Disclaimer: This is my birth story. I tried not to be too graphic, but yes, I am desctiptive about what happened during my daughter's birth. If you don't want to know about birth, don't read it. It is also long. You may want to have a cup of coffee while you read it.
One year ago, I went through the best experience of my life, the arrival of my daughter. This is her story.
Mollie Rose’s Birth
August 14th, 2009
There was no sign that you were coming. My last appointment to see Meredith, my midwife, yielded nothing inspirational. “One centimeter” she said with a pat on my leg. She gave me lots of tips for getting you moving, but I really didn’t think those old wives’ tales would work: Evening Primrose tablets, Scaliani’s Eggplant Parmesan, etc. On a side note, the eggplant parmesan was delicious but took David FOREVER to make. Thank you, David.
I thought you’d never come. I whined to your father, “She’s never coming out!” He laughed when I commented that you would be a teenager, still inside me, with your head sticking out beside my shoulder.
“Oh, she’s coming out alright,” he responded.
Every night, we walked out of our driveway and down Deertrigger Landing. It was hot, humid, and my body ached. My belly was so heavy. Initially, I didn’t want to walk very far, but as your due date came and went, I became rapidly more inspired to march further down the road amongst the chirping crickets and blinking streetlights. We got back to the cool of our house and I would either plop down on the couch or sit on my purple labor ball and bounce in the moonlight by the back door. I loved staring at the moon dreaming of you. I bounced. I bounced hard.
On one of the last nights before your birth, there was a meteor shower. We drove around east Athens searching for the perfect spot to watch the display and wish on a star for your arrival. We stood by the field behind Whit Davis Elementary where I managed to spot a fireball that looking more like a basketball snaking through the sky. Of course your father missed it. Poor thing!
It was still bright, so we got back in the Rav-4 and rode down Barnett Shoals Road over to where Classic City Landscaping is located. We pulled the car onto their gravel driveway and stood staring into the dark expanse of night sky focused for any streak of light that passed. Although we didn’t see what we hoped for, it was very special to stand with David in the quiet of the night and stare up into the peaceful sky with my arms wrapped around you, snug in my belly.
As I mentioned before, Wednesday the 12th of August came and went. I had no hope of you coming; I had showed no signs that you would come anytime soon. I went to bed on the 13th feeling as I had for several months: tired, achy, and having to go to the bathroom even though I just went! It was customary for me to get up four or five times to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. It seemed like every hour. Around 3:12 A.M. in the morning on the 14th, I sat up, feeling like I had to urinate. I felt a slight gush: so small I thought I had wet my pants. Feeling embarrassed, I went into the bathroom, and I began to realize that my water may have broken. I sat for a moment and pondered.
In our birth class, labor progressed slowly. Advised to stay home and rest for as long as possible, I thought that I should get back into bed and not bother David. He was so exhausted from going back to work and from my constant begging for back and ankle massages. I got back into bed, started feeling cramps, and experienced another trickle of amniotic fluid. At that point I knew that I couldn’t just lay there.
I went to the bathroom again to make sure that I wasn’t just wetting my pants over- and-over again, and then stood beside David’s side of the bed. I don’t recall exactly what I said, but I remember saying something along the lines of “David, I think my water broke.” It took him awhile to wake-up. He asked if I was sure, and I said “no.” So, I called my Mom. I could tell she was excited and worried about me. Her water broke first with almost all of her children, so we both knew that it was highly likely for me as well. I hung-up and called the answering service for Women’s Healthcare Associates who had Meredith call me shortly after. I told her that I wanted to stay home as long as possible, although at the time I was starting to feel such strong contractions that it seemed ridiculous to make such an announcement. It was around 3:45, and she said to give her a call back around 7:00.
David made me an egg which I ate after writing a note in my pregnancy journal. I had that same sense of anticipation one feels when they get up early on Christmas morning or when embarking on a vacation. I didn’t mind being up early, and my adrenaline was flowing. Angie Reuter, my doula called, and I tried to speak to her. By then, it was getting hard to talk to her. David periodically rubbed my back, especially during contractions. He also started packing the car. I don’t remember if I spoke to Angie twice or just once. I may have told her at that point that I thought I needed to go to the hospital. We notified Meredith, and we attempted to speed things up at home.
