How my first pregnancy ENDED im(perfectly)
By now, if you’ve read my previous post, you know that my pregnancy with my son Elijah did not exactly happen the way I had always expected a pregnancy to begin. And you also know that God sustained his life and that is now a happy (and sometimes very naughty) almost 3 year-old boy. However, there is more to that pregnancy story – more that I did not expect as well as more lessons I hadn’t really anticipated learning …
My pregnancy was pretty uncomplicated after those first weeks – I am sorry to admit to all you mothers who have had terrible morning/all day sickness that I did not have issues with nausea (I threw up almost daily even into the 2nd trimester if that makes you feel better ;)). I definitely experienced the extreme tiredness, some food cravings, and some of the other typical pregnancy-related symptoms you hear about, but that’s about it. We took childbirth education classes and planned what we wanted our labor and delivery to look like. And the weeks went by …
For our 2nd anniversary, we decided to go snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, and then out to eat in Denver. We had a great day and even though I was an awkward-looking snowshoer (I was 33 weeks along by that point), I overall felt good and strong. However, everything changed that next week while at my 34-week midwife appointment. It turns out that my blood-pressure was high and I was diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension. My midwife, Sharon, said – “How would you feel about going on modified bedrest until you deliver?” I said, “sure,” but then said, “um, what does that mean?” (maybe I should have asked that question first … ). Sharon explained how high blood pressure can affect the baby and how it could possibly lead to eclampsia (a potentially dangerous thing for mother and baby) and how it meant that I could be up to use the bathroom and shower, but that other than that, I basically needed to be sitting with my feet up or lying down. I cried. Yes, I’m a crier – some people deal with emotions in a variety of ways. I happen to cry. Who’s with me?
I think I cried for a number of reasons – out of fear for both my health and the health of my baby, because I had a ton of things I felt like I needed to do before our baby was born, and simply because this wasn’t how it was supposed to end. Although the bedrest was a struggle (I can be a real “do-er” and have trouble “be-ing” at times), I did it, because as Sharon told me, it was the best thing I could do for my baby at that point in time. Every week, I had to go in and had testing done to make sure the baby was thriving and for 3 weeks, he was. Then came the news that my amniotic fluid levels were down, which they don’t let get below a certain level. At 36.5 weeks, I went in and Sharon said I needed to again be seen in 2 days to check things out and that I needed to come prepared to head to the hospital if she wasn’t comfortable how things were looking. We packed our bag and headed to the office 2 days later. We found out that my blood pressure was elevated even more. Sharon decided to send us over the hospital to induce labor because she felt our baby needed to be delivered.
I’m not sure how much you know about natural childbirth, but in those circles, induction is largely viewed as unnecessary (except in cases where there is danger to the baby/mother) and Pitocin, the drug used to induce labor can be looked at as the devil. I’m not kidding. So, here we were, all mentally “ready” (ha!) for a natural childbirth (meaning, no drugs for pain or interventions we deemed unnecessary) and now facing a whole new scenario. I mean, originally I was not going to wear a fetal heart rate monitor so I could move freely around and change positions often, I was going to labor in the tub, and I was going to eat and drink as to keep up my energy levels during labor. However, because of needing to be induced, I was strapped with the monitor, thus not being able to move very far from my bed, the tub was no longer an option, and I was not allowed to eat much in case a c-section was needed. It was really unnerving …
I still remember having the RN saying we were going to start the Pitocin in 1/2 hour and laying quietly, realizing that I now had to have a mindset where Pitocin was my friend, and praying that God would give us the grace to flex (in labor/delivery) with what now was our reality. I also had to ask for peace, because I had basically come to fear Pitocin and the hard, driving contractions that it is known to bring about. I was so thankful for that 1/2 hour. At the end of it, I had a peace rather than a fear, and was ready to get the show on the road. Long story short, after having Pitocin started and my water broken, I dilated from 2 cm to 10 cm in 3 hours (read: intense) and delivered my beautiful baby boy at 9:30 am on April 24th, a full 3 weeks early. We were so thankful that he was healthy and doing well immediately after birth.
I/we learned some valuable lessons from that experience. It is a great idea to read, talk to others, and make informed decisions about the kind of labor and delivery you desire to have (as well as have a practitioner that is supportive of the kind of experience you want). However, when push comes to shove, how it all plays out is not in your control and you have to be ready to be flexible and roll with the punches (not exactly my speciality). Shun-Luoi and I had a much different birth experience than we had hoped for, although we were still able to deliver naturally. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was also one of the most empowering and beautiful things I have ever done.
I think that was the big take-away from all of this (the bedrest and having to be induced) – Shun-Luoi and I ultimately were not in control of our pregnancy and labor/delivery. You can read all you want, eat perfectly, exercise often, etc. etc. etc. and you know what? You could still encounter some things you did not anticipate or desire. As I sit writing this, I now chuckle to myself, now knowing that coming to the realization that I was not in control of the pregnancy/labor/delivery was just a small foretaste of how I would soon learn that I too cannot control everything I thought I would be able to as a parent. Ouch – the reality that I cannot ultimately control many things I want to or think I can is a hard one for someone like me who likes to maintain what I’ve now learned is merely the illusion of control.
We must do our part to have a healthy pregnancy, but we can’t completely control the outcome, friends. It is not in our hands, a fact that can be scary, but also freeing. God is in control. I am learning (slowly and painfully at times) to become more comfortable with that … and to let go.