So, it was Saturday morning, August 15th, and I honestly woke up feeling like something was going to happen that day. I had been having contractions for days and days before this, I had already lost my mucus plug a week ago and (pardon if this is too graphic!), but was having "bloody show" for the past 7 days!!! (Yeah, don't you love the attractive words that go along with pregnancy?!) I KNEW it had to be soon!!
I went along through the day, doing my "usual" things, and while the kids were napping, I decided to head out to the store by myself while Mark stayed home. As I was going through the aisles, looking for my great deals, I started having some pretty bad contractions....enough that they stopped me in my tracks. (I was grasping the mayo shelf for dear life.) So, I decided I better let the Miracle Whip be, and hurry up and get out of there in case something were to happen. And, wouldn't you know, I got stuck in the SLOWEST line possible. Ever. (Doesn't that always seem to happen when you're in a hurry?! I think it's God testing our patience....) It literally took about 15 minutes to make it through my line, and the whole time, I'm hoping my water doesn't break!! When I finally got to the cashier, she rung everything up, commented on my pregnancy, and said, "Wow, for as long as you had to wait, you might of just had the baby in line!!" I laughed through my pain and annoyance and really couldn't believe she had just said that.
She was almost right, and she didn't even know it.
I finally got home and unloaded the groceries. The kids were up and Mark was making tacos for dinner.....now, I LOVE me a good taco, and all food Mexican, but I could not even stomach the smell of the taco meat cooking in our house. It was as if it was the most repulsive thing I had ever smelled. Plus, it seemed as though I could not stop doing things......cleaning, laundry, folding, organizing, cleaning, laundry. While my whole family ate dinner, I was folding laundry. Mark thought I was a bit crazy. I couldn't help myself, though. I couldn't get enough done.
After we got the kids to bed, I decided tacos didn't seem too repulsive, after all, and forced one down. I was still having some dull on and off again contractions, but nothing as strong as I had felt in the grocery store, so I figured it was still days away. So, I decided to just lay low. Even though tacos weren't high on my list of favorite foods that day, TROPICAL DOTS were! These are my all-time favorite candy. Ever. So, I headed upstairs, jumbo box in hand, to lay down and watch some TV. While I was gobbling up the Dots, (eating the yellow and orange ones first, of course, because those are my least favorite), I realized that, either, my taco was causing me some real stomach pains, or, I was having contractions, again.
I started timing them and continued on eating my beloved Dots. Soon, I started to contract every 6-8 minutes........it went on like this for about an hour, and at that point, I was on the floor, hunched over calling for Mark to come upstairs. He came running up and I said, "Uh...Mark, I think it's time." He went crazy, running around, getting this, doing that, checking the ferry schedule, calling his parents and was SO DARN excited and nervous all at once. It was the cutest thing! Even though I had only been laboring for an hour, I KNEW this was the real thing, and since we didn't want to get stuck on the island, Mark called his parents right away to have his mom come over.
While we were waiting for my mother-in-law, I calmly made sure we had everything packed, smoothly got my shoes and coat on, lovingly and quietly checked on the kids to give each of them a kiss, and sat on the bed and just waited. All the while, Mark was zipping around here like a madman!!! This is my usually very calm, cool and collected husband. I saw him in a way that I had NEVER seen him before. He was a nervous wreck. He had everything in the car in minutes and was soooooo anxious about making the ferry that he had me wait with him in the driveway so that we could jump in the car the second his mom got here. And, although it was cutting it close, we made the ferry in the nick of time!
It was a little bit of a stressful ferry ride, only because I was definitely feeling these contractions and was trying to play it cool all at the same time! I really didn't want the whole boat to know that I was in labor, so we stayed in the car and timed my contractions all the way there! About 5ish minutes apart, now.
We finally made it to the other side and, of course, it felt like it took forever to get the cars off the boat and up to the Hospital, but we made it!! As we walked into the entrance, close to 11pm, I remember thinking how unreal it seemed: this was my third child, but I had never gone into labor on my own. It was almost movie-like. On the big screen, you see the pregnant woman waddling up to the hospital with the harried, nervous husband running and fumbling in front of her. That was me. That was us.
So, we got to triage and I was put on monitors for the next hour to check on my status and progression to see if they were going to admit me. And, wouldn't you know......the monitors they put on my belly weren't working.....none of the contractions I was having were showing up!! Grrrrr!! I was so concerned that they would think I wasn't really in labor and send me home!!! Yeah, right, who was I kidding?! That, fortunately, wasn't the case. They not only saw the pain I was in, but checked my cervix and noted that I was at a 3! Yippee! Time to get admitted!
