My labor for Ramsey lasted a total of 37 hours. Basically, it could be broken down into 3 separate labors: that was the amount of times my body would have to dilate back up to a 10.
The first labor lasted about 21 hours and went exactly how we had learned labor would go from all our classes. My contractions were frequent and continuing to double peak and everything was running smoothly. Then 3am hit and another check from the nurse showed after all that time, I barely had progressed from when I was first admitted. This would be 8 hours later. They kept rechecking because it was hard to get a good read on my cervix, but sure enough there wasn’t any advancement.
Feeling deflated, the Lord would simultaneously use this as one of the most defining moments in my entire labor. I remember turning to Hans and starting to process my defeat out loud through tears and sharing how “I know we said this, but I’m not progressing…” or “I’m not as strong as you think I am” and begging for an epidural. Instead of feeding into the fear and defeat he just listened and looked at me (with us both starting to tear up) and asked everyone if we could take a moment to ourselves and pray.
This is when I broke down even more. Hans just quieted my mind and held my hand. He told me how much he was proud of me and that he would continue to be no matter the decision that was made. Getting a moment to breathe, we sought the Lord. After praying, I told him it was time to read the letters we were encouraged to write by our birth instructor for when this moment would come. (Mine was written to Ramsey and Hans’ letter was written to me.) The life being spoken over me and my son through those letters were just what I needed to focus with a renewed sense of purpose amidst the chaos. And with them, I looked at Hans and told him I am going to do this, without the epidural.
2 hours later, I very suddenly became dilated to a 10 and began to push. My water broke while pushing and with that my body also regressed back down to a 6-7, which can happen to some women because the bag of waters can give a false reading making the cervix appear more open than it is.
The news surprisingly didn’t leave me discouraged, but rather I remember feeling a determination come over me like never before. Our letters were being repeated in my head over and over, and I was ready to do anything to see our little guy get here swiftly and safely.
The second labor lasted 9 hours. As I began laboring, I remember my mother timing all my contractions, Hans having to contort his body just right, hovering over the hospital bed rails to comfort me, and my sister consistently providing all the encouraging words to help me mentally focus on how the pain was “temporary” and that “I can do this. Just get through this one.” The combination of them ALL was so vital. At this point, moving around wasn’t an option anymore for me because of the intensity of the contractions, so I labored on the bed for the entire 9 hours sitting upright. I forgot at what point during that period that it happened, but I suddenly became very nauseous and began throwing up several times and the labor shakes started to set in.
Oddly enough, with all the set-backs my body was having to undergo, I would frequently just have to quiet my mind and remember the Lord and what He went through so I could call Him Father, and how this was my example of sacrifice for Ramsey to be called his Mother, a thought to carry me through parenthood. And as Hans and I would say to each other with each new obstacle-“it’s all going to be so worth it.”
When it came time for pushing the second time and everything was getting prepared once again, I was in a mixture of disbelief and wonderment that we actually made it and had the “natural, pain-med free” labor we were hoping for. Hans and I took in a moment to relish that as everything was getting prepared. After 27 hours, we were about to meet our son for the first time. Through tears from us both, Hans started to whisper in my ear all the wonderful things we will soon get to do with our boy and how this all HAS been so worth it. Then I began to push; after pushing for a while, the nurse checked me again and noticed a lip on my cervix that had became swollen (ironically enough from all the pushing), so where I was once a 10 I regressed back down again to a 6-7.
I couldn’t believe it and remember having the thought that I had no time to feel defeated, but rather to gear up again because I was bound and determined to bring Ramsey into this world naturally, but where man plans his ways…the Lord establishes his steps. After laboring a bit longer I was checked again and showed no progress and our doctor, with concern, came to talk to us about what our options were moving forward. That either I could tough it out some more and see if with more time I would progress and my cervix would soften or receive an epidural to essentially force my body to relax by being numb and get some rest, or I would need a C-section.
Hans cleared the room again and took another moment to pray and discuss what would be best for getting Ramsey here. Weighing all the options and knowing how close and intense my contractions were (they couldn’t be measured because they were going off the chart with maybe a 20-30 sec. break in between), it was clear to us that my body wasn’t being given much time to relax in order to open like we hoped, and we were open to an epidural, but first wanted to try changing positions to see if it would help. After a few more contractions we decided an epidural was the best route to go for us. It was another 3 hours that would go by before I was able to receive it, however, making it a total of 30 hours of a natural, pain-med free labor.
One of the hardest parts of my entire labor was baring those contractions all while having to hold perfectly still so the epidural could be administered and the fact I couldn’t have Hans nearby to hold his hand made it all the more difficult. He would tell you that those were some of the hardest parts for him, seeing me in such excruciating pain and he could only watch. Once the medicine was finally administered, I was checked once more by the nurse and showed I still had not progressed from a 6-7. Leaving me to rest, we were all praying the epidural was hopefully going to remedy the situation.
At this point, we were all just waiting to see…