While David walked the dogs and packed the car, I took a shower. Ha! I screamed, banged my fist into the wall, and wondered why I was taking a shower. Did I even shave my legs? When I got out of the shower, David asked, “Can I go take a shower?” I think I snapped at him and said, “What?! No, you can’t take a shower!”
We went out to the car, which David was cooling with the air conditioner for me. I looked up to the stars behind out basketball hoop and saw a shooting star. I made a wish that my labor would be safe and fairly painless and that our little girl would be healthy. Another contraction came along, and David rubbed my back on the driveway. I did not want to get in the car and have a contraction right away. I didn’t want to sit down. They seemed to be coming every five minutes or so.
It hurt to sit in the car. I had another contraction when we got to one of the last speed humps in our neighborhood. That was painful! I think I recall another one on College Station after Kroger and another one on this side of the Loop. I’m sure there were more! At one point I hit the side window so hard with my hand that I thought I was going to break it. I dreaded the ride to the hospital. It was no fun!
When we got to Athens Regional, we went in the Emergency Room door. Since Meredith called, they knew we were coming. They sent me into one of the check-in windows and the person asked, “Is she here for an induction or a c-section.” That made me mad! During a contraction I said through my teeth, as if they couldn’t tell, “I’m in labor!”
A woman escorted us from the Emergency Room through some doors to the elevators. She asked if I wanted a wheel chair, and I said “no.” We rode up to the Mother-Baby Unit, and a woman was waiting to take us into Labor and Delivery. The nurses at the nurse’s station all turned and looked at me as we walked down the hallway. The woman escorting us said, “Sorry, you’ve got a long walk, you’re all the way down the end here.” I didn’t like hearing that.
My request for a room with a tub from Meredith yielded us one of the “big rooms”. It had light colored wood floors, art on the walls, a gigantic window that spanned the length of the room, and plenty of seating for visitors. A strange sensation came over me. The room was prepared for birth. It expected birth. It knew what to do. I had no idea what was going to happen or what to do. I was both excited and anxious.
Our first nurse that checked me in was a parent to Sophia, one of our music campers. I quickly asked her if she wanted to see my birth plan that I had toiled over for months, and she said, “Why don’t you just tell me what you want to have happen- anytime anyone gives me one of those nothing goes as planned.” I told her that I wanted to have a natural labor, only using medicine if absolutely necessary and if I ask for it. She agreed and showed me where the hospital gowns were. I told her that I had brought something to wear, and I went into the bathroom to change into my pink tank top with white trim and black fold-over top skirt. I assured David that I would be fine for a moment, and he went to get our bags, my birth ball and pillows, and to move the car.
In the bathroom, I started feeling like I had to go, but I was only feeling intense labor cramps. In the mean time, my nurse came back into the room. When I left the bathroom, she said she needed to start an I.V. I requested a Hep-Lock so I wouldn’t have to be hooked up the entire time. I lay my right forearm on a pillow and looked away. Before I knew it, she was wiping my arm with a towel saying, “I hit a valve.” Needless to say, my entire right forearm turned a nasty shade of purple within a short amount of time. David’s eyes got huge when he returned and saw it.
That room seemed so well prepared for me: the bed with its linens and lining paper, monitors plugged in and powered, and a bassinet in the corner. It was as if every second of my life prepared me to be there in that moment. Even though I was there, my mind started to wander out of the room. With each contraction, I lost the ability and realization of my presence at Athens Regional. My eyes shut and I wandered into darkness.
My labor began to blur. Looking back on it, there is a large quantity of time that I only remember flashes or instances. I remember the intense heat of each contraction swelling in my hips. The pain felt like a red-hot bowling ball pulling me down by my waist. During these contractions, I only wanted David. I did not want to sit down. Not once did I ask to sit or lay down. I wrapped my arms around David’s neck and buried my face in his neck. The distinct pattern of his thinly striped blue and brown short-sleeved button down shirt flashed before my eyes when I opened them after each contraction.
I remember Sarah, my fabulous nurse, periodically placing a fetal monitor on my belly. It felt good to have the cool gel on my hot skin. Meredith arrived with a red Starbuck’s reusable coffee cup and placed it near me. I was in too much pain to tell her how nauseous the smell of the coffee made me. Several times, I threw-up. Things seemed to move so quickly.
