Eight years

I woke up on Tuesday, April 24th 2001, with noticeably different contractions than I’d had before – focused lower in my abdomen & across my back, too – rather than up at the top of my uterus. Since I already had a regular appointment that afternoon at 4pm, I decided to just wait & see what the doctor had to say rather than call earlier.

I went about my day, noticing that the contractions weren’t going away, but didn’t have any regularity really. I called Steve and told him that he should probably come and get me to take me to my appointment, just in case, so he did. At the doctor, I was only measuring 1 cm & 20% dilated, so I was disappointed. We decided to drop Steve off at the local clinic (he was sick & needed some meds) & Maggie and I would go walk around the mall a little bit while we waited. We did that for about an hour & then went to dinner at Outback. At dinner, the contractions picked up in both regularity & intensity & we were timing them about 7-12 minutes apart. We went home, put Maggie to bed and decided to watch Space Cowboys & see if anything developed. As I tried to lie down & watch the movie, the contractions got closer & closer & more painful until finally at midnight, I called the doctor & they dispatched a nurse to check me out. While we waited for her to arrive, Steve cleaned the kitchen & I set up the playroom with the last minute stuff we needed – towels, washcloths, underpads, crockpot (to warm washcloths to protect the perineum) & got the futon ready.

She got there about an hour later (1:30 am) and when she checked, we were all surprised to see that I was fully effaced and 5-6 cm already! I called my friend, Connie, who was my doula & the doctor was summoned. For the first hour or so, I was doing really well – chatting with everyone & standing & leaning over the table when I’d get a contraction (every 3-5 minutes). Steve fixed me a sandwich & I ate half of it.

At about 3 am, I decided to try the jacuzzi tub to see if that would help ease my pain. I stayed in there for about 45 minutes, but lying back was too painful. I was having lots of back pain, so I needed to get off my back. I got out, put a robe on and went back into the playroom to try hands & knees & rocking to alleviate the back pain. I had made some wonderful tapes of my favorite praise & worship music & Keith Green songs, so I turned them on now to give me some encouraging & soothing music to listen to. This is when it really started kicking in – contractions every 3-4 minutes lasting 60 seconds or more. I was still wanting to chat between contractions, but they were starting to get really painful. The hands & knees position really helped – I put a pillow under my body to support between contractions so I could just stay in the same position, which helped for a while.

About this time, my in-laws arrived. My father-in-law was a chiropractor & he came in & spent a long time rubbing my back & hips – really helping with counterpressure – using it to help my hips spread & relieve the back pain. At this point, with every contraction I needed someone to push hard on the small of my back, which was awesome. I also remember that during this time, the song “Draw Me Close” came on which was sung by my best friend, Camille. It was wonderful to hear her singing to me while I worked for this baby – I was in tears!

I changed positions at about 4am – leaning on Steve while Connie pushed on my back. This was good for a while, but not too long. I was getting really tired now & decided to lie down on my right side. I would start to fall asleep a little between contractions, but when they’d come, they were powerful! I’m so glad I had Connie at this point, because she was so awesome at keeping me focused. When the contractions would come, I’d open my eyes & she’d be right there at my level looking right in my eyes. I’d zone in on her eyes & follow her breathing patterns. She totally got me through it!

At about 4:30am, Maggie woke up & came in to watch. She sat with my mother-in-law and watched the whole rest of the scene. At this point, I was almost completely dilated, so the doctor said I could push gently if I felt like it. I started pushing at 5:30am on my left side with my right leg bent up.

At 5:40, Dr. Shelton-Hoffman said I should sit up & start pushing. I sat up with pillows behind my back & we started pushing. Three or 4 pushes in, my water finally broke. Steve said it was cool to see – the head was just starting to show & the water broke around the head & kind of spurted around the head – like fireworks! The pushing was SO hard. With Maggie, I had an epidural so I didn’t know how it felt at all. It was such a different feeling – feeling the baby moving down & feeling the “ring of fire” as he started crowning. There was tons of pain in my back & I started feeling like I wasn’t making any progress even though everybody said I was. I’d push for 3 sets of 10 on each contraction & I was pushing so hard I thought for sure I’d have a stroke or an embolism!

Maggie was getting a little upset with Mommy’s noisemaking & got a little worried, so at this point, she decided to go over to her easel & paint some pictures.

Again, I was so happy to have Connie there – she kept me totally focused & helped me get my breathing under control. After about 20 minutes of pushing, I was feeling ready to give up & with each contraction, I was getting upset rather than focused on the work ahead. Connie helped get me back on track so the last 20-25 minutes was spent really concentrating & pushing hard. The baby crowned at 6:15 and was delivered at 6:22. The nurse did all the work & in one fell swoop, pulled the baby out & placed him on my skin! He let out a few mews, but was pretty quiet – looking around & just kind of cooing. The nurse said his cord was kind of short – never heard of that one before – so I couldn’t quite get him all the way up to my chest.

They weighed him wrapped in a blanket which was held by forceps and hung from a fishing scale!

As Daddy, Maggie & I spent family time looking at the baby and bonding as a family, the song “I Cry Out” came on – again sung by Camille. It was such perfect timing & so cool that Camille was singing at Steven’s birth – I started crying again!

Steven Ray Andrew Sturm – born at 6:22 am on 4/25/01. 8 pounds, 12 ounces and 21″ long.

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It’s been 8 years since that morning. We’ve been through the ringer with Steven – so many challenges, struggles & roadblocks. There have been days when I had no idea how I’d get through another day with him. I didn’t know what to do, how to help him do well or how to overcome his challenges. With his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at 4 years old, so much was explained and it was like a window had been opened, giving us a new path to take.

He has worked SO INCREDIBLY HARD over the past 4 years – trying to learn how to do what other kids do, how to be “good”, how to accept disappointment and how to find success in what he does well. I’ve really had it presented vibrantly over the past week or so – how very, very far he’s come. The boy who, 3 years ago, couldn’t even get up on stage and sing a song with his entire class and had to sit it out. The boy who’d perceive injustice and completely lose his cool. The boy who couldn’t participate in any team sports because none of it made sense and he’d rather run around the field like a wolverine than learn how to play ball. Or lose himself spinning in the middle of the soccer field. This is the same boy who just gave a brilliant solo performance in his school’s talent show, with a little bit of nervousness, but more confidence than I can dream of.

I’m so incredibly proud of you, Steven. Every day is a new challenge for you, but you rise up to face it. You have faith in Christ and trust in His promises. You love with fierceness unlike any child I’ve ever seen. Yes, your love expresses itself differently – even unusually – sometimes, but it’s vibrant within you and you’re learning how to share those feelings appropriately with others. You are AWESOME. Yes, you are a neat kid. And I’m so very proud to be your mom. Thank you for the past eight years. It hasn’t been easy, but you have taught me so much and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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