On Friday, January 2nd, I had a 41 week ultrasound and OB appointment scheduled for 9am. It was an appointment that I refused to put on the calendar until a few days beforehand, because I really didn’t think I would make it to that point. But sure enough, at 8:30am on January 2nd, Jordan and I were dropping Riley off at a friend’s house so that we could make it to the appointment on time.
I was completely exhausted going into that appointment. I hadn’t slept at all the night before. And when I say I hadn’t slept – I mean, not even for 10 minutes. It was an all-nighter. If you thought that sleep deprivation was reserved for the newborn phase, you would be wrong. At least in my case! I have a much harder time sleeping at the end of pregnancy than I do with a newborn. In this case, it was due to a new lovely pregnancy symptom that I had never experienced before – severe itching all over my body at night. It was so strange and so miserable. Apparently it is not uncommon in pregnancy – but how weird is that? It felt like torture, all night tossing and turning itching all over as if I had poison ivy everywhere with no relief.
All that to say, I was more than ready for this baby to come! The last weeks of my pregnancy had me “itching” in a hypothetical sense for my son to come, but the literal itching brought it to a whole new level. I read online that once you have the baby, the itching would stop and I just kept repeating, “I need this baby to come!!!!”
So the night before our appointment, I told Jordan that my ideal scenario would be that we would go to the appointment and the doctor would be like, “Hey you’re actually in labor!” and that would just clarify things for us easily (I had been having contractions all week but they were always inconsistent) and we could just go to the hospital that day!
Now, as a dreamer/optimist, I am a pro at coming up with “ideal scenarios” in almost every situation. Which usually sets me up for a lot of disappointment. But in this case, my ideal scenario actually happened!
At my appointment, the OB (Dr. Miller) told me that I was 2-3 cm dilated, and 60% effaced. I thought, “Ok.. so it’s not labor, but it’s progress!” She said that she would put money on guessing that I would have this baby in the next day or two. I walked away from that appointment feeling at least slightly hopeful.
When we arrived at our friend’s house to pick Riley up, my water broke. Thankfully, this friend is a nurse. I explained to her what was happening and she said, “Yea… I’m pretty sure that’s your water. Call your doctor before you leave here!” So I called and they asked if I could come back to the office right then. I did and sure enough it was my water that was rupturing! Dr. Miller said, “Well just go home and eat a good lunch, make sure your stuff is packed up, and when your contractions start, head over to the hospital! I will call Cheryl, the midwife who is there today, and tell her to expect you.” I was so excited! Here we go!
We called our parents excitedly on the drive home and made arrangements for them to care for Riley. My parents arrived shortly after lunch, and Jordan’s parents would get there around 5:30 to relieve my parents. As the day went on though, contractions weren’t starting. I think we were all feeling antsy. I went on a really long (painful) walk and tried to take a nap, but I couldn’t sleep. I started feeling really stressed and pressured. No one was putting any pressure on me, but internally I just felt like everyone was waiting on me and my body just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. So I asked Jordan to send everyone out for awhile, so I could have some quiet to focus. That actually helped, and my contractions started right before my in-laws arrived. However, they were not consistent and were not very painful. At 7pm, the status was the same, but Jordan and I decided to go on to the hospital anyway. I called Cheryl (the midwife) on the way over and updated her on the status of things. She instructed that we hold off on coming to the hospital until the contractions became painful and I was in active labor.
At first I was really disappointed. I was just ready to get this show on the road! At the same time, I knew that if I were not yet in active labor, it is way better and more comfortable to spend more time at home than more time at the hospital. In an effort to avoid confusing Riley by coming home when we had already left and told her we were going to the hospital have Baby Brother, Jordan and I decided to stay out until after she was already asleep. We also hoped that while we were out, the contractions would get stronger and we could just make our way to the hospital. At that point it was 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner, so we decided to go to Chipotle. For the past month, I had been joking that every dinner we had might be my “last supper.” If you know me well, you know the fact that Chipotle was actually my last supper could not be more fitting :). After eating dinner we still had some time to kill so we went to Barnes and Noble for a little bit. I was having contractions while we were there, but they still weren’t very strong. I kept praying that no one there would notice that I was having them and that no one would ask me when I was due! Thankfully neither happened, but it was kind of funny to be semi in labor at Barnes & Noble. Around 8:30 nothing was changing and Riley was asleep, so we decided to go home. I felt disappointed again. At 10pm we called Cheryl to update her and see how we should proceed. She said, “Try to get some sleep. If the contractions get stronger, come in. If not, plan on just coming in around 7 or 8am.”
