cross posted from DDC
On Thursday, April 19, I was 5 days past my due date. My first child was induced at 41 weeks, and my second came 4 days after her due date. I was feeling more than ready, but trying to keep my chin up and trust that baby would come in good time.
We grilled chicken for dinner, and I went for what had become my usual walk. Like every other walk, it brought on some contractions that stopped when I got home. We put the kids to bed, and DH and enjoyed an evening of TV and dessert. I took a shower and made sure to wash my hair, just in case it was a few days before I had another chance. DH and I went to bed around 10pm, and I had the thought that this could be our last night like this, but honestly, I had been thinking that for days.
I woke up to use the bathroom around 1:30 and went back to sleep. I woke up again a little after 3. I used the bathroom, and there was some of my mucus plug! In my last labor I didn’t see any mucus until well into active labor. I tried not to get excited and lay back down, but I felt different. Sure enough, lying in bed, I began to notice contractions. They were pretty mild, lasting about 30 seconds or so, and getting closer together. There was no way I could relax to go back to sleep, so I thought I would get up and take care of some things and see if they went away.
I got out of bed a little after 4am. I was getting laundry out of the dryer when I felt very wet. Was this my water breaking? Nope, just lots more mucus. I added my shorts to the load going in the washer and found clean jammies. Contractions continued while I folded laundry. I tried to time them with the app DH had put on his iPod, but I kept bumping it and messing it up. Contractions seemed to be every 4-6 minutes lasting 30-40 seconds. I ate some yogurt and granola and posted on my due date club. I was starting to want DH’s company, but I knew his alarm would go off around 5am, so I just let him sleep until then.
I went upstairs when I heard his alarm go off. I was so excited to tell him it was happening! He saw me come up the stairs with a laundry basket, and he wanted to know which kid wet the bed. Nobody! I was in labor!
He came down and got to work on coffee and requesting a substitute teacher for his classes. I made up the bed in the birth room with plastic and old sheets. I had everything ready for so long, and I was finally using it! I made a cup of red raspberry leaf tea. I drank it while I wandered around and putzed. I liked standing when the contractions came. I did not want to sit down.
I called the midwife around 6:30. I did not want to wake her too early, but she was over an hour away, so I wanted her to have plenty of time to get here. She answered the phone like she had been sitting there waiting for my call. She said she had been wake at 4am all week, expecting to hear from me. Earlier in the pregnancy I said I wanted to start labor at 4pm and have the baby during the night while the kids were sleeping. She had said she wanted me to start labor at 4am and have the baby in the afternoon so she didn’t lose much sleep! I was not ready for her to come yet, but I told her I would call her back after the kids were up and off to Grandma’s house. I expected things to pick up at that point. She agreed with this plan and started getting herself together. I also called the doula to give her the heads up and said I would call back in about an hour.
The kids woke up sometime around 7am. I told my 5-year-old son the baby would be born today. “No!” he said. “I don’t want the baby to come until after sister’s birthday!” That wasn’t for another 5 days. No, thank you! By this time it was helping me to vocalize through the contractions. My son was okay with this. My almost 3-year-old daughter was not. She kept yelling at me to “stop it!” Yes, they needed to go to Grandma’s. DH called Grandma and got the kids some breakfast. I really just tried to stay away so I didn’t upset them. I took the kids up to help them get dressed while DH loaded the car seats into Grandma’s car. Thankfully, she came up to help. I figured the kids would be home in time for dinner, but I still shoved jammies and extra clothes in a bag for them just in case. I gave them kisses and got them to the car. Contractions were under 5 minutes apart through all of this.
I called the midwife and doula back (about 7:45) and said I was ready for them to come. We all wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for them to get here. Both ladies expected to arrive around 9:00, but wanted me to call if I needed them sooner.
The weather was very cloudy, but dry, so DH and I decided to head out for a walk before the rain came. We checked on the chickens and walked around our newly planted apple trees. We stopped with each contraction. I leaned my head on his strong chest and held on to his overall straps while moaning. He was so good and encouraging. We walked a bit through the woods on the new path he had just made for me. We were almost back to the house when the rain started. I nearly ran to the garage. I did not want to get caught having a contraction in the rain!
