luke's story starts surprisingly similar to j's. i was scheduled for a non stress test and ultrasound because my children like to stay put for a good long while after their due dates. the tests were scheduled on day 8 post due date, so i had my step-mom come watch j and off i went. i started having contractions on the way to my tests, but had been having them over the past couple weeks, so i just figured they were more practice. the non stress test didn't show anything significant besides the fact that baby's heart beat was fine and contractions were happening, just irregularly. then off to the ultrasound, which showed plenty of fluid in there, so they sent me on my way. i left and stopped at my friend allison's house since it is right around the corner from the office. we chatted, and the contractions continued a bit, but i still didn't think anything of it. i left there, stopped for a mcdonald's chocolate milkshake ((gross pregnancy habit alert - i had a lot of those)), and headed home. once i got home and got j to nap, my contractions started to get a little bit more regular. ry was at work trying to get in as many hours as possible because of tax season, knowing he was taking a week off once this baby came. i tried to lie down to see if the contractions went away, but no such luck, so I had ry come home just in case we would need to head to the hospital. Around four i had been having regular contractions about 4-5 minutes apart for an hour or so, so i called the midwives. since the contractions weren't too painful yet, they thought it better to labor at home for a while longer. i tried to eat and drink, but i wasn't feeling great, so Ry turned off his computer and tended to j as i wandered around the house having contractions. around 7:30, the contractions were three minutes apart and decently painful, so i called the midwives back. since they were seemingly only 30 seconds long, midwife thought i could stay home for a bit longer and try laboring in the tub, but she wanted me to call back in an hour or if i felt like things were progressing along faster. we tucked j in and i tried laboring in the tub. by this time, the contractions felt like they were two to three minutes apart and rather painful, so we called my step-mom to come over and we hopped in the car to head for the hospital. hands down, the two worst car rides i've ever had were the car rides to the hospital while in labor. contractions while sitting are just not ideal.
we checked into triage around 9 pm, got hooked up to the monitor, and waited for the midwife to arrive. apparently my contractions were three minutes apart and lasting for a minute and a half. I had only been feeling the peaks of them, which is why we thought they were only 30 seconds long. once the midwife arrived, she checked and i was at 6 1/2 cm, so they admitted me! i was so excited that we were at 6 1/2 cm, because that was not the case with j when we went in. his labor i was at 3 cm when we went in, but we only went in because i had been puking so much. This labor seemed to be off to a MUCH better start so i had high hopes this kiddo would be joining us sooner rather than later. HA! i was wrong.
we got settled into our room and met our nurse, Laura (i'll get back to her--one of my favorite people on the planet). they hooked me up to a monitor (prior c section = constant monitoring) and we chatted and contracted for a while. the contractions started to get stronger and back labor set in. someone suggested rubbing my back with a heat pack during contractions, which was the best idea ever. finally i realized we didn't have any music on yet. give me some good hymns and i can keep going, so ry turned on our indelible grace pandora station. all of a sudden i noticed someone was singing along...and it wasn't me or ry...it was our nurse! ah - God works in all the things. a Christian! how cool. anyways, we kept working through contractions, but they were getting extremely painful and the back labor was getting more intense. midwife thought it would be a good idea to check where things were at, and we were at 8 cm with the majority of my cervix on one side. because of that, we decided to lie down and see if we could thin things on the one side. i think that was around 2 am. as the contractions got stronger, our fabulous nurse suggested riding out contractions like i was riding a wave. GENIUS. ryan admitted that he thought i wouldn't go for the whole visualization thing, but it was exactly the thing to do. there i was, in the ocean on our favorite rockport beach. i could picture it so vividly and was able to breath in and out as i saw the waves coming. it couldn't have been a more perfect suggestion. laura, you are a genius. being able to breathe through the contractions was wonderful. we checked again and i was at 9 cm, which was awesome, but the contractions were 9 cm contractions and back labor was bad...but only 1 cm to go, we could totally do this. we labored for quite some time longer (3 hours or so) and checked again. i was so tired and could feel contractions starting to slow and weaken. it was 6 am. i was at 9 cm...still. talk about discouraging. this is exactly what happened with j, except i stalled at 7 cm with him. all those hard contractions for so long and nothing. i was so bummed, shift change was coming and i was liking the team we had with us, but this kid was not going to come out before we had to say goodbye to laura.
