Forty weeks had come and gone, just like I knew it would. I had started feeling anxious about labor starting, because I knew summer was almost over and Brett's school year/football season would be in full force in no time. There was no chance he'd miss the birth, really. I just really wanted him to have a few days home with us to get to know our baby and to help me as I recovered, and I knew that window of time was fleeting. I continued to pray that she would come on her own, and that regardless, God would fill us with peace in knowing that our baby was in His hands and that he/she would come at the perfect time.
Backing up for a minute. At 39 weeks, I had gone to my doctor for my weekly check up. At that time, I was barely 1cm dilated and 0% effaced. Baby sounded great, and my doctor told me that if I was induced at that time (which I didn't want to be) that it likely would be unsuccessful because my body was showing no signs of being ready.
And back to 40 weeks. Going in for my appointment, I knew my doctor would mention induction because he doesn't like to let his patients go past 41 weeks, so he would make mention of it and I could do what I wanted with it, Again, I was nervous about getting induced because of my fear of a repeat spinal headache from the epidural. My goal was to go without the epidural so that the chance of a spinal headache would not exist, in hopes for a much better and faster recovery. I knew that entering pitocin into the mix would make an epidural-free labor much more difficult.
Anyway, at my 40 week appointment, my doctor informed me that I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was encouraged by my body's progress and a little more open to the idea of being induced, having high hopes of it being successful. With Levi, I went from 1cm to 10cm in just 5 hours, so I also had hopes of this labor being even faster. So after talking to my doctor, we decided that a couple of nights later, I would go in to be induced if I hadn't gone into labor on my own yet. That would still give me a chance to start labor on my own, but also give Brett a chance to have time with us before the craziness of fall began.
On a Wednesday night, I went in to begin cervadil. That day I had been having lots of signs that labor was near, including a few random stronger contractions (side-note: from this side of labor, I laugh at my use of the word "stronger.") I felt confident that the induction would go well. That night Brett and I spent the evening watching Big Bang Theory and eating a bunch of food. The calm before the storm.
Thursday morning (our 4 year anniversary), we were about to begin pitocin. I made it to 3cm and was more effaced, so while I was waiting for them to begin the pit, I took a hot shower and tried to ease the tension in my back during contractions. I had heard such horrible things about back labor and had a feeling throughout the whole pregnancy that I would have back labor, due to how baby was positioned. While in the shower, it started to hit me that back labor had begun and I had a bit of anxiety. When I got out, I started my playlist on my iPad and prayed throughout the worship songs that God would just give me peace and be my strength. And then began the pit at 9:30am.
The nurse kept asking about how I was managing my pain. I remember thinking that she seemed concerned then pleasantly surprised that I was doing ok. I felt like maybe I had been overly worried about the intensity of labor. HA! After about an hour, things started getting more intense. I had reached 5 cm and had my water break. My water was clear this time, which was a huge answer to prayer. After that, it seemed all hell broke lose.
I started throwing up from the pain. I kept telling myself during contractions that it would peak then die down, then I'd have a minute to regroup. Except I didn't. The contractions were one after another with sometimes no more than 20 seconds between them. I could barely catch my breath. I sat on the birthing ball and clung to the pillow on my bed, telling myself over and over again that, even though it felt like my body was breaking in half, my body was actually doing what it was supposed to and if I would relax, my baby would be here soon. See, I told myself the right things. But I still wanted to die. (Not to be dramatic or anything, right?!) :)
That's when I caved. I told Brett to get the nurse and tell her I needed the epidural. I don't think he could have jumped up faster to call for her. He hated seeing me in pain. The nurse came in and, bless her heart, encouraged me to try a warm compress and counter pressure. It was cute, she was doing her job so well, but I didn't care about anything else. I needed real relief.