I got a snack and checked Facebook, but I was not posting that I was in labor. I started to get tired, so I went and lay down in the birth room. The house was so quiet without the kids, and it was very peaceful. DH gave me some space, and that was totally fine. I knew he was close if I needed him. Contractions seemed to space out while I rested, but when they came, they came on strong. I tried to relax during the surges, moaning a little and rubbing my feet together. I mentioned to DH that everyone was on their way and now labor was slowing down. I felt a little bad that I called everyone too soon, but I knew this was no false alarm. I heard the doula come in and talk with DH. A bit later the midwife arrived. I loved how quiet and cautious they both were coming into our home, careful not to disturb our peace.
After a little while, the midwife came in to check on me. She checked heart tones, which were great, and asked if she could set up her supplies on the table we had ready. This was fine with me. She started getting things together, and she saw that I had bought a white bulb syringe. She had a green one in her kit, but decided to use mine and packed hers away. She asked if I wanted my cervix checked. In my previous labor, I was at 10 cm the first time I was checked. I didn’t think I was that far this time, but I wanted to know this was really it, especially since things were slowing down a bit. She said I was 5-6 cm, but very stretchy and almost completely effaced. Baby was still high at -3 station. My babies always stay high until the very end. This was at 9:30am, so I was hopeful we would have a baby before dinner time.
I got up and was talking with the ladies. We all knew things had slowed down, and it felt a bit awkward. They mentioned that they didn’t want me to feel like a watched pot, so DH and I decided to go for another walk while there was a break in the rain. We walked our same route, around the apple trees and past the chickens. Contractions didn’t really come closer together, though sometimes I felt what seemed to be the beginning of a contraction that didn’t amount to anything. When we came back in after 20 minutes or so, the midwife and doula decided to leave for a drive. We live out in the country, so there really wasn’t anywhere for them to go, but they said they would be close if we needed them. As they were leaving, the doula suggested I try taking a shower and maybe DH and I should get naked for a little while. This embarrassed the midwife, which was cute.
We headed upstairs, and DH joined me in the shower. We snuggled together in bed for a while, and we both fell asleep for a bit. Contractions were still about 10 minutes apart. We got up and dressed before the ladies came back and had some lunch. A friend had brought us dinner a few days before, and I was thankful to have some of her good homemade soup.
Things were pretty much the same when the doula and midwife returned around noon. The doula suggested I try doing the stairs 2 at a time. This was no small feat for my 5’2” self with a huge belly, but we tried it for a while. I wasn’t sure if it was helping or not. I felt like I needed to DO something, I didn’t like this feeling of waiting. The doula asked if there was anything mentally or emotionally that could be holding things up. I had already thought through this myself, and nothing came to mind. However, this was my second VBAC. I had my cesarean for failure to progress at 7 cm dilation. I breezed past that point in my previous labor, but I seemed to be stuck there this time. I don’t know if it really meant anything, but it was interesting when I thought back on it.
After another half an hour or so of staring at each other, DH took charge. He told me to put my shoes on and help him clean the garage. Seriously?! But I wanted to do something, and this was good. The midwife and doula left for lunch, and I helped sweep the garage. After a while I went back in the house to bake a cake for DD’s third birthday. I had planned to bake it that day anyway to put in the freezer, so I went for it.
After the cake came out of the oven, DH came in. We sat on the couch for some nipple stimulation. I guess it worked because I had a doozy of a contraction sitting there. I decided I was not going to sit on the couch anymore because it was very hard to cope. I got up to take the cakes out of the pans and sat on the birth ball at the table. This was around 2pm. DH kept up with the nipple stimulation, and the contractions kept coming. Finally! After a bit I needed a new position, so I ended up on the futon in the birth room on hands and knees over the ball. DH was wondering about calling the midwife, but I knew they would be back soon. I did have him start the water in our big tub, though.
The ladies returned at 2:42. They mentioned the tub, and I was so ready. We had installed the big corner tub with labor in mind, and it was time to use it. I climbed in, and it felt great. I relaxed and talked to DH. I asked him how long I had been in, and it had been 20 minutes. I had only had 2 or 3 contractions. The blessed relief of the water slowed things down again. The doula came in to check on us, and she asked how I was doing. I told her that I thought I needed to get out. “That sounds like a wise decision,” She said. So much for that huge bathroom remodel project.
