Contractions really began surfacing around 5:30 in the evening on April 17th. I was writing down prayers, quotes, and Bible verses to help me stay focused during labor, while also creating a playlist for that same reason. I found it absolutely amazing how simply writing phrases from Arthur Bennett's The Valley of Vision prayer book or snippets of lyrics or favorite Bible verses took my mind to an incredibly peaceful place. A few of my favorites:
"Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!" What a Friend We Have in Jesus a hymn by
"O Lord God, Thou has commanded me to believe in Jesus; and I would flee to no other refuge, wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, rest in no other relief."
"I am well pleased with they will, whatever it is, or should be in all respects, and if thou bidet me decide for myself in any affair, I would choose to refer all to thee, for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss as I am in danger of doing. I rejoice to think that all things are at they disposal, and it delights me to leave them there."
"O Lord, I hang on thee; I see, believe, live, when thy will, not mine, is done..."
"Thou has loved me everlastingly, unchangeably, may I love thee as I am loved; Thou has given thyself for me, may I give myself to thee: Thou hast died for me, may I live to thee, in every moment of my time, in every movement of my mind, in every pulse of my heart."
I didn't pull them out during labor, but I am so glad I took the time to write these down. These will be words to pull out when I'm struggling to focus on God and rely on His sovereignty. It helped me prepare my mind for the work ahead; 'cause there was a lot of it....
Contractions at this time were spaced about 10-20 minutes apart and were nothing noteworthy. We went to bed and I woke up around 2:30 to an intense contraction and began timing them. They were anywhere between 7-10 minutes apart and 30-40 seconds in duration. After I used the restroom they slowed down and became less intense, so I slept for another couple hours. When I woke up around 5 am on April 18th to more intense contractions I decided to take a hot shower and go from there. They didn't really relieve the contractions so I called my sister and warned my husband that today could be the day.
After breakfast, however, the contractions began to wane, so we decided to go for a walk. By the time lunch came around they had all but disappeared. Still, I was tired and knew that it could be any day or hour, my body was simply in preparation mode. After a two hour nap I was awakened by more intense contractions, steadily arriving every 2-5 minutes. I called the women's center where I was advised to take a hot bath and go from there. That was horrible. I didn't stay in long because any amount of sitting applied really uncomfortable pressure and gave me intense back labor.
Standing, walking, swaying, any movement really, was already helping tremendously while keeping the contractions steady.
I was still able to talk and laugh between each contraction at first...
And when that time between began to shorten, well, I knew it was time!
After a couple hours of this we decided to head to the hospital.
|I held my Briella Bean before leaving and bawled like a baby.|
Sitting in the rocking chair, by the way, was not a pleasant experience with back labor.
|I had to have many reminders to relax my face. Even if my jaw was not clinched, my face was all squished up.|
|Once I relaxed and began breathing/humming all was better.|
We prayed many times throughout this process, but this was one of the sweetest moments together as a family before leaving.
The trip down was rainy and unpleasant. Sitting was horrible. So we pulled over so I could unbuckle, be on my knees, facing the seat....
We were sure that because of the intensity of each contraction that I was past 4 cm (or at least hoping).
|We arrived at the hospital around 8 pm on April 18th and I was sure that this baby would share a birthday with Megan, my best friend from college, but she had other ideas...|
I was so disappointed to find that I was only dilated to 1 1/2 cm. I kept thinking that if the contractions were this intense I'd never make it to 10 cm. Thank goodness for a wonderful support group who reminded me that with Bean the doctors prematurely stretched me this far and this time my body had done the work on its own. Not to mention the fact that I shouldn't think that way (duh!). Plus I was forgetting the progress my body had made as far as softening and effacement. Both of which were suggesting it was time. Thank goodness for these encouraging reminders throughout...
|My sister reminded me to smile. Haha, apparently this was my best effort.|
I kept having flashbacks to Briella Bean's birth every time I laid down. It intensified my back labor to an unbearable level. This was how they checked my progress so I had to find a way to stay relaxed. If I tensed up I could, as Ina May described in her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, feel my cervix losing the progress made in the hours before. Thankfully, I was miraculously able to do this and dilated from 4 to 7 pretty quickly. (I was in labor for 20+ hours and I made it to 7 cm in approximately 6 hours, that was cake...)
