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     I'm not sure I'd win the award for the world's worst labor, but I'm definitely a contender for the world's oddest labor! Before it all even began, my doctor had prepared me for challenges that may arise, and to remember that things can change in the blink of an eye so it's best to be flexible during delivery.... these things I knew and I prepared myself accordingly. However, what I wasn't prepared for was EVERYTHING being thrown up in the air, causing me to face fears I didn't think I could face in moments that I felt too tired to face them. So, for those who are interested, here is the story of Wyatt's birth.
     Past my due date and convinced that he was never going to come out, I decided that I was tired of waiting around for him. It was Friday night and we planned some family time, so we rented the beloved "Frozen" to watch for the evening. Halfway through the movie, I started to have contractions (not that I got too excited over this, because who knew if they were real or just another form of Braxton Hicks, right??). Either way, I decided to pull out my handy dandy contraction tracker app on my phone, just to see if there was a pattern to these annoying pains. And after several hours, I realized that there was no consistent pattern, but that I was averaging a contraction once every 15-20 minutes. I'd already had one false labor scare and my poor parents drove all the way from Michigan just to sit here and watch me remain pregnant, no grandchild to be produced, so I certainly didn't want to make that mistake again and call them too hastily. I decided to just go to bed and see how I felt in the morning.
     Except trying to sleep through contractions is kinda like trying to sleep through an earthquake. Some things can't (and shouldn't) be ignored! By morning, the contractions were averaging 10 minutes apart, but still there was no set pattern to them, which I was told was a sign that they were Braxton Hicks and not true contractions. So, on I labored (I just didn't know I was doing so). We picked up Isaac for our weekend visit and hung out around the house for the day, just in case my body did anything too crazy. And anyways, I was exhausted from not having slept at all the previous night. Never having pulled an all-nighter before, my body was stuck in Zombie Mode. Finally, by around 5pm, my husband encouraged me to call my parents to come out. The contractions were getting stronger, but still all over the place. And, as sure as I'm sitting here, about an hour after making the call, the pains slowed down considerably. Great, I thought, another false alarm as soon as my parents get on the road! However, being several days past my due date, Mom and Dad decided to keep driving because it was only a matter of time before I would have to pop, right?
     They arrived at 11pm on Saturday night and we all decided to "get some sleep" just in case things were to pick up again. Sure enough, moments after placing my head on the pillow, the contractions went from about 15 minutes apart to 6 minutes apart (but STILL irregular!!). I laid awake monitoring frequencies and strength of the pains as my husband sawed logs next to me. But once I had two episodes in a 4 minute span, I promptly woke him and my parents up at 1am and we began the hour ride into Pittsburgh where my hospital was located. Thankfully, there isn't a whole lot of traffic in the middle of the night and our trip was shorter than expected! Long story short, the doctor examined me and found I was only half a cm dilated (seriously?!?!) and he had me walk laps for an hour to keep the contractions coming strong. They were 2-3 minutes apart when he checked me again, but I had only increased to 1 cm dilated. The option to induce labor was mentioned by the nurse and I told her that I didn't want to do anything that would increase my chances of having a c-section (my horrific fear of needles and knives being a major concern!). So, after almost 11 hours at the hospital, the doctor gave me a shot of morphine to help me sleep (aka help me hallucinate) and sent me home to finish laboring there.
     I managed to get 2 hours of sleep, although somewhat interrupted.... my hubby's nerves through this whole process had the poor man sleep talking and asking me random questions every few minutes! When I woke from the nap, the contractions had slowed to about one per hour. Awesome. I spent the rest of Sunday evening power walking up and down my driveway and my patient and sleepy husband even took me on a bumpy quad ride to try to get things going again. But all of it was in vain. There was nothing left for me to do other than wait until my OB appointment the following afternoon. Feeling defeated, I went to bed. I managed almost 4 hours of sleep before contractions woke me up again, keeping me hopping until mid-morning, at which point they decided to hibernate once more. I was starting to become very angry at my uterus. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or maybe it was the mostly consistent pains I'd been experiencing for almost 3 days... but I had just about had it with this pregnancy! I was hanging on by a very loose thread and my hormones just couldn't take it anymore. By the time me and my family arrived at my doctor's appointment on Monday afternoon, I was a frazzled, hairy mess. My doctor checked me and informed me that, guess what, I was 1.5 cm dilated. Oh my gosh, for real???? All those contractions for 3 days and I'm only 1.5 cm and 50% effaced??? There had to be some mistake! My mind was reeling and my doctor could tell I was going to lose it, so she offered up some more bad news, just for good measure.
