The midwife had just broken my water and between that and the Pitocin, I began to feel some actual contractions. At first I couldn’t believe it… was this really labor? Is it finally happening? Excited, relieved, and a bit anxious I began to take contractions as they came, slow and steady. Matt and I continued to play card games, watched a show or two on the laptop, and tried to take a nap. I could feel my body working harder and harder with each contraction. We went into the hospital knowing we weren’t going to call contractions “painful,” instead, we saw them as hard work. We felt that the word pain signals something is wrong with your body when in fact, while laboring, your body is doing exactly as God designed it to – it’s working hard! Choosing your words carefully while laboring puts you in a much better mental state that allows you to work with your body and not fight it.
Around 8:30 or so that evening my parents stopped in to visit and brought by a New Year’s box filled with party hats for us and the staff. It’s a bit blurry to me, but I do remember a little of them being there because Matt and I both were a little surprised that it was New Year’s Eve – our days were all running together. I sat on the bed meeting the contractions with deep, purposeful breaths. Matt hugged me from behind and breathed with me, something I really needed! I don’t know what level of Pitocin I was on (I’d have to check our videos) nor do I know when my parents left the room to go home because I was focused on breathing and relaxing my muscles. I wanted to get in the tub with the jets– at this point a mobile unit was available - so they prepared the water and I sat down into what I had imagined would be a wonderful way to labor. Um… no. I had told Matt days before that I strongly desired to have a tub in our room because I think being in warm water will be so relaxing during contractions. I even brought along my sweet smelling, organic lavender scrub for Matt to rub on me while in the tub because I just knew I would love that. Well, I think I lasted all of 10 minutes in the water because for one, the tub was not any bigger than a tub in a home, and two, I couldn’t fully submerge myself due to wires coming from me every which way. I climbed out and moved to the toilet, and sat there laboring for a good while. We had practiced laboring positions in our Bradley Class one night and this was definitely a favorite of mine.
Around midnight the midwife came in to see how I was doing and to check me since I hadn’t been examined in quite a while. She said I was at a 5 and she seemed pleased with the progress. Knowing that having your first child can take a while, we didn’t focus on the number and continued meeting contractions with deep breaths. At one point I did climb into the bed to try to rest through some and it was then that the pain in my side increased with a vengeance. The pain had been there ever since the start of Pitocin earlier that day, but it was definitely becoming increasingly worse. This midwife was not sure of the cause either, and I tried to forget about it. We carried on and Matt believes I went through the transition phase of labor around this time because I began to voice some doubts and started shivering. I also threw up – another sign of transition. This was a fear of mine… silly, I know… but when I learned that women can throw up during labor it freaked me out. Vomiting is already horrible to me and the thought of doing so while having contractions sounded just awful! But I did it… several times and it honestly felt good! Who knew?
When 2 a.m. rolled around, I felt urges to push that took over my entire body. We made it to pushing! Matt and I shared a smile because our baby boy was there… they could see him! I was instructed to just let my body do as it needed, so I did. My faithful husband was so diligent in giving me sips of water with every contraction to keep me hydrated. It was suggested I roll over to my side and push that way while Matt held my leg up because it was thought the baby may need some readjusting (which, by the way, his heartbeat was still going strong!). We also tried standing/squatting for a bit to reposition him that way too. We took a moment to phone my parents and let them know that I had begun pushing, though it could easily be several more hours. They came to the hospital around 3 that morning and waited so patiently in the waiting room, not wanting to miss a thing. In the midst of this laboring, I continued to deal with this awful pain stretching from my back to side. Notice I use the word pain here, because that is definitely what it was. I knew I was feeling something that was not right and it began to take over. I prayed for it to go away. I stopped feeling contractions. I could not tell when to push. All I felt was this constant, excruciating ache and no one had a way to solve it. It was close to 4 in the morning and I was surrounded by my husband, the nurse, and midwife. Matt held my hand and lifted my head up, while the nurse laid her hands on my stomach to feel for contractions. The midwife sat in front of me putting her fingers inside to tell me where to push whenever the nurse said to me that a contraction was coming. I tried so hard to listen to my body and to them, but the pain had taken over. I felt like we were so close! The midwife had been seeing little Matthew’s head for some time now and Matt even got a glimpse of him, but it was like everything was coming to a standstill. We continued trying, but to no avail. I was feeling nothing but this constant pain, as if my muscles could not stop contracting and release themselves.
