The last week has flown by--a whirlwind of family, curls, and a juggling act. Early tomorrow, my family leaves, Eli goes to work, and I am left alone for the first time as a mother of two. Prayers please!
I figure it's as good a time as any to share Oscar's story, a story that is really about my depravity and conflicted obedience. I have tried to limit the "TMI" factor, but in the end, the subplot includes childbirth, and someone is going to be disgusted or offended. This is the pre-apology.
To begin this story, I must go back in time 15 months to when Elsie was born. I had a plan, you know. I was going to have a natural, drug-free birth. Everything was going to go the way I wanted it to. But it didn't. And rather than praying and accepting, I fought and fought. My water broke before I even started having contractions, and I was barely dilated. After being at the hospital for several hours with no noticeable progress, the doctor wanted start Pitocin to augment my labor. I begged to wait 2 more hours to see what would happen. Nothing did, and the Pit was introduced. The doctor started talking C-section around midnight; I poo-pooed it, and gave in and got an epidural to ease my pain and let my body do the work while I rested. I woke up and was ready. After two hours of pushing, the doctor brought up C-sections again. I begged for two more hours. Finally, 27 hours into the ordeal, I delivered Elsie via C-section, and I was devastated. Damn it--I had worked so hard, I had tried so long to avoid that outcome and it just wasn't fair!
The road to understanding my own depravity, my own sinfulness, my own need to control, was a road well-trodden in my 30 years. The Lord knew how Elsie was going to make her way into the world, but I had my own idea, and when I didn't get my way (selfish child) I kicked and screamed and cried and tried to place blame everywhere except on myself. Eventually, I came around and knew that I was at fault, that I didn't let God work through me, that my need to control kept me from being happy and content with God's plan for Elsie's arrival, a plan that greatly differed from my own.
Back to the present, I wanted to try a VBAC, but was wary of hoping for it. Would that be me trying to control the situation again? Still, I did my research, and all signs pointed to a very low success rate. And yet, the doctor was still willing to entertain the option, so I wasn't actually being controlling, right? Just inquisitive...
As my due date drew nearer, I got stupider and stupider. I, somewhere along the way, had decided that no matter what, I wasn't going to start school. That if baby hadn't come by August 9, that I would just have an elective C-section on that day. The fear was palpable--fear of VBAC failure, fear of breaking my OCD tendencies, fear of this child not fitting the mold. At my 38 week appointment, I had already advanced further than I had before my water broke with Elsie. I dared to hope. I asked the doctor some pointed questions about what to expect and at what point we would start talking C-section. His answers made me sit up and take stock. I had previously told Eli that I didn't want to go through a long labor again only to end up with another incision. The doc said that anyone who would be devasted by that outcome needed to just schedule a repeat C. Would I be devastated this time, too? What was most important to me? I realized that my plan to have a C-section by August 9 was again, me trying to control the situation. How had I gotten back to this?? As much as I wanted to not have to go back to school and have a baby born on 8.9.10, I truly desired more to be obedient, as difficult as that was for me.
So, what did I do? I decided that should baby not be here by 8.13.1o that I would have a repeat C. Do I ever learn? Ugh. Suddenly, this new desire sprung up from the wells of my sinfulness to have a baby on Friday the 13th (not as bad as you might think--13 is an important number in my family and...it's prime!). The doctor scheduled my 40 week appointment for 39 weeks and 5 days, so that we could talk about our options, and as I sat in his office on 8.10.10, he asked me what I wanted to do. Going into the appointment, I was ready to schedule for Friday, if it meant that I could have this baby on that special day. But as I sat there waiting for him, I started praying and singing hymns--just out of nowhere. So when he asked, my response was that of a girl who was deeply confused and sincerely longing to follow God's will--"I don't know." I just didn't want to play God, I told him. Ah, reasoning had returned.
I will add that that day I got a sweet note in the mail from JT telling me that she was praying for me and reminding me that God had already written this baby's arrival. This truth coupled with the sermon from the previous Sunday about God being sovereign (a church service that I knew was tailored specifically to me that day, if I would just listen) brought a peace over me. We would wait.
There's a little bit more to the story here (but not much) but I know that you're wanting me to get on with it already, and since those details are minor, I'm going to gloss over them for now.
At 3:30 in the morning, I really had to pee. So I jumped out of bed and went. I came back and laid down, and a few minutes later, really had to pee again. Weird. Being extremely pregnant, I got up and went again, because honestly, you never know. When I got back in bed, I tried to go to sleep again, but couldn't get comfortable. There was this uncomfortable pain in my side and belly when I tried to lay on my side. Eventually, I put two and two together (remember, I never had early labor with Elsie) and realized that I was having contractions. They weren't bad--just annoying. So, I lay in bed for a little while trying to see if I could sleep through them. I could not.
