This post is part of a series about suffering. If you did not see the initial post, you can find it here.
With time the labor is a bit of a blur. This I do remember though. I went into labor thinking I wanted to avoid pain medication if possible but was open to it depending on what it was like. Some reading material for baptismal preparation that my husband and I read together mentioned that no matter how hard labor might hurt, Jesus suffered more. I appreciated that concept and asked my husband to remind me of that while in labor. Fast forward to the big day and when it started to really hurt, my husband lovingly reminded me as requested. I was too focused on the highest level of pain I had ever been in to that date that I was not able to embrace that thought and find the strength I thought I might have from that statement. Luckily, when the pain got to that level, it was time to push. The other memory that comes to mind from that labor is that my closest in age sister and mom were also with us, and right after it was over, my sister let me know I sounded like a pig or an elephant while pushing. Fabulous.
Contractions were strong and I headed to the hospital. The doctor let me know that I may or may not have a baby that day and suggested I leave for about an hour. I let her know contractions felt stronger at home than they did in that moment, but the recommendation stood. It wasn't time yet. Two of my sisters and I decided to head out for ice cream, rather than going back home with my almost 3 year old and mom. The in and out would have been difficult for her. Afterward my sisters decided they wanted to walk a couple of more blocks down to get some coffee. Then while there, they decided they needed to use the bathroom one after the other as my pain level increased. Shortly after arriving back at the hospital I buzzed for the nurse wanting to let her know maybe I needed a little bit of pain medication after all. I was just starting to get more sad that circumstances meant my husband wouldn't be able to be with me to share in the moment when the nurse let me know it was time to push. She stepped out the door to call another nurse in and told me to go ahead. "Without the doctor?" I asked. She reassured me and just like that my baby was there. No time to feel sad. No time to dwell on the pain. Instead, I was left in awe that it was over so quickly.
Seven years was enough to forget for sure what the pain felt like; nonetheless, anxiety built as it got closer and closer. I tried to focus on thinking that based on two previous labors, it would hurt really bad, but that would mean that it was time. Then it would all be over. As a result, when my husband and I went to the hospital in the middle of the night, I was calmer than ever. In my mind I said prayers, I talked to my baby, I visualized how it was going to go. I even smiled to myself thinking that my husband had no idea how close it was getting because I was able to remain so calm.
As the pain started to intensify, I imagined the doctor would walk in, my water would break, the pain would hit, and he would let me know it was time to push. Only, the words that came out of his mouth were "Not yet." And, I lost all the calm I had, along with keeping my words and thoughts in my mind. I tensed up and called out to God - the first time I remember yelling out in labor. The doctor told me to calm down or I would hurt myself. The nurse told me to remember my breathing. "If I can't push, I don't know what to do," I said. To which the nurse replied, "Do what you need to do." Then, there she was, my third baby girl. Once again, labor was over. He didn't know, I thought. It was time.