Ligament pain or not, I continued to have pain at regular intervals all weekend. I couldn't sleep, because the pain would come (again) within a few minutes. And there were no comfortable positions. It didn't matter whether I stood, walked, sat, laid down, etc.--the pain kept coming. Saturday, Nelson called the hospital, desperate for some options (Tylenol was doing nothing). The nurse insisted that it was ligament pain, and that I should take Tylenol and rest. Sigh.
By Sunday, I thought I was going to lose my mind. The pain never let up, the entire weekend--it continued to come like clockwork every few minutes. Nelson was frustrated because he could see how miserable I was, but he couldn't fix it (plus, I'm sure he was tired--I woke up a few times crying out in the night). We agreed to call my doctor on Monday, but we still had to get through Sunday somehow. I was all over the house, trying to find a comfortable position. I posted to Facebook, thinking that perhaps other mommies had experienced this and could offer advice or solutions. They tried, and I tried all the tips they gave, but nothing was working.
So Monday, I called the doctor, and the triage nurse said to come in. I would be seeing the midwife again, but they would evaluate me and try to come up with a solution.
When I saw the midwife, I described the weekend to her. She immediately said she needed to do an internal exam. As an aside, guess what? She had no trouble conducting said exam. But her eyes did round a bit. "Somebody didn't know what they were doing Friday night," she said. "You are paper thin and dilated."
Here's the thing: the location and nature of my pain did not change at any point over these several days! If the pains I was having on Monday morning were labor pains, then I can only assume the pains I was having on Friday were as well. At the very least, they were Braxton Hicks contractions, gearing up for the real event...which started sometime Saturday or Sunday.
Here's where the story gets somewhat heavy and introspective. I've never posted anything this rawly honest here. But here goes. Throughout this pregnancy, I have been wrestling with the decision whether to do a repeat c-section or try for VBAC. I have gone back and forth too many times to count, and I have been begging God for wisdom. When we had the scare over the amniotic fluid, and my c-section was scheduled, I thought I had my answer. And I felt better for not having had to make the decision in the end; complications had made it for me. I couldn't mess it up!
But in the doctor's office, the midwife looked at me and asked, "Since you went into labor on your own, do you want to try for VBAC?" I panicked. The moment had arrived, the situation was no longer urgent, and I had to call the shots. But I was exhausted, I had been in pain for days, and I was scared. The answer I blurted out came immediately, but I'm still not entirely sure it was the right one. "No," I almost whispered. "I really don't."
VBAC vs. repeat c-section is such an emotionally loaded topic. Women on both sides feel very strongly about their positions. As I've tried to make this decision, I've felt the pull in both directions. I know God designed women's bodies to give birth in the normal fashion, and that medical intervention in the process is a new and recent thing. Part of me wonders if I did it wrong, not choosing to try the more natural route. Maybe this whole going into labor on my own thing was God telling me to try doing things His way, and I blew it. I don't know.
But Nelson offered another perspective, and I've been thinking about it as well. The reason for my c-section with Sarah was NOT failure to progress. She was in serious distress at the time, and the c-section wound up saving her life. But the fact remains that I never got past 4 centimeters while in labor with her. When the midwife checked me on Monday, even thought I had been having the pain at regular intervals for the entire weekend, I was only at 3.5 centimeters. Nelson thinks my body perhaps goes very slowly, and that I might have reached a "failure to progress" point if I had tried to continue.
I don't know. I draw comfort from words I saw elsewhere on the Internet: "A mother's worth is not determined by how she gives birth." Even if I did blow it in the heat of the moment and make the wrong call, I have a lifetime to try to make right decisions while parenting Natalie. I will continue to seek God's wisdom and instruction for that.
Right or wrong, the c-section was performed Monday afternoon. Natalie Rose was born at 3:42 p.m., weighing 6 pounds, 0.8 ounces, and she was 19.5 inches long. She has dark hair, like Sarah did at birth, and actually resembles her big sister as a newborn. She also has Sarah's feisty attitude! ;)
She's a snugly baby, loving to be held and cuddled. She's a hungry little thing and very impatient when it comes time to eat. All in all, she's perfect, even if her mommy isn't. :)
Sarah is enjoying big sisterhood (so far), and has even cracked me up with some of her comments and observations. I am nursing Natalie, and Sarah told my parents that "Mommy has a built-in bottle!" I have to use a shield when nursing (as I did with Sarah), and Sarah asked me if it was a "bottle top." Sarah picked out a stuffed animal as a gift for Natalie, and helped my mom shop for an Easter dress. She likes to help out, and she likes to pat or rub Natalie's head.
So far, we're settling into life okay. I'm sure we'll be feeling our way along for the next several weeks of exhaustion, healing, and figuring out a new routine. But for now, we're doing good, and we know we are very, very blessed.