As I write, a good friend of mine is going in to have her first baby delivered by C-section today. When she shared her feelings of nervousness over this upcoming ‘D-Day’, I remembered that I felt a similar way less than a year ago. Especially for first time mothers-to-be, it can be such a mixed bag of emotions. First, there is the great UNKNOWN of the delivery itself—what exactly will happen? We are always told by others to expect the unexpected, that what we imagined the delivery to be like will rarely happen, and not to expect things to go as your birth plan. And that is true. You have to relinquish control over the circumstances. So many things can happen during the delivery process to mom and baby that often it’s really a miracle both can come out healthy and safe at the end.
Then there is the question of pain. “What will the pain level really be like?” I remember my sis-in-law telling me, “It’ll be a hundred times worse than your period.” Not very comforting to hear…I remember watching episodes of this UK program called ‘One Born Every Minute’ where different situations are shown of women giving birth. But even then, there is a certain surreal feeling to watching them. I think no matter how many birth stories you watch or have your friends tell you about, it still can’t compare to really experiencing the pain yourself on that actual day.
To cap it all off, with D-Day comes the awareness that this day — this one moment — will likely be the single, biggest, most life-changing moment of your life. There are few other moments in life where you know things will change as radically and dramatically as this. Marriage as you know it as a two-some will be irrevocably changed forever. Change can be good and welcomed, but also somewhat unsettling.
Of course, there is also much joy, excitement and anticipation. You’ll finally be able to see the little one who’s been kicking in your belly these last 9 months! And, yippee, you’ll soon be freed from all those pregnancy aches and pains (for me, it was no more gestational diabetes)!
I had an added worry, as our baby had stopped growing in the womb from 36 weeks gestation, so the decision was made to bring her out early by induction. We didn’t know the cause of this intrauterine growth retardation and didn’t know if she would be alright. For those who know the story, I felt like I was standing on the shore of the Jordan River, about to cross, and not knowing what was on the other side. I had to relinquish control and cast myself utterly into God’s hands, to have Him lead and guide me over to the other side through this great ‘unknown’. Just like the Israelites who had to depend on God to help them cross the Jordan River, and on God to lead and guide them through the subsequent 40 years in the wilderness (in my case this would be 20 years until she goes to college!).Yet, over everything there is a sense of peace as well, because I am reminded of ‘Emmanuel’, that God promises to always be there with me in and through it all.
During labor, the doctors accidentally gave me an overdose of the epidural drugs which caused my blood pressure to plummet so quickly I blacked out briefly. Then the baby’s heart rate started to plunge sharply every time I had a contraction. As it turned out, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. We’re so thankful she came out earlier and was tiny enough to make it unscathed through the birth canal!