Friday, September 18, 2009

Eli Jameson Wheeler

Over the past few days, I've been pondering how much of Eli's birth story I ought to share on this blog. While I'm not really embarrassed by any of it (birth strips you of all personal pride), I also don't want to make anyone else blush. My thoughts and reflections, as initially recorded in my personal journal, are also quite lengthy. It seems rather presumptuous to think that anybody else might actually want to read them. While I am personally enchanted by the entire birth process(after the births of my children, I always ponder a career change to become a labor and delivery nurse), I recognize that others may not share my passion.

And so, I am compromising by offering a lighter Reader's Digest version in addition to the weightier, unabridged story. Feel free to give either or both a perusal, or if you're not interested, simply surf on by. :)

Special Delivery: Top Ten Lessons Learned from the Birth of our Son

1. If you are overdue, the best way to jump start labor is to attend a church potluck.

2. Always invite Grandma to drive out from Nebraska early so that she can conveniently watch the kids when it's time to go to the hospital.

3. It's possible to drift off to sleep at midnight, completely unaware that you will be holding your brand-new baby in less than 3 1/2 hours.

4. If your water breaks on the living room carpet, scream like a banshee and race to the tile as fast as you can.

5. If you don't visibly lose composure during active labor, nobody will believe you when you say your baby is coming fast.

6. If nobody (except your husband) believes that the baby's coming soon, nurses will ask you dozens of stupid questions instead of filling the birthing tub.

7. If you are already 8 centimeters when the midwife is finally summoned to check you, there will only be 8 centimeters of water in the tub when it's time to push. You can't have a waterbirth without water. (Our midwife said that I could blame it on the efficiency of my uterus...)

8. Pushing stinks. Knees don't belong behind your ears.

9. If you can't have a waterbirth, at least ask for a mirror so that you can see what's happening. While admittedly goopy and somewhat gross, watching your child be born is the most beautiful sight you will ever see.

10. If you take "me" and stick it in the middle of my favorite person "Jason," the result is our precious little Eli Jameson--who we love even more than our A&W root beer.

The Unabridged Tale of a Miracle
September 16, 2009

A miracle has come into our lives today. Baby Eli was born at 3:27 am, weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces, measuring 18 inches long, and boasting a full head of beautiful light brown hair. The timing of his arrival worked out remarkably well, particularly considering how long (and impatiently) we've been waiting. When I went to my ObGyn appointment in the morning, the midwife Ray Spooner told me that I was already four centimeters dilated. He suggested that I consider going up to Labor and Delivery to have my water broken, as that would likely put me into labor right away. Of course, this was at 10:00 am, but the soonest they would be able to fit me in was at 2:00.

Very surprised and more than a little caught off guard, I decided that I wanted to at least wait until the next morning before trying this kind of an induction. That would at least give me time to invite my Mom to come out and watch the girls. I also wanted a bit of time to decide whether or not this was something I really wanted to do. As difficult as it is to wait, and as big and uncomfortable as I get, I still feel like things often work out for the best if you wait until baby is ready to come instead of rushing things as long, especially if there is no medical reason to induce.

Well, fortunately I never had to make this decision. My mother, bless her wonderful heart, hopped right in the car and made it to Savoy around 9:00 pm. After putting the girls to bed, I finished getting our hospital bags ready and put them by the door, in case we decided to go the hospital for our 8:00 am appointment the next day. When I took my Tylenol PM and crashed around 11:00 pm, I still hadn't decided whether or not I wanted to be induced. I remember telling Jason that I was so exhausted that I was going to cancel if I didn't get a good night's sleep.

Well, it turns out that sleep was not on the agenda. There were so many things running through my mind that I didn’t drift off until nearly midnight. Then at 12:30 am, I woke up feeling "different." At 12:35 I had a definite contraction--not terribly strong or terribly long, yet significant. The contractions came quite regularly every five minutes apart, so at 1:00 am I nudged Jason to let him know. We snuggled in bed together for a while, but at 1:30 he told me that he thought we should head to the hospital. While I was still quite comfortable and content in bed, I knew that Jason was terrified of delivering this baby at home, so I agreed and started to get ready.

We took our time getting ready, thinking that perhaps it was false labor and everything would putter out on the way to the hospital. Before we left, Jason gave me a beautiful blessing. While I don't remember many specifics because I was contracting, I was filled with a tremendous peace that everything was going to be okay.