We had been up for 24 hours now and my baby boy was right there, but it just wasn’t happening! The exhaustion that had never really disappeared was overwhelming – and not just physically, but emotionally. When people talk about an emotional rollercoaster, I can say that Matt and I were quite experienced riders at this point. Words cannot describe how we felt as we didn’t just feel the weight of the moment right then, but the weight of the last four days leading up to that point in time. The midwives changed shifts and in walked our midwife from Friday – she was back, gave me a vaginal exam, and informed us that she would be delivering that baby! This was almost comical to me because I thought to myself, I bet the other 4 midwives all thought the same thing too! Her positive attitude helped some as I looked at the clock to see that it was now close to 9:00 in the morning. My water had been broken for over 12 hours, the Pitocin continued to drip into my veins not helping the swelling at all, and I laid curled up in the bed sobbing. For the last four days, the same questions came to mind, why God? What are you doing with me? With us? It’s not pleasant to admit that I sobbed so hard, but yet this is our birth story and I have to tell it like it is. I was hurting and the pain was starting to scare me. What about my baby? I kept telling the midwife and nurse through my tears that I just wanted to feel the contractions, it’s all I wanted, so I could know that my baby was coming and things were okay. My mom left the waiting room to come see us, because I wanted her to know what was happening. I felt like such a little girl crying on the bed as I talked to her… and then speaking with my mom reminded me of those who were lifting us up in prayer. There is power in prayer. Her friends were praying, our families were praying, church had happened that morning and they were praying, neighbors, friends, and we learned later that while my youngest sister was away at a Campus Outreach retreat, there were people we didn’t know praying for us too. It was comforting.
I recall watching Matt intently, my heart going out to my dear husband who I knew was reaching a breaking point. He was so strong for us and was being the best husband any girl could ask for, but he shared with me as tears filled his eyes that he doesn’t know what to do. He wants to help me, but he doesn’t know how. We had prepared to labor, but we had no way of preparing for this surprising pain that was keeping things from moving forward. What do we do now?
Our midwife came in to give us some options and thankfully, they turned the Pitocin off while we listened. Side-note: I found out at my 6 week check-up that my midwife had actually called two people that day while working with us. She was seeking advice from a doula friend of hers, and another midwife at a different location. She had not seen a situation like ours and was trying to help the best she could. I guess we should be proud that we added a new experience to her midwifery practice, right?...
Our options were as follows:
1) take an hour resting break from Pitocin and be given the medication Nubane, in hopes it would take the edge off what I was feeling – then jump into Pit again after I had tried to sleep some,
2) get an epidural that would numb the back/side muscle pain, yet still leave me to feel when to push, or
3) prepare for a cesarean
The room became so quiet as the midwife left us to our thoughts. All you could hear was the beeping of the machines as Matt and I looked at each other for an answer. I remember finding it so hard to even think a decent thought. The pain was horrible, and this was so mind boggling to me. I had waited for contractions to begin days ago and now that they were in full swing, I had lost the ability to truly feel them due to the amount of pain stretching from my back to side. I was frustrated that despite my efforts to relax, stay mobile, breathe, and other tips we had learned for labor were not working to get me past this increidible discomfort. I believe the Pitocin had completely overstimulated those muscles on the left in my back and side and they could not stop contracting. They were so terribly tight. There was no release of the tension and I told Matt that I was done. I physically felt like my body could do no more. I was even considering going with a cesarean (my fear!) because I knew I had reached my limit. I was feeling delirious. I was beyond ready to hold my little boy, who had been going through these last 4 days right along with me. I wept as Matt held me and he cried too. We were so broken. The midwife poked her head in the door, and I told her I was feeling as though I was done. I could not go on and I was considering a cesarean. She knew that deep down this was not what we truly wanted, so she gave us more time to think. We just kept saying that we didn’t know what to do… and I kept thinking, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?!”
I was feeling incredibly discouraged at the fact that none of those options would leave me with a drug-free birth like we had wanted. I also knew that I could not carry on as I was. We pretty much ruled out option 1 because, to put it simply, it seemed dumb to us. We knew that an hour break was not going to be enough time to let that pain go away, given that it kept me up until 3 a.m. the nights before. And adding Nubane along with rest for an hour was not a guarantee the pain would cease long enough for me to feel contractions and push our baby out. It would only take off the edge, if it could even do that. Getting an epidural was not at all what I wanted to do. I knew the side effects, I knew what it could do to our unborn baby, and I also was keenly aware that it was another needle… As for a cesarean, this was the thing I had feared most when the end of our pregnancy rolled around. It was not something the hospital staff wanted us to do either, but we had to be reminded that it could be a possibility due to unforeseen circumstances. Matt looked at me with tears running down his cheeks and shared how the last two options scared him to death and the first option just seemed pointless. His love for me was spilling over through those tears, as he had such deep concern for me and the baby and was so devoted to supporting me each passing moment. This is where we reached a point in our relationship that drew us even closer together and to God, as we lovingly clung to each other, waiting for that answer to come.
