The 4th (but maybe not final…) part in our VBAC series (catch #1, #2, #3): Olson’s Birth Story
Thursday January 2nd: 39 week appt. 2-3 centimeter’s dialated – YAY! Feeling positive, a little nervous, really excited and a bit anxious. That night we were visiting with our dear friends Mat and Abby, who were here for a short while from London, and I noticed a few painless contractions. Those continued off and on through the night, but with no consistency worth timing…
Friday January 3rd: Up early with the contractions – 10-15 minutes apart. I send Joel to work anyways. I call my mom, she comes and helps me get the kids ready and takes them back to her house. I keep Joel up-to-date throughout the morning and call our doula. 9 am: everything halts. I’m disappointed, call my mom, kids come back, Joel eventually returns home at the end of his day and we enjoy our evening as a family of 4 🙂
Saturday January 4th: Up at 4am with painful contractions – much different than what I felt Friday. Can’t manage them in bed anymore and am up and around, taking a bath (which made them SO manageable and was quite lovely – I see why so many moms choose water births!), walking trails into the carpet downstairs, and drinking warm tea. Joel is up off and on with me, but I do not need him constantly. When I’m up and moving I can keep them consistent, but when I lie down and rest they span out and eventually stop 😦 Throughout the morning I manage the contractions, call and chat with our doula, call my doctor and chat with him about the past two days and then 9 am rolls around again and everything halts again! Quite disappointed this time. I go to the grocery to get out of the house, Call Sarah to go on a walk and see if I can kick things up again. No such luck.
Sunday January 5th: The big storm is supposed to hit today! Everyone is worried about/for us, many offering to pay for a hotel room close to the hospital (or at least suggesting we go up!). Up by 2:30 am and down on the couches. I am having regular, painful contractions, every 10-12 minutes. We call our doula early in the morning. She is concerned we’ll get snowed in and be alone when the baby is born and offers to come camp with us until things are for sure. I am hesitant. Everyone’s suggestions and concerns is causing fear in me. We don’t know how to decide what to do. We call my mom by 7am and tell her to come at 8am to get the kids – contractions are getting down to as close as 5 minutes a part, but not consistently. They are painful, we are tired from lack of sleep, and we need to concentrate on my labor and not the littles 🙂
All the bags are packed. We miss our niece’s baptism. 😦 The weather and roads are getting BAD. We call: our neighbor cop, our friend the plow driver, and our friends that live 1 mile from the hospital. Our doula calls and tells us if she’s going to be able to get out, she needs to leave very soon and we need to probably head to the hospital. I feel like it’s too early. Everyone is worried for us, we are the only ones that don’t seem worried about the weather… I call my doctor. We agree that I should come in, get checked and then will either be admitted or we’ll go to our friend’s house who lives close by and labor there until it’s time to go to the hospital (which is NOT my ideal plan). We meet up with our doula on the way to the hospital – road conditions are slippery and scary. Contractions while being buckled in are not fun. They are VERY spaced out now and I’m worried labor is stopping again. I’m texting my prayer warriors, asking for prayer for our driving, and that God would bless our initiative of going to the hospital earlier than we had planned. I receive these texts back (amongst many more):
From Joy: Isaiah 40:31
From Lilli: “So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” – Isaiah 41:10
and: “And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the boat was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Save, Lord; we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” -Matthew 8:24
and: “There can be peace in the storm. Even the wind and waves obey Him. He’s got this.”
I am crying out of hormones, anxiety, sleep-deprivation, thankfulness, excitement, and gratefulness for sweet friends who love me through God’s eyes and in reverence of Him.
We check-in at 1:30. 5-6 centimeters dialated and officially admitted! We are in awe that the time is here and continuing to pray that God will bless our decision to come to the hospital.
8:00pm or so: 8-9 centimeters dialated. Contractions are never closer than 5 minutes. I’m cheerful, we chat, tell stories, laugh and joke. My doctor keeps encouraging me to eat as much protein and sugar as I can so I have energy for late labor and pushing. We all eat and continue walking and walking and walking and walking – and a little bouncing on the birth ball for me 🙂 By now the hospital is ‘shut down’ in the sense that NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO LEAVE because of the weather…
10:45pm: My ‘bag is so bulgy’ (isn’t that just a lovely term?!) they can’t tell if I’m fully dialated or not, so we decide to rupture my membranes. I am 10 centimeters! But I have a cervical lip 😦 That has to go away before we start pushing.
