He waited long and good and hard, and I have the silver stretch marks on my body to prove it.
I woke up at 2:30 in the morning on January 15, 2017 with a tightening around my stomach that I’d never felt before. The contractions came in waves—first eight minutes apart, then five, then three. Within two hours, I was breathing through a rippling pain that would come at me non-stop, every two/three minutes for the next 30+ hours.
I labored in the beginning for 12 hours only to find out I was just one centimeter dilated—that’s like working a 12-hour shift with no lunch break and coming to find you’ve only earned $1.00 for your hard and honest labor.
My desire was to deliver naturally, vaginally, without having to be induced and without the use of pain medication. But, sometimes after 12 hours of getting nowhere, plans change. And that’s okay.
I welcomed morphine through an IV drip and remember the cool liquid slipping into my veins. There was the hand of a nurse on my forehead, the sound of my husband’s voice, and my eyes blinking wide, then waiting, then closing shut.
I awoke hours later, tired and in a daze. But I was 6 centimeters dilated. Rest, just like my midwife suggested, had been a good idea for me. I spiked a fever, and though my eyes had that short bit of sleep, the rest of my body felt like one big whirlwind of weakness. I clutched my husband’s shirt…barely having the strength or attention span to speak in the short time that passed between contractions.
I asked him what he’d think of me if I took the epidural. Would it render my experience any less natural, my story any less strong?
I silenced the voices in my head that said I’d be a bad mom or a weak woman if I chose to have an epidural—6 to 7 to 8 to 9, my body lingered as long as it could at each stage and, I?
I hated that I didn’t feel one bit of it.
But I was stable and I was present.
It’s hard to connect my present back to the past—that moment I gave birth. It was a blur; it happened fast and yet, at the same time, dangerously slow. I remember the faces of strangers—women I did not know, and I had no choice but to welcome them in. I let them be and sit and stand and watch in the presence of my bare and naked body. They were the voices that spurred me on in my pushing. They didn’t even know me, and yet they screamed for my success—they yelled, they cheered, they pushed me to push my son.
I never felt more loved, known, supported, empowered.
I didn’t know I’d come out the other end of birth holding a special bond with my midwife. I kept my eyes glued on her for the hour and fifteen minutes that I pushed. She spoke calmly, encouraged strongly. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the feeling in the moment, but looking back now, I know what to call it.
I felt trust.
That’s what I remember most about my labor and delivery. Not the pain, not the fear, not the apprehension, or the dread, or the joy, or the love or the needles. But the trust. I remember sitting on a bed and trusting every person examining my most intimate insides. I remember laying my arm out for the IV needle to be poked through my skin, trusting that she’d get it right—even if she had to take it out and do it all over again. Trusting the person putting medicine in my body, the person pulling Milo from my body, the person injecting the needle near the spine of my body, trusting my husband’s whispers before drifting off into deep sleep, trusting the God who created my body to safely and sacredly deliver the body that had been created and formed within my own.
A whole 30+ hours of recklessly letting go of every last bit of self-sufficiency and dignity that I had left. No time for fear, no time for backing out. There was only going forward and pushing until a life was born and that hollering baby cry was heard, until he was in my arms—until we met.
Milo Sahn Kang
January 16, 2018
7 LBS & 20 INCHES
His first name, Milo, means mild, calm, peace. And that is exactly what Shin & I feel (and trusted that we would feel) when we are watching him and holding him. His middle name, Sahn, is Korean for mountain. His name is our hope & prayer for his life—that he might grow to have an unshakeable faith in God, as firm and as secure as any mountain.
That, everyone who meets him would wonder at what he might grow up to be. That, all would see the Lord’s hand is upon him.
Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
That, he would have a fire in his heart to find God, in his own way. That, he would be fearlessly bold in declaring such a found faith.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
No one told us we would want to die for this child.
No one told us that, everything we once thought we knew and understood about love would be shattered and built back up with new bricks and new clay, all within the first moments of looking into his eyes.
No one told us our hearts would flood with crippling anxieties and irrational fears. No one told us we were going to feel anger, that we were going to feel joy. And peace, and guilt, and that we were going to want to be everything, do anything for him.
We’ve heard the horror stories. The crazy births. The fond memories, the shocking confessions. We heard about the 12:00AM diaper changings and feedings and the vicious cycle of laying down and waking up only to do it all over again at 12:05AM.
But how could we have ever known about the kaleidoscopic movement of swirling colors and shapes that would soon twist and bend in our hearts, showing us sights we’d never seen before, angles and spaces we couldn’t even fathom into existence?
We are smitten.
In awe, in wonder.
Still swirling in the changing shapes and colors of our hearts.
And we hope that ten years down the road we are still swirling.
That we never stop swirling—seeing the newness, the fullness, the richness and the depth in all this.
Welcome To The World, Milo Sahn Kang.
We are wild about you.
We love you and we bless you and thank God that we get to have and hold and share you.
Mom & Dad
[Photos by Shin Kang]