On Monday June 9 I was 41 weeks 3 days pregnant. I had fully expected to have met my son before now. I was so uncomfortable and impatient. How could he not be here yet?? I was constantly getting texts and calls checking to see if I had given birth yet. I was getting frustrated. I was not keeping the birth of my baby a secret from everyone! He was settled in and not seeming to want to come out. Throughout the weekend I had had some pretty strong contractions but nothing consistent. My parents had come on Sunday as they had planned on visiting a week old baby yet here they were with me so very pregnant and no baby yet. On Monday morning, Dan went to work and my parents and I went out baby shopping. At 4pm, I had an appointment with my midwife to try to get things going. She did a sweeping of the membranes, which wasn't the most pleasant experience but I was willing to do what it took to get this kid moving! I was dilated 3cm at this point. I went home and started having some contractions. I got a full night of sleep and woke up on June 10th with more contractions. I was sure this had to the be the day!
Dan and I headed to the midwife for a check up at 10am. At this time I was dilated to 5cm and contractions were about 8 min apart. They wanted them to be at 4 min apart before I officially checked in, but since I was definitely headed in that direction, they told me to stick around. So Dan and I sort of camped out in the birthing center. The contractions were painful, but very manageable. In fact we decided to go out for lunch in the area. There's nothing like having contractions in the line at a very busy Chipotle! "Don't worry about me folks, Im just in labor. Now give me my chicken burrito!" We came back and my midwife gave me a foot massage with essential oils that helped move contractions along. By 5pm I was in full active labor with contractions every 4 minutes. It was fully decided that we were not going home without a baby this time! Laboring was exciting. I was thrilled to be at a birth center where I could move around in any position I wanted to. There was such a freedom to it. A few more hours into it, I was able to labor in the birth pool. I cannot describe how amazing this felt. The water reduced the intensity of the pains tremendously. I felt relaxed and in control. Everything was going exactly how we had planned. My water had not broken by itself so at 9cm, my midwife broke it intentionally. By this time I was in the transition stage of labor and the pain was taking over my body. It became harder to focus and be in control.
At 10pm I was in full pushing mode. My midwife assured me that our baby was in great position and should be here by midnight. So I kept pushing, and pushing and pushing. At midnight, I felt like I hadn't progressed at all. The pain was indescribable. It felt like it was never going to end. I was continuously throwing up and extremely dehydrated. They decided to give me an IV, but trying to sit still through contractions and vomiting was extrememly difficult so the IV process took way longer than it should. Time kept passing and I still didn't have my baby boy. I knew something was wrong. The mood in the room started changing as the midwife and the nurse kept leaving the room and whispering. I was having contractions every minute and half with no pain relief and no signs of progress. At 2am, my midwife told me that we were going to need to transport to a hospital for further assistance. I could not believe what I was hearing. This was definitely NOT the plan. What had happened to get to this point? It was so discouraging but then again at this point I was in such intolerable pain that I was in agreement to whatever would help end it. So she made the 911 call.
As I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I felt like I was trapped inside my own brain. I was in so much pain, that didnt seem to have any end in sight. However, it wasn't just the physical pain I was dealing with. I was dealing with major anxiety and PTSD symptoms. I had been warned during pregnancy that labor could easily trigger victims of sexual assault, so I had been in counseling trying to prepare for this. I am very thankful that I had coping strategies ready to combat these triggers. Although I had my husband and midwife supporting me, I felt completely hostage to my own thoughts and barely could interact with anyone in the 'real world". As they put me into an ambulance, the anxiety spiked. I could not help but go back to the last time/only time I had ever been in an ambulance, which was right after my attack. Here I was, in the strongest point of labor being strapped down on a gurney, put in an ambulance headed toward a hospital for a possible c-section and being told to relax and not push after pushing straight for over 4 hours. My emotions were all over place. I wasn't able to communicate through the pain, but I was angry. I was very angry at God. How could this be happening? I had once again fallen prey to the false theology that because of my past, God owed me smooth sailing from then on out. I felt that I shouldn't have to experience so many complications. I felt that I deserved to have an "easy" time without any extra trigger points. I was so fearful of what was to lay ahead for me and my baby boy.
We arrived at the hospital and thank God that there was a room with full staff waiting for me. They kept telling me not to push, but it truly felt like an impossible task to follow. As one friend described, "Telling a laboring woman not to push is like telling her to stop a tidal wave with her hand". The doctor was open to possibly still keeping a natural birth but after examining me he quickly realized that was not a safe option anymore. We were given the choice to wait it out and see if things changed with the risk of more complications for me and baby or to go ahead with a c section and get the baby out while we were both in stable condition. I was still in shock that we were having to make this decision but ultimately we both knew what we had to do and consented to the csection. I had finally received my epidural and it was kicking in. By this time I had been laboring for nearly 18 hours without any type of pain relief. I was rejoicing at modern technology and was so grateful to my anesthesiologist. I could have kissed him!
It was 5am on Wednesday June 11, 2014 and they prepared me to go into the operating room. I talked to my parents who had arrived at the hospital earlier. A lot of my memory from here on out is a little fuzzy as I was drugged up and completely exhausted. I do remember being carted into the operating room. I was strapped down, there were extremely bright lights and I was alone. Fear gripped me. I wanted to cry. This was NOT in my plan. What happened to the beautiful birth plan that we had been preparing for? I felt so confused and frustrated that God had allowed it to come to this. They finally let Dan and my midwife into the room when they were ready to begin. I held my husbands hand and realized this was it! We were finally going to see our baby boy. It only took about 90 seconds before they had him out. As he was delivered, everyone in the room yelled out an "Oh my God!". Of course since I could not see anything this was a little disturbing until it was followed by much laughter and "He's huge!". I heard his cries before I could see him, and immediately I was in awe and felt such an indescribable relief. I thought he would never come! All of this waiting had come to this.
At 5:54am Judah James Carrel was born into this world weighing 11lbs 3oz and measuring 22 3/4 inches long. I wish I could say that we had a beautiful moment together, but the truth is that I only got a few minutes to see him before he was whisked away to the nursery. I made sure Dan went with him. All of sudden it was all over and I was being taken to a recovery room, but I still didn't have my baby boy in my arms. Again, this was completely the opposite of our plan. I had dreamed about that moment for months fully expecting to hold my baby in my arms within seconds of his birth and experience that "baby high". It didn't seem fair. I had done all this work and now was forced to wait without my husband or any family (or any food or water for that matter!) Unfortunately it was over an hour later until I was to see my baby again. I finally got to hold Judah and he was absolutely perfect.
I have had nearly 2 months to process my birth story and the honest truth is that I am sad and disappointed when I remember it. I dealt with traumatic flashbacks and PTSD symptoms. I had planned on a completely natural out of hospital birth in a relaxing and comfortable environment. I got the exact opposite of our plan. I had hoped and planned for so many things that come with a natural birth such as immediate skin to skin , breastfeeding, delayed cord cutting, ect.. We had budgeted for and had completely paid for our natural birth. A hospital birth has brought new unexpected medical bills. Can I complain though? I left the hospital with no complications and completely healthy. My baby boy was as perfect as can be and in full health. So NO, I cannot complain. I am extremely grateful and feel blessed. I love my baby boy so very much and am in awe of his perfection. I do however feel justified in grieving the loss of a natural birth. I am sure there are so many women who can say they feel the same.
So things didn't go as planned. My plans were not God's plans. I am able to see the good in my story. I was forced to trust God and remember that he is sovereign and in control and I am most definitely not.