I am so glad to finally be sitting down to write out our sweet girl’s birth story. Today is exactly 2 weeks since her entrance into the world. It has been a sweet 2 weeks indeed! But man, two kids! It is kind of a miracle that I have them both napping and have a spare few seconds to sit at the computer. Even time to go to the bathroom is luxury indeed these days. I had so much time when Elle was a baby! Ha! (Edit – it took me a week to finish this post! Genevieve is 3 weeks old now!) A word of warning for anyone reading – this is long, but so was my labor…
Labor for my body is apparently very interesting. It was only after Eleanora was born that I found out the term “prodromal labor” and realized that is what I had for a week before she was born. This time it started much earlier. I had contractions off and on starting late April on our way back from the west coast. On June 1st things kicked into high gear with consistent contractions that lasted for over 8 hours. We were at a wedding that evening, and our nurse (and long time friend of Jonathan’s family) who sat at our table joked with us that the baby may come that night. Well, in the middle of the night we ended up at the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitor and saw all the consistent contractions but with very little dilation. I was barely 38 weeks pregnant, so all they could do is send me back home until things progressed more. My doctor and the nurses both said they expected to see me back within 24-48 hours for baby show time. We came home and I tried to rest in our room while Jonathan took care of Elle. I was still in decent spirits and just prayed, asking God to show Himself to me through the process above all else. I felt like He was saying that He was giving me this labor as a gift, that He was going to use it in a special way. It had been a hard few weeks, months really, prior and it refreshed my heart just to work through the pain with Him as I tried to rest.
This is where my experience with labor gets interesting. So, prodromal labor is basically a labor that stops and starts and is entirely unpredictable. It’s like running a marathon with no mile markers and a spastic coach that makes you sprint for a mile, stop for 5 minutes, jog for 3 miles, then sprint for 3, then stop for an hour, and on and on…and you have no idea what is coming next or how to gear up for it. Physically it is incredibly draining when the contractions go through the night and are just painful enough not to be able to sleep through. The contractions also made me sick to my stomach this time – and I’ll spare you the details but it made it hard to eat much of anything. However, the mental toll is probably harder. If I have the privilege of having another child, I will not underestimate it again. I had already been dealing with contractions and insomnia for weeks prior to the prodromal labor – so this really took a toll on me mentally. Not sleeping, plus not being able to eat or care for myself or my child without great effort, trying not to worry about how my sickness was effecting the baby, on top of having NO IDEA when active labor would start in earnest was more than enough so send me over the edge…a few times.
It was a painful weekend to say the least. But God was true to His word and did show Himself to me. Through the pain He helped me deal with all the hurts the enemy had been throwing in my face and helping me face my fears of my life to come. I had let go of much and felt the great void that was left. Pain is always a great teacher, and can be a beautiful tool in God’s hands…but can also be an opening the enemy uses to get to our hearts. I felt the struggle deeply that weekend. God was faithful, and He kept reminding me of His word and using these days when I couldn’t do much from pain to teach me. Come Saturday night my consistent contractions took a much more painful turn. Jonathan had a back up plan for the service Sunday and my family was on standby. By Sunday afternoon they came hard enough that I was dizzy and had to sit from shaking so bad when they hit. Back to the hospital we went. We saw one of the same nurses from Friday and she said, “Ah! You have the face! Here we go!” After about 30 minutes the contractions stopped entirely for the first time since Thursday night. Suddenly I felt better than I had in weeks and my appetite was back. It was so sad it was funny. The nurse said everything looked like I should have gone ahead and had the baby. Facepalm. I got a Five Guys little bacon cheeseburger. Still, I was glad for a rest. Thankfully the reprieve lasted until Monday afternoon. My sister came over. We went to Target. It was a nice break, especially since I was really too weak and sick to drive myself anywhere…or really capable of caring for Elle and myself very well. I was so exhausted. My body was incredibly exhausted from contracting consistently from Thursday to Sunday afternoon. Little did I know I had another 8 days to go! But all I could say in my heart was, “Lord I trust You. I trust Your word. Help me in my utter weakness.”
The rest of the days leading up to June 13th are a blur. All I can say is that it was incredibly hard. My body was so ready, but not quite ready. Every contraction made me feel so sick and nothing I ate seemed to stay long. I was begging God for things to finally make me dilate more or let me have a break. Apparently my body’s way of getting to baby-push-time is just incredibly slow and painful. Thursday we were back getting checked. I was in the office, leaning up against the walls, rolling my hips, crying and praying, finding a peaceful mental place, doing anything to help with the pain. After a week of pain I was sure I was at least 2cm. “No, still about 1 1/2cm, but thinned more.” I couldn’t look my doctor in the eye. They gave us papers for inducing on Tuesday. Jonathan drove us through Chickfila, and cookies-and-cream milkshake in hand I let the tears come. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so entirely void of all strength. I had been through this with Elle, but it only lasted a week and it wasn’t nearly as painful, nauseating or quite as consistent as the contractions this time. At the doctor I had lost over 5 lbs, which was concerning to me as well. I wasn’t sure my body could take more of this constant state of contractions and sickness that came with each wave. I was at a loss as to what would be best for baby and my body.
I spent the afternoon trying to rest again. We sat outside and watched Elle splash in her kiddie pool on the deck for a while. I prayed and Jonathan updated all the family. I hated feeling like I was inconveniencing my loved ones. I hated feeling like I was putting so much on Jonathan’s shoulders as he cared for Elle and me. I was worried about inducing, but not sure I could physically last beyond Tuesday. What was really best for baby? How do we trust the Lord in this? I knew the end would be so, so worth it but in the middle of laboring for so long I was feeling pushed so far beyond what I could physically, mentally and emotionally handle. God was so gracious to me though. He was so near through it all. He broke past all of the pain, worry, fear and exhaustion and brought my heart His peace and encouragement. That afternoon we talked with a nurse friend for advice and used a friend’s pool to help ease up all the pressure and also distract our toddler. The next day my precious for-always-friend Ashley drove hours to meet us. I did everything in my power to ignore the contraction pain and distract myself from my total and utter exhaustion. I seriously cannot put to word how empty my body felt of any strength. Having my friend there was the best way to rest and be distracted. When you can’t really do much but sit around, it’s nice to have a good friend to talk with for hours on end. God has done so much in both our lives over the 6 months. We hadn’t seen each other since Thanksgiving. The good it did my heart is inexpressible. She was so sweet to help with Elle and cheer my spirits. Sunday brought more of the same but my heart was in a far different place. I was still unsure of what to do, but I knew God would show us.
The next day I got on the scale to see if my suspicions of further weight loss were true. Over 10 lbs down. I was only up 15 lbs from pre-pregnancy weight. That did it for me. I knew I’d been sick but I didn’t quite think it was so bad that I’d lost that much. It was clear she couldn’t stay any longer. I was instantly ok with whatever we had to do to get her out so I could give her nutrients through nursing, since my body had been so drained by 12 days of labor at that point. The bags had already been packed, toted to the hospital and back again 3 times, so I just rechecked everything and took a shower. In the shower I thanked God for making the way clear to me. Jonathan already knew that is what we needed to do, but I asked God for absolute clarity – and He was so good to give it. As scary as it was to have been so sick I had to be induced, I was thankful for an answer and whatever the coming days would bring…