My mother would always tell me that nothing can really prepare you for the most incredible journey that is motherhood, and boy, was she right! From the moment you read the plus sign on the pregnancy test, to that first time you hear your baby’s thumping heartbeat, even pregnancy itself is quite the adventure and learning experience, let alone motherhood. I actually clearly remember my pregnancy, the not-so-fun morning sickness, all my doctor’s visits, getting so excited to see baby via ultrasound, and my favorite – feeling baby kicking and dancing all day (and night) long! I feel so fortunate to have had a very smooth pregnancy, almost so smooth that I will admit, I became a bit cavalier in thinking that it was such a breeze. Because of such an easy pregnancy, I was really very confident in thinking that labor and delivery would be just the same. Little did I know, God would put my pride in check and really test my faith.
Just a year ago, I remember everything clearly as if it were yesterday. I had reached week 39 and was feeling very tired and heavy, so I hadn’t been doing much moving around, but it was my birthday, and my mother who was visiting to help when baby would arrive, convinced me to take a nice, slow walk and get some fresh air. During that walk, I actually started feeling consistent cramps, but because they weren’t very close apart, I ignored them as Braxton Hicks. The day continued, and baby didn’t arrive, although I was continuously feeling dull, consistent cramps, even through the night. The next day, I ignored the cramps and went about my day, until that evening they began to get stronger and stronger. I must have been in denial because I didn’t think much of them, when all of a sudden around 10pm the pain was pretty significant and I told my husband that we should have the carseat ready, just in case. I remember my mom’s concerned gaze every time I would wince in discomfort or grab my tummy which made me think, maybe I am going into labor. I figured worrying or thinking too much wouldn’t do anything so we called it a night and went to bed. By midnight I was wide awake because the cramps were too painful to ignore and my husband and I began timing them, which by then we considered, contractions. I remember them being about 7 minutes apart, too early to head to the hospital, so I tried to rest as much as possible, and I did end up falling asleep. At about 2am something woke me up and I instinctually ran to the restroom and just like that, my water broke. And boy did it break! They tell you your water will not break like in the movies (with a big splash!), but life imitates movies, right? Because my water broke, quite dramatically! We all stayed as calm as possible, gathered our things and headed towards the hospital with my mom nervously waving us off. On the way there, we called our doctor, who actually told me we don’t have to rush to the hospital right away (even if my water broke), and that unless my contractions are for sure 4 mintues apart, it might be better to stay home. So we turned around and went back home, only to head back to the hospital an hour later due to strong contractions about 4 minutes apart. I waited in triage, got one last ultrasound to check baby was okay and head-down, everything looked great. I was wheeled off to my L&D room, where I was given an amazing cherry-flavored Italian ice, haha! For some reason though, my contractions began to wane off and weaken – stage fright they said. We waited about an hour and the head nurse said they would need to give me Pitocin if my contractions didn’t start back up because since my water had broken, I would have to deliver the baby within 24 hours to prevent any kind of infection. My temperature was also a bit higher than normal, so they were extra cautious and wanted to move things along. By then, all I wanted was baby to arrive safely into the world, but I will admit, I was a bit disappointed because I did not want to take Pitocin, but we conceded.
