This time I promise I have a really good reason that I've been on break from my blog, at least for this month. That is, if you consider having a baby to be a good enough reason! Nathanael was born on September 7 at 11:52pm. For those of you who like birth stories, I'll tack it at the bottom of this post, plus a picture (it's a breastfeeding pic, conservative enough my husband had no problem putting it on Facebook, but just in case that would offend anybody, you've been warned). But, first, a thought worth sharing for everyone. Having a child is one of the most transformative experiences God gives us, but so far, there's been one really prominent lesson for me.
Ever since we took our baby home, the MercyMe song "Joseph's Lullaby" has been in my head. What sticks out particularly is the line "This world can wait for one more moment; go and sleep in peace." It's startling to think that the Savior was here, finally physically present in this world to save us from sin, and yet the world still had to wait for Him to eat, sleep, and grow. Yet looking at my little son as he drifts off, it's unthinkable that it should be any other way. To see a baby, so perfectly precious and totally needy, it becomes clear that the world must wait aside for him.
God has worked time after time to teach me not to be "worried and distracted about many things." I'm always wanting to be working, accomplishing, improving. My poor husband can testify that I get cranky with myself, and with him, when things pile up that aren't getting done. So I'd wondered how much crankier I'd be to have a baby constantly needing my time.
I'm not. Because the look of his sweet face tells me, "This is all I have to pay attention to now. Everything else can wait." Perhaps my son will be the one to teach me finally to live by love and not by the demands I place for myself.
The birth details
I had an astonishingly easy pregnancy. Heartburn throughout, some fatigue in the first trimester and last 3 weeks, and swelling feet were the sum total of my woes. I never even felt any Braxton-Hicks contractions until the last two weeks or so, and then they felt just like a mild 15-minute cramp. The 32-week ultrasound put baby's size in the 59th percentile, which was just the sort of number I hoped to see--bigger than the median, but not too big. My original due date was September 10th, but with the first ultrasound, my doctor changed it to September 4th. I was getting plenty of jokes about being due on Labor Day. Well, Labor Day came and I was crampy all day, but had no distinct contractions. I had my regular OB/GYN appointment Tuesday, and she found I was about 3cm dialated and 75% effaced. Cool, if just menstrual-level discomfort makes that kind of progress, I thought, this will be smooth sailing most of the way. Kenneth and I were hoping the baby would come the 7th so that he could stack his vacation time with his regular weekends and get nearly 3 weeks off.
Wednesday, I kept feeling pelvic pressure that would last 30 seconds or so. I kept checking its timing, but it varied greatly; sometimes 30 minutes apart, sometimes as few as 5 minutes. "This can't be labor," I decided, "It's too irregular, and I only feel it at the bottom of my uterus; it's probably just lightening." But it just kept coming, and it was getting stronger as the day wore on. I timed them one more time at 11:15ish that night, and it went 11 minutes, 11 minutes, 12 minutes, 16 minutes ... so I decided to go to bed.
In bed, I found the pressure was increasing, painful enough I couldn't sleep and even found myself shaking when it came. I decided to time it again. 8 minutes, 8 minutes, 8 minutes, 8 minutes, 7 minutes. "I'm in labor," I decided, and got up to finish packing my and Kenneth's's hospital bags. I kept timing the contractions, and when they hit 5 minutes apart, I called Kenneth at work 40 minutes away, asking him to come home and take me to the hospital. By the time we got there, which was about 3:45am, the contractions were 4 minutes apart. I was brought to triage, but the nurses took a long time getting to me because the receptionist could not find my paperwork. I thought surely I was close to active labor, but then it turned out I was only about 4cm, and 80% effaced. They let us walk around outside for an hour or so. There was a nice peaceful strip of sidewalk between sections of the building with bushes and flowers, so we walked down that, and I would lean on Kenneth whenever a contraction would come. When I went back to be monitored, the nurse said she was trying to sort out what she was seeing. I never really heard if she had an analysis or even what confused her, but my doctor came by about 7:30am. I was still only 4cm, but my contractions were still 4 minutes apart or less, so she admitted me.
