A Cherished Experience
It was a warm, sunny spring day. My window was rolled down, allowing the wind to blow through my hair and whip the strands in my face as I zoomed home from school. A catchy tune was just ending as I turned into the driveway. I killed the engine, grabbed my purse and trotted up to the front door, searching for my house key and humming the chorus from the song I had just heard.
I snatched the mail as I burst through the front door. “Wonder if anything’s for me?” I asked myself as I rifled through the letters, bills and junkmail, searching for my name. A rectangular envelope caught my eye, as it bore the label: Heather Vickers.
I glanced at the return address to see where it was from: New Mexico.
I tossed the rest of the mail on the blue bench by the front door and sprinted down to my room to change. After I tossed on jeans and a t-shirt my attention again turned to the package on my bed. I carefully tore the seal and withdrew pictures of my daughter and a note from her adoptive mother. As I gazed at the image of Bethany with her parents, my memory wandered back to her birth…….
I had woken up at 3:30 am, January 24th, five days after my 18th birthday. Uncomfortable cramping kept me awake for the next hour, when I heard my dad stirring in my parent’s room, getting ready for work. Maneuvering out of my bed was difficult with a bulk accompanying me. It was with me everywhere I went for the past nine months, each day growing larger. I entered my parent’s room and woke up my mom. An hour later, she confirmed what I was unsure of : I was in labor.
We called my friend Christine, who was to be my other birth coach and she excitedly rushed over. Next we contacted James and Leigh Ann, the couple I had chosen to adopt my baby. They elatedly told us they were on the next plane out of New Mexico. The rest of the morning was spent counting contractions, packing the van with everything we needed, and traveling to Kaiser in Fremont, where they verified I was in labor.
Finally, my mom, Christine, the unborn baby and I were off to Kaiser hospital in Hayward. We reached our destination at approximately 11:00 am. By the time I was admitted and settling into my room, the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting up to 90 seconds. The pain was exceedingly fierce and I used a few ways to manage it. For instance, I would kneel on a pillow on the ground, lean my head on the end of the bed and wiggle my hips back and forth. I also liked to walk. I would shuffle around my room or through the halls of the maternity ward.
One thing I hated though, was anyone touching me or talking. So when I felt a contraction coming, I would yell to everyone around, “Shut up!”. At first they didn’t understand and would still talk to each other. But after awhile, my mom figured out I didn’t like anyone to talk at all. Period.
Finally it got to the point where I almost couldn’t handle it anymore. The pain was excruciating and I was exhausted. It was time for some relief. It took awhile to get the ball rolling for the epidural, about 1 1/2 hours after I had requested it. I was laying in bed with the drugs pumping into my body and numbing me from the waist down. The change was unbelievable. It was like overwhelmingly loud music suddenly being turned off and a calm, refreshing blanket falling in and I could breathe again. My pain level went form almost the worst, a nine, to a zero. It was wonderful! I was finally able to rest, which I did.
When I woke up, I was feeling completely rested. My mom came in and told me about all the visitors that had come and were hanging out in the waiting room. My dad, sister, aunts, cousins, and friends. I was wide awake and felt like I was able to see them. They tip-toed in, three or four at a time, and we talked and teased and they were amazed to see how well I was doing for being in labor. I was exceedingly grateful to have so many people there to love and support me. All in all, an estimated 15 people came to the hospital that night for me, including James and Leigh Ann, who made it three hours before the delivery. I felt intensely blessed.
At 6:30 pm I was resting after my multitude of callers. Suddenly I awoke to pressure in my pelvis. I tried to go back to sleep but it grew stronger and stronger until I called my mom and she went to get a nurse.The pressing continued coming in waves, each one getting worse. I got the shakes and started trembling so fiercely, my teeth chattered. The nurse and midwife mosied in and informed me that I had just experienced the transition phase. They were awfully laid back, in my opinion, for the intensity that I felt. Then she declared I was 10 centimeters.
“It’s time to start pushing!” she chimed. Now I could feel pain again. But it was different this time, not so sharp. The nurse had instructed Mom and Christine how to coach me in pushing. My mind was not completely there and I was a bit delirious as my body worked to push her out of my womb. When a contraction came, I would push hard, holding my breath for ten seconds, inhale, push again for ten seconds, inhale and push a third time for ten seconds, then stop and rest . This was the routine about every 1-2 minutes for the next hour.
Mom and Christine were fantastic; encouraging me and counting, telling me softly how great I was doing and when a contraction was almost over. At one point, I almost lost it. I was overwhelmed by the lack of control over my body. “Just breath,” coached my mom. “Think about Hawaii and lying on the beach. I asked Dad and he said we could go there before school starts in a few weeks.” I focused on the sound of lapping waves and swaying palm trees in my mind. I decided to cooperate with my body and let it do its work.
At 8:00 pm, a midwife I had not yet seen entered and presented herself as Allison. She had just come on shift and was making rounds, introducing herself to patients and seeing how progress was doing with each of the laboring women she was to take care of that evening.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “It looks like I need to get ready. This baby is about to make an appearance!”
Well it’s about time, I thought to myself. I was ready to get her out.
Allison hustled to get her hands under me as I bore down and pushed with all my might. 10 minutes later, I did a mighty push and the head squeezed out. “You may need to do one more push.” Allison informed me, but instead, the baby just slid right out.
The next few minutes were a blur. I remember looking at this life that had just come out of me and was in awe. “What is it?” Christine asked. “It’s a girl!” my mom exclaimed as she cut the umbilical cord.
I was in the midst of a frenzy of emotions. I felt excitement, relief and joy all rolled in one. I threw my head back against my pillow and breathed an enormous sigh, with a smile on my face. The nurse took her to a little table next to my bed and wrapped her in a blanket as Allison cleaned me up. I listened as the little girl first whimpered a bit and then two healthy lungs burst out a loud “Waaaaa!”
The nurse handed me the little bundle. I gazed at my daughter and she took my breath away. Curly, ebony hair covered her head and wide dark eyes stared at me. I was elated. “Hello Bethany Marietta,” I whispered.
” Welcome to the world.”
My mind drifted back to the present. After I had held her for awhile, my mom had gone out to the waiting area and announced that it was a girl. Everyone cried. James and Leigh Ann came back to meet their daughter and I remember the joy in their faces as they did so. Giving my beautiful little girl to them has been the most difficult thing I have ever encountered. But because of the terrific love I have for her I was willing to do it.
It is because of God’s grace that I am able to get through each day without her. I thank God I am able to witness Bethany’s life through pictures and letters written by her mom. The thrilling experience of her birth is one I will always cherish.
Written by Heather, Bethany’s Birth Mother