     "I hate to tell you this, but I'm not usually wrong about these things. Your baby is very high and isn't dropping at all. You need to prepare yourself for a c-section." (Cue waterworks now.) Too tired to contain myself, I let the sobs take over. And when I could catch my breath, I politely begged her to get my baby out of me.... immediately. Lucky for me, she was the on-call doctor for the following day, and she was able to schedule my induction for 7am the following morning. Thank GOD! Finally some good news!
     My plan was to sleep well that night so that I'd be in better shape for delivering a kid into this world the next morning. BUT, true to form, as soon as I laid my head on the pillow, the contractions picked right back up. 10 minutes apart... 7 minutes apart... 5 minutes apart.... shoot, gotta puke.... oh no, both ends? really??... oh, Lord in heaven, make it stop!... 4 minutes apart.... time to go, but can't bring the toilet with me... At 5 am, we were in the car, barf bucket in one hand, contraction tracker in the other. We made it to the hospital in time for me to book it to the bathroom yet again. It was later that morning that I learned my mother-in-law and son both developed the flu, which I had probably caught on my delivery day, as luck would have it. But since my contractions were moving along steadily on their own, the hospital staff decided to wait on the induction and just let me labor for a bit. I was 2 cm dilated and having strong contractions 2-3 minutes apart.
     My husband held my hand for the next few hours as I practiced my breathing and tried new positions to see what would help alleviate the pain. And then, my husband surprised me and asked me when I was going to start yelling at him.... I guess he thought I was gonna be a monster during labor, screaming and yelling and writhing in pain, but I told him I didn't think it would help and he didn't do anything worth yelling at (yet) so what would be the point?? He sweetly stayed by my side and repeatedly told me how proud he was of me for doing such a good job. I don't know why, but that meant more to me than anything else. By early afternoon I was only at 4 cm and ready to talk epidural (hello, Fear!). The lovely nurse Shelley assured me that my progress would increase when my body was more relaxed. So, I made the doctor promise to not tell me what he was doing and the nice man agreed to let Pat stay in the room with me for the process. Unable to control my full body convulsions (these happen whenever I'm terrified or in great having contractions while terrified didn't help) I was overwhelmingly proud of myself that I didn't pass out!! And sure enough, an hour later I was at 6 cm.
     However, 6 cm is where I stayed for the next 5 hours. During this time, Wyatt's heart rate kept dropping off the radar and they had to hook a little coil into his scalp to better keep track of his heart beats, also inserting a probe into me to monitor the strength of my contractions as they tried to find the right dose of Pitocin that would keep me progressing without risking Wyatt's health. "Try to sleep," they told me as my baby's heart rate blipped inconsistently on the monitor next to me. "It may just the the cord wrapped around his neck, which is really quite common." Sleep?? Really??? Tell me, exactly how does one sleep when their baby is in danger? Pat was watching me stare at the monitor, refusing to rest. So, my incredible husband told me that he would watch the monitor for me and would wake me if anything was wrong, but that he wanted me to rest. So I tried.... not very well, but I think I got a few minutes in here and there.
     Finally my doctor came in and told me that we had given it as long as we could.... Wyatt was still far too high for whatever reason, and I was not dilating any further. It was time for the c-section. Nurse Shelley was there and held my hand. "You've been so strong all day... it's ok to cry," she said. And I did. I couldn't keep it in any longer. My greatest fear was happening and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't get Wyatt out any other way and his heart rate was still posing a concern.... it had to be done, but how was I gonna make my mind get through it?? I looked over and saw my husband, still holding my hand, crying right alongside me. He knew I had tried so hard all day and that I was scared beyond belief. In that moment, it was as if he felt my pain and helped share it with me. All of a sudden the nausea came back with a vengeance and I felt like I was on fire. Out of nowhere I had spiked a fever and the puking returned. But there was no time for this, because prep work had already began and I was being wheeled to the Operating Room moments after my parents prayed over me and the baby one last time. Pat wasn't allowed into the room until the very last minute and I laid there, shaking like a leaf, unable to move anything from my neck down. I vomited through most of the prep and part of the surgery.... throw up ran down my cheek and rested in my ear, in my hair, and down my neck. The slightly-too-peppy anesthesiologist didn't see this as a problem and just kept chattering on to me about how a nice alcohol wipe to the forehead was just what I needed. (No, what I needed was for her to unclog my puke-ear and to get out of my face for a few minutes!)
