Know now that this is a quasi birth story. "Quasi" in that I'm only recounting a portion of it, and none of it describes the actual delivery. But it is a birth story nevertheless, and at no point do I ponder the miraculous nature of my son's arrival, but rather, the despair I felt leading up to it, and immediately following. Read if you wish.
I remember very little of my experience in the hospital after the birth of my son. I'm sure it has something to do with the anaphylaxis I experienced shortly after the emergency c-section. That is, I think it was shortly after the c-section, but the timeline of events in my head often doesn't line up with what I know to be true. What I do recall most vividly are all the confusing and terrifying moments- throwing up all over myself and the bed, then submitting to the mercy of the kind nurses to clean me up; feeling my neck stiffen, my tongue swell, and hearing my speech begin to slur; falling asleep watching my husband give my son a bottle because I was physically unable to stay awake to nurse him; waking up and hearing my doctor say I probably wouldn't be able to give birth naturally.
Perhaps the most distinct memory is driving the four-mile stretch of road between our house and hospital while in labor. Feeling my body catch fire as each contraction ripped across my abdomen, then sinking in cold when it finally passed. Noticing that we caught all the red lights on the way, and cursing the Streets and Roads Committee who placed four-way stops at every intersection in town. Wanting desperately to arrive some place where someone could do something to stop all the pain I was feeling. There was no glory in this ride, no happy thoughts about the child that would be, no bearing my pains with patient endurance. There was just the abiding pain, the fear of death, and realization of my own weakness.
I get to relive this drive every Sunday on the way to church, and the way home. All the while, I can't help but think this is what brings forth new life- this disarming pain, and this crippling fear. Should God see fit to grant us more children, this is what it will take. I doubt I will ever be prepared to face that drive again, save for the mercy of God.