Somewhere in here the midwife checked my progress again. Baby was not coming down behind the pubic bone. She and the doula suggested that I lift up on my belly during contractions to help baby maneuver. Whatever it took, I guess, so I did it. Then I lifted my belly while doing the stairs two at a time. I lifted my belly while doing lunges. I lifted my belly while sitting on the birth stool. DH helped lift my belly when I got tired. This was a lot of work! But contractions kept coming just a few minutes apart. We were doing it.
I spent some time backwards on the toilet. I noticed myself getting a little grunty and pushy here (around 4:30). I just kept working with it. I had another exam around 6pm. I was trying not to get discouraged because I had figured the baby would be in my arms by now. I remember the midwife saying I had an anterior lip left on my cervix that she thought would be gone if the baby could move down to put more pressure on the cervix. Her records show I was 7-8 cm dilated and very stretchy. I asked if breaking the waters could be helpful, but the midwife, wisely, did not want to interfere.
I remember seeing the baby blankets on the heating pad, all plugged in and getting warm. I pointed this out to my husband that it must mean we were getting close. Later I turned the heating pad back on because it shut off automatically after 2 hours.
We continued with the abdominal lifting and working through the contractions. I remember side-lying on the bed, speaking “I caaaannn do this” over and over through each surge. A little before 7:00, DH called his parents to update them and to ask them to put the kids to bed at their house. I was glad I had packed their pajamas, but I felt bad for not preparing them for the possibility of being gone overnight. He also called my mom to let her know we were okay. She was getting worried and had been calling to check on us.
I changed positions frequently-this was intense! At 7:40 I had another exam, and the baby had moved lower, though I was still not fully dilated. The midwife began holding the cervix back while I pushed. This was not a good feeling at all, and I wanted to back away from it, but I made myself work with it instead. The midwife’s records show I was fully dilated at 8:15. The midwife had me lay on the futon and push in McRobert’s position, on my back pulling my knees straight back to my chest, tucking my chin with each push. DH helped support me while the midwife held my cervix back during some of the contractions.
Just before 9:00, I got up to the bathroom. The doula later complimented me on what a good job I did at keeping my bladder empty. I told her the pee running down my leg during contractions helped remind me. I sat on the birth stool for another exam. I was having a hard time gauging if I was making any progress, and the exams really did encourage me that something was happening. I pushed during the exam, and my water broke all over the floor and the midwife. It was nice and clear, and the baby’s head was finally engaged!
The midwife wanted me to continue to push in McRobert’s position to help the baby maneuver the pubic bone. I think this is where she looked me in the eye and very seriously said, “You are not going to breathe this baby out. You have to work hard.” I felt like I was already working hard, but this solidified in me that it was not going to get easier. We returned to the futon, me pushing, her holding my cervix back, and DH supporting me. This was very difficult, hard work, and yes, it hurt. It hurt a lot. This part of the labor was really timeless for me. I don’t know if I slept between contractions, but I don’t remember the time between them. At some point the pain of the contractions didn’t seem to stop. I was having intense pain across my lower abdomen between contractions. I worried about my cesarean scar, but baby’s heart rate stayed incredible the whole time. The midwife dumped some oil on my belly and the doula massaged me, though I didn’t find out until later who was doing what. The massage helped, or at least distracted me. I kept pushing. The baby was coming down with each push but not staying down. The midwife said something about the baby nearly being on the perineum. Was I really getting close?
I couldn’t handle pushing on the bed anymore. It was too much, and I had to move. It seemed it would be forever before this baby came. According to the doula’s notes, the midwife said I was fully dilated at 10:20. I don’t know which time is accurate. I went to sit backwards on the toilet. This is how I had pushed for my last baby. I knew it would work. DH was with me in the bathroom. I didn’t know that the midwife and the doula were talking in the next room. The midwife was getting concerned that even though baby was doing well things just weren’t progressing. She was wondering, not for the first time that day, if the hospital 45 minutes away was a better place for us. She said to the doula, “we just need a sign.”
