While I am certain that not everyone loves a labor story as much as I do, I also know there are plenty of others that are curious. In my opinion every labor story is worth telling because it is the story of how a precious life was brought into this world. Below is my story of laboring little Karsten into the world. His story deserves to be told, because it how his life outside the womb begins. I am writing it down as much for myself as for others, so if you aren't into labor stories, then I give you complete permission to skip this post!
It is strange how history can color our experiences. After the births of my two other children, it was hard to picture things progressing differently. With both of these other labors I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately went into hard, active labor. Annike was born 2.5 hours later; Sommer was born 1 hour and 15 minutes later. Neither experience included any early labor signs. Both were about as intense and fast as I could physically handle.
This history led to a little bit of anxiety (for Christian especially!) about how fast my 3rd labor was going to be, and whether or not we would make it to the hospital on time considering we live in a somewhat remote location 20 minutes away from the hospital and I am often home alone with the kids. Who would take me to the hospital if he wasn't home? While worrying over this, we enlisted a lot of prayer and had many conversations about plan A, B, C, DEF and G. In the end, Christian's relief about the "convenient timing" of this 3rd labor was just one of many proofs that God's was with us.
On Saturday morning, one day after my due date, we had nothing planned for obvious reasons. All morning long I was experiencing more low back pain than normal and feeling mild abdominal cramps. You might think these would be obvious signs of early labor. Yes, but I was 40 weeks pregnant and similar aches and cramps had been part of my daily existence for the previous three weeks or more. I read books to the kids. I highlighted my hair. I took a long shower. I should have picked up the house but I guess I was feeling slightly tired and unmotivated.
Around 10am, Christian came inside from working in the garden. When I told him about my growing discomfort, he thought we should play it on the safe side and decided to take me to the hospital just to get checked out. We left the house in a state of calm, found a good friend to take the girls for the morning, and called my parents to make their 45 minute drive up. On our way out the door, I was pretty convinced the hospital was going to send me home. I was wrong.
A few minutes before we pulled up to the birthing center, I felt my first real contraction. Oh! I was glad we had left when we did. They checked me in to the hospital around 10:45, hooked me up to the monitors, and told me my contractions were 3 minutes apart. Soon thereafter I began really breathing through them, while Christian sat by my bedside practically giddy with relief that we had timed it the way we did. I can still hear him saying, "I am so glad we are at the hospital!" and "I am so glad this isn't in the middle of the night!"
Things progressed as they should have, I suppose. But it all seemed sooo much slower to me than my other labors. It has occured to me that labor, and pain in general, is such a mental game. Mentally we have to be prepared by setting our minds to endure. For whatever reason, my mental game was not on this time around and I never really "relaxed" (as if that can truly happen) into the rhythm of my contractions. I kept asking the nurses what was taking so long?!?
Eventually they broke my water when I was dilated about 7-8cm. In my impatience to be finished with all of the extreme pain I tried to prematurely push the baby out, which just resulted in a lot of extra pushing. Little baby did not want to come out and it felt like he was stuck for all 25 minutes of the final stage of labor. When he finally made his grand exit, the pediatric team took him right away because there was some meconium in my amniotic fluid (meconium is that black sticky stuff that makes up the first bowel movement of a newborn and can be a problem if the infant ingests it.) Fortunately, the meconium proved not to be an issue.
I heard the baby cry within moments. With my eyes closed and my head laid back on the table in exhaustion, Christian exclaimed in utter surprise and excitement, "Oh my goodness! It's a BOY!"
What? What?!? A BOY?? I was pretty convinced I was having a third girl, though who knows what old wives tales and stereotypes were dictating that notion. BOY. Who knew?
A baby boy big beautiful surprise, born at 12:51pm. A healthy 7pounds and 15ounces, pushed out about 2 hours after arriving at the hospital.
I couldn't believe how looong it felt like I had been in labor. The labor team just laughed at my complaints and assured me that was pretty fast. But after 3 natural labors and deliveries with no pain medicine, epidural, or anything to take the edge off, I just might be curious to try that epidural next time. If there was going to be a next time, which there isn't. Unless God has something to say about it.
The process of laboring a child into this world is truly a miracle. I am in awe of the way that God designed women with the ability to endure so much pain at one time. Serious explosion of pain. I had unrealistic expectations that my third labor experience would be easy, would involve a lot less pain than the others, and would find me healed up more quickly. Not sure why I had those expectations. They only messed up my mental ability to persevere and focus through it all.
In the end, holding this little miracle makes it all worthwhile. Yes, that is mascara running down my face, probably trapped by a tear or two during labor.
Today Karsten is 12 short little days old, and so far seems to have the sweetest nature of all our newborns. I guess that makes him worth a little extra pain in delivery.