Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. --Luke 1:57 (NKJV)
Quick warning that this is a birth story. I won't be graphic or anything but some like details and some don't so be forewarned ;)
It sure has seemed to me all along this pregnancy that it has been so clearly God's doing. I discovered the existence of a little person growing inside me just a few days after arriving in Nicaragua with our family and after having some bleeding that made me think I wasn't pregnant. He sustained this little life with His hand through a time of lots of transition and stress. I felt so blessed every movement I felt especially as the tragedy of miscarriage has come home to me recently in the loss of several babies in families close to my heart. Yet God brought this one safely through pregnancy and birth. Praise Him!
Fast forward 40 weeks. Did I say 40 weeks? I've never gone that long with any of our other babies! I always have my babies early! My mom had come to visit and help and her days here were ticking by and I began to worry this little guy was just too comfortable on the inside. I kept putting off going into the doctor for a check (they're not really by appointment in Nicaragua) hoping I'd have the baby before I needed to go in... But then the day after my due date I went in and heard some discouraging news. Not effaced, or dilated hardly at all. Seriously, this has never happened to me. My other babies' labors seemed to have an extended early phase during which I hardly felt pretty gentle contractions off and on for a week and then birth... How long would it be for this baby?! Would my parents be gone by then? But the doctor did 'strip my membranes' to hopefully help the process. I went home and cried hormonal tears and prayed with less hope than I should have had.
The next night, I noticed some contractions. They were stronger than I remembered from early labor experiences. They continued throughout the day. I didn't want to spend a long time in the hospital and have never 'progressed' quickly so I stayed home and kept up normal life just sitting down during contractions as they became more painful. Then around 4pm, it seemed time to head to the hospital as the contractions were getting stronger. By the time we got everything together it was 4:30 and I was starting to feel a bit urgent about getting there. But in Nicaragua the routine is to stop by the Doctor's clinic for a quick check of progress before going to the hospital so we got the car and did that (thankfully very close to our house). The doctor was out of the office and so the nurse called for her to come. As I sat in the waiting room, I told Lucas to ask how long she'd be and if it was anything longer than 10 minutes, we'd better just go to the hospital. The nurse said, very unhelpfully, "ya viene" which could mean anything from 30 seconds to an hour or more.... but thankfully it was pretty much 30 seconds later that the doctor walked in. She examined me and said "We have to run, Melissa" so painful quick walk to the car again for the hospital's emergency entrance.
Thankfully the hospital was just a few blocks away. But that means it was in downtown Leon and so we did have to get through rush hour traffic, which seemed to crawl. I told Lucas to pray but not out loud while I had some very strong contractions in the car. I kept looking out the window at all the people walking around NOT in labor and very much wishing I could be them just then. Traffic seemed to miraculously clear. We got to the emergency entrance and the doctor was waiting to lead me to a wheelchair. How she got there before us I'm not sure but I'm glad she did! I heard some discussion as to whether we could go up to the OB unit or not, but the elevator was deemed too slow so the ER operating room it was. Some nurses helped me quickly into a hospital gown and into the blessedly air conditioned ER room we went. Quickly I was gotten all situated for delivery and had one last strong contraction while I watched the doctor walk and get all her stuff in order. She then broke my water and Peter was born with just one push.
Ah, such a relief to be done with labor. I got to see hold him for a minute before he was whisked off to be weighed and apgared, but kept hearing reassuring cries. In came Lucas who had quickly parked the car and arrived at the hospital just in time to be confronted by an orderly for baby clothes. 5 and 14 were announced and I wondered if that was his weight, but it was the time of his birth. Weight was announced in grams and the Doctor said that was just at 6 lbs. They brought Peter back, dressed him while I watched, moved me to the gurney and handed him to me. Then Lucas and I had the chance to study him together for a few minutes while everything was readied to move us to a recovery room.
Though my stay in recovery was only overnight, I was so glad to find it clean and delightfully restful after the activity of our home and stress of labor. We did find that the stay wasn't quite as peaceful for Lucas because we were a little unprepared for the differences from American hospitals - he had to run out to get me dinner and a towel so I could take a shower. Then we didn't have a blanket and hat for Peter because they're always provided in US hospitals so we had to be a bit creative with hospital sheets and baby spit-up rags. All in all, minor inconveniences. It was mostly just delightful to be on the other side of the 'unknown' and pain of birth!
So sweet to hold my new tiny son! It all happened so fast! So unlike his brother and sisters in his arrival. His birth certainly taught me some humility in that I don't just know what to expect just because I have had three other children. It was reassuring to see God's guiding and sustaining hand through the whole thing. It was truly "with the help of the Lord [that] I brought forth [this little] man"(Gen 4:1). It is with His help that we really do everything we do, even when we don't realize it; but it was certainly a blessing to feel and know His help in this!