It was about 1 AM on a Sunday night when I realized I was officially in labor. I had spent all day laying down at home not feeling too good, but had no idea it had to do with being in labor. Ryan was at work, and his mom had taken him for us as a favor that day (which was very rare for me to not drive him---during my entire 9 months of pregnancy, I think I had only gotten a ride for him 3 times total…an indication I really did not feel well). I had woken up that morning with a very sore back (and was super emotional being overdue at that point by 6 days and disappointed I didn't have her yet, so I was in tears) . I thought my back was hurting because my dad massaged me the day before (which happened to be Christmas Day), and I thought that I was just sore from it. It had felt SO GOOD afterwards just the night before…but I still thought that’s what it was from. My mom called to check in on me that afternoon, and I remember being so emotional and told her I had found a weird movie on Netflix that I was watching that was a really girly drama and I didn’t know why but I was sucked in. It was sad and emotional and I told my mom on the phone, “Why am I even watching this when I am already emotional?” and we laughed. That evening I suddenly felt the desperate need for a nap… but I wanted to sleep all the way through the night and I couldn’t if I had to get Ryan at 11p, so I called my sweet brother and he said he would get him for me. I was SO relieved that I could sleep! It was 9pm and I fell fast asleep. Little did I know that sleep was the most I would get for days…
|Christmas Day- 5 days past due date|
I grew pretty sleepy by the time 6 am hit so I walked back into our room and Ryan immediately heard me and woke up and asked how I was and if I was just “getting up” for the day. I told him I never went to sleep and that I was in labor! He was like, “are you sure?”---not wanting to get his hopes up :)…So I assured him yes and that he needed to get more sleep…he was going to need it. I went downstairs and continued with my contractions until 7:45am then decided to call my mom just to check and make sure I wasn’t crazy…she was so excited and assured me I definitely WAS in labor and asked if she should come right over (I asked her to be there as my doula…). Ryan was able to fall asleep for another couple hours than came down about 8, and my mom arrived around 10:30a while Ryan and I were just going through the contractions together. During that time I realized it was comforting to get down on my hands and knees during the contractions, and so I began to do that during each contraction. I was thinking “Hey, I can do this!” …so naive in having no clue how bad it would get…
By noon by mom suggested I eat something so my mom picked up my favorite neighborhood Mexican food's taquitos with guacamole (it tasted sooo good to me), then afterwards Ryan and I took a walk around the block. I would say the pain of my contractions was about a 5-6 minutes at that point. I came back and felt like mint and chip ice cream we had in the freezer...I had some then we all just continued to kind of hang out until I realized the pain level was around a 7 or more and I started getting nervous thinking about being in the car and driving to the hospital. I didn’t want it to get any more intense because at this point I had to get on the floor every time I had a contraction. So we headed to the hospital.
|Headed to the hospital!|
We were fine with that so we waited a while and when she finally checked me…I was only dilated to a 2! So discouraging. The hospital wouldn’t admit me into a room unless I was a 4, so they said we could either go home or walk around the hospital a bit. We of course didn’t want to go home, so we walked around and supposedly the midwife was going to meet us when we came back. She was going to be there at 6p. So we walked around the hospital trying to find corners and somewhat private areas that I could get through my contractions (which were coming anywhere between 1-5 minutes apart. I was so excited for it to be 6p and was expecting to be almost to a 10 by then by the intensity on my contractions! I was very optimistic. Well, we got back to the triage at 6. The midwife turned out to not only not be there, but was on her way to deliver a baby at that moment! Oh well, at this point, I didn’t care who checked me…so I asked the nurse to once again. So she did. I was at not even a 3 ( I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine the intensity of the contractions and couldn’t imagine much worse.
