They say every birth is different and yet, I somehow expect each one to resemble the previous. I guess that’s just the way it is. You have NO idea what to expect, so you expect what’s happened before. Well, that’s not the way it goes!
According to my midwife (because of my previous ultrasounds), I was 42 weeks pregnant at my appointment on January 28th. According to my charting dates, I was 40 weeks and three days. I haven’t had a baby at any less than 40 weeks 6 days, so I was unconcerned. Well, I was a little concerned. I had an ultrasound that day and Baby D was measuring at almost 11 pounds. All in all though, I wasn’t worried. I know those ultrasounds can be quite a bit off especially at the end. I also knew that after the drama of M’s birth, I was ready to deliver a larger baby.
My midwife and the doctor that works with her wanted to induce labor by breaking my water that day. It was their theory that because I had SO much water, that could be keeping Baby D “floating” and not allowing labor to start. They were both guessing that if they broke my water, labor would start on its own and everything would progress normally. It was just a guess, but one they felt pretty good about.
Well, there was one more problem. I had a terrible cold. I’d had it for a couple days and it was one of those knock you out on the couch with runny nose and head congestion kinds of colds. I was fairly certain that if I had to face labor with that kind of cold, I wouldn’t have the strength to have my natural birth. I’d been praying about this (since I figured they’d want to DO something at this appointment) and I decided to ask for two more days to recover and give D one more chance to start labor on his own.
We scheduled the induction for Thursday at 1:00 pm. I didn’t like it, but that’s what we did. Like I said, I was a *little* concerned about his size.
Well, the rest of Tuesday went on as usual with me doing everything I could to get rid of the cold. Epsom salt bath, garlic, echinacea, cut up onions stinking up the house, Robitussin…you get the idea. I was determined to get better for this boy’s birth! Wednesday, I actually felt much, MUCH better. I continued all the natural cold remedies and started adding natural labor starters.
I tried them all. (Almost…I refuse to try castor oil. I’ve heard horror stories about that stuff!) Pressure points, nipple stimulation, massage, peppermint oil, bouncing on the birthing ball, eating pineapple… Everything I could thing of. I’d been having contractions off and on for WEEKS, so it was hard to tell if any of it was working. Contractions got a little stronger, but then stopped whenever I stopped trying to create them. That night, I consented to go to one of our favorite Chinese buffets that I’ve been avoiding due to heartburn for most of the pregnancy. I knew it would be our last chance for a meal out for a while and I figured if I ate enough, maybe Baby D would be uncomfortable enough to come OUT!
We came home after eating, put the girls to bed, and watched some TV. Brian went to bed around ten and I was just going to finish up a crochet project and go to bed. I was still having contractions, but not consistent and not super strong. By 10:30, I had to put down my crocheting (which could have been finished in another twenty minutes). Contractions had become strong enough that I couldn’t sit on the couch anymore. I sat on the birth ball and watched TV for a while longer.
By the time I decided that this was the “real thing” contractions had been lasting a minute long, and coming three minutes apart for an hour. I woke Brian up and told him he needed to pack his stuff and load the van. He also called my mom to have my brother come over and spend the rest of the night with the girls. By the time my brother got here, I was READY to go! Things had gotten pretty intense and I didn’t want to go through transition in the car like I’d done during M’s labor.
The car ride to the hospital was uneventful (minus the strong contractions on the way there) and we arrived and got checked in. My midwife arrived around the same time. I was a little disappointed because out of the three midwives at my practice, the most medically-minded was the one on call, but I wasn’t too worried about it. We talked a little and she told me I was dilated to a 7. Woohoo!! That was my goal…to arrive at the hospital BEFORE transition, but not too far before. A couple hours went by with fairly strong contractions. I labored on the birth ball and was very well controlled. Brian, my mom, sister, and sister-in-law were all there and were so supportive. Brian was an excellent coach.
I was starting to feel pushy, so they decided to check me. I was at a 10! My midwife suggested breaking my water and I agreed. That was where I went wrong. Stupid, stupid, stupid! In my mind, I was remembering M’s birth. I was complete, my water broke, and she was out 15 minutes later. I was also thinking about my best friend’s birth that I’d attended just ten weeks before. Her midwife had told her she could probably break her own water and get things moving a little quicker. Because of those two things, I agreed.
