In the week since I last posted, I gave birth to the most beautiful little boy. What a week of love it has been! For those of you who read my last post, you will know that the weeks leading up to the end of pregnancy were very difficult, but holding this little nugget in my arms has wiped away so much of that pain. His life is so worth the suffering I’ve been through and will doubtless go through; it’s just a part of life.
You also know if you read my last post that I am coming to terms with my weakness. This is the story of Brennan’s birth, and it is a story of weakness.
To start this story, you need a little background about the birth of my daughter Lily in March 2012.
To say that all of my friends who had kids before me are hippies would be a little bit of an exaggeration…we’ll call them granola. Crunchy. The I-gave-birth-naturally-with-a-midwife-and-I-only-use-cloth-diapers type. Awesome women who have turned into awesome moms.
As I yearned for my own baby to hold in my arms, I learned a lot from them—the best toys for promoting imaginative self-play, how important breastfeeding is, and how they prepared for the natural births of their children. There was never any condemnation for women who chose to have c-sections, just conversations here and there about the awesomeness of natural childbirth and how God made our bodies to do it well and how quick modern doctors are to promote surgery over nature.
When we found out we were expecting, only 1 week before moving cross-country from Texas to Florida, we were thrilled! And as you know from the last post, I quickly quit taking the antidepressant I had so long been accustomed to. We arrived in Florida from Texas and settled in. I didn’t get a job because I was honest when people asked if I would continue to work after the baby was born (the answer was no). So there was a lot of HGTV and snacking during Lily’s gestation.
And gall stones.
The. worst. pain. ever.
And there’s no baby at the end. Just relief from the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. (Don’t Google image-search ‘gallstones’ unless you have a strong stomach…)
I had particularly bad gallstones which blocked my pancreas and caused pancreatitis, which the doctors told me could be fatal. At 37 weeks, I was hospitalized for 3 days. Those stones passed but they told me that if I had another stone like that, they would do an emergency c-section and cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal).
I had another gallstone. We raced to the hospital, glad that at the other end I would have no gallbladder and we would be holding Lily in our arms.
The gallstone passed in the hospital. Alas, it didn’t block my pancreas, so no need for emergency surgery. And we came home again with no baby.
When I went in for my 39 week appointment, they told me that I was dilated .5 cm. After all those darn Braxton-Hicks contractions. That’s the tip of a finger. Baby ain’t coming anytime soon, they said. And then they did an ultrasound…which said baby measured either 8 pounds or 10 pounds. And hadn’t dropped.
“You have a medium-sized pelvis,” the midwife said, “but not a big pelvis. This is a big baby. Would you like to have a c-section tomorrow?”
It didn’t take long for a ‘heck yes’ to come out of my mouth. Or at least that’s what I felt in my heart. :o)
So my first baby never dropped, never caused me to go into labor, and never got shoved through a very small opening in my body. And consequently she had a beautifully shaped head that got lots of compliments.
I ended up having another gallstone two weeks later and had that darned cholecystectomy, so healing from a c-section was compounded by healing from the awful-gas-inducing laparoscopic gallbladder removal.
All this was compounded by this tiny evil voice in the back of my head that told me, “You are a wimp. A c-section? You haven’t passed the womanly test of natural childbirth. Sucks for you. Try again next time.”
And there was a twinge of guilt every time people asked me about my delivery.
“Oh, emergency c-section?”
No. It was scheduled. Because I am a wimp. I couldn’t handle being pregnant anymore.
(Never mind that I grew and carried another HUMAN inside my body for 9 months. But guilt and shame are not always logical.)
When we got pregnant with Baby #2, I wanted to try for VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian). There were multiple reasons (it’s cheaper!), but I have to say my main motivation was to prove myself.
I am a woman. I can do this. I am captured by the eschatological impulse expressed in the groanings of child-bearing. I want this experience.
As I type that, it is so obviously about me. But it’s the truth.
We started our pregnancy with the delightful midwife all my crunchy friends had used, but we moved when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. I told my new OB/GYN that I wanted to try for a VBAC and asked what he thought.
“You had an elective c-section with your first?” (Enter feelings of shame.) “It’s possible. There’s a one in 200 chance of uterine rupture, and that could be catastrophic. But we can try.”
I love my doctor. But those words “could be catastrophic” rang in my ears and in my heart. I know that many woman have done a VBAC successfully, but my heart was troubled.
So we prayed. We asked for wisdom about what to do. And one night shortly thereafter, I had a dream.
In my dream, I was wading up a shallow river in my hometown. The setting was familiar. I saw familiar faces of people from all different places as I walked, pregnant and heading for the hospital. It took me a long time to make it upstream. I arrived at the inlet that would take me to the hospital and I sat and waited. It was so peaceful. The water around me was so clear and I sat on some rocks, waist-deep in the stream. I felt like a salmon who had swum upstream to lay her eggs. It was beautiful. Pine trees overhead. The colors of East Texas fall. And then my doctor walked up to me and said, “Amanda, it’s time to have a c-section.” So we went inside the hospital, I had a c-section, and they laid my son in my arms.
When I woke up and told my husband about the dream, I realized that I had decided to have a c-section.
Fast-forward to last Monday morning. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so ready to meet our son. Our c-section was scheduled for 7:30 and we eagerly reported to the hospital at 5:45 a.m. The nurses were amazing. They prayed for me in the operating room…I hate anesthesia and needles. And while they were putting in the anesthesia, Jesus got my attention in all my fear and worry.
“Look at Me,” He said. “Let My beauty carry you through this.”
And in my heart I could see Him standing there before me, and all was well.
There was such joy in me as I endured the surgery. It’s not a walk in the park, but the joy set before me was my son! And when they held him up and he cried, so did I.
Ten pounds and one ounce.
The doctor said I would have had to have a c-section anyway.
And I was so thankful for dreams and revelation of the Father’s heart for me.
Not a wimp. Just weak. Learning to walk in relationship with the God who holds all things together.
P.S. Sorry for the sentence fragments, honey. (My husband is a bit of a grammar nerd and told me after the last post, “You are a great writer. Your sentence fragments just bother me a little.”) It’s my blogging voice. :o) I promise not to use them in an academic paper.
Thank you all for reading. I have had so many responses of encouragement and love, as well as chastisement for using the terms ‘wimpy’ and ‘weak’. I believe some clarification is in order. Firstly, the title of the post was a take on _The Diary of a Wimpy Kid_, more a pop culture allusion and an attempt at humor than an indication of feeling wimpy myself. Secondly, I completely believe that a Caesarian section is a valid alternative to vaginal delivery, not lesser. It is often necessary. I did not mean to imply any judgment towards others moms for going this route, planned or emergency. This post was to process the guilt I felt at missing out on the vaginal birth experience. But I hope you could tell from reading that my delivery was full of peace and joy after I dealt with those feelings, results of lies from the devil.