I didn’t sleep again (at all) because the insane itching returned! I will forever be baffled by what pregnancy does to the body.
Around 2:30 am, the contractions started getting pretty painful. At 3:15, I decided it was time to wake Jordan up and tell him it was time.
We arrived at the hospital at 4:45am. It was perfect timing apparently, because the Labor & Delivery floor was CRAZY that night. They were delivering babies left and right, and there weren’t many room openings at different points. But we got there just in time for two rooms to open – one of them having a Jacuzzi bath (and there are only 4 of those rooms on that floor! Score!). So, we headed up to the room where we would meet our son, and found out that I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced.
First of all, let me just say – OUCH!! Labor is awful, and way worse than I remembered it was. You have a baby and forget about all the pain and eventually you get baby fever again and say to your husband, “Aww, let’s have another one! We can totally do this again!” And then you go into labor that second time and you start singing a different tune. One that sounds more like, “What was I thinking?! I can’t do this again!” And if you’re as sleep deprived as I was while you’re in it, you may continue in the downward spiral with, “I can’t take care of two kids! I can’t do this! I’m not going to be a good mom to two!” And it just gets out of control (more on that later).
Second of all – JACUZZI BATH For The Win! Oh my, now I understand why people do water births. It helped so much with the pain. Not that the pain wasn’t still terrible, but it was at least slightly less terrible. Every time I would start to get out of the bath, the contractions would immediately feel more intense, and I would just plop back down in the water and tell Jordan that I was going to stay there until I turned into a raisin. The nurse even put my little port on my hand (to draw blood for tests), while I was in the bath tub. I guess she could tell I wasn’t kidding when I said I was not coming out of there. At one point she told me that I would need to try walking around soon to get things going more. I don’t know what I said in response, but I know that in my head I said to her, “Well you need to try being in labor. Then we’ll talk.”
Sometime between 8-9am, I had a total emotional breakdown (as referenced briefly above ^). I cried for an hour and couldn’t stop. It was in part because of how much pain I was in, but mostly it was just how ridiculously TIRED I was! I mean, 2 nights in a row of zero sleep is hardly the way to go into labor. I just kept telling Jordan over and over again, “I can’t do this. I am just too tired. I’m so weary babe, I can’t do this. I can’t keep getting through these contractions. I can’t push and deliver this baby. I don’t even think I can take care of him once he’s here, because I am SOOOOOOOO TIIIIIIRED!” Jordan, being so sweet and caring, tried to encourage me by reminding me that we would be meeting our son soon. He even pulled out pictures and videos of Riley as a newborn, to get me excited. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect on me and I just started crying harder. In that moment, even the thought of holding my son soon did not feel motivating enough to get through the labor. Seeing pictures of Riley only reminded me of all that would be required of my body soon, and it felt like too much to handle. And this made me feel like a horrible mother, which made me even more emotional.
And I know that is kind of a weird thing to say – obviously I had it worse in that situation. But I truly did feel bad for him. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to watch me in so much pain and not be able to help. And then to see me become such an emotional train wreck, and not be able to encourage me at all.
At that point, Jordan and I started talking about the possibility of getting an epidural. I was feeling so stressed out about the decision about whether or not to get one. On the one hand, I had come into this experience wanting to try to go without it and let my body do its thing on its own. I don’t believe that natural childbirth is the only way to go (I’ve done my research, Don’t worry. I’ve watched “The Business of Being Born” and I’ve read “The Bradley Method” etc. I just don’t buy it all. Some of it, but not all of it). But I do know that an epidural can slow down labor and that it can make for a more difficult recovery – so those were my reasons for wanting to go without it. On the other hand, I was just so tired that I started wondering if maybe an epidural would be wise to help me rest a little bit before the delivery.
One of my best friends had given birth to her daughter (and third child) a couple of weeks ago without an epidural, and in one of our conversations in the previous weeks, she compared natural childbirth to a roller coaster. She said it’s like someone convinces you to go on a roller coaster, and you end up deciding to go. You get on, strap in, and it starts to go. At some point though, you decide you don’t want to do it anymore! You want off! But… you can’t get off. It’s not an option. So you just have to ride it through to the end.