Angie, my doula arrived at some point. I was so happy to have her there. I had such a fabulous system of support. When I had a contraction, she would do the hip squeeze on my back. Unfortunately, I never really liked it. I wish it would have helped! Even in our birth classes, I didn’t like it. I did love having my back massaged during labor. It was wonderful. At some point I also decided that the waist band of my skirt was too painful and decided to just not wear it. That helped a lot.
Sarah, Angie, and Meredith tried to encourage me to use the birth ball, but I found sitting down terribly uncomfortable. Meredith offered me a birth stool, I started to sit on it, and I immediately found it too painful to use. Through my delirium, I started missing my mother. I wanted her there. I alternated between saying I wanted pain medication and that I wanted my mom. I was told that in order to have an epidural, I’d have to sit down for a couple minutes. That was the last thing that I wanted! However, my mom was phoned and arrived shortly after. She gave me the comfort that I needed. I was so happy she was there. She sat quietly in a corner beside the long window. (I later learned that Sarah explained to her what was going on and my mom asked why they weren’t giving me anything for the pain.) At some point during the day, the phone rang, and I came to find out it was the parent of an old student wondering if I was in labor because I hadn’t been on Facebook!
Periodically, Meredith checked me, and that hurt terribly! (5 cm at 8 A.M.) When I was around 7 centimeters (10 A.M.), I got in the shower. Stepping into the tub took a lot of effort as lifting my leg hurt immensely. David put on his swimsuit and supported me in the shower for what he told me was 1.5 to 2 hours. I leaned on him and the warm water ran on my back. The cramping pain of labor started making me want to push. David called to Meredith and told her that I wanted to push, and she said it was okay if I felt like I had to. That surprised me since I had always heard not to push until told to. Perhaps that was since I wasn’t dilated enough to actually move Mollie.
I don’t remember why I got out of the shower, but when I got out, I was having some serious contractions. Maybe that’s why! I started to really hang on David. At one point he asked for some help, and Angie took over letting me lean on her. It wasn’t long before I wanted David again. I think he got a 10 second break! He sat on the edge of the bed and I leaned on him. With each contraction, I dropped to the floor. Poor David! He was so tired, and I was wearing him out. He really needed help.
My forehead was raw from rubbing it into the stubble on his chin during each contraction. In the corner, my mom whispered the words “I love you”. It comforted me. As my belly tightened, my eyes shut, and I saw darkness. Each contraction seemed to last for about 30 slow counts. I could see the numbers in the darkness, flashing into visibility. They appeared white and then blurred into the blackness of my vision. When my eyes opened, I saw the light wood floor spotted with blood. Towels quickly swept it up, and Meredith joked, “She had NO bloody show before today!”
When checked after the shower at noon, I was almost 10 centimeters, “with a tiny lip” of cervix left. Amidst my contractions, I could hear wheels moving across the floor and I began to notice items moving closer to me in preparation for Mollie’s birth. Earlier, I had asked if Mollie could be kept in the room after she was born so she wouldn’t leave me by going to the nursery. Sarah was prepared to do all of her check-in procedures in the room.
Meredith repeatedly encouraged me to try a hands and knees position, but I had refused. I didn’t want to bend like that! However, at this point in labor, I dropped to the floor, tightening deeply in that position. Meredith said something to the effect of, “Midwives like to see a patient on their hands and knees.” Somehow, they managed to get me up onto the bed to check me again. She tried to get the cervix to move.
I remember having my temperature taken and that it was starting to rise. The fetal monitor was also used periodically. After awhile, Meredith told me that Mollie’s heart rate was a little low and that I needed to have an epidural to help it get back to normal. I felt defeated. Hadn’t they told me earlier that I would have to sit down for 10 minutes too?
The male anesthesiologist came in, and I didn’t sit down until he was ready to start. I don’t think I took a single breath when he stuck that needle in my back. I curled into David’s arms. It really wasn’t too bad. The contractions were terrible, but in a matter of moments, I no longer felt them.
I lay back, and clarity returned to my mind. My legs were numb, and my pain was gone. I was able to laugh, make jokes, and reflect on the morning. I couldn’t believe that what I was experiencing was thought of as “painful” to people in labor. They had never really experienced labor!
Throughout my labor, the day changed. The long glass window reflected the darkness of our arrival, the transition into daybreak and the golden heat of afternoon. As I lay happily in bed with the epidural flowing into my spine, the sun started to drift downward toward evening.
