This is the long and exciting story of the birth of our dear son Buster! On Sunday, July 4th Michael and I took E and K to the Big Butler Fair. The girls loved all of the animals and fireworks, we decided to leave them with my mom since I had to come back to her house over the next few days for an NST (non-stress test) with the midwives as I would soon be reaching 41 weeks pregnant. That Monday Michael and I had a wonderful day. We slept in until 11am lounged around, had lunch at Romeo's Pizza and drank San Pelligrino like fancy pants. After our delicious lunch of quattro formaggio pizza we spent hours at Cafe Amadeus just drinking espresso and talking. We discussed everything from food and coffee to life and the profound love that God has for us, through Christ. It was wonderful. After we had consumed all of the espresso and Hungarian dessert that we could handle we went back to our "hotel" (house) to freshen up and take a nap. After hanging around the "hotel" we went to Benjamin's for a light dinner. We sat under the ivy trellis and soaked each other in. It was an absolutely delightful date-day, stay-cation, in happy Indiana. That evening I started to have a few contractions. We were excited! What better way to keep things moving than to go for a walk!
We walked all around town, several miles, and of course, the contractions stopped... oh well we thought. We got some bottled water at Sheetz and pretended that we were far away on a vacation somewhere great. The air was thick and hot with humidity, the summer breeze itself felt dewy, it was easy to believe that we were near a beach on some wonderful vacation.
By the time we got home it was late, so we headed to bed... only for the contractions to start again. I tried to keep it to myself and just pretended that they weren't happening. They felt like strong menstrual cramps. After a whopping 25 minutes I caved and told Michael that I was having contractions and they hadn't stopped yet. The excitement between us was palpable, maybe tonight our baby boy would come! I laid in bed for about an hour just waiting and trying to ignore the cramps so that I could rest. Everything I had read said that if your labor starts at night TAKE IT EASY!! I knew that I would need all of my strength for the journey that lay ahead.
Take it easy is easier said than done. Around 12:30am on Tuesday morning I decided that I would go soak in the tub, the cramps were getting more intense and there was no chance that I'd be able to sleep. I told Michael to stay in bed and rest so that he would have strength but he was too excited. He got me candles for the bathroom and a glass of water. As the cramps progressed they were getting closer together and stronger. Michael went for the "Contraction Master" app on my iPhone. They were about 5 minutes apart. I stayed in the tub until about 4am when we decided to call Billie who was going to be my birth doula. A first time experience for her. I told her that I thought I was really in labor and that she should come over. Billie was at my house by 5am with a berry smoothie for me and an iced latte for Michael. Things were lookin' good!
I walked around the house and the contractions kept picking up and getting stronger. We decided to leave for Pittsburgh around 9am. The plan was to get a hotel room and labor there until I was "practically ready to push" then head to Magee.
Driving down to Pittsburgh in early labor was great. We blasted all kinds of crazy music. Michael sang along with Tiny Tim and we all sang "Business Time" by Flight of the Conchords. We had so much fun. I will forever remember that car ride and the hilarity that we shared laughing and singing after so little (or no) sleep.
Rather than make a reservation at the Marriott in Oakland Michael suggested that we go down and make one upon arrival, He believed that was what we needed to do and I put my faith in him and the Lord to get us a room. By God's wonderful love and my husbands wise heart the hotel had just ONE room that was going to be available today and the guest had just checked out a short while before we arrived! They told us that they would clean the room ASAP. In the mean time, we decided to get some fuel for ourselves at Pamela's Diner on Forbes. It was so great. I told a woman in the bathroom who had several children of her own that I was in labor and going to have my baby soon! She wished me all the best. We were all high with excitement.
When we checked in to our room we found that it wasn't just a room, it was the exact room that I had asked the Lord for in my heart months and months ago. It was a full suite with a kitchen, living room, master bedroom, bath and a pull out couch. Of all the rooms in the hotel the very one that I had only told God about was the one that He gave me. How incredible! At that time I had no idea just how much time we'd be spending in that suite. Lol.
