Sally’s Birth Story: Part 4

12 Sep

While to date Rose’s labor remains my hardest and most physically challenging, she is my only baby who didn’t go all high-maintenance during birth. Both her sisters had heart-rate drops, not Rose. Both her sisters had placenta issues, not Rose. I like this about Rosie. She’s a happy-go-lucky little girl who loves life, and I think she was ready to get started. I like that she behaved perfectly well during her debut into this world. Hers was also the easiest and best recovery. Middle child 1, other siblings 0.

Recovering from the VBAC was a breath of fresh air; I don’t recall a ton of problems or pain after the first day or so. Recovering from a C-section was obviously difficult, though my mental recovery from that experience topped everything else.

I had always heard one reason for an epidural-free labor is the recovery. Apparently these mamas pop out of bed after birth and run laps down the hall or something. But not so with Sally’s delivery. Actually, it was and has been pretty challenging.

Nurses told me that with very fast labors, two things can happen. First, your body doesn’t have time to properly adjust for delivery. Everything just kind of opens up and moves out of the way—rib cage, muscles, birth canal. Everything. So moms who deliver fast can feel pretty sore after. Second, without the drugs you feel much more intense pain, and in my case very hard and fast, so your body can react severely. One nurse likened it to a car crash and tensing up right before the collision.

These certainly were the case for me. The day Sally was born, I felt almost bedridden. And I simply could not breathe in without pain. Taking a full breath wasn’t happening, and laughing was the worst. I wouldn’t allow anyone to make me laugh, because I would laugh and then I would cry. I couldn’t lie on either side, and when the nurses would move my bed up or down I would holler. It was no fun. Almost two and a half weeks later, I still am dealing with bone and muscle aches, but definitely better. I feel old!

Still, I’m not bothered by the slower return to feeling normal again. To be honest, I have felt so confident, high on life and plain proud since August 23, 2016. Mostly, I am humbled and grateful. And the story of Sally’s birth truly wouldn’t mean as much without the stories of my previous births.

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Mama, Daddy and Sally

When I look back five years to the birth of my first, I see that I shamed even my own self with so many lies. Having healthy, big, term babies was not for me. Having babies vaginally was not for me. Having babies in the room with me was not for me. Having a picture of me sitting in the hospital bed, husband by my side and holding my baby was not for me. Being wheeled out of the hospital with a baby on my lap was not for me. These wouldn’t be my stories. I silently accepted and didn’t dare dream or even ask for otherwise.

I think it’s why my VBAC, and now Sally’s spontaneous natural delivery, seemed surprising. I was afraid to really ask, to truly pray for those things. But the Lord in His grace and mercy saw fit to give them to me anyway. He outdid Himself!

I heard a song recently that reminded me of me:

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

So what do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
So what do I know? What do I know of Holy?

Perhaps we can all relate. The Lord can do such BIG and mighty things in our lives, and sometimes we are afraid to outright ask, too timid to learn of that might and holiness. Maybe I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment, maybe I didn’t want to feel stingy or greedy. Maybe a VBAC would be dangerous, maybe no epidural would be awful. Maybe I didn’t know what I wanted anyway.

Because of my first labor, I know full well you can’t make demands about childbirth. In fact, I must admit I grow tired of women who do make those demands. Perhaps they are first-time moms, or perhaps they have never had a terrible and terrifying experience. They just don’t understand; they have never had a neonatologist label their baby as a “34-week save,” I guess.

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Jane Darby in NICU crib

Sometimes babies come early, and some of us can’t help it. Sometimes inductions are necessary, because a life hangs in the balance. Sometimes monitoring a baby during delivery is absolutely vital, not a nuissance. Sometimes C-sections are life-saving, not disqualifying. Doctors and hospitals and wires and interventions aren’t the bad guys, that’s how I feel.

So I never would entertain the idea that things like a VBAC, or a natural delivery, could actually satisfy something inside me. I had fought so hard to be satisfied without those. But, they have satisfied—who knew! What a special gift—not just the gift of experience, but the ultimate gift of perspective. I am forever thankful.

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Helping to give Sally her first bath

I cannot lie—having a child with no drugs has made me feel a little capable of doing anything. Of course, we all know I didn’t have a choice AND it was fast (and that tiny bit about how I asked for an epidural.) But perhaps it’s like climbing Everest or participating in the Iron Man: you want to do it because it’s so undoable, and at a point that sensation is addictive. All that to say, I’d love to try do it again—one last time. Just not anytime soon I assure you (so nobody freak out!)

Even so, I know better than to assume I’ll have it my way, or any way I think is the best way. I’ve so very much learned my ways are not the best ways. I could never dream up the best ways; His best ways always surprise and trump my best ways.

In fact, there’s likely yet much to learn from Sally’s birth. Perhaps there’s even better to experience, or maybe even worse. The Lord may choose to make my next delivery the most anticlimactic ever, or on my bathroom floor (oh, I really, really hope not!) But whatever is in store, I will know to seek to learn from the experience, to find glory in it, to praise for the result and to be ever thankful.

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Helping to give Sally her first bath

Nothing like the birth of my children has made me feel so alive. Yes, even Jane Darby’s birth made me feel alive because the very life in me was tried, marred, bruised. And Rose, she redefined my story and my psyche. I will forever hail that little girl for that. Sally’s birth has given me pure joy and gratitude, deepened my relationship with Drew and the Lord, and rooted in me the sweetest perspective.

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Our little girls

Having children is great; being parents is awesome. But the act of bringing babies into the world is not to be overlooked, either, in our parenting repertoire. These have been the craziest and scariest and worst and best and perfectly wonderful and most profound days of my life. And they have been a constant glue that keep Drew and me ever molded together.

I am saddened and grieved to know that one day, not many years from now I suppose, these childbearing days will likely be over. The joy of a positive test, the thud of a little heart, the thrill of a tiny kick, the rush of a baby coming, the wonder of a life begun—they’ll be for another mama, and my stories will be sealed for all time.

So then, I love to tell these stories—my stories—and I always will.

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