Our sweet nurse that shift walked in the door and squatted next to the bed where we were sitting. She asked me what we were thinking and feeling. I told her the only thing I could think to say, “I’m done.” I continued to cry from the pain and frustration and Matt said that we honestly didn’t know what to do. Our nurse told me how strong I was, and how amazing we had been together, to endure Pitocin for so long up to this point. She said that a cesarean is not what I want and she truly felt like an epidural would help get us through this last stretch. Her words began to encourage me and I recall this moment so vividly. Then our dedicated midwife walked in to have a heart-to-heart with us. Her words completely changed my perspective and if it wasn’t for her and the nurse speaking with us, Matt and I could have an entirely different ending to our birth story. She looked me in the eye and said, “Olyvia, never in my 25 years of midwifery have I seen a situation such as yours. After all you’ve been through, here you are able to sit criss-cross on this hospital bed, fully dilated, at +3 station, and you are having a normal conversation! That just doesn’t happen!” Our midwife continued to put things into perspective for us as she shared that we should be proud we have made it this far and are so very close to meeting our son. I hadn’t had the use of any pain medication and was laboring naturally, just like I had desired. Despite the unusual pain, we were pushing on and had made it farther than she and the other doctors who knew of our situation thought we would. “I know you are tired. I know you feel like you are done, but look how strong you are! I think if we give you the epidural for your side pain, and turn back on the Pitocin, we can have this baby out in an hour,” she said. That is when I knew God had given us the answer we were waiting for… I have come this far, and I can continue. I turned and looked at Matt and simply said, “okay.” I just wanted to meet my boy!
The anasthesiologist came in to prepare my epidural. I asked him if he could please make sure the medicine numbed my back/side area and I pointed to where the pain was. He said the epidural should work for that, but it wasn’t convincing. I was nervous as Matt squatted down in front of me for support. I prayed that the procedure would go smoothly and that neither I nor my little one would be harmed. I felt the prick and immediate tingle down my right side, which continued to grow numb, followed slowly by the left side. I couldn’t even lift up my legs back onto the bed at first… how in the world was I supposed to push?! They gave the medicine time to get through my system before turning back on the Pit. The nurse walked in and said she was going to insert a catheter because it was possible my bladder was full which could be what was causing the terrible pain. I informed her that I knew for sure my bladder was most definitely not full and when she tried to insert the catheter, it hurt! She looked at me and said, “You shouldn’t be feeling that. What about your side? Does it still hurt too? I will call the anasthesiologist” and she ended up not inserting the catheter after all, thank goodness. A bit of time passed and my pain was not relieved in the slightest bit…I found it ironic that I was getting an epidural not for the contractions, but for a pain brought on by a crazy overstimulation of muscles from Pitocin. I ended up having not one, not two, but three meds passed through my epidural! Scary…yes, but all of us in that room were desperate to relieve the pain at least a little bit so I could feel my contractions and effectlively push my little one out. Remember, we had begun pushing at around 2:00 that morning and it was now close to 2:00 in the afternoon and our poor little guy was just a wiggling around the entire time! I could feel him laying heavily on my right pelvic bone. The anasthesiologist came in the second time to give me a higher concentration of the meds, then a third time to give me something different entirely, that was to go straight into my system. I cried frustrated tears as I asked him again to please, please, please, ease that pain! Poor guy. He was doing his job, but I didn’t need the epidural to numb down low for labor – I had already been through that! I needed him to numb above my waist, left side, near my ribs in the back. After three doses, my midwife said we just needed to get through it, so we pushed on.
I focused very hard on the task at hand. This was it. I knew that if I didn’t move past this pain, then the next step was a cesarean because we had maxed out our options and a healthy delivery was necessary for my at-risk condition. The Lord had my hand and gave me that last bit of strength I needed. It was all Him and there is no denying that. My desire to push and meet our son was so strong that it was all I could think about. I couldn’t help but turn inward, and go with my body. It was a combination of me sometimes feeling urges to push, and other times them having to tell me due to the pain overwhelming the contraction. At one point they offered to set up the mirror, which I agreed to, but found it incredibly distracting. I would look on in amazement and stop pushing so effectively. I went back to closing my eyes and focused on relaxing all my muscles (especially my jaw!), except for pushing where I needed to push. I remember even thinking about how there were probably many other women all over the world pushing at this very moment too. That gave me this sense of awe and appreciation for how God created women. I would also glance over to the baby bed sitting in the room, thinking how I have seen this bed since Wednesday night and I am minutes away from my baby being there! “He’s sunny side up!” said the midwife as our baby was on the brink of meeting the world. No wonder why he was taking a while… the child was face up and was coming down hard from my right side. Matt stated that he wanted to catch little Matthew and the time had finally come. The midwife quickly passed off a pair of gloves to him and helped ease our baby’s head out, unwinding the umbilical cord that was lightly twisted around his neck. She stepped out of the way and Matt was able to fully catch our sweet boy and place him immediately onto my chest. My emotions went wild and I cried tears of pure joy. The time was 3:03 p.m.
