God never ceases to amaze me. As I sat down to write my last blog, A Letter To John Luke, I had no idea that within a few hours I would be going into labor. Only God knew.
I had found a prayer journal days earlier, and wanted to use it as a testament that God really does answer prayer. In 2008, I had been praying to God, for Him to show us the way for a child to come into our life. And here we were, just twelve days until our due date. I started thinking about what I wanted to tell John Luke before we were finally able to bring him home.
I finished typing at about 1:15 AM Sunday night, November 25th. I had been having trouble sleeping while pregnant, so I had stayed awake typing until I knew I could go right to sleep. Finally sleepy, I went downstairs and got into bed.
All of a sudden, it felt like I had to go to the bathroom. As I rolled over to get up, I felt a gush. I awoke Josh to tell him I thought my water just broke. With a typical reply, he asked if I was sure I didn’t just have to go pee. No, I think this might be the real deal, I said. I looked at the clock, it was 1:35 AM.
We thought we still had 12 days, so feeling a little panicky; but somehow excited and serene at the same time, I told Josh I was going to start packing my bags for the hospital, and see if any contractions started. About an hour later, I felt my first contraction. We started timing them and it seemed they were about 11 minutes apart. As the contractions got closer together, we called the hospital. They said to come in so they could check me. We decided to go ahead and call our parents since they both live out of town, so they would be able to get here in time for the birth.
We arrived at the hospital about 3:30 AM. They tested for amnionic fluid, and sure enough, it was confirmed we were in labor, so they took us to our birthing suite. I was only about 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced at this point.
I was determined to labor natural for as long as I could bear it. I had waited so long to be pregnant, I wanted to feel what labor was like without medication. The doctor had offered pitocin to get things going, and stadol for the pain management, but I said no, wanting to stick to my birthing plan.
And I did, until I got to 7 cm and my contractions started stacking. As soon as one would end, the next would begin with no break in between. At this point, it was about 1:30 PM and I had been in labor almost 12 hours already with no medication. I had done pretty good with my breathing until that point, but it was as if the pain became so unbearable, I could hardly breathe. At all. Breathing techniques went out the window, and breathing turned into screaming.
My breathing was one loud scream after another, and as soon as one would end another loud scream would begin. Josh assured me it was a soundproof room, which I found out later, by sounds from the next room, this was not to be true. They probably thought someone was dying in my room. Or at least, that’s what it felt like.
I decided when I was at 7 cm and 80% effaced, that if I didn’t start getting any relief in between contractions, I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be able to endure without an epidural. The doctor came in to check me, and said it would probably be another 2-3 more hours before I got to 10 cm.
Two-three more hours? I don’t think I can take ten more minutes with one contraction coming after another. At one point, I knew an epidural was imminent. I decided to work through three or four more contractions to be sure I was making the right decision. Part of me felt like I was giving up. After all, women gave birth for centuries before there were epidurals. And the other part of me knew it was the wise thing to do. I felt it was best to get one before I became too physically exhausted to continue, and before it was too late to request one. I didn’t want to get myself in a situation where I had to end up having a C-section, because I had been too stubborn to ask for an epidural.
So I called in the calvary.. and it came in the form of a catheter and a needle injected into my back. I had 3 contractions while the anesthesiologist was trying to get the epidural in place. By this time, I was collapsing on Josh, as he was holding me still for the injection. Watching the clock, I asked how long it would take for it to work. They said about 15 minutes. I felt it in about 5, maybe because the pain had been so intense before, I felt almost immediate relief.
Little did I know that when I requested the epidural at 1:30 PM, I still had 10 more hours of labor to go, 6 hours of that would be pushing. I did not progress to 10 cm until about 7:10 PM. At that time, the doctor came in and checked me. He said we were ready to start pushing.
Having been at the hospital for almost 16 hours now, I was on my third labor and delivery nurse. The admitting nurse, the nurse who was my breathing coach before the epidural; and now the nurse who helped coach me to bring my son into the world.
At 9:10 PM, after 2 hours of pushing, the doctor came in and said that he wanted to prep me for a C-section. Josh and I had discussed a C-section was not an option, unless the baby or myself was in distress. It seems these days, doctors are quick to rush you to C-section if you’ve been in labor over certain period of time, or are not progressing, even if you and the baby are not in any danger.
We told him that I felt fine, and the baby’s vitals were good. I said I had a lot left in me to keep pushing, and I wasn’t ready to make that call. I felt I had as much say in the birth of my son as the doctor, as long as, mine and the baby’s vitals were both good.
The doctor came back in at 9:50 PM, and said that he would return at 10:20 PM. If I had not progressed, he would again recommend a section. Josh told the doctor it would be a hard sell for us to agree to a C-section, as long as me and the baby were doing fine.
I felt like I was finally getting into a rhythm, and learning how to push correctly. I think the doctor’s insistence on a C-section only made me more determined to push harder. I had waited a long time for this moment, and wanted to birth my son without surgery, if at all possible. I would rather endure the pain now, than deal with the pain from recovery later.
Needless to say, the doctor didn’t come back at 10:10 PM. He returned at 10:30 PM, and by then, I had made significant progress. They were starting to see the head come down. The doctor agreed to continue as long as I kept progressing. The baby finally crowned at about 11:30 PM.
John Luke Foster came in to this world at 11:45 PM on Monday, November 26, 2012, weighing 6 lbs 15 oz, and was 20 3/4 inches long. It was the most amazing experience of mine and Josh’s life. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It was such a surreal moment, I could hardly do either. I just sat in my bed in awe as they checked him over, and then placed him in my arms. In awe at this journey which is now complete by the birth of our precious son.
Now that he is home, the journey truly has just begun.