At about 1:45 pm, we tiptoed downstairs and started to gather our final things. All of a sudden, I felt this enormous gush of warm water cascade down my legs right in the middle of the living room. I raced over to the tile floor, squealed upstairs to Jason, and woke up my Mom with yells of how my water just broke. What a shock! My pants were soaked, but fortunately the carpet was saved. I’m just so grateful that my water didn’t break five minutes later in the car… Oh, I cringe to think about it!

At this point, both Jason and I were really nervous that the baby might be delivered on the front doorstep. He ran upstairs to grab me new pants and some towels, and we hurried off to the hospital, getting there around 2:15.

On the way to the hospital, I called labor and delivery to let them know I was coming. I also told them that I wanted a waterbirth and my second delivery was very fast, so they probably ought to start filling the tub. Oh, how I wish they had listened to me!

Walking into the ER, I must have been quite a sight. I’d leaked amniotic fluid all the way to the hospital, making it look like I'd peed my pants. I wrapped a towel around me in an effort to conserve a thread of dignity, but even in the middle of heavy labor, the effect was more comic than anything.

At the hospital, it seemed like everything moved in slow motion. It took them so long to check me in. For some reason, the way I best deal with strong contractions is to pretend like they're not really happening. So while I tell people I'm in strong, active labor, based on my actions they don't really believe me. The first nurse I saw asked me how far apart my contractions were. When I told her three minutes, she responded, "But you haven't had any since you got here," to which I responded "I've had three." Even if she believed me (which I don’t think she did), she certainly didn't check on the birthing tub like I asked her to.

The next nurse was friendlier, but also unconvinced about the speed of my labor. Instead of calling the midwife, she insisted on getting me completely registered and putting me on a fetal monitor. While I answered all sorts of absurd questions about my life history and what I'd eaten for dinner, the birthing tub sat empty. The nurse assured me that Ray was really fast at filling it, so not to worry--she'd get him as soon as I signed these dozen forms...

Arghh! In general, I'm grateful that I'm generally able to stay in control and fairly polite through active labor, but in retrospect, I should have been grumpier and more insistent. After all, who knows my body better than I do? By the time they finally called Ray (saying on the phone that I “seemed fairly active"), I was almost 8 centimeters. Ray glanced at me, sighed, and in his soft-spoken manner informed me that there likely wouldn’t be enough time to fill the tub for my cherished waterbirth.

They got the tub out and started the water running, but there were only a couple inches of water in it by the time I was ready to push. I certainly was disappointed that my birth wasn't going to happen as I had "planned," but I felt comforted by Jason's blessing. I was able to let it go and focus on what mattered most, the safe arrival of our baby boy. As silly as it sounds, the "product" matters much more than the "process." At one point, I complained to the nurse about how I had tried so many times to tell everyone how fast I labor, but no one believed me. She replied that they did believe me, to which I retorted, "Not enough to start filling the tub!" (Score one for Kara.) 

While the labor may have been short, pushing lasted an eternity (or at least 25 minutes). I started to push around 3:00 am, and thought I would die. This is always the point where I question why in the world I choose to do things the hard way instead of requesting an epidural. As strange as it seems, I get struck by this paralyzing fear that I'm going to poop all over the doctor. While logically I know that this is just what having a baby feels like, I've been socially conditioned my whole life long that it's impolite to crap on others. It makes it really hard for me to push well, especially when it hurts so much. I have to let down my facade of control and just start screaming, yelling, and praying that this beast inside me will finally come out!

As difficult as it is to think clearly during labor, on some level, I'm able to distance myself and see it all from a higher perspective, like a bird watching from above. From up on high, birth appears simultaneously marvelous and hilarious. There is such a comic element to the indignity of the whole situation. At one point, they switched nurses on me without any warning. I’ve got my knees behind my ears, everything precious exposed, and I’m yelling my brains out when all of a sudden this brand new face appears to watch the show. Counterproductive as it may have been, I stopped pushing and said, "Well, talk about an introduction!"

As generally happens during birth, just when you think you'll never make it, you summon all of your inner strength and courage, give one last horrendous effort--and the baby's there. The miracle. All the pain, all the waiting, all the discomfort--it's all wiped away in the joy. There is truly nothing in the world like it, and you know that you would do it all again.

