Hi, I’m Kimberly’s Husband and father to all the “D”s. Kimberly asked me to share my side of the birth story. Where to begin?
Diamond (little “d”) was my first biological child. Her birth was amazing, beautiful, and a little overwhelming. Kimberly loves telling everyone how I sat and read as she was given her epidural shot. I don’t deny it; I just have no memory of doing that. I guess it was just how I dealt with the stress of the moment. Ha! I had no idea how easy we had it. There were really no complications until Diamond started turning blue (she was born with pneumonia). One week later, everyone was home safe, but the woman who came home with me was not my wife.
I was a child with a child (I had just turned 21, and despite what people may say that is still a child) and was not the help that I should have been. I worked and came home and slept after spending a little time with my baby girl. Kimberly did pretty much everything, and before long, we were both working. We switched up shifts to be home with little “d”, but we both worked. Before long, I had two jobs; preaching and waiting tables. This added more to both of our plates. We developed a system for getting the bigger kids ready that worked, and we functioned well enough; but I now see that the stress that I put on her contributed to Kimberly’s post-partum depression.
I heard that term before, but nothing can prepare you for what that beast truly is. It took years for Kimberly to overcome and there was nothing I could do. After about two years, the stresses of preaching for a church where I was the second to youngest member (not counting my own children) brought me into depression too.
We moved, life situations changed, and we both got better. By the time little “d” was three, Kimberly started talking about us having a fourth “D.” Paralyzing fear hit me. I just got my wife back! The happy, cheery woman I married was resurfacing, what if another pregnancy stole her again. I never loved her any less, in fact, I think hardship strengthened our love, but the thought of revisiting that hardship was more than I could bear. On top of that, parenting often cripples me with fear. I am terrified of messing my children up… It scares me.
Fear makes me unreasonable and, sometimes, unkind. I told Kimberly exactly what I thought. “I don’t think I can handle a fourth child, I would probably run!” It was just the first thought that came up; I said it and forgot about it. Little did I know, Kimberly couldn’t forget it and thought I meant I would leave her if we ever had another child.
A year went by. While Kimberly was coming to terms with the fact that we were never having another child, I realized that I didn’t want to be done. I couldn’t fight back the feelings that I felt every time I looked at an infant. My baby girl was 4 ½! She was going to preschool and would be in Kindergarten next year. She wasn’t a baby any more. Plus, I was only a witness to PPD, if Kimberly lived that nightmare and was willing to chance it, I could man up about it.
We talked about it and Kimberly shared what she had been bearing all along, a fear that I would leave her if we had another child. Wow! What harm we can inflict by careless words! We decided, after a lot of talking and praying, that we wanted to try for our fourth “D.”
That was just to help you understand some of my anxiety (don’t be hatin’, this is honesty). Fast forward about a million prayers and the whole “If this baby is a boy we are naming him Captain whether you like it or not, Steven” ordeal to “labor day.”
We make it to Mena without an emergency delivery in the car! Score! Here we are at the hospital, everything is going well… as well as it can be with three small children crammed onto a couch having to hide behind the curtain every time someone comes to “check” mommy (that word will never be the same) and waiting for our friends to come pick them up.
This is all very shaky in my memory, so bear with me. They break Kimberly’s water… um scary… and she is still all happy and giggly as she realizes her second pair of socks is soaked by her water. Now the real deal scary contractions start coming. I get a text that our friends are on their way to get the kids but are running a little late. This makes me a little nervous, but I prayed about every aspect of this delivery for so long that I’m sure it will all be okay.
In the next few minutes, it becomes obvious that Kimberly is in serious pain and just trying to keep it under control of the kids’ sake. Then it gets to be too much and she starts puffing and moaning, the nurse comes to check and see if Kimberly is dilated to five and ready for an epidural. So we are all gathered behind the curtain again and I’m thinking “Why do you have to check someone in this much pain to see if they are ready for pain relief?!?! And praying they get her that monster shot soon (notice, I’m not reading this time! Yay me!) and that our friends show up to get the kids asap… like yesterday!
