March 7, 2015
Our little guy turned one month old this week. It has been surprisingly difficult to sit down and write, although maybe not that surprising. My brain is fuzzy and my arms are nearly constantly occupied, making it both intellectually and physically taxing to do something as complicated as BLOG. I’ve got to say I prefer this kind of weariness to the pregnancy kind, though. I’m so glad to be on this side of it–all that was and is difficult redeemed by the sweet little baby in my arms.
I really love the outcome of pregnancy, but getting here is a rough road. Nine months of nausea and weariness and physical discomfort and emotional unsteadiness, and then, finally, when it’s almost over, pain that feels like death but brings life.
Confession, though: I didn’t experience the pain that feels like death this time. For the first time I experienced…the epidural. I didn’t need to, but I wanted to. I just did. I really can’t say whether or not I’m glad I had it, except that I am glad to now know what it feels like. While it did take away most of my pain, an epidural is its own kind of unpleasant. Getting it placed was uncomfortable. It gave me the shakes, bad, but they didn’t want me piling on too many blankets and getting overheated, so I just lay there and shivered for awhile. Though we timed it well and I didn’t actually have it in for very long, being immobile during that time wasn’t my favorite. With the loss of feeling, I also lost most muscle control, and I may or may not have unintentionally passed gas…in front of the nurse…who had just discovered she was an old acquaintance of Todd’s…
But really, there’s no shame at that point. Especially when, quite apart from the epidural, our guy’s heart rate started dropping significantly with each contraction. They gave me an oxygen mask, hoping it would help him out while they waited and watched and discussed what should be done. So I lay there, numb from the waist down, cold from the waist up, IV’s plugged in to my arm and back, an oxygen mask on my face, and fear…a sense of my own inadequacy, and a worry that I wouldn’t be able to push him out fast enough.
With the sweet clarity of hindsight, that worry was a funny one. I couldn’t possibly have known it, because it had never gone fast before, but our guy came out after three minutes of pushing. THREE. Not fast enough?! It was practically too fast. (Actually, it WAS too fast. The fluid in his lungs didn’t get adequately pushed out, so he spent the next couple days coughing up amniotic fluid.) But out he came, and the midwife slipped that cord right off his neck, and he started crying right away, healthy as could be.
I had thought that having an epidural would almost make things too easy. That having a baby is supposed to be hard, and I wouldn’t appreciate the experience enough if I didn’t feel all the pain. But the point is this–babies don’t come into the world easily. Period. Natural childbirth is painful, and medicated childbirth is uncomfortable. C-sections bring fears and dangers and a difficult healing process with them. And people who bring babies home through adoption or foster care have traveled a difficult road all their own, and no one could call it easy.
There are lots of reasons that we love babies so completely and unconditionally, but I think a big reason is just that–giving them life requires sacrifice.
There’s no one else in the world we love quite so readily as our own children, but there’s no one else in the world who’s relationship has pain and sacrifice built right into it. Would any girl get married if her husband told her “Hey, marrying me is going to hurt more than you can imagine, and for the first few months of our marriage you are going to run yourself ragged serving my every need while never getting more than two hours of sleep at a time”? Sounds awesome, right? But we do that for our babies, and we adore them! I don’t serve my husband, or anyone, in quite the same way that I serve my babies, but I do find it to be true that when we sacrifice our pride and selfishness for each other, when we give unconditionally, love grows.
In a week, our girl will have been with us for one year. She didn’t come to us through physical pain, but she and we have all experienced sacrifice and loss as a result of her coming. It’s been a difficult year, but love has grown here.
Loving other people as we ought to can be challenging. But all through the gospel we see examples of sacrificial love, culminating with Christ’s gift of love on the cross. And, as always, the pictures painted for us in God’s word are meant to be realities in our life. We have many different relationships in our lives, but one thing is true in all of them–pain and sacrifice bring life and love.