I’ll suppress the urge to talk about my thoughts on last night’s election and just make note that Shawn and I were both watching the results with great interest. This is only my third time voting…my first time being when I was only 18. I’m not sure if I just didn’t notice it in previous elections or if this year really was different, but there definitely seemed to be an incredible amount of buzz around the election. I wouldn’t be surprised if the television ratings set some kind of record. Shawn and I made a night of it – watching “You’re Not Elected Charlie Brown,” and eating homemade apple pie and ice cream! We stayed up way too late waiting to see how Indiana and North Carolina voted (and at least according to CNN, the results still aren’t in this morning?! Slowpokes!), and went to bed when I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
We actually thought we might have an Election Day baby last night! The contractions that have become so familiar had lessened considerably during the past few days, so I took note when I found myself contracting throughout the day yesterday. After dinner, they picked up, but I didn’t want to even start timing them yet. I told Shawn that I’m so tired of the drama of timing and wondering and waiting…and just wanted to wait and see how strong they got. After a couple of hours they did start to get significantly strong, so Shawn started timing them for me. For about an hour and a half (give or take, I was trying to not pay attention and just tell Shawn when they started and stopped) they were every 2-3 minutes and were getting stronger. As seems to be the pattern, though, they eventually started to slow down and lessen in intensity. I didn’t contract at all (that I know of, anyway) in my sleep last night and there’s nothing going on this morning either. Because of all the false starts we’ve had, it’s surreal to think that one of these days, the contractions aren’t going to stop – they’re only going to get stronger. I pretty much just assume that they’ll slow down in time because that’s the pattern that’s been set.
I have to confess that my prayers have changed recently. Up until today, I’ve been praying that God would bring this little boy out in His perfect timing and that He’d give me patience to wait until that time. While it’s a selfish prayer, I’ve now begun praying, “God, please! Bring him out today!”
Along those same lines, though, I’ve been thinking lately about how much God loves my little family and how much better He knows than we. Now that we’ve made it through the stress and fears of premature labor, I’m finding that a lot of good came of that experience – especially being on bed rest. What good, you may wonder? Well, let me explain.
1. The Effect of Bedrest On Our Marriage
When we first realized that I’d be restricted until at least 36 weeks, I thought for sure it would put a strain on Shawn and I. In fact, I kept waiting for Shawn to get frustrated with me for not being able to cook, clean, or take care of things. I kept waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And he never did. I honestly didn’t know that it was humanly possible to as selfless as Shawn is. Not only did he take care of everything that needed tended to, he didn’t even hint at complaining or making me feel guilty. In fact, the only fights we had were because Shawn wanted to take more care of me than I was allowing him. It was a great lesson for me in surrendering and trusting.
2. The Effect of Bedrest On Our Checkbook
Dave Ramsey says that every relationship has a “nerd” who loves numbers, spreadsheets, and budgets, and a “free spirit,” who loves to not think about numbers, spreadsheets, or budgets. In our relationship, I tend to be the nerd and Shawn the free spirit. Even though we’ve always worked together on doing budgets, it just wasn’t a priority to either one of us. Because I didn’t have much else to do, I found myself checking our account online a lot and I started to track our expenses. Once I realized how much we were going to have to pay in hospital bills because of pre-term contractions, I started messing with the numbers to see how and when we would get those paid. Eventually, I was able to make a very detailed budget accounting for extra baby expenses, further hospital bills, and the cost of the baby’s health insurance. I think the recent economic issues coupled with looming hospital bills made us both take a much keener interest than usual in making sure we kept to a budget. It took me a LOT of time to look through and track all of our spending, and then make a budget to reflect that. For the first couple of months, I had to track our spending every single day to make sure we were staying in the budget and had to be meticulous about when each bill was paid. I know that I wouldn’t have had the time or the energy to do this if I hadn’t been on bedrest. I also had the time to research our bank, only to discover that we were getting ripped off in fees and our APY rate was ridiculously low. So I had the time to switch our banking insitution – a feat in itself since most of our bill pay is automatic! I know that very soon time will be a scarce commodity, so I’m grateful to have had the chance to set up a system that works really well for us.
