Birth Story: Joseph Terence

Childbirth. Sometimes the world fades away and it's just you, working, laboring, literally. And then sometimes it takes a village. 

When Joseph was born it was all hands on deck. There I was with my feet in the stirrups and nurses pushing on my back, more nurses assisting my doctor, bright lights, people moving frantically about the room, lots of talking, and me screaming that "I need this to be over!" 

But let me back up and tell you how I got into this position. 

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birth story: beatrix margaret

Why another birth story? People are always sharing birth stories. How much variation can there be? A woman goes into labor, there is some agony and travail, and then, there's a new baby. That's the story more or less, so why should I share this one?

All great life events change us. I am a different person than the one I was in high school, and the one I was in college. Meeting Alex and becoming his wife has changed me, becoming a mother and all the stuff we went through during Johnny's first year of life has changed me.  Life is not stagnant, it is constant flux and motion. And the never-ending circus ride of it all has me changing, growing, maybe even transforming, over and over and over. 

When our daughter entered the world she changed me again, and she changed our family forever. We will never be the same because of her. That's what I want to share with you - yet another transformation.

//

Waking up from a contraction at 1:30 in the morning was not enough to get me excited. I had had a couple contractions almost every night for the past week and they all went no where and amounted to nothing. Over the next half hour a couple more contractions woke me up again and piqued my interest a little, but I was trying not to get my hopes up. Several minutes later another contraction came and something weird happened that I can only describe as feeling like a water balloon being squeezed. And then I felt a trickle. Now I was wide awake! I went to the bathroom without waking Alex, and the next thing I knew there was a puddle on the floor. My waters! I woke up Alex to get a second opinion, we called the midwife, and then started timing contractions waiting for them to pick up. 

During the next couple hours we timed contractions.  We were on the phone a few times with the midwife and my doula. I tried to eat a bowl of cereal but was too nervous. I took a shower. We brushed our teeth. Alex packed a few last minute things in our bag. We called my parents and they came over. Johnny slept through everything (silver lining of having a child with a hearing loss). By the time my parents arrived contractions were three to four minutes apart. My mom was getting nervous and thought we should get going. So we did. 

It was around 4:30 in the morning. We saw hardly any other cars as we drove to the hospital.  We got all green lights. There was no comfortable way to handle contractions in the car so I was thankful for a quick drive. 

The parking garage at the hospital was under construction and we couldn't figure out how to get from parking into the hospital, even though I had been on a tour just a few week before and they went over this very thing in great detail. We were wandering around, walking was becoming more and more difficult, I was beginning to think I might die, then a staff person from food services was exiting through a locked door and let us in. She even brought me a wheel chair. What a life saver! I was too distracted to bless her at the time, but I will say it now. God bless you, dear hospital employee! 

We got into triage and my midwife was there all scrubbed up. I was so grateful that she didn't insist on a urine sample because the thought of sitting on the toilet was unbearable. They strapped on the monitors and checked that my waters had indeed ruptured. I felt like we had been at the hospital for hours (though it had only been a few minutes) before my midwife finally checked me. 

"Do you want to know?" she asked.

I hesitated. Being stalled out at 3 cm with Johnny had been incredibly frustrating. Maybe I didn't want to know. But then my type A personality kicked in. 

"Yes"

"6..." with her hand still down there "...no wait, 7 cm."

Alex and I looked at each other and smiled. Things were already going better than last time. 

Everything from here on out is kind of a blur, and I think it's because I was transitioning. My midwife kept asking how my room was coming along, contractions were becoming pretty intense. Then our doula arrived and instantly went to work on my lower back.

LADIES: if you haven't used a doula before, I highly recommend one. Our doula was

amazing

. She knew exactly what to do to help me through contractions, leaving Alex totally free to hold my hands and just be emotional support for me. It sounds cliche, but I seriously don't think we could have done it without her. Get thyself a doula! 

A quick wheel chair ride brought me to my room, where I labored leaning over the bed while I waited for the tub to be filled. My doula waved some lavender essential oils in front of my face to help me relax and told me to sway my hips, because I was locking my knees and my legs were starting to shake. I had to sit on the toilet before getting in the tub, I don't even remember why, probably to empty my bladder. It was horrible and I hated it. But my reward was that when I was done I got to get in that big old tub filled with warm water.

The water felt amazing. I was actually able to relax. The contractions even eased up a bit. I was afraid labor was slowing down and that I would have to get out of the beautiful water. But then a big contraction came, and with it came pressure and this feeling like everything in my body was shooting down. The midwife asked me if I felt kind of pushy on that one. I said yes, and she said she could hear it in my voice. 

