So…are you ready for the rest of the story?
Let’s see…I think I left off with the bliss of feeling the epidural kick in, right? Right.
I had an epidural for my first baby. I had no idea what real labor was with her, so I cannot say that I fully appreciated the majesty of absolute pain relief. With my second baby, there was no time. I felt every edge and tremor with maximum exposure.
I had heard of women having awesome “spiritual” experiences with labor. I accepted the spirituality of labor along with the “beauty” of labor like a tale of the tooth fairy.
Sure, nice to think about, but not for me.
Well, this third time was the charm. You see, I went into labor on a Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning was spent in church where I listened to a remarkable sermon on prayer and meditation. I sat in my uncomfortable chair and listened as the pastor rattled off the spiritual and physical benefits of prayer. It was there that I decided I wanted something to meditate on while I was in labor.
The verse that instantly came to mind was John 10:10:
“…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
I don’t know why that was the verse, but it just spun over and over like a silky web around my brain. All of Sunday afternoon that verse would pop in my head. When the kids were whining about lunch. When I finally lay down for my nap. When I woke up with stomach cramps–this verse just rang in my head.
And so, after the epidural kicked in I found myself at rest. Matt and his mom fell asleep in the extra chairs. I waited for sleep to come to me, but it never came. I found myself in a state of deep relaxation and meditation.
Trust me, I’ll be the first to admit that this “state” is so not me. I’m not a relaxed person. I don’t talk slow or generate an aura of peace when you spend time with me. I’m more like a glob of nerves sizzling on a frying pan.
Yes. Like bacon grease. Ready to pop at any second.
Well, between the ungodly hours of 2 and 4 AM I found myself totally at rest with this glorious epidural. I prayed that verse over and over. I prayed for life to the brim. Life to the max.
I listened to music, and I dedicated the next day to God.
Now, I’m going to just go ahead and warn you: dedicating a day to God is a big deal. Don’t do it without serious consideration. Don’t do it, unless you’re really ready to be taken on a trip. I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was inviting when I said, “Hey, God. Go ahead and take this whole day. Oh, and this baby. They belong to you, so do whatever you will with them.”
Yah. I don’t recommend that prayer. Ever.
The nurse came in and checked me. I was at an 8. Wahoo! Not much longer to go.
I was texting my sweet friend Jess, who was about to open up a Starbucks for the day (Starbucks is omnipresent, am I right?) when my phone died. I asked my mother-in-law to go charge the phone because I wanted to be able to take lots of photos. She went down to the parking garage and vowed to be back up within the hour.
I called my mom (who was on her way) and gave her the update. Suddenly, I felt a pop! Ding! Like a turkey timer, my water broke. The nurse came back in to check me.
“Ok, you’re at a 9! Let’s call the Dr!”
I laughed, and then sent my husband to grab his mom.
It was when the room was completely cleared of family that I got the first inkling of trouble. Dr. Su walked in, checked me, and announced a glorious 10! I relished the look of surprise on his face when he said, “You really do go fast! I shouldn’t have sent you home.”
Thats when monitors and alarms went off. Suddenly, the room took on a completely different vibe. You know those TV shows where doctors and nurses are yelling at each other? And machines are beeping and honking in loud, ominous tones?
Yah. That happened.
Matt and his mom walked in right as Dr. Su was screaming that they find the heart beat. The room went silent as the nurse slid the monitor all over my belly.
“Crash cesarian!” the doctor yelled.
Before I could even say goodbye, a team of people wheeled me out of the room, away from my husband, down the hall, and into an operation room.
For me, things happened in slow motion. What I thought took ten minutes to transpire I later learned was about one minute.
Someone got me off the gurney and onto the table.
Someone else began to tie my arms down.
A drape rose up above my neck.
An oxygen mask went over my face.
“Dear God, you promised life. Life to the max. This isn’t the heightened experience I was hoping for,” was what I prayed.
While my mind held onto this prayer of life, my body reacted like a tragedy. I puked all over my doctor. I remember him flinching and jumping back. Sweat took over and I became drenched within seconds. The shaking also set in–is there anything worse than shaking uncontrollably while your body is being tied down?
My anesthesiologist held my hand and cheered me throughout the procedure. I felt the slicing, the pulling, and the release when they finally got the baby out.
The most awful moment ever was when I felt the baby leave my abdomen and I waited to hear a sound. I heard the slapping. I heard the suction as they removed fluid from his nose and mouth. But a cry?
I didn’t hear anything.
I don’t know how long I lay there thinking he was dead. It felt like an hour, but I now know that it could only have been seconds. All I can say is that thinking your child is dead is the worst reality in which you could ever find yourself.
“He’s dead!” I yelled to the anesthesiologist.
There was a pause, and then:
“I heard something! I saw a hand move!” Jon, the anesthesiologist gave me a goldmine of hope with those words.
I didn’t even so much as catch a glimpse of his head. The NICU staff wheeled him away like the crown jewels. The next thirty minutes were spent getting vacuumed, sutured, and largely, ignored.
I begged them to tell me what had happened to my baby. Why I was even in this predicament. It made no sense. The last I heard I should have been able to start pushing when suddenly I was in surgery.
It was the scariest hour of my life. The kind of fear I experienced was other-worldly. And yet, a small part of my brain kept humming that day old prayer. The verse. The thing about having life abundantly.
I heard it. I said it. I begged it.
Stay tuned for part three. I know I’m leaving y’all hanging–but honestly? I have very little energy to write, and its the kind of story where I don’t want to leave anything out.