Friday, September 18, 1998 … Wuerzburg, Germany:
at 11:03 p.m., I gave birth to our first child – a baby boy – 7 lbs 6 oz.
I had a feeling I was entering labor around 11 p.m. the night before. Everyone at our house (my mom & dad were there as well) had already gone to bed. I decided to let them all sleep as I laid on the couch and timed what I began to realize were CONTRACTIONS!! For a while they were probably 15-20, even 30 minutes apart not lasting very long, and I really didn’t think they were the real thing because they weren’t too strong and they were not coming frequently; the baby wasn’t due for almost another week, and I’d always heard that first babies seldom came early. I even dozed off and on for a few hours.
Imagine my husband’s surprise when he woke up early the next morning for work to find me in the living room with a paper on which I’d been tracking my contractions all night long. Since things things were going slowly, he went to work – but came back within an hour! He just couldn’t focus and told everyone there he was taking a day of leave.
As the morning and day went by, I continued to track my contractions, took a shower, double-checked my hospital bag, etc. In the early afternoon my parents, Dan, and I went for a walk to see if it would make the contractions come more consistently.
By late afternoon, the contractions were getting somewhat painful. I had to start concentratedly breathing through them and they were 10 minutes apart, sometimes just 5 minutes apart, and lasting longer. Around 6 p.m., I think we called L&D at the hospital … and the nurse I talked to said to come in but to take my time. First babies usually didn’t come in a hurry …
Dan and I left for the hospital around 7 p.m. – I got settled in a birthing suite and checked and was THRILLED and relieved to hear I was already dilated to 7 cm!! I got an IV and was given something for my nausea (a yucky side effect of labor – but something the nurses assured me was great because it meant things were progressing?!?!). Because I was at a small Army hospital, we had already been forewarned in child birth classes that if you didn’t go into labor during the one anesthesiologist’s normal working hours, you probably didn’t have much of a chance of him or her coming in to administer any kind of pain medication unless it was an absolute emergency. In a way, I was thankful because the thought of the needle of an epidural going into my back sent me into an absolute panic despite all the testimonies of friends who said it was the best thing ever. The decision had pretty much already been made for me. I was going to experience natural child birth!
Contrary to what I have been told over the years, I DO remember the pain of the contractions very well, especially as I transitioned into the last stage of labor. I remember saying, “I can’t do this!” over and over. But I also remember a nurse kind of chuckling and telling me I had no choice. 🙂 Thankfully, the pushing stage didn’t last long … and I soon heard the cry of a healthy, very irate baby boy! My parents had since arrived, and they said they heard that joyful sound all the way down the hall in the waiting room where they were.
Once I was cleaned up and given my just-bathed baby boy, I felt so incredibly good! and hungry! I hadn’t eaten much all day, so the nurses sent a request for a meal to the cafeteria so I could eat at 1 a.m. I took a quick shower and settled in to admire my long-awaited child. It all seemed like a dream … one of my favorite memories is of Dan reclining in the awful, uncomfortable, vinyl-covered “daddy chair” that was in the hospital room, holding Andrew, and singing softly to him.
They say when a child is born, so is a mother … and so is a father. Somehow you just know what to do. God kind of whispers it in your ear if you listen to Him. And now, as we endeavor to raise a teenager into manhood, I am counting on Him to continue to speak to our hearts and through The Word – it is a great privilege and responsibility to have children. Lord, please help us; we are listening!