Well, I suppose it is about time to share the story of Samuel’s birth…
The story is lengthy, so it will be shared in two parts.
It was November 17th
I anticipated my afternoon visit with my midwife because I had decided that I was going to let her check my cervix for dilation, which I never did with Summer. Knowing that women can remain dilated for days or weeks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up with Summer and become frustrated should labor take long. But this time was different.
Though Samuel was not due until December 1st, I had started bleeding and wanted to be aware of any progress since we were planning to drive to Castle Pines for Thanksgiving.
Castle Pines was a 40 minute drive from our hospital, and because I was positive for Strep B, they told me I needed to be at the hospital in plenty of time to receive two bags of antibiotics. We didn’t want to risk any complications by going to Castle Pines if I was close to labor.
I arrived to the clinic and immediately felt the familiarity of mild contractions. I braced myself for what I thought could be labor. My midwife said based on my symptoms it seemed I was quite close to labor. She checked and I was 4.5cm. She said he was nuzzling his head against her hand during my exam, which she said felt so weird and awesome (only midwives would think such a thing!! I thought, “how creepy!”) “Looks like Samuel may be joining us for Thanksgiving!” she said.
Well, Thanksgiving came and left, and Samuel remained in my belly.
I continued to have mild contractions on and off. I caught a cold and fought that off over the Thanksgiving holiday, which was super fun being over 38 weeks pregnant and all. We returned home after Thanksgiving with my mom in tow. She would remain in our home until baby Samuel made his debut.
That Monday the 27th I began vomiting. Ryan called the midwife who confirmed this could be signs of early labor, especially considering I had been dilated over 4cm for 11 days. She asked him to call back when my contractions were 10 minutes apart – they suspected Samuel was going to come very quickly because of how long I had been dilated and how low I was carrying him.
Days passed and I waddled myself back into the clinic on November 29th, this time with Ryan by my side. I wasn’t miserably pregnant or anything. In fact, I still loved being pregnant! I told the midwife I just felt bad for my mom and husband who were playing the waiting game. I felt like I could not give them any information other than admit to having contractions that felt sporadic and unpredictable.
She checked me again and I was 5cm. Samuel once again nuzzled his head against her hand. We discussed various natural ways to induce labor. She offered to strip membranes, but I denied. She said she felt confident Samuel would be arriving within the next 24 hours and that we should make preparations. She reminded us that we must call when the contractions were 10 minutes apart and probably begin heading to the hospital soon thereafter due to my need to have medication and how quickly he may come.
Ryan and I walked out of the clinic and squeezed hands. We knew this would be our last night as a family of 3. We stopped by Smashburger and picked up supper. We went home and ate burgers as a family with Summer and my mom. We watched movies and did puzzles and snuggled.
For the first time, Summer told us she was excited to meet Samuel. When we told her she was going to get to meet him soon, she cheered and ran to the front door and waited, thinking he was going to walk through the front door! Our eyes welled with happy tears as she showed such anticipation to meet him. What a relief her joy was since previously she had shown ambivalence and contempt toward the idea of having a brother.
We went to bed around 9pm. At 10pm I began having stronger, more consistent contractions. I grabbed my phone and went up to the nursery to rock in the glider and time them.
After I had 5 contractions 4 minutes apart, I realized I should probably tell Ryan. I went into our bedroom and woke him up. When he saw the diagram on my phone outlining the frequency of my contractions he leapt out of bed, grabbed the bags, and asked me to get in the car immediately.
I waddled to the car, hoping that we weren’t going to the hospital too early. I would feel so very silly if we drove all the way to the hospital just to be turned away
By the time we got half way to the hospital my contractions were 2 minutes apart and growing in intensity. I gripped the handle bar of the passenger seat. Ryan snapped on the hazard lights and sped up.
We got to the hospital and found the elevator leading up to the Labor and Delivery Unit.
As we rode the elevator, I remember reflecting on my moments ascending that same elevator when I was in labor with Summer. How scared I was. How tired I was.
This time felt totally different. Though I felt unsure of how this would go, I felt fearless and excited.
We got to the L&D floor and a nurse escorted us to our room. It was the same room we were in when Summer was born! I climbed into bed and the nurse said she would need to confirm that I was actually in labor before officially admitting me.
When she checked me, she was surprised to discover how dilated and effaced I was. She admitted me and called the midwife. She asked if I had a birth plan and I laughed telling her the only plan I had was to get the baby out of me.
It’s comical how different this experience was. For Summer’s birth I arrived with at least 5 copies of my birth preferences. This time I had none.
Ryan and I began to make ourselves at home in the room. As we advise all of our friends, you are paying a ton for that space – make it your own! Though we did not decorate, we helped ourselves to pillows and warm blankets. We adjusted the lights, turned on some music, and diffused some oils. We made it our own.
The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural noting that my last birth was unmedicated. I told her I was open to an epidural this time. After research and prayer I had already decided that I would have an epidural this time, but I did not want to get it too early.
Unlike my labor with Summer, I did not feel any sort of conviction from the Lord regarding this delivery other than feeling inspired to prioritize my mental health throughout the entire process.
I asked the midwife when she recommended I get the epidural. She advised I wait and get it when I could no longer talk through or sit still during contractions.
I was able to breathe and talk through contractions even up until I was just over 7 cm. Around 8 and a half cm I told them I was ready to get an epidural, but by that time they said even if I wanted to get an epidural, there likely would not be time. At the pace I was progressing, they said we would have a baby within the next few minutes.
I continued to labor. I remember praying aloud through each contraction. I remember my nurse giving me the most amazing back massage I’ve ever received while Ryan whispered encouragements. I remember rocking back and forth on the birthing ball and thinking “I’m really doing this. I’m in pain and tired but I’m still excited to meet Samuel!”
Suddenly I felt extremely dizzy, nauseous, and unable to breathe. I remember struggling to stand up and move.
The next thing I knew I was laying on my back with an oxygen mask hovered over my face. I heard Ryan telling the midwife that I was beginning to show signs of transition. So the midwife decided to check me. I was 9 cm. “Transition now? At 9 cm?? This is so weird,” I thought.
Suddenly I got this feeling in my gut. This feeling that I couldn’t shake. It was this nudge that I needed to get an epidural. Not the epidural temptation that typically takes over one’s mind during transition, but almost like a Holy Spirit nudge. An inkling that I would regret not having gotten it.
Throughout this pregnancy and even throughout labor the Lord was teaching me to just ask the embarrassing question and just say what I want without shame, despite how ridiculous I thought it sounded.
So I spoke up. “I want the epidural,” I told the midwife.
She let me know that at this point in labor I would likely be pushing by the time the anesthesiologist walked into the room. I told her that I understood it was a gamble and I would take the chance.
I remember waiting for the anesthesiologist to come and thinking the contractions were at their peak – convinced I was not going to make it. But I wanted to. I asked Lord to delay things…