The nurse gave us the same option of staying or leaving. I couldn’t leave! Are you kidding me? And do what at home ? So we gave the nurse our cell numbers so that she would be sure to call as soon as the midwife was done. Well…once again we walked around the hospital and didn’t want to leave. My mom got her and Ryan some food, and they ate while I went through more contractions. My mom wanted me to eat for more strength but oh no, not at this point. I tried to not smell the hospital smells…at this point I started getting nauseous. I threw up…it was about 8. We kept moving…trying to find a “comfortable” spot somewhere to “hang out“ as we waited. We found some “cushioned” benches along a deserted entrance. I so badly wanted to lie down to relax and get a few seconds of rest! I laid on Ryan’s lap for about 15 seconds at a time (which was the shortest yet most heavenly moments)…the contractions would NOT allow me to relax. Every time I got a contraction, my spine would spasm to a point of jerking me to my feet, and not allowing me to sit or lay down. Also, I had to pee after EVERY contraction. Worst and most exhausting pattern. I was so grossed out by the bathrooms at that point! I couldn’t sit or lay down since about 6 pm. I would just stand towards a wall and push with my arms against the wall as hard as I could and my foot digging into the ground at the same time as hard as they could as either Ryan or my mom took turns putting a pressure against my low back. I was beginning to get really scared. These were crazy! At what seemed like forever later and with every optimistic thought I had left telling me this was almost over…we went to get me checked again. It was 10:30 PM. Still no word from anyone. We couldn’t believe she hadn’t called us by now. (She promised she would). It felt like an eery dream. Being in a hospital but not getting the planned help we had counted on. I felt betrayed! We went to the curtained “room” in the triage that we had reserved with my suitcases and waited for me to be checked again. At this point it was our third time and everyone knew us and saw us walking back. I waited (as a very crazy-like a monkey in a cage) as I went through each contraction about every 3 minutes…and then heard someone say, “where was that patient in room 6?” (which really was just a curtained off space we were in), then someone responded, “oh, they went home.”…………WHAT?!?!? We were right there!!! Ryan was furious! (I’d never seen such an irate expression on his face.) “Ummm…No, we’ve been here waiting for 45 minutes!” he suddenly very loudly announced behind the curtain. Then there was a silence. They didn’t know we could hear them! Immediately a nurse came in WITH the MIDWIFE we had been waiting for and just started hooking me up to the monitors again. They were like "Oops…sorry...” Then proceeded expressionless clearly realizing that we were not happy to have been overlooked so many times. Here we were all day waiting for her, and she was there and no one had told us! She checked me. I was a 3.……still!!!! (and was about to die of disappointment and pain and exhaustion.) She gave us a talk. We could either go home and wait it out more, or we could stay and they could try some “interventions”. (Our every effort during pregnancy and plans of the birth was to do it completely natural, for the safety and health of our baby...so an intervention could mean taking medication in order to speed things up) She told us to talk about it, and she would be back. She left and Ryan was there just looking at me and I immediately begged him to just make the decision and that I couldn’t take it much longer. (in my mind I was thinking, “just cut me open!” but didn’t want to say it. I was hoping he would!) I threw up. The monitors they HAD to put on me EVERY time I went in that curtained room were making me SO SICK. I went to the bathroom (I had to go LITERALLY every 5-10 minutes the past 4 hours…Emma was pressing on my bladder and so low…) I came back and Ryan had gathered my stuff. He strongly felt that I would be more comfortable going through contractions in our home rather than in the hospital lobby. WHAT?!!? I screamed in my head. I mean, it sounded nice and everything, but there was NO WAY I was going to be able to get back to the car and drive all the way home…and for what?!?! To just be there a few minutes only to drive all the way back? Just thinking about that made me seriously feel like fainting and I wanted to just die! I let Ryan know it felt like an impossible thought, but he was completely confident in his decision and reminded me if we were to stay they would most likely force us to go against all we had hoped and prayed for with this birth…and not do it naturally. Somehow (I still don’t know how), we left (with lots of tension with the staff)…after of course signing tons of papers (the weirdest thing in the world signing all sorts of paperwork and getting ready to leave a hospital as I was in the worst pain of my life)…oh, and she handed me a paper about what it will feel like when I go into labor---so thoughtful---…I couldn’t even comprehend it all…
The walk to the car was insane…it was a cold and windy night and we had a 15 minute walk to the car. We finally got into the car and sure enough going through a contraction was so unbelievably wrong. It never felt like it was going to end! I mean here I was in labor now for 24 hours straight, and it seemed to be at the worst it could be, but I was told just 45 minutes prior that I was a 3???? AND I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A 10?????
