Delivery seems a strange term to use for the bringing of life into this world.
Is the situation that dire?
Tuesday, July 16. Today is the day.
No more extensions. No more chances I can wait for my body to go into labor on it’s own. Doctor’s orders -it’s time for the girls to vacate the premises.
I spent the night willing my nerves to steadiness. It was as effective as trying to wash a cat in a five gallon pail. As soon as I conquered one worry, it thrashed back up, claws wide and uncurled.
I went to bed rigid, tense. Woke the same way. Somehow, it felt as though I had failed.
The phone rings at 5:30 am. It is the hospital – they are currently full and our 7:00 am induction is no longer top of the list. Apparently this is a popular day to go into labor.
Can we wait?
I fish around for a time – how long were we talking about? The nurse will not commit to anything. We just need to wait.
Jason and I are both wide awake. Ellis is at grandma’s, so we decide we may as well go for a walk.
The morning is a golden haze – the horizon glowing over Wild Mountain’s ridge. The air is thick, rich with dew. It will be hot later. We head north down our road, taking it slow, easy. The babies are quiet, lulled by the motion.
We call it good after a couple miles. Come home, check our phones. No messages. No missed calls. We decide to go back to bed.
The phone rings at 11:00 am.
“Rachel, would you still like to have your babies today?”
I measure my response. It is hard, but true.
“Great. We will see you in an hour.”
Again, measured. Again meant.
12:00 to 4:00 is a blur. We get checked in, and I change into laboring clothes. We settle in and start monitoring heart beats. Both babies are steady, albeit hard to track because they move so often. An ultrasound
At 4:00 pm, my doctor arrives. She gives me the choice to break my water and wait, or just start pitocin. I opt for the water break route. Pray that my body complies. When the contractions start almost immediately, I practically jump out of bed with excitement. Jason and I start walking, this time up and down the hospital halls.
6:00 to 8:00 marks the long haul. I have an epidural port put in, but choose not to dose it until I see how the contractions progress. I pace the room. Stretch. Sing along with the radio. Jason is a constant, steady presence. We laugh. He rubs my shoulders. He keeps close watch as things progress, checking in.
The contractions gain momentum. They are different with two babies – harder, unrelenting in the middle. After 7:00 pm, I can no longer breathe through them with any measure of comfort or control. We decide I should dose the epidural.
At 9:00 pm, the epidural is dosed, and it immediately feels as though I can breathe again. In no more than five minutes, I feel the urge to use the restroom, and ask for help getting up and taking care of that before all the fun begins. My nurse looks at me slyly, and says she’d better do a quick check. The results are quick – fully dilated, ready to go.
I am instructed not to push. This is much easier with the epidural, but still feels like the last ten miles before a rest stop when you really, really need to go. The room becomes a flurry of activity as I transfer to a gurney, and all the monitors and nurses follow us down to the operating room. I am strangely giddy at this point.
This is the final ascent.
The operating room is not the warm and fuzzy place you imagine for delivery. But as people start gowning up and filing in, the spirit of the room becomes warm. Anticipatory. We joke and laugh, talk about plans for the weekend. I keep holding back on pushing as we wait for the doctors to arrive. When they do, it is a whole new wave of excitement.
My doctor looks at the clock. It is 9:45 pm. She looks at me and says, “Let’s set a goal – babies before 10:00 pm, shall we?” I laugh, agree. Fifteen minutes. Why not.
Everything is ready. Someone, as though this is a well-choreographed movie, the actors take their places. We all wait for the next contraction, and when it comes, I am finally allowed to push. It is a different experience, pushing without much feeling. Somehow, it works. Within two heaves, Gabrielle Rose is born. She is immediately placed on my chest.
I stare into her tiny face, and my heart swells wide. Deep.
But there is still work to be done. My water for the second baby is broken, and in the process, she presents us with her feet. Repositioning ensues, but she is stubborn. My doctor tells me to push again, and with Gabrielle on my chest, I give one final, but monumental effort. Lucia Grace is born immediately, without regard to her breech positioning.
For some reason, all I can think of is the bible verse that says, “how beautiful the feet of those that bring good news.”
My friend Sarah asked me a few days after the girls were born what it was like to hold both the babies. Was it love at first sight? A huge, overwhelming love that blossomed and spilled? I told her I’d think about it, and I have been.
My answer is this. The feelings I have for these two are like a mountain stream. They have been rushing under the rocks like snowmelt, making their way to me throughout this pregnancy. But upon meeting the girls, it was as though the stream broke free of the rocks, burbling up and forward into the daylight as it continued its journey.
It will only continue to grow. With force. With feeling. With immensity. With each tiny blink and movement of their mouths. With the individual personalities that start to emerge and endear. With the smiles. The wailing. The comfort, the peace.
We are grateful. Overjoyed.
Praising God, from whom all blessing flow.