The day started early when I was wakened by my water breaking. Contractions started immediately and consistently and since I have had a few short labors we opted to head right to the hospital. We checked in at 4 am and spent a few hours timing the contractions while chatting with a dear friend on call in the NICU. By 8 am, all signs of labor had stopped and we were eager to break out of the hospital and desperate that labor would began again naturally to avoid forced induction.
We headed home for me to take a nap and my husband to accompany our kids to the season's last basketball games but not before stopping off at a car dealership and finalizing the purchase of an 8-seater mini-van we had our eye on. A strange detour on labor day but anything to kill time was a welcome distraction.
With the older girls in tow, we finally headed back to the hospital per their insistence to deliver within 24 hours of ruptured membranes. After the drip was started around 8, I was having regular and increasing contractions within minutes. Our nurse assured us that though this was a good indication that things were finally moving in the right direction although my cervix stayed at 2 cm past 10 pm. Even when I was writhing in significant pain, she kept saying this could take hours and the baby might not arrive until the morning. Once I was in more active labor, she said, we would have a better idea of timing.
Because this was my last delivery, I had purposed in mind that I wanted to do this one naturally and without the epidural, somehow believing that the experience would be made more memorable if I could feel it in its entirety. I had made it through labor twice before with only a last minute epidural and had confidence that since I had almost made it twice before, going all the way wouldn't be that different.
My two older girls had joined us when we returned to the hospital and were enthusiastic witnesses to what their mom was going through. They were completely aghast when a strange man stuck his hand right up their mama to check the cervix and bewildered when another doctor stuck a long stick inside to ensure all the membranes were stripped.
Eliana was a precious comfort and compassionate nurse the whole time. She was a willing gofer for ice chips and water, massaged my hands and back when necessary, and took photos of our time together. Eden watched curiously from her perch on the couch in between attempts at cat naps. Both were eager to be a part of this miraculous event and full of excitement at being the first to meet their little brother.
Right around 10 pm, I realized this might be a long night and wasn't sure if the girls could handle the late hour or the increasing intensity of seeing their mama in pain. I'm not a screamer, more of a quiet laborer, but even the silent tears and contorted faces that displaced my assuring smile were enough to up their concern and soon there were tears of their own and we knew it was probably time for them to head home.
Our nurse was still anticipating hours more of labor and I was quickly wearing out from the strength of the contractions. Mentally I wasn't prepared for hours more of this level of pain and wanted to be put out of my misery. But with increasing blood pressure, I had had blood drawn and couldn't have an epidural until the lab results came back. Right after we had the girls picked up at 10:15, I had the sudden urge to push. Our nurse thought it was too early since my cerivix had at last check only been at 4 cm. But the silent zen approach I had envisioned, strong sighs amid soft humming with every push, became a scene from a nature documentary: deep, gutteral cries with every discomfort despite my refusal to not push into the pain. After insisting that I had to push, the nurse and my husband propped my legs up for delivery and despite believing that I could not possibly do this, baby was out in three pushes.
When I pulled him up onto my chest, I was overwhelmed with the greatest joy I can remember in ages. I had expected to recognize this little guy for some reason, confident that having raised four of his siblings, I would know him immediately. What a profound moment to realize that this little boy was completely unique, a new creation that would perhaps share characteristics of his brother or sisters but be only himself in looks and personality and character. I was flooded with such gratitude for the blessings in my life: a loving partner that helped bring this little person into the world, a healthy son, four other beautiful children waiting at home, and a life full of grace, hope, and joy.
What a ride the last nine months had been! From the moment of first learning we were expecting and its accompanying season of disbelief and disappointment to this moment of experiencing the incredible miracle of life entering the world after its own season of slow growth and formation inside, God has been faithful in assuring us that this life is a gift and will be used in incredible ways to show us His perfect providence and soveriegn conducting of the song of our family.
Welcome to the family, Josiah Courage! We look forward to seeing all that you will yet become!