I was struggling in the bathroom. I could push just a few times on the toilet before my right leg would go numb. I would have to stand up, and then I couldn’t push. I know I was so loud. I was roaring with my pushes, and then screaming about my leg. I was grabbing DH by the overalls while pushing and roaring. I was frustrated and a bit frantic. Moments after the midwife asked for a sign, we got one. I reached down and felt like I had a softball coming out of my rectum. I called for the midwife, “my butthole is burning!” She and the doula came in the bathroom. I was standing over the toilet. “Where do you want to be?” she asked. DH pointed to the floor next to the tub. She threw down some pads, and I knelt down, leaning on the side of the tub.
I kept pushing while kneeling, and I felt the baby crowning. We were so close! The ring of fire feeling was crazy. Just a few more pushes, I thought to myself. I was trying to push gently to protect my bottom. The midwife was supporting my perineum while apply olive oil and ClaraDerm spray. I changed positions from kneeling to squatting to sitting perched on the edge of the tub. I kept pushing, but that baby wasn’t coming. I expected to feel burning, then push out a head, then push out a baby. Rather I pushed out an inch of head, then another inch, then another. The burning was not stopping! Finally the head was out at 10:46, and it was very clear to all of us that the shoulders were stuck. The midwife asked me to get to the bed, and I walked the 12 feet with my baby’s head between my legs. I got on hands and knees on the bed, but my midwife had me get back into McRobert’s position. She helped release the shoulder, and my baby was born at 10:48pm. I heard the phone ring.
This baby was huge! I could not believe it! But our big baby was not giving us a good cry. The midwife tried to suction the baby, but my white bulb syringe was not working properly. She started asking where her green one was. The cord was still pulsating and baby had a good heart rate. Twice she lowered the baby below the edge of the bed to help get the good cord blood to him. During all of this, we saw we had a son, but stuff was a bit hectic. Finally I grabbed my baby, put my mouth over his, and suctioned him myself. I’m not sure if this helped, but I had to do something. Meanwhile the doula brought the midwife her bag and the good bulb syringe was found. He was soon clear and crying, and we marveled at our boy. DH guessed him to be ten pounds, but I thought nine more likely. I could not get over how big he looked laying on me. Goodness, I was so glad that was over! I think I was feeling greater relief to be done with labor than I was joy at meeting our child.
The phone rang again. It was 10:57. This time the doula answered it. She was so good at telling my mother-in-law that the baby was just born and we were fine without ever giving away that we had a boy. The previous call, at the moment he has born, had been my mom. DH snapped a quick picture and sent it to her with a message that said we would call soon.
I delivered the placenta at 11:12. I was glad it came quickly as DD’s had taken more than an hour. I had almost no bleeding, which I was thankful for. Last time I needed a shot of Pitocin. I had no tearing, not even a scrape. I was very impressed.
I got situated in bed with our son while the doula made me a sandwich. DH asked her to wrap up the forgotten cakes for the freezer. I asked DH to cut the cord. He had not wanted to last time, and it was important to me for him to do it. At 11:36, DS was free from his placenta. He had his first meal to celebrate.
We named our son Jedidiah Trout. Jedidiah means “loved by the Lord.” DH and I had come across the name in our Bible reading more than a year prior. Separately, we both thought it would be a good name for a son. His name was picked before we were even sure if a third child was right for our family. Trout is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. We were having a hard time choosing a middle name, and when DH suggested it, I knew it was perfect.
I ate my sandwich and placenta smoothie, and the doula helped me to the shower while DH snuggled our boy. Finally, at midnight, we got Jedidiah in the scale. He weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds and 9 ounces, 21 ½ inches long. His head and chest were both 14 ¾ inches around. He outweighed our first son, my cesarean baby, by one pound and 10 ounces.
We made some phone calls while the doula and midwife packed up. I was nearly asleep when they left at 1:30. I am so grateful for the wonderful team I had with me. The more I look back, the more I know I had exactly the right people here for Jedidiah’s birth. I think any family member would have been scared by the intensity of things. I appreciated the wisdom the women brought with them and how they worked to support me, my husband, and each other.