Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A Look Back At Joshua:

So there I was, laying in bed, trying to get some rest, excited that my mom was flying in the next day to be here for the birth, when.. "pop!" ... I instantly realized it had been a very bad mistake for me to procrastinate on putting the waterproof mattress pad down under the sheet. I just, you know, never thought it would happen to me!

We called the midwife and let her know what was going on, then called my mom, whose flight wasn't scheduled to leave for another 13 hours or so. From the west coast. With two connections. She was kind of panicked.

I settled in for a considerably less than restful night of timing the contractions and writing down when they came on a little notepad next to the bed. In the morning, about when the sun came up, the contractions stalled out and we called the midwife again, who suggested we shut the phone off and get some sleep as long as we could. I napped here and there, but not much. Too excited! Little did I know!!! They picked up again 2 hours later and we got ready for the real stuff to begin.

In the afternoon we finally plugged the phone back in to call the other family members who wanted to be there, and somewhere in between the phone rang! It was a by now VERY panicked mom who was somewhere in the middle of nowhere about 20 miles from our house, upset and lost.

"My mom is WHERE?!" Apparently she had hopped an earlier flight, assisted by wonderful women who understood completely at all check in counters along the way, rented a car when she got to the airport early and couldn't get a hold of us, and started driving.. "that way" towards our house! She'd only been here once before. It's amazing what having your child in labor with her first child will drive you to do. Okay, bad pun, sorry Mom!

Of course, things were much better once Mom was there. Everyone else began arriving too, and by dinner time we were all ready to get down to business. Except me. Things were getting painful! I walked up the stairs. I walked down the stairs. I then repeated that a few times. I walked and walked and grew very discouraged at the lack of progress. "Oh, look! You're a 4!!" ... "Bite Me!" ... Okay, that's what I wanted to say, but didn't. Instead I think I just cried. They say I was funny and cracking jokes during this time, but I really don't remember. Mostly what I remember is all the mean, nasty things I WANTED to say, but didn't. Except the one time the midwife told me, for the 100th time, "Ride the wave, just Ride the Wave, dear." and I told her through gritted teeth, "I. Want. To. GET. OFFffff. THE. RIDE. now." Seeing as how that was said in the middle of a strong contraction in which I could hardly breathe, I think she caught my drift.

Somewhere about that time my clothes started to feel like they were choking me and I soon became convinced they were trying to kill me and had to go. All I could think was, "Get them OFF me before I BURN them off!!!" No one argued. The midwives' eyes got big, my best friend giggled, my husband went to his happy place in the 'zone', my mom gathered all the sheets and table cloths in the house and covered every window and door, and my mother in law retreated to the corner of the living room where she prayed. Still not sure if she prayed for the safety of the delivery or my soul. Ah, well. I'm sure both needed praying for right then.

So, pretty much everything from there starts to blur together for the next 8 hours. 8 MORE HOURS! lol. There are some startlingly clear moments, like eating some warm, comforting potato soup - and then throwing it up violently several times.

Or like when the house was dark and quiet and everyone perched around the house in chairs and beds and slept. Except me. I laid on the bed set up in the living room and tried to rest in between contractions that teetered on the edge of overwhelming me. In those moments I would stare at this certain wrinkle in the sheet that covered the big window. In our Lamaze classes they'd talk about having a "focal point" and I used to laugh. A focal point? What on earth good would that do?! They showed some picture of a beach in Hawaii and suggested finding something similar to focus on. "Pshaw! Who needs a beach in Hawaii when I've got me a wrinkle to stare at?", I thought to myself when I found that, indeed, a focal point can be VERY useful.

A few weeks after Josh was born I wrote my whole birth story out for posterity's sake. The midwife asked for permission to use it in her New Parents handout. I wondered if she were trying to scare people out of having children. My story was written in such dark and foreboding tones it almost seems gothic.