I knew there would come a point where an epidural would no longer be an option, and I would just have to ride the pain to the end. I started feeling panicky about that and I kept telling Jordan, “I don’t think I want to get on the roller coaster!” Also: it didn’t help that I could literally hear women SCREAMING as they pushed babies out in the rooms beside me.
Jordan encouraged me that it was OK to get the epidural, but I still wasn’t ready to make the call. I didn’t want to slow labor down, and I didn’t want to feel like I had given up too easily (which is ridiculous in hindsight. There is nothing about that situation that would indicate giving up “easily”! Nor would I be “giving up” I was obviously still going to birth a baby).
At 11am, they came to check me (side-note: this was one o the few times we even saw the midwife or a nurse because they were THAT crazy busy!). I was still only 5cm dilated, which was so discouraging. How could I have labored that hard for that long, with no progress?
Cheryl said that they were going to have to give me pitocin to get things going, because it had been over 24 hours since my water broke and it starts to become unsafe after that.
Honestly, that was a huge relief to me because I knew coming into the situation that if I were to ever need pitocin again (I had it with Riley when I was induced), I would get the epidural. Not getting an epidural was just not an option for me if I were going to be induced with pitocin, because it gives me no break in between contractions! So it took the heavy weight of the decision off of my shoulders. I was getting the epidural. It was settled. I could do this now.
Around noon, he walked in. My epidural angel, Dr. Thomas. I will never forget his name! Let me tell you, he gave me the best epidural in the history of mankind (trust me, I just know this) and I will forever be grateful and indebted to him.
Once that epidural kicked in, I tasted sweet relief! I couldn’t feel anything. And I fell into a deep, two and a half hour sleep! I needed that so badly.
At the risk of sounding overly spiritual – I really think that was from the Lord. I think God, in His sweet grace and mercy, brought me to the point of needing pitocin to take the pressure off of me and let me feel OK about getting the epidural, because He knew my body needed that rest. I really believe that. And praise Him for it!
When I woke up from that blissful 2.5 hours, I felt like a new person. Rested. Calm. Excited! And ready to meet my boy :). I put on some worship music, and spent time in prayer over this little life inside of me. I read and meditated on scripture. And I felt so close to the Lord. Jordan also napped and when he woke up, I had a huge smile on my face. I was able to honestly tell him, “I’m so ready to meet our son! I can’t wait! This is SO EXCITING!! EEK!”
Now here comes the funny part:
At about 3:15 or so, I started feeling really nauseous (like I needed to vomit) and started shaking all over. I remembered having the exact same thing happen to me when Riley started down the birth canal, so I said to Jordan, “Umm… we might want to page the nurse or midwife and, you know, just have them check me to make sure.” So he did.
Cheryl came in and said, “Well, there is a head!” She looked up at me and said, “Honey, you are crowning!” I had absolutely NO IDEA! I couldn’t feel a thing. So I started laughing. The nurse said, “Stop laughing! Stop laughing, you are laughing him out and we aren’t ready!” Of course that only made me want to laugh harder :). Lights were frantically being pulled out of the ceiling, tables and tools being rushed over, they told me to try to push, and in like less than 4 minutes – I was holding my sweet little blond haired boy!
Didn’t feel a single part of it.
I was elated! And laughing. The nurses were laughing too. They were all saying, “Wow – you must have had quite the epidural!” And they said it was their easiest and quickest delivery that day.
Naturally, it took awhile for that heck of an epidural to wear off, and it felt funny to watch them move my legs around and not feel anything. But eventually the feeling came back. In the meantime, I couldn’t stop staring at my beautiful boy and feeling ALL THE FEELINGS! I seriously felt like there were just some insane happy hormones coursing through my body, and I was on a complete love high.
And that love high has continued through the first week of Copeland’s life. I know the hormonal high won’t last forever, and things will get harder (especially once Jordan goes back to work and we don’t have help and I try to navigate long days with two kids on my own), but for now I’m just soaking it in. The beauty and miracle of my sweet son, his little easy going nature, Riley’s adoration of him, watching Jordan be a dad to two, AND the fact that I am no longer pregnant = a sweet little cocktail of happiness ;).
And for the record – (at least in this experience) the epidural did not slow down my labor (thanks to the pitocin), and my recovery has actually been pretty smooth! I’ve been recovering from this pregnancy WAY faster than I did after giving birth to Riley.
And also for the record – next time I have a baby (God willing) and I go into labor: I am going to walk straight into that hospital, ask for the epidural, and request Dr. Thomas. 😉
Thanks for following along!