Josiah and I went to dinner, and I made up my mind. I was going to just pray. Pray and believe, and pack my bag (because it wasn't yet). I also called my mom, and she agreed to come as soon as she could to watch Elizabeth. Josiah was able to take the next day off and spend it with me, as I was emotionally a wreck. My mom got to our house that night. She told me we were going to walk and walk and walk some more until this baby came. I had already been walking daily, but we were going to ramp things up!
Wednesday I noticed a "bloody show"! That's got to be good, right? Wednesday night we went to the Promenade and ate my favorite--Thai. Afterwards Elizabeth and Mom stayed at the fountain while Josiah and walked--very slowly as it was very uncomfortable. I started feeling what I called "gas pains". I thought maybe I needed to go to the bathroom. Sorry if that's too much info! Josiah commented that my pains were coming a little too regularly, and that maybe we should pay attention. I timed them the whole ride home. He was right! About every 5 minutes or so! Huh. I laid down in my bed at home. They were still coming! I called my doctor and described my pain. She told me that this wasn't "it" but that the good news was that things were getting started without any help. I slept as long as I could, contractions coming every five minutes, but at about 3 am I couldn't go back to sleep. I woke my mom. We looked through old pictures and talked about good times.
By Thursday morning, I was definitely hungry! I ate some eggs and shortly after my contractions stopped. I was heartbroken. We went to Dorney Park for a little while, but it was HOT and my heart was not there. I was afraid to eat--afraid that that's what had stopped my progress. I came home and rested some, and then Josiah and I went to Home Depot for something--being new homeowners we were always there for something. We walked every aisle--slowly like before--the whole time I was begging God for the contractions to start again. I went to bed that night with a heavy heart.
Friday I had a non-stress test. We decided to go to Chuck E Cheese because my mom wanted to take Elizabeth there. I noticed some contractions, maybe every 10 minutes or so, but I ignored them. They hadn't amounted to anything before. By the time we got to St. Luke's in Bethlehem (we had to go there because the Allentown office was closed on Fridays), I was pretty uncomfortable. I stopped to get directions to the correct office, and the staff offered to take me where I needed to go in a wheelchair, but it wasn't that bad yet. When I was hooked up to the monitor, the nurse said to me something like, "I've been in labor and delivery for X number of years (twenty, maybe?) and I think you are going to have this baby today". I briefly thought with a grin that it was my husband's boss's birthday, and I had told him in no uncertain terms that my baby would not be waiting that long to be born! She suggested I call my doctor, because she would hate to send me all the way back to Allentown if I was 8 centimeters! When I called my doctor, she said she was certain this was not it, but offered to meet me at the office to check me if wished. I did. If this wasn't it, I didn't know what was.
We got to the office as fast as we could, but we hit a little traffic on 22. No one was there. We tried calling the answering service, and they said they would call the doctor, but we never heard back from her. Though we had joked about having the baby at home, I certainly did not want to have my baby in a hallway. I told Josiah we needed to go to the ER. So off we went. As Josiah backed our car out of the parking space, it stalled. This, a borrowed car, and the second car to break down on us in a very short period of time. We called my mom to come get us, but she got lost because I failed to mention the "south" part of Cedar Crest Blvd. Finally we were on our way!
On the way over to St. Lukes, we got stuck behind some construction. Josiah tried to no avail to pull out into traffic to get around it, but it wasn't working. (I guess those DC driving skills were in hibernation.) So he decided to take matters to the next level. He hopped out of the driver seat and started waving his arms and screaming, "Get out of the way, my wife's having a baby!" Please know that at the time I was deeply embarrassed by this show, but I can now appreciate it's rich humor.
When we got to the ER, everyone who saw me thought for sure this baby was coming any minute. My contractions were strong and every two minutes. I was not making loud noises, but I was obviously uncomfortable. I was set up in the hallway as no beds were available. When they checked me I was 2 cm and -3 station. Not what I was hoping for! This was about 5 pm. They offered me tylenol with codeine, which I gladly accepted. I got home and when I finally found a good position on the futon, I was able to sleep between the contractions, still coming steadily every two minutes. Josiah and my mom took turns with me. The only thing that offered any relief was prayer. It went like this: at the end of the contraction I would close my eyes, lay my head back and sleep. As another contraction would jerk me awake, I squeezed my supporter's hand and said, "Please PRAY". They would say a quick prayer, and I would let my head fall back as the pain was subsiding.
Around 3 am, my water broke. We called to make sure there were beds at the hospital, and we called my doctor to see what she suggested. She suggested we go. We briefly contemplated staying home, but we knew that was not really an option as we didn't have support lined up for a home birth. When we got to the hospital, I was checked by the same resident, and I was only 3cm and -3 station. Major disappointment. I will not go into detail about the hospital experience, because this is getting so long, but needless to say that the IV, the monitor, and overall smell and feel are completely contrary to relaxation to me, especially since my first birth experience. As a VBAC mom, you are restricted to a 3 foot rope, ie monitor. I did the best I could to stay out of the bed, but when I sat on the birth ball, the baby's heart rate dropped, so that was not an option. I was weary, and in pain, and not sure what to do, even though we had been "trained".
Immediately upon arrival, the staff suggested that I might need some pitocin to speed things up. I told them to call my doctor, and she said I could have six hours. I labored as best as I could. I kept thinking, things can change so quickly! They would check me, often at my request, and my dilation was stalled. When the six hours were coming to a close, I started thinking that maybe this birth was not going to go the way I had planned. I felt pitocin was unsafe in a VBAC situation, so I chose a c-section when it was going to become an issue again.
It was very surreal walking myself to the OR and climbing up on the operating table. I chose an epidural over a spinal. (I just felt more comfortable that way--though neither option filled me with joy.) I had some trouble breathing, and I was getting pretty upset about it. The nurse and anesthesiologist both insisted that I was not because I was on oxygen. I still insisted, and they decided to take matters into their own hands to calm me without telling me. Josiah told me about it later.
Though it wasn't what I chose, it was definitely easier this time around. At least my epidural worked! Afterwards, I felt such peace. We were alone, just the three of us and I felt so happy! I had survived! No, it had not been the story I wanted, but God had been faithful. Over time I realized that maybe it was better that it had still ended in a c-section. I had "corrected all my mistakes" from the first time, but the outcome had been the same. Maybe I could finally stop blaming myself.
I won't say that I felt no sadness. I did. Especially as I could over hear other women laboring in the adjoining room. I heard their struggle, and then I heard the triumphant cheers when their babies arrived. It was almost more than I could bear. I walked the hall a lot so that I could get away. I just could not understand why I was not allowed to have that experience.
Either way, my beautiful baby boy was here. Elizabeth had her brother. God had added to our family.