I remember the doctor telling me it could take another 6-7 hours to dilate completely. I specifically said that if it took another 6 hours I could not do it. But it was during this time that I prayed the most, trusting in His plan. I relied heavily on prayer. I did a lot of begging. Begging for His strength. Begging it'd be over soon. Begging Him to help me trust Him, even if the end result didn't happen as quickly as I wanted or even how I wanted. I begged Him to answer our prayer for a healthy baby, a successful VBAC... And 6 hours later when I had been checked again I was at an 8. I had been stuck there and my body was beginning to show the signs. My cervix was swollen and I was exhausted.
It was at this time that I began losing control. I wrote in my thankful journal after this was all over that I was thankful we "... didn't have neighbors as I "Tarzan woman-ed" through the most intense contractions." I also did a lot of heeee-hoooo-ing and deep, deep breathing. It was during this time that I'd have momentary, less than 2 second, urges to push. They were awful. BUT I knew this was helping move her into position. The doctor kept encouraging me, explaining that once she moved down dilation would just happen, we were waiting for baby (I believe her "station" was +2) but, again, this could take hourS. And it did.
... I was again having flashbacks to Bean's delivery and began freaking out a little. The doctor told me this truth: an epidural will not help me dilate, but it will give me rest, and rest is what I needed at this point. I was so disappointed. Everything had gone so quickly up to 8 cm! I had been in labor for 12 hours and 6 of them had been at 8! So, I couldn't agree more, I needed rest. I decided on an epidural. The anesthesiologist was amazing. He explained that I was so far along in my labor that the epidural probably wouldn't numb the contractions completely, but it should take the edge off. Based on the fact that my first epidural was unsuccessful (and also unsuccessful with a few of my family members) he told me he was going to try something a little different.
|It was 9 am on Sunday morning when I received the epidural and I was stuck at 8 cm for ANOTHER 5 hours.|
I began having more flashbacks to Bean's birth when my contractions began to grow in intensity and duration and her heart rate would drop at it's peak. So they tried different positions to help her. I was stuck on my left side, where her heart rate recovered quickly and stayed pretty steady. The doctor predicted that the cord was loosely wrapped around her neck.
The nurses came in a little after 5 pm on Sunday and I told them that with every contraction I felt like I needed to push, so the doctor came in and checked me. I was crowning! It was time to push! I pushed for less than 15 minutes and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long.
Eleanna means "The Lord has answered" and I can't wait to write about all the prayers He answered through this entire pregnancy. Her name has so much significance. He is awesome!
She met her sister that same evening...
He answered more prayers pretty quickly...
They continued to monitor me closely. I have low blood pressure to begin with, but one of the side effects of an epidural is a drop in blood pressure. I was experiencing that side effect. Due to my complications after delivering Brielle they weren't taking any chances. Thankfully, He answered another prayer and it went back to "my normal" within a day or two.
Little Eleanna had high bilirubin levels, which kept us in the hospital until Wednesday morning. Poor baby...
When the doctor told us we were good to go, I couldn't get outta there fast enough! The care was fantastic, but I was so so so so so ready to get home!
|"Loved" is an understatement.|
|Big sister holding her little sister!|
|Daddy has his hands full. We've been joking that his theme song is "Waitin' on a Woman". This was his statement before we even had kids, then he waited and waited on Brielle and then again for Eleanna... I have a feeling it's only the beginning...|
Reflecting on all the ways in which God answered prayers helped me to praise Him all the more! Even though it was painful, it was beautiful. Thank you Lord that in my weakness, You are strong.