I’ve written many stories for this blog. Many personal experiences and have felt strengthened in sharing of myself in some of my most raw, vulnerable times. But I’ve started from the now and worked my way backward in many ways. There is one story that has been glaringly missing and that is the one about me becoming a mom for the first time.
Today is the 10th “Anniversary” of that beloved date, and also the 10th birthday of my oldest son, Levi. He is such a light and a joy to me and I want to share his story with all of you.
It was 2004. I always wanted to be a mom. Always. And I knew I would be the best mom I could possibly be. I have always felt strongly that one of the most influential things you can do in this life is raise children, so why not put everything you have into it and try your darnest to do it “right” — if anyone really knows what that means
Now I started out as what I could consider more of a “mainstream mom.” I totally thought I would just get the epidural, if I needed to be induced who was I to question it? Stuff like that. But the more I read on the infamous pot-stirring “Google,” yes, even way back in 2004, the more those subtle seeds grew of maybe, just maybe not wanting to have an epidural, and possibly even letting my body do what it was made to do. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to announce it to the world yet, but those roots started to take hold. I found a doula through church, and at the time I barely knew what a doula WAS, and asked her a bunch of questions. She gave me the book The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and it BLEW. MY. MIND.
I started out reading it VERY skeptically since she claimed things like “Homebirth can be just as safe, if not safer, thank hospital birth” and I thought she was full of it. But the more I read the more I saw the logic and the research behind her words. Hence the title. I stomped around totally ticked off for a good 2 weeks after reading that because I was so upset that women were treated this way, that *I* could have been treated that way if I didn’t stop to question, and that it was allowed to go on. I also read other books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth that helped soften my anger and give me strength to eliminate the fear.
So I took some really awesome out-of-hospital birth classes and I was on my way. I knew in my bones that this sweet little boy was going to be “late” but I really didn’t know what I was in for. My due date came and went, my doctor that I saw for my prenatal was patronizing at best and didn’t believe for a moment that I was going to be successful in this natural birth thing I kept talking about, and even tried to induce me with a medication called Cytotec, (generically known as Misoprostol) which has been known to cause some extremely severe and devastating results in both women and babies. If you don’t know about this one Google it and be ready.
I’m glad I had time to think and process that one and convinced them to delay the induction until my 17th day late, which was a Monday. I told them I would “do everything I could to go into labor over the weekend” and if that didn’t work I’d be there Monday morning, bright and early and submissive. Fortunately, I didn’t even have to cross that bridge. I had my membranes stripped Friday afternoon, which put me into labor and I slowly worked my way through it till he was born early Sunday morning.
I went to the hospital in pretty calm labor overall on Saturday afternoon because I wanted to get into the birthing tub for some relief. This is a terrible reason to go to the hospital by the way. It was just way too early. I labored there for 12 hours before he was finally born but the staff was incredibly supportive. In fact, I’m entirely convinced that my doctor that was assigned to me was an angel sent straight to my birthing suite. He looked over my birth plan, which really more of a “List of Demands” in all of it’s BOLDED, highlighted and italicized glory (I kid you not) and didn’t bat an eye. Not even to my request for NO IV. I don’t recommend this method. But somehow the nurse I had assigned to me was just as amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better.
They honored every one of my requests, helped me, comforted me, supported me and were nothing shy of the best hospital experience I could conjure up.
The labor was long, and hard. Of course I had no idea what to expect but I went into it with the mindset of, “I’m going to labor as long as I can without medication. I will just keep doing it until I simply cannot do it anymore.” I was nearly at that point so many times. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking in my head all the ways that I could ask them to just wheel me down to the OR and just do a c-section. That way it’d be over. The epidural route seemed like it would be too complicated and “take too long” — at least that’s how my labor brain was thinking. I had enough wherewithal though to realize that I didn’t want to actually SAY any of that stuff out loud. I was in a hospital and voicing everything could have easily made it a reality. And those that were supporting me may have thought that’s what I really and truly wanted, and understandably so. But I knew that it was not what I truly wanted. Not deep down. So on I labored.
I was so, so very tired. I remember the exhaustion. So many mothers are asked to give up a night of sleep, or more, due to labor. Especially since it often happens in the middle of the night! Well, since my labor started early on a Friday evening, and I didn’t have him until Sunday morning at 1:12am, I was very, VERY tired by about Saturday evening. Granted, labor started out real slow and easy, with contractions only coming like every 10-20 min, but as a first time mom, and being soo far past my due date and crazy-anxious to get this show on the road, mentally I was in labor since about 8pm on Friday night. Don’t start counting labor that early, either — it’ll only make it harder on yourself.
Then I got to the part where labor changed. I went from immense, overwhelming and exhausting intensity to surges and power happening in a way I didn’t fully anticipate, but also felt so familiar. It was time to PUSH! My body was already urging me on. I thought in my head, “I think I need to push” and about a minute later I shouted “I need to PUSH!” My sister who had come into town just for the birth and filled the role of my doula, ran out into the hall to find someone and let them know but I wasn’t waiting. I was PUSHING! And it felt amazing. I was so totally drained and depleted from the labor but it was as though I had a fresh shot of energy because I was ready to GO! I looked at the clock and it said just before 1am. I remembered my childbirth educator said some women will push for hours and I thought to myself “this party is OVER! I want to hold my baby, I want something to eat and I want a NAP!”
Six pushes later, and with the doctor barely dressed and gloved up, my son was born. I will never, ever for as long as I live forget that sensation. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
He looked like a little troll and was all squishy and funny looking and perfect. I was totally in love. I brought him up to me and after holding him for a bit looked him over and asked him if his name was Levi, the name we had picked out for him before hand. He was named after a wolf that his dad had growing up. Yes, an actual wolf.
After pushing my son out I was on a a very literal high from the endorphins and just the sheer fact that I DID IT!! At that time in my life I actually deep down didn’t know if I was capable of anything that was truly “great.” Now, any woman who gives birth does a GREAT and AMAZING thing. Doesn’t matter how that kid comes out. But to me, this idea of having a baby without drugs, was like a desirable goal that felt just out of reach. You see, I didn’t actually ADD UP the hours until AFTER I had given birth, which was really helpful. I also distinctly remember sitting in the bed in the recovery room, a few hours after he was born and we were all settled in there, and counting on my fingers how many hours it actually was. When I got up to the number 29 my jaw just dropped! I really had been “in a laboring pattern” for 29 HOURS! Without drugs!! I had walked that path and did what I set out to do.
That moment changed my life.
It was one of the most essential catalysts for growth that I’ve ever experienced. It set in motion this powerful idea that challenged other limiting beliefs I had about myself. I believe every baby is born just the way they need to be. I didn’t always but the more births I witnessed and the more stories I hear, the more I believe this to be true. So while some women come out stronger and more confident after a birth with a great deal of interventions that may not have gone the way she wanted it to, I believe my merciful God in heaven knew just what I needed for my path and gave me this beautiful gift of this experience that I didn’t even know how badly I needed. You can read even more about this here in another post, where much of this story is shared as well.
Being his mother has been so amazing — he is such an incredible person and I am truly honored to know him like I do. He is such a strong and yet tender soul and definitely makes our lives brighter, lighter and more fun.
Levi, we love you.