While I'd wanted a waterbirth, there was a silver lining behind the standard delivery--I got to see it. I saw it! I had the presence of mind to ask for a mirror, which was well-adjusted so that I could actually watch my son emerge. I can't describe the feeling of seeing his tiny face--so perfect with its tiny nose, miniature eyes, and little mouth--slip out of my womb. Words can't describe the experience, but the bond that I feel will never die.

Eli came out rather purple--his cord was wrapped twice around his neck--but he pinked up right away and gave a hearty cry. I was so grateful that they gave him to me immediately to hold for as long as I wanted instead of whisking him away to be weighed, measured, and generally tormented. As he handed him to me, Ray’s words were, “I believe this is yours,” and I marveled “Yes, yes.” He was ours, and he was finally here.

Between a few streaks of blood and the meconium that Eli leaked on his way out, the birthing bed was a mess, and yet it was the most beautiful sight to have our family united together. While the hospital may have been bursting with new babies that evening, there was surely no happier place at that moment. When Heavenly Father sends a new spirit to this world, he coats it with pure joy. The blood and slime bit is just a fa├žade designed to discourage those hearts which aren’t ready to receive such a blessing.

Blessings—out of the very many ways in which we have been recently blessed, all pale in comparison with the arrival of our Eli Jameson Wheeler. If you take “me” and surround me with all of the love and warmth of my best friend Jason (Jameson), the result is our little Eli. While tiny now, in Hebrew his name is connected with uplifting height and ascension. Indeed, he inspires me to stand a little taller, reach a little higher, and be a little better. Ultimately, his name is connected with that of our Creator and inspires us remember our God-- while Jason and I may be stewards here on earth, it is to Him that he truly belongs.


Mrs. M said...

I love birth stories, and I'm so glad you posted both versions. I agree with you that nurses and people in general tend to disbelieve that you're having "real" contractions unless you make a lot of noise about it. I'm so impressed that you deliver without anesthesia! I have only considered it...

I love your explanation of Eli's name. Very personal and sweet.

Congratulations again!

Talyn said...

It's so frustrating when nurses don't believe you. Gah! When I checked into the hospital with Alena I had already been laboring for 26 hours. "We'll send you to triage to see if you're really in labor." Just because I'm not screaming doesn't mean I'm not in labor. I was just about at an 8 when they finally checked me too. It appears it pays to be a squeaky wheel. Maybe I'll start practicing grunting and whining.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole story. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on your sweet little boy.

Our Family said...

Congratulations. I am so very happy for both of you. Kappy

Becca said...

Thank you for posting your story. It brought tears to my eyes. You are an incredible writer at it brought back so many memories and reminders of having my sweet babies. Thanks.

makinzee said...

My water broke in the car. Luckily I had a big blanket in the back and Mike was with me! Love all the details both versions!

candice said...

What a beautiful story.

After laboring with Eden, I decided that all the birthing books were lies, lies and morel lies! I read all about how when the baby crowns a 'natural numbing occurs'---this might be the worst lie there is, however, the second is equally as bad, that after contractions the worst part is over, they even go so far to say that 'pushing feels good' another horrible, horrendous LIE--yet here i am doing it all again 'unmedicated' (at least that is the plan :) ).

thanks so much for sharing.

michelle said...

I echo the comments. I can't figure out why hospitals have us preregister and then take a ton of time asking the same questions when the babe is at el punto de aparacer. I'm glad they called your midwife and he was there for the birth, although I've learned that you can deliver with only nurses present. (I suppose a few others would say you don't even have to be at the hospital, but I am glad I don't know first hand on that one.) I love birth stories and enjoy reading them--especially when they are so well written as yours. It is very touching and reminded me of two very special moments I've had in my life.

The Favorite said...

That is a beautiful story and we are so happy for all of you- really! You are amazing to do all of that w/o medication and he is truly beautiful!

Heidi C. said...

Kara and Jason,

Congratulations on the birth of Eli Jameson! Your story, as always, is well-written and thought provoking. As a mother of two I appreciate your birth story as only a mother can.

God Bless you and your family of 5!

Susie said...

What an amazing entry. Thanks for sharing! You are incredibly gifted and awesome. I guess if you can find time for beautiful journal entries such as those, I ought to be able to do a couple of lines a day! Giving birth is a pretty special, sacred experience and each time it does seem like a miracle.