Four years ago, on Labor Day, I was in labor. In formulating my birth plan, I decided that I wanted to have an all-natural birth – no drugs no matter how painful the labor or delivery may become. In the final months carrying my firstborn, I spent a lot of time mentally preparing myself for the labors of love that mothers endure when bringing their children into this world. But as the saying goes, the best laid plans often go awry.
I awoke on a Sunday morning to a message from my OB urging me to check myself in at the hospital. My test results showed that I had become preeclampsic and had to be induced. I checked in at 3:00pm and by 4:00pm, my cervix was prepped to be softened for inducing labor. I was told that it would take twelve hours for it to take effect.
Sure enough, I was awoken at 4:00am the next morning by a nurse to check my cervix. “Oh!” she softly exclaimed. “You’re at three centimeters. You’re progressing nicely.” I went back to sleep feeling very optimistic. Four hours later, I awoke again, a little excited to see if my sound sleep had carried me to the next stage of labor. It hadn’t. I hadgone from a, “tight three to a loose three.” No biggie there, or so I thought.
At 11:30am, with no progress except for the strengthening of my contractions, my doctor popped my water bag to speed up the process. After an hour of still no progress, the insanity began. Two monitors were strapped around my belly to track my baby’s heartbeat and movements and I was given an oxygen mask to ensure my baby was getting enough. Although my contractions were becoming increasingly uncomfortable, I was told that I absolutely had to stay lying on my left side. I wanted so desperately to walk the pain off, change positions, and breathe without the obstruction of a mask. To top it off, because the monitors kept slipping off, the nurse had to insert a long plastic monitor inside of me. Luckily music and back rubs helped me get through the pain.
As the hours rolled by, my contractions increased to the level of full term labor, but I was still stuck at a stubborn three centimeters. At 3:30pm, my doctors decided that an emergency C-section was needed to deliver my baby safely. I immediately became hysterical. I had to sign the release forms while a flurry of staff came in to move me to the operating room. My boyfriend was downstairs smoking off his own anxiety and praying for all of us. Consumed by panic, I refused to budge until he came back. Of course, that tantrum was ridiculous, so off to the OR I went. With my heart racing and the power of my contractions, I didn’t even feel the needles going into my back. My mom was with me, comforting me every step of the way.
At 4:23pm, I heard my son cry for the first time. A nurse brought him up to my face. I touched his cheek and said hello. He was so alert and calm. A most beautiful moment that was interrupted as he was whisked away to be bathed and measured, Grandma following closely behind. I was left to be sewn back up, my uterus now empty but my heart extremely full. After surgery, I was wheeled into recovery to wait for the anesthesia to wear off. I was told it would take about an hour, but a mother’s determination should never be underestimated. I surprised the nurse when I showed her that I could move my legs forty-five minutes later.
In my postpartum room, I met my baby again. He was perfect, even though his birthing experience was not what I had expected. None of it was natural. Nothing went according to my plans. But, it was all part of God’s amazing plan. I was now a mother – strong, nurturing, motivated, and protective. And little did I know how it all would prepare me for His next plan…