I’m covering marriage, parenting, homeschooling so heck, why not pregnancy?
This blog is evolving to cover all seasons of a woman’s life anyway, so I am going to talk about pregnancy, too. This is number 5 for me after all and it may be my last. Or maybe not? When people ask me the question, “Will you have more kids?” I don’t have a consistent answer. Only God knows at this point. I would like to think that I can throw in the pregnancy towel because I am getting older, but I’m not a prophet or the author of my own life. So all I have to say about that is, Edric and I will cross that bridge two years from now when I’ve recovered from pregnancy and sleepless nights.
Just to manage expectations…Please don’t expect me to be scientific and have a lot of research to back up what I say about pregnancy. I have some of the most bogus ideas about what women should do during pregnancy. Some of it may be endorsed by a doctor or two, but some of it might sound ridiculous. So proceed at your own risk and please don’t sue me. If you want credibility beyond one mom’s experience with 5 pregnancies (I’m that mom), you can check out Baby Center , What to Expect and The Bump. There are a ton of websites and blogs out there that talk about everything pregnancy and baby, but I will keep it simple for you. These three sites will pretty much answer all your FAQs and they will give you a good education on conception, pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.
That leaves me with the fun stuff…personal stories and reflections on pregnancy. Yeah!
So let me begin… The first time I found out I was pregnant, it was the summer of 2002. Edric and I had been married for about 9 months. I was on birth control for 9 months (12, if you count the three months before the wedding.) We didn’t expect to get pregnant so soon but the pill regulated my period so well I was a fertile myrtle. The same month I went off the pill, I conceived. Edric was ecstatic and so was I. Actually, I felt a nervous excitement. This was unchartered territory.
With great anticipation, I started fantasizing about being a mom. All my instincts and desires seemed bent on one thing — preparing to become a mother. Shopping was all about baby stuff. I always noticed other pregnant women and babies. And I continued to do a whole lot of research about pregnancy stages and childbirth. Would it be a boy or a girl? I hoped for a boy but I was looking forward to what God would decide to give us.
When we found out that we were having a son, Edric and I were ecstatic. We went through names and combinations of names, shortlisting our favorites and then finally deciding on Elijah Lonzo. Elijah means “Jehovah is my God” and Lonzo means “Noble.” (He has lived up to these names so far. There really is a blessing attached to naming your children. Choose wisely.)
At six months we attended Chiqui Brosas-Hahn’s birthing classes. I was dead set on doing all natural — Bradley or Lamaze. Part of it was to be able to say that I buffeted my body and made it my slave and conquered the pain. But the other part was, I didn’t want anything injected into my spine and I wanted the benefits of natural birth.
Edric paid close attention during the classes. He was all there, all the time. Of course, he was going to be my coach. This was an experience we were looking forward to sharing together and he imagined being right by my side from start to finish. (I love this man.) The birthing class was very helpful because I wanted to know the facts, the details, the challenges involved. And it was all going well until I saw the birth video of a woman who bared it all. I think this permanently damaged me. It was crazy scary to think that I would be able to do the same thing. I know that my birthing instructor said it was beautiful to see a birth but I was freaked out of my mind. I wanted to die. How on earth could a baby pass through and out of a woman like that?! Could I really do that?! I think I was squeezing the blood out of Edric’s hand while watching it. He too had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after watching it. I’m exaggerating but we both were severely unnerved by the reality of natural birth.
We didn’t want to destroy our sex life so we had an agreement. Edric and I agreed that he was ABSOLUTELY NOT going to watch our baby come out. He was going to stay clear away of that area and close to my head, whispering sweet encouragement in my ear.
About two weeks before my due date, I had the hospital bag packed and Edric had planned everything in his mind. We took a tour of the hospital to get oriented and we wrote out our birthplan. I felt like a tubbo. This was the heaviest I had ever been in my life — 40 whopping pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight…something that never happened again during my subsequent pregnancies. I don’t know if it was the happy hormones that made me joyously hungry or I was simply clueless about weight management. Edric gained his own 20 pounds and no baby.