We arrived home around 1 am, and my mom had a plan to make things as bearable as possible. She said I needed to try to relax in some way…somehow. So we tried having me in the bath. When I was in the bath though…of course at first it was nice…when I was not having a contraction I was fine! But when it hit…there was no way of getting a break or relief from it at that point. It was like someone was torturing me…(I guess I would explain it as being tickled…it’s a horrible horrible feeling with absolutely no where to go…torture…) So the bath just made me even more trapped. So I got out of the bath as soon as I could and my mother (bless her heart, I would have been lost without her…which I thought originally all I needed was Ryan, but I guess a mother really knows how to handle a woman going through labor...and having both there was just perfect!) wrapped me up and had me lay down in bed and made me try to fall asleep. I thought she was crazy…how could I sleep? I couldn’t lie down! Just try, she assured me. She rested her hand on my back and Ryan lied down on the bed with me as my mom rested next to my side on the floor. It was dark and I think for possibly 3 glorious minutes I was asleep and oh so cozy. Then…a contraction hit and I JUMPED up out of my precious bed. My sweet husband was so concerned and appeared so hopeless…he was kind of looking pretty bad. If you know Ryan, he is very black and white, very steadily happy go-lucky personality and almost always has a plan. I had never seen him like this. He always seems to know what to do. And I think that's what was making him sick! It was obvious it was so much for him to emotional take that he couldn't help me or fix it, and he was shutting down. SO after the contraction, I told him to just please try to get to sleep. I needed him rested so I could focus and not worry about him. My mom would help me out and I assured him I would wake him if I needed him. Miraculously, he passed out and slept some.
At this point, there was nothing we could do but get through and wait until...I wasn't sure. I think that was what made it so extremely hard in a sense I wasn't expecting. I knew it would be painful,...it was. I knew it would be hard and long...it was. But I wasn't progressing! I wasn't seeing any sign of an end! It felt like I was going to keep going forever and I did not know what to do!
My mom kept giving me the push to just get through each contraction. She told me, "Think of Emma. Every contraction brings you closer to seeing her. Just get through this one more..." I now realize she was trying to give me one thing to focus on. I didn't feel it at the time, but it really got me through each contraction. I had all sorts of verses written out and thoughts or quotes to get motivated from. But they were so far out of the situation, in my suitcase packed for the hospital...it's kind of funny to even think about it now how every plan was just thrown out the window---we were just surviving. I needed my mom for those moments to give me a sense of everything is going to be alright. She of course had been through labor, and we hadn't! The one thing I remember telling myself over and over that really helped keep me focused---women have been created to do this, they HAVE done this billions of times...young girls have done this!--- I knew if I just endured, I would do it, too! God designed our bodies for this!!!
And then the moment that everything took quite a rapid change:
Once 6am that next morning hit,
I said, "I feel like pushing...just deliver her here, please mom!!! I don't think I can get in the car!"
Suddenly, my strong mom looked taken back, like she was not expecting me to say THAT. I think she sort of freaked out and brought me a hot pack. She then asked if she should call our friend Carol to see if she could come and check to make sure I had progressed so that we could know if I was ready to head to the hospital? I said yes and she went to call our family friend Carol, who was an at-home midwife. Ideally, I had wanted to have a homebirth, but we looked into it and could not afford her home births since it was not covered by insurance and a hospital was. I had grown up best friends with her daughter and used to watch her pregnant clients come in and out of the house and was so intrigued and naturally always thought about her delivering my babies one day. She remained a close family friend, and my mom had kept her updated by texting her during the labor for advice. I had been laboring for 2 days and seemed eager to push now and could not tolerate a car ride (and in my mental state was thinking the hospital would send me home again made me feel like I would go mad)...Carol said she could come right away to check me to give us a direction on what to do next. She arrived within an hour. I remember telling Ryan to clear our bedroom. I could not stand to see any mess and wanted it tidy. Funny I cared about that. He jokingly picked it up. He was so precious.
