As I was surfing the ‘net last night I stumbled upon an article on labor and delivery statistics, written by some OB-Gyn. First off, I was floored to read that of the women who decide they want to “try” natural birth (i.e. no meds), most end up with drugs such as an epidural. Of the women who go into labor adamant about doing it natural, only about 50% make it without. Floored. Because I honestly didn’t realize so many had such a tough time. I won’t say my labor (natural) was a cakewalk, but it certainly didn’t feel nearly as hard as those statistics make it sound.
But the article got interesting, as it talked about labor times and delivery times. Apparently, for a first baby, it is not uncommon for women to push between an hour and three hours (and of course, they always say that many first-time moms have a labor between 16 and 20 hours). With second and subsequent children, that pushing time whittles down to between 20 minutes and 2 hours.
My labor with Michael was 5 hours, and my pushing phase lasted around 10 minutes. And it still wasn’t enough. Yes, I remain irritated by that little fact (and probably will be irritated by it for the rest of my life). I was the one they could see was made for this, who excelled at this. I was the one who who was the “sure bet,” the one they didn’t have to worry about.
But my son got stressed.
He panicked inside me at the very last moment and inhaled when he shouldn’t have.
And no one in that room could save him though they all tried so, so hard.
I remember, once, a long time ago, hearing a quote that said something along the lines of “when a woman is giving birth, it is then that she is closest to life and death.” As a girl, I thought that quote was a bit harsh, but looking back I see it so clearly. In childbirth, things can really go either way, with seemingly no rhyme or reason. No woman is guaranteed a baby to take home, even after the easiest pregnancy on record. Despite all our medical advances, nothing is a sure bet. All those numbers that run so rampant? As much as we don’t want to hear it, those numbers mean nothing. Our outcomes in most circumstances — life or death — are not up to us, though we and the medical community try so valiantly and so hard to make it otherwise.
It’s not up to us.
But I suppose that’s where hope comes in, that little, indomitable flame of spirit. We dream, we pray, we hope for the best. We believe that good things can come. And sometimes, against all odds, those little hopes come to fruition, in spite of the logic of numbers.