It was rush hour when we drove to the hospital. This reminded me of one of the reasons why I hadn't planned on giving birth at UIC or Hinsdale; I would NOT want to be stuck in traffic with crazy surges going on! We finally made it to UIC and sat in the waiting room with my midwife. Colleen was about 3 weeks away from delivering her third baby, so when the nurse came in to get me all registered, she walked up to Colleen thinking she was the patient. lol "No, the OTHER pregnant lady!"
On the way to my room was the first time I really sensed God was going to make all this okay. Our nurse asked if I had a birth plan. I was like, "Whaaa? She's asking for my birth preferences??" We gave the plan to her and she not only entered everything into the system, but made copies for us to give to anybody else who needed them. Right after that, I realized God granted another desire of my heart. I had the room at the very end of the hall, which meant no one would be walking by and peeking in if they wanted! Nurses wouldn't be wheeling carts past my door. I'd have a little handful of quiet and privacy, two things I never expected. :P
The first nurse and midwife on shift were absolute angels. The nurse was an older lady named Anne, who happened to be my doula's nurse 4 years ago! The midwife was a young, punky girl who was lots of fun. When she checked me the first time, I was already 90-100% effaced, which meant they could start the Pitocin right away. I was thankful to not have anything delayed. So they hooked me up to the IV and Pitocin, strapped on TWO monitors (ugh), and said they'd be back in every half hour. "Try to get some sleep," they said. I politely said "okay" and was thinking "are you nuts" because this stuff they were dripping into my blood made my middle totally implode and that doesn't feel like a pedicure, just saying.
Chris slept. I did not. [Side note: my husband is totally my hero. I couldn't've done a single bit of this without him at my side. He was there always. He was and is my strength. I wouldn't say my love for him grew, because my heart is already full of forever for my darling, but it certainly deepened through this experience.] All night, from about 6:45 PM till 5:30 AM I just laid there learning to breathe deeper for each contraction. Anne came in every half hour and upped my Pitocin dosage by a unit. In the beginning it was easy. Contractions were no big deal. I was eating popsicles and posting on Facebook, for goodness' sake. The midwife came in at one point and whispered, "You doing okay?" And I just groaned, "I'm soooo bored!!!" She thought that was funny. Yeah, looking back it was funny to say that when the hardest part was still coming, but it was taking forever.
Fast forward to about 5:15 AM. The contractions were very strong and close together. After realizing I wasn't getting much of a break at all in-between contractions, I decided to text my doula to let her know I wanted her. :) I also had the midwife come check me. My goal was to hold out until I was a 4 or 5 before getting an epidural. (And yes, my plan was to get the epidural if I got induced. I gave myself permission for that one.) When she checked me, I was a 5 almost 6. I was like, "Awesome! Now call the anesthesiologist RIGHT NOW." He came in and told me Chris had to step out. That totally, totally threw me. Chris had been with me for EVERYTHING up to this point and this was the scariest part of labor so far in my mind. I wanted him there. But for the room to be a "sterile environment" or something, he had to go. My body was losing it at this point. I was terrified of being alone with a nurse, the guy, and needles bigger than I wanted to think about. I was exhausted and starving. I started to shake. I was trembling so bad that the nurse had to hold my shoulders to keep me sitting upright and straight, and she asked me my name and what I was doing there. :/ But then the numbness took over and I was distracted by how funny my lower half felt. (Blessing #3: I didn't have any scary side effects from the epidural. Just major itchiness which went away eventually.)
The epidural was one thing that didn't turn out like I expected. I guess I expected to be totally numb down there and not feel a thing. (It's happened to a lot of people that told me their stories.) But I actually felt a lot. I felt each contraction, which ended up being a good thing when it came time to push.
My midwife came in and checked me. I was an 8 or so. I texted my other midwife, Colleen, and had her come. [SO glad she was there for the birth!!] Around 10 AM I was a 10 and was told to start pushing. Chris tells me I pushed for almost THREE. STINKING. HOURS. There was a clock on the wall opposite me so I guess I knew the time but I for sure wasn't keeping track. Each time a contraction came, I'd push like my life depended on it. It was the most exerting thing I've ever done, and I was running on empty as far as sleep, food, and drink goes. My midwife knew I didn't want an episiotomy, and I for sure didn't want a C-section. Since this was going on and on, she eventually sat down, looked at me hard, and said, "Rachael, you have two pushes to get this baby out." I felt the pressure. I pushed like I hadn't pushed before. Finally his head was out, and I expected the rest of him to come rather quickly, but he was still not wanting to exit and enter the world. His hand was behind his head or something, making his elbow come out with his shoulders. The cord was around his neck, but it was no big deal thanks to my awesome midwife. After a very long struggle and effort, my son was born. :) My birth plan said I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, but somewhere in the moment that got lost, so I looked and they were scrubbing him to death. And that's where what my doula calls my "primal moment" came in. I said (hopefully not too loudly) "JUST GIVE HIM TO ME!"
They handed him to me and I had a million thoughts running through my head. "THANK GOD it's over!" "No one let me near Eve up there because things would get ugly." "This kid is HUGE and so strong!" "Someone put food - any food - in my mouth now." "Awww, Chris is crying!" "Thank you, God, that he's healthy!" And that really was the most amazing answer to prayer. The epidural didn't affect little Peter at all that we could tell. He was alert from the very first moment. His eyes opened and he nursed just fine. I was so, so thankful and relieved.
We went home a little over 24 hrs. later. Chris and I couldn't WAIT to get out of the hellishness that is recovery in a hospital room. People came in every half hour or sooner, most of them doing non-necessary, annoying things. As soon as the papers were together, they wheeled me out, we strapped him into his carseat, and took off with the heat blasting. (It was BITTER cold out and snowing.) He slept all the way home (yay). We came home to an "It's a Boy!" sign in the yard, a welcome home message in the frost on our front door, a clean prepared house (thanks, family!) and an amazing basket of goodies and dinner from a dear church friend. It was just wonderful.
So in the end I am actually telling people I'm glad he was born at the hospital. There were enough circumstances that make me think that if I had tried it at home, it would've been a VERY long, excruciating experience that might've dampened my desire to do it again. :P Now that my body's gone through birth, hopefully the next time will be faster and smoother, and I can have the baby at home like originally planned. But God used this experience to show me how His hand is everywhere. He knew I did everything I could to make what we thought were the best decisions, and when the timing just got crazy, He made Plan B go just as well. I am so humbled and thankful. And it's pretty surreal to look into little Peter's eyes and say "I love you" and have him sigh contentedly. Motherhood is a great gift. None of us deserve it at all. :)
A picture post is coming soon!