I didn't know what I was doing the first time I had a baby. But who does?
I was going on 30, but I had zero exposure to infants up to that point. I had done a lot of reading in preparation for the birth, but that just made me more nervous.
Other than 3 months of morning sickness and a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, the pregnancy was fine. In fact, Katherine was born on her due date. I often joke that it was the only day in her life that she was on time for an event.
I had a great doctor thanks to the recommendation by my friend Merry Poe who had two babies by then. Dr. Izanec was very patient in answering my questions and concerns.
My two biggest concerns were: 1) I didn't want to wear a hospital gown, and 2) I didn't want an episiotomy. Dr. Izanec said I could wear my regular pajamas, but they might get a little messy. And he assured me that an episiotomy would be done as a last result. He told me he had begun his career with a group of midwives, and he learned how to deliver a baby in slow motion.
The day Katherine was born - October 27 - I woke up at 6:00 a.m. in labor. By the way, all three times, my labor started first thing in the morning, so Don and I never lost any sleep! We waited until the contractions were regular, and then we headed to the hospital. I'll never forget how beautiful it was that day. The sun was shining, and snow had covered the ground overnight. It was the first snow of the year.
We were excited and I was a little scared because, you know, babies tend to be a bit larger than the hole they are going to squeeze out of. I imagined some pain would be involved. I had read that it was better to deliver the baby "naturally," so that was what I was determined to do.
All was fine for a few hours. We got to the hospital around 8:00 a.m. and got situated in the birthing room. Rather than sacrifice my own pretty nightgown, I changed in to the hospital gown.I think Don wished it were olden times so he could sit out in the waiting room smoking a cigar. But current custom called for the dad to be present in the room while his wife panted and screamed.
Once labor progressed, I had to keep my head on straight. It was one of those mind over matter situations. At one point, I began to hyperventilate, so the nurse made me breathe into a paper bag. I'm not going to lie - childbirth is painful! After I began pushing and Dr. Izanec arrived, I reminded him that I didn't want an episiotomy. I can't remember, but I think that made him chuckle.
Don did his best to comfort me. He fed me ice chips and rubbed my arm and helped me breathe steadily. He really stepped up to the plate that day.
Total labor time with Katherine was about 8 hours, which isn't bad for a first born. She came out weighing 7 lbs. 2 oz. and ready for life. No episiotomy either.
At 4:30 p.m. that day our family of two became three! It is true that once you see your baby, the pain of childbirth becomes a distant memory. Pure joy takes over instantly. The child you hold in your arms is truly a miracle. A miracle of new life sent from God.