"Just listen to your body, if you feel like pushing, go ahead."

This was weird for me. I thought I needed permission to push. I thought there would be more of an official pushing start time. I thought she would check me and say "fully dilated, now you can start pushing."  But everyone was listening to me, and I was listening to my body. 

Do you ever picture your birth happening the way it might happen in a TV show? I'm thinking of birth scenes from Parenthood. There's a nice song playing in the background. You see pain on the mother's face but all you hear is the nice song, and before the song is over the baby is out. During this birth it was silent. I remember noticing how incredibly silent it was. Until a contraction came, then the room was filled with the sound of me pushing. It was one of those low, primal groans that I had read about but never pictured myself making. 

And then everyone kind of pulled back, unlike earlier when everyone was touching me, applying counter pressure and massage, holding my hands, stroking my forehead. Without any direction or any spoken word, everyone stopped. This was work I had to do on my own. In between pushes my doula put cold wash clothes on my neck and forehead, and Alex gave me sips of water, the only assistance I had during this time. I heard the midwife ask a nurse to re-tape the plastic around her sleeve. I saw her leaning over the opposite side of the tub, just waiting. My doula told me to keep my voice low. I saw Alex sneak away to take off his t-shirt and then put his zipper hoodie back on and I knew it was because he was getting ready to do skin to skin. I just kept working.

It felt like I had been pushing for hours, (I learned later it was only 20 minutes total.) I remember just wanting someone to sit on my belly to push the baby out. I asked the midwife when it would be over. She checked me again, (the only other time) and said the baby's head was about 2 inches from being born. Knowing the end was near helped a lot and motivated my pushing. I don't remember how many pushes it took, but finally her head crowned. It was the worst feeling in the world, but then her head came out and I felt like I was in heaven. I thought I was done. "Keep pushing!" "I can't..." "Yes you can!" So I did. Another contraction came, and she was born. Lifted out of the water and onto my chest. I heard myself saying "Thank you Jesus!" because our baby was here, but mostly because I was done pushing. 

But she was here! On my chest, kind of purple, becoming pink, covered in vernix, and then she started crying and it hit me that she was here, and I have a daughter. 

Beatrix Margaret, born after 6 (only 6!!) hours of labor. 8 lbs 15 oz, 21 inches long. She's beautiful and healthy, and latched on to nurse right away and then snuggled like the best snuggler. 

//

Even though this delivery went way better (and waaaay faster) than Johnny's, I still felt a little traumatized afterwards. Pushing had been really hard. I kept having flashbacks of what that pain was like. I had a lot of "I will never do this again" kind of thoughts. Several hours after she was born, and I had eaten something, and had regained a little strength from all my blood loss, I grabbed my phone and pulled up the classical playlist I had made for laboring, but that we had not used. I played one of my favorite choral pieces, a setting of Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, and the three of us, Alex, Trixie, and myself sat and listened. I thought about the birth and how it brought me my daughter.  I thought about the Mother of our Lord, she was a mother, just like me. My mind and spirit began to heal. And I like that that song was the first piece of music Trixie heard, this side of the womb.

//

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Preparing for Labor After a Traumatic Birth


My belly is getting huge. Even the maternity clothes I have are starting to feel snug. I bend over to pick up something off the floor, setting off the tightness of a Braxton Hicks contraction. My body is preparing to give birth. My hips and ligaments are loose and stretchy, my belly is riding low, so that when I sit I can literally feel the baby sitting on my lap. I'm too uncomfortable to sleep, my body's subtle way of reminding me what sleepless nights with a newborn are like. 

I know my body is preparing to give birth, but I can't seem to get my mind to follow. Even though my first baby was born over two years ago, I can't seem to get the 50 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing out of my head. Not to mention the sickening feeling of having my son rushed to the NICU when he was just one day old.  All these memories have me shoving thoughts about labor and delivery to the back of my mind. I'm very excited to have another baby, but don't really want to think about having another baby.

How do you approach labor and delivery after going through a very traumatic one?

For me it's been something like this:

After Johnny was born and the dust had settled the OB came in told me that the next one wouldn't be this hard, and I shouldn't let this experience discourage me from having other kids

crickets.

And then, Don't even talk to me about having other kids. Don't. Even. 