3. The Effect of Bedrest on my Time With God
I’m ashamed to admit it, but when I get busy, the very first thing to go is the time that I spend with God. After a few days of being “too busy,” it’s easy to then skip that time because “I just don’t feel like it.” Pre Term labor caused me to hit my knees in fear and bedrest helped me to stay consistent. Suddenly, I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, so some days I’d pick up my Bible because there just wasn’t much else to do. Even after the fear of pre-term labor and boredom of bedrest wore off, I find myself craving that daily time with God like I used to crave coffee. My day just isn’t the same if I don’t talk to Him, and I feel empty if I go a few days without slowing down to spend time in His presence.
Really, the list could go on and on – bedrest helped me see that my home doesn’t have to be perfectly clean, that God can protect this child when I’m incapable of doing so, that I have amazingly understanding co-workers, and that this little child is loved more than he could possibly ever know.
So in light of all the stress and drama we endured, I think it’s safe to say that I’m grateful for it and am even more aware that the gifts of God are good and perfect – even if it doesn’t seems so.
I have to admit that I was not in a good mood this morning. I was tired and achy, my throat hurt, I was swollen, and the very last thing I wanted to do was head to our appointment only to be told, I was sure, that I’d made no progress since last week. As we waited for the Doctor, my head was full of whining, if I’m being completely honest. Even though we hear it every week now, something in my heart just melted when the Dr. put the doppler on my belly and we heard his heartbeat. I was struck with the reminder that I’m carrying a life. I have the amazing privilege of nurturing an entire human being inside of my body. It’s worth it.
So worth it.
And then, during the cervical exam, the Doctor told us that I am now 3cm dialated and 75% effaced! I almost cried, I was so excited! We’ve had a couple of tough nights of contractions that have eventually gone away, and it’s been discouraging to think they might not be making a difference. So to know that the pain is doing something was just what I needed to hear! I asked him if it would possible for him to sweep my membranes, and he said, “sure.” I had expected that procedure to be painful, but to be honest…it was less painful than some of the cervical checks I’ve had. I think it depends on the Doctor, but it didn’t really hurt at all.
Our next appointment is Wednesday, when I’ll be 41 weeks. He said if I haven’t gone into labor before that – then our Wednesday appointment will include an ultrasound, fetal monitoring, and the possibility of induction. I guess at 41 weeks they leave it up to the parents. My immediate thought is, “heck yeah! Induce me!” but we’ll see if I change my mind by Wednesday. I always thought I’d be more than happy to go over my due date and wouldn’t want to be induced unless it was absolutely necessary..but at this point, I’m so ready! He did also say he thought that odds were that I wouldn’t make it to our next appointment, but we’ll see. Since the appointment, I’ve been having some contractions, but I typically do for about a half a day after I am checked.
After we finished up at the OB, Shawn took me to Starbucks where I got a yummy Gingerbread Latte (decaf, don’t worry) to soothe my throat. Between hearing the heartbeat, the good news on progress, and the coffee…I’m out of my funky mood. Thank goodness!
Bug’s birth story…
He’s here, and I’ve finally had a chance to write out the details of our sweet Bug’s birth:
On Monday, November 10th, I thought my water might have broken, so after a day of work, I called the OB and they asked me to come in and be tested.
They tested and found out that my water hadn’t broken, and I was dialated to “a 3, maybe a 4.” The nurse told us she thought we’d probably be in labor soon, but to keep timing contractions and counting kicks. As she was describing the movement I should’ve been feeling, I told her that I hadn’t felt him moving that much in awhile. So a non-stress test was ordered. We took the non-stress test for about half an hour, and J. Bug was just fine. I could actually see him kicking so hard that he was moving the monitor up and down, but I could barely feel it, which would probably account for the fewer movements I was feeling. He was moving just fine, but his movements were just more subtle and less detectable by feel.
So Shawn and I went home, a little discouraged by the lack of labor. We picked up a couple of last minute baby things from Target and ordered a Mario’s Pizza to eat at home. Once home, we ate the pizza and my contractions continued about every six minutes apart. We started getting excited again and I bounced on an exercise ball for awhile, but around 9:00 they just completely stopped. We went to bed around 11:00pm, and I distinctly remember dreaming about really painful contractions. They eventually got so painful that they woke me up, so I decided to empty my bladder to see if that helped. When I sat up, I started to leak heavily, and once I made it to the toilet, it was a gush. I did my best to clean up. I thought that it was probably my water breaking, but wanted to wait a little bit just to be sure. So I went out into the living room and started timing my contractions. They were coming about every 5 or 6 minutes apart and began to get very painful. After about 25 minutes of timing them, I realized this was probably labor, but I wanted to give Shawn as long as possible to sleep. In between contractions, I started gathering my things and getting ready and they increased in strength and consistency. At about 1:40, I realized that we probably needed to get to the hospital rather quickly, so I woke Shawn up. He was adorable, sleepy, and excited. J We both got dressed and ready and left the house around 1:55.