Contractions had really slowed down around this time, I was feeling a lot of pressure to get things going, I walked and rolled on the birth ball but contractions remained irregular. The kicker was every time I laid down to nap I would get a big mother contraction that caused my legs and hip joints to lock up. We spent our day dozing and waiting. The contractions were too much to sleep through but not enough to bring a baby down! Since there was no baby coming just yet Michael decided to go on a dinner mission. We found an Indian restaurant nearby and he voyaged there to bring us back some spicy food. He found the place no problem but his "short cut" back to the hotel (in the 90+ degree heat wave) ended up taking him a mile out of the way. He ended up going into a wig shop (yeah, a wig shop) because they sold huge jugs of cold water... they also sold cell phones, lol. He finally returned and we feasted... still no baby! I called my midwives and let them know that I was pretty sure it was labor day but that things were going slow, and I'd come in when they picked up. I also didn't feel like doing the NST.
Time passes... more time passes...
Contractions kept coming but they were still irregular. Some would take my breath away and others were a joke. More time passes... husband and doula seem a little anxious to get things moving. At this time our mothers started to lose their minds with fear and worry that I was going to perish in a hotel bathtub... I was also dealing with some of my own fears. When a powerful contraction would come I had flashes in my mind of me in active labor standing all alone surrounded by flesh eating zombies, waiting to devour me. LOL! I've watched a lot of zombie movies. But that image simply represented me being afraid of what I knew was to come. Labor is a big unknown and I was afraid that I would face pain and fear that I could not escape, and that I would be facing it alone. I expressed my fear to Billie and Michael and tried to release it, remembering that "perfect love casts out fear".
Around 1am on Wednesday we all decided that this labor needed a little help. We busted out the breast pump! Woo hoo! I am telling you it got things going! FINALLY. A little bit of pumping and things really started to happen. The contractions were coming regularly every 3 minutes or less and they were much more powerful (that is NOT to say that the ones preceding this were totally weak lol). Wooooo hoo! Around 6am we headed to Magee to get checked, I knew I wasn't ready to be admitted but we all wanted to know how much progress I had made.
I was checked in triage by a midwife that I will only describe as rough hands. My goodness! She checked my cervix like she was trying to punch the baby in the head. Billie and Michael actually cringed as they saw her ram her hand up. Then the news... 3 centimeters!! Almost 2 days of labor and I was only 3 stinkin centimeters. She asked if I wanted to be admitted or walk around a bit and be checked again in a few hours. She also said that a new midwife was coming in about an hour, no doubt I chose the walk option. I think they intended us to stay on the hospital grounds but we have always been rebels. We packed up our bags and nonchalantly walked back to the car and off to the hotel.
I was still having regular contractions but the news that I was only 3 centimeters was very disappointing. We all passed out at the hotel. About 3 hours later the hospital called wondering where we had gone... opps... haha. They wanted to check me again... fine. We headed over but this time we had a new midwife, Laura Wunderly, and the name fit. She was wonderful. I was still 3cm and she told us to hit the road. We had no hotel room but my mother in-law was over at my moms helping to care for the twins so we headed to her house to labor some more. Let me tell you, all of this riding around in the car in labor was not fun. Ahhhh just thinking of it makes me hurt now.
Got to the MIL's house around 11am or noon.
Times passes... MORE time passes. Michael and I took a nice bath in her giant bathtub, we both fell asleep for a few minutes but around this time I started to get nauseous. Once I started vomiting it didn't stop. Contraction, vomit, vomit, contraction. I couldn't even keep water down. Billie called Laura the midwife and asked if I could take a Zofran (anti-nausea pill) that I had from my recent bout of food poisoning, she said that was fine. The Zofran did absolutely nothing to help. I kept this up all afternoon, we ended up heading back to Magee because I was throwing up so frequently that I was losing all of my strength, I needed iv fluid and more Zofran!
Back to magee around 630 or 700pm. Checked STILL 3 freakin' centimeters!! Gah!! I had been in labor forever, but at this point I was showing serious signs of dehydration and was admitted. Only problem was that there were no rooms available in labor and delivery. By now contractions were consistent and consistently strong. I was not interested in being touched or talking with anyone. At this time I laid on the oh so comfortable (not) triage bed and relaxed into each contraction. As each contraction came I would inhale and imagine myself riding on the Thunderbolt with the baby as a small child. He would look at me and smile and tell me how much fun he was having. We would ride up the hill together as the contraction reached it peak and as I exhaled deeply we would ride down the hill and around the park. This time was wonderful. I embraced each contraction and enjoyed riding each contraction with my baby, knowing that each ride up the Thunderbolt was bringing him closer to me.