Over the course of the next year I went from feeling like I could never have another baby, to feeling like I could, but would just induce and have an epidural right away, to finally feeling like I would attempt natural childbirth again.

Key word being attempt.  I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone, and if things aren't going well I will have no trouble calling in the anesthesiologist.

But the truth is, I'd like to prove to myself that I can deliver a baby naturally. Partly because I think it's good to avoid unnecessary medical expenses, but more so because I believe we, women, are capable of doing it. Sometimes things don't go well, and when that's the case I'm thankful for modern medicine. But I'd kind of like to do things the way countless generation of women before me have done them.

So now it's game time. One month to go. I'm acknowledging that I'm scared to give birth again, but I'm also doing things to help myself prepare for it.

First off, we are changing locations. The hospital where Johnny was born is a beautiful hospital with wonderful labor and delivery nurses. But through nobody's fault, we had a terrible experience there, and now there's bad juju. So we will be delivering at a different hospital, with a beautiful mother-baby center and that is connected to a level IV NICU and the children's hospital where Johnny had his second, third, and fourth surgeries. Lord willing we won't be needing the NICU this time around, but it gives some peace of mind knowing it's just an elevator ride away. New hospital = new start.

In addition to switching locations, I decided to switch from an OB to a midwife and I feel SO GOOD about this decision. I'm going to a small clinic, only four midwives, and they only deliver at one hospital. They have all said that they want this birth to be redemptive, and that they want to advocate for me. They know I'm nervous and that I haven't ruled out medication, and they're ok with that. I'm already feeling more confident and assured knowing that they will be with the entire time I'm at the hospital.

We are also using a doula this time around. When I was pregnant with Johnny I specifically decided against a doula because I thought Alex and I had everything under control and a doula would be an invasion of privacy and an extra body in the room. We had done Bradley Method childbirth classes, and while they were great and we learned a lot, I think they gave a false sense of confidence.  We thought we were prepared for something we had never experienced.  Maybe if it I had had a textbook labor we would have been able to handle it on our own, but 50 hours? I don't think anything could have prepared us for that. I think a doula or a midwife would have helped us get past some of the humps, or helped us see earlier that things were not going well, and would have helped me make the decision sooner to get some help.

We've met with our doula a couple times now to talk about the up-coming labor.  Aside from helping me process Johnny's birth a little more she has helped me realize that I really have been avoiding thinking about this birth.  I think I've been telling myself that it's not a big deal because it's not my first. But it is a big deal.  Childbirth, however you go about it, is a huge feat! It is always a big deal and it's ok, even good, to treat it as such in your mind.

So I have been preparing, physically by trying to eat well (sugar, you are my kryptonite), getting enough sleep, and trying (emphasis on trying) to exercise, because after delivering Johnny every muscle in my body was sore.  Muscles I didn't even know I had were sore. I'm convinced childbirth is the ultimate insanity workout, and the more in shape you are for it, the better.

I've been preparing mentally.  I'm borrowing Ina May's Guide to Childbirth from my friend Jacqui who said reading positive birth stories really helped her prepare for labor. I'm finding them to be so encouraging. I'm thinking about music I might want to listen to, or snacks I might want to eat while laboring. I'm using visualization, which is something I used a lot in my music major days. But now instead of visualizing a good performance, I'm visualizing dealing with contractions in a non-freak out way.


I've also been preparing spiritually. I don't stop and think often enough about the miracle of life and how amazing it is that God lets us assist in creation. I think birth has a spiritual side to it, so I have been gathering scriptures to meditate on over these next few weeks. I've had Psalm 139 memorized since I was in grade school, but focusing on it through the lens of labor and delivery has made it new and profound. I've also been lifting up this birth in prayer, and simply telling God I'm excited, and I'm scared, and asking for His protection. One thing my past experience has taught me for certain is that whatever happens I will be able to handle it, with His grace.

//

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//O N B I R T H I N G: and what I'd do differently //

DISCLAIMER: this post is in NO WAY insinuating that I am pregnant! 

A good friend of mine came over yesterday.  She's just three weeks away from the due date of her first baby. We talked about timing contractions and packing for the hospital, getting the car seat in the car, and other means of "preparing" for what is quite possibly the most life-changing event many of us will ever go through. Seeing her in all her glowing, blossoming, soon-to-be-mother beauty made me think back fondly to the end of my pregnancy with Johnny. Feeling the weight of the impending labor and delivery that would bring new life into the world and make me a mother. I knew I'd be meeting him soon. I was excited/nervous about giving birth. I had ideas of how I wanted my birth to go, things we wanted to do and things we wanted to avoid.

