I was thinking about Jesus' suffering that is about to take place tomorrow on Good Friday, and it reminded me of my labors. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not comparing giving birth to a child to being crucified, I am only saying that His suffering on the Cross reminded me of my suffering in labor. So I thought I would start a four-part series on my labor/delivery stories, mostly just so I could get them written down to make my kids read whenever they are being naughty...the old "Do you see what you have put me through? Now go clean your room!" Just kidding, sort of.
Anyway here goes the story of my first labor...
All during my pregnancy with John-Paul (after the first 3 months of morning sickness) I had what I thought was severe heartburn. I would get these attacks where it would hurt in my chest and radiate to my back, keep me awake at night, and take my breath away. It was so bad, I swore giving birth must be less painful than these attacks. It would be so horrible sometimes that I would vomit from the pain. However, every time I went to the doctor I would downplay how bad it was because I didn't want to be a whiny first-time mother who couldn't stand the "normal" heartburn pain.
My doctor put me on prescription heartburn medication, but it didn't work, and I just kept living with the pain. Then when I was about 34 weeks pregnant, the pain was so bad one night that I couldn't eat, drink or sleep, and so I went to the hospital and they ran a bunch of blood tests on me. The nurse actually took Phil aside to tell him that she thought I was having panic attacks, and it was all in my head. Then the test results came back and I had an ultrasound and we found out I had gallstones! So they told me to go home and not to eat any foods with fat in them, and they would have to remove my gallbladder after I gave birth.
About a week later, I again was in tremendous pain and couldn't eat or drink, and I went back to the hospital where an Ob/Gyn doctor saw how much pain I was in, took an ultrasound of the baby and decided the baby was viable and we should get him out in order to take the gallbladder out. Phil and I were so nervous because we weren't prepared to have the baby so soon, and I was coming to grips with having a C-Section, when the doctor told me that I was going to be induced and have this baby the old fashioned way. I couldn't imagine going through labor pains in addition to all the pain I was already having, but she insisted it would be best for me and the baby. (Looking back, I'm so glad I didn't have to get the C-Section)
They put me on pitocin and after 12 hours I wasn't progressing very much so they took me off to let me sleep and my uterus rest. The following morning, which was my 24th birthday, they started the IV again, and I began to progress by the afternoon. I was trying to give birth naturally, but the pain was so intense from both the gallstones and the pitocin-induced contractions that I was begging for the epidural. Once I got it, I felt awesome and took a nap for 2 hours. When I woke up around 7 pm, they checked me and John-Paul's head was crowning! I pushed 2 times and he came right out! The midwife actually just told me to laugh instead of push and then when his head and shoulders were out I reached down and pulled him out and onto my chest, it was so cool!
John-Paul's breathing was a little shallow so they took him to the nursery for the night and gave me a pump so I could start expressing milk, which was a horrible introduction to breastfeeding for a first-time mom. But, I did the best I could that night and in the morning they took me away for surgery. I remember crying before they took me away because I was so scared something was going to happen (it was my first surgery) and I had just met our first-born son and was already away from him for too long. But the surgery went smoothly, the doctor actually said my gallbladder was really enlarged and what was supposed to be a tiny incision to remove it ended up being about 1.5 inches. They gave me pain medication to take but because I was breastfeeding, I only took one pill.
So just when we thought the worst part was over, and I was discharged the next day, they told us John-Paul's bilirubin level had spiked and he needed to be under the lights in the nursery for a few days. Since I was discharged, we had to stay in the Ronald McDonald House across the street and get shuttled back and forth all day and night in order for me to breastfeed him. We finally got the green light to take John-Paul home after three days under the lights, and even though it was about 11 pm, we booked it out of there and drove 1.5 hours to my Mom's house. We were so glad to be out of the hospital!
Because of all the distractions at the beginning of his life, breastfeeding John-Paul was hard and my body never quite made enough milk. But we supplemented a bottle of formula a day, and I was able to nurse him until he was 8 months old. Since John-Paul was a "pre-term" baby and had an exceptionally large head, he had delayed gross motor skills as an infant, in fact, he never crawled but scooted on his bum instead. He didn't even walk until he was 17 months old, but he was a great baby, very easy-going and happy and verbal. Today, he is a wonderful 5 year old, smart as can be and still a very good boy. He and I share a birthday, and he will always hold a special place in my heart....