This post is written by Ashlie’s lesser half, Joshua. On many occasions over the life of this blog, Ashlie has invited me to write a post to capture my thoughts on this dillightful adventure. As much as I love talking about myself to anyone who would listen, I’ve never been motivated enough to sit down and share about any one particular event. Mostly out of charity for Ashlie and her view count. But this month, a significant milestone has occurred on our dillightful adventure. One that Ashlie has already written extensively about, one that readers are probably ready to move on from, well buckle up cuz you’re going to get dad’s version.
I won’t retell the entire day’s events as Ashlie already so eloquently did. Instead I’ll focus in on the time in which she wrote “I think this was the most emotional part of labor for Josh.” It was right around 4pm on November 4th. After hours of massages, showers, and general trial and error on my part to figure out how I could help, the time came when I could do no more. The nurses where prepping Ashlie for her spinal shot and pitocin IV. As soon as she gave the order, it was a highly coordinated process that happened quickly. I sat there looking at Ashlie propped up on the bed while I sat on the inflated exercise ball. She gave me a gentle smile as if to tell me she was ok and everything would be alright. At this point my heart exploded.
I felt like the Grinch on Christmas morning and could literally feel my heart expand to feel emotions I’d never experienced before. I’ve always loved my wife, but when she was patiently bearing the pain of having our child without ever complaining and smiling through it all it brought about a whole new meaning to the love we shared. Words fail, but it was in that moment my heart was stretched and I felt more love for her than on our wedding day.
In the other chamber of my 3 sizes too small heart, was the feeling of fear and hopelessness. So many times before this day Ashlie had recounted the horror stories of women losing control of their labor. The stories all seem to start the same, a pain killer is administered to relax the muscles then pitocin comes to expedite the contractions. Finally when not enough progress is being made or the baby’s heart rate drops an emergency c-section is ordered to save the baby. I know Ashlie was worried about this which is why she waited so long to request the drug. So here we are taking the first step down a road that may lead to the very thing she doesn’t want. Or worse what happens if something serious goes wrong and Ashlie’s life is in danger? It happens. The problem is there is no way to know what road you’re heading down until it’s too late to change your mind. And with Ashlie hooked up and in the nurses’ hands there was nothing I could do. No tasks to focus on and distract my thoughts from heading down to the road of uncontrollable worries.
Uncontrollable is really what defined that hour. Now I’ve always been a person who takes pride in being able to focus during tense or difficult times. Whether it’s in academics, sports, military training, when a decision needs to be made I can block out the ‘what-ifs’ and fears and focus on what I need to do in this very moment. But the problem is when you have zero control over a situation, when there is nothing you can do; you can’t focus on any task immediately in front of you. And when you are a person who feels comfortable & confident making hard decisions when the game is on the line, it’s even harder to be in a situation that you have no control over. During these moments that Ashlie is being hooked up and prepped all I had to focus on where the fears running thru my head. It was this two-fold combination of fear and love that stretched my little pumper.
It was in this moment my heart was simultaneously giving praise and gratitude to God, while earnestly praying for the safety of my beloved. What else can you do when a situation is entirely out of your hands? My only option was to place my trust & my family in God. What a strange blessing that is… I long for riches and power just as much as the next person. Yet it was in this true moment of poverty, abandonment, and helplessness that I was blessed to experience love I’d never known before. This is truly a paradox to me.
Thanks be to God Ashlie (and John-Paul) made it through labor safely. There was no need for a c-section and John-Paul calmed his parents during those stressful times by having a strong and healthy heart beat as if that day was just like any other. We brought him home and the transition for us was seamless and natural. And it was here at home that Ashlie impressed me even more than at the hospital. Immediately upon our arrival home, my mind was focused on a test I had less than a week later in my most difficult class. To add to my stress I hadn’t reviewed any of the material since the last midterm and had plenty of additional work in my other classes to keep me busy. (So begins a life of balancing work and family). Ashlie was well aware I had a big midterm the following week and insisted that I sleep thru the night after being gone all day studying while she takes care of John-Paul. Now you need to understand 2 things about Ashlie:
- She absolutely values her sleep
- She is a very light sleeper
Ashlie is a woman whose sleep is so important to her that she once yelled at her mom for making too much noise at night while her mother was returning from the bathroom after spending an hour up sick. So for Ashlie to say she will wake up with JP every two hours during the night, so her husband can rollover and rest for an upcoming exam is…well it’s nothing short of unconditional love from her. Also while parents need to be selfless, I feel like 48 hours to a week after pushing a human out from your body is a time where a woman can get away with being selfish. Instead Ash chose to use this time to give her husband additional rest. Amazing…
I could go on about how great a mother Ashlie is. She has just so naturally embraced her role as mother. I always knew she would be a great mother, but I’m actually surprised how great of a mother she really is. She just does a wonderful job balancing her roles as mother. While she could get away with only feeding and changing him all day, she still manages to find time to clean, do laundry, blog, or run errands. On days that she doesn’t accomplish as much as she would have liked, she doesn’t get down on herself and just embraces that JP was a little bit needy that day. When her husband is failing to contribute and support as much as he should, she gently tells him she needs additional help. I braced myself before JP was born for some melt-downs or panic attacks, but she hasn’t had them at all; which I believe is because she is so good at communicating with me when she needs help. In a word Ashlie is present, which is exactly how we should live. I’m so proud of her and I truly continue to be impressed every day. She is a wonderful woman. I’d marry her again tomorrow if I could.
As for me and what I experienced coming home from the hospital these last three weeks. I’ll say at first I was surprised. Everyone always talks about the outpouring of love that comes toward your child seconds after he emerges from the womb. I didn’t initially feel that. Mostly I felt relief and love toward my wife. Oh and an overwhelming fear of my exam a week from JP’s birthday. The initial days after the birth I was worried my cold, stony heart would relapse to its pre-birth Grinch size. But with my test behind me I was able to process my feelings more. What I’ve found is every day I love JP more than the previous day. Every day it’s easier to sacrifice for JP and mom. I also found my desires changed overnight. For better or worse, I know longer care about going to the bar on Friday night to hang out with friends. I’d much more content having a glass of milk at home with my wife and baby.
However, I would say the biggest surprise to me has been my inability to distinguish my love for Ashlie and John-Paul. When Ashlie is selflessly taking care of him the love and affection I feel for her increases the love I have for JP. When JP interrupts his grumpy face for a 2 second smile it stirs up more love toward Ashlie. When I change JP’s diaper I feel like I’m doing it equally out of love for him and Ashlie. I’ve found the love for one engenders more love for the other. I suppose the only reason it surprises me is because no one talks about that feeling. When they discuss the emotions from having a new child it’s always individually focuses. I’ve found my emotions have been unifying.
Life is good, God is truly good. This child that began with love has somehow given more love back to me, which makes me love his mother even more. He’s brought us closer and made us a family. My heart is full. In this season, I am more thankful than ever.