22 weeks pregnant

36 weeks pregnant

For those who have read Johnny's birth story, you may remember that I had an incredibly long and hard labor (ahem, 50+ hours), and stalled out pushing that left me this close to needing a cesarean delivery. I believe that when it comes to childbirth, you've got to do what you've got to do.  I'm so thankful for the medical advancements that gave me the relief I needed after 48 of labor. But after 9 months of preparing for and envisioning a natural, un-medicated water birth, having to use pitocin, an epidural, and vacuum removal to get my baby out felt like a major defeat.  Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful we got him out safely! But along with that gratitude came disappointment that I didn't have the labor and delivery I had wanted, and frustration that my body didn't do what it was supposed to do.

Talking with my expecting friend last night got me thinking about things I wish I had done differently during labor: If you're expecting soon, feel free to learn from what I did- and didn't- do.

 I wish I had slept more when labor first started. That was something our Bradley Method of Childbirth classes drilled into us. BE WELL RESTED! But when my contractions started I was so excited/nervous that I couldn't sleep at all! Then when labor became really hard, I was really exhausted.

I wish I had labored at home longer. I was so anxious to get the show on the road, so anxious to meet my baby, that as soon as my contractions were 5 minutes apart we were in the car and on our way to the hospital. I can't help wonder what would have happened if I had stayed home longer.  Would I have been more relaxed? Would labor have progressed more naturally?

I didn't make myself at home in the hospital. I didn't unpack. I was self-conscious about trying different laboring tricks. I didn't leave my room to walk up and down the halls (another Bradley suggestion), I didn't take advantage of the bathtub in my room. I had prepared a laboring playlist in my iTunes library, but I never played it. I didn't want to inconvenience the nurses coming in and out of our room. I never really relaxed!

I wish I had used a doula. As we prepared for the arrival of our baby I felt very strongly that I only wanted family members helping me labor.  I had great confidence in Alex as a support to me, and my mom as a back up for him. I didn't want someone I didn't know and wasn't comfortable with in such an intimate setting. My mom and Alex were great! But it was a really long, really hard labor. Hind sight being 20/20 I wonder if a doula would have pushed me more to walk down the hallway, to climb some stairs, to sit on the toilet longer (all strange laboring tricks). Or maybe a doula would have given me the confidence and freedom I needed to say, "this isn't working, we need to change the plan. I need help, I need relief" a little sooner and spare myself a few (dozen) hours of sleeplessness and laboring.

I'm not trying to beat myself up here. It's hard enough being a woman/wife/mother without any of that. I'm just honestly wondering, was there was a reason my labor was so long and stalled out? Or was it just one of those uncontrollable things? I'm just trying to see what I could do differently next time.

I'm glad Alex and I made a birth plan, I'm glad we were ok with changing our birth plan.  I'm glad I didn't need a cesarean. I'm glad Johnny is ok.





Birth Story Pt. 2: Pushing

3:00 am on Thursday May 30.

When I heard it was time to push I had a great desire to brush my teeth and wash my face. Alex helped me with this as I was bed-bound. I think I wanted to look nice for any pictures that may be taken when the baby was born.  Little did I know that I would not be very photogenic after what I was about to go through. But at least after brushing my teeth I felt awake, refreshed, and ready to work again.

A note on epidurals: Do what you need to do.  If you really can't manage the pain, get one.  If you've been in labor for 2 complete days, get one. But if you can, try to avoid them.  I'm grateful that I had relief from pain and a chance to regain some strength through rest, but having an epidural made pushing difficult and completely limited my positions to the classic on-your-back-knees-bent.

So there I was, on my back, slightly propped up, Alex holding one leg up, the nurse holding the other (because remember, I can't even move my legs by myself, much less hold them up).  As I mentioned before, I still had some sensation. I could tell 

when

a contraction was coming and

when

I needed to push. And with the help of our nurse I knew

where

I needed to push, but my pushing was not effective. I think it was because I couldn't feel the pain and didn't have that sense of urgency.  I asked to be propped up more, sitting in a C-shape, hoping that gravity could play a bigger role in helping baby out. It didn't help much though, and because I was sitting up the pain medication was sinking lower into my body, causing me to feel everything in my back.

