To see part 1 go here: The Longest Labor Part 1
After retrieving our bags for the hospital, we headed to my pastor’s house to drop off our 14 month old daughter. This pastor and his wife were also slated to be the foster home that IKL would stay at while we were awaiting our court date to sign TPR (termination of parental rights). I don’t exactly remember how we were introduced to the pastor or his church. It may have been through the adoption agency since they were planning to place IKL in their care after her birth or it may have been because I sought out religious reinforcement during a difficult time. Isn’t it amazing what your mind will forget after all this time? During my pregnancy we had began to attend Sunday services and visit with the pastor at his home. They were down to earth people, gentle in nature. They had a toddler they were currently fostering in hopes of adopting. I do remember one conversation I had over the phone with the foster father/pastor. It was during my pregnancy and I had run out of diapers for my daughter, who was then about 9 months old. I called the pastor in desperation to see if he would be able to find me some diapers. He replied that I should probably find a blanket or towel and secure it to her bottom like an old fashioned diaper. His next statement came out of the blue and took my by complete surprise. He stated that this was exactly why God didn’t want people to have children outside of marriage (J and I were not yet married, remember?) and that giving IKL up for adoption was a punishment of sorts from God for our sin of fornication. He also stated that we were lucky we chose adoption and not abortion because then our souls would be damned to hell. He said this in his gentle nature that he always used. Like he was telling me it was supposed to rain today. I trusted this man and he had been nothing but kind to me so his words resonated with me. I believed that the adoption was God punishing me for my sins. I then started to think that if I kept her God’s wrath would come down upon my head because I didn’t accept my proper punishment. I must say that he never spoke anything like that before, nor did he in the following months or after her birth. I genuinely believe he was saying it from a place of what he considered to be “love” for his holy herd. It would be enough for an ordinary person, later in life, to turn away from God altogether. However, I still have my faith and understand that his words were not the truth. I later told IKL’s mother what he had told me (before TPR had been signed but after her birth) and she became quite angry. She told me that he was wrong and God was not punishing me for anything. She said he was taking a situation that was less than ideal and turning it into a beautiful gift for their family. I also believed this. So on one hand I believed I was being punished by God and on the other I believed I would become a hero. Both very valid reasons to go through with an adoption. IKL’s mother didn’t mean to make me feel like a hero (as opposed to not being a hero and damned to hell if I didn’t go through with the adoption) but instead was trying to make me feel better. She had grown fiercely protective over me and I will always love her for that.
After dropping our daughter off at the pastor’s house, we headed to the hospital. I realized that we had not even discussed names at all. I had felt that we would just name her whatever her adoptive parents wanted to name her. It had been explained to me that we would fill out a birth certificate for her with our names as parents but she would get a new one, probably with a new name, after her adoption was finalized. But while we riding in the car, I realized that I wanted to give her a name. I wanted to give her something from me. I asked J what we should name her. He replied, “I didn’t know we were allowed to name her.” I explained to him we were allowed but it would be changed. It meant a great deal of me to give her something of her heritage in her name. My middle name is also my mother’s middle name (And now it is also my niece’s middle name). I knew I wanted to give her that middle name. It had been handed down from generation to generation in our family. Coincidentally it was also her adoptive mother’s first name. I thought it was fitting. J agreed. Her first name, we decided, would be a name that I had heard when I was in 10th grade. A classmate of mine had told me she had 2 middle names one day and when I heard the first one I thought it was beautiful. J also agreed. So, her name was decided. I briefly asked, “but what if its a boy?” and J said, “Do you really think its a boy?” I didn’t so we never even discussed a boy’s name.
It’s funny because I don’t remember arriving at the hospital at all. Not one bit. I remember walking down the hallway on the maternity floor and into the room I was given, but I don’t remember checking in or getting up to that floor. The room was beautiful. It came complete with a hot tub in the bathroom (and jets!), a stereo system, and a huge TV. It was decorated beautifully to give it a calming ambiance and had a full size couch next to the bed. I’m not talking a “hospital” couch. This looked like it came straight from the furniture store. Nothing “hospital-like” about it. It was white and cozy. J spent the majority of my labor sitting on it as it was pretty close to the bed. We still had the movies we had rented from Family Video so J asked if it was possible to get a VCR to watch them (this was back when you could rent VHS or DVD). The hospital staff was great and promised they would find what we needed. And they did. It’s here that I will mention that J had never been present for the birth of a child before. He was stationed states away in the military when M was born and when I had my first 2 boys he wasn’t even someone I knew. Because the beginning stages of labor are not nearly as painful or harrowing as when it really gets going, I think J assumed that where I was at is where I would remain for the rest of my labor.
While the nurse was fetching a VCR, J popped in a Pearl Jam CD he had taken from the car before we came in. He did ask if it was alright and I did comply. After a while, though, my pain started to really gear up and the sound of Pearl Jam, a band I usually enjoy, began to make things hurt more. I asked that he please “turn that crap off!” J took serious offense to this as if I had been asking repeatedly and got no response. He didn’t understand that women in labor don’t give warnings. They just make demands when things get painful. He said something sarcastic and then headed out of the room. I asked where he was going and he said the cafeteria. I was left alone with my thoughts and increasing pain.
When J returned things had become obviously more painful. He apologized for his outburst and asked what he could do to help. I had been determined to not take any painkillers during my labor but did keep in mind that I could ask for an epidural if things got too bad. I had him summon the nurse to make sure it was okay to sit in the hot tub. I was not yet attached to any IV’s so that made things easier. The nurse unhooked all the baby monitors I was strapped to and I sat in the tub. It was marvelous. The pain became bearable and I fell asleep for a little while. It was at this time that my mother, who lived in a neighboring state, arrived at the hospital. J had called her after we arrived and she made the 3 hour drive to be there with me. She asked if I was ready to get out of the hot tub and I told her I didn’t want to because it was making me feel better. She gently coaxed me out and once I was hooked back up we discovered that my contractions had slowed down. They were not as frequent or as strong. I was still, however, in labor. I had only progressed 1 cm in the two hours I had sat in the hot tub. The nurses monitored me for a while and checked every once in a while. My progress was slow. Especially for a fourth baby. I have always wondered how much influence our mind has over our body. My mind didn’t want to let her go. And it seemed my body was following suit.
A visit from the doctor came approximately 12 hours into my labor. By this time it was morning of the next day (1 day before her due date) and I had only progressed about 3 cm in those 12 hours. My bag of waters was still intact and the doctor wanted to discuss some things with me about how we were progressing. He let me know that I couldn’t be sent home because I was in active labor. However, there was only so much of this that the baby would tolerate before it went into distress. He recommended breaking my bag of waters and starting a Pitocin drip. Pitocin is an artificial version of the hormone Oxytocin that our bodies produce naturally which keeps labor going. I told him that he could break my water but I wouldn’t take any Pitocin. When he asked why I said, “Because it’s going to hurt.” He got a good chuckle out of that, probably assuming I meant giving birth in general would hurt. I only meant that I knew Pitocin makes your contractions so much more unbearable than natural birth. My first child was an induced labor with Pitocin and it was the most horrible experience I ever had. I almost lost my life and he almost lost his. I did trust my doctor, though. And once he assured me that he wouldn’t let that happen I agreed to the Pitocin.
And that’s when the beginning of the end began. My baby was going to be forcibly taken from my body and we would no longer be one unit. We would be two and we would be separate. It was inevitable and it had only truly occurred to me that this day would come right then and there. I know there was some denial in my mind until then. There was no denying it now, no matter how much I had wished it wasn’t true.