Throughout my pregnancy, my midwife kept telling me the third baby was the curveball; I’m pretty sure she reminded me of this at every single appointment. With this information, on top of the note that it had been my easiest pregnancy (after two already relatively easy pregnancies- I’ve been so lucky!), I made the assumption that this baby was going to come early and fast. I had been crazy busy and active at home- certainly all my trips up and down the stairs would make the baby drop nice and low very early. The other two kids were 1-4 days overdue too, so curveball equals early, right?
I had mentally prepared for the possibility of going a little overdue. It has been my tendency, after all. But as each day passed, I lost a little more control over my hormones. They were strong, and I wasn’t prepared for it.
I went to a 41 week appointment to be sure that everything still looked good so I could hopefully wait as long as possible for baby to come on his/her own. We passed the non stress test (NST), I was a little over 2cm dilated, had a membrane sweep, and was approved to have the if needed induction date set to Saturday, December 1st. I had to follow up with an ultrasound the next day and a second NST on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Nov 27 at 4:00pm on the dot I had a notable contraction. I texted David this fact and didn’t think too much of it since I had SO MUCH prodromal labor and plenty of stray, painful contractions. I continued to get the contractions 15-20 minutes apart for the next few hours. At 6:45pm I had my ultrasound. Fluid levels were great and baby looked great; but baby was measuring FOUR weeks behind. The ultrasound tech wanted to call the midwife on call to confirm I was okay to leave. The midwife asked to talk to me and said she wanted to discuss the size issue with the OB and other midwife on call, but might have me come in sooner to be induced. I let her know that I had been having contractions and was hopefully going into labor on my own but would wait for her call.
I was allowed to leave the clinic at this point and stopped at Target on my way home (8pm or so) to pick up milk and other essentials. At this point I noticed the contractions pick up in intensity a notch, and I note that they’re now about 10-15 minutes apart. Just before checking out I have a contraction that makes me stop and lean on the cart. Just a small scene made 😉
When I got home, I bounced on my yoga ball and watched Friends. Ironically, I happened to be at the point where Rachel is 8 days overdue. This is extra entertaining for me.
Around 10:30 I decide to try and get some sleep between contractions. When I laid down the intensity went up again. On a scale from 1-10, the pain is at about 7.
Will, who usually sleeps GREAT, fusses and cries on the monitor beside me. (He had a cold). Not making it easy for me to rest between contractions. Finally, David gets up and gets him some Tylenol. He’s finally quiet but my labor continues to progress, so I’m not getting any sleep. At 11:50pm, my contractions move to my back and thighs- 3/3 labors that turned into back labor. Oh joy. I go downstairs and cope through contractions on the yoga ball.
By 1am I decide to give it the old prodromal/real labor test: I hop into the bathtub for a warm bath.
The contractions keep coming, though slower, and I decide this is the real deal. Pain level when I get out is at an 8.
1:45am I call the midwife on call. I get a nurse, who says the midwife will call me back. Luckily she calls back quickly, and in the middle of a contraction. She’s convinced I’m ready to come in and tells me they’ll be ready for me. I hang up and call my parents in law to come watch the kids, and go wake up David. I asked him if he wants to go meet our baby today. He says “ughhhhhh” Lol.
3am we leave for the hospital.
3:30am we get to skip triage since I’m supposed to be induced later today anyway, so if this happens to fizzle out they’ll just keep me checked in and get things going again. We got settled into our room and I’m checked out by the midwife- only 3-4cm dilated and cervix slightly posterior. I’m discouraged by this information since my pain level/contraction strength has been equal to what I was at 6-7cm with the other two.
•photo: all checked in but already looking sleepy•
I was group b strep positive, so I’m hooked up to antibiotics via IV. It wasn’t the best IV I’ve ever had and was pretty uncomfortable throughout the rest of my labor.
Started getting the shakes as intensity level reaches more of a solid 8. Found out I’m actually having contractions 3-6 min apart, just more mild in between the big ones. Because of these things, the nurse thinks things might progress quicker. She sets up the delivery tools just in case.
At 6am I’m checked again and am 4-5cm dilated. Progressing, but not super fast. At this point I realize this is not going to be a fast and furious labor by any definition. I’m also a little more scared at this point to do it without medication since it’s been painful for so long already. I firmly believe that my fear inhibited the pace of my labor and is what made labor so slow.
I ordered breakfast and labored on the birthing ball. I had eggs and English muffin- I’ve had good luck in the past by eating bland protein and carbs.
My friend Vanessa arrived (sort of a faux doula!), and after I finished my breakfast we walked halls for a bit. There was construction at the hospital so we got a kick out of me awkwardly trying to hide my face and moaning from the construction workers when I had to pause for a contraction. (And actually the construction was super distracting during the entire labor). Eventually we made our way back to the ball.
*another funny side note- we had the TV on in my hospital room and there was a Friends marathon on. It HAPPENED to be the same season/episodes I had been on the night before, with Rachel overdue/giving birth. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?! lol. —also, we watched Friends at the hospital during early labor when I had Ellavie. That time, it happened to be Phoebe in labor. So weird!
11:30am I’m checked again. 5-6cm. Feels slow but steady. Contractions are an 8-9 intensity, but not on top of each other so I’m getting solid recovery breaks.
From roughly 12-1pm I sat in the bath. This really took the edge off of back labor; it removed burning from hips and legs. I didn’t think I was going to like the bath, but I did not want to get out. Was eventually forced to because I had drank so much water to keep cool in the tub that my bladder couldn’t take it anymore. Toward the end of my bath, contractions were getting very strong feeling again and I knew a shift was happening.
I moved to the bed and got some Tylenol for a mild headache. I think it was fatigue and lack of caffeine related. I was a little hungry but dealing with indigestion, so I snacked on some toast. (Also snacked on cheddar peanut butter crackers, gummy bears, and Gatorade through out day to keep my energy up).