 One hour of pushing went by, then a second, then a third. Alex and the nurse holding my legs up. Me holding on under my knees, pulling myself up into a C shape, holding my breath, pushing, breathing again and letting go.  Over and over and over. At some point a second nurse came in and they set up a bar over my bed and folded a sheet over the top. I put my feet on the sides of the bar and held onto the sheet, pulling myself up with each contraction. My arms were beginning to weaken, so Alex pushed me up from behind. We were both working so hard. It was a team effort, and there's no way I could have made it with out him.

I didn't realize how much time had passed.  At 7:00 in the morning the nurses decided to call my doctor. She came down and after observing a couple of pushes said that "we can try  vacuum removal, otherwise I have the OB specialist on call for a C-section".  I definitely didn't want a C-section, so I said to try the vacuum. After that everything happened very quickly. All the lights went on, big spot lights and other machines were pulled out of cabinets.  My doctor donned a white coat and gloves. Two thoughts kept running through my mind; one was that I wanted to get our baby out, the other was wondering why my body was failing to do what it was supposed to do.  A suction disc was inserted into the birth canal and attached to our baby's head. Each time I pushed my doctor pulled. I couldn't see, (thankfully) but Alex could. He said it looked like a cylinder of purple harry flesh coming out, and when the doctor stopped pulling it shifted back into a head shape. Later he told me all he could think was "what are they doing to our baby?" I don't know how many pushes we did this way, but on what ended up being the last one my doctor sounded frantic, she told me to keep pushing, don't stop, keep pushing. so I did. And it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I used every ounce of my strength to get him out and I don't think I could have done another push. 7:57 am, on Thursday May 30th, after 54 hours of labor, our son, John Augustine, entered the world.

Alex said he looked kind of blue and was worried because he didn't cry right away. But as certain as the sunrise, he began to cry and kick.  They put him on my chest and all the pain of the last two and a half years of trying for him, seeing everyone around us get pregnant, negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, all that pain was washed away with joyful and healing tears. I was holding our baby, and he was alive and breathing and beautiful. It was the most triumphant moment of my life.

But I was not allowed to have rest yet.  After my final push to get Johnny out my uterus stopped contracting. After 3 days of constantly working, that muscle had shut down, and as a result my placenta was not delivering.  So they had to manually extract it. And yes, it felt as bad --no, worse!-- than it sounds.  They handed Johnny over to Alex, who was thrilled to have some skin-to-skin time with our new little baby, but was crushed to see me in so much pain.  I couldn't feel anything in the birth canal (like the tearing that was a second degree laceration, or the two pints of blood that I was losing) but I could feel EVERYTHING in my abdomen. And getting that placenta out hurt, a lot. There were many tears. But finally it was over and the three of us could rest as a family. 

I realize I haven't given Johnny's birth stats. 9 lbs 7 oz and 21 inches long.  He was huge! And was born with chunky thighs and chubby cheeks. We spent the rest of that day admiring him and napping with him. He was so peaceful and quiet and slept a lot.  He hadn't shown much interested in eating that first day and I had had only a couple successful breastfeeding attempts.  Everyone said it was normal for new babies to be really sleepy to first day or two, so I wasn't worried.  I was actually feeling like we had gotten lucky and he was just an easy baby. It wasn't until the next day that we began to think something was wrong. 

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Birth Story Pt I: Three Sleepless Nights

I was planning on sharing Johnny's birth story at some point, but I figure now is a good time. That experience is so central to who I am now, you won't know me unless you know the story.

I will preface this story by saying that everything about Johnny has been incredibly difficult, and so all the more triumphant. He has been a long time coming and a major answer to prayer. We tried for two and a half years to get pregnant, losing one baby on the way, and two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Johnny was told I may need surgery to make pregnancy possible.  But we did get pregnant, and I did carry to term.

Me at 38 weeks. We got the garden in two weeks before Johnny came.

Labor started very early in the morning on Tuesday May 28. I woke up thinking I just had some, ahem, gas, but after a while noticed the pain was coming and going in waves. After going to the bathroom and seeing some bloody show (which, by the way, is probably the grossest term ever) I woke up Alex stating that, "I think I'm in labor." We called the doctor, who said to call the hospital, who said don't bother coming down until the contractions are 4 minutes apart.  And so my husband, in true Alex-fashion, downloaded a labor tracking app and we started timing, while trying to sleep between contractions. But with the combination of excitement, nerves, and the mild pain that was already mounting I hardly slept at all.  By morning the closest contractions had ever gotten was about 6 minutes apart, and they were actually becoming farther apart. So Alex went to work and I stayed home and watched

Call the Midwife

.  I know, seems like that would be a terrible choice of show to watch when you're about to have a baby, but it was actually getting me really pumped up and excited to give birth.

