(That was the last picture I took until leaving the hospital. Rest of the images you'll see are taken by my wonderful friend Amy of Amy Parsons Photography. Thank you Amy for what I will treasure forever.)
While baking, and right in the middle of a very intense, toe curling, pressure wave, we hear a knock at the door. I'm totally limp and leaning against Bret at this point. Bret has cookie dough covering his hands. I move over and lean against the counter. At the door, we find my uncle that raised me, and uncle Dave, who live 3 hours away. It was hilarious. They just happen to be in the area and stopped to see us. I was not very good company. Bret finished the cookies and we hung out for a while. Dave watched closely while I focused and breathed and curled my toes through each pressure wave. He would say "that was a good one wasn't it". I knew this was it at that point. This was around 8:20 PM (according to Bret). We called Julie and asked her to come work through our early birth time with us. Only thing was, we were way past that point. I laid on the couch and listened to my CD's. Bret put pressure on my shoulder and said some words of encouragement with each wave. I knew we were going to leave soon. Julie arrived and asked to time a couple waves. After the very close second pressure wave she said "Yeah...I think we should go". We quickly gathered rest of our things (most were already in the car). I wanted to get our things and get to the car before another pressure wave hit. Walking out the door, I stopped and reminded Bret this would be our last time in the house before this life changing event. This was just after 10 PM.
The drive. Oh the drive. I kept thinking about my friend Rebecca and how she said even her short drive to the hospital was not fun. Our drive would be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Speaking of time. I knew it was dark, but had no clue what time it was. I lost all concept of time. Time was measured in 5 minute increments to me. The hour didn't matter, only the time between each wave. While driving we text everyone and said we were on our way to the hospital. In our mind we had, not only the hour drive, but probably hours of birthing at the hospital. We didn't want to tell everyone too soon in case it would be a while. During the drive, with each wave, Bret would put his hand on my shoulder and try to help me work through it. Julie said she knew every time I had one because Bret would swerve a little. I felt like I was pushing my foot through the floor board. On the outside, I was apparently cool and calm, but on the inside I was a total mess. Things were getting very intense. I listened to everything I could to relax and it would work for a while, then I started to worry we wouldn't make it in time. I started playing mind games with myself.
We get to the hospital and Bret pulls to the front door. We get out, I get in a wheel chair (I had thought I would walk up, but was over that by this point). I won't let Bret leave to get our stuff until Julie is by my side. Julie arrives within the minute and Bret gets rest of our stuff from the car. I order...um ask nicely...for Bret to forget the car - he leaves it parked right at the front door of the hospital (where it stayed until after Steff was born and a friend asked if we wanted them to move it). They both help me through a very intense wave (I don't know what I would do without either one). I give the okay and we make our way to check in.
This whole time I feel like I'm looking and acting like a mess, but no one knew because I was so calm on the outside. This still amazes me because I really thought I was a mess. I broke out of my tranquil, calm, self, to let the lady at check in know that I was serious and needed to get back immediately. FYI...if you let them know this, they will hurry. She asked if I was in a lot of pain. I wanted to stay positive, but also knew that I needed to get back quickly. "Yes...yes...I'm in pain" made it's way out of my mouth. Then I kept telling myself "pressure, not pain. Pressure, not pain." Then...I closed my eyes. Everything was a blur. I left my eyes closed pretty much until Steff was on my belly. I opened them to see the room and to look Julie and Bret in the eyes when I thought I couldn't do it.
