There’s power in a touch. I’ll never forget the first time Jeff held my 18 year-old hand in the movie theatre as invisible sparks filled the air. That first touch changed my life. One of my favorite Bible stories consists of Jesus healing a leper. The Scripture records that Jesus “reached out and touched the man” when he healed him. Those six words can shake the mountains with their profoud implication. Only our precious Savior would touch a man with leprosy – risking ceremonial defilement, not to mention risking his own health. He didn’t have to touch the man to heal him, but perhaps Jesus realized that the man needed to be touched more than he needed physical healing. The leper was a man that had been shunned from society – forced to live outside of the village, to constantly announce his presence around “clean” people. Can you imagine the electricity in that touch from Jesus? Can you imagine the warmth and love that flooded the man…with one touch?
I was blessed with truly the most incredible pregnancy. I wasn’t sick…not one day. I only gained 40 pounds. (This is a miracle, because I promise you that the man who works at the Mission Lamar’s Donuts KNOWS me now!) I was active the entire 10 months. I only dealt with some frustrating heart burn. But, that’s it. No horror stories here.
However, my labor and delivery was not the way I envisioned it to be. With that said, my labor culminated with the most powerful touch I have ever felt in my life…
We showed up at Menorah Medical Center at 6am for me to start the induction process. It was still dark out, but as we got out of the car, I could see two smiling faces waiting by the front door. Those faces belonged to Jeff’s parents. We didn’t even ask them to come. They just showed up. Those are the type of people they are and it was so comforting to me to see some familiar faces, which helped ease the butterflies in my stomach. I laughed as I realized that all four of us were wearing our Royals t-shirts. Birthing a baby or not, we were going to cheer on our beloved boys in blue as they made their first postseason appearance in 29 years.
We got checked into the birthing center and it seemed like only moments before I was in a hospital gown, connected to the IV and ready to start the process. Next to my bed, a monitor displayed my contractions (I was surprised to realize that I was already having contractions even before they started the Pitocin drip!). For the hours I remained in labor, my baby’s heartbeat was a constant precious melody in my ear. I remember missing that noise once the labor was over.
I came into the hospital already dialted to a 3 and 80% effaced.My doctor, who is amazing, came in the room to greet us and break my water. I remember giggling to myself as I repeatedly wet myself. (Truly one of the weirdest sensations ever!) The nurse began the Pitocin drip and what seemed like instantaneously I felt sharp pains in my lower back area. I remember grabbing Jeff’s hand and collar and pulling as hard as I could. I felt no pain in the front of my abdomen area, only in my back. I was worried this was a bad sign. The nurse told me I was probably feeling the contractions in my back because the baby was turned.
It didn’t take much longer for me to ask for the epideral to ease the pain of the contractions. I thought the huge needle would be painful, but it was one of the easier parts of the process. The whole time Jeff was there, an angel by my side, ecouraging me and holding my hand. Once the epidural kicked it, my whole body started shaking, which was tough for Jeff to see. My legs went numb, but thankfully the pain of the contractions ceased. My nurse had me labor on my side, hoping to encourage the baby to turn the correct way.
According to the monitor the contractions started coming closer together. My nurse told me I had progressed to a 5. I continued holding Jeff’s hand while my body shook.
Only an hour later I progressed to be dilated to a 10. I was complete and we could expect to a see a baby by lunch time possibly! I couldn’t believe it! Was it really supposed to be this easy? My world was about to change!
After laboring down for some time, my nurse wanted me to try some practice pushes. Right from the start of those practice pushes, I knew something was wrong. The nurse studied the monitor with each push. She then called my doctor and described that there were some “variables” with each push. My doctor showed up quickly afterwards. I tried another round of pushed and sure enough, we watched the baby’s heartbeat dip with each push.
My doctor stopped me and said, “I really don’t like what I see here. With each push, the baby’s oxygen is being cut off. She is in distress. We could sit here and try this all day, but right now you have a healthy baby and we don’t want to compromise that. I think we should go ahead and take her out via C-section.”
My world seemed to pause – a huge decision to be made within seconds. And yet, the decision was already made. My baby was in danger and so I needed to do what was best for her. I agreed to the emergency C-section. I watched as the room instantly flooded with people. Those moments were a blur – the anethesiologist back to add more medicine to my IV…Jeff zipping up his white gown…my mom’s worried face.
They wheeled me back to an OR room that was so white it was blinding. I was transfered onto a narrow table and my arms were outstretched and taped down. The anesthesiologist gave me a play by play of what was about to happen. A blue sheet was hung infront of my face and my old fears of clausterphobia flooded my mind. I stared straight up into the light and nervously waited for Jeff to be allowed in the room.
Everyone was in a hurry. Jeff arrived. I felt an odd sensation of pulling in my abdomen. It seemed like only moments before I heard the doctor exclaim, “Wow, big baby!” Jeff’s excitement filled large room, “Babe, she’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful”. He was transfixed in wonder, so I shouted at him, “Jeff, TAKE PICTURES!” He rushed to unzip his gown and grab his camera as Savannah was toweled off and weighed. I craned my neck to see her.
This was the most horrible part of the entire C-section for me. I had birthed a baby and yet, I hadn’t felt it. I hadn’t seen it. I hadn’t seen her yet. I was a prisoner on an OR table while everyone else was beholding my daughter. I felt so cut off.
Those moments seemed to last an eternity. Perhaps the anethesiologist was an old pro and knew what I was feeling, or maybe she was simply an angel sent from above. She grabbed my baby and held her cheek next to my cheek. I will never ever forget that moment. There was electricity in the touch. Her puffy, impossibly soft cheek against mine. It was perfection. It unlocked me from that OR prison table. Even now, when I finish nursing Savannah and she passes out on my shoulder from a milk coma, I put my cheek next to hers and breathe in her scent and remember our very first touch. Another touch that has changed my life forever. (On a side note – the Royals won that game! Savannah Jo is the good luck charm!)
The C-Section was hard. I initially struggled with a lot of guilt that I didn’t get to deliver Savannah the normal way. I really struggled as the post partum hormone shift descended on me and I cried a lot. Giving birth is not easy! But, the greatest things in life are never easy, are they?