I always assumed that Lola would come early. (Official due date was July 10th) Max came two weeks early and Levi one week early (Avila was a day late - now that I think about it girls do take longer to get ready) and I totally thought we'd have our baby here by July 4th. Actually I wanted a July 4th baby because that would be cool and I would never have to plan a party. But the 4th then the 5th then the 6th then the 10th rolled around and still no baby. Funny thing was, even though I was at my due date, I never really felt super pregnant. I actually felt (don't kill me) great. I remember thinking when July rolled around that I could still go for weeks and it didn't feel like baby was coming anytime soon. I ran up until 40 weeks plus one day. I did boot camp and paddle boarded the day before she was born. I had energy and never really felt like I had to "get this baby out now" (except for the fact that I was DONE wearing the same black tank top and sweats everyday). So maybe Lola was all stuck up in there because she liked the running (you think that would make her fall out...) or because she knew she was baby #4 and gonna get pounded on or because she was just so darn cozy and didn't want to face this crazy world. And despite contractions that seemed to pick up as the days went on, she wasn't going anywhere.
I was faced with the idea of getting induced when I went in for an appointment on my due date. But since Lola was fine and I wasn't uncomfortable I wanted to let things take it's course. Five days later when I went in for another appointment, and subsequent ultrasound, it was found that my placenta was getting ooooold and my amniotic fluid levels were pretty low. Conclusion: go upstairs and have a baby. I pushed back on the induction but actually deep down I felt it was the right thing.
You see, I had it in my head of how things would go. Duh, doesn't every woman plan how everything's going to go? Anyway, I thought I would go into labor at night (like I did with the other babies), it would go super fast ('cause it's #4 and they fall out right?) and that's how it would be. I envisioned scrambling to the hospital and barely making it in time. But this time Michael and I moseyed over to the hospital, calling people as we arrived, nonchalantly saying "um, we're going to have a baby now."
After getting checked in upstairs I was given a run down of how things would go: up to three rounds of Cytotec (a contraction inducing pill, once every 3 hours) monitoring baby in between and then see if we needed to do anything from there. I had cytotec once before with Avila when my water was leaking but no contractions had started yet. I'm pretty wary of taking any medication but I was comforted knowing I had this thing before with no complications. Because once you start the medicine train during labor it can lead to other interventions and my goal was to have another "leave me alone I want to have a baby by myself" labor and delivery. Seriously, my ideal labor would be to retreat into a dark quiet place (preferably in Maui), labor by myself, have a few people show up for the delivery to help (OK Michael you can show up now) and done and done.
Anyway, before I took the first pill, I texted a whole bunch of people asking for prayers for what was about to ensue and was amazed all the responses I got. To know that all these people were lifting me and our little one up in prayer made me realize that I don't need to have it all figured out, I just need to trust. And trust did I.
At 1:00pm I took the first round and was monitored for about 30 minutes to see how baby would respond. She looked great and then I was taken off the monitors and free to walk around the hospital to get things moving. I already was having random contractions (and dilated to 2cm) before heading up to get induced so that was a plus - I would be a bit more hesitant if things weren't "happening" already. Michael was in and out of the room finishing up some odds and ends with work and my sisters, mom, and good friend (shout out, Katie, XOXO!) were there with me. Katie and I decided to walk around and we did the illegal thing and walked the stairs. Actually I walked them all funny like and Katie took pictures. Contractions still random at this point but getting stronger. On the way back up we stopped by the gift shop and Katie found the most adorable girl outfit that she got, because really deep down we all (everyone but Michael) knew it was a girl.
Back up to my room I got another round of cytotec at 4pm and by this point contractions were fairly regular - probably 3-5 minutes apart. Katie was a doll and ran to my favorite Thai place to grab me fresh rolls then to the grocery store to pick me up two bottles of Kombucha and when she returned around 5:30 I had kicked everyone out of my room 'cause I was entering the "leave me alone in a dark room to be by myself" stage of labor. 2-3 minutes apart. Picking up steam.
By 7pm the contraction were still super close and getting stronger. Hoping to deliver this one sans druggos I employed my strategies once each contraction hit: close eyes, RELAX EVERY SINGLE MUSCLE IN MY BODY, sloooowly count to 10 in my head, and tell myself it doesn't hurt. And in between contractions take a sip of water. I would try to change positions every 10 contractions or so. That part sucked. And hurt a lot. By 8pm I was around 5cm dilated and was asked if I wanted my water broken. Like smash a bottle against a wall? Sure!!! Oh, the other water? No thanks. Not yet.
By 8pm I was wheeled from my triage room to my delivery room (which apparently was the same room I delivered Levi in) and while I thought I wanted to finish laboring in the wheelchair (like I did with Levi) I wanted out of that thing. Contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and so so so so so strong. Like, zone everything out and enter another world, type strong.
And I know this sounds weird, but during this stage I actually had visions. From what I remember this happened with Levi, too. When the pain and pressure became unbearable I would let everything go and when I was emptied of everything, I was consoled. I was consoled by the angels and a heavenly light and the face of Mary. Quite a bold statement, I know, but I'm not a wacko and I know what I saw. During these times, during my most intense moments of pain, I would smile. It was both a conscious (to trick my body) and unconscious smile. It reminded me that through the most unbearable sufferings we can find the most wonderful joy. The contractions were one after the other and twice as long and I was beginning to get tired wondering how much longer I could go on.
In labor, the moment you want to give up is usually the moment when baby is close. So I asked to be checked and was at 7cm. I had my doc break my water knowing that it would speed things up. I also knew it would bring more intense and painful contractions. I prepared myself mentally and accepted whatever pain would ensue. It was 10pm. My water broke and I laid on my left side. Literally two contractions later I yelled, "GET THE DOCTOR IN HERE NOW BABY IS COMING RIGHT THIS SECOND." There may or may not have been an expletive. Or five.
Another contraction went by and I thought I would be delivering my own child. Within two minutes I had my doctor, the nurses (shout out Heather!! my running buddy who delivered my third baby who was also there to deliver my fourth!) my family (sisters, mom, Mike's mom, and friend Katie) and Michael there to welcome our baby. At 10:55pm and after three pushes (which SUCK BY THE WAY) our little girl was born. She was beautiful and perfect.
During labor (at the end mostly) I asked myself why I would keep "doing this to myself." Namely, go without drugs. It's not that I think they're evil or anything - I actually had an epidural with my first and had a great experience. (Except for her heart rate dropping and needing to go on oxygen and all….) I think going all in has to do with embracing the beauty and glory found in suffering. I've gone through a lot of hard things in life, and a lot of which don't compare to labor. (Except for White River 50, I think I said that was harder.) But as I get older or go through more and more hard things I am realizing the amazing things that can result: the strength found in being broken, the empathy experienced for those who are suffering worse, the relational glory and elation coming out on the other side. I am grateful for the times I suffer for they make be better, stronger, more able to handle other things in life that come my way.
With Lourdes I was oddly enough looking forward to labor. OK, now I'm entering wacko territory. But there is something deeply exciting about having gone through this other worldly experience - that and getting to finally hold your baby. I was excited to retreat into the dark of the night (or the dark of my hospital room) away from it all and, while the rest of the world is going about their normal day, bring forth a life. I can't really explain it more than that and if I tried and tried you would probably just get bored and ignore it anyway. So I'll keep all that to myself and revel in the experience that is having babies.
As we now are in the next chapter of Lola's life (chapter 1 being in the womb), we get to experience new and beautiful things. But I will always hold close to my heart her entrance into the world and, who, knows, I'll probably forget about all the hard crap and want to do it again or something.