I remember Angie getting David some food- a sandwich and salad maybe? At some point Meredith or Sarah told me that when Meredith arrived, she and Sarah met in the hallway. Meredith had told Sarah that she was afraid I was in for a terribly long labor because I wasn’t dilated or anything a few days before. She was glad I was moving along so well. I had also asked how much longer they thought things would be (several times) during my labor. I never really got an answer.
The good news was that I was fully dilated. To help Mollie’s heartbeat, I had been given Tubuterine, which slows down contractions. When I was 33 weeks, I spent a few hours at Regional due to early labor, and they gave me the same medicine. On this day, the medicine helped her heart rate, but it virtually stopped my contractions. I was only having them every 7 minutes when they had been almost non-stop prior to the medication. So, I got a small dose of Pitocin.
The Pitocin revived my contractions. Due to the epidural, I couldn’t really feel them. Each time one would come, I felt a small amount of adrenaline in my veins, and breathing felt strange. I was finally allowed to push. Meredith helped me onto my knees on the bed, and each time a contraction came, I raised myself up on my hands and pushed.
Around 6:00, Sarah had to go home. I was so sad to see her go! She introduced a transition nurse whose name may have been Jane or Janet. She stayed for about an hour. Since being on my knees hadn’t helped, I now tried pushing while I lay down. Meredith assured me that for some people’s hips, that position can be very helpful to get a baby out. Jane/Janet held a leg and Meredith held the other, and I pushed.
During my pushing, the nurse shift changed, and another nurse came. Her name was Carmen. We really liked her too! Every time I felt the surge of adrenaline, I’d say, “Am I having another?” They would look at the monitor, say “yes”, and I would push. In between contractions, I sipped Sierra Mist. Big mistake! Every time I pushed, I burped! It is hard to keep pushing when you burp. It was frustrating that this kept happening. However, I focused all my energy on each push. When a contraction came, I pushed two times for 20 counts each. I wanted my baby. It took me a little while to get the hang of it. So that I could feel the pushing, Meredith called to make sure it was okay to lower the amount of medicine I received from the epidural. Once adjusted, I felt intense hot pain in one spot inside my right hip. I couldn’t tolerate it. They increased the epidural again and placed an ice pack on the spot. I also had difficulty holding my right leg when I pushed due to the IV in my arm. At this point, I was receiving my second round of antibiotics for Group B Strep. Meredith said that Dr. Leach had joked with her via text message about how long my labor was taking, “Shouldn’t that baby be here? Aren’t you a midwife? Isn’t there a doula there?”
As I pushed, the sun started to set. A rosy glow hovered in the corner of the window. I had been pushing for awhile, and Meredith stopped to speak with me. She told me that the baby hadn’t been really moving down. She said that I had pushed for about 2.5 hours and that after 2 hours of good pushing, the baby should have moved. She thought that I had only been pushing really well for an hour or so. She then told me that I could try some more. My heart sank when she said that if the baby didn’t start to move I would have to try a vacuum or have a C-Section. When I heard this, it was as if I had 5 energy drinks. Each time a contraction came, I pushed not twice, but three times. I held each push as long as physically possible. I did not want to have a C-Section.
After 4.5 hours of pushing, Meredith told me that she had spoken with Dr. Andrew Leach (who she had been communicating with via text message during my labor), and he said that they needed to try a vacuum. I started to cry. I was afraid that the vacuum would hurt me or the baby. Meredith was very reassuring and asked me what I was afraid of. She said it was very safe.
Before I knew it, there were a lot more people in the room. Somehow, night had fallen. It was about 10 P.M. The lights were off in the room, and spotlights were on above my head. Other nurses in blue gowns, caps, and glasses were in the room, and Dr. Leach came in. They were ready for the baby. I didn’t look at the tray of medical tools, but I did see the long purple vacuum. It really didn’t look like what I expected. It was about a foot and a half long, almost torpedo shaped, and a rather pleasing shade of purple. When my next contraction came, I pushed as hard as I could until Dr. Leach told me to stop. I heard the whir of the vacuum, and expected to feel pain. I felt nothing. We tried again. Nothing. I believe there was one more attempt, and once again, there was nothing.
