April Jeppson: No matter how great the struggle, it’s worth it

Published 7:50 pm Thursday, May 9, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


I just saw a short Mother’s Day video featuring Amy Schumer. The scenes go back and forth between a mother telling her preschool-aged son a fairytale version of what motherhood is like and the reality of what birthing him was really like. I had to look away for most of it. I could feel myself getting woozy as the birth scenes came on.

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Five and a half years ago in a delivery room not too far from here, I was having strong contractions, really close together and waiting for the anesthesiologist. By the time the doctor made it to my room, things were starting to get chaotic. I had one gentleman in front of me to hold on to, while someone was behind me cleaning my back, preparing me for an epidural.

Someone in some corner of the room was asking me questions about my name and birthdate while someone else was reminding me to not move and don’t push because I need to remain still or this procedure could paralyze me.

The pain was overwhelming. The Tylenol I was given earlier seemed more like a placebo. I could feel everything, and the desire to push overcame me. My water broke all over the bed and floor as I was trying not to move, leaning into the stranger in front of me.

The anesthesiologist was not impressed with my efforts to stay still. I could hear him reminding me over and over again how important it was for me to push my back out and not move. It hurt so bad to sit on the bed, I asked the nurse repeatedly if I could just lay on my side for a moment — if it’s possible to lay on my side while they put the epidural in.

She sees my pain, she allows me to lay down briefly to let everyone regroup. While on my side she holds my leg up and says, “she’s crowning” and tells me its time to push.

It occurs to me that my daughter is going to come out, and I’m going to feel everything. The panic seeps in. With my head smooshed up against the headboard, I push and I scream at the top of my lungs. The pain is so bad I can’t even cry. My body is so weak. This was not the delivery I thought I was going to have.

Within a few pushes I delivered my third child. The anesthesiologist caught my baby. My doctor didn’t make it into the room until Genevieve was on a table being cleaned up. I was laying on my side shaking and shivering — full on body shaking, like nothing I’d ever experienced. I stayed in that position for a long time.

My daughter was a healthy baby. There was nothing wrong with her and nothing wrong with me. In fact, my doctor said I could go home that night if I wanted to, which I didn’t. I had nightmares when I went to bed reliving the delivery. In fact, every time I closed my eyes to fall asleep for the next month, I relived the delivery. I couldn’t stop the images from entering my head. The feeling of the pain came back to me, and often I would start shaking — it was like it was happening again every time I closed my eyes.

I delivered a happy, healthy baby girl. I had PTSD symptoms for a month afterward. Five years later and I still plug my ears or look the other way during labor scenes in movies. Within moments I am instantly back in that room.

But here’s the thing. In a few days I’m going to get some homemade cards. I might get some food in bed, and I’m going to get a ton of hugs and kisses. My kids love me. All of the pain and nightmares were worth it.

Any mom would tell you the same. No matter how great the struggle, it’s always worth it — the sleepless nights, laundry, doctor appointments, fights, ruined clothes, ruined pelvic floor, groundings, sickness, broken antiques, broken teeth, toddler fits and teenager outbursts. As hard as some days are — and some days are hard — we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On behalf of moms everywhere, you’re welcome.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.