I remember the ride to the hospital being awful. The contractions were picking up very quickly and would usually make me nauseated at the end of each. We almost had to pull over to allow me to vomit several times and sitting down in the car was excruciating. We finally got to the hospital around 1:15am.
The only time I snapped at Shawn during the entire birth was at this point. He was trying to figure out if he needed to drop me off, if he should park in the parking garage and walk with me, and if I needed a wheelchair. I kept saying things like, “I don’t care, just get me there,” and trying to tell him that I’d rather not be in a wheelchair, and he kept trying to figure out what to do. Finally, I snapped, “Just drop me off at the door now! I’ll walk!” So he dropped me off, parked the car, grabbed our birthing stuff (which was quite the handful, including an exercise ball!) and we walked together to check-in.
I did actually vomit on my way to the check-in counter, which was embarrassing. Once we checked in, we were taken to the triage where it seemed to take forever for a nurse to come in and check me. I think I vomited again while waiting. Thankfully, Rhonda got there around that time, and I think she hurried a nurse in to check me. Shawn was amazing, helping me count through contractions and letting me lean on him when I needed to. Once checked, I was told that I’d dialated to 5cm and was wheeled to a labor and delivery room. Once we got there, the contractions picked up intensely.
I was doing my best to count through them with Shawn, but I actually found myself having to scream through some of the more intense contractions. I was still getting nauseated at the end of a few and ended up vomiting a couple more times. I asked Rhonda about how much longer she thought labor might be, and she said that for first time moms, you can typically count on being in labor an hour for every centimeter. Since I was a five, I reasoned that I would probably be looking at another five hours. Eventually, I started asking for an epidural as the contractions got stronger and stronger. I ended up begging for the epidural. Most of this period is pretty blurry, but I do remember crying a couple of times. I also remember flipping from my back to being on all fours, trying to find any position that would be less painful.
I was in that position when the aneseiologist came in to give me the epidural. I was checked again and had gone from 5cm to 8 in 45 minutes! He explained that I’d need to stay extremely still while he was injecting the needle, even if I was contracting. During the injection, I was sitting on the edge of the bed with my chin to my chest while Shawn talked me through the contractions I was having.
Dr. Lipscomb also came in at this point and helped me through them, telling me how great of a job I was doing. It seems like it took forever for the epidural to kick in, but it was probably only a few minutes as I only remember having two more contractions. Once the drugs started, I was in heaven! It felt so different and I could relax my body and mind. Shawn, Rhonda, and I joked around for awhile and chatted. I could still feel pressure with each contraction and could sometimes feel my belly tightening, but I couldn’t feel any pain. I think it was about an hour later that the nurse checked me again, and I had dialated completely. They wanted to let me wait a little bit longer to see if I would have the urge to push, but I never did. After a bit, the nurse came in and told me that I could start pushing if I wanted to.
So, I began. I honestly couldn’t feel anything, but she told me when to push and they seemed to be satisfied with the job I was doing…even without being able to feel. Apparently J. Bug’s heartrate was dropping when I would push, so they had me put on an oxygen mask. Thankfully, his heart rate never got to dangerous levels and the mask seemed to be giving us both enough oxygen to be fine. I asked if I could use the bar that goes across the bed to help with the pushing. It attached on either side of the bed, they hung a towel from the middle, and I grasped the towel with each push. It helped me to curl a little bit and have a little extra oomph with each push. It felt like I pushed for several hours, but according to Shawn, it was about 30 or 45 minutes. They called Dr. Lipscomb back in, and I pushed for awhile longer until Jude was born! He was born at 5:58am on November 11th. He was born with a bit of a cone head, but that’s normal and has rounded out by today (4 days old). His apgars were 8 and 9 right after birth. Shawn cut the cord (twice, actually), and I did have a second degree tear.
As soon as he was born, he was put on my chest while the Dr. dealt with the afterbirth. I held him for a few minutes and then they cleaned him off, gave him eye drops, tested him, etc. Once that was done, I was able to hold him again and nurse him for the first time. Jude hasn’t had any issues with being jaundice or anything else. He’s pretty much perfect.