My midwife broke my water and THEN discovered there was a lip of my cervix still in front of Baby D’s head. I labored for another hour or so with no change. I tried a few different positions and then the shower. At some point, I asked Brian to say a prayer. Labor was (of course) much less comfortable at this point because my bag of waters was no longer in tact. My midwife was growing concerned that Baby D might just be too big for my pelvis. I was still pretty sure I could do it, but agreed to let her do what she felt necessary. She wanted to put an intrauterine monitor in to measure the strength of contractions. She felt she needed to know if the contractions were strong enough. If they were, she thought maybe baby was just too big and if they weren’t, she thought I might need some Pitocin to strengthen them. At this point, I was just frustrated with all of it and kicking myself for letting her break my water in the first place.
As soon as that monitor went in, the level of discomfort went from manageable pain to excruciating! I was screaming and begging them to take it out. I was really tempted to pull it out myself, but didn’t know if it would hurt something for me to do that. I decided the best thing I could do was to push it out, so push I did! Looking back, I laugh at that since I don’t think there’s any way I could push out an intrauterine monitor! After one contraction with that monitor in there, I was begging for an epidural. They asked if I was sure and I said I was. I couldn’t handle the pain that thing caused.
What a blessing to have a nurse and midwife who recognized my asking for pain meds as transition. My midwife came in and checked me and sure enough, the lip was gone. She removed the monitor and I began pushing for real–no epidural needed!
Let me tell you, there is a BIG difference between pushing out a seven pound baby and pushing out a ten pound baby. With H, I pushed for about twenty minutes and she came out in one contraction. With M, I pushed for about ten minutes and she also came out in one contraction. Big D was a different story. I still only pushed for about twenty to thirty minutes, but he did NOT come out in one contraction! He was crowning over the course of three contractions before the final push. At one point, I even told the midwife to shove him back in! Not. Comfortable. But when he came out, he came out crying and red and beautiful!
I scooped him up and held him for a couple minutes before they took him to check him. There was quite a bit of meconium in my water, so they needed to check his lungs.
At that point, he was fine, but I wasn’t. The only way I can describe what happened is that my body was in shock. I remember delivering the placenta and the discomfort of the stitches, but the next hour is blurry. I know people came in and visited, but I don’t remember much about it. I couldn’t hold Baby D because I was so weak.
It was really hard for me to see him get passed around by family and know that I couldn’t hold him–I was just too shaky.
I tried at one point and I wanted to so badly, but I had to give him back to Brian almost immediately because I couldn’t support his weight with my arms and the rest of me was in too much pain to hold him.
I share this last part because I want other moms to know that it’s okay. It was hard and still makes me a little sad to think about that first missed hour, but it’s okay now. Baby D latched on and nursed just fine as soon as I was ready. We did LOTS of skin to skin time throughout the first three days. He’s snuggly and sweet. I still had that instant love for him. He still clings to me like there’s no one else in the world besides his mommy. It’s all okay.
After about an hour and lots of care from a wonderful postpartum nurse, I was feeling much better! Baby D nursed like a champ and my mother-in-law brought the girls up. They were in love and still are!
Every birth is different. Every baby is different. Every recovery is different. And it’s okay! Baby D’s birth was beautiful. It was the hardest, most exhausting thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was beautiful. I praise the Lord for his safe arrival and for the blessing he is in our lives!
I just want to add that the hospital where I delivered was excellent!! If you’re in the Kansas City area and having a baby, I highly recommend St. Joseph Medical Center. The nurses were superb! They gently and quietly monitored me and the baby to insure safety. My nurse advocated for me when I didn’t want the midwife to push me to be monitored…again. She was great! My midwife group is also amazing. Like I said, I didn’t get the midwife of my choice, but even so, she was far superior to the doctors I have previous experience with. *Almost* everything was presented as an option, not an ultimatum which is (pretty close to) how it should be for birthing mothers. I will definitely be using them for future pregnancies.