Let me first start off by saying throughout this entire labor and delivery I saw God’s hand in all of it. Him being late meant that close family and friends would be able to be there for his birth and that meant the world to me.
Okay ready? Get set. Go!
It all started at 3:30 am on Sunday morning. I had attended the wedding of William and Sarah Kappen just the day before and hoola-hooped at their reception to try and get some labor started. Still nothing. My in-laws, who really missed us, had planned a trip out to see us for the night and join us for church in the morning where our entire church would be praying over our family. Whelp, change of plans! Right at 3:30 am as I was about to get out of bed (to take care of some business), my water broke — like a lot! I woke up Alex with a start and jaunted to the restroom. I was a mess so I hopped into the shower to wash off and warm my muscles. After that, Alex and I decided to do some walking and time any contractions. Sure enough, within 30 minutes I was starting to feel some heavy cramping that was coming every 3 minutes and lasting 30 seconds. I wasn’t really convinced I was in labor though because I had just been to the doctor earlier in the week and they told me I had not begun to dilate yet. After a couple of laps around our complex, we parked it on the porch and Debbie started timing contractions for me while Alex packed the car up to leave for the hospital. Suddenly, another gush! This time, it was a not so awesome brownish color. My mother in law said, “You need to go to the hospital!” So, off we went.
The entire drive my contractions were getting stronger, now at 2 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute long. That only gave me a minute between contractions to recover and they were getting more intense. We arrived at the hospital and yet, another gush! I was so embarrassed to walk into the ER soaking in my pj pants. They checked us in and got us into a room. What was really awesome though was that arriving on a Sunday morning to birth a baby, the labor and delivery area was completely empty! No one else was giving birth, so I had the attention of about 8 nurses around the clock. We called everyone and told them we were being admitted and that they may want to head down because it must be getting close… Not even 1 cm yet… you have got to be kidding me.
The contractions continued to be strong and the nurse suggested an epidural for the pain. I didn’t want one yet because I was going by dilation and if my contractions were too painful to handle at 7 centimeters I could see getting an epidural, but “too painful” contractions at 1cm? Please. I ain’t no wuss!
The contractions continued and people began to arrive. It was so nice because my mom and sister were coming out my way already for my sister’s wedding dress fitting, Debbie and Wil were already out here “just because” (a HUGE blessing), and Chris and Amber would be able to come because we were having Teddy on a Sunday! I was ready and so was everyone else. Obviously, Amy was a little excited.
So we waited. People came into my room and watched me struggle as contraction after contraction mounted in time and intensity so I must have been progressing pretty well (I thought). The doctor checked me and I was “maybe” 1.5cm.
I don’t even know how long I had been in labor but I knew I was disappointed. I was supposed to be making progress at around 1 cm an hour and I only got .5. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to ask for an epidural. One more hour and two double contractions later — I was exactly the same. The nurse told me that if I continued to labor in this much pain and this quickly, I might not have the energy to even push when the time was ready. My family encouraged me to make my own decision, but I opted for the epidural hoping to slow down the contractions and allow my cervix to catch up.
Unfortunately there was no such luck. The contractions lowered in intensity and I was able to have some momentary relief, but what we wanted was a lowering of the amount per minute. Blah. Thus started the brutal battle of petocin and the epidural to try and steady the contractions and make them more consistent. The nurse was wonderful and monitored Teddy’s heart closely to make sure it stayed within his normal 150 bpm range through the entire 25 hours of labor. Yeah, you heard me… 25 HOURS.
I was supposed to be progressing at 1 cm per hour so everyone in the waiting room took a pool on when he would be here (5/19). Not so quickly afterward we learned he wouldn’t be arriving on the 19th. So, we took ANOTHER pool and everyone lost… again.
Finally, I hit the 21 hour mark from when my water broke. The nurse checked me and I was at 9cm. My doctor came in an hour later and told me I was still at 9 cm, but the lip of my cervix would not dilate and the baby’s head would not come down into the canal. He asked me if I wanted to continue the labor and my first thought was… Wait? You can end it? I didn’t realize he meant via c-section. Haha. I really wanted to continue laboring and felt I was so close to the end, I knew I could do it. So I said, yes I do. He said okay, I’m going to come back in an hour and check you. He did and I was STILL 9cm! It had been 4 hours with no progress.
Side Bar: Back labor is absolutely horrible. I would take uterus contractions ANY DAY over back labor. Now knowing what I put my poor mother through, I love you Mom and I am SO SORRY. It literally feels like your back is being ripped from your spine. I felt like the exorcist — and that was with an epidural (which was clearly wearing off).
