This story starts back on the Wednesday before Olivia was born. That morning I had an appointment and after a disappointing appointment just a week earlier, I had actually made some progress! I was a "generous" 2 cm and 50% effaced, so I left that appointment feeling much better than the week before, when I was 0 cm and 0%. It was then that I started thinking, okay this might be earlier than later. My body was further along than it had been with Lauren, so maybe she would be early too. Because if you remember from many of my previous posts I was mentally preparing myself for a late arrival.
The next evening (Thursday) I started having some regular contractions. They started as braxton-hicks but then started getting more like labor pains. I called Esther and told her what was up (she was awesome and had agreed to take Lauren for us until my MIL could arrive from out of town) and also called my MIL to keep them both informed in case, I did indeed go into labor that night. The contractions kept up pretty well and got more regular as the night moved on, so Esther made her way to our place before heading home to pick up Lauren. I thought it was better to have Lauren go there before bed, then in the middle of the night. Much to my surprise though, the contractions faded away. I had gone into the bedroom to lay down and when I woke up an hour later they were gone. I still however, wasn't convinced I wasn't going to have her since this happened with Lauren. I had contractions all morning, they faded, I napped, I woke, they came back and she was born later that night. That was not the case this day though. They just stopped and that was that. So in the morning I felt a little nuts, having sent Lauren to Esther's and then nothing happening. I actually felt extremely guilty like I had shipped my baby off for no reason. Little did I know this was our dry run, since it was only a few more days and we'd be right back in the same place.
Friday and Saturday passed as normal, well except for Friday's dinner (see this post). Saturday's dinner redeemed me and everyone enjoyed the tuna pasta melt just fine. We put Lauren to bed and then rested ourselves in the bedroom for the evening. Around 9:30 I went to get out of bed and as I heave-hoed myself off the bed I broke my water. Well at first I thought I was peeing myself, so I started laughing at the thought. Then I couldn't stop laughing since each burst of laughter sent more fluid gushing out. Matt was very confused at what brought on my laughing fit. He soon figured out what was going on, since I couldn't catch my breath to tell him. I quickly got myself cleaned up and bless his heart, Matt cleaned up the bedroom floor.
I called Esther and asked her to come pick up Lauren, and then called my MIL and told her we were headed to the hospital. Lastly, I called the doctor and he told me to come on it. After running around throwing last minute items into the hospital bag (that wretched thing finally got packed back on Thursday evening, about time) and trying to get the rest of the bedroom picked up. Then I had to go up and throw last minute items into Lauren's bag and get her out of bed. By that time Esther was there.
My poor baby, she had no idea what on earth was going on. She was awake but not coherent to what was happening. I strapped her into her car seat, which we had installed in Esther's van on Thursday, and gave her kisses. Matt kissed her and off she went.We got into the car ourselves shortly after that and headed to the hospital.
I laugh now as I think of this next part, since in hind sight we were being silly. But when we got to the hospital we weren't sure where to park. We had to enter through the ER doors since it was too late to get in woman's wing. So we debated if we should park by the ER or the woman's wing since we'd be leaving through those doors and it would make it easier on Matt when he had to get the car. Since I wasn't having regular contractions and could use the walk we decided on parking at the woman's wing and walked to the ER doors.
They checked me in and we patiently waited for a labor and delivery nurse to come get us. I used the restroom, Matt got a drink from the vending machine, and we paced the waiting area. After about fifteen, twenty minutes a nurse with a wheel chair showed up. I politely asked if I had to ride in the chair, she said no. I just wanted to keep moving and get these contractions regular.
She took us to our room and got me all hooked up. She then did a litmus test to check for the presence of amniotic fluid. This test came back negative. This baffled me since I knew that I didn't pee myself and I was 100% positive I had broken my water. Shortly after this the doctor came in.
I'm bummed that I was not seeing my doctor, instead I was seeing a "laborist." It was some older guy. I was aware that this might happen. But I have never had a "man" woo-ha doctor, so I was a little apprehensive about it. But the nurse and Matt were in the room the whole time so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
Anyway, back to the story. He checked me and said I was a "tight" 3 (which to me is the same as a generous 2). He then ordered another test to check for the presence of amniotic fluid. This test was sent down to the lab and had us waiting again. We sat there listening to the babies heartbeat and wondering what to do, or what they were going to do with me.
About a half hour later the test results came back and were also negative. I was beside myself. If I thought I felt crazy after Thursday night, I felt insane that night. I was so glad Matt was there when it happened because he could attest to the fact, that I did indeed break my water. The doctor explained that these were not foul proof, and they were just indicators. He then said that he was going to keep me overnight since I was having contractions and they would keep an eye on me.