1:30-45ish I got up to pee and stayed on toilet through a few contractions. Nurse checked to see how I was doing and I said I didn’t feel like moving and was happy there. Midwife came in and had me sit facing backward on toilet. She grabbed a stool to sit by me. Two nurses sat on edge of tub. Vanessa and David joined us in the large bathroom too.
This was my favorite part of the day. We all hung out and joked between my contractions. We came up with Kohler toilet ads, joked about having a water birth in the river behind the hospital, and about the adrenaline rush of giving birth. I talk about how it’s such a privilege because you only get to experience this specific rush so many times. It’s not like skydiving or something where pretty much anyone can do it, and you can do it as many times as you want. It’s a limited experience. It was a lighthearted and fun time. I felt so grateful to have such a fun and supportive team behind me.
•photo: sitting on toilet. Happy between contractions!•
I was starting to get pretty sleepy… I had some peppermint oil on a cotton ball and smelling it gave me surprisingly large boosts of energy and calm.
At 2:30.. maybe 45? I comment that it feels like my butt is dilating lol. Moved to ball again and leaned on bed. I held David’s hands tightly through contractions. After a few I commented the fatigue was hitting me hard. I had been up all night, after all. I would close my eyes during contractions and was having a hard time opening them back up after because I was so sleepy. The midwife suggested I lay on my side and try to sleep a few minutes between contractions. My midwife and nurses step out while I rest.
I’m NOT having an easy time coping with contractions on my side.. I can hear the change in my tone when I moan through the pain, but am still able to doze for a few minutes in-between.
Right at 3:00, after maybe 4-5 contraction/sleep intervals, I suddenly feel a lot of pressure. It doesn’t feel like pushing pressure, though. More like building gas about to sneak out against my will.. I feel a “pop” and for a second wonder if I pooped, but then immediately felt tons of warm liquid gushing out of me. I yell “omg my water just broke!!” And we immediately page the nurses.
At this point I’m very emotional. Panicked, even. I knew I was in transition, I was tired, and I was terrified I wasn’t ready for what was next. I forget everything I’ve read, watched, and experienced in past births. I start shaking uncontrollably.
When the nurses come I say I feel like I need to pee really bad. They want midwife to check me before allowing me to get up.
The midwife arrives seconds later and she checks me on my side.. she says I’m complete and ready to push and asks for a practice push. I struggle in pain from the check and contractions and trying to hold my bladder. She asks if the check hurts, or if I’m having a contraction. I scream I don’t know and that it just hurts.
She says she thinks I could do it but trying is torturing me and they help me to the bathroom to pee. We come back to the bed at 3:12pm and they ask me how I’d like to push. (**thank goodness for Vanessa taking pictures with time stamps so I know exactly what time/how long everything was!)
I decide to start by getting on the bed on hands and knees with my arms and head leaning on the back of the bed and bear down. I’m screaming louder than I knew I could into a pillow. Ironically I overhear someone comment that I’m following prompts from the midwife and nurses to change my tone and focus my energy so well, and that when she screamed in HER labor, people could hear her across the hall. And I’m thinking “are you kidding?! People can probably hear me in WI!”
•photo: first pushing attempt•
After two or three pushes in this position, it’s clear it’s not super efficient for me, though I could it feel it bringing him down.
My midwife asks if I’d like to try on my back since my body already knows how to do it that way from my epidural births. It might be more instinctual for me. I say yes but that I’m terrified to move. The nurses reassure me they will help me.
I get on to my back and they roll a mirror over for me to watch my progress (I had one with Will and found it super helpful). Within a push or two we can see the top of the head (I wasn’t really watching yet because I’m closing my eyes through pushing so hard). My midwife instructs me to look at the mirror, to hold my breath, try not make noise and bear down. She says to pretend I’m skydiving and to ride the adrenaline.
I see hemorrhoids and for some reason (unlike in the past) it makes me scared that I’m just doing more damage and I hold back a bit for a push. All I can do is scream in pain.
I try again and see the head crowning. His head is almost out. The midwife holds my cervix open around the top of his head and we wait for the next contraction to start as I gather my energy.
•photo: David’s face as head is crowning. Personal favorite•
The contraction starts and I’m able to push his head out. One more smaller push immediately after and his body slides out easily. 3:29pm he is finally born after 23 hours of labor, and 17 minutes of pushing. David gets to announce “its a boy” as Alexander is placed on my chest. We’re both so surprised as most people started to lean toward girl in the past weeks.
•photo: sweet relief!•
I’m instantly relieved but still shaking quite a bit from all of the adrenaline.
The placenta came out easily with hardly a push and David cut the cord. He almost cuts on the wrong side of the clamp and the midwife says no not there! And he says “ what do I know I’m a realtor!” -everyone laughs.
Alexander and I had a few min of skin to skin but he wasn’t very pink so they took him over to the heat lamp to look him over while I was checked over. I find out I have zero tearing!!
Alexander is fine so they return him to me for skin to skin.
My midwife asked how I feel and I answer that I feel like the next one will be an epidural. Haha!
Within 24 hours though, my memory of the pain already starts to fade and I decide that next time I would go in open minded to either way.. I loved my epidurals, but feel confident I could do it again unmedicated, and more prepared mentally for transition and pushing.
I’m so incredibly proud of my body and humbled by God’s grace and plan through this birth. I feel so grateful that I was able to experience it for all of its raw beauty without enduring an induction, and that in the end, I have a handsome, easy going and joyful son; the most perfect addition to our family.
*one final note: I was able to deliver exactly one minute before shift change- so my nurses were able to be present for the birth after all those hours of labor. They were amazing so I was super happy about that 🙂