We all have our story. It’s the story we ask and tell all new mothers. It’s the story we hold close to our hearts and can never forget. It’s our birth story.
No, this isn’t the story of when we were born and how our mothers joyously and lovingly welcomed us into this world. It’s our story. It’s the realness and rawness of our labor and contractions and crying and anger and pain… to reveal what we had been waiting for all NINE months! It’s the perfection of the moment we first get to hold our newborn in our arms for the first time. We all have an expectation of this day. We dream of how it’s going to go and how perfect it’s going to be. We assume it will go great and everything after that will be “Happy Ever After.” But does that always happen? Most of us can say it was nothing we expected or a lot harder than we hoped. For me, it was everything opposite of what I expected and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This is my story.
It was a Tuesday night, and my husband and I had just got done watching “This is Us.” I was 40 weeks pregnant and already a day past my due date. For the last few days leading up to this, I had been walking A LOT and trying to do whatever I could to jump-start labor so I didn’t have to be induced. If I didn’t go into labor, I was going to have to be induced Wednesday night at 12:00am (technically Thursday morning).
I was exhausted and had hardly gotten any sleep because I had been having contractions for multiple days and had already gone to the hospital twice because of bleeding and thinking I was in labor. I REALLY didn’t want to be induced, but also REALLY didn’t want my daughter born on Halloween. I guess you pick your battles right? After I had been sent home twice because the baby wasn’t coming yet, I started praying, “Lord, I need a sign to KNOW that I am in labor.” I prayed this for multiple days trusting that He would do so.
Because the show was an hour long, I hadn’t been off the couch but was feeling very uncomfortable. So, I figured I’d get up and walk around so maybe the contractions wouldn’t feel so bad. I got up and walked behind the couch to suddenly feel a gush. Many people had been picking on my husband about my water breaking, so I didn’t want to get his hopes up if I had just peed myself. But, I KNEW that my water broke. I looked up at him and said, “I think my water broke, but let me check.” So I waddled to the bathroom, water just gushing everywhere to find that “YES! My water broke!” I was always told that it was more of a trickle because the gush was only in movies, but NO! This was gushing everywhere! But, I was also told that when your water broke that it would be clear and have no smell. But my water was green. I quickly looked it up on Google to find that if the baby had passed its first poop, that the water would be yellow or green, green being more serious. So, not only was I freaking out because now we needed to go to the hospital, but there could be something wrong with my baby girl.
After we got checked in, the nurse affirmed that my water had broken and that she had passed her first poop and that it could be serious but she would most likely be fine. I was excited, scared, TERRIFIED, and so ready to meet our baby girl! Ethan had already called our families, so both of our moms headed up there because I was only at a 3, and we all figured it might take a while.
After we got to our room, I was told that my doctor was on vacation and she would not be back in time to deliver the baby. WHAT??? This made me even more nervous, but I calmed down and just accepted that she had to come out, no matter what it took!
I really wanted to go without an epidural, but after a few hours of contractions, as soon as I got to a 5, I almost begged for it! After that, I couldn’t feel anything and was finally able to sleep! That’s when it all started. After about two hours, they checked me… still a 5. My heart rate started going up and was the same as the baby’s so they had to put in an internal monitor so they could tell which heartbeat was the baby’s. They checked me again a few hours later… still a 5… and they found I had a temperature, so they had to start giving me antibiotics because they were worried about the baby.
At about 9:00 am the next morning (Wednesday), the doctor came in to check me again… I was still at a 5… He felt around my belly to tell me that I was probably going to have a 9 lb baby and that her head may be too big to move down, so I was likely going to have a C-section by 12 that afternoon if I didn’t change. WHAT?!?! I hadn’t read up on C-sections! I didn’t know the risks, how big the scar would be, if it would hurt, etc. This is NOT what I prayed all those nine months! This was supposed to be a 3-hour labor, easy delivery, and I should already be holding my baby! Where are you, God?