Anyway, the doctor looked and me and said, “Okay I want you to push. Just once for me.” I did and he immediately said, “Okay he’s pushing back instead of coming down, I think we need to do a c-section. You should be holding your baby in just over 30 minutes.” Then he started talking and telling me about the procedure. He said I could have two people in the room with me. I, still trying to comprehend this new course, looked at my Mom and said, “My mom and Alex.” I was just a wreck. I immediately started weeping. I didn’t feel like I had failed or anything; I had just endured 25 hours of on and off painful labor and progressed as far as I could. But I knew this meant major surgery, and surgery that for most people I knew had been in an emergency situation. I searched the room for knowing eyes and my mother-in-law came to my side. She was calm and reassuring.
I asked her, “Does it hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt.”
“Is it scary?”
“No, it isn’t scary.”
Just what I needed. Just simple assurance. I breathed as the drugs started taking effect. Amy came in and tried her best to make me laugh, smiling at me through tears I knew were for me — knowing how tired I was and how badly I wanted to do this. I just looked at her and said, “I’m so scared.”
And she said, “You’ll be great. You get to hold him in 30 mins.”
I just started to sob. I get to hold him in 30 mins. My baby!
My family gathered around me and my father in law prayed over me and the procedure. The nurse, Tracy got Mom and Alex their “outfits” and twisted up my hair while the anesthesiologist capped me. I laughed at the hilarious “ghostbusters” outfits my mom and Alex had to wear and Amy snapped this picture.
Tracy told me she’d be in the room for the delivery and talked over a few things with the anesthesiologist. She was so great and it was reassuring to know both she and he would be there. They geared up and wheeled me over to the operating room. I saw Robert and Hannah (my awesome OBGYN duo) prepping in the hall, and I was so glad to know they would be doing this together!
I was wheeled to the room and transferred to the bed. The NICU team arrived as the others prepped the room. My mom and Alex came in. The anesthesiologist came over to my head and asked if I had any music I would like to play during the procedure. Alex handed him his phone and put on my worship mix that had gotten me through the first 4 painful hours of my labor. The song “10,000 reasons” came on and a great peace covered me. With that they began the procedure. Alex stayed by my side looking at my face and periodically filming. Then it came time for them to pull Teddy out. I felt a release of pressure and some movement and Alex say, “He’s here. He’s here.”
The NICU grabbed him and Alex went over to cut the cord. I caught a glimpse of him and kept saying over and over, “my baby, my baby, my baby.” My mom followed Alex with the camera, sweetly documenting everything. The ladies from the NICU were so overwhelmed by his size that they jokingly called him “Bruiser.” Haha, if only they knew the number he did on my ribs from the inside! They weighed him and everyone laughed… “9lbs and 9oz!” Holy cow!
They washed him and joked about how he would need lots of baths — he was covered in his own poop (sorry Teddy). All the nurses fell in love with him cooing and telling me how beautiful he was. Finally, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest. He was perfect, all swaddled there and making faces at me. He looked just like his Daddy, who came over and kissed us both. We did it. We made and delivered a baby. It was so amazing.
The effect of the block began to sink further into my brain and they took him as they stitched me up. The doctor sweetly came to me and said, “Natalee, I’m so sorry. If I had a crystal ball and could have seen inside you I would have been able to tell you right away that you aren’t going to be able to have this baby vaginally. The cord was wrapped around his body, keeping him inside.”
I said, and still mean it, “Honestly Robert. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”
The drugs took effect and I don’t really remember a lot afterward. Except how excited everyone was and that he was beautiful. They all got to see him wheeled into the nursery and have his first (well second) bath. Lots of love all around.
They brought him to me again and he was even more handsome than I remembered. Dark swirly hair. Grey eyes. Brown skin. Surprisingly, I think he kinda looks like me. He is 9lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches of pure joy. And he has dimples to boot!
Over the next few days in the hospital we had tons of visitors and family came frequently to coo at Teddy. I struggled to reconcile my mind as the narcotics took effect. I decided after say one that would stick with Motrin. It was hard, but I wanted my body to heal quickly. As soon as my catheter was out, I was up walking. Alex and all the nurses were so encouraged and impressed. I just wanted to get out of there!
I did enjoy the round-the-clock care the hospital provided but I hated how they would wake us up to check vitals and give medication.
Even though this birth didn’t end up the way I had hoped, I know God orchestrated it all. If anything it helped further my resolve that God works in all births and every life is a gift from him no matter how they come into the world.
I am so thankful for your prayers and encouragement through this process. The recovery has been hard but we are so glad to be home now with our “little” guy.
Now, back to kissing and squeezing my new guy.
Leelo and Ander +1