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1.14.2013

The Very Beginning

Me, days old.
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." - Julie Andrews, in The Sound of Music

I'm not sure when it became a tradition in our house, but for as long as I can remember, when it's your birthday you can expect to be told the story of your birth. So I've heard the story of my birth many times. My husband and I have carried the tradition on with our kids. They protest profusely, but I am convinced they secretly love hearing their story, just like I did.

Here's my story.

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Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ, was speaking at a nearby church that Sunday night. My parents had felt a pull on their hearts to help the church in communist countries since they had read God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew together, right after they were married. The book had been a gift for their wedding two years previous. Now they were excited for the opportunity to hear Richard Wurmbrand speak on a topic so close to their hearts. My dad was hoping to get some Q&A time with Wurmbrand, but sometime during the meeting my mom leaned over and whispered in his ear, "I think I'm having contractions."

She wasn't sure because she had just been to the doctor a couple days before. The doctor had assured her that the baby looked to be right on track for the November 3rd due date and would not be arriving early. So that evening on October 24th, she didn't think much of the pain she felt in her back. Until she realized the pain was coming and going at regular intervals.

When she told my dad her suspicion, he insisted they go to their own church, which was also having a Sunday night meeting, to get some prayer before the baby came. Their church was in the opposite direction of their home and hospital, but it was their first child and they wanted prayer. After the leaders of the church prayed for the labor and delivery, mom and dad went home and timed the contractions. Early on the morning of October 25th, around 2:00 am, they headed to the hospital for the big event.

When they got there, my dad was able to be with mom during the labor, but as she was taken to the delivery room, he was told that he could not be in the delivery room with her, which surprised them both. At the time it was not common for men to be in the delivery rooms. This doctor, however, had indicated to them that she was open to it. Disappointed he waited in the hallway. After some complications with the delivery, my mother yelled out in frustration, "I want my husband!" The doctor relented and let my dad in the delivery room.

I was coming out the wrong way, with my face turned up, chin first. They gave my mom some gas as the doctor got ready to reach in and turn me around. Being familiar with hospitals and surgery and anesthetic gasses, having assisted in many surgeries as a surgical technician, my mom knew that they don't give the mother gas unless there was something very wrong. As they put the gas mask over her nose, she felt a sense of dread. "Oh no!" she said just before she lost consciousness.

Dad stood there, helpless, watching, trying his best to comfort his wife even though he was afraid he might lose her. Mom came back to consciousness just in time to deliver the baby and felt a great sense of relief seeing her husband there in the delivery room with her. When I was born at 6:29 am, my dad didn't recognize that I was the baby at first, because I came out such a dark blue. Is the baby dead? he wondered.

It was uncomfortably silent in the delivery room. By giving my mother gas, the doctor had lowered the oxygen content in her blood, which in turn lowered the oxygen content flowing to the baby inside of her. That's why I was so blue when I was born, I didn't have enough oxygen.

The Apgar Score is a method of assessing the health of a newborn baby based on five criteria, zero being dead, ten being perfectly healthy. My initial Apgar score was one. They went to work right away trying to revive me. In fact, they didn't even tell my parents if I was a boy or girl. They only knew I was a girl because they heard the nurses  referring to "her" and "she." The first minutes after I was born were filled with anxiety, not celebration, although they were happy that at least I was alive. After a few minutes the anxiety subsided. My next Apgar score was nine. 

My dad, however, was still concerned. I looked deformed when I was born, not at all what he was expecting. My head was lopsided and my left eye was so scrunched that he had to look twice to make sure that it was even there, then asked the pediatrician to check it to make sure it was okay.

When they wheeled my mom to the recovery room, my dad went to the nursery. The nurses wheeled me over to the window so that he could have a better look. I looked to the left, to the right, then right at him and smiled. He felt such a great sense of relief and so much emotion that he hurried out to his car where he could be alone and weep for joy. He wept so hard that he hyperventilated and his jaw locked.

And, I think, he's probably been weeping ever since... for joy, of course.


