We missed church on Sunday, because both kids had the flu. The body-aches-super-sleepy-really-fussy-104 degree temp flu. The sister missionaries ended up stopping by that afternoon to see how we were, and as the conversation progressed I ended up getting to tell Eleanor’s birth story for the 12,000th time. (I can’t help it…my whole life is about my kids, and my pregnancies and deliveries are the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through. Who doesn’t like to talk about their biggest achievements?!) Anyway, after the sisters left Austen looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, “man…you sure tell one mean birth story.” Okay, I can read between the lines. I’m pretty sure what he meant was this– “hmm…I figured after the 49th time of telling this you would’ve learned how to shorten it. Or just not tell it.” But I can’t help it! I can’t help it that I only have two good stories, and they just so happen to both be birth stories. And I also can’t help it that I happened to have two very difficult pregnancies and deliveries. That’s what makes the stories good (and long.) I told him I was trying to make sure I had seared every detail into my brain so I wouldn’t forget anything before I had a chance to write it all down. Which leads me to now…writing it all down.
Eleanor’s birth story is a long one, because it spans an entire week. Thanks to Everett being born at a whopping 9 lbs 13 oz, I had a history of a large (breech) baby. When I was pregnant with Eleanor my doctor did an ultrasound at 35 weeks and 5 days to check her size and position. At that point, she was already measuring about 7 lbs. Austen and I (and our doctor) really wanted me to try for a VBAC so I could avoid another major surgery. Because of this, we needed Eleanor to not get too much bigger. I was already having some contractions, and at that appointment we talked about the possibility of having the doctor strip my membranes in a couple weeks to see if that would help move things along. At 37 weeks and 5 days, he did just that. After my appointment that morning, my mother-in-law took Everett home with her to stay in case things started progressing. My mom drove up and went walking all around the mall and Target with me, and my contractions were starting to get pretty steady. I called the doctor when they were about 5 minutes apart (and painful), and they told me to come in and be checked. So I did…and no cervical progress had been made since my appointment that morning. However, my contractions were extremely painful and about 4 minutes apart. They couldn’t let me leave with my contractions that close due to my history of a cesarean, but I was still only dilated to 1 cm. That’s when they told me I had to stay overnight for observation. That was probably one of the worst nights ever. I was so exhausted, but it was impossible to sleep with those stupid fetal monitors hooked up to my stomach. Seriously. No fun. My mom stayed at the hospital with me that night so Austen could go home and get some real sleep and be rested in case things actually started happening. Much to my dismay, when the doctor came in to check me in the morning, still no cervical progress. Was I still having close contractions? Yes. Were they getting me anywhere? Nope. So they sent me on my way.
The next few days were a blur of pain, no sleep, contractions, and back labor. Oh, the back labor. If I had a million dollars, I’d give it all away if it would guarantee I would never feel back labor again for the rest of my existence. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing prodromal labor. (Which makes me all the more angry at all the nurses who kept acting like I just couldn’t handle the pain of pregnancy.) I was told countless times, “when you’re in labor, you’ll know. You’ll just know. When your contractions are real labor contractions, you’ll know.” Well newsflash- they were real contractions, and I did just know. For about 4 days, I had real strong contractions about every 3 minutes for 12 hours every night. Usually about 9:00PM-9:00AM, at which point they would become irregular but still stay intense. I was so exhausted. I couldn’t sleep at night, because the contractions kept me up. I couldn’t sleep during the day, because I had a toddler to take care of. By that Saturday I was so exhausted all I could do was cry and pray for my water to break. Austen and I decided to take Everett to the outlet mall that afternoon so I could keep walking around and hopefully help things progress. By about 8:30 that night, my contractions were more painful than they had ever been, and the back labor was enough to make me wish I could curl up in the fetal position and just give up. I called my OB, and he told me he thought it sounded like I was going to be having a baby pretty soon and to come on in. After the week I’d had, I could only hope. Austen called his mom, and she and his sister hopped in the car to come stay with Everett while we went to the hospital. Since they live about an hour away we didn’t end up getting to the hospital until sometime around 11:00 that night. Once I had changed, the nurse came to do my exam. Surely after all the time and pain (and other disgusting changes I won’t mention here) my body had progressed…surely.
Wrong. No progress. Dilated 1 cm. In that moment, I died a little inside. I was frustrated, exhausted, and in so much pain. I cried, and I cried some more. It felt like this was never going to end. I didn’t know how much longer I could endure the back labor and intense contractions, and I was still at a point where pain medicine wasn’t an option. My doctor wanted me to stay for a few more hours and have my cervix checked again in case there happened to be any progress, so all we could do was sit in triage and wait. The contractions got so bad that I couldn’t breathe through them, they were coming about every 2 minutes, and all I could do was sob. Finally the nurse came back to check me again.
