Before I dated my husband I had always thought I would adopt my children. The mere thought of having a baby come out of my body one of two painful ways was not something that appealed to me, at all. Maybe it was immaturity of being an 18-year-old that made me feel that way, but I credit meeting my husband and falling in love with his character, demeanor, and overall chivalry that put the idea of having a baby on the drawing board for our life. I knew one day I would want to have children with him (not because I didn’t think adoption was an awesome idea), but I knew there needed to be another Christopher Barrett in the world. He and I began dating June 2008, we’re engaged December 2011, married in July 2013 and in July 2014 I learned we were expecting. At the end of July my husband and I celebrated our 1st anniversary knowing our lives would be wonderfully changed March 22, 2015. Fast forward through a very wonderful pregnancy and March 22nd was quickly approaching. Nora Elizabeth was the name we had chosen for our soon-to-be daughter. Nora, after my favorite singer Norah Jones and she’d be the only Nora I would ever know personally. Elizabeth after Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a woman who was best friends with Susan B. Anthony and who fought until her death for women to have the right to vote. Nora’s nursery was set-up, clothes washed in Dreft, and the car seat was installed a month before her due date. At the time, I was working for a local fitness center/gym anxiously awaiting labor to happen. I was scared to death I’d be signing someone up for a membership and my water would break. I ended up working full time up until my due date. After that I decided I’d go home and wait for sweet Nora to arrive. I knew I wanted to go into labor naturally; my doctor suggested that if Nora didn’t come on her own before March 28th (6 days after my due date of March 22nd) that I should think about being induced. I started to feel really crummy on March 25th, and I started to think I may have the flu because my body ached and I was having a lot of stomach pain and upset stomach issues. Friday, March 27, 2015, I went to lunch with my mom and was doing some last-minute things at home like installing the sun blockers in the backseat windows of my car when I had my first contraction. (1:42pm) I remember thinking, “Ow! That really hurt.” 13 minutes later I stopped and thought,”Geeze, that pain in my lower back really hurts....uh oh...I need to keep track of this pain.” I kept track of the contractions and the contractions were only 15 minutes apart, but it didn’t take long for them to go from 15 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart. Seriously, 15minutes apart to 4 minutes apart! I was starting to panic. I had flashes of my favorite TV show The Office when Pam missed the 5-7 minute mark and she thought she’d have the baby at the office. (If you’re reading this and haven’t seen The Office - do yourself a favor and start watching) Anyway, I called my husband and told him,”Please come home and get me! I don’t want to have a home birth alone.” My husband got home and drove me to a local hospital... fast! Let me just say he could be a professional NASCAR car driver...Petal to Hattiesburg in record time! On the way there my contractions were everything 3 minutes and the pain was intense. When we got to the hospital I was only 1cm dilated and they were talking about sending me home despite my pain being an 11. I BEGGED them to keep me there, and I told them I was scheduled for an induction the next day anyway so they gave me some medicine to speed up my progress. (At this point, the order of what they did is a blur) I know I had made it to 3cm when I got my epidural. The thing about an epidural is (what they don’t put in the brochure ) is that you have to stay perfectly still while having contractions. Easier said than done. When they tried to break my water they realized my water had already broke. I never experienced the gush that is so often portrayed in modern television. After my epidural, Nora began showing signs of distress with each contraction. Her heart rate would drop to the 40s and it would not rise back up after the contraction ended. They changed my position and nothing worked. I, too, was having to use oxygen and had high blood pressure. I believe I made it to 4-6 cm when the doctor was concerned for mine and Nora’s health and suggested an emergency csection. I am convinced that it was in my best interest to have a csection. No doubt about it. What I didn’t know at the time was that I likely had had a slow leak of amniotic fluid and was susceptible to an infection. Nora had ingested her stool and she had used a lot of her sugars in the stressful labor. I got to the hospital around 3:30pm and she was born 9:04pm. The reason my labor pain was so bad was because my uterus was infected. Each contraction was abnormally painful because of my infection. I can remember hating it if anyone touched me during labor. My mother was kind enough to breathe with me every two minutes. I made fun of the breathing exercises when I got to the hospital but later I ended up saying, ”Mommy, breathe with me” with each contraction. (Mom’s always know best) My husband is the kindest person I know, but even he couldn’t comfort me. I was in pain. I remember feeling anxious being rolled into the operating room. I did not like being tied down to the table and later I learned in my second birth that being tied down is not required. When Nora was born and I got a few seconds glance at her before she was taken to the NICU. I remember feeling so alone in the OR. It had not been the birth that I wanted and I was disappointed in that. I had Nora at 9:04pm and it would be more than 6 hours later at 3:46am that I would get to see and hold her for the first time. Nora would never come to my room the entire time we were in the hospital. She stayed in the NICU until April 2, 2015. However, God provided like He always does and the hospital was kind enough to allow us to stay in a vacant hall after I was discharged to be with her every three hours to breastfeed at no cost to us. My labor was not ideal, but God was good to me even in the distress. He put in my room the kindest, most beautiful red headed nurse. She would become my friend and supporter during my second birth. I consider her a dear friend today, even 3 years later. Christopher and I had the most compassionate NICU nurses who took such great care of Nora. It was in the NICU where my husband decided he would wanted to become a nurse (he graduated Christopher Barrett, BSN, RN in December 2017! Praise God! ) I watched my husband take such great care of me and helped me in my most vulnerable times of csection recovery. I had a great support system as family members lined the hallway waiting for Nora to be born. I was able to have my best friend in the recovery room with me and sat with me until I could meet Nora. I learned that labor can be very dangerous, but also learned that because of modern medicine women and babies can be healed. There’s no doubt if I would have had this same situation 100 years ago I wouldn’t have lived. I did everything I knew to be right. I wasn’t induced, I went past my due date, I ate right, I took my prenatals, and went to my doctors appointments faithfully. Things I learned: I should have gone to the doctor once I started feeling like I had the flu. I wish I would have taken a birthing class. Typically, I go out of my way to avoid telling my birth story to expecting mothers, but this was MY birth story, far from ideal, but immersed in God’s mercy, grace and healing. Despite my experience, I went on to have a second daughter, Charlotte Edith, and a better birth experience.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:1-24 NIV