as I was able to hold Avita again, the feelings of pain and exhaustion began to fade. I knew that the labor and delivery had hurt, and it had been hard, but already the memory of the pain began to slip away. And as I looked down into my daughter’s eyes, born on her due date, I understood why women are willing to go through labor more than once. It’s amazing how instant and complete my love for this little girl was.
I’m still learning that I’m not in charge – and that’s OK. I’m just so thankful for Avita. She is my own amazing gift from God.