While we waited for the anesthesiologist (are you impressed that I spelled that correctly without spell check?!) she and Brett both did counter pressure on my back, which I had always heard brought some welcome relief. But no, I just couldn't have anyone touching me. I needed the juice! After what seemed like forever,
As she began, every contraction I had, I would tell myself it was likely the last contraction I was going to feel. Relief was on it's way. It wouldn't be long. But no. It was awful. She had to stick me several times, during multiple contractions, and she kept telling me to sit up straight. I was sitting up straight and honestly keeping my composure as best as I could. After she'd set the epidural, she'd press on four spots on my back. Each time, there was one spot she would touch that I would just scream in pain over. She would ask, "Oh are you having a contraction?" and every time I'd respond, "NO, it's YOU!" (I later apologized.) After probably 25 minutes, she placed the epidural and I started to feel less breaking of bones in my back. I told her that, even though I was still feeling contractions, that it was gonna have to be good enough because I couldn't stand anyone else touching me.
I had to lie back very carefully as the Juice Doctor explained how she couldn't place the epi as far down as she should, because I had crooked vertebrae that likely caused the spinal headache last time. I was so grateful for her attention to detail and for her being so thorough, but I was mostly glad to be able to breathe in again. Within just minutes, she and my nurse left the room. She had just told Brett that if he wanted to eat lunch, now would be the time to run downstairs and grab something because in the next couple of hours I'd probably be pushing. So he headed off downstairs. Apparently I called my mom at this point to give her a quick update (I say apparently because I don't remember this at all, but she has the phone log to prove it)
So, after that quick phone call, it happened. The baby was suddenly coming. I looked around at my empty room in a state of disbelief. I reached over to press my nurse call button when I realized the pager had fallen to the floor. Every minute or two, super intense pressure came over me and my body was pushing my sweet baby out. After what seemed like forever, Brett came back into the room and was greeted by my hysterical, "IT'S COMING OUT, GO GET SOMEBODY!" He called for the nurse (and quickly scarfed down his lunch) and the room got all crazy. It was 12:00. Brett guessed the baby would be here by 12:15, and I said there was no way, that Baby wouldn't be here until closer to 12:45.
My doctor came right in and it made me excited because, with Levi, I pushed for an hour before he showed up. I knew it was happening and would happen quickly. As they finished prepping the room, I kept yelling that baby was coming, and my doc and nurses kept saying in unison as if they hear this all the time, "Don't push!" It was insane. Before I knew it, pushing began. I'll spare you details, but here are a few key words: contractions, ring of fire , hysterical nonsense. However, 3 contractions later, our baby made it's debut with it's hand next to it's face and the cord wrapped all around. My doctor held my baby over me and said, "What is it, Mom?!" I sat up and looked and got to proudly announce, "It's a GIRL!"
Brett and I just beamed with pride as we marveled over this sweet baby girl. She had so much hair! She let out a tiny whimper at birth, and then laid on my chest completely silent and wide eyed and content. We did delayed cord clamping and skin to skin and nursed for an hour or so. Sometime during all of that, I looked up at Brett and said, "It's Caroline, right?" He quickly agreed, which was a huge deal! (We have always struggled coming to an agreement on names!) After a while, I lifted her blanket just to look at her sweet little body, and I noticed how pink and perfect she was. As I was looking at her tiny little feet, I noticed purple blotches on her leg. I asked the nurse right away, "Is this a blood clot?" The room grew silent as three nurses and my doctor rushed over and stared at her leg for a few seconds. Soon after, they agreed that it was just a birth mark (port wine stain) and that she was just fine.
My epidural was taken out shortly after she was born, and within the hour I was able to get up and walk without help. The tops of my legs were a little heavy, but nothing else was numb yet, it all happened so fast. From the time the pitocin began to the time she was born was 2 hours and 45 minutes! Such a whirlwind of a morning but completely wonderful and perfect. We spent the next couple of days in the hospital recovering well and resting. I praise God so much for our healthy baby girl, and for a much smoother recovery for me this time! I'm so glad Brett got to have a few days with us before school began, and that everything went so smoothly. God has His hand in every detail and I'm so blessed by His goodness!