|Minutes after Matthew II was born|
The room happened to be full now with different hospital staff busying about. I felt like everything was swirling and all I could focus on was this tiny human being laying on my chest. I couldn’t believe it. Was I really finally holding my baby boy? Then I felt it… a warm trickle that started on my chest and went down my stomach. Yep, he had peed on me, making his presence known - he was really here. Matthew didn’t cry much and they gave him a good rubbing while I held him to get him to cry a good one. He was covered in vernix, and knowing how good this is for baby’s skin, we rubbed it in while staring at our son, speechless. We had requested that the cord not be cut until it was finished pulsing, and after five minutes or so, Matt was able to cut the cord and they set about stitching me up - 2 stitches were needed, and even after 3 epidural doses and lidocaine spray, I couldn’t help but feel each needle poke! I winced as my midwife continued with the stitches for what felt like forever, but it was okay because my baby was here! We immediately took some first photos and after holding our son for a good bit, they set him on the baby bed I had been eyeing for days, to measure and weigh him. Matthew was 6 lbs, 13 oz, and 20.5 inches long.
|One of my favorite photos that truly seems to capture the "new life."|
You can see a little how his head is quite misshapen from being sunny
side up and in the canal for so long.
|Sweet kisses for my New Year's baby|
|Our midwife pausing for a quick photo minutes after he was born|
Within two hours after delivery, my family had met the newest addition and everyone helped move us to the post-partum floor. Matt and I felt as though everything was so surreal. The staff came to check little Matthew’s vitals again, and then left us to ourselves as we continuously held our little baby, letting the joys of parenthood sink in. That night we showered (it felt SO good!), ate some food (I walked to the snack pantry down the hall several times that night for juice!) and carefully wheeled our little boy’s baby bed in between mine and Matt’s pull-out chair as we laid down to sleep for the first time in almost 48 hours. Sleep was of course intermittent, because the nurse had to come in and periodically check on us, as well as I needed to nurse Matthew - which seemed to be non-stop from 12a.m. to 5 a.m.!
|Our first family photo the day after his birth - you can sort of|
see my swollen left hand from the broken IV
A pediatrician came the next morning to complete a check-up on Matthew and I waited for a mid-wife to complete a check-up on me. All was well, minus the blisters on my stomach from the days of gel and the intense swelling that was so slow to go away. We were checked out by 10:00 that morning and I waited inside the lobby while Matt went to get the car. I kept looking down at my baby in my arms, thanking the Lord for a safe delivery and the ability to finally go home. The weather was no longer unusually warm and the high for that day was in the 40s. I sat in the back beside Matthew’s carseat and we drove away from the hospital… I with tears in my eyes at the fact that our 6 night stay was finally behind us.
|The ride home|
The Lord had been so faithful. Our birth story did not go as we had imagined, but I am able to look back now and see how He was involved and leading every step of the way. Our child was born January 1st, with an expected due date of January 12th. Had we not been induced due to cholestasis and he were to come around 41 or 42 weeks like we had anticipated, my dad would have been out of the country… my sisters would be back in school… and Matt would be working a National Convention for his job. I can understand now how the timing of his birth was perfect because everyone was able to be there and meet him soon after he arrived! Matthew also shares his birthday with his Grandpa Taflan and my parents’ wedding anniversary. I smile when I think back to one of the nurses we had who inquired about our faith, and can see how God answered our prayer about letting Him work through us during our stay there. I can look back at my desire to have a natural, drug-free labor, and am truly proud of myself that God gave me the strength to do just that, in my standards, despite the Pitocin, and use of an epidural that last hour for a completely different pain. This was a huge accomplishment for me. I was capable, I made it all the way fully dilated and pushing before meds were needed for my back, and I succeeded. The Lord had allowed for a vaginal delivery, just like we asked for, and our baby was healthy! I can look back and see where Matt and I hit a breaking point that Sunday morning, sitting on the bed crying and feeling so lost. God had not let go of our situation. He gave us the ability to push on and allowed our relationship the chance to move to such a deeper level of love, strength, respect, and faith, both with each other and with our Heavenly Father.
Yes, He was indeed so very faithful.