38 hours and 40 minutes. Bronson was ready, but certainly not in a hurry. Those hours, minutes and seconds felt even longer than time tells. But the passing time revealed many things – lessons applicable to all of life’s travails.
Lesson #1 – The right people make all the difference.
My first nurse stuck my arm 3 times before soliciting help to hook up my IV. My second nurse talked incessantly, entirely unaware of my affinity for silence. But my third nurse arrived amidst a multitude of chaos. (I was screaming and crying, and Ryan’s explicit and direct demand for a doctor had ellicited a roomful of them.) And she was perfect. She knew when to offer assistance, when to be silent and when to encourage. Her presence relieved some of the intensity.
And more importantly, Ryan was incredible. Patient, kind, helpful, aware. He stood up for me and listened without regard for himself. Selflessness and awareness – the two best qualities of supporting people during trials.
Lesson #2 – When laboring, celebrate the little things.
For the first 12 hours, Ryan and I walked the hallways. I was having small, inconsistent contractions, and at the time I thought I wanted the contractions to get closer together and more intense. So we walked. I wore a green nightgown and a green headband. Apparently, my matching outfit gave me the best dressed award in the labor and delivery unit. Only labor could make that outfit cute.
Lesson #3 – When you focus on the outcome, time goes by quicker.
I pushed for 4 hours, and I would have pushed for 4 more. It certainly helped that I had an epidural, as I would have been far more exhausted without it. But I wanted Bronson out. I wanted to see him, so I just kept pushing, though he stubbornly resisted until a vacuum suctioned to his head.
Lesson #4 – People should know about your pain.
In times of stress and trials, it’s tempting to keep it to yourself – to convince yourself you should just suck it up. But, more often than not, people respond if you tell them you’re in pain. After about 22 hours, I requested, and then demanded, an epidural. It wasn’t part of my plan, but I was in too much pain and too exhausted. Ryan responded. The nurse responded. And the epidural appeared. Unfortunately, life doesn’t offer epidurals, but people, if you let them in, offer some relief.
Lesson #5 – The longer the labor, the bigger the payoff.
I worked to get that little boy out of me, and the payoff was HUGE – 8lbs 7oz to be exact. And when Ryan and I each held him, we both knew he was worth it.