Thursday, September 23, 2010
I've had three beautiful, peaceful labors. Labors that left me glowing and feeling strong and empowered, even as I held my newborn for the very first time. Labors with little more than a shadowy memory of pain lingering in the background as I contemplate the hours spent bringing my babies into the world.
My labor with Seven was not one of those. Instead, it was the kind of labor that truly let me know why we use the word "labor" to start with. Birthing a baby is hard work, it turns out.
Seven was born just three hours and ten minutes after my ob/gyn broke my water to begin my official induction. It was a terribly long three hours and ten minutes. A terribly painful three hours and ten minutes. Three hours and ten minutes in which I finally folded and declared that while I'd been able to have three unmedicated deliveries in the past, I was no longer on board with the whole "natural childbirth" idea and would really, really like to meet the anesthesiologist. Alas, that was the time at which Seven chose to make her entrance. So ... make that four unmedicated deliveries--one under protest.
And yes, I'd do it again.
The moment of Seven's birth is blurry around the edges. Unlike my previous deliveries, where I was focused and alert and feeling every twinge of every moment, Seven arrived in the rush of an urge I couldn't control had I wanted to. No one was quite prepared; the doctor was out of the room, Mr. Blandings was at my ear, encouraging me that I was almost through, I was stretched out on the bed, praying that it would all be over. Then, suddenly, one gigantic red wave that I simply had to ride, and--
The nurse caught her as she rotated out of my body and onto the bed. Someone yelled, "Time? Time?" Through my absolute relief I realized Mr. Blandings was back by my ear, this time laughing and crying and telling me that we had a daughter.
She was gloriously pink and fuzzy haired and wide-eyed, looking for all the world as if she had somehow witnessed the entire breadth of human history before being born as an infant. She has been a quiet baby, a sleepy little thing content to nap and, on occasion, observe the goings on with interest. Nursing has been a challenge, and I've been grateful countless times that she's not my first and therefore I'm nowhere near as green and likely to give up. We've only heard her cry a handful of times, and each time it has been shocking to hear how small and dispassionate her wails are, as if she is only counting down the days until she can make requests in a more civilized manner.
Every day, I have looked at my daughter and been amazed. Seven months ago, I was unable to comprehend what God's plan was in allowing this pregnancy. I was frightened, anxious, and unable to rejoice in large part due to my lack of faith. I remember seeing that tiny, flickering heartbeat for the first time, and daring--just barely--to hope. I remember feeling the first feeble movements and wondering if I'd ever meet this little one.
And now, here she is. Healthy. Whole. Here.