In the evening on November 22, I texted a few good friends to ask for special prayer. I was struggling to trust God with the timing of Wesley's birth. In my head, I knew I couldn't control it anyway, and that God is good and trustworthy and wise. But in my heart I was so done with pregnancy. And not because I sweetly was that anxious to meet my son. Nope. It was super selfish - I was so unbelievably uncomfortable. I'd gained 50 pounds and was crazyswollen. I was waking up about every hour at night from bad hip pain, and switching sides was such a production between my size and my pillows, so I was sleep deprived. And I had this awful inner-hip pain when I would shift my weight onto one leg. My frame was not designed to carry around that much weight; I'm convinced. Anyway. I was getting quite discouraged.
My dear friends were so encouraging, and their prayers were very effective - my water broke at 3:45 a.m. (just about six hours after the text)! I was performing my switching-sides-production, felt a weird sensation, and proceeded to roll straight out of bed, shouting, "I think my water's breaking!" Daniel was super excited, leaped out of bed, and said, "Really?!" I waddled over to the bathroom, where my water broke some more, and said, "Yep, my water's definitely breaking." Daniel called the hospital for us, while I started getting myself ready. Since my contractions hadn't started, they told us that we didn't need to rush in, but to get ready and eat something first. We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, despite doing as much packing as possible ahead of time. A little after 4 a.m. my contractions started, and Daniel began tracking them in his phone. We arrived at Labor & Delivery at 5:35 a.m.
By the time we were all settled into our room and hooked up to the monitors and everything, my contractions were regular, strong, and relatively close together. The only relatively comfortable position was sitting on my exercise ball, and I was surprised how much I wanted Daniel to use the heat pack on my lower back. By around 9 a.m., I was starting to really lose my cool about the pain, so we tried the shower. The hot water on my back felt nice, but I was in too much pain to be standing, and the hard seat was not a viable option for me. So as it got close to 10, Daniel began asking more frequently whether I was ready for the epidural. Turns out I'm real indecisive when I'm trying to cope with pain. It's like the pain just pushes out all intelligible thoughts, and I'm just in a haze of pain-induced-delirium. So Daniel made the decisive move and stuck his head out into the hallway, declaring, "My wife would like an epidural now, please!" to no one in particular. He is my hero.
I had wanted the epidural, but I also wanted to wait until I was well into active labor to get it, because I feared having it slow labor down too much. Because of my water being broken, I had not been checked for progress, so I was relieved to hear that I was over 5 cm dilated just before getting my epidural around 10 a.m. Getting the epidural was awful. I had to sit still through 2 big, painful, 2-minute-long contractions, and I also felt the huge "needle" go in TWICE. After giving more local anesthetic (twice), the anesthesiologist finally administered it successfully.
Or so we thought.
After about 30 minutes of lying on the bed thinking, "Okay, so this is what they mean by feeling-the-pressure-but-not-the-pain," while Daniel snagged a quick nap, my pain started to really ramp up. I again needed his full support through every contraction. My epidural had stopped working. From that time until Wesley's arrival, Daniel did not leave the side of my bed, except to get me my Vitamin Water. He is the best supporter and encourager. Labor is a good word for it - hard, exhausting, physical work. And I was wholly unprepared to tackle it without medication. It's nearly impossible to express with words the arresting nature of labor pains, and the way they overtake both your body and mind.
Sometime in there I felt faint/nauseous, and I'm told that all the color drained from my face. I'm guessing that I was in transition at that point (around 8 cm). Thankfully, Daniel and the nurse helped me through it, and I didn't lost the PB&J I'd eaten early that morning.
Around noon (about 9 cm), we could hear that our monitors were beeping differently. They had lost a good read on Wesley's heart. A flurry of hospital personnel swarmed my room. Nurses helped me move into different positions to try to get a better read. No such luck. A scalp monitor was inserted. I was put on oxygen for Wesley. His heart continued to drop significantly with the contractions, which were 1-2 minutes each, 2-3 minutes apart. He just wasn't getting enough rest. C-sections, forceps, and vacuum suction were briefly discussed (thanks, Daniel, for advocating for me).
At 12:45 I was at 10 cm, but he hadn't dropped enough to start pushing (0-position). And, don't forget, although I was completely unprepared for a natural labor, my epidural was not working. Again the nurses helped me move positions. Just fifteen minutes later (1 p.m.), he had dropped, and I was ready to push.
But Wesley wasn't.
The OB said that, if we wanted to try to avoid a C-section, I would have to wait to push until his heart rate stabilized.
Sure, no problem.
Oh, man, was it awful. Breathing through the urge to push for a full hour, UN-medicated, still stuck in a certain position for Wesley's heart and comfort, with an oxygen mask was the worst. The. Worst.
But, praise God, Wesley was ready for pushing at 2 p.m. Again, there was a flood of hospital personnel (since Wesley had had some complications, there was also a whole group of pediatric personnel, in addition to the regular OB-assisted-delivery crew). Still experiencing a sort of delirium from the pain, I really don't remember much, but within a few minutes I was in a totally different position, with people stationed at the ready around me. Around 2:15, I started to push.
I have learned that I require A HUGE AMOUNT of encouragement at this stage of the game. Not only because I, stereotypically, was completely convinced at a few points that I literally could not do what I needed to do, but also because I assumed that I must not be pushing effectively or correctly, or else there would be more positive, encouraging cheer-leading going on. More, "great job!"s and, "you're doing great!"s, and less, "come on!"s and, "more-more-more!"s. It turns out I was pushing quite well, though, because I only pushed for
As the most amazing wave of I'm-so-glad-that's-over-relief rushed over me, I was completely unaware as Daniel cut the cord, Wesley and I were both tidied up, and I was repositioned. Then sweet, little Wesley, with nothing on but a hat on his head and a towel across his back, was laid on my chest.
And I said, "Hey, munchkin." =)
He and I were both totally healthy and complication-free, which was a particular blessing in light of how things had progressed earlier. Because of how poorly (in my opinion) I coped with the pain, I was not even cognizant of the seriousness of the situation earlier. I hindsight, I think that might be a good thing, because I didn't stress about it at all at the time.
At any rate, we got to just bask in the beauty of our new baby for about an hour before we started gathering our things and our selves to head over to recovery. It was lovely. Recovery at the hospital was not awesome, not worth blogging about, and not terribly long-lived. Hallelujah. We were discharged around 8 p.m. on the 24th.
Fun fact: my friend Ruth was in the same hospital laboring at the same time as me! Her son arrived just a few hours after we were discharged. So Ruth and her husband, Steve, were the first people to meet Wesley in person, outside of us and the hospital staff.