We did everything we could to get ready: painted the nursery, stocked it with all the essentials, took my vitamins, picked out a name, took childbirth class, read up on the Bradley Method, read about vaccines, and wrote a birth plan.
Plan A was to go all natural in childbirth. Not to prove a point. Not to just be able to say I did it. But because I wanted to experience childbirth in it's entirety. I also did not want to put any chemical/medical stimulus into my body that would affect the sensations that come along with labor and birth. We also decided right away that we didn't want the baby to receive any vaccines or unnecessary medical treatment at birth. We opted to skip the Vitamin K shot (used to clot baby's blood before his body starts making Vit. K on it's own), skip the Hepatitis B vaccine and also to forgo the erethromycin ointment put on baby's eyes (used to stop any bacteria (mainly from STD's) from entering baby's eyes during passage through birth canal). We also had no desire to had him circumcised in the hospital, we wanted a specialist (urologist) to do it, rather than just a pediatrician. That was all listed in the birth plan and we printed it, and put it with the hospital bag.
Then I contacted the urologist who comes highly recommended from my friends and from many people in the community as well, including our pediatrician. He told me he could come to the hospital and do it right there! I was pretty excited, this meant that my insurance would still cover the cost, and we wouldn't need to make an appointment more than a month after his birth (this guy is high demand!). It also made us reconsider our decision on the Vitamin K shot. Baby's body starts making its own vitamin K after a few days, that supplemented with breast milk, really helps baby's blood to clot naturally. However, now that we were doing the circumcision in the hospital, his body wouldn't have the time to do this, so we decided to go ahead with the Vitamin K shot, for the safety of our little one. So I revised the birth plan, printed it and put it with the hospital bag.
As April 17 drew nearer and I still had no signs of going into labor, something in me began getting anxious. I was so ready to meet our little one! At our OB appointment the day after my due date, I was measuring at 4cm and was 80% effaced - the doctor said I was ready any day now! How exciting! I knew due dates were just an estimate, so I wasn't too worried that I was over by a day. The new plan: walk, walk, walk, walk! And that's just what I did. I literally walked every. single. day. With hubby, with friends, inside, outside, walking, walking, walking. Thursday I went in to recheck my blood pressure at the OB. While I was there I asked if she could take a peak and see if there was any progress. She said I was now 5cm! That's awesome, except it took me three days to get there. We decided to have her help things along a little bit by the most natural means of induction possible. We knew that come next Monday we'd be talking about induction via Pitocin and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. So the doc. 'swept my membranes', which essentially allows my water to break a lot easier. She said she would be surprised if she saw me at my appointment on Monday, she even called the doctor on call that night and told them I should be coming in! After the appointment we... you guessed it, went walking! Then we went on our 'last date night' for dinner, expecting to be going into the hospital that night or the following day. I walked 15 miles that week, from Monday to Friday, and still, no. signs. of. labor. Contractions would come and go, but they were never consistent. And my water still hadn't broke.
Saturday morning rolled around and that's when I started to lose myself a little. (You can read about it here) I know that due dates are an estimate, but this was getting a little ridiculous. My mom would be getting in town today! She booked her flight a week late just so she'd be able to spend time with us at home, with her grandson. And here I am. Still. Pregnant. This was not part of
Sunday came and went and I was still pregnant, 7 days past my due date. I was okay with it though, we figured that it was happening this way so we could go to church as a family on Easter. We even got to cook a nice Easter dinner with mom and spend some time relaxing together. It was a great Sunday.
Monday morning came and fear started to creep in, just a tiny bit. I knew that today was the day we'd have to talk about medically inducing with the doctor. I pushed the fear aside and spent some quality time with Mom, just her and me, while Bill was at work. We met up in the afternoon for the appointment and sure enough, induction was laid on the table. After the ultrasound, and seeing that he was estimated to be 8lbs 15oz, we had to start talking induction. So I asked the doctor what my options were. I had heard about a gel they can use to start things going, a pill, and some other things as well - I was trying to avoid getting Pitocin because of the side affects that come along with it. She told us that, unfortunately, all the other options for inducing would only get me to where I already was - 5cm and 80% effaced. Pitocin was the only option. We had to pick a date to go in for the induction. She suggested tomorrow (Tuesday). I asked her if we could call and set it up after having some time to think about it. She (very hesitantly) said, "Only because I trust you to call us!". The latest date we could choose was Friday. And now a new choice lay before us. Mom left town on Saturday to go back to AZ. But if there was still a chance that he could come naturally, I didn't want to jump the gun and schedule it too early. So after talking it over with Bill and praying about it, we chose Thursday. I called that afternoon and made the appointment. We all 'knew' and were hoping and praying that he would come naturally before then though.
Tuesday came and still no labor signs. Bill's boss called and told him he had to take vacation for this week because they couldn't be in 'limbo' anymore about trying to cover his route. We weren't happy about it but we took the opportunity to spend some quality time with my grandparents, who had come into town Monday to surprise my mom. We spent the whole day together, hanging out, shopping (they sure do spoil this baby!), and just enjoying each others' company.
Wednesday morning rolled around and I got up to use the bathroom for the third time that night (nothing unusual), but when I stood up to get back into bed, something just kept running down my leg. I knew I had a weak bladder these days, but it wasn't that weak! My water broke! Sure enough, after cleaning up and finding it didn't do any good because it just kept coming, I woke up Bill with those words I had been so longing to say, "Honey, my water broke!" It was 5:25am and I called the doctor and left her a message with my stats and told her my water broke, and she called back and told me to come in. So after waking up mom with those same three words, and calling Tammy to tell her the same news, we started getting things around and headed to the hospital.
