Tea has been the order of the day instead of coffee for, oh, about two weeks now. That’s how long i’ve been watching my caffeine intake so what precious little sleep i do get isn’t interrupted by a baby all high on caffeine. Leo Caspian Mosely is 19 days old. wow. that’s a lot of days. i kept telling myself i would set up a little shoot for him – take some newborn pictures since i am a photographer after-all… but no. the two solid weeks of fever and sleeplessness kind of killed that one. i am finally fever free, and feeling more human again. having a baby at 37 – i can’t say it’s all that different from having one in my 20’s – except maybe now i’m less inclined to freak out over things… i am blessed – and in awe of this tiny human that suddenly makes my 5 year old look gigantic.
i didn’t think i’d need 6 weeks off after Leo showed up – and i keep thinking that surely i should be up and doing things by now – shouldn’t i be back to work and scrubbing the tub, doing laundry, making supper and putting the kids to bed at night? i mean, i can physically get up and move around – unlike last week when i stood and felt a crushing weight in my chest and my bones still threatened to come apart… i feel a pressure building that keeps me from resting. telling me to get back in there – it’s been long enough. i mean, i basically was out of commission two weeks before he showed up… so i’ve been out of the loop for a month. but… something tells me i’m not quite ready to face the world when i bust into tears just thinking about it. which leads me to believe there’s more to recovery than physical strength. i don’t feel steady on my feet yet and i don’t really expect anyone would blame me… well, anyone that’s had a baby anyway.
“They” all told me… all of them – that the third was different – harder – it hurt more – was faster… and i tried my best to keep a positive headspace about me and remember that all births are different – i can not tell a lie – they were right. it was the hardest thing i’ve ever done. and honestly – i was a little embarrassed about it. after Arden’s birth i felt like the king of the world – yes, king, because i could do anything, kick anyone’s ass, rule the world… i never felt out of control or like i couldn’t manage what was happening to my body. i labored easily over a couple days, went to the hospital at 6 cm, i slept and woke up at 8cm, had a couple hours of hard but manageable contractions and pushed my precious little baby Arden out – in a very controlled fashion. the one who was out of control was my doctor, bless his little control freak, god-complex heart. but this… this was a totally different ball game.
i don’t know how different the process looked on the outside – all i can really relate is what happened on the inside. something so interesting happens during labor. the best way i can describe it is like a force field – or a bubble forms around a laboring woman, shutting out the outside world, shutting out distractions or threats or groping for her attention. there is none to spare. she has to use every ounce of energy to focus – to not lose it – to quiet the voices in her own head telling her she can’t do it. I found myself speaking out loud to that rowdy, rebellious, terrified girl in my head telling me “You can’t do this… What in the world were you thinking?? What would make you CHOOSE this pain??” – To which I would respond (which teeth bared and a growl in my voice) “YES I DO WANT THIS. It’s ok, Leo, honey you just move on down.” and “YES, I CAN!!!!” I balled up my fists and blew raspberries with my mouth and shook my head and half sang half groaned – anything i could do to make my body relax and go with the intensity of the rushes – the waves of power through my body that were bringing my baby closer to my arms. The contractions had steadily ramped up from 8am with mild cramping to 2pm when i got to the hospital and I had to lean into Elijah and focus and breathe to get through each one. The next hour and 18 minutes were the longest of my life. After the necessary 20 minute baby monitoring and paper signing (i have no idea what i signed – it could have been to give away my baby and i wouldn’t have known!) i finally was able to get in the tub. It was glorious. I never wanted to leave that warm bliss… but with each contraction, my midwife would lose Leo’s heartbeat because he would move down so far – and after about 25 minutes in the water i announced that i had to push and if they didn’t get me out of the tub we’d have a water baby and get everyone in trouble. (water births aren’t allowed at that hospital) So I got out and made my way to the bed where time ceased to exist for the next 18 minutes. I begged my midwife to break my water – i was at 9 cm and the pressure from the unbroken water felt like it was ripping me in two. so she did. and it was on. oh God. if there was ever a moment in my life (one long extended, eternal, never ending moment) when i thought i was done for, this was it. I had been consoling myself with the line from Ina Mae’s words of wisdom – there comes a point when it won’t hurt any worse than it does at that moment.. and i told myself that back in the water – it won’t hurt any worse than this – this is transition – this is the worst – if you can do this, you can finish this… and then the unthinkable happened… it hurt worse. panic was tearing at the edges of my mind around my force field that had shrunk down so small it was almost gone – I wanted to run away. i saw myself tearing away from the bed, out the door and down the hall screaming as i went. away from the pain, away from this impossible thing that was being demanded of me. away from the next crushing wave. I asked how much longer till i could push – not because i felt like i needed to – but because if i didn’t get this baby out i thought i just might not make it. I was told to push when i felt the overwhelming urge – but the only overwhelming urge i felt was for this to be over. I knew it would all stop once Leo was safely on this side of my skin…and that’s when i heard Him… there on that bed, on my knees in a sea of pain, I heard that unmistakable Voice. My Shepherd. My Savior. He said – “It’s just you and Me, now.” and in that breath I knew I wouldn’t die, I didn’t have to run away – He was with me… and I could do it if He was with me. There was a tiny bit of cervix in the way, so my midwife (my hero) pushed it out of the way, and i started pushing. granted. at first it was a quite half-hearted effort. i wasn’t convinced i really wanted him to come out. I had been arguing with myself for the past hour or so about this very thing. But after i pushed once and felt him retreat back up in between contractions, i made up my mind. i’m not playing this game. he’s coming out. this is ending – NOW. I made a power fist in the air over my head (for some reason it worked) and gathered every resource inside me…
and then he was here.
and the mighty waves ceased their crashing over me. and warmth and peace and calm flooded in. he was here. after all the waiting and hoping and worrying and, yes, even complaining – he was in my arms. my husband was by my side – i could hear him sniffling and i knew he was crying, but i couldn’t look away from my precious Leo Caspian’s face. and in that moment, my life changed irrevocably for the third time. i didn’t have any tears. i think it’s because i had so many before and so many to come after – i have tears now. i can hardly stop them from springing up. I don’t even have to have a reason – except that I am overwhelmed with Love and Life and the Goodness of God. How completely He takes us to the end of ourselves. How we think we will surely perish in the relentless sea, being tossed by the waves of pain inside us – yet He holds us together in the palm of His hand and says – “It’s just you and Me.” And He breathes Life into us and we breathe it out in return. All Glory be to God for what He has made. All Glory be to God.