However, soon after I was settled in my room, I noticed my contractions were coming slower and milder. Periodically through the day I walked the halls, squatted and lunged during contractions, and climbed the unit's 4 flights of stairs. In the early afternoon, since I hadn't slept all night, I sat on the birth ball and leaned against a table, and managed to get a couple hours' sleep that way. When I woke up, my contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and still weak. More walking and climbing to try to speed them up. Cara, my doula, also brought in a breast pump to try to increase my oxytocin.
When Dr. Hook came in and checked me about 6pm, she found my cervix hadn't progressed at all in the 11 hours since she first checked me that morning. My contractions were still 7 minutes apart at best. At that point, she presented two options: I could either go home and wait for active labor, or she could break my water. I was disappointed, and rather uneasy about having my water broken knowing that if that didn't speed up labor, I couldn't leave the hospital and would have to be put on pitocin. But, I hated the idea of having spent nearly 15 hours in the hospital for nothing, and then going home wondering how long it would drag on. So I decided I wanted to get it over with. She broke my water about 6:15; it was showtime! Except it seems my body didn't get the memo; an hour later, my contractions were even slower at 10 minutes apart. So pitocin it had to be. I had heard that labor is quite miserable with pitocin, but at least one mom also told me it's not that bad. Regardless, I was committed at that point. And with those two interventions I had to be kept in bed on monitoring, but at least that was an extremely adjustable bed; we had it basically converted to a chair for me.
By 10ish, contractions were rolling in at less than 3 minutes apart, and strong enough to make me shake all over. Cara instructed Kenneth to put gentle pressure on my shoulders to reduce the shaking and help me relax. For a while we tried a position turned around so I was on my knees leaning over the raised back of the bed, but I found that very uncomfortable, a combination of the effort it took to hold myself up like that and the pressure it put on my hips. I asked if I could sit on the ball instead. The nurses checked, and found I was nearly 8cm dialated. They decided the baby's head was deep enough that it was safe for me to get out of the bed, so I got to sit on the birth ball. That was much more comfortable, but soon the contractions were so frequent and strong, sometimes I got no break between them, and when I did, I needed Cara's coaching to successfully relax, because all I wanted to do was cry. I soon felt the downward pressure during the contractions that Cara told me to expect, but the next phase, constant pressure that becomes tremendous during contractions, wasn't coming. Though I'd had no back labor, Cara began to suspect that baby wasn't quite turned to the optimal position. She recommended I stand and lean over the bed to encourage him to turn. I winced at the idea, because leaning forward had been so uncomfortable before, but I got into position. On the next contraction, he did indeed turn, and let's just say that was the point I lost my composure. But Cara helped me get it back by reminding me this is what was supposed to happen, and Kenneth was all praises that I could do it. On each contraction after, I felt his head coming down. It was probably only four contractions when I said, "It feels like he's really close." The nurses checked and confirmed they could see his head, so that's when the doctor and a couple of aides rushed in. I was allowed to turn over on my side (which is a lot easier than being on the back), with Kenneth holding my leg up. I think it only took three contractions from there. That was the most intense few minutes of my life, of course, but worth it to feel him make his entrance into the world.
I had discussed delayed cord clamping with my doctor and was pleased to know that had been her practice for years, but in our case it turned out to be unnecessary; Kenneth said it shriveled in just seconds. The doctor pronounced the APGAR score 9-9.
I named him Nathanael, first because it means "Gift of God" and I want to thank God for this incredible blessing. There are also several things I appreciate about the Nathanael of the Bible. I have to laugh at his skeptical and frank response to Andrew, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" I love how Jesus gets his attention simply by revealing that He has always had His eye on him, and how ready Nathanael was to believe in Him for that one reason. It also impressed me that this is probably the only person we know of whom Jesus praises as soon as He meets him. Now, I've heard claims that Jesus was actually being sarcastic there, but it's always struck me as a real compliment, and something I do pray for my son, that he be, "an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit."
Kenneth chose Ignatius as a middle name for Ignatius of Antioch. You can read his story here.
I thank God so much for such a beautiful, sweet, healthy baby for us to love and raise. I thank God for all He will continue to do in our family, and pray we may be loving and true to His Word so that He may have His perfect work in us.