Monday, June 21 was a pretty typical day for Annabel and I. We spent the morning lazing around the house and cleaning up a bit- I think I did 4 loads of laundry that morning! After lunch and Annabel’s nap, I had promised to take her to McDonald’s to play and get ice cream. First though, we had to run some quick errands to the bank and library, then we headed to McD’s. I let Annabel play for about an hour and a half while I uploaded pictures and updated my blog. After she got tired of playing, we headed to Meijer to pick up some stuff for supper and our weekly produce. I just had a feeling that Asher would be coming soon and I wanted to make sure to have plenty of fruit for Annabel to eat while we were gone.
When we got home, I let Annabel play out in the back yard while I started supper, then I went out to join her. I pushed her on the swing for a while, but we decided it was too hot! We headed inside to watch Lion King and wait for daddy to get home.
After he got home, we ate a light supper of baked potato and baked summer squash. By the time it was time to put Annabel down for bed I was feeling pretty icky (but no ickier than I had by this time for the past several nights!) so I had Derek do it while I cleaned up supper and updated my blog. When he came back down around 7:30 we crashed on the couch and watched TV. I had contractions off and on for a few hours, which wasn’t too unusual for me. Nothing too intense or painful, as I was still able to run up and down to the laundry room, check on Annabel, etc. During the 10:00 hour, I think I realized that these contractions were a little different than usual, as I couldn’t fall asleep through them like I usually do at that time of night. I still didn’t say anything to Derek so as not to get his hopes up! We went up to bed around 11:15, and spent some time putting clean sheets on the bed and making it up. He was clued in when I kept having to stop and lean over the bed through a contraction. I finally told him I thought this might be the “real deal,” and maybe we should start timing them. We laid down on the bed with his phone between us (on the stop watch setting) and starting timing contractions. We did this for about 40 minutes and they were consistently 8 minutes apart and about 1-2 minutes long. At this point they were bearable (like intense cramps) and I was able to relax through them. I was amazed, though, at how much effort and concentration it took to relax my body rather than tense up and fight it. I found that it was easiest to concentrate on relaxing my face muscles, because if my face was tense than there was tension other places in my body as well. Even something as simple as Derek shifting his weight beside me would break my concentration and was very frustrating.
At this point I thought we would have several hours of laboring in bed, so I advised Derek to try to get some sleep while he still could. Luckily, he didn’t take my advise! I was still hesitant to call my mom, because I really didn’t want her to start the 3-hour drive and have it be a false alarm! Derek finally called her around midnight and she said she would go ahead and come up. Derek finished packing our suitcase and decided to take the Jeep to get gas. While he was packing, I spent about a half hour in and out of the bathroom. When he went to fill up the car, I decided to get in the tub and try to relax better. I felt a little silly getting in the tub so early, as I still figured I had several hours at home to labor! The tub felt great and I was able to relax easily through the next half hour or so. I heard Annabel wake up and start crying for me, but luckily Derek got back just in time and was able to lay down with her and I could stay in the tub. I felt good enough in there that I was smiling as I listened to their conversation. Annabel was talking about the storm outside and how she liked to play in the rain. She told Derek that she and Baby Asher were going to play in the rain together! Derek told her that her grammy would be there when she woke up in the morning and her baby brother would probably be here. She started talking about how she likes banana bread and she would share her banana bread with Baby Asher, and I heard her drift back to sleep and Derek crept out of her room and into the bathroom to see how I was doing. I was feeling pretty well, so I decided to get out and lay back down in bed. Holy cow! Just getting out of the tub caused my contractions to come back full force and they were much harder and faster now than before. I stumbled into the bedroom and laid under the fan as Derek dried me off. The thought of putting any clothes on made my skin crawl.
I mumbled to Derek that we had better time a few of these cx’s, b/c I could tell they were pretty close together. We timed a few and they were all 3-4 minutes apart. I told him we needed to get going NOW, because this baby was COMING. We had planned to labor at home until my mom got there, but she was still a good 2 hours away. Not an option anymore. We also had several families from church on call to stay with her, but they would still be 20 minutes out at the soonest. Our only options were to take Annabel with us to the hospital, risk having the baby at home, or call our good friend Isaac who lives only a block away from us. While I think Isaac is a great guy and I trust him very much, Derek and I have never felt comfortable leaving our little girl with male babysitters. I didn’t love the idea of him coming over in the dead of night, but it also seemed like the only viable option. I was in such an intense place at this point that he could have told me we were dropping her off at the fire station and I would have agreed. While Derek was on the phone with him, my water broke as I was lying in bed. It wasn’t a great gush like I experienced with Annabel, more just like I felt a warmth on my legs and I reached down and could feel how slippery it was I knew it was the fluid. Derek came back up and dressed me in a pair of his boxers and tee-shirt, like a little kid. Isaac was there within minutes and we quickly left. Though it was storming, I managed to make it out to the car without any shoes on! We left around 1:15 am.
The ride to the hospital was brutal, with every bump intensifying the pain of the contractions. The night was hot, and the air in the car isn’t working right now (a whole other story!). Most of the ride is hazy in my memory, as I had my eyes closed, concentrating very hard on each contraction and trying to relax. What I do remember, however, is opening my eyes several times and watching the lightning streak across the sky. This, coupled with Derek speeding through the towns with his hazard lights on, made for a very dramatic ride! At one point I texted about 6 friends and my brother, just letting them know the baby was on the way and asking them to pray. I tried to call my friend Lindsay for encouragement but had to hang up due to the cx’s being too close together to talk. I also called my midwife and the hospital to let them know we were on the way and to ask them to start filling up the tub. The idea of getting back into a tub of warm water was very motivating to me at this point!