At 4:30, I sent a text to my team leader and maternity sub letting them know that I woke up having contractions and that I hadn't decided whether or not I was going to come to work, but that I would let them know. I thought about waking up Eli and telling him what was going on, but decided against it. I went downstairs, instead, and worked on lesson plans.
At 5:30, I woke Eli up. I was concerned, but not overly so, that my contractions were closer than five minutes, but that they weren't lasting for a minute each. After we had Elsie up and dressed (by 7:00), we decided that we would call the L&D floor at the hospital and get an opinion. I was a little afraid that this would be a false alarm and that they would send me home if I showed up, but if it wasn't, I wanted to be in the care of physicians as soon as possible. When I explained about my morning, the nurse on the phone advised me to take a shower (already done), eat a light breakfast, and then come on in. I grabbed a yogurt and left Mom with instructions for keeping Elsie, and we were on our way.
7:30-ish, we got to the hospital. I walked myself up to L&D with the ER nurse (she offered me a ride, but I declined). Eli sat out in the waiting room while I was put in an observation room. The nurse who came in learned that I was a previous c-section and things changed. I had eaten breakfast. The doctor (from the same practice, who I had met while pregnant with Elsie) came in to check me, confirmed that I did not want to go ahead and have a C-section this time, too, and asked me about Elsie's birth. After hearing the Reader's Digest version, he flat out told me that things did not look good for a VBAC. That though every delivery was different, based on everything I had just told him, that it just seemed like an unlikely outcome for me to have a regular birth. He finally checked me, after a couple of mild-ish contractions, and imagine my surprise that I was already at an 8! What? What?!? I had only been having minor discomfort up until ths point (with Elsie, I consented to the epidural at 7, after making no progress for hours). He also said that the baby was "floating" and I had to ask what that meant--not engaged yet. Great. My water broke as he was checking me, and I was pretty much automatically taken to a delivery suite, after confirming that I wanted an epidural and the IV narcotic until I got the epidurla (I didn't see why not, as both helped me get to 10 last time around...such a copout). Now that my water was broken, my contractions were getting to be a little more intense, and Eli was still in the waiting room. They brought him in just as the nurses were running around crazy. Evidently I was contracting as if I was on Pitocin--the nurse's words, not mine--(2 minutes apart at this point) and they were about to give me some IV meds to slow it down when the doctor came in. I had an intense contraction, and he said, "Are you feeling the urge to push?" Yes, I said. So he checked me (this is at about 8:15) and I was ready. Dang, that was fast. And I wasn't getting my epidural (really, not a problem for me--praise the Lord!).
And so it went. The nurses continued to treat me like I was going to have a C-section any minute. There were several times when everyone in the room seemed very tense. The doctor would explain what was going on--the contractions were too close together and the baby didn't like it, heart rate dropping at times. The baby might be OP (in the wrong position). Yada yada. All were false alarms.
In that hour or so before my baby was born, I had a lot of random thoughts. I would pray, meditate, think about JT's note, self-talk about my peace with whatever the outcome was going to be, think about my sister bragging about being a good pusher, trying to remember back to my Bradley method class since I had been meaning to reread that book and never got around to it--what did it say about expulsive contractions? Something about working with the contractions and visualizing? The nurse's voice was annoying in her chant--"harder harder" and I wish the counting would have been a little more...urgent, I guess? I kept my eyes closed for the majority of the time, and then something changed and suddenly they were calling for the doctor. "Get him in here." Instead of pushing, I was being told to pant through the contractions. Yeah, right. "Page him overhead, stat." I opened my eyes and concentrated on the bridge of the nurses nose and the glare off the lenses on her glasses and focused on a steady, rhythmic pant that any overheated canine would be proud of.
The baby was ready. The doctor was not. But in the end, he came in, was apprised of the situation, and delivered my baby boy. VBAC. No drugs. No complications or supplemental procedures. By the grace of God, and God alone. I was not in control. I did not try to control. I did not want to control. And it was an amazing moment of spiritual growth and revelation. How much more peaceful would my life be if I just "let go and let God" in other areas as well?
And so, Oscar came into the world, a child of God and the result of one woman's struggle with depravity and obedience. God's grace, indeed.
On an ending note, the delivery nurse told me that she hadn't attended many successful VBACs, and she'd seen even fewer women deliver babies without drugs. I asked, "So that makes me a rock star, right?" She said, "Yes."