We got to our room, met our nurse, and got settled in for a long night. My contractions were very uncomfortable and were coming pretty frequently. The nurse said that I could walk around, so we started walking "laps" around the loop (hallway) to see if we could get things moving faster. It was actually quite humorous, because at the exact places, every time we went around, I would have a contraction. It never failed. Mark would say, "Oh, here we come on to the waiting room....." Contraction. And, "Here we are passing the nurses station." Contraction. It was like clockwork. But, when were were on our umpteenth time around, the nurse came out of our room and told me that the monitor was STILL not picking up my contractions!!! Are you kidding me? What kind of caveman equipment are we working with, here?? I remember being very stressed out about this, for some reason. Like, they were still going to send me home, or something!! (Yeah, right.) Mark just kept telling me not to worry about it, that I was DEFINITELY in labor! It's just like me, OCD me, to worry that I'm not really in labor, just because the monitor is not picking up the contractions. When, in reality, I'm doubling over in pain every 5 minutes!! Sarah, come on!!
We decided to stop walking, as my contractions started to get more painful, so we headed back to our room. The best position, at that time, was either standing up-holding on to Mark for dear life, or sitting right on the edge of the bed-holding on to Mark for dear life. I was quite impressed with how great of a coach Mark was, even in these wee hours of the night, er, morning.........he was tired. I was tired. But, through every contraction, he reminded me to relax, stay calm, and BREATHE. He did my breathing with me during EVERY contraction, and was so great---even though I managed to throw up a few times (Hello Dots!), and wasn't always so kind to him!!!
At around 3am, or so, they finally called in another nurse to help get the monitor around my belly working correctly. They did a lot of make-shift shenanigans until it finally starting registering! Yay! And, whooo boy, to see those mountainous contractions on paper really made me realize I was in the thick of labor!!
At this point, a Resident came in and asked me if I wanted an epidural. Here, I had been laboring for 7 hours and I was actually doing "ok." My mindset going into this birth was that I wanted to do it completely natural, if I could, but that I wasn't going to beat myself up about it if I couldn't. Since I was hanging in there pretty well, I told him no. He seemed puzzled by my answer and told me that he and my doctor would recommend it, since I was going for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). If they had to take me into emergency surgery for some reason, then I would already be ready. I said that I would think about it, but, refused an epidural. He said he'd be back in an hour to check up on me.
I tell ya......I remember, seeing him walk out the door, and thinking to myself, "Why did I tell him NO??!!?!?!?! What a LAME decision!!" I continued laboring and laboring..........around 3:30am I decided to sit on the big medicine ball. I was starting to have TREMENDOUSLY TERRIBLE back labor. I almost could not stand the pain. Like, TERRIBLE. The nurse was behind me, rubbing my back through every contraction, while I was, again, holding on to Mark for DEAR LIFE. Every contraction seemed a million times worse than the last. It, literally, was the worst pain I had ever felt.
At this point, they decided to check my cervix and see how much I was dilated. I was hoping to hear a good 8 or 9......but, no.......a 6. ARGH! How could I go on?!?!?! I remember looking at the clock at this time, it was somewhere around 4:00am and I was wondering where the Resident Doc was. He said he'd be back in an hour! Where was he???? I was REALLY feeling like I needed some pain relief!!!
He finally came in a few minutes later, and I broke down and told him I really thought I needed the epidural. At that point, the back labor was SO INSANELY HORRIBLE, that I really didn't know if I could go on. I had never felt pain that bad before. So, as protocol, he "ordered" the epidural and the anesthesiologist didn't end up coming in, until, at least, a half hour later! I was sooooooooo ready for her!!
As soon as she came in, her first question to the nurse was, "She's really been in labor for this long??" As if she couldn't believe that I was just now asking for an epidural. Come on! Women all over the world have natural births everyday!!!! I couldn't believe that she was so shocked by this. So, as she was getting everything ready and prepped, I was laboring away on the bed, on my side, again, holding on to Mark for DEAR LIFE! As she was explaining everything to me, I remember thinking......"Just do it!!!" Finally, after what seemed like forever, I felt a little bit of calm run over me and knew the pain medication had been inserted. Whew! I could feel my body relax instantly!! BUT.......my next contraction came and I was wondering why I could feel it. Why I could REALLY feel it??? She explained to me that that was normal and to give it 10 minutes or so to really do its "thing." So, as each contraction came and went, I kept thinking that the pain would subside soon.....I mean, it just HAD to. But, what do you know........it didn't. It was almost as if my entire body was pain free, EXCEPT for my mid-section and especially my BACK----the area that is SUPPOSED to be pain free!!
So, after about another half an hour.....we called her back in again. She explained to me that she would re-insert through the same area and try it again, but that if it didn't work after this time, that she would have to start the whole process over again. (Or, something like that.....I don't quite remember exactly what she said.) So, she re-did her thing and told me that surely this time it would work.....I was praying it would!!! But, what do you know.
