this one of the questions posed by my children as we walked to the library. We had been to the park on an unseasonably warm day, but the February chill still present in the wind, along with the mass of middle-schoolers invading our calm play, pushed us on to our next endeavor. My daughter's birthday was coming up, and so I shared with them the story of her birth.
It is still easy to recall the conflicting feelings surrounding her birth. It wasn't that long ago, and the memories are strong. My doctor had performed some internal maneuvers at a weekly appointment with the assurance they'd help the baby to arrive by the 40th week. They worked a little too well for me; contractions began soon after leaving the doctor's office. The same thing happened with my first child, so I left, knowing that my baby could soon be born.
A couple of mornings later, the morning of my baby's birth, I visited the gym, praying that my steady treadmill walking would help to transform the weak contractions into effective ones. My next stop was the grocery store. I loaded up, hoping that I would not have to go there again for a few weeks. After unpacking the groceries and showering, I noticed that the contractions were indeed much stronger. I called Dave, who promised to be home soon, and made arrangements with the doctor's office.
The pain, now increasing at each contraction, prompted us to drive directly to the hospital. The waiting there was awful. "It's a busy day for babies," we were told. And so I paced the triage waiting room, pushing on furniture, wishing that I was there to visit a new baby and not to deliver one. It was forty-five minutes later when they called my name. At that point, I was unable to respond to the litany of registration questions. My water broke, my body feeling and sounding like a bottle of liquid being poured out. Finally, some attention. I'm fully dilated. Heart monitors on. Baby's heart not beating fast enough.
We were rushed to a delivery room. I felt like I was on one of those TV medical dramas, me with my own suspenseful story. Doctors and nurses crowded around me. The on-call doc calmly informed me that the baby wasn't getting enough air; they would need to do an emergency C-section if I couldn't push the baby out in the next few minutes. "Do it for your baby!" someone called out. My mind was still processing what was actually happening. It was all so fast. Much faster than the first time. Too fast.
I remembered my doctor's advice during my first delivery. "Lori, direct all of your energy-your sounds, your thoughts, your movement - your life - into your push." And I pushed. I was scared. I wasn't sure that I could do it for my baby. But I did. And quickly, it was over. She was breathing and beautiful - a daughter named Natalie.
Isn't this how birth is? Any pregnant mother wishes for an easy delivery, the baby sliding through the birth canal and out into the world in one steady, and easy, fluid motion. Oh, that it would be graceful, and flowing, and beautiful. Like a dancer, summoning her talent and confidence to perform a routine that she's practiced hundreds of times. She's flawless. She was made for this. Or like water, streaming gently over a waterfall. The weight of gravity pulls it into beauty. It's following the laws of nature. But more often, the birthing process is more like the one I experienced three years ago: physically and emotionally strenuous, too slow and too fast, eliciting insecurity and fear, requiring the aid of loved ones and experienced others, resulting in something, or someone...exquisite.
How do I explain this to a child?
Andrew and Natalie, if you read this some day, I want you to know that birth marks the beginning of something new. When I think about birth, I think of life and beauty. But in reality, birth can be quite messy. Often, there is lots of preparation, growth, and waiting before the actual birthing process even begins. The process itself can be both short and long, exhilarating and boring, peaceful and painful. Keep on going; don't stop; push through. Your Dad and I will hope for you and pray for you and love you, as will your other family members and friends. And God will be your provider and your help, don't leave Him out of things. That which is being born is worth any sacrifice and trouble. It - or he or she - is glorious.
|Photo by Matthew Lester|