     Eventually, Pat was allowed into the room and they immediately began the procedure. He held my hand and I found myself getting dizzier and increasingly convulsive as the minutes ticked by. My dream delivery was to have worship music playing, my mom and husband next to me, and for me to immediately hold my baby as he came out. I pictured myself crying happy tears and planting loving kisses all over his face. But my reality was far less lovely. There was no music, just the sounds of instruments clanging and doctors exchanging words I didn't understand. My mind felt heavy and my body felt sick and out of my control. And when I finally heard little Wyatt's first cries, I felt nothing. I didn't see him until everything was over, but even then, I couldn't keep my eyes from crossing and I couldn't even make it register in my mind that I had just had a baby.
     They wheeled me back into recovery and shoved Wyatt's little face onto my breast, telling me long instructions of how to feed him as I stared blankly at them, unable to make words that even resembled English come from my mouth. Machines beeped frantically behind me and doctors ran in and out injecting more and more medication into my IV. What is going on? Why all the beeping? Why is this lady telling me to feed my baby when I can't move anything below my neck? Why am I so confused??? Apparently my blood pressure had decided to plummet and they couldn't get it re-stabilized with the medications. And since I had thrown up so much during delivery, the doctor told me that they had given me literally every single nausea medicine they had in stock at the hospital, none of which made a difference. Not to mention the anti-anxiety med they injected to help me stay calm, and the high dosage of benedryll that probably aided my overall feelings of loopiness! They finally got my BP somewhat stabilized (68 over 44!) before sending me upstairs to my new room where I was able to actually meet my new little man without my eyes rolling back into my head! And as I looked at his little face, I realized that he was perfect. (Well, mostly.... he had a bit of a cone head from sitting in my pelvis too long earlier that day! Turns out, Wyatt had been sunny-side up with his head cocked to the side.... there was no way he was ever going to come out vaginally, and he had the funny-shaped head to prove it!)
     After 4 sleepless days and nights, it was finally time to rest. Or was it?? Due to the low blood pressure, the nurse had to come in and check my vitals every 30 minutes, and due to some bleeding issues I was having, the doctor had to come use my uterus as a trampoline every hour, pushing on it as though giving it CPR as I gagged in pain. And at 4am, apparently my bleeding was a bit more than they had planned for and I heard a code go out over the loud speaker as no fewer than 20 nurses and doctors charged into my room to look between my sprawled legs, push on my uterus some more, and discussing with each other my state of "gushing". I looked over at my personal nurse and told her I was starting to feel like a $2 whore.... "Oh no, honey, you're worth way more than $2," she said with a smile. And once the bleeding stopped, it was time for vitals again, and then to feed Wyatt, and then to have my uterus jumped on, and then vitals..... so on and so forth. It had now been 5 days with only 6 hours of sleep... my blood pressure still teetered on and off the safety zone, and my fever wouldn't go away. Apparently my blood count was also rather low, due to the loss of blood, and the word "transfusion" was flippantly tossed out there. Good heavens, this was getting ridiculous! To top things off, the local anesthesia they gave me refused to wear off and I couldn't properly use my legs for almost 2 days, AND I had an allergic reaction to all the tapes they used on my skin (the reaction is still with me to this day, as is the persistent fever, hooray!)
     Pat, Wyatt, and I were finally released from the hospital on Friday, a week after this entire event began. My parents were here to help out, and my husband has been a God-send. In fact, before we left the hospital, Pat looked at me and told me that he loved me more than he ever thought possible, and that, after going through this experience, he had never felt this close to another human being in his entire life. And even now, he tells me daily that I'm doing a good job, that I'm a good mother, that, even when I'm crying and exhausted, he's so proud of me. I don't think I would've made it through quite this well without him being my faithful cheerleader and backbone. Still tired, still sore, and still kinda sick, I am at least in my own home with helpers all around me as I learn how to be a brand new mom in a way that I haven't had the privilege of experiencing before. Are there tears? Um, yes. Are there a few breakdowns as I stare into the refrigerator at 1:30am not knowing what to eat, but recognizing the somewhat familiar pangs of hunger jabbing at me as my baby refuses to sleep? Yep. But overall, we're getting through it! Cameron and Taylor love their new sibling, and Isaac will eventually get through his feelings of "dethronement" with a little extra love :) Thank you to everyone who sent up prayers, cards, and words of encouragement through this entire ordeal. I have loved sharing every second of this journey with you all!

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