Matt called his mother who had already left her house and was on the road. He told her the situation and they decided it was best for her to turn around and wait to hear from us in the morning. We were pretty sure this baby wasn't coming that night, so there was no need for her to drive through the night. I can't remember if we contacted anyone else, but I'm pretty sure we didn't. So we just got ready for a night in the hospital.
We were both very tired and wanted to rest. So the nurse got Matt some sheets and blankets so he could sleep on the couch in the room and we tried to sleep. Matt did a better job of this than me though. I just laid there. I felt some ease that they hadn't send me home, but I also felt extreme anxiety as to what was going on with my body. Was it ready to give birth? Was it not? What was going to happen? I remember praying a lot!!!
I listened to my iPod and tried to calm myself with more prayer. I didn't want to lay down because when I laid down the contractions got more irregular and I was afraid they'd stop themselves again, so I stayed propped up in the bed. I think I slept for a total of an hour and a half. By six o'clock Sunday morning I was ready to give into the tears. I was listening to the song "East to West" by Casting Crowns
I was praying for God to calm me and this song was reminding me that He is in control, that He knows what's going on, He knows when this baby would enter this world and it reminded me how much I need to rely on Him. We have such a loving Heavenly Father who has it all under control and the tears rolling down my cheek were of happiness that our God is so awesome and they were also me surrendering this whole situation to Him.
Some time in the night the nurse came in to check on me and informed me that the doctor had ordered an ultrasound for the next morning. This helped ease my heart and mind. It was like God was saying, I've got this, don't you worry yourself Jennifer!
Matt woke up to my sniffles as my tears started letting up. I informed him about the ultrasound and the wait game continued. A new laborist came on duty and she came in to check on me. She checked me and I was still only 3 cm and had made no change since the last check. She told me again about the ultrasound. I just remember she talked about a million miles an hour. I was still not fully awake and my head was spinning as I tried to listen to what she was saying.
She had me get up and walk around, which I was grateful for. I was hoping it would help get the labor going and get my contractions more regular. It also was a great distraction from just sitting in the room. There was limited places to walk since I didn't want to go anywhere people could see me and we needed to stay close so they could find us when the ultrasound doctor got there.
We walked for a good hour or so before we headed to the ultrasound room with the new nurse, Alexa. She came on duty earlier that morning. She stayed with us in the room as the ultrasound doc checked out the baby. It was nice, because he was same doctor we saw for my 20 week ultrasound. He was really nice and the fact that I knew him and liked him helped to relax me a little. That was until he informed us that there was a "normal" amount of water around the baby.
I was just up in arms at that point. Feeling even more crazy and insane then ever. God didn't leave me hanging though because the doctor soon gave me an explanation as to what might have happened. He hypothesized that, I most likely ruptured my membranes up high, causing amniotic fluid to leak out and collect between the bag of waters and the uterine wall. When I preformed my heave-ho move in bed, this pushed the water out. Then with the fluid gone, the bag of waters flapped back against the uterine wall sealing itself back up. Finally something I could wrap my head around!!
So where do we go from there? He said that we had two options. We could go home but if I had ruptured my amniotic sack (which he believed I had) then there is a risk of infection. To add to infection concern, I was GBS positive- increasing that risk. The second option was they could get me going on some pitocin and have the baby now but this carried some risk too. I was only 37 weeks and 1 day. They consider it "early term." So there was a chance that she wasn't quite ready for the world and might spend some time in the NICU.
He asked us what we wanted to do. I looked at Matt and he looked just exhausted and unsure. He said "whatever you want to do" and I said that I was more comfortable with option two. The doctor agreed that he was more comfortable with the risks of having her now as apposed to waiting and hoping no infection sets in.
We headed back downstairs were I watched Matt continue to look less and less comfortable and communicative. The nurse left us for a minute and we talked about what was bothering him. After being with my husband for eleven years, I'm able to read him like a book, even when he says nothing. I feel like this is an art form I've perfected throughout the years. I asked him what was wrong and what he was thinking. He was more nervous about having her now, then the risk of infection. He wanted to talk to the doctor more about it, so when she came back in we asked to for her to explain it better. After him hearing that if indeed I was to get an infection, there was a chance that the baby could die, I think he quickly thought I few days in the NICU sounded like the better of the two options as well.
