intensely trivial



Jonathan’s birth story, Part 1: Pregnancy

My Jonathan turns three tomorrow. And to celebrate his arrival (and, I have to admit, the amazing gift that his birth was to me), I am posting his birth story. In less busy times, I would revise and probably write the whole thing in poetry or something. However, that’s not going to happen this time. 🙂 Enjoy.

Jonathan’s birth story: Pregnancy

After the miscarriage, I sort of became obsessed with getting pregnant again. I was still breastfeeding Ellie (though not exclusively), and we weren’t doing anything terribly intentional in order to become pregnant, but I did want to fix things this time around. And then, in May, we found out we were indeed pregnant again. (Just goes to show that you can get pregnant – multiple times – while breastfeeding.) Of course, I was excited. Dan was, too, but it was much less visceral for him, and he had a more vivid memory of the trials of having a newborn.
We had known about it for approximately one week when I started bleeding again, like a period. A cloud of foreboding settled over me, because this was exactly how the miscarriage had started out. I called the doctor, but there was really nothing they could do to make sure I kept the baby; besides, it was Memorial Day weekend, and no one was in the office. They just told me to take it easy. Huh. So I did, and worried and prayed. The following week, we saw the doctor, and he did a quick ultrasound just to see if he could discern anything. I was about six weeks along at that point, and the doctor detected a tiny little ball of cells pulsing inside my uterus. I was so grateful to know this baby was alive. However, while it was reassuring to see life inside me, I didn’t stop bleeding. And it wasn’t a reassuring brown or pink; it was a bright red. It wasn’t a tiny smear here or there; it was like a light period. I think it was about a week or two further when we asked two different groups of people to pray for the baby and me, both on the same day. The second group was our LIFE group, who laid hands on me and prayed fervently for this baby and for me. And during that prayer, I felt something shift. I don’t know whether it was physical or spiritual, but I knew something had changed. I knew I’d been healed in response to their prayer. I didn’t stop bleeding that day, but the bleeding did change to brown on that day, and it started to taper off. Finally, at the beginning of my second trimester, the bleeding stopped, and I started enjoying the pregnancy. 😉
During this pregnancy, I had a one-year-old daughter to take care of. Either because of that or because I’d been through it before, I didn’t obsess about every little phenomenon, except for the constantly threatening miscarriage, of course. I was tired and irritable, but generally things went fine. Isabella, from Italy, was living with us that summer, and we began hosting our LIFE group meetings, so I stayed busy with that and our normal family life.
As I prepared for childbirth, I hoped once again to be able to do it without pain meds. I was still trying to figure out what went wrong with Ellie’s birth – why I had been too weak to do it without an epidural. I knew rationally that there was nothing morally wrong with using pain drugs, but it mattered to me. I started reading books about pregnancy and birth again, this time everything the public library had on its shelves. I researched ways to cope with the labor process. I read Sheila Kitzinger, an anthropologist who is one of the grand dames of the birth-advocacy movement. I wrote a cheat sheet of notes to remember in labor. I typed out lyrics to songs that I thought might be good to meditate on in the middle of things. I decided not to underestimate labor this time, and this time, if all the tools I had to help me were not enough, then I would give myself permission to use drugs again. But I did really, really want to do it without pain meds.
The first time around, I had not been very receptive to my doula Heather’s suggestions, and I thought I’d want to just go it alone this time. However, Dan said he thought we needed a doula. I think she had made him feel less at a loss as to how to help me. He was comforted knowing that he didn’t have to have all the answers. Even though she had moved to Kansas City, Heather agreed to come to Manhattan again and attend my birth.
As long as it took to decide on a name for Ellie, it took even more deliberation to decide on Jonathan’s name. We finally picked Jonathan Roy. Jonathan means “gift from God,” and we felt that it would help us remember God’s obvious hand in keeping this little boy alive, and giving him to us. Roy was Dan’s grandpa’s name, and we wanted to honor him as well.
As my due date approached, I, like most heavily pregnant women, got very tired of being pregnant. Ellie, who was 21 months old at the time, was more and more demanding and harder to carry around. Getting the baby out soon looked attractive to me. I told my doctor about this, and he asked if we wanted to get an induction. I turned down the offer the first time, but the next week, it sounded more like something I might want to do. (I would never do this now; being tired of pregnancy is never a good reason to be induced. Good grief. I was kind of irrational about it.) I had started having contractions for several hours at a time, a week before Jonathan was born, and each time it made me crazier: Is this it? Wow, these have been regular for a few hours now! Maybe this is it! I also didn’t realize that that is a normal pattern for many women as their bodies get ready to kick into high gear. We set a date for induction, several days after the due date, just in case pregnancy dragged on that long. I prayed and prayed, trying to twist God’s arm. I walked hard and we had a lot of sex in the hopes that it would make me go into labor. However, Jonathan knew that it wasn’t his time. I wish I had just settled down and waited.
jonathaninutero
Go on to Jonathan’s birth story, Part 2: The birth.

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