Yeah, it did get dark and blurry after that wrinkle thing, but eventually there was a light turned on at the end of the tunnel. Again, sorry for the bad pun there, people! So many moments I didn't think I could do it, a couple of panicky thoughts of believing I would soon pass out from the pain, and then what? Would my EMT sister in law then go to work and slice me open to save the baby while my RN mother in law helped? At least I had a little reassurance at that thought that the baby would live even if the pain killed me. And that was the important thing. I thought of all the things I wanted to say to people.

"Take care of the baby for me...", I tried to croak out to Raini once, but I was too tired to squeeze the air out of me and form words with my mouth. So then I retreated to trying to communicate these things with my eyes. "If I blink twice will she get it?" I wondered. "Hmm.. ah, well, if I die, I die. Guess I should have written my goodbye notes before going into labor."

When the need to push finally came it was around 2 in the morning. I had been in and out of the birthing tub, relieved by the hot water, but had gotten out again to lay on the bed and rest while everyone slept. The midwife laid on the couch opposite me. As soon as my breathing changed her eyes flew open and her gaze bore into me. "Are you... pushing?", she asked? "UNnnnnhhhOooo", I replied. Her eyes squinted back in recognition. I didn't want to push. I wanted to sleep for a while so I had the strength to push. Soon the house was alive with people rushing around getting ready for the big event. When everyone was all gathered round me to watch the grunting lady give birth, the midwife gently reminded me I had wanted to give birth in the tub.

"She's fine." I heard my mother tell the midwife.

"Lisa, remember, you want to have a water birth.", the midwife directed her comment toward me, trying to get me to make eye contact with her during an incredibly BUSY moment. Some of them exchanged glances as they wondered - How are we going to lift her up and get her in the tub if she says YES? Maybe get a chair lift...? Or the engine hoist..??? 5 women, 1 man, might still be a challenge to get her up...

All the eyes in the room shifted and soon I felt like I was just blatantly being stared at. Someone rubbed my leg and asked me if I wanted to try getting in the tub. And then... THEN.. I was MAD. "FINE!!", I thought. "You want me to get in the birthing tub, FINE!" From somewhere down deep inside I found the strength in between contractions to push everyone out of my way and waddle hugely into the kitchen and sling my leg up over the edge of the tub while everyone scrambled to my assistance. I settled into the heat and buoyancy of the water as terse laughter tinkled around the circle when it sank in that 10 seconds ago I was laying on the bed pushing.

At the end of those 30 hours of labor I found myself astounded that I had overcome myself, the pain, the fear, everything. Just before dawn on the second day I finally managed to get the job done. And then there he was, in my arms, his little wrinkly face looking up at me from his perch on my chest. He took his first breath, cried his first tiny little cry, and grabbed his Daddy's thumb.

I looked up at the midwife, standing over the birthing tub and croaked with all the strength left in me, "I AM WOMAN!" Which embarrassing anecdote I had no memory of whatsoever until I watched the video one time. Apparently I was proud of myself! lol.

I'd post a picture or two of the birth, but they are entirely too graphic. And not in a blood-and-guts sort of way, but because, as stated earlier, I get all anti-clothing when I'm in labor. And besides, my husband was wearing this thick flannel shirt and a Carrhart vest over top of it in ALL the PICTURES! Seriously, he looks like he just came in from hunting. Why not a single woman in the house told him to go change outta that getup I'll never know.

A few years later when that little boy needed to have his heart fixed through an open heart surgery that lowered his body temperature, put him on the heart/lung machine for 6 hours and drew us all to our knees to lift him up before the throne of God, I was immensely thankful for having learned through those long and difficult hours of labor that I WAS strong enough to do what needed to be done, that I was capable of handling this, and that God would provide all that we needed.
About 40 minutes after surgery - age 3 years 9 months

At 4 weeks

at one year old

2 years old

3 years old! And with his undies on his head...

4 years old trying to look like Daddy

5 years old

My boy is 6 years old now!


Bobbi Thornburg said...

Lisa that was a amazing story, you have a real gift for storytelling. You have a beautiful family and I'm glad your son is doing much better.

cowartclan said...

You are a talented writer! I just loved the passion and TRUTH of labor, feelings and family! God bless! ~Karen


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