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Knowing this story of my birth has at times made me feel pretty special. I remember one time specifically. I was walking down my grandparents' wooden basement stairs and I slipped, but I caught myself and didn't get hurt. I remember thinking, "I could have died. Just like I almost died when I was born. God must have a special purpose for my life." I think I was probably eight years old at the time and a little over dramatic. I'm still wondering what that special purpose is that God has for me. I've decided that it was to bring my own children into the world.

Interestingly, knowing this story of my birth impacted my feelings about the whole process of giving birth. When I was pregnant with my first child, as the due date approached, I realized that I was very fearful of labor and delivery. I lived with the fear until it grew into a somewhat consuming thing. I finally worked up the courage to verbalize my fear and mentioned it to my mom. As I talked to her, I realized that the source of my fear was my own birth story. I knew that my own delivery had been difficult and I'd heard that often the birthing experiences are similar to your own mothers' experience.

"Oh, Anne! My labor with you was easy. Well, as easy as labor can be anyways. If you hadn't been turned the wrong direction, the delivery would have been an entirely different story, I'm sure. My other two labor and deliveries were fast. You really have no reason to fear. Embrace the pain." Her advice to embrace the pain has stuck with me. I even wrote one of my first posts about it

And so, the story of my birth is somewhat traumatic and painful. And yet at the same time full of joy and hope. Giving me a sense of God's hand on me throughout my life, even from the beginning. I used to think that meant that I had to do something special. Now I think it just means that God thinks I'm special, and that is good enough for me.


13 comments:

  1. Your birth was so similar to my oldest. It gives me chills to read it.

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    1. are you ever going to write about it? I'd love to hear the story!

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  2. So glad you are here to tell your story!

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  3. Wow, that's quite a story! I love how open you are to sharing yourself. I'm so glad things turned out the way they did!

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I appreciate the encouragement on my being open and sharing.

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  4. Anne you tell your story wonderfully! I was completely engaged and tear streaked the entire read! What a gift of your parents to tell the story .... such a great tradition! I have told my children theirs on occasion, and I can see how they light up a little inside at the mention.... and with teenage boys... that is something pretty impressive!

    I so enjoy this series that you are doing! What great personal work and such a gift that you are sharing it with others! Thank you for doing what you do!!

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    1. Thanks, Tamera! I agree, it was a gift that they told us our stories. I hope someday my kids will think so too! I really, really appreciate your encouragement and enthusiasm for this series. xo

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    2. AnneI was driving home today, thinking about this post... recalling the birth stories of all three of mine. My youngest who knows the part about how the Dr. declared him a miracle baby, not only because the cord was around his neck three times.... but also how the palcenta was absolutely too thin. My youngest Hunter, recently found out he was a 'surprise'. But it was only thinking about your post.... that I realized that over the years i had forgotten why he was such a surprise... i had a miscarriage two months before.... and had no intention of trying again...just the contrary. I never remembered the whole story.... until now. My third son....was/ is such a miracle with a soul who so wanted to be here.... that everyone in the hospital called hima miracle....not even knowing the whole story. I can't wait for the right time to tell Hunter... the rest of his story.

      You see Anne, the power of your story...can impact whole families. Thank you my dear friend...you and I...are not coincidence.

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  5. Hi Anne! This is so amazing!! What a miraculous story!! I think it's awesome that you're sharing it, and I love the idea of people collecting and linking their stories! Thanks for sharing...I will have to get started on mine! Have a blessed day :)

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. I look forward to hearing your story. :)

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  6. Wowie! That is quite the story! The story of my own birth is quite tame, but I could go on for hours on each of my 3 babies' births. In fact they're all documented on my blog. Sure sign of trauma! Lol! Thanks for sharing this! I'm sure God does have a purpose for your life, even if it's just the "little things" like the influence you had on your siblings, or being a mom yourself. You never know!

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    1. Thanks, Ellie. I am sure, too, that God has a purpose for my life. I've only recently rested in His grace, knowing that I don't have to DO anything amazing to achieve my purpose. In fact, resting in His grace is quite amazing in itself. :) xo

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