When we arrived I was asked to 'gown up' and the triage nurse checked to be sure it was in fact amniotic fluid, and it was. We were moved into a labor and delivery room and the admitting process began. Since my water was broken, they didn't check me when I arrived to see how dilated/effaced I was. Once the water breaks, bacteria can enter and any extra checks down there could introduce bacteria. So we set about to - you guessed it - walk. We walked circles, figure 8's, mini-circles, down the dead-ends and back again. Heading back to the room every 30 minutes so baby and I could be monitored. My contractions were coming pretty regularly now. About 4-5 minutes apart, strong enough that I could feel them, but they weren't taking my breath away or stopping me from walking. Around 10am the contractions got closer together, 3-4 minutes apart and I was having to stop and breathe through them as we walked the L&D hallways. When we went back for the 11:00 monitoring and the contractions stayed 3-4 minutes apart, the nurse offered to check my progress. I was 7cm now! My cervix was pretty thinned out, except for part of the top of it, which was still pretty thick. We were told to 'just keep walking'. So we headed back down the hallway.
When we came back at noon to be monitored I knew that I couldn't walk the halls anymore. My contractions were now very, strong, taking my breath away and they were only 2 minutes apart. The doctor came in to check on things and I was 8cm, but the top of my cervix was still thick. He said he knew I didn't want Pitocin, but that when the water breaks there are only about 12hrs, 18 at the most, to get the baby out because of the risk of infection. He said because I was making progress still we could wait on Pitocin. I was told not to push, no matter how strong the urge and to keep powering through the contractions. Hard labor had set in and I was not happy with those instructions. These contractions were downright painful and I felt the urge to push but I couldn't! I stood through as may as I could, hanging on for dear life to Bill & Tammy (who were amazing at hanging in there with me, gosh, I couldn't have done it without them!), rocking back and forth and breathing as deeply as I could.
Around 5pm I couldn't stand anymore, literally. My legs were just too weak, so I tried laying on my side. That worked for a while, but my hips quickly got sore and I had to flip over. I rode out the contractions for the next couple hours semi-propped up with Bill & Tammy on either side of me holding my legs in a bent position because laying flat was just not an option. The shakes had set in at this point and I was beginning to hyperventilate. My hands and face were all tingly from not breathing deeply enough, even though I could have sworn I was breathing deep! My contractions were now a minute or less apart and I had very little time to rest between them. They were peaking very strongly and I even asked Bill & Tammy for meds. It was bad. I asked them three times, but they both knew that it was the contractions talking and they rationalized me out of getting the epidural. Throughout this time I was hooked up to monitors and they continued taking my vitals. I tried to ignore it, but each time they took my temperature it was rising.... a sign of possible infection.
Around 7:30 the doctor came back to check on me and take my vitals again. My temp was up to 101* under my arm (actually 102*) and I was still only 8cm. I was having constant contractions at this point, so I didn't catch all of what he said, but I did hear, "She has an infection... which means the baby has the infection... I know it's not in your plan... c-section... this is serious... half-hour... talk about it... let me know."
I didn't want to talk about it. It wasn't the pain that made me decide right away to go ahead with the c-section, it was peace. I had this amazing, overwhelming sense of peace that could only come from God that this was His plan. I told Tammy & Bill to run out and get him and tell him to start things going right away.
The nurse hooked me up to antibiotics to fight off the Chorioamnionitis (infection) and fluids to get me ready for surgery. Bill got out of his clothes and into scrubs and Tammy stood vigilant by my side holding my legs for me as I plowed through the constant contractions. They wheeled me down the hall and into the OR. And made me move over to the surgical table right through my contractions - I may have pleaded with them to wait for the contraction to be over, but they said there wasn't time. I sat hunched over the nurse while the spinal was put in and that was the. worst. pain. ever. Not the spinal going in. But having to sit there, hunched over as far as I could with a huge belly in my lap hitting contractions less than a minute apart that I could barely breathe through. Once the spinal was in the pain relief started coming almost immediately. They laid me down and started hooking me up to be monitored and it was the. best. feeling. ever. An wave of peace, calmness and relaxation rushed over me and I was finally able to be in the moment.
They let Bill come in at this point and he sat right by me holding my hand while they prepped me for the surgery. I was so happy, completely filled with joy. Because I could look at my husband now and see the joyful anticipation in his eyes. Because in just a few minutes we would be able to see our baby boy. After about 10 minutes our little boy was being lifted out of me and into the hands of the nurses who took him to be cleaned up right next to me.
He brought him over to me and I got to kiss his sweet face and tell him hello while they finished stapling me back together.
In a few more minutes we were in the OR recovery and I got to hold my sweet baby boy for some much needed skin to skin time. We sat there for almost an hour enjoying each others' touch and feeling the rhythm of our heartbeats. Just before being wheeled back into the room, I nursed him and he latched on perfectly the first time!
We got back into the room and Tammy, Mom, Grandpa & Helen were all waiting anxiously to see the little one.
We celebrated him with smiles and hugs and kisses all around and there was this understanding in the room... this God-peace, God-created, understanding that, even though things didn't go according to Plan A... or B... or C or D... that this was God's plan, Plan O - to bring baby Owen safely into this world - and that was all that mattered.