So, an hour later, they check again… still a 5… They check another hour later… still a 5… And an hour or two later, they still wanted to see if I would change, but if I didn’t within the hour, I would have to have a C-section. They checked an hour later after I had FINALLY gotten myself prepared, accepted that in an hour I would meet my baby, that God was still good… I WAS A 6!!!!! Oh my goodness… I was so upset! I should have been happy, but now I didn’t know when I was going to meet my baby girl. I had been so ready to meet her, and now since she would be delivered vaginally, I had to mentally prepare myself again…
By 4:00 pm, I was a 10 and it was time to push! The nurse told me it usually takes two hours for first-time moms to get the baby out. I thought… “Nah! I’ve had such a long labor, I’ll push her out in less than an hour!” Boy was I wrong! I pushed for two hours… and took only two breaks. The baby just did not want to come out. The nurse looked concerned and said that her head would come, but then go back. She wasn’t moving down at all. It was almost as if she was stuck. By this point, the epidural was wearing off and I was starting to feel everything. I could feel the contractions, and I couldn’t push the button enough for the pain to go away! I waited for the doctor to come in and decide what to do next. He let us know that we needed to do a C-section since the baby wasn’t coming and it had almost been 24 hours since my water broke. BUT, there were two other people in line before me so they would get me in as soon as they could. A C-section AGAIN?!?!?!?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? I did everything within my power to hold back my tears. I was in pain, and it would be two or more hours before I could go back there for a C-section. God, what is happening? Why aren’t you helping me???
As I lay there, my nurse being as sweet as she could be, assuring me that it would be soon, my eyes just filled with tears. I was so tired… no… EXHAUSTED from labor, from pushing, from worrying about my daughter being okay. I knew she understood and I knew she was doing everything she could. After what seemed like an eternity (which was probably on 10-20 minutes) the nurse came to tell me that she was prepping me to bring me into the OR. Now everything was getting real. I was FINALLY about to have this baby! I had been shaking from the epidural and had finally stopped until now. I felt like I couldn’t stop and just kept getting colder. My nurse wheeled me back there, just us two, and kept telling me it was going to be okay, wiping away my tears. I felt so much emotion, I didn’t know how I wasn’t sobbing.
We get into the OR, and there were people rushing around everywhere. My doctor was cracking jokes, which made me feel a whole lot better, but it was FREEZING in there! They made me put both of my arms out, like a T, and gave me a different kind of medicine to numb me. They got everything ready and then started, but I was so emotional and in so much shock that I hadn’t realized that Ethan wasn’t there. The doctor was moving me around everywhere and it was a very annoying pain, but not super painful. The doctor then started saying, “Where’s Dad?” And the nurses frantically had someone rush to get him. Ethan finally gets in there, and after what seems like two seconds, we hear a cry. What?? She’s out already? I hear a nurse say, “He looks good“!” I FREAK out because we were expecting a baby girl! I screamed, “HE?!?!?!” And she quickly apologized that she had accidentally said the wrong thing. After that, they quickly lifted the baby above the curtain, but I really didn’t get a good look. They had to rush her to get cleaned because of the meconium she had passed in my belly, and the fever I had. They wanted to make sure she was alright. So, of course, I didn’t get to hold my baby right after she was born. I kept looking over at her, trying to see what they were doing and what she looked like, but then it started to hurt. Ow… it really started to hurt, as if the medicine was wearing off. They were throwing me around and I could barely stand it.
They yelled that she was born at 6:42pm, was 7 lb. 15 oz, and 20 inches tall. Ethan walked over to the baby and grabbed her in his arms, holding her like the proud father he was and should be, showing her to me. She looked NOTHING like I expected. I was almost shocked. But then it REALLY started to hurt and I was yelling for the nurse! She told me that I would get very sleepy, and I was in and out the rest of the time.
They asked Ethan if he wanted to go to the nursery, and with such excitement in his eyes, he asked me if it was okay if he went. Of course! Go! Be with our baby girl! I could tell he could hardly wait to show her off to the rest of our family. But when he left, I felt completely alone. Yes, our daughter was just born, but was she more important than I was? I tried to shove that selfish thought aside the entire time I was in the OR.
When I got to my new room, a new nurse told me that I wouldn’t be able to see my baby for about an hour and a half because they needed to run tests and make sure she was okay. WHAT????? I just got out of surgery, didn’t get to hold her, barely know what she looks like, and you want to keep her from me???? I could barely stand it. The nurse promised she would bring her as soon as she could and then we would get “skin to skin” time and she would nurse.
After multiple people walking in, and what seemed like an eternity, they finally wheeled her in. I was finally able to hold her for the first time. I had been nervous about holding a brand new baby just because they’re so fragile, but as soon as she was in my arms, all of those thoughts and fears rolled away. She was mine. She was perfect. She was Opal Grace.
