My first two experiences with childbirth were, to put it mildly, a complete blur of intensity and activity from the first unmistakable contraction to the full delivery, all completed in, roughly, an hour. Even with going all natural, without any kind of pain relief, I failed to have the spiritual journey and experience that many women experience. There simply was no time for it. Those short minutes were powerful, consuming, and suddenly over. And there was a baby!
But, there's no time like the third time to switch things up.
I've struggled with some degree of insomnia/sleeplessness at night during all my pregnancies, it begins in the second trimester and then comes on with a vengeance in the final stretch. This was manageable when I could sleep whenever, because I had no children yet. It was somewhat doable when I had only one child who still napped every day, so I slept when she slept. It was death itself with two children who did not nap at the same time; one who would not sit through more than 15 minutes of a movie, no matter how hard I wished it. I'm fairly certain I wondered how tired you had to be to die of exhaustion.
The fatigue began to lead to heavy bouts of Braxton Hicks. The only solution was to plunk myself down in our small recliner and helplessly watch as my husband took over. So when I began having mild, yet regular, contractions, I wrote them off as more Braxton Hicks. Until, they kept coming, even as I rested. And they progressed, albeit slowly. This was nothing like my slamming, sprint-to-the-labor-unit experiences previously, it was a textbook perfect picture of labor. Which was so weird. I may be one of the only moms who, on her third experience with labor, kept asking if this is what labor is supposed to feel like? Was it labor?
Eventually we made it over to the hospital and admitted. Turns out a history of precipitous labor leapfrogs you into a room much more quickly than normal. Nobody wants you having a baby in the hallway. And labor went on. And on. For five hours.
Let me pause here and acknowledge the thousands, if not millions, of women who bear through much longer periods of labor, with grace, fortitude, and maybe only a little profanity. But to a girl used to an hour or less, five hours was an eternity.
My exhaustion was so deep. The words, "I am so tired," left my mouth more times than I can probably count. Tyler wisely never complained about that. Even as I entered into end-stage contractions, I began dozing in the short intervals between them, on my hands and knees, leaning my head forward onto the raised bed, only to be jolted back into awareness by another contraction. For the first time, I began to question whether or not I was up to this experience. Deep in my heart was a chilling fear that I couldn't sustain this for much longer, I was too tired, too worn out already.
Yet in my fear, I found my heart pleading for help and strength. In our quiet room, as Tyler and I were left peacefully alone, we prayed together. And my mind began to replay two scriptures over and over again. These scriptures aren't mine to share, they are Jeremiah's, tied into his name and who he's going to be. But I felt this strength, this knowledge that this child wasn't just mine, he was God's, and together he and I were going to get through this childbirth business together. So as the contractions began piling up upon each other and my heart wavered at the thought of continuing on, I heard the words of God over and over again.
An immense pressure began to build, soon becoming more unbearable than the contractions, the midwife informed me that it was likely my bag of waters, still unbroken. She offered to break it for me and I agreed without a second thought. As I breathed heavily into an oxygen mask (since I had begun to feel quite dizzy and realized I was very close to passing out), she broke that sack and, just like that, two minutes later Jeremiah was fully born. His birth was the most painful, the longest, and also, the most spiritual.
And now, he's a wiggly, ever-moving 10 month old who fiercely admires his older brother, fake cries like a boss, and loves to have conversations. Someday, I have no doubt, I'll see the meaning of those scriptures play out and I'll watch in awe as I realize that my Heavenly Father saw this coming all along, when a worn-out girl needed to know that she and her coming son were known.