I've mentioned before I have never had luck breastfeeding. (For all you breastfeeding advocates out there, remember, I'm a nursing advocate too. I think it's best both for baby and mom, but it's never worked for me, so please save your recommendations. I've tried all the tricks of the trade--four times over-- and none of them worked. That's life, I guess.)
This time around I decided to forgo any attempt to nurse this baby and I can't tell you what a difference it has made in my sanity level. I'm enjoying the baby and I'm not stressed out because I don't think he's getting enough to eat or because I'm sore and bleeding. I'm holding him as much as I can rather than seeing him as a food leach. I'm able to let other people feed him, which allows them to bond with him.
But the biggest benefit?
I'm at peace.
I think it was St. Francis de Sales who said when we do God's will, the natural consequence is the experience of personal peace. So many times in my mothering journey, I have forced my will and have felt the resulting chaos--discombobulation, uneasiness, and impatience. This time, however, I have total peace. While I wish I could nurse this baby, for whatever reason, this is simply not God's will for me.
Too bad it's taken me six kids to figure this one out...or maybe I should simply be grateful I know now.
Ironically, I also feel that way with regard to my recent decision to have a medicated delivery. I see the epidural as an opportunity to be gentle with myself, something I'm not always very good at. I'm harsh and demanding and have unrealistic expectations of myself and my performance. I'm grateful for the grace to let go of my standards and take care of myself during childbirth. God is not a strident task master, but sometimes I regard him that way. He's gentle and patient and kind and he desires that I have a gentle attitude with myself.
I'm a slow learner, but he keeps giving me opportunities.
I've had four natural childbirths. All of them were beautiful but the more children I've had, the more stressful I find labor and delivery. I worry about who is going to take care of my children while I'm having another one, I have to worry about who will come to my house in the middle of the night should I spontaneously go into labor...
...and natural childbirth wears me out.
With my last couple of pregnancies, I've labored on and off for weeks, which is a very draining experience. By the time I go into labor, I have very little energy left and the thought of enduring many more hours of pain is overwhelming. The epidural takes the edge off and allows me to enjoy the process of labor and delivery. It calms my nerves and helps me prepare for the real challenge of motherhood: raising and growing a virtuous child (which, let's face it, I don't know how well I'm doing in that arena yet).
How about a little birth story?
When I went to my weekly OB check up a little over a week ago, the doc said--again--she couldn't believe I hadn't had the baby. For weeks I'd experienced Pridromal labor, which was so tiring. I was 3 centimeters dilated, totally effaced and yet the baby was taking his time, so the doc encouraged me to consider an induction. I told her I thought it was best to just spontaneously go into labor. She agreed with me but also pointed out the longer I went past my due date, the increased likelihood for other complications like depletion of amniotic fluid and the disintegration of the placenta. While I knew the baby would probably be OK, even if I was overdue a few days, I listened to her concerns and decided to go for the induction, just one day before my due date.
I was so physically uncomfortable and worn out, I was a pretty easy sell. I knew a little bit of Pitocin would kick my labor into overdrive. Still, I was nervous about an induction because
. I prayed I would go into labor on my own and so did many of my friends and while I had labor pains all weekend, nothing happened.
When John and I showed up to the hospital on Monday morning bright and early, I was met by Jen, the woman who would be my nurse for the day. I told her about my induction experience with Christopher and she very kindly told me she would make sure not to recreate that birth scenario. I'm firmly convinced a good nurse makes all the difference in the world between a calm and peaceful labor and delivery and one fraught with tension.
I hit the jackpot with Jen.
She was attentive and listened and she was so positive and supportive. She didn't treat me like I was a moron who had never seen a labor and delivery room before but heeded everything I said. After the initial paperwork, she started the pitocin drip around 9 am and by 11:30 am, I asked for an epidural.
Around noon, the doctor came in and broke my water and that's when Jen started asking me if I was feeling any pressure to push. Over the next two hours, she encouraged me to let her know if I felt any changes, but she was a little surprised I wasn't progressing as fast as she had anticipated.
At 2:00 pm, she had the Hospitalist--the backup for the OB--to check me.
"You are only at 4 centimeters," the doctor told me, as she pulled off her gloves.
"Don't worry," I said. "I'll probably only have 3 or 4 really good contractions and then I'll be completely dilated and the baby will come."
Which is exactly what happened.
At 2:00 pm I was at 4 centimeters and at 2:18 pm, Edward was born.
Just as I told the nurse it was time for me to push, my regular OB walked in.
"Sit her up," he said, which the nurses did and then they quickly hurried to get their birthing supplies.
But by the time they turned around again, Edward was out and screaming and the nurses were giggling because they had missed his entrance. John, the nurses, and the doctor all commented on how huge he was, but I wasn't surprised by his girth. I knew he was going to be big.
The doc cleaned me up while the nurses swirled around the room taking care of the baby and me. And just a short 15 minutes later, my mom and dad were in our room celebrating with us.
It was one of the most joyful occasions of my life.
There were many people from my church who were praying for me last Monday, including the entire homeschooling group, our pastor, and even the committee who visits the sick in the hospital (they prayed outside the door while I was in labor). I was covered in prayer and I could feel it and it worked.
Just look at him!
Even with all the physical discomfort, I would do it all over again. I love him so much.
One thing unique about this hospital is I stayed in the same room where I delivered the baby. Very convenient.
Edward's poor bruised face. At first I thought he couldn't breathe but the doctor and nurses assured us it was just bad bruising. They were right.
In other news, I've made a resolution to NOT act like a crazy woman this Advent. I'm fasting from perfectionism and want to focus on a prayerful Advent and a simple Christmas. I want to avoid the pressure to "do it all" in order to make perfect family memories and just enjoy my kids and my husband. I don't know if this is a sign of maturity or sheer exhaustion.
I'm thinking its the latter.
To help with this, I resolve to do the following:
1. I'm not putting out all my Christmas decorations. It's too much this year. We'll celebrate with the basics.
2. I'm not going to bake much (which means limited to no Christmas cookies and/or other delicious confections).
3. I'm keeping the gifts simple (which means investing in consumables and positive experiences rather than new toys for the kids).
With the help of my mom, we were able to knock out our a family photo shoot. And we made the Christmas card!
Advent and Christmas is a special time of year to have a new baby and I'm not going to squander it because of an unrealistic to-do list.
Look at the cuteness I could miss.