We got to the hospital about 2:00 after being stopped by a train and it was a very welcome sight! I would never recommend a 45 minute car ride during hard labor! Derek found a wheelchair and wheeled me up to the maternity floor, me still moaning and concentrating through my cx’s. We were led to our room, where they had started filling up the tub, but I was told I had to be monitored for 30 minutes before getting in. I also had to get an IV to administer an antibiotic for being GBS+ and a blood draw. I was MAD. I would have flat-out refused all of these but the antibiotic, but I also knew they wouldn’t let me get in the tub if I did. My cx’s were getting VERY intense and painful. I was able to kind of “zone out” and lay completely still through them, which was the only way I could tolerate them. I also refused to put on a hospital gown, as the feeling of anything touching my skin was awful. Anytime Derek tried to rub my back or hold my hand I would tell him to stop touching me! So anyway, I was one of those crazy women you see in the pictures who has her baby butt-naked! I was so completely withdrawn into myself that I could have been naked in front of the USA soccer team and wouldn’t have cared! I labored for the next 30 minutes either laying completely still on the bed, on all fours in the bed, or leaning over the bed. The nurse kept asking me questions - Was I taking any medications, were we planning to breastfeed, do we get WIC, did I have a living will, etc, etc. I was very irritated by this and refused to answer (Derek would answer for me). The last question, however, caught my attention and I kind of laughed and asked her if I was dying. It’s good to keep a good sense of humor in these situations! My midwife arrived and checked me- 6 cm. Kind of disappointing!
Finally I was allowed to get into the tub. It was probably about 2:45 now. The water felt good but not as good as I had hoped it would. The tub was so big I had a hard time relaxing into it. I couldn’t sit, but I wasn’t relaxed enough to float, either. It was almost a panicky kind of feeling, which wasn’t helpful! Derek was good at reading my face to know when I was having a cx and telling me to try to relax and free float. This did help keep me focused on relaxing. My legs started cramping up really bad during cx’s, so I finally allowed Derek to touch me and massage the muscle. This was the first thing I let him “help” with, but it was very necessary, too. My cx’s were so, so painful and long at this point that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I whispered to the nurse that I wanted an epidural. Both she and Derek were trying to encourage me and talk me out of it, which I found completely irritating. I didn’t want to be told that I was doing great, that I was strong- I wanted out! I swore to myself that I would never judge another woman for getting an epidural and I would never do this again without one. The nurse finally agreed to go tell the midwife and just have her check me again. She told it that realistically it was probably too late. The midwife came in and checked- 8 cm! She asked me to try to have one or two more cx’s before I decided on the epidural and she left the room again. I had one more cx and knew the baby was coming! I quickly told the nurse it was time to push and she got a little panicky herself and said, “No! You can’t push- you’re not dilated!” I told her to get the midwife because I was pushing and the baby was coming! The midwife kind of ran back in and checked me again- “Yep- next contraction, push!” she told me! She looked at Derek and told him to get in with me- I would need the back support for pushing. He quickly changed into his trunks and slipped in behind me. Though I still didn’t want to be touched, it was really good to have the support and have him anchoring me down. The urge to push was incredible and felt so wonderful and such a relief. Compared to making myself relax through a contraction, it was great to be working with my body and doing what it wanted me to do. I was able to push off of Derek’s feet and bear down with all my might.
This is where I am so glad I didn’t have the epidural. With Annabel’s birth, I was numb and didn’t feel the contractions. When I was at 10 cm dilated, the doctor watched the monitor and told me when to push. It wasn’t anything I was physically motivated to do, only that I knew I had to. This time, I could feel the need to push, which was very motivating. I wanted this labor to be over with as quickly as possible, so believe me, I was pushing as hard as I could!
It took me about 4 good pushes and all of a sudden I could feel the “ring of fire” and I knew his head was coming out. I reached down and I could feel his slimy little head. Having the head out was a relief but I started to panic about getting the rest of the body out. I realize now that it’s completely irrational, but at the time I was really worried about him drowning. So I was trying to push even when I wasn’t having a cx, which isn’t productive and only exhausts you! The nurses and mw kept telling me to take a break and breathe, so finally I listened and took a break between cx’s. I pushed out the rest of the body and it felt SO WONDERFUL to have him OUT of me! I knew it was finally over and that feeling was amazing. They gave me the baby and we were able to hold him in the water for several minutes before the midwife cut the cord. He was puffy and blue, but I was very surprised at how much he looked like Annabel when she was born! I was so happy he appeared healthy and normal. Finally we climbed out of the tub so I could deliver the placenta in the bed. The rest of the story is pretty blurry to me, as I was shaking like crazy and kind of out of it. I was able to nurse him within the first half hour, which I was really glad of. Our stay in the hospital was wonderful, and we had great postpartum care from the nurses. My recovery was much easier compared to last time, with me only taking ibuprofen twice that first day, instead of 5 days of Vicodin like last time!
He is such a sweet baby, laid back like his sister and a pretty easy baby. Everyone asks if I will do a natural birth again, and I honestly don't know :) If i knew for sure that the next one would be as quick, I would say probably... but ask me again in a few years when the pain isn't still so fresh in my mind! :)