I was on the floor feeling so hopeless , and the moment Carol arrived, I felt a strong peace and sense of pressure taken away. She checked me and and just looked aside for a very long moment just to process things I guess, and then sweetly looked up at me and said the most beautiful thing I felt I had ever heard:
"You are ready to push!"
Ryan, my mom and I just paused for a moment in disbelief...it was time! Carol said was willing to take over and deliver the baby right there! All the pressure, and worry sloughed off immediately, and a surge of excitement and magic entered our house. We were going to do this! We immediately turned our master bedroom into a birth room using a shower curtain, hot water, towels, and several sheets. It was 10:30a. In a way it was as if my labor had started all over but in the way I had always pictured it and hoped it to be!
I knew now would be a matter of a couple of hours instead of the unknown. I was SO ready and eager and energized to take instruction/guidance from Carol! She gently coached me through a couple contractions on the bed, then while sitting on the toilet (where she gently broke my water---it STILL had not broken!!), and also while sitting on the birth stool. I hated that, but it helped me progress alot to the point where finally we saw her head!!! Such an exciting moment! Everything went so fast that my plan to have a mirror to see her head never happened. We then moved back onto the bed and I pushed maybe 3 or 4 times. I remember each time all the encouragement Ryan, my mom, and Carol gave me. Telling me how great I was doing, and it was so close! I remember being embarrassed by the screams I would make on each push as I used all my might to get Emma out. I have never yelled and screamed like that before. You really have to use all of the physically strength that is in you. Although it was the worst pain I have ever had, I remember thinking about how doable the pain actually was. I had mentally prepared for it, even though it was not something I really could have imagined, I could do it.
For me, it was all about endurance and patience (two qualities I lack horribly). It was as though God was guiding me along my greatest weaknesses and showing me I really could do anything through Him, and in His amazing love, He gave me the love of my precious husband, mom, and midwife.
During each push, I would close my eyes so tight in an effort to fully concentrate. I was positive that I would hear a reaction if they saw progress, and maybe that would encourage me to push a little harder to help guide Emma out. But instead, on my last push, I opened my eyes, and there she was! They all were so quiet, apparently not wanting to disrupt my concentration on pushing. It was as though I opened my eyes to the best gift in the whole wide world. Oh my gosh, the emotions come back as I write this. Indescribable thoughts of disbelief came over me. How could I be thinking of a baby constantly and working harder than I ever have for her, yet be so surprised and unprepared to see an actual baby the moment she came out? As Carol brought her to lay on my chest, I lifted my shirt to immediately nurse her as I had been waiting my whole life to do. Oh my word, the best feeling ever is to have what she wanted and needed! She loved it! She needed me! I was her mommy!
|All bundled up for the first time|
Carol then warned me that she would be delivering the placenta next, and as I held Emma, she took the best care of me. Holding my baby helped distract me from any discomfort at that point, and nothing phased me---Emma was here!!!!!!!!! It was so peaceful and beautiful! Ryan was texting family and got a call from his mom and said it would be about an hour for me to get cleaned up and ready for company. And oh how incredible that was! To watch everyone come into our home and into our room and see our healthy baby brand new and perfect. No IVs or beeping or getting a nurse's permission or needing to be checked in :) It was a dream that was made real when I did not expect it to be.
The day Emma was born was life-changing for me physically, I do not feel AT ALL the same. Mentally, I feel like everything I think about is so different. Emotionally, I think just now at almost two years later I am beginning to settle. And even now, the smallest things bring me to tears :) Spiritually, I see things in such a different perspective. The way God guided our path of going from a desire for a homebirth than being ok with a hospital since that was all we could afford yet finding a hospital with a natural midwife birth center, only to end up having the birth at home... I often wonder if my birth would have been shorter and easier if I just had it all at home with Carol's direction and guidance. But I know I learned and grew so much through the process it makes it all worth it to have had a long road. How is it God allows us to experience such amazing things? To create a life with the person you love more than anything is one of the many crazy gifts I do not understand. It is so unreal and wonderful.