The doctor and nurse got to work on getting me all hooked up to the pitocin and ready to go. This was sometime between noon and one o'clock. Matt called his mom and told her to head down, took a shower, and got some food. He need some nourishment and to freshen up in order to keep going. I needed him to be ready to help me through this. Not sure why I didn't seem as effected by the lack of sleep and food- hormones are amazing things.
It wasn't long before my contractions became regular and I began leaking amniotic fluid. This early leaking proved that I had ruptured my bag of waters, and to me it was God saying "you made the right decision." We watched the movie The Patriot on TV as labor continued on. It was then that we had a moment to take the last picture of me with Olivia in my belly.
The nurse checked me at four o'clock when the contractions were very regular and getting to be more painful. I was a good 5 cm at that point. I was still able to breath through the contractions and doing just fine. An hour later though, I was feeling the pain pretty bad. I asked if she would check me again, she was apprehensive since it had only been an hour, but I told her I had reached the point where I wasn't sure if I could go on much longer and I wanted to know if I should ask for some pain medicine.
Now I need to take an aside and fill you in on something. Ever since I had labored with Lauren so quickly I had always wondered if I could labor naturally. Two reasons, one I was pretty much ready to push Lauren out by the time I got the medicine/epidural and two I feel like the medication they gave me during labor made Lauren all loopy causing us to have such awful nursing issues. I really wanted to try and have Olivia without medications and had prayed and prayed for God's hand in this. In fact, do you remember the book we were studying The Circle Maker? (If not check out this post) Well I had been praying circles around having a natural birth. I hadn't shared this with anyone but God. In fact, when I was telling the nurses at the hospital, this was the first time Matt had heard anything about it, and he was quite surprised.
So I was having quite the internal struggle about weather or not I could continue much longer with the pain. I needed to assess the situation and figure out how much further I had to go and if I could continue on. Alexa was very nice and checked me. She found that I was 6-7 cm at about 5:00 pm. I wasn't sure I could hang on for the next three cm so I asked for medicine.
At this point I had gone into my own little world, where I shut my eyes and don't open them. The pain causing me to just concentrate on getting through each contraction, so all I remember is the sounds of her started to get things out of drawers and opening up cabinets. In fact, I have very little visual memories of the last hour or so of labor, just sounds. What felt like just ten or fifteen minutes later I was asking about the medicine and she was telling me that it was too late for medicine. I remember saying "I can't do this!" and her saying "You're going to have to!" God knew I needed a firm nurse and she proved to be just that. She started firmly giving me commands at this point- which I responded to quite well. She asked to check me again, and I was asking for her not to since the contractions were one right on top of the other and when she was checking I couldn't do anything to help the pain. She again firmly informed me she was going to check me, so I submitted to her request. In just those 10-15 minutes I had gone 2 more cm.
This whole time Matt was doing a wonderful job of holding my hand at first, then rubbing my back, and then doing the counter pressure against my hips and back. He was amazing and I'm so grateful for such an awesome labor partner. Many praise to him for hanging in there with me.
Me being 9 cm now, Alexa started calling in the doctor and other nurses. She asked if I felt the pressure to push. I said "yes" but I wasn't sure exactly. I felt nothing with Lauren so I didn't know if the pain I was having was the pressure to push or not. I was nervous to push. I didn't want to and then I realized that some of my pain was coming from me "holding back" the urge to push. So I gave it a try. Well when I pushed the gush came back and then I pushed again and another huge gush of water. It was then I realized that pushing helped the pain. The nurses quickly got the bed set up and put my feet in the stirrups. I have a brief visually memory of the room and everyone in it, including the doctor who was all suited up. It took me three or four more controlled pushes and my sweet little girl was out. Matt laughs and says that I gave one more "war cry" and then a switch flipped when I saw Olivia and I said "Hi my sweet baby" and all was better.
She was born at 5:36 pm, just twenty minutes after I said I couldn't take the pain anymore. God works miracles! She was born naturally, just like I had asked God for. It was a huge answer to prayer. I had gone 5 cm in just a over an hour. Looking back no wonder I felt like I couldn't take the pain anymore. I can't tell you how each and every person and event was heaven sent!
My little baby was here, 3 weeks early. She is perfect and spent not a minute in the NICU. Right after she was born they put her on my chest and she remained there for her first hour and a half of life. She nursed in that hour. She snuggled and I just gave prayers of thanks to God for such a perfect little girl. I will never forget His wonderful gift to us. Wonderful and perfect.
It's funny because I can't remember life without her now. It just seems like a different world. She's such a sweet baby. I'm so excited to be along for the ride we call life with her!
I think this birth story is a great example of why I have chosen the following bible verse as my "life verse"...
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18