I never considered myself to be a wimp but childbirth has shown me that I might not be as tough as I think. Although the spectators who attended the event may tell you otherwise. Ryan, Abigail and Katrina were my birthing coaches and provided me with so much support and strength. I COULD NOT have done it without them. They endured the 37 hours of labor with me!
So, hmmmm, where do I start this story...I guess I'll start with Friday, August 27th. I woke up at the crack of dawn (5:00am) and noticed some spotting. This was a sure indication for me that my labor was starting. I also felt extremely tired and had what felt like menstrual cramps. I tried to go back to sleep but my mind was racing because I knew that this was it...after a week of being overdue, my long awaited labor is finally starting! It was kind of getting ridiculous, even at work my co-workers seemed to be getting impatient while watching me return to work each day after the due date. I was so big and uncomfortable but I worked right up until the end. I almost went into work that Friday but something told me to stay home. I felt like I just needed to rest. The contractions started to come regularly around 9:30am-10:00am about 3-5 minutes apart. They were uncomfortable but I could manage them. I was kind of afraid of what was ahead but I was so excited that Oliver was on his way. When I first realized that I was in labor for real I actually started to tremble a little bit - it was like I was shivering but I wasn't cold. I went about my morning trying to be as "normal" as possible. I made some coffee, nibbled on some food (too nervous to eat) and sat at my computer, checking facebook and emailing Katrina and Abigail to tell them that I'm officially in labor! While I was on the computer I heard a loud "THUD!" and it startled me so I ran to the window and what I saw surprised me and filled my heart with comfort. It was a white dove on my neighbor, Abby's windowsill. I felt like it was a sign. I ran outside to take a picture of it.
After Abby tried to pick it up to put it into a cage (she was going to call the aspca to come get it), it flew up to perch right above Oliver's nursery - right above his window.
And this is where he sat until just after I finished packing my bag to leave for the hospital. It was so beautiful it made me (and Katrina) cry. We stood outside looking at it just blubbering about what it meant. In the bible in the story of Noah and the ark, Noah sent a white dove out to see if it the flood was over and it returned with an OLIVE branch. An olive branch symbolizes "new life" or "new beginnings" and the white dove is a symbol of peace. So all in all I felt like God was letting me know that he was going to be with me to bring me peace and that Oliver was going to be arriving and we were all going to be OK. :) And let me tell ya, I needed this to get me through the next 30 something hours ahead of me! At critical moments I went back to that memory to give me strength and provide comfort that I WAS going to make it through because God was with me and this was part of his plan for me. I was safe.
I can't remember the exact time that we left for the hospital but I think it was around 5:00pm or 6:00pm. I waited around for the doctor to see me in triage for awhile. When she finally checked me I was only 1-2 cm so she told me to go back home. I was in so much pain that I was shocked that it was only 1-2 cm! And I couldn't imagine going all the way back home - somehow it just felt safer to be near or in the hospital. Katrina suggested that we walk around or go see a movie but I was in too much pain to sit through a movie without shrieking in pain. I was starting to feel the pain in my back almost to the point of being unbearable. My legs would actually reflex and jerk if I was laying down during a contraction. It was absolutely horrible. So after the dr sent me on my way we decided to go to Panera Bread because everyone was hungry. It was about 8:30-9:00pm at this point and they closed at 9:00pm but they let us stay there while they cleaned up. You should of seen the look on the young man's face when he was taking our order and I was writhing in pain and grasping onto the counter. The employees felt so bad for me they gave us a complimentary bag of cookies. I could barely eat half a plain bagel because I was so nauseous from the pain. We couldn't stay there forever and Katrina suggested that we see if Jasmine would mind if we go to her house because she lives right down the road AND she is amazing with childbirth - she had a home birth without any drugs or intervention. I loved the idea and so on we went. Jasmine was great. I was so comfortable in her home. The pain didn't stop but I did feel safe and comforted being there. We put on some soft praise and worship music and Jasmine let me use her birthing ball. She instructed me through contractions and let us rest for awhile there.
The contractions were so bad that I just couldn't lay down. It scared me because of the "unknown" - no one can tell you how many hours you have left. And when I left the hospital I was only 1-2 cm but I felt like the pain just couldn't possibly get any worse. It was to the point that I didn't feel like I had control over my muscles during a contraction. The best way I can describe it is with a visual. Ever seen one of those halloween black (scared-y) cats with their backs arched and their eyeballs popping out? Well that's what I felt with each contraction. Nothing would help me. Katrina would tell me "stop running from the contraction". Jasmine said "pain is your friend". So I started yelling "the pain is my friend, the pain is my friend" through each contraction. I tried to not move through the contractions and it was really hard but at one point I just rested my head on Abigail's shoulder and Ryan was singing along with the music we had playing and it seemed to help a little.
The contractions were picking up and it was after midnight now so we decided to head back to the hospital. We got there around 1am and after waiting again in triage for what felt like an eternity, the dr said I was still only 2-3 cm. She said the only way she would admit me at this point is if I would get an epidural and let them give me pitocin to get things moving. Our goal was to get through labor without any drugs so Katrina and Ryan told me that we should walk around the hospital for a little bit first before we decide to go that route. And I'm so glad that we did. I was in so much pain that the epidural was really tempting even at 2-3 cm. We walked around the hospital for almost an hour and when I went back to get checked by the dr I was now 4 cm. That surprised the dr and she was even a little impressed I think, so she admitted me. So we got settled in my labor & delivery room. Katrina suggested that I get in the shower and let the water hit my back and that provided some much needed relief but I was still in uncontrollable pain. One of the most beautiful moments during labor was in that shower. Katrina brought my ipod docking station into the bathroom and we had music playing (the Sing Over Me Lullabies and Worship Songs compilation album) and I was just praying and worshiping God. We were both sobbing. After I got out of the shower and dried off the nurse wanted me to lay back down in bed so she could hook me up to the monitor. I hated that. I called the bed the "torture slab" because my pain was 100x intensified when I laid down.