By about 4:00 in the afternoon contractions were pretty consistently 4 or 5 minutes apart, and they were becoming more painful, so Alex came home and we were on our way to the hospital by 6:00 pm.  In the car and getting checked in I kept thinking, "This is it! We're going to see our baby soon" but by the time I got into a room and had an examination I was only dilated 3 cm.  We were told that we could go home, but if we wanted to stay in the hospital overnight they would have to give me some medication, either morphine or vistaril, for insurance purposes.(Lame.)  We had taken Bradley Natural  Childbirth classes, and my goal was to have an un-medicated birth, so these options were very frustrating. I didn't want to go home because I knew I'd be too nervous to sleep. But I also didn't want to be given medication when I didn't need any.  Our nurse told us that she had been given vistaril during one of her labors and it was almost like taking tylenol. She said it is very mild, if anything, it may help me sleep a little better.  So vistaril it was

Well, I hardly slept at all! The contractions kept marching on steadily through the night. As soon as I was able to doze off after one, the next would start up. By around 2:00 am I was no longer able to bear the pain by myself so I woke up Alex and together we worked through labor for the rest of the night. In the morning I was anxious to have a cervical exam because I thought after all that work surely I had made some progress and things would pick up.  So I was utterly discouraged when the nurse said I had gone DOWN to 1 cm! How can that be? After 30 hours of labor? I was however almost completely effaced. We learned that sometimes when effacement speeds up dilation can come to a stand still- or in my case, go backwards.

The nurse called my Dr. and we talked about some options.  Epidural? Pitocin? Morphine to try to sleep? Although I had wanted an intervention-free labor and delivery, after two night without sleep some of  these interventions were sounding pretty good.  I knew that if I didn't get some sleep soon I wouldn't have any energy to push when the time came. We decided to go with the morphine, which sounds super scary.  Our nurse said that sometime getting a few hours of good sleep can help labor to progress. She also said that morphine will sometimes stop labor entirely, in which case we would go home and rest and hope that the next time it starts up it would move more quickly. Our nurse that day, whose name was Phoebe, gave me such great care and was the embodiment of what a nurse should be.  She drew a hot bath for me, and when I got in put hot blankets around my shoulders. She gave me the shot of morphine while I was in the tub, and as it started to kick in, and I was finally able to relax, I thought, "Yes, this was a good move."  Then she helped me into bed, more hot blankets, and I drifted off into sound sleep.

After a few hours I became aware of pain in my back and abdomen again.  I felt better after getting some sleep, and another exam showed I was back up to 3 cm. My mom had come down to the hospital and for the rest of that day she and Alex helped me labor.  I did lunges, I squatted, I sat on the toilet for as long as I could bear. I bounced on a birthing ball, I tried to eat, I drank a ton of water and by evening I had made no further progress. I felt frustrated and weary. Later my mom told me she could just see my strength running out. The prospect of a third sleepless night was too much.  I decided to get pitocin and an epidural. As someone who had often touted the benefits of natural childbirth this decision was spirit-crushing.  I knew it was what I needed to do, but that didn't stop me from experiencing feelings of shame and guilt, like I had been defeated.  I kept thinking, "how will I ever tell our friends in the natural childbirth world? How will I be able to face them?" The nurse we had that evening, Jessica (who, I might add, was very crunchy) told me that when she had her first child she had wanted to do home birth, but after laboring for three days at home her midwife said she needed to go to the hospital for an induction. She got an epidural, and her baby was born just a few hours later. That was exactly what I need to hear in that moment, that I wasn't the only one, and that it was ok. By the time the epidural was up and running, it was 12:30 am on Thursday and I was at 5 cm.

Alex and I went to sleep, he was sawing logs within a few minutes. I did not sleep so soundly.  Having an epidural is a very strange sensation. I was totally limp from the waist down and had to be turned by someone else. I couldn't feel pain, but I could still feel my uterus tightening with each contraction, so my sleep was broken and disturbed.  At around 1:30 am I felt a warm sensation. My waters? I called out to Alex, but he was sleeping too hard. I threw a pillow at him and called louder, this time he woke up and helped me check.  Yup, my water had broken.  I think that helped speed things along because when the nurse came to check me at 3:00 am she said "Oh!! You're fully dilated and his head is all the way down. We need to start pushing!" Alex jump out of bed, wide awake. Finally, we would be meeting our baby....

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