My contractions started back up right away, and they came on strong, I mean really strong. So strong I was actually getting overlapping contractions without breaks in between. So I was taken off the Pitocin and they allowed my body to contract naturally. But the contractions were still coming on quite strong, and I will say that it is the most pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I held off on the epidural for as long as I could. There was a point however, where I didn’t think I’d be able to focus on breathing and pushing so I took the epidural when I was 7cm dilated. It was about noon and my doctor had arrived by then. Everything was looking good and about an hour later, I was fully dilated and ready to begin pushing. I pushed for a couple hours with very little progression, so we tried different positions and methods, which must have worked, but in a not-so-great way. The strong contractions and the pushing had caused baby’s heart rate to drop dramatically, causing about 10 nurses and technicians to come running into my room, pressing a bunch of beeping buttons, moving me into different positions and giving me an oxygen mask – I was terrified! Baby’s heart rate finally stabilized and they allowed me to have a quick break while they would monitor baby and me. A little while later, they gave me the OK to try pushing again, and about an hour into it, baby’s heart rate dropped again. By then, the doctor was very concerned and tried to figure out if baby might have the umbilical cord wrapped around or if something was wrong. He said he didn’t feel comfortable having me continue pushing in fear that baby’s heart rate might drop again, which could cause major problems, he suggested a c-section. It was the one thing I had not even bothered to plan for, because I was so confident in thinking that the L&D would go smoothly. It was also a great fear of mine and I selfishly asked if there was any way around it. The head nurse actually thought I was progressing well and she and my doctor bumped heads a little, but they came to an agreement to allow me to try pushing one more time, but if baby’s heart rate dropped again, I would pretty much have no choice. So by then, I had already been pushing for about 4 hours, and I was completely exhausted as I had not slept except for the 2 hours at home, and had not eaten a meal in about 24 hours. We pushed for another hour and actually made a lot of progress, doctor said he could see that the baby was just about to crown but of course, baby’s heart rate dropped again and we had to stop pushing, this time for good. By this point, I was already so discouraged but then upon examination, the doctor informed me that the baby was too far down the birth canal that he was “stuck” and that even with a c-section, there would be a high chance of uncontrolled uterine tearing. I thought I was in the twilight zone – this was not supposed to be happening, I thought it was enough that I had to have a c-section, but to hear this completely numbed me. What I still remember today, is I asked like a 5-year old child, “If there is tearing, does that mean I might die?” (yes, that’s exactly what I said!) The doctor didn’t reply, and he didn’t need to, because his face said it all. I was too much in shock and too exhausted to cry, and again I was just in disbelief. I was first angry at God for allowing this to happen, and I became very hopeless and discouraged. But praying together with my husband as they prepped me for surgery, talking to my dad on the phone, and really just asking God for faith helped me get through it. At the end of the day, I just wanted baby to arrive safely, so we moved forward with the c-section.
I remember lying on the operating table, the nurse stroking my head and telling me that everything is going to be okay (if you are an L&D nurse, you are an amazing person, I have so much respect for you!) I tried to just visualize holding my baby and trusting that God would get me through it. I actually remember the operation (as you are awake during c-sections), and I even remember the conversations the doctor was having with the staff – they were talking about such light-hearted things like tv-shows and their day, which actually calmed me down and kept my mind off of the actual operation. All of a sudden, I hear my doctor say, “What in the world?!” and start laughing, yes laughing! I hear the rest of the staff laughing too – what had I given birth to?? By then they finally allowed my husband into the room, and they were patching me back up. All I could think was, I’m still alive. And the most beautiful moment of my life followed, I could hear my baby boy crying and as I slowly turned my head towards the sound, I could see little feet wiggling about and my husband’s face, streaked with tears. They quickly placed baby on my chest and allowed us to have skin to skin, which was pure bliss – and I’ll never forget, baby stopped crying immediately. I was on cloud nine and I thanked God over and over again. After the operation, my doctor informed us that baby was perfectly healthy, but that the most bizarre thing happened, and that in all his practice, he had never seen something like this before; baby had somehow pulled himself out of the canal, became un-stuck, and FLIPPED! All through the labor and right up until the c-section, baby was head-down, which is the correct position to deliver safely, but somehow, baby was in breached position when they opened me up, which actually allowed for a safe operation and delivery with no tearing. And that is why, I always tell people, it’s impossible not to believe in God after you have a baby. The doctors and the whole staff were in shock, hence the laughing, and as much as I was completely elated and in such relief, God became that much more real to me and I was completely humbled. My pride and sense of control had gotten the best of me all up until giving birth, and God totally put me in check and said that I need to let go and leave it all up to Him. He reminded me that everything happens for His glory, and I was in such awe that He was so personal and would care to play such an intimate role in my life.
Here we are, one year later, and I thank God everyday for the most amazing gift He’s given our family. Braedon is a healthy, happy, silly boy who has imprinted a permanent smile on our faces and melted our hearts. Every time I look at him, I am reminded of God’s grace, His faithfulness, and the miracle that He gifted us with. We pray that we can raise Braedon to love God, to have his own personal relationship with Him, and to live out this life with purpose, because he surely arrived into the world with one! It’s a happy birthday indeed, and I will always be grateful to God for the best gift ever.