Dr. Leach stopped and looked at me. He slowly told me that the baby had not moved. He then said that I needed to have a C-Section. He paused. I cried. David was beside me holding my hand, and I saw my mother’s face turn into a saddened frown. All I could say was “okay.” Looking back on it, I am so impressed with how kind Dr. Leach was. It is hard to describe now, a year after the fact, but I really feel as if he understood how badly I wanted to have Mollie naturally. He understood how devastating it was for me that things did not go as I wished. I tried so hard. The irony is that I always avoided having prenatal appointments with Dr. Leach because I did not want to have a male doctor examining me. There he was speaking so kindly to me, and there he was, moments from delivering Mollie.
I remember Meredith saying something about how things would be moving quickly since the decision had been made to have the surgery. A clipboard was handed to me with a consent form to sign. I was shaking so much that I am sure my signature was impossible to decipher. David hugged me closely, and I cried into his arms. At some point, Angie took our picture with my camera. I didn’t really want a photo of that moment, but someone there had said we should take it.
Carmen helped me into a hospital gown, and my pink tank top was threading down the IV tubing and away from me. Before I knew it, my bed was being wheeled out the door, down the hallway, past the nurse’s station, around a corner, and to an operating room. I happened to take a glimpse of a rectangular clock overhead with red digital numbers that said something around 10:45. Was it really that late? It seemed like the sun had just set.
David was not with me. He was changing into scrubs in my room and would join me once Dr. Leach had begun the surgery. I was lifted onto the operating table by several people. My legs were too numb to do it myself. I did not like being in that room. I felt totally defenseless and lonely. The Anesthesiologist started preparing me for more medication, binding my left arm to an extension of the table. It was uncomfortable and not at the correct angle for my body. He said there was nothing he could do about it.
A sheet of blue hung above my belly. I heard Dr. Leach say “Uh, oh.” That concerned me a bit! I didn’t know what happened. I asked, and they said he had dropped his phone. There were two male pediatric nurses to my left and several other nurses in the room who totally ignored me. I saw Meredith off to my right putting on expensive green gloves that went up to her elbows. Earlier in the day, she had mentioned them when we commented on how many gloves she seemed to go through during my labor. She said they were very expensive. (I later found out that Meredith left moments later. Dr. Leach was about to deliver a baby at St. Mary’s when he got called to Regional to do my procedures. Meredith, being the other practitioner on call, had to go to St. Mary’s to take his place. She missed that baby’s birth by just a few minutes. She got back to Regional just a short while after Mollie’s birth.)
David came in, and I was so happy he was there. He sat beside my right shoulder and held my hand. My Nikon D200 hung around his neck. I have no idea what he thought of the surgery. He said he really didn’t look at what they were doing.
On T.V., I had watched enough episodes of “A Baby Story” to know and expect tugging during the surgery. I was not prepared for how much or what that really meant. I could feel Mollie moving in my belly, and Dr. Leach almost knocked the sheet down because he was tugging so hard. I was terrified I would feel cutting, which they assured me I would not, and I was terrified the sheet would fall.
I started to be so uncomfortable that the Anesthesiologist told me that if I couldn’t handle it, he would have to put me all the way under. I did not want that. I could still feel that hot pain by my right hip. Right when it began to be more than I could bear, Dr. Leach lifted up Mollie and said “She’s out.”
I think I immediately started crying. I stopped worrying about the surgery, and started worrying about her. I heard them say something about her being an “8” on the Apgar Scale, and David made a comment, “She’s an effin’ genius!” I think we were both momentarily embarrassed those words came out of his mouth.
Mollie was whisked around my right side and take over to a table where the pediatric nurses were. As she passed, I noticed the swirl of dark hair on the top of her head. “Is she okay?” I asked David over and over again.
I stretched my head over my left shoulder as hard as I could while watch the top of her head as she lay on the table. She had such a tight cry! David assured me that she was alright. I could see them putting her feet up to stamp them, and I sent David over to check on her. She was now a “9 on the Apgar Scale and weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces at 20.2 inches long. Before I knew it, he was back with our daughter.
I melted into her eyes. I cried. I think David asked me, “Isn’t she perfect?” and then something to clarify that Mollie was the perfect name for her. We smiled and cried. I noticed that one of her eyes, her left, seemed a little swollen. I was worried. “Is her eye okay?” He assured me that it was. She started to cry, and I told her that it was alright. She stopped crying. She knew me. David moved her face close to mine, and I kissed her cheek. They left and went to the nursery.
