Happy 1st Birthday, Bjørn Mikael!
We are SO glad you came into our lives one year ago today... and I thought to today would be a good day to share your story with you! We love you!
On Thursday night, April 9th 2009, the night Andrew came home from his week-long mission trip in Mexico, I noticed that things were starting to change. I lost my ‘plug’ that night and just started to feel a little different in general. The next day was uneventful, until we got to Bible Study that evening. A few hours into the evening (about 7pm, I think!) I started to feel some contractions. Nothing too bad, but definitely enough to get my attention. My doula, Kim - who is also one of my good friends, was there so I gave her the heads up that things might be happening soon.
We went home and tried to relax and wait things out… I couldn’t sleep (way too excited!) so I got in the shower to try and distract myself from the worsening pain. The shower was helpful, but didn’t make any change in the progression of my contractions, and since our hospital is over an hour away we decided to make a phone call and see what we should do. (I definitely had a fear of having the baby in the car on the long drive to the hospital! Maybe because my dad was born in the car on the way to the hospital!)
After timing the contractions for a while, and talking to the hospital - and Kim a few times, we decided to head down to the hospital. Better safe than sorry! We arrived at the hospital around 11:30pm, and checked in. Unfortunately, it turned out that I was only 1cm dialated and so they spent a few hours observing me and deciding if they were going to let me stay or send us home.
Those few hours were emotional torture for me. The worst part of the whole labor experience actually! I have such a hard time with the unknown, and at that point everything was unkown! Would they let me stay? Was I actually in active labor? Or just starting the long journey of labor that can take days or longer?
I was so afraid of being sent home… mostly because of the drive there and back. Ultimately I think they let us stay because they were having a slow night and because of our drive (and maybe a little bit because of my emotional distress??). Also, because it turns out I was progressing, albeit slowly. After walking the halls for a few hours, I progressed to 2cm, and that was enough to show that things were moving.
Let me back up a little bit here. Going into labor, I still hadn’t really decided how I felt about having a ‘natural’ childbirth or choosing pain medication. I thought I would try to go ‘natural’ as long as I could take it (who was I kidding?) and then ask for the epidural. I really didn’t know much about anything when it came to labor and delivery, other than what I had seen on A Baby Story and other Discovery Health shows. I never took a birthing class, and I didn't have many people to talk to. Therefore, my biggest fear (due to the negative bent of those shows, and partly due to my mom’s birth history) was having a c-section. I wanted so badly to experience a vaginal birth, and to have my baby in my arms from the moment he came out, but I fully expected that I would need to have a c-section. (Talk about pessimism, right??)
Thankfully that wasn’t the case! But that is why I chose the hospital I did. There are 2 closer hospitals to us (each about 40 minutes away) but neither of them had the facilities I wanted for my birth, in the event that I would need to have a c-section.
Back to the story... I didn’t last very long in my desire to go ‘natural’. When they finally told me I could stay at the hospital, all I could think was ‘when can I get that epidural?’. They told me I needed to be 3cm dialated, so I ended up getting the first epidural at 5:30 the next morning (Saturday, April 11th). (Are you paying attention? That’s only 2cm in over 6 hours… not moving too fast here!)
Yes, I did say first epidural. When they set up the epidural, my body didn’t fully ‘take’ the drugs and so I had what the anesthesiologist called an “island” on the left side of my belly. Basically I had a spot the size of my fist that had no pain relief at all, while the rest of me was numb. But the pain level was so much better than before that I just brushed it off and thought “No big deal, I can handle this!”.
At 10 the doctor decide to break my water to try and speed things up. I was 100% effaced, but only 3cm dialated. Once they broke my water the pain got increasingly worse, in my ‘island’, and around 11am I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore. If I was going to have pain relief, I wanted to have pain relief! So they called in the anesthesiologist, took everything out and started all over with the epidural (and let me tell you, the ripping of the tape off my back was much worse than the actual needles!). This time it worked, and I believe they also gave me somewhat of a bigger dose, and we all were able to relax and get some rest!
(Side note here: None of us had slept for over 24 hours at this point – much longer than that for me! – and Andrew was feeling sick, and crashing from his exhausting week. He was no help, and we were so grateful to have Kim there to take care of me! A big part of my decision to have the epidural in the first place was feeling bad for them and knowing that if I got some rest, they could get some rest.)
At 1:20pm I was given Pitocin to help speed up my labor (I now know that epidurals slow down labor, necessitating this drug, but at the time I was oblivious). My contractions began to increase in intensity and frequency, and at 3:20pm they upped my Pitocin to 7.0. At 4:45pm they increased the Pitocin to 11.0, hoping to get my contractions closer togther. At 5:30pm the nurse checked me again and I was fully dialated with just a rim left. Almost ready! At 6:30 she checked again, and there was barely a rim left, and Bjorn was at +2 station (meaning his head was pretty close to being visible, and it was almost time to meet him!)!
(You might have noticed that the information I just shared in that last paragraph was pretty straight-forward and unemotional. Remember, I was drugged up and feeling pretty good. And apparently not remembering much… I had to get all that info from my doula!)
But then, things really started to get good. I don’t remember how long after that it was that Kim asked if she could check to see if she could see the baby’s head. Of course I said yes, and she took a peek and there it was! That’s when things got real for me. They must have turned down the epidural, or even turned it off, because by the time I was ready to push I had complete feeling back. (What?!?)
I couldn’t believe how intense the feeling of “I need to push… NOW” is! My body really was taking control, and I was just along for the ride! Of course it was a busy day in the hospital with every room full and the nurses and doctors running around like crazy, so I was told to try and hold on for the doctor to get there before I could push. And he did show up…eventually! (Ok, I’m sure it wasn’t that long, but it sure felt that way!)
Pushing was… amazing. And terrifying. And empowering. And… SOOOOO painful! Let me tell you… when ‘they’ say “Ring of Fire”, they’re not exaggerating!! That’s exactly what it felt like. A ring of fire. So excruciating. I just wanted it to end! And yet, the doctor told me to stop pushing. Seriously? Stop?? Are you KIDDING me?!? As if I even could. My body had taken complete control by then, and my sweet little boy came out in less than 15 minutes of the most intense physical experience of my life.
At 7:28pm on Saturday April 11th, 2009, Bjørn Mikael Thomas was born... weighing 6lbs 14.6oz and measuring 20.2 inches long!
You were so beautiful and so tiny! I can’t even begin to explain that feelings and emotions that were washing over me at that moment, other than to say… I was head over heels in love with you and I knew that my life would never be the same!
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!!! I love you!