Once in the room, I was hooked up to the monitor to check on Steffen's heart rate. A cervical exam was also done to see how far I had come and how much I had to go. You can imagine my dismay when I was only dilated to 3 cm's. 3!!! I knew I had a while, but jeeze. The worse part though, Steff was not digging the pressure waves. I listened as my baby's heart beat would drop so far down that I thought it was going to stop completely. I was only 3 cm and I had to get my baby out. I had asked to not be hooked up to an IV and to only be hooked to the monitors for a short bit, but with this, everything changed. Whatever they said they needed to do, I said ok. Bret and Julie would, thankfully, ask all questions for me. I was so lost because all I could think about was that heart beat. I'll never forget that sound. I couldn't focus through the pressure waves at this point. They were too close together and too hard. I was shivering and couldn't stop. I had to pee so bad that I couldn't stand it and wasn't able to get off the monitor. Truly the worst part for me was the shivering and the pee. I couldn't concentrate. I laid there thinking I couldn't do this and I needed an epidural. I thought there was no way I could do this for hours. Everything was happening too fast. I had no time in between to refocus. (Side note...I definitely do not think there's anything wrong with epidurals, it's just not what I wanted. Everything had been so clinical for us. I wanted something to be as natural as possible. And I knew that, although my body was screwed up and it took forever to get pregnant, that didn't mean anything was wrong with me pregnant. Also note that the only reason I asked for an epidural was because I thought the long, strong, and close together waves were going to go on for hours. Just in case you're someone who's thinking "I knew she would ask for an epidural".)
I looked at Bret and Julie and calmly said "I can't do this. I want an epidural." Everything was back to back at this point. Almost constant. The nurses and Bret gave Melissa an update. Everyone thought it would be a while, but with Steff's heart beat dropping, she thought it best to come on. Once there, she checked and said "have you been feeling pushy?" I said that I had, but thought it was too soon and was holding back. Julie asked how far I was and she said "10. You're complete. He's here. Once I break your water, he's here." For the first time, I cried (this was tears of relief) and said "He's here?" She asked if I was sure I wanted the epidural right as the antistesiologist walked in. I said if he was here I didn't need it. Looking back, I should've known I was already in transition. Shivering from the hormones, pressure waves so close together. Julie always said that we don't birth by numbers and just hearing the numbers (dilation, etc) can be discouraging. It really messed with my mind that's for sure. I should've just trusted my body.
As everyone was scurrying around, I looked at Julie and said I didn't think I could do this. She said "You've done it. Open your eyes. Look at everyone running around. That means he's here." With another pressure wave, I said I couldn't hold my pee any more and that I was just going to do it. I peed everywhere and felt like a million dollars. This is what was holding me back. With this, I lost rest of my "mucus plug" (gross). I also started to be much louder (I was afraid I had scared all the other women on the floor) and said with a growl "peace" as I would breath through each wave (and eventually breath out during the pushes). Melissa broke my water and the party really got started. Bret was to the right of me. Julie was to the left. Bret held my head and my right leg. Julie held my left. I had no idea how to push. It wasn't like what I had read (probably because Steff was so small and there was less pressure from him). It didn't feel like my body was taking over and pushing. I had to make it happen. Melissa said to hold my legs and curl my body around Steff and push him out. I couldn't hold my legs, instead I held Bret and Julie and almost broke their arms. Bret said he couldn't believe how strong I was and that it took all his strength to hold me. They were each reminding me to breath and giving me cues to relax. I truly thought that there was no way I was going to push him out. With each push I thought if he wasn't out, he wasn't coming out. Bret said he could see everything and it was amazing. It was like what was going on "down there" was completely separate from me.
While pushing, Steff's heart rate continued to drop each time. Our midwife said that he didn't like the pressure waves and I had to get him out now. That with the next push I needed to push as hard as I could. She turned around, a pressure wave came at the same time. I decided that was it and he was coming out now. I screamed and pushed with everything inside me. This is what God made me to do. This was it. I didn't care what happened to me. God gave me the power and he was out. She literally turned around with my scream and caught him. There was no moment of his head coming out and then me pushing again to get his body out. He was out. Bret said Melissa calmly unwrapped the tiny cord from his body and laid him on my belly. I later found out that it was not only wrapped around his neck, but up under and around his arms, his body...everything.
I opened my eyes. He was here. On my belly...not inside it. I ripped my gown open and asked for him to be on my chest. He went to my chest and everyone started to dry him off. He started to cry and I shushed him to calm him as I had so many other babies. I was finally calming my own. They asked Bret if he wanted to cut the cord and he asked if that was okay for him to do (I thought that was so cute). He cut the cord and we were in pure bliss.
Here's my most prized possession. A quick video Julie thought to get with my phone. I edited it to remove all nipple shots. :) For those reading this through email, you will have to watch it at