After about 45 min, the nurse came in to help me breastfeed her. I was positive that since the labor was so intensive and complicated that God would, of course, make this a breeze. I had read up on it, gone to classes, and was completely prepared. She would latch right away and we would have that time together for a while. But I was wrong. From the get-go, she would not latch. She didn’t have a tongue tie, but she kept trying to suck almost sideways, making it extremely difficult to nurse her. The nurse told me to keep trying, and I had to keep a log of every time she would try to feed and how long she would try. In my mind I was sad but just knew that the next time or even before we left the hospital, that she would be nursing like a pro. Again, I was wrong. When you have a C-section, your milk doesn’t come in as fast as everyone else’s, so all she was getting was colostrum, which is the most important, but also in very limited supply until your milk comes in. It was difficult, upsetting, and exhausting.
The second night I was there, the nurse I had the night before, (let’s call her Nancy) was not even my nurse at the time. She usually worked in the nursery but was put with me because there were so many babies being born that night. But, anyways, the second night, I had an amazing nurse, and she was helping me out, but Nancy came back that night, not out of obligation, but out of pure kindness. She was so genuine, so sweet, I just wanted to hug her a million times. She came in to see how we were doing, and I told her that baby just wasn’t latching. She sat with me and Opal for an hour, trying to help her eat and spoon feeding her all the colostrum we could get. With all that had gone on, this was the first time that I even considered God’s faithfulness.
The first morning after Opal was born, her pediatrician came in to meet us. She was AMAZING! So sweet and I felt like I could talk to her about anything. But, they had found that on some tests, that Opal had two holes in her heart. She said that they weren’t concerned because this happened to multiple babies and that it usually healed within a day or two, and it would probably be healed before we went home. Another thing… TWO HOLES IN HER HEART?!?!?!?!?!?!? I was upset. I was angry. Why was all of this happening? But, I didn’t lose faith yet, because they wanted to keep running tests to make sure everything was okay, and they said she should be fine.
She lost quite a bit of weight in the hospital, so before they sent us home, they told us to supplement with formula, which meant I would have to give her a bottle for the first time. I was so scared that she wouldn’t breastfeed and I felt defeated. I couldn’t even give my baby the one thing that she needed! BUT, if this meant she could eat and would gain some weight, it still hurt, but it was okay with me.
We finally got to leave the hospital and brought baby girl home! She never caught on to breastfeeding, and I was only able to pump for two weeks because I got mastitis and it was extremely hard on me. My husband and I made the decision that it was better for me to stay healthy than to drain my body and to be sick while trying to raise our child. So, we started giving her formula. I felt so defeated, so depressed, so angry. Labor was so hard and so tough! Breastfeeding was supposed to be a breeze! But alas, it was not.
I felt that around every corner and every turn, there was something. Something I couldn’t do, something I couldn’t control, something I prayed against. I prayed. I asked. I prayed. I asked. God, WHY?!?!?
I was so angry with Him. I felt that He had left me, that He no longer cared, and I felt that He let me down. My Daddy didn’t take care of me like He was supposed to.
This attitude and thought processed stayed with me for multiple weeks. I felt so alone. Where was God in all of this? He wasn’t speaking to me and He wasn’t taking care of me. What did I do wrong? Am I not good enough for Him anymore?
But that’s just it, God was in all of it. Around every corner where bad things just seemed to keep happening, He was actually there. Through every tear, every pain, every heartache I experienced, He never left my side. There were so many examples of His faithfulness throughout my entire experience, that I chose not to focus on. The night where the nurse helped spoonfeed my baby colostrum. I would have NEVER thought to do that, but God sent her to me so Opal could get all the first nutrients that she needed, and to show me that all of my “trying” wasn’t in vain. He was faithful when the holes in her heart healed by themselves and she was fine. He was faithful when I had been pushing all day and was exhausted, but still had to wait for two other women to get out of the operating room for my C-section, but I didn’t have to wait.
God is ALWAYS faithful. There are so many times we may not see His faithfulness, all because we chose not to. We want to wallow in our self-pity or just be angry at Him because we need someone to blame. Y’all, since that day, it has not been an easy road, but He has continued to show me just how faithful He truly is.
So, yes, Opal’s birth day was the toughest day in my entire life, but it was the best day of my entire life. Ethan and I were finally able to meet OUR daughter, who we had been waiting for! All of the waiting, the getting ready, the worrying, the naming, all of that paid off on this day. She was perfect. We had our perfect little girl and she was all OURS. No one could take her away from us, and we got to take her home!
She is truly a blessing to our family. We’ve definitely learned a thing or two, and will always be learning!
God can always take an ugly day or ugly season and turn it into something beautiful. He did that for us that day and is continuing to do so! Trust Him! He knows what He’s doing! It may be confusing or unfair, but just trust that He will NEVER leave you, He will ALWAYS be with you, and He will ALWAYS love you!
Everyone’s story is different, but that was My Story.