1 cm. Still. I couldn’t believe it. She told me I could either stay there and get checked again in another few hours, or I could leave and at least be in pain in the comfort of my own home. You see, here’s the dilemma–the only reason I kept calling the doctor and going in was because it was stressed to me several times over that they did not want me laboring long on my own at home due to my previous c-section. But then every time I bothered going in, there was nothing they could or would do for me. Which would lead to them discharging me and telling me to come back when I was experiencing all the same symptoms I was already experiencing. It was a nightmare. At that point I was so irritated that I told Austen we could just leave, because at least then I could eat and take a bath if I wanted to. So we left the hospital around 3:00AM, and I made Austen stop at the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home. I don’t think a sausage, egg, and cheese mcmuffin had ever tasted so good.
Home once again without a baby, Austen’s mom and sister left to head back home, and we climbed into bed hoping the contractions would let up so we could get some sleep. Unfortunately, all I could do was cry. Every contraction (every 2 minutes) was taking my breath away. The back labor was so bad I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. At 4:30AM I decided I would try to soak in a bath to see if that would help. I stood up, stumbled into the bathroom, and before I could even turn on the faucet I felt a trickle. No, no, no. Is this what I think it is? Is my water breaking? Am I peeing on myself? Wait, my bladder is pretty empty. But I’m not lucky enough for my water to break…am I? My gut was telling me that my water had just broken. But my gut had also been telling me I was in labor for the last week, so me and my gut weren’t exactly on good terms, and I didn’t know if it could be trusted. So I waited. I went back into our bedroom and woke Austen up. I think it took about 5 minutes for him to realize what was actually going on. I sat down next to him, had one more contraction, and was suddenly sitting in a puddle–a really big puddle. That’s when I knew my water had definitely broken, no question. Austen called his mom (who had just gotten all the way back home only minutes before) to tell her we needed her back. So my saint of a mother-in-law got right back in the car and drove all the way back to our apartment to get Everett. It was so hard to wait to go back to the hospital, because once my water broke the contractions escalated to a whole new level of pain. Not to mention, when your water breaks in a gush you just basically keep getting soaked no matter what you do.
By the time we finally got back to the hospital and checked into triage (again) it was already 6:00AM. They had to check to make sure my water had actually broken before they could admit me into labor and delivery. That’s when things got scary. It all happened so fast–the nurse was checking me, and I could see the worried look on her face. It’s amazing how time can move so quickly and slowly all at once, but that’s exactly what it felt like then. She called another nurse in, who then started helping her “check me.” I won’t go into the graphic details, but they felt Eleanor’s umbilical cord slipping out. If she didn’t reposition in about 60 seconds or less, they would be rushing me to an emergency c-section and have only minutes to get the baby out. Luckily for everyone involved, things worked out quickly. No emergency c-section. They told me my water had definitely broken, and now all we had to do was wait to be taken to a labor and delivery room.
I was so ready for my epidural, but the nurses all kept telling me I had to wait until I had one full bag of IV fluids. Near the end of that bag of fluids I physically couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I was so light-headed and felt like every contraction was going to make me pass out. I told the nurse I needed my epidural and I needed it right then. After what felt like an eternity, the anesthesiologist came in. To this day, he’s still one of my favorite people on this planet. He had me draped, prepped, and my epidural administered and finished in like 3 minutes flat. Austen still talks about that with such amazement. They let him stay in with me as long as he sat down (I guess guys have a reputation of passing out during the epidural…go figure.) He watched the whole thing and still says it’s one of the coolest things he’s ever seen. I mean, this guy was like an anesthesiologist with the speed of the Flash, and I will forever be grateful for that. Now we were in business…I could somewhat relax, and I wasn’t even feeling the contractions anymore.
My mom showed up around 8:30AM right after I had gotten my epidural, and we spent the next few hours talking and waiting. At noon I really started feeling the urge to push…but according to the nurse, I wasn’t allowed to yet. She just kept telling me to breathe through it, which if you were wondering is the epitome of “easier said than done.” At 12:30PM I pretty much told everyone I was going to push whether they liked it or not, so they finally let me start. Pushing was one of the longest hours of my life, but I’m so grateful it was only an hour. With my mom and Austen on either side of me, I pushed, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. After a week of laboring, an hour of pushing, and a loss of 3 full units of blood, at 1:41PM on Sunday, October 11, 2015 we met our little Eleanor Joan. I had a successful VBAC, we had our little girl, and suddenly it was all worth it.
10.11.15 Eleanor Joan Lacy 8lbs 1oz 20in