My midwife and triage nurse were wonderful. They got me off all the annoying monitors and let me soak in the enormous bathtub down the hall while we waited for a room in LDR. I of course kept throwing up but I had a great peace that even the nurse commented on. After sometime in the tub we went back to the triage room to get some of baby's heart tones. The midwife checked me and I was 5 cm! I was elated, in less than 2 hours I had finally dilated beyond 3cm. I think she said I was 99% effaced and 5cm dilated. She was very pleased and so was I. She also informed us that a room had opened up in LDR, ONE ROOM opened and do you know what room it was? The VERY room that I had asked the Lord for. There are only 2 rooms in all of Magee that have bathtubs. These rooms are also twice the size of every other room. My God, gave me the room that I had trusted he would. It was so comforting to see His hand in every part of this labor. I knew that He was guiding things.
As the triage nurse pushed me back to the LDR room I joked with her that she was a good driver, lol, until we took a sharp turn and I got another mega contraction. Lol. Laura said that she thought the baby might be posterior based on how funny my belly looked during the contractions and suggested that I get on my hands and knees to help him flip. I was getting tired and this idea sounded lousy to me. I got in the bathtub and Billie was encouraged me, somehow, to get on my hands and knees in there and ride out some contractions. Around this time things went from peaceful and intense to just intense. I had been singing various hymns and praise songs all through labor, it really helped me control my breathing and stay focused. I was now having trouble singing, my voice began to skip like a scratched cd.
I stayed on my hands and knees in the tub for about 45 minutes. Just as things were getting to the point where I wasn't sure I could go on, the nurse said that I needed to get out so that we could do a better job making sure that the baby's heart rate was still doing well. Transition is not a good time to take a pain medication free woman out of the bath tub. OUCH!! I must have had 3 contractions in the time it took me to walk from the tub to the bed. I got all set up and Laura checked me again, I was now 7cm! I actually don't even remember her checking me, I only remember at some point I was 7cm.
Unfortunately, due to fatigue on all of our parts we neglected the idea of a focal point. This was bad for me because I was no longer able to ride the Thunderbolt through these contractions. It felt like my body was being wrung out continually. My eyes were closed and my fists were grabbing onto the side of the bed as if I was going to be blown away in a tornado. I remember saying aloud, "I am so alone, I feel so alone, I need help." I realize now that what I needed was my husband to come up next to me and look into my eyes continually, at the time, however, I wasn't able to articulate that.
All this pain, coupled with feeling alone and my exceeding tiredness from lack of sleep and persistent vomiting started to convince me that I needed some pain meds... I thought that if I got an epidural I would be able to sleep and then have the strength that I needed to push this baby out. I thought for sure I would be in labor for hours longer and I knew I couldn't go on forever like this. I asked for the epidural... Billie and Michael's faces dropped. I knew it was a bad decision but I didn't want to blow my VBAC from being too tired to finish the "race".
A Dr. and a resident came in to give me the epidural. He explained to me the risks... drop in fetal heart rate, maternal heart rate, drop in maternal blood pressure... Eeeeek, what the heck was I doing?? As I was sitting there I started to regain control over myself. Michael was looking me in the eyes and he had his hands on my shoulders. This was just what I needed. I told the resident that I didn't think I needed the epidural anymore... then another contraction came and I wasn't so sure. He was kind of annoyed with my indecision. I let him put in the epidural... I could tell that he was really screwing up. I looked at the Dr. standing beside him and begged him to do it. He did not. The resident put in the "test dose" checked my vitals and left. As he walked out the door I told Michael that it hadn't worked. I then told the nurses, "Hey, this did nothing, it did not work." They seemed puzzled, then the machine started beeping... "Why is the machine beeping!?" I thought. The said something about an inclusion and I realized that my back felt like it was on fire. They called the resident back in. "It didn't work!" I told him. They asked if I wanted him to fix it. "HECK NO! Take it out! I don't need it anyway!" And praise God because I really didn't need it. It turns out that the resident put the catheter for the epidural in wrong AND the machine that pumps the numbing medicine into the back had malfunctioned. The machine itself wouldn't even allow the medicine in! Let me tell you now I am so glad that I gave this whole birth over to the Lord, seriously, I asked Him to take charge long before labor started and He proved to me that He really was in charge of it. It also probably helped that as they gave me the epidural Billie stepped out into the hall and prayed against it! Haha.
