I’m not so good at remembering to jot down my children’s birth stories. In fact, my eldest son turns 17 years old TODAY, and I realize I have never written down his birth story! As we enter Birthday Season for our family (3 sons, and my mom, with birthdays in the next 2 weeks), I thought I’d take a few minutes on each birthday boy’s day to record their entrance-into-the-world narratives. (Don’t worry, details are more mundane than gory!)
17 years ago last night, January 21st, 1998, my husband and I headed to lead the Jr. High youth group at our church. Usually we split up the Bible Study and game portions of the evening, but I was off duty that night since our firstborn child was due to arrive in just 10 days. As I sat in the back of the Jr. High room, I realized I had to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom, I went a little longer than I thought I needed to. Maybe a lot longer? Suddenly, I realized my water had broken! I snuck back into the Jr. High room and motioned for my husband. Ron came to the back of the room and with wide eyes I whispered that my water had broken. I thought he would be the typical new dad (you know, like the kind I had grown up seeing on television) and begin stressing out and want us to leave immediately.
He acknowledged, “Alright! Let’s finish Bible Study and then we’ll go home.”
“But, but…my water broke!”
“Here, you can sit on my jacket.”
So there I sat, in the back of the Jr. High room for an hour while hubby wrapped up the bible study. I let some of the darling middle school girls know what had happened, and confessed I was freaking out that it might look like I had wet my pants. After youth group, they gathered around me in little tight bubble and walked to my car, one unified blob, protecting me from embarrassment.
Thankfully, just about 8 months earlier, my good friend had her water break 10 days before her due date. I had the same doula she did, and was well-versed in what to do should this happen to me: let the doula know, relax, and if contractions do not begin within 24 hours, go to the hospital. I wasn’t supposed to go right to the hospital unless I thought something was wrong, and I wasn’t to worry about not having immediate contractions.
At home, I double-checked that my bags were packed (including a darling nursing nightgown with matching baby blankie – oh how I wish I had a set like this for every baby born), drank a glass of wine and went to bed (I’m not much of a wine drinker, but had a glass of wine at the beginning of several of my labors so I could get some sleep without apprehension). Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up with very strong contractions. Very strong. I had understood that early labor was supposed to be mild, and these first contractions were anything but mild. The strength of them threw me into a panic. All I could think of was, ” If this is what mild contractions feel like, what will the tough ones feel like?” I suddenly realized why my doula had laughed when we had been discussing the pain and I asked if I might just take Tylenol to relieve it!
We waited about 1/2 hour for the doula to arrive. She calmed me down a little, but I really kept imagining the pain doubling or tripling and was pretty frightened (it never did get any worse). During the actual contractions, I was able to relax and be at peace. My doula had taught me to say the word ” low” in a low, moaning voice. It really worked wonders, and was something I held on to and used throughout all four of my other births. However, I could not shake the idea that the contractions were going to build up immensely in intensity and this scared me.
Setting up a pattern for each birth to come, my contractions were all over the place. A really hard one, then an easy one. Never evenly spaced either. I think it has something to do with my very random personality! At the hospital, I begged for drugs. The doula talked me into Stadol, because she said it leaves your system faster than the others. It was horrible. It felt like laughing gas. Falling in and out of sleep between contractions, I deliriously babbled about crazy dreams. Suddenly the pain would hit so hard that I’d be shoved back into reality for a few minutes. Several hours like this were surreal and uncomfortable. I’m glad I was able to avoid narcotics in subsequent births!
Eventually, it was time to push. I had to push for 2 hours, which is not unusual for a first birth and probably had something to do with the narcotics. Finally, the baby was ready to emerge! We were so excited to find out if he was a boy or girl (the umbilical cord was hiding the privates during the 20 week ultrasound). How exciting to learn we had a son, Christian Joseph!
And with his birth, I was ushered into motherhood. I remember a friend visiting later that evening at the hospital and asking if Christian and I had bonded yet. I’m not one who tends toward dishonesty (I have plenty of sinful habits but being honest comes easily to me), but I looked at her and lied.
And I wondered what in the world “bonding” with a baby looked like? I had no idea how to get about this business of bonding.
Well, I’ve definitely bonded with him now. My now-17 year old son is an amazing young man. He’s a hard-worker, friendly, outgoing, eager to try new things, adventurous, a risk-taker. He cares for others. He loves the Lord. He’s handsome. He’s smart. He’s good at fitting in with others while retaining a unique sense of who he is. He makes friends and keeps them. He’s serious-minded but with a healthy sense of humor.
I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful firstborn son! Happy birthday, Christian!