5.07.2009

Happy Birthday, Abigail!

Seven years ago today, I spent the day in the hospital.

I was huge, uncomfortable, and several days overdue with my third child. And nothing - not even walking over two miles while pushing my almost-one-year old's stroller - had induced labor. So it was time for the doctor to take over.

Jeff and I left the house around 7:00 that morning, just after my father-in-law arrived to take care of Rachel for the day. As excited as I was to meet the new baby, tears rolled down my cheeks, too. In the eleven and a half months since Rachel's birth, I'd never been away from her overnight; now I'd be gone for two and then return with a sibling who would, naturally, take some of my attention from my precious little girl. How would I balance the needs of two babies at once?

To lighten my own mood as we drove the half dozen blocks to the hospital, I joked that I should be walking instead. "Maybe that would get this thing going!"

Of course, I was plunked into a wheelchair at the hospital door - even though I wished they'd let me walk up the stairs in a last-ditch effort to get labor started naturally. Truth be told, I was nervous about the induction. My labor with Rachel had started on its own and had gone very well; I dreaded all the possibilities I'd read could happen with induced labor.

But God was good. A short time after getting settled in, Dr. John came to break my water...and immediately thereafter, the contractions began in earnest.

God has given me a high pain threshold so I managed pretty well. I wondered about the amount of fluid that seemed to be leaking out with every contraction - I didn't remember anything like that with Rachel - but just chalked it up to a different set of circumstances.

After a while, a nurse came to check on me and said, "Why didn't you call me? You're soaking wet!"

Turns out I had so much amniotic fluid that I'd completely soaked all the bedsheets...and it was dripping onto the floor! There was no danger to the baby, but, of course, the linens needed to be changed. So Jeff and the nurse helped me out of bed and escorted me to the bathroom for a quick shower - and with every step I took, still more fluid puddled out onto the floor! I found out later that all of this earned me a nickname at the nurses' station: The Gusher. :^)

When Dr. John returned to check on me, he said, "Well, now you only look seven months pregnant!" Which was a very telling comment, as he and I had wondered through much of my pregnancy why I'd become so huge - gaining 90 pounds even though we'd ruled out twins and I had done everything "right." We finally understood that it had simply been gallons and gallons (and gallons!) of cushioning fluid.

Shortly thereafter, it was time to push - and that's when it got hard. Perhaps because all the fluid was gone, the contractions were incredibly intense, even for me. And for a short time the baby's shoulder was pressing on my backbone so I had to push while lying on my side. I remember thinking, "This must be quite a sight!" And, in response to the nurse asking if he could deliver a baby sideways, I remember Dr. John quipping, "I can do anything!"

Thankfully, the baby changed position and, thus, so could I. But the pain was so intense with each contraction that I felt I couldn't breathe, even in between them. More than once, I cried, "I can't do this!"

If you've ever had a baby - or been with someone who has - you know that the standard for pushing is to do three 10-second pushes through a contraction and then rest until the next contraction starts. I did that routine several times, even though the contractions were coming so quickly that I didn't have much time rest in between. While I did rest, so did Jeff, Dr. John and the nurse.

But it's a good thing they didn't get too relaxed! Because at 1:40 pm, after doing three pushes and then expecting to rest (I remember seeing everyone else kind of sigh and step back), I could not stop. The urge to push was so strong that I could do nothing else - and I had no time to tell anyone what was happening. I simply let out the loudest, most blood-curdling scream I'd ever heard from anyone - Jeff later told me it was so loud he wanted to laugh - pushed with all my might through the entire holler...and was thankful Dr. John was only inches from the table because out flew my baby!

With a little surprised laugh, he announced, "It's a girl!"

And Jeff said, "It's Abigail!"

A few moments later, she was resting on my chest, and I began the amazing process of marveling at this miracle God had granted me. An eight-pound-three-ounce, 20.5 inch miracle at whom I still marvel every single day.

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