I have always been an impatient person, but I have never felt as impatient as I did at that moment. I wanted to hold my baby. If I could have twiddled my thumbs, I probably would have as they stitched me up! Soon after, I was being wheeled back past the clock which read something around 11:40. Mollie had been born at 11:12 P.M., 20 hours after my water broke.
I was taken back to the room I labored in by the Anesthesiologist. As we entered, he saw Angie sitting near the window and snapped at her. “This is a surgery recovery room, you can’t be in here.” If I hadn’t been so tired, I probably would have said something. She said “okay” and left. I was alone in a darkened room with Carmen. I was glad she was there.
For what felt like forever, I think almost 3 hours, I stayed in that room. Carmen adjusted my medication, and much to my dislike, she periodically pushed on my belly. That HURT. I hated it. At one point, the nursery called and asked if I wanted Mollie bathed. I asked if David could do it. They said that was fine. I wanted my baby!
I kept asking, “When can I see my baby?”
Carmen replied, “When you’re not in as much pain.” I should have just lied.
I came to find out that during the surgery, Carmen had to push Mollie back up so Dr. Leach could get her out. She was stuck! That’s why the curtain almost fell.
Finally, Carmen started to wheel me down the hallway to the postpartum rooms. It felt like it took forever to get there. As we passed over a bump in the hallway, she instructed me to hold a pillow tightly to my belly which would give me comfort over the stitches and staples. It helped.
As I entered my room, I was surprised to find my mom, David’s mom, and Angie all inside. I was sad that I was missing my one dream for childbirth: meeting my daughter in privacy with just my husband there. I wanted her to lie on my chest with him beside me: us finally a family. It took us so long to conceive Mollie, and after feeling like we would never have our own child, I dreamt of that moment of our first meeting for so long. Everyone who was there loved us, and we love them. They are all supportive and wonderful people; I just wanted a private moment. I’m still sad that it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. There I was in the room, and both David and Mollie weren’t even there yet.
I heard wheels in the hallway, and David appeared wheeling a clear plastic bassinet on a steel frame into the room. He stopped at the foot of the bed. A nurse followed him. I couldn’t see. The nurse started talking about how to clean Mollie cord and all sorts of other information that I could have cared less about. I didn’t listen to a word. “Can I hold my baby?” I asked. She started to hand me Mollie. David said, “Can I hand her to my wife?” He held Mollie out to me, and I felt complete. I was so happy. I couldn’t stop looking at her.
“Should we tell them her name?” He asked.
I nodded, but I was once again disappointed that I did not have private moment to share Mollie’s name with my mother. I had dreamt of it for nine months.
I said, “Mollie Rose”, and they all smiled. I don’t think my mom could believe it.
She either said, “What?” or “Really?” I love that my daughter is named after my mother name.
At some point that evening, Angie helped me with nursing Mollie, and our guests went home. My mother kissed me and touched Mollie’s cheek. We took Mollie out of the paper gown with pictures of teddy bears on it that she was dressed in and laid her on my chest. Her softness melted into my skin. She was so perfect. Her tiny hat slipped off of her head, and I noticed two red circles on the top right side of her head from the vacuum. These marks went away in a few days. I have no idea what time it is when we went to sleep.
Over the next few days, David did so much for me and Mollie. He rocked her, swaddled her, soothed her, diapered her, and bathed her. He helped me eat, feed Mollie, get up, get into the bathroom, get onto a mean nurse, thank the kind nurses, and even shower.
As we left Athens Regional, I couldn’t believe I was taking my baby home. I had a child. She was mine. I got to keep her! We left the sanctity of the hospital for the hot concrete and cars in Athens, Georgia. It made me nervous to take Mollie into the real world, but I knew she was safe with us. David and I have never wanted anything as much as we wanted our baby girl. Our baby girl! Oh, how much we love her! Having her in our car just seemed so simple. After all the complexities of having trouble conceiving and the discomfort of pregnancy and labor, she was a tiny little gift right there before us. I cannot remember life without her, nor do I want to.
At that time, if you had asked me, I would have said that I would not try to have a natural labor ever again. It was terribly painful. However, I know that just about everything that could go wrong did, and I know that my baby is so much healthier because I did that for her. Not only did I do it for her, but I did it for me. If I could do that, I can do anything. I have already reflected on that pain countless times. It has lifted me up and pushed me on. The pain was a gift, but there will never be another gift like that of my child.