Elizabeth is a Jesus-follower, husband adorer, and full-time momma to Lydia (8), Tobias (6), Miriam (4), and Mathias (1). An Occupational Therapist by trade, she spends her days photographing daily joys, sharing authentic life with family and friends in her small South-Central PA town, serving with her hands and soul, and enjoying ice cream, fresh air, and creation. Today, she shares her birth story with us.
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Mothers love to share their birth stories. It’s a validation of sorts, of the hard that just gets tougher, of the love that knows no bounds, of the sacrifice and struggle. There is something completely miraculous about the sweet dance of pain and joy that surrounds this special time…
After a bout of infertility, the moments built as we awaited our first little bundle in the fall of 2006. As the end of my pregnancy neared, an ultrasound confirmed my belly measurements: the little one had IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). The only way to remedy this condition is to deliver. After a failed epidural (imagine double vision and an inability to swallow – scary!) and no progression, the doctor sat down and shared that our child had to be delivered in order for him or her to thrive. A C-section was the only way… A spinal was administered, however as the physician placed the scalpal on my abdomen, I winced. Yes, ineffective once again. The anesthesiologist declared, “We have to put her out.” And my immediate response was “NO! I want to be awake when my baby is born!!!” My doctor overrode the anesthesiologist and declared, “Listen to HER!” so the surgery proceeded. And I felt every excruciating tug and suture. Yet, I heard her first cry, I felt her sweet skin on mine and the pain faded as the love burst through.
Less than two years later, after conceiving immediately after ceasing nursing (when two doctors predicted I would definitely require fertility medicine again – ha!), I went into the repeat C-section with trepidation. I remember making an appointment with the anesthesiologist and crying in her office as I shared my fears. Thankfully, they were unfounded and I experienced a smooth delivery of my baby boy. My husband captured a couple photos for which I’m ever grateful. After delivery I found morphene is not my ally – the racing thoughts and relentless itching put a damper on my post-pardam moments. Recovery was a challenge with 2 in diapers. Too much too soon…
For our third I was DETERMINED to have a VBAC so I sought the only OB/GYN in my small town who would allow an attempt after two previous C-sections. He even let me go past my due date in hopes of labor starting. Again, my hopes were dashed when he indicated that I had an android pelvis and therefore my chances of starting labor naturally were quite slim. At the stress test the baby’s heart rate dipped a few times, but the doctor ensured me that since it “bounced back,” the baby was fine. As the nurses performed the early-morning surgical prep on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, once again the baby’s heart rate dropped. They pulled the emergency cord and immediately nurses filled the room in a frenzy. The doctor on-call rushed in and declared they would be putting me to sleep and delivering immediately. Again, I resisted, despite the stern warnings of the nurses and physician. Minutes later as I was wheeled into the OR, the baby’s heart rate returned to normal. A nurse friend of mine who was with us through the whole process reflected that there was a supernatural calm she felt, a confidence that surrounded the whole process that could only have come from the presence of God. Our sweet girl was born completely healthy and to this day is the feisty one of the family. ☺
As I prepared for delivery in January 2014, I contacted a friend (one of my brother’s childhood friends who he also roomed with in college, was a groomsman in his wedding, and a friend to our whole family) who practiced anesthesiology at our hospital. He agreed to perform my spinal and with the doctor’s approval, graciously allowed my husband to be present throughout the entire process which greatly eased my needle-anxiety. Due to the rapid and stress-filled environments in which the girls arrived, I mourned over not having those moments captured. As a photographer, my husband grasped how deeply I felt about him photographing my final C-section delivery. So, as he stayed by my side, he rose the camera above the drape, aimed as he could, and pressed the shutter and proceeded to photograph the moments to follow. As I reflect on these images I am in awe at what a gift they are, and what a gift life is. The cord, the fluid, the skilled and tender hands, the opening in my abdomen bringing forth blessings upon miraculous blessings, promise and future, abounding love. And the subsequent minutes: the face to face smooches, his tiny breath on mine, grasping his tiny fingers, my amazing husband caught it all on camera.
It’s true, C-sections were not my dream. They were not my plan or wish or desire. Yet, they allowed for the safe delivery of my four precious children, so for C-sections and the ones who performed them, I will be forever grateful.