Around 8am or so on Saturday morning, my water still didn't break so the nurse had a little talk with me. She said that once my water breaks the pain is going to get worse because the contractions will come even faster and stronger than what I was experiencing. She said she was concerned because it was almost 24 hours now at this point and I still didn't eat anything or get any sleep and she was worried that I wouldn't be able to have enough strength to push. She advised that I get the epidural or at the very least get an iv so she could get some sugar water in me to prevent dehydration. She had a point and at this stage I was so exhausted in every sense of the word. The dr checked me and I was about 5cm and I thought that was far enough so I agreed to get the epidural. I just couldn't go another minute and so at 9:00am on Saturday I got the epidural and then at 10am the doctor broke my water. I felt instantly better once I got it. Whew it was such a relief. I was still uncomfortable in the horrible hospital bed because you have to lay with the bed a certain way so that the epidural works properly. It was really hard because I still felt pressure in my lower back. But the uncontrollable pain was gone and I could at least rest now. I didn't actually get to fall asleep because I just couldn't in the position I was laying in and I had so many tubes running in and out of me. I kept asking if the epidural tube was still in. I was so scared that I was going to knock it out somehow and then need a new one. And I did not want to be stuck with that huge needle again! But it was fine. It never fell out.
Ryan was so worried about me. He said it was so hard to see me in so much pain. I saw him lose it a few times. But he still managed to be an amazing coach, especially when it came time to push. I felt so bad for my team because they didn't get any sleep this whole time either. And the room was so doggone cold. Holy crap. Well, it wasn't cold for me but for everyone else it was like the arctic. At one point I looked over at Abigail and she had like 3 shirts on, a hood and a blanket and she still seemed to be cold. And meanwhile I'm sitting there eating the free snow cones that they give you. It's the only thing you can eat or drink while in labor so I took it. My favorite flavor was peach. There was a whole plethora of flavors, even margarita. Highlight of being in labor...haha. Ryan had to run and get me one on the hour every hour. :) Here is a pic of him giving me a little kiss, trying to comfort me. I just wanted this labor over and I wanted to hold Oliver. It seemed like he was never coming! This was around 5pm on Saturday night.
The pain kept sneaking back so I would have to press the call button and they would have to give me another dose. I felt the pain in my back, pelvic area and oddly enough in my chest. Time was creeping along and I just kept eating snow cones to try to silence my hunger pains.
The doctor checked me again around 9pm and finally!!!! It was time to push!!!! I watched two different doctors change shifts and three nurse shifts. I was lucky enough to get the same nurse back from the previous day. I loved my nurses. And the doctor that was on when it was time to push was actually the dr I saw in the office the most. I went to an office where you don't get to choose your dr - it's whoever is on call when you go into labor. And I was so blessed because she was amazing! So now it was time to push and the dr and nurses got into position. Pediatrics had to be there as well because there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. They had to check to make sure that Oliver didn't inhale any of that because if he did it could cause major breathing problems.
Pushing was my favorite part of labor - I felt so empowered. Ryan, Kristy (mother-in-law), Abigail and Katrina were my biggest cheerleaders while I pushed through each contraction. And the dr was great! We had Imogen Heap playing in the background on the iPod player. It really set the mood in the room. Even the dr and nurse commented on how they liked the music. Every single push was productive and the dr would have my mother-in-law show me the baby's head with a hand-held mirror. It was funny because I was laying there totally exposed to my mother-in-law and two of my closest friends (and a whole room of strangers in scrubs) but it didn't even matter. You lose all dignity when you're in labor. At least I did.
They gave me oxygen to help me because I was so tired. And it really helped. I think it helps the baby too. He endured such a long labor too!
Finally...after an hour and forty minutes of pushing (felt like 10 minutes), eyes closed, pushing as hard as I possibly could, to the sound of my husband's voice yelling and cheering me on, I screamed with that last push and Oliver came out into the world. His cord was wrapped around his neck so the dr didn't let Ryan cut the cord. And they rushed little Oliver over to the team of pediatricians to check him out.
I didn't get to hold him on my chest like you see in the movies and on television but I watched from my bed. Ryan was so moved. It was so amazing that I was numb. I didn't cry. I didn't know what to say. I think I was in shock a little bit. And I was so exhausted. Finally it was over. 10:46pm, he was born. 7 lbs 6oz and 22 inches long.
Around midnight everyone except Ryan left and the nurse helped me get cleaned up. God bless nurses. Wow. I can't believe how amazing and tender they were with me while I was in labor. "They do this every night"...I kept thinking to myself after. Wow, what a job. Pretty amazing to witness such a miracle day after day. I finally got to my room upstairs in the mother and baby unit around 1am and I thought I would get some rest but that just didn't happen because they brought the baby to me to breastfeed several times through the night. I still haven't had a full night's rest since the baby was born.
There is so much detail that I left out but I tried to edit this down as much as possible. It was such a surreal experience. I think I would do it again in a few years. But if you would've asked me then I would've told you "no way!" I told Ryan that we were going to adopt if we were going to ever have another child. That was just the pain talking. Oliver is so precious and he's my little miracle. I am amazed...a brand new life, a brand new little spirit entered the world. Birth is amazing. It's a human being that enters the world, who never existed before. It's just a miracle. And Ryan and I brought him into this world. Wow.