The day finally came. Or, I should say evening. I was laying down trying to go to sleep. It was 11pm. And I started to feel the contractions coming at regular intervals. Like 2 minute contractions, 4 minutes apart. This is it! Or, was it? I was a rookie. Should I bug my doctor to find out? Edric was emboldened to call her and she said to go to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, the contractions were still bearable. I was given an enema. (I didn’t have this with my later pregnancies). I began at about 5 cm but quickly progressed to 7 after the enema. In about 3 hours, my cervix was at 10 cm dilated and it was time to push. I’ve shortened the story significantly because everything else is about the excruciating pain I endured to get Elijah out into the world. The three hours of painful labor were awful and exhausting. When I started pushing, Elijah was out in 30 minutes. (Ladies, do your ab crunches before and during pregnancy up until the point where you can. Those muscles will come in handy during the pushing part and when you want to get your flat stomach back.)
What an indescribably euphoric feeling it was to have Elijah out, to hear his first cry, to see him, to hold him! I couldn’t have done it without Edric and a whole lot of prayer. God was faithful. I was dead tired but I was clapping on the inside. Edric and I felt like the happiest people in the world. After five minutes of celebrating, fatigue and disorientation kicked in. Even if I wasn’t given any anesthesia for the labor, I was out of it. I felt like I was blubbering nonsense to Edric, the doctors, and nurses. Edric took over and watched the nurses clean Elijah up. Afterwards, they let Edric hold him. Standing there, covered head to toe in blue scrubs, I saw him looking down at Elijah with amazement and wonder like, “I can’t believe I have a son.” He fell in love with him right away and so did I.
But first, I had to sleep. In the recovery room I slept for about two hours.When you give birth naturally, you don’t have to stay in the recovery room for too long. C-section births require you to be able to move your legs before you can leave. I awoke to the site of my darling boy, Elijah, in a small crib beside me. He was all bundled up, pasty white, with his face all flattened in a curious way, but I thought he was the most adorable thing in the world. (Natural born babies tend to have odd looking heads because of the pushing, but they pop right back into their genetically programmed configuration a few weeks or months after.) To be honest, my babies often look like cute little aliens at first and then they start to look human soon enough. I never can tell whom they resemble when they are newborns. People will say, “Oh he looks like you!” or “Oh he looks like Edric!” REALLY?! I think he looks like a cute little alien.
There was an entire entourage of family to greet and congratulate us as we made our way from the recovery room to the maternity wing. Of course Elijah was the star attraction. As for me, my favorite person to see was Edric. He had taken care of every detail of the hospital experience. I didn’t have to worry about a thing except for the giving birth part. Okay, that was kind of a big deal. But, I had that feeling like in movies when you have tunnel vision and the only thing that is clear is that one person you have your eye on. Everything else is muffled and defocused. Edric was smiling at me like he was seeing me again for the first time, in a different way. Well…I was a mom now and we just gone through a life-changing event. We gave each other knowing looks like, “Yeah! We are parents! We did it! This is amazing!” And then I asked for pain killers.
So one became two, then three, then four…
Every time I am pregnant and give birth, I think about how God so wonderfully designed the birth experience to be a significant part of marriage. I feel bonded to Edric in a new way. It’s romantic and magical to experience the meaning of family. And during childbirth, while I struggle through the labor, I know that I’m not alone. I don’t endure the pain alone or revel in the joy of bringing a child into this world alone. Edric is by my side, holding my hand, rubbing my back, whispering sweet encouragement in my ear, cracking jokes, calling out instructions to the nurses, and praying with me and for me — His calm presence a beautiful reminder and tangible representation of God’s love for me.
The last time I gave birth was in 2010 to our daughter, Tiana. She was our fourth child. (Photos below courtesy of my friend, Hannah, when I was 8 months.) One more coming in August 2013!