The next 4 hours are a b l u r. Between Joel, our doula and myself, we aren’t sure exactly what happened when. At this point contractions were too painful for me to continue joking through (for the most part – there were still some funny things I said and did…). I labor a lot, I rest and endure the contractions some, and I do some practice pushing. I ask for Joel and our doula to pray over me from time to time. So thankful for the peace and assurance that brings. Joel is my main stronghold. For a decent portion of labor he is sitting on the bed supporting me through all my contractions. By the end of this entire experience, we weren’t sure who was more sore! But we both agreed we had achey muscles where we knew no muscles were before 🙂
Around 3am we find out that baby’s head is turned towards my leg instead of down = not ideal. I am feeling exhausted. I don’t have enough energy to push him out. We discuss the options. Discouragement to achieve our VBAC experience sets in…I am not fearful, I am determined. I want to hold my baby. I feel like I cannot go on. I am praying as every contraction begins “God, please let this be an easy one, You have to endure this, I cannot.” I even tell Joel between contractions that ‘no one believes me! You all think I can push this baby out but I can’t! She doesn’t believe me (pointing to our doula) and he doesn’t believe me (pointing to our doctor) and you don’t believe me, but I can’t do it anymore!’ (I told you I still did some funny things…) This is semi-humorous and so are the one-liners my doctor keeps delivering back to me 🙂 Our doula springs into adrenaline-fueled action encouraging me to try many Spinning Babies positions. We do some; I cannot summon the strength to do many. Joel validates my feelings but continues to show confidence and encourage me (seriously. He is THE BEST).
4:30am: We notice baby’s heartbeat slowing below what they like to see (through intermittant monitoring). We begin continuous fetal monitoring and change positions to see if we can get the heart rate to go back up. It doesn’t. I put on an oxygen mask and lay back in the bed. Joel begins to cry. I am reassuring everyone that it is ok. Baby is fine; we’ll be fine. In my head, I’ve already decided and resolved myself that this will end in a c-section. I’m still not feeling fearful or disappointed. Even though I never voice it, my doula and Joel both know I’ve decided on c-section. My doctor can sense it. He asks what to do. I tell him I want an epidural. If I’m going to have a c-section, I’ll need an epidural or spinal anyways, I might as well get one and see if I can still have a VBAC! Even though it won’t be unmedicated… Doctor tells me there’s no way it’ll work (PAUSE: He is not being mean. He knows how passionately we want the unmedicated birth and is helping us keep our confidence and also he is very passionate about the type of birth we desire). He says there’s no way I’ll be able to push when I can’t feel (because of the epidural). After we discuss more he says he’ll go find the anesthesiologist and see if he’s even willing to give me one, since I’m fully dialated and have been laboring so long. In the meantime, he tells my nurse to hook my up to an IV so I’m ready. That is an ordeal with contractions…
The IV is started and I have a SURGE of energy. I begin spontaneously pushing with no direction and not even during contractions. I feel like I have to poop, just like everyone says it will feel like! (I’ve never been so overjoyed, ha!). The anesthesiologist comes in and tries to take control of the situation. Joel chases him out and says we want our doctor instead. Our doctor comes in, checks me and says baby is moving down, despite the turned head! I start directed pushing (thank you, God, for our calm doula and amazing doctor who instructed me so well!). Baby continues to move. More people filter in. They are getting everything set up and our doctor summons Joel to the foot of the bed to assist, cautioning him of the ‘splash zone’ 🙂
At one point Joel is told to look because the head can be seen! He begins crying tears of joy and astonishment and doesn’t stop. They bring in a mirror – how motivating! I can see the head inching it’s way down. Just as his head emerges, it turns exactly how God intends: to the right position. Our doctor and Joel watch it happen and are amazed by our endurance and God’s faithfulness. I am told to stop pushing and the only thing that my body can do at this point is sing! So I SING our baby into the world! Not a song, but just a very high note. It was so silly and joyful and Joel and I laugh every time we tell this part of the story! I feel “the burn” and then everything goes numb, just like I’ve been told. It isn’t painful at all, just intense.
6:19am: Baby comes out and is placed on my belly and all I can say is, ‘Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God” over and over and over. We are in disbelief. For the first time I begin crying too (I have a lot of catching up to do match my husband!). We are so in love and it is so surreal and we cannot believe God granted us this blessing.
And just to show off, as our sweet baby is placed on the scale, God just sits back and smiles as they announce “Nine pounds, fourteen ounces, Twenty-three inches long!” Everyone is shocked. We just laugh 🙂
We decide on Olson, meaning ‘jOeL‘s SON and Emmanuel meaning ‘God with us’ – there couldn’t be a more perfect description for our son’s birth.
Evidences of God’s faithfulness:
- The preparation we had through classes, a Christian doctor, a Christian doula, and being covered in prayer for months by friends
- The encouragement to go to the hospital when we did
- A cheerful heart and joyful attitude throughout much of labor
- That even in our ‘giving up’ and deciding on an epidural – through the electrolytes provided in the IV – I had the energy to deliver Olson vaginally AND unmedicated – just like our hearts desired!
- God showing off by Olson’s large size and amazing us all 🙂
We are in utter awe of this gift. Of Olson Emmanuel, our precious third child. AND of the blessing of a VBAC which means so much for my health, our family, and our future family. THANK YOU, GOD!