(Wow, I was on a pretty good roll of blogging last week...but if I am to keep to my committed nap times, something has to take a back seat!)
I am excited to share the story of how our son came into the world - mainly because it was such a magical experience for me and, like Avila's birth, something I will treasure forever...I won't share every detail, but just enough to give God glory for the grace and timing and amazing experience He blessed me with.
Starting on a Tuesday evening (4 days before Max was born) I began having contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart. They continued throughout the night and into the next morning and I was sure that if things continued to pick up, this would be "it." However, this pattern of contractions continued for a few days- the starting and stopping - and it seemed like this kid needed a little something to kick labor into gear. I took dozens of walks and many trips around the mall and finally, on Friday afternoon around 3:30, my contractions started back up again. (It's funny because 3:00pm is the hour of mercy and I begged God to have mercy on me and to get this baby out!) I was afraid they would fizzle out, so after a long walk I told Michael that maybe what I needed was to relax. I called a good friend and we met for pedicures! At that time I also had the suspicion my water was leaking. (Of course I went ahead with the pedicure and, oh, it was so wonderful...) After returning home with freshly painted toes and contractions that kept coming, I stopped for a minute during a contraction and immediately knew this was it. We got our things organized, called our great friends Joe and Rebecca to come watch Avila, put our baby girl to bed, and headed for the hospital.
Upon arriving at St. Joseph's, we were greeted by the most amazing labor and delivery nurse. She was more of a coach than anything else and treated us so well - even bringing us food! We were admitted around 9pm and found out I was dilated to 4cm. Knowing this was my 2nd labor and I'd been having contractions for days (not to mention months) on end, I thought things would go quick. Although things picked up in intensity quite quickly, my labor went anything but fast.
Come to find out in the end that not only was Max a big boy, but he was also positioned sunny-side-up for a while and couldn't get himself into the right position. It took hours of coaching by my husband, our nurse, and my mom and he finally found his way. I pushed for maybe 3 contractions, and, after 11 hours of labor, our son entered the world.
As mentioned in a previous post, it was our hope and desire to have not only a safe delivery, but also a natural delivery without pain medication or any other form of intervention if possible. This wasn't something I felt like I needed to do to prove myself. But I knew it was something I was convicted to do and an experience I longed to have as a woman. By God's grace, and the amazing support from my husband and those in the birthing room, I was able to deliver Max without any form of induction or pain medication. And looking back, my motto "Prepare like it's up to me, and play like it's up to God" manifested itself in the most beautiful ways.
Michael and I spent quite a bit of time preparing for this delivery - through birthing classes, keeping up with good nutrition and exercise, prayer for our delivery experience, and offering up the many discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth. Once the time came to head to the hospital I felt assured that we did all we could to prepare ourselves for our child's arrival and I let God take over. From my nurse who helped Michael coach me through the difficulties of labor to the fact that both our moms were there for parts of labor and Max's birth, to the interior strength that God mustered up in me, I can honestly look back and see God's Divine Providence in every moment.
As I said above, this experience is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have reflected much over the past 2 weeks and asked myself if the preparation before and pain experienced during labor was worth delivering him without medication. I can truly say that it was.
I will be forever grateful for this experience with Max. I am grateful for the way it brought Michael and I closer together. I am grateful to have been given the strength to endure the pain and suffering for the well being of my child. I am grateful for the memories I have. And I am grateful to know that the ability to bear life really is a gift - a gift that, with God's grace, can be embraced in its fullest.