Again. Didn't. Work.
Just shoot me now.
At this point I'm thinking that this is some sick joke. How could this be happening??!! Two times and NOTHING?!
Soooooo, we called the anesthesiologist back in, yet, again. This time she talked some more and some more and told me, again, that she would have to start the whole process over and that this time it might be a little more dangerous. (Or, something like that.....I don't quite remember exactly what she said.) I was starting to get nervous. As I'm panting through the horrific back pain I was feeling with each contraction, I started to get really panicked. I definitely didn't think I wanted THREE doses of pain meds running through my body, but I also definitely didn't think I could handle the immense pain I was feeling.
But, by the grace of God (and, what is likely a triple charge on my hospital bill) ----IT WORKED! Right away. Ahhhhh. I started to relax a little and thought I would settle in for a nice little nap. Mark got comfy on the chair next to me, and hand in hand, we both started to dose off.............that's when I started hearing the beeping. I was super tired and a little groggy, so I really didn't think much of it, at first. Beeps go off all the time and seem to resolve themselves, so, I, at first, just continued dozing. Until. I looked up. Like some sort of magic trick, 7 other doctors/nurses appeared in the room, hustling and bustling all looking very busy and a little concerned. One came right up to me, threw on an oxygen mask, and told me to turn this way, and then that way, and then she wanted me to sit up higher, then pull my leg up......all the while I'm thinking.......Doesn't she realize that I had just gotten an epidural and that I, at that very moment, wasn't even sure if my lower body existed? Legs, what legs? You want me to move them? Really?! So, I tried with all my might to move in the many superfluous positions they were asking. That's when, splash! (ok, not really splash, but I like adding that little sound effect!), my water broke!!
As the 7 individuals were still hustling and bustling around me, I finally asked, "Is there something wrong?" The doctor, very calmly, said, "Baby's heart rate is low." Verrrrrrrrry low. I started to panic. Was it because of the three doses of anesthesia I just got?? Oh, Lord, protect this sweet baby!! I was fully dilated by this point (hurray!!), so, they attached a monitor to baby's head and everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the screen.
The room was silent for a split second.
Yikes. Still low.
Hustling and bustling continued----It looked as if I needed to get this wee one out. NOW.
At the moment this chaos was going on, my dad, mom, and sister all walked in the room. It was GREAT to see them, yet, I couldn't fully enjoy it, because I knew things were not right with the baby. The doctor had her tray all set up with forceps, a vacuum, the whole nine. (double yikes.) She proceeded to explain to me that if baby was not coming out in a timely manner, she may need to take other action. I was not pleased, but knew, at that point, I had to do whatever was best for baby. On top of this concern, I was also having a VBAC, which just added to the stress.
By this time my Doc was telling me it was time to PUSH. Really? How? Didn't she remember that my lower body didn't exist anymore? I tried, anyway........all those strained facial expressions seemed to make some sort of progress on the lower half of my body. I was actually pushing a baby out, without even knowing it. Such an odd sensation. Not feel anything.
I didn't like it.
To my surprise, though, it didn't take long at all. In fact, maybe just 10 minutes or so??
And there was our baby girl. In all her naked, bloody, mucus-ey glory.
Hallelujah! Our little girl had arrived safely into this world. Thank you, Jesus!!
She had had a bowel movement in utero and there was a chance she swallowed some of the merconium, so I wasn't able to hold her right away. They whisked her to another table to check her over and clean her out. I demanded Mark go over and look at her and see what was going on. There's nothing more dissatisfying than giving birth to your child and not being able to see her and hold her right away. I kept asking, panicked, "Is she OK? Does she look OK?" He just kept repeating, "She's fine, she's great, she's beautiful!!!"
As they were checking her out, and I was anxiously awaiting seeing her, I remember saying to my family, her name is Anna. Anna Marjorie. I looked over at my dad and saw him get choked up. Marjorie was my Grandma's name, his mom. It's also my middle name. It was a sweet, sweet, moment.
It was finally time to see my sweet baby girl---I was awestruck and so. so. so. happy. I was in love.
She was such a precious little delight. So lobster red and puffy-eyed, but so, so beautiful. I couldn't stop staring at her. Here was a miracle laying right in my arms. (And another miracle----ok, maybe not miracle, but, another awesome feat-----a hugely successful VBAC!!) It's hard to deny there's a God when you witness the miracle of life. Anna nursed right away, and she did it like a champ. Nothing sweeter than a suckling little beauty.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur........a blissful, exhausting, fantastic blur. Full of nurses and doctors and family and snoozes and and sweet sibling kisses. It was so neat to finally be a family of five. We are praising God for bringing this cherished, exquisite human being into our lives.