I now understand why people use the phrase “life as we know it has changed.” My life has changed dramatically the last week, which I knew it would, I just wasn’t prepared for the emotional strings attached to that change.
Becoming a mother has a huge leap of faith for me as I have never been the type to want to be a mother. It’s not that I don’t love babies and it’s not that I don’t have a loving maternal nature, it’s just that being a mother has always looked extremely daunting to me. I grew up in a religious culture where starting from a young age I was taught that being a mother was the most important thing I could ever do. I remember thinking, “Well if that’s the most important thing I will every do, what if I’m not good at it? What if I don’t like being a mom?”
Levi and I got married in December of 2014 and I had every intention to wait a while before even thinking about having a baby. A few months into our marriage I started having these dreams about a beautiful little girl. The dreams would feel so real that I would wake up feeling like I was missing something in my life. I told Levi about my dreams and he said, “Oh, that’s Clair.” Right when he said her name I knew that he was right. That was Clair! She was my baby and imperfect little me was supposed to be her mother. I was terrified at the thought and tried to push it away, but the feeling wouldn’t leave. Levi and I both knew that God wanted us to try for a baby. A few months later I was pregnant with our daughter.
I have never felt so vulnerable in my entire life than in the decision to become a mother. As a pregnant woman you are so exposed to the world. Everyone that passes you sees your tiny bump and can immediately categorize and judge you. They feel entitled to ask you personal questions such as “Are you going natural or epidural?” “What are you naming her?” “How far along are you?” They then feel the need to push unsolicited advice my way such as “Enjoy sleep now,” or “Life will never be the same.” All of these comments instill panic instead of faith within me. Why are people saying these things?? After my due date passed I felt as if I was going to be pregnant forever. As each day passed my anxiety intensified. Sure, I was scared to feel the labor pain, but I was even more scared to think about it and deal with the unknown for one more second. I wanted my baby out, but I also didn’t want her out because that would mean my life would be changed forever. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I didn’t know what to do with her? What if I didn’t feel that unconditional and instant love for her?
Three days after my due date I woke up to labor pains. It was 4:45 in the morning and I started to time the contractions. It was consistent. 6-7 minutes apart. The pain went on consistently for 2 hours and I decided to call my midwife. She told me that until they were 3-4 minutes apart it was best to labor at home. The rest of the day I continued to have contractions. They slowed down during the day to the point that they were 10 minutes apart but by the end of the day they were starting to pick up again. From midnight to 3 in the morning they began to be more intense and were 3-4 minutes apart. After an hour of them being 3-4 minutes apart I decided to go to the hospital. On the way to hospital Levi and I listened to Clair de lune. It was one of those moments where I realized that things were about to change and even though I was scared and I felt a lot of pain I felt peace and love. I jokingly said to Levi, “Watch, I’ll go in and only be dilated to 2 cm.”
Turns out that wasn’t a joke. “You’re about a 2,” said one of the nurses. I felt the tears of frustration start leaking onto my face. How could I only be a 2 after almost 24 hours of labor? “We’ll keep you and watch you for an hour to see if there is any progression.” An hour passed. Levi laid in the tiny hospital bed with me while my mom watched the monitor. “That was a big one huh?” My mom would ask occasionally. All I could do was moan. After an hour there was no progression. They sent me home with a pain killer. The next day the contractions were back in full gear. I decided I wasn’t going back to the hospital until they got so bad that I couldn’t stand them. I didn’t want to be sent home again. After my bowels cleared up my contractions got extremely painful. Levi was trying all of the different pressure points-pushing on my knees, hips and lower back and it helped, but I still couldn’t help but cry out of pain. The pain got so bad that I decided it was time to go back in. There was no way I hadn’t progressed right?
Wrong. I was a 2.5 dilated. After another hour of monitoring there was no progression so they gave me a shot of morphine in my behind and sent me home again. For some reason the morphine wasn’t helping with the contractions, it was only making me feel completely out of it. I got home and after laying down for a little bit the contractions started coming every 1-2 minutes apart and these ones were the worst I had ever felt. I tried laboring through the pain for as long as I could but at 3 a.m I woke Levi up and told him we needed to go back to the hospital. Of course I was afraid they would send me back, but I didn’t know what else to do.
By the time I got back to the hospital I was ready to give up the ghost. At that point it was 48 hours of labor pain. I was now dilated to a 3. The nurse left the room and I just started bawling thinking that I would have to sit through an hour of horrible contractions just to be sent home again. A minute later the nurse came back and said the midwives wanted to admit me due to the little progress I had made. It was a straight up miracle!!!
An hour later I had the epidural and was on cloud 9. Over the 48 hours of labor I had only been able to sleep a total of 3 or 4 hours. Sleep felt good. Dilation progressed as soon as I had the epidural. It was almost as if my mind needed to be able to relax for my body to do it’s job. By noon it was time for me to start pushing. Delivery was my absolute favorite part of the entire process. I decided to have Levi and my mother hold my legs while my Dad sat on the couch. My midwife sat on the edge of the bed, the lights were dimmed and it was peaceful and quiet. As I pushed I felt so empowered and strong. It’s hard to explain how beautiful those 30 minutes of pushing were. Those moments are sacred to me and can only be described as a “labor of love” for my sweet daughter. Looking back I couldn’t have made it through the labor process without my sweetheart and my mother.
Our beautiful daughter Clair Olivia Rasmussen was born a week ago today. March 21, 2016. 12:23 pm. 7 lbs, 3 oz. 18 1/2 inches long. Sheer perfection.
I really didn’t think I would cry when I held my daughter, but the flood gates were opened the moment they laid her on my chest. She was absolutely breathtaking! All of my worries left me as I realized I would love this child forever. She was half mine, half Levi’s and there was nothing more beautiful to me than that.
Pregnancy and delivery has helped me to view Jesus Christ in a whole new light. I’m convinced that the way our bodies work and function is just a symbol and type of the Messiah and his glorious work. Regardless if you are a believer or not, listen to how beautiful this is. In Isaiah 46 it reads:
Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb.
And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?
I love the question at the end where Christ asks, to whom will ye liken me and compare me to be like? Looking at the words he uses such as being carried from the womb, bear, deliver we know he is talking about a mother. Of all of the ways that Christ could describe his work he used the work of a mother. What is that saying about motherhood?
Even though the last week has been challenging and has brought my emotions to a place that I have never felt before (probably a combination of sleep deprivation with hormones) I take comfort in the fact that Christ believes in the work of a mother. In fact, He sees that work just as holy as His work. How beautiful is that?
Labor truly felt like hell, but brought heaven into my life. (As pictured above.)
So to every mother that feels overwhelmed, discouraged, fatigued and worn down, remember that Christ felt all of those things too and he believes in the importance of motherhood. Our work is holy. Our work is sacred. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a mother, hard it may be. I love you baby Clair! Thank you for coming into my world and giving me the opportunity to become better.