so stalled out at 9 cm...we had a decision to make. my water still had not broken. we had the choice of breaking my water and continuing to labor to see what happened, or i could get an epidural, break my water, rest, and hope things progressed. at this point i was so exhausted and my back hurt so bad even when i wasn't contracting. i was tired, both physically and mentally, and discouraged and feeling like we were headed down the same path that we went down with j. i also knew that my best bet for pushing this kid out would require energy, which would require rest...so, as hard of a decision as it was, we opted for the epidural. vbac was our number one goal, so if we had to make decisions we wanted to avoid to get there, we were okay with it. we had that placed and they broke my water, and immediately i hit 10 cm. baby was still pretty high, and i was exhausted, so we rested for a while. we had to say goodbye to our amazing nurse, and were introduced to our new nurse, mariah. another one of my most favorite people on this earth. She had a student with her, which i was super skeptical about, but you will see how amazing she was. 7 am also brought a midwife change. i had never seen the first one before labor, and she wasn't my favorite, and i had only seen the new one early on in pregnancy, so i was skeptical...but there could not have been a more perfect midwife to deliver this kiddo.
anyways, shift change happened and the epidural decided to not take effect on my left side. we had to up the dose and i soon could not feel ANYTHING from the epidural spot down. i almost panicked when i couldn't move my toes, but i knew that panicking would not help anything. i was able to get a couple hours of sleep and we were hoping to start pushing around 10 am. At 10, our midwife came back in and explained that contractions had slowed down again. talk about discouraging. here we were with our epidural and slowing contractions. same situation with j. now this midwife was super awesome because she told it how it was and basically told us what our best options were for a successful vbac. she said pitocin was the way to go, otherwise contractions would not be effective enough to push. again, not our ideal, but we had to keep in mind our ultimate goal was vbac, so we said yes. we waited another hour, and were getting anxious because i wanted to just get this kid out, and even with the epidural my back was KILLING me.
just as we were starting to get frustrated because we hadn't been able to push yet, the midwife came in and said we needed to push. i am pretty sure it was because baby's heartbeat kept dropping, but i was so deliriously out of it, that i did not register that at the time. It was about 11;30 and i still had absolutely no feeling in my legs...but i had to push. this was one of the hardest things i've done because not feeling your legs makes it near impossible to push. ryan had to hold one leg and our nursing student held the other (for a very long time...ROCK STAR STUDENT ALERT!). i also had to have oxygen on because baby's heartbeat kept dropping. i could tell when i was having contractions because my back started to hurt, so i would say something and the student nurse would take the oxygen off, and the nurse would feel on my stomach for the peak of the contraction and tell me when to push. this was a completly different experience than with j. with him i was just pushing without using the contractions properly. we are so thankful that this nurse knew exactly when to have me push and was such a calm and steady presence while doing so. about 30 minutes in i started to feel exhausted and then i felt it. i knew i was going to puke. baby had made some progress up until this point, but not a ton. well, i puked, and that was my most efficient pushing yet! how awesome is that?? i didn't even have to work for it, i just puked and down baby came a bit further! you might think i'm joking, and puking while in the middle of pushing a baby out is straight up exhausting, but i am serious when i say puking is better than pushing. so i pushed for another half an hour and then the feeling in my legs started to come back a little. PHEW! this made it much easier to push and we started to make good progress. about an hour in, i kept asking how much longer it would be because i was so tired from being in active labor since 4 pm the day before (it was now 12:30 pm -- really, for a second labor -- going on 20.5 hours and counting...). The midwife estimated another half an hour...that i could do. that's less than a half on the soccer field - easy peasy. oh, and every time i pushed baby's heartbeat dropped, so our midwife had to rub his head to get it to come back up. again, thankful for a team surrounding us that was on our side for vbac and was doing everything in their power to keep me out of the OR. so we kept pushing and all of a sudden i knew i was going to puke again. the student nurse grabbed the bucket and i threw my arms around her neck and puked and puked and puked some more. the poor girl was basically in my puke bucket, but she took it like a champ. well, all of the puking was not in vain. baby almost came all the way out while i was puking, so we waited for one more contraction and i pushed and out baby came!!!! thank the Lord for puking while pushing. i was so tired that i needed to puke the poor kid out.
so baby was out and i sat there in shock that we had just done that. it was the most incredible feeling in the entire world. i wish there were words to accurately name my feelings - it was a sense of relief, and shock, and awe, and excitement all rolled into one. after baby cried the first thing out of my mouth was "WHAT IS IT!!" poor ry couldn't see because of everything going on, and then he finally was able to say "it's a BOY!" as they handed him up to me to lie on my chest. Luke Ryan was finally in my arms after a very long pregnancy and a very long labor. it was incredible.
we are so thankful that we were given the opportunity to vbac and that we had the most incredible and supportive team around us to get us there. The Lord was certainly in ALL of the details of Luke's birth, from start to finish, and for that we are grateful.
Luke Ryan, you are so very dearly loved.