I was lying in bed in the early morning hours, unable to sleep. Suddenly, a rush of water flooded the sheets. I was 37 weeks pregnant and the time had come, taking us all by surprise. The first test of faith came early with the decision to either follow doctor’s orders and go straight to the hospital, or stay home. At home we would be in privacy, in peace, and under only God’s protection. The faith of my husband was greater than mine and we stayed home. He ran to the store to get supplies. I sat alone on my bed. Silently. Peaceful, yet anxious. I waited and prayed for something to happen. I recognized in those silent moments that my faith was weak and the intervention I needed was not medical, but divine. Eventually and slowly the tide began to sweep over me. As pain filled my body, relief and gratitude filled my soul.
He came home. We relocated to the couches, and laid in the darkness. Waiting. Pretending to sleep. Trying to rest. Uncertain of what would lie ahead. Taking note of every sensation. The pain soon moved into my back. No relief was offered between surges. Intensity grew and pain remained constant. We got up and ate something.
As dawn broke, my body was filled with power and overwhelming movement. It was painful, it was intense, and it was all I could think about. We took a short walk, stopping every few moments to rest through the growing tidal waves that were enveloping me. We went home. We ate a real breakfast. We intended to go for another walk, but I said maybe later. I laid down to rest on my side on the couch.
I moaned and moaned with each passing surge. The music I had picked out was too distracting. Relaxing hymns on a solo piano were better. Soon the sensations overcame me and I became consumed in a sea of confusion. I was entering the Dark Forest of Uncertainty. I began to doubt everything– my body, my self, my husband, my faith, God, whether or not I was really in labor. Maybe I was just really sick…? Andy thought the contractions were still 15 minutes apart. I thought they were coming on top of each other. Every time he would ask me a question, I could only moan a mournful “I don’t knooooooooow…” At some point, amidst all this uncertainty I suddenly became staunchly determined of one thing. It was time to leave. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t know what is going on, I just know we have to leave NOW. Get ready. Get the bags. Get the birth plan. And shut up.
As I waited, I bounced on the birth ball with my head on the back of the couch. While Andy was in the other room, I suddenly felt the first break I’d had in hours. For just a few minutes, peace swept over me like a warm blanket. I was thankful, but I knew what this meant– Transition. I didn’t dare speak this out loud or tell Andy. It was too intimidating to imagine being that close to the birth of our child.
We arrived in the parking lot at 7:00 in the morning. We knew this would be my last chance to eat, so I took a bite of a granola bar and immediately threw up all over the parking lot. Oh well.
The determination I felt ten minutes earlier had now turned into intimidation. I remember Andy’s voice telling people, “woman in labor here,” and I remember people pointing, always pointing, and we followed pointing fingers like roadsigns. The roadsigns eventually led to the overflow room– the only room in the ward that I had been in before, albeit only once.
After I undressed and put on a hospital gown, I laid on my side and let the surges come, still moaning, just riding each wave without regard to what was happening around me. Eventually a nurse came in to check my cervix. To my surprise and delight, her face went blank when she muttered, “you’re complete.” Joy filled my heart. I really was in labor and I had accomplished my first major goal– I had made it past the time when pain medication could be offered. Now I just had to push the baby out.
But that was too scary. I knew she was wrong to put my legs together and tell me not to push, but I was too timid to hear my body telling me that was just the thing to do. So I laid there and waited, moaning and enduring as I had for Godknowshowlong before then. The nurses scurried around the room, getting it ready for the impending birth that suddenly took priority over the others that had been in that hospital waiting for hours. Andy overheard them discussing who was best at catching babies, just in case the doctor didn’t make it.
Eventually, a kind and gentle soul came to me and told me to try practicing pushing. Practice pushes I could handle. So I started practicing. My mother arrived, floating in like a nervous butterfly, ready as always to help with eager excitement. Andy almost left to go get the camera, and I yelled at him the first unkind and panicked statement during whole ordeal. He sent someone else. Very early on, Andy said he could see our precious baby boy’s head making its way into this world.
The doctor made it in time. His cocky attitude and sharp metal instruments were a rude awakening from this world of gentle, caring women and family that loved me. I didn’t notice. He made a rude comment. I didn’t notice. I just kept pushing. There was a brief disagreement about the episiotomy. I shut them up. I had work to do. I had emerged from the Dark Forest, and was now as focused as a lioness on the hunt, as powerful as a tiger in battle. At some point the doctor told me to relax and not push. He made a little snip with his lethal scissors. He told me to push and I did, with all the force my body could muster. Then he panicked and raised his voice, telling me to stop pushing. Then in a surprising moment I heard Andy say, “that’s it! He’s out! You did it! He’s born!” I was confused. I thought it was supposed to be another half an hour. (why? I don’t know. I just thought that.)
I held my slimy, sticky, amazing baby boy in my arms for the first time. I cried and openly praised God for what He had done. Everyone asked what his name was and Andy said, “this is Peer.”
This is Peer. My best friend, my precious baby boy. My firstborn. The one who made me a mother. The one who, without knowing it, birthed me on that day into a new being that I didn’t know could exist. I will never forget that day as long as I live, and every year at this time I will relive it, and cherish it, with awe, gratitude, and love.