So the midwife came, asked what the heck happened, the nurses indignantly told her that I made him take it out. I interjected that it had failed AND the machine was broken AND that I now had a burning pain in my back, which actually took my mind off of my uterus and I think I joked about that. She went off to investigate and ask the real Dr what had happened. Just as she left I told the nurses that I needed to get up and walk around and go to the bathroom but they wouldn't let me since I had "just had an epidural" ugh. They brought me a bedpan and I felt the urge to bear down and push. I think the nurses told me to stop until Laura came back. When she returned she said that the actual anesthesiologist would come back and re-do the apidural I told her no thank you! I don't need no stinkin' pain relief. Lol. At this point she checks me and I AM FULLY DILATED!!! Seriously! Can you imagine how much it would have sucked to get an epidural at 10cm????? A lot. I pushed for 2 and a half hours, I needed all of my muscles to work properly to get this big headed Valentino/Flick baby out.
I was so tired that I spent the better part of an hour barely pushing. Some women get a nice "rest" after transition before pushing... I wanted mine! I asked for the squatting bar so I could push that way, but found that I was a bit too tired to give that my all. The midwife grabbed a sheet and made it into a rope and had me pull on that for a little. I really didn't like that, but I had always wanted to try it. Thankfully, she let me stand up and walk around, because it was obvious that there wasn't a drop of epidural in me. I tried to dance the baby out, squatted next to the bed, hung on Michael. In all of these things I wasn't honestly giving it my all, I was half pushing and half resisting. Darn tiredness.
After some time Laura left to check another woman and the nurses asked me if I would like to switch from "instinctual pushing" to "hospital style". She explained that I really needed to get into the best position possible and make the contractions count. In a lot of ways she was right. I was ready to give it my all.
I had always imagined myself squatting a baby out but I ended up on my back like a stranded beetle, lol. I laid on my back and held my feet as I pushed. The nurses had me take a deep breath then hold it and push for a 10 count. We pushed 3 or 4 times for each contraction. This position was great for me because I was just too tired for anything else and I could focus all of my energy on pulling my legs up and bearing down. I had my second wind! As I pushed and pushed I had images in my mind of me doing karate in Kentucky for Kangeiko (winter training) where we would train from 3am until 9am in the morning, finishing always with a run around the dojo. Punching and kicking endlessly. At other times I imagined myself outside of the dojo in South Hills doing more karate and sweating in the heat. Haha, I really never thought that I would have karate flash backs during labor but hey... it worked! I was running the marathon of a lifetime.
As the baby came down the nurses would exclaim, "thats the push! thats it!" and I would push all the harder, so hard that my teeth were cracking off of each other (this is not advised, lol). If I asked once I asked 20 times, "is he really coming? Is the baby really going to come out?" "Yes! He is coming!" Finally his head started to crown. The midwife was with another woman so I had to just sit there and NOT PUSH until she came! That was nearly impossible.
Laura came in and put on her haz-mat suit and we were ready to go! Soon I was able to reach down and touch his head. It was very squishy, I hadn't expected that. When he actually came out the nurses and midwife all told me to stop pushing but I don't think I could. I figured that his head was so hard to get out, surely his shoulders would be too... I actually told them, "no! I won't stop!" I probably should have listened. Our baby boy shot out like a cannon ball. Laura stopped him from flying too far and immediately asked me to reach down and pull him up. I basically got to catch him myself, it was great. I later heard that he had the cord wrapped around his neck but it was very loose and there was no harm done.
I pulled him up on my chest and praised God for what He had just done for us. I was so happy. I kept saying, "we did it! Michael we did it, I pushed out a baby!" I sang him "There is a Redeemer" and loved him. He wasn't very interested in nursing right that minute so we just cuddled. I passed him off to Michael for some love as Laura stitched up my tear.
As she was sewing me back together she asked about my faith and how long I had been a Christian. I was able to share a short part of my testimony with her and just how much God loves us. It was awesome. I thanked her for being such a great midwife and she told me that I had helped to restore her faith in the birth process. Wow, I was somehow able to restore her faith in natural birth, what a blessing for us both!
I learned so much through this experience, I feel closer to my husband and I realized that I am far stronger than I had imagined. In the end, I am thankful to my incredible God for my beautiful son and my wonderful birth experience.
Lets do it again some time!!