Then There Were Fireworks
How much can one prepare for their life to change in ways unimaginable? Sure, there are books, advice from mothers themselves, and an endless search engine ready at your fingertips; but how can you prepare your mind and heart for the weight of motherhood?
As my due date approached, then passed, we anxiously waited for our little girl to make her move and I truly felt prepared. I had been bouncing on my yoga ball and basically doing anything and everything I had read that helped “speed up” the labor process or make my water break. Then finally, on July 3rd, I started to feel my first real contractions. I kept telling myself that it was likely nothing because I had gotten my hopes up many times before. Yes, I was that pregnant lady who thought she was having contractions when really they were Braxton Hicks. We even went to the hospital in June because I thought I was in labor. Whoops.
I called my doctor, took a hot bath, got in bed and tried to sleep through as many contractions as I could handle. Early morning, July 4th, I woke from painful back labor. I waited as long as I could before Nate and I finally left for the hospital. By July, the car ride to the hospital was very familiar to us but that trip felt vastly different than any other before. I remember walking into the hospital and telling the woman at the front desk that I thought I was in labor; it still didn't feel real. After almost 2 hours of being hooked up to machines in triage (accompanied by many tears), a midwife came in and spoke the words I had been dreaming of for the last couple weeks, “you’re in labor and we’re admitting you”. However those words came with others that were not so welcomed; our child’s heart rate was raising concern.
Most of that morning felt like a dream. A blur.
I remember us walking into the room where our little baby girl would be delivered and it was all surreal. That morning and afternoon felt more like days that dragged on forever. I labored for almost 12 hours. I honestly have never been in that much pain in my life so some not so classy words might have been said.... sorry Nate. I tried to wait as long as I could before getting an epidural but I eventually caved. I have a terrible fear of needles so getting an epidural was the one part of labor I was really dreading. (Some advice if you want to get an epidural - don't google videos of people getting an epidural like I did because it will only make it much worse.) I had the epidural - aka magic - in for a couple hours and Hadley's heart rate wasn't improving. We anxiously watched the monitor as her heart rate dropped during contractions. I tried moving in different positions and doing whatever the nurses suggested to help, but my efforts only made her heart rate spike. It then became dangerously high and we got the news that I had prayed against for the last nine months; I needed a c-section.
Why had I been praying against a c-section?? Well, the idea of being cut open and undergoing this type of surgery terrified me! I never had more than my blood drawn or shots, so the thought of entering an operating room, while my child’s heart was under stress, unraveled me. I felt so out of control of my own body and my own labor. It wasn't what I had planned or wanted. It was a hard reality to grasp that I needed to have this done for a healthy delivery.
Before we made our way to the OR, Nate and I prayed. We prayed and cried and prayed and cried some more. Nate was told to wait outside as they prepared me for surgery. I was the most scared I had ever been in that moment; hooked up to machines with a blue curtain blocking below my chest. The doctors were talking to Nate and I during the entire operation. I lay there in disbelief that there was a baby being pulled out of me and I couldn't feel more than slight pressure. What felt like 5 minutes later, our little girl had arrived. Perfectly healthy and beautiful; surreal. PRAISE JESUS! I still hadn't seen her yet but I could hear her little cry - cue all the tears. Nate went and picked up our little girl, after the nurses were done cleaning her, and I saw her for the first time. She was and is the best mix of us; my chunky cheeks and Nate's curly dark hair.
Then there were fireworks.
Midnight approached as we finally wheeled into our recovery room. It was quickly filled with nurses and family members meeting the newest Lawrence for the first time. Our hearts were so full; more than I ever could have imagined. Truly nothing compared to the overwhelming sense of smallness I felt as I held my daughter in my arms. I knew I had very little to do with her being here and that God, alone, made a way for her life.
We spent three nights in the hospital with little sleep and cafeteria food. Needless to say, we were ready to go home! As we packed our room and planned our departure, I became increasingly overwhelmed. Nate was getting our car ready to leave and waiting for me by the curb. Hadley started hysterically crying right before we were supposed to leave (this had not happened yet since birth). I took her out of the car seat to try and calm her down but nothing seemed to help. I decided to just put her back in and head out. I left the hospital with a crying newborn and a lot of anxiety. (If anyone reading this is a fan of The Office, I felt exactly like Jim and Pam when they left the hospital with Cece.) How are we going to do this without the help of nurses? How will I know if I’m feeding her right? What if she chokes - what do we do? What if she doesn’t sleep? What if I never learn how to swaddle her? What if we didn’t bond because I wasn’t able to hold her enough?
We pulled into our driveway and life felt so different. Our house was filled with family and unpacked bags - overwhelming to say the least. All Hadley did for two weeks was eat and sleep but in those first few days with our daughter, I learned how unprepared I really was. I learned how little I control.
Next Week : The Good, The Bad, and The Postpartum