By this point Kimberly is muffling back her screams and Devan is hysterical with concern for Mommy. Just then I get the message that our friends are here, Kimberly looks at me with eyes that beg me not to leave as I tell her I have to take the kids out to their baby-sitters. I rush them out, trying to comfort Devan, who’s face says that is the scariest thing she has ever seen, and hand them over – blood curdling scream from the other room – tell the kids I love them – run back into the room to find Kimberly on hands and knees – rub her back and feebly try to comfort her – end of first killer contraction.
Kimberly is in tears and begging to leave. I held her face and made her look at me and tried to tell her gently and firmly that she has to stay while frantically praying for God to give her peace and relief until the anesthesiologist gets there. By the time he does I’m holding Kimberly as she bites and screams the most pitiful and pain-filled screams I have ever heard. I try to focus on comforting Kimberly and not punching the epidural guy as he says “if you don’t calm down and hold still I’m not going to be able to do this” in a tone that says “I’m sooo board right now.” Kimberly tries hard to sit (on Dani’s crowning head as we would soon find out) through the next contraction so that epidural guy can get a good shot at her back. This is the most pain I have ever seen anyone in! It was at this moment, for the first time, it hits me that God could say “No” to our prayers for a safe and painless delivery. Kimberly is in so much pain that I am terrified that something is very wrong. It shouldn’t be like this. What if something happens to her or our little Dani?! Through these thoughts I’m shaking and trying to comfort Kimberly and trying to pray but all that will come into my head is “Please, please, please!”
When that horror of a contraction ends, Kimberly begs epidural guy, between sobs, to hurry up and give her the shot before the next contraction comes. This dude fumbles around with his stuff and thinks that now would be a great time for a lecture on calming down and letting him do his job (I’m sorry, this is just my impressing, I’m sure it’s an awful job and all, but this is my wife). The nurse realizes that something isn’t right and tells Kimberly that she needs to check her. When she does, she doesn’t have to say a word, her look is enough and dude packs up his stuff and leaves.
Kimberly begs and pleads with him to stay as the nurse tells her there is no time and another nurse frantically calls for Mesko. Somewhere in all this, I look down and see my daughter’s nose and forehead as I realize the nurse is trying to convince Kimberly that she has to stay and can’t just walk out. Dr. M runs in and tells Kimberly to breathe so she can give him a good push because Dani’s shoulders are ready to come out. Yeah, that’s right; her whole head was out before he could get to Kimberly. That is how quick it all happened and why it is so hard to remember the most traumatic half hour of our lives.
Dani rolled on out and was beautiful (my first thought) and huge (my second thought). I was in love. We loved her every step of the way, but there is nothing like the first time you see your child. There are no words, just love.
I had a few blissful minutes with my baby girl as she was weighed and measured, and then there was the blood. Hemorrhaging, shaking, panic, and once again there is nothing I can do. Over an hour, and one long untimely visit, later, the shaking finally stopped. Every time the delivery nurse came to check on Kimberly and rub the blood clots out of her belly the shaking would begin again. I was worried about PPD when I should have been worried about PTSD. Kimberly is amazing, beautiful, and strong, but this was a nightmare. Neither of our stories do justice to the situation. How do you put into words indescribable pain, what it’s like to helplessly watch your wife as she pleads with God to just pass out to get a break from the pain? How do you describe the fear that something is so terribly wrong that your wife or child may not survive the delivery? I can’t. It is not all bad; everyone is alive and well or at least recovering. Our baby girl is a tremendous blessing and we love her dearly, and Kimberly is herself, just traumatized. God is good.
I want to end on a positive note. So I will just share a little of the joy that God has since blessed us with. This morning, after Dani and I snoozed together, I walked into the living room. As soon as Dani saw Kimberly, she gave her the biggest smiles I have ever seen. God is good and He will bring us through this. He knows what we need to heal, and He will provide. Thank you all for your love and concern!