Monday, January 21, 2013

Violet's Birth Story: A Christmas Eve Miracle

I woke up on Christmas Eve without one sign of labor. I had been having minor contractions on and off for a few days, so I knew I would be delivering within a week's time. But I had no idea it would be that day. 

It felt like an unusually long morning and it was only 8:30. Burke was overly mischievous that morning and I wondered what we'd do all day until our Christmas Eve church service that evening. And then I had my first contraction. And I knew.

But we had some last minute Christmas errands to run. And I needed to wait it out. Labor at home. Or at the store. Each contraction would stop me in my tracks and I would pretend to fixate on whatever ordinary object was in front of me while I silently breathed through the pain. I hoped no one noticed and yet really didn't care if they did. 

I laid Burke down for his nap. I ate a nice lunch. It would be my last meal before delivering. And I wasn't sure how long that would take. 

I had done this before and yet I was nervous. Nervous that they'd send me home. Were my contractions really strong enough? Consistent enough? I didn't have time or energy to time them. I'm a woman of estimation. Precision isn't my thing, really. But I also have a pretty high threshold for pain--and these contractions hurt. But it was 9 days early. Thankfully, they let me stay. I was already 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Around 1:30 pm I was admitted.

Was I getting an epidural, they wanted to know. I didn't want one. I wanted to do this naturally. I wanted to be a real woman. {Because somehow, somewhere my perception of a real woman told me that she would be able to do it all. All. By. Herself. And without any anesthesia.} But since I had a c-section last time, if anything went wrong, they'd have to knock me out cold. General anesthesia. 

I knew the unpredictability of labor and delivery far too well. I knew that no matter my best intentions and my deepest wishes, the outcome wasn't in my hands. But I could control whether I was awake to meet my baby. 

So I got an epidural. And it was okay. I was okay. My child wouldn't judge my decision. My husband already thought I was amazing. And he only wanted me to be comfortable. To be okay. And so, instead of believing I wasn't a real woman--that somehow I failed--I simply began to change my perception.

{Pregnancy and childbirth must be so hard on a man whose inner instinct is to fix things. To be stripped of the ability to act on his instinct and helplessly watch his wife endure the pain must be utterly frightening.}

By 3:30-4 o'clock, I was fully dilated. My midwife broke my water and sat me up to allow gravity to make final preparations for delivery. 

Although I had an epidural, I was ready to push. I could feel the pressure of each contraction. It was time.

Pushing was hard. I realized the next day, when my entire back was sore, that I used nearly every muscle in my body to push the baby out. A realization I couldn't quite immediately grasp under the effect of anesthesia. 

Thankfully, I only had to push for 12 minutes. 

And she was born. At 5:05 pm. Our girl. Our Violet Laine. And the huge sigh of emptiness on my inside was replaced with a crying, warm, writhing body on my chest. She was completely purple from coming so fast. And she was beautiful. And my heart was overwhelmed. And it was complete.

Joy. Relief. Love. Disbelief. Satisfaction. Curiosity. Peace. Gratitude. Happiness. 

God was so good. So incredibly good. Violet's birth was the most amazing gift I could have received. It redeemed my birthing experience. It was my Christmas Eve miracle. 

I had the most loving, kind and attentive nursing staff imaginable. And to them, I'll be forever grateful that they left their families at home and missed watching their babies sing at church on a snowy Christmas Eve night so that they could care for me. The nurse that checked me in and cared for me first was the same exact nurse who did the very same thing for me when Burke was born. Neither time was she there for the delivery, and this time, she visited us the following day so that she could meet our sweet girl. 

And I was so extremely thankful to have an amazing midwife assist the resident doctor in delivering Violet. She was so calm, gentle, encouraging. She kept me from tearing. And she greeted me with a hug the next day and told me how amazing I was. And the resident doctor who delivered Violet was a familiar face as well. I remembered her as the doctor who assisted in stitching my incision after my c-section with Burke. And during my hospital stay with Burke, each time she followed up with me, she was always so gentle, patient and kind. I felt confident and calm knowing that she was delivering my baby this time.  

Six pounds. Fourteen ounces. Nineteen and one-half inches long. My baby girl. My Christmas Eve miracle. We are so blessed.

I am so thankful to our friend, Ken Bruggeman, for these amazing photos. Click here to see Violet's birth story as told by Ken. It's perfect. His detail shots set the stage, narrate the tale and conclude the story in the most beautiful way. {I love the snow-covered conclusion!} The action photos take me back to those moments, but from his perspective. And I love seeing the story that he saw. I love that he captured the joy, laughter, pain, resting, anticipation, relief, calm and strength of the story. And I love that he tastefully captured the most intimate moment a mother shares with her baby. In those moments, when I am nursing my baby, we are so intimately connected and nothing else matters.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful story Tabitha, and I'm so thrilled you were able to have that type of birth experience this time! I am wondering if we had the same resident doctor with our girls. I absolutely loved her!