The nurse at my clinic had previously told me that the doctor wouldn't “let” me go past 41 weeks, so I very much wanted to give birth before then so I didn't have to worry about either doing an induction or having to fight being scheduled for one. Since 37 weeks I'd been taking evening primrose oil capsules, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, walking, sex, and other natural induction methods to try to encourage labor to start. At my 39 week appointment I'd been 2cm and 60% effaced, so things were happening, albeit slowly.
Finally, at 40w2d, I went to a local farmer's market-type store and purchased a small bottle of castor oil. I'd researched this method thoroughly and decided I'd try the lowest possible dose – one tablespoon – to see if that would do anything. I took it about 9:30pm that night and then went to bed. Collin had gone to see the midnight showing of Alice in Wonderland (he wanted to see the new Tron trailer in front of it), and promised to keep one hand on his cell phone at all times in case I started having contractions. However, I slept through the night peacefully. I woke up at 5:30am needing to pee, as usual, but there were no ill effects from the castor oil as far as I could tell. I was feeling a little crampy and restless and couldn't get back to sleep, so I played around on my iPhone for a while and and finally got up to shower and dress about 6:30am. I was scheduled to see my OB for my 40 week appointment that morning at 8:30am.
At 7:15am, just as I'd finished getting dressed, I suddenly had a contraction – and it was painful enough to necessitate sitting down on the bed. I grabbed my iPhone, went downstairs to sit on my birth ball, and started up the contraction timer app I'd downloaded a few weeks ago. I had several more contractions, each as intense as the first one. They were lasting nearly a minute and were five minutes apart, so I called Collin on his iPhone (so I wouldn't have climb the stairs) to let him know that it looked like labor might be here at last. He got up immediately and started getting ready himself as well as packing some last minute things, notifying his work, etc. He called our doula, who lived two hours away, to let her know to start driving. He also called our backup doula, who lived much closer, to let her know she might be needed.
While timing contractions, I drank two 12-oz bottles of Gatorade to ensure I'd be hydrated. The contractions continued, getting more intense and closer together rather quickly, and I started getting nervous. The kids were distracting and the jacuzzi tub in the birthing room was sounding very appealing, so I told Collin we needed to go to the hospital, and called the back-up doula to tell her know to meet us there. He was still getting things together, but finally, around 9am, we headed out the door. (My grandmother is living with us for a few months, so we didn't have to worry about dropping the kids off anywhere.)
I was in some pretty significant pain by this time and the contractions were two minutes apart. Having contractions in the car was agony; they were coming fast and some lasted as long as two minutes. The drive to the hospital was only 10 minutes but it seemed like hours to me. We finally got there and miraculously managed to find a parking space. Collin flagged down a volunteer with a golf cart to drive us to the door so I wouldn't have to walk, and another volunteer ran for a wheelchair when we got to the front door of the women's health center.
Once in the elevator, I started getting the shakes and knew from past experience that it meant transition. In L&D they sent me directly to triage, but the nurses could tell I was very close just from my contractions and the amount of pain I was in. I managed to get them a urine sample (the nurse asked, doubtfully, “Are you going to push the baby out on the toilet?” and I told her I thought I could hold on). Once I got out of the bathroom, I was relieved to see the back-up doula – Brealin – had arrived. She helped me get on to the bed and the nurse did a vaginal exam. Sure enough – I was completely dilated!
After that things really moved fast. They quickly wheeled me into a L&D room and got me into the bed. Collin, who apparently didn't realize quite what was going on, asked me if I wanted to use the birth ball. I looked at him incredulously and said, “It's too late for the f****** birth ball; I have to push!”
My OB had been notified the minute I arrived, and, as I wanted him to catch the baby, I huffed through the contractions. It was agony to lie there, wanting to push, while they put in a heplock (with my consent), asked me questions, and even had me sign paperwork. Collin later told me that it'd taken less than five minutes for the OB to arrive, but it seemed like ten times that long.
Brealin, our back-up doula, was a lifesaver – she coached me all through the contractions, telling me what an amazing job I was doing, and it really helped me cope. Collin was saying all the same things but all he did was annoy me. It was amazing how well I connected with another woman, even one I'd just met that morning! (We'd hired our doula and her back-up a short time before and hadn't met either of them at that point.)
When the OB came in I said, “Oh, thank God!” They disassembled the bed and cranked up the top so I could sit up. Collin and Brealin held my legs and I started pushing. After just two pushes, the baby's head was out, and I summoned all the strength I could muster to push the rest of the body out. I could tell while pushing that the baby was bigger than my other two babies had been – it was a much greater effort. Finally, to my great relief, the baby was born!
Collin immediately announced, “It's a girl!” We hadn't found out her sex beforehand, but I'd had girl vibes from the beginning of my pregnancy and was thrilled to know I'd guessed right (for once). They put her on my chest immediately. She had a head of dark hair and was just gorgeous. I looked at the clock and could barely believe it'd only been two and a half hours since my first contraction – and only twenty minutes since we'd arrived at the hospital!
I delivered the placenta shortly thereafter. Per our wishes, the staff had waited until the cord had stopped pulsing to cut and clamp it, and my doula helped me put her on the breast immediately to help with bleeding. She latched on right away and nursed well, but my doctor was still concerned about the amount of bleeding I had and asked, very respectfully, if I would consent to pitocin. I gave my consent and they began an IV as the doctor stitched up my second-degree tear. That hurt, even though he'd done a local lydocaine injection, but afterwards the nurse fixed me up with some gigantic pads and an ice-pack, as well as a big dose of ibuprofen. (The nurses, seeing that I was a very natural-childbirth mama, had asked if I wanted ibuprofen and acetaminophen. My response was, “I'm only opposed to medication during labor and delivery. Afterwards, bring on the drugs!”)
Interestingly, she had a true knot in her umbilical cord, about halfway between her navel and the placenta. My son had had one in his cord as well, and the nurses were amazed – they apparently rarely see true knots and had never heard of a mom having one with two different pregnancies.
She breastfed for nearly an hour, and we had some wonderful quiet time for bonding, before newborn procedures began. She weighed in at 8lbs, 3oz – my biggest baby yet! (The other two were 7lbs 10oz and 6lbs 4oz.) She was 20 inches long and had a head circumference of 13.25cm.
We named our new daughter Violet Elizabeth after my grandmother Violet (who is currently staying with us) and St. Elizabeth (Collin has a cousin named Elizabeth, so we liked that it was also a family name on his side).
All in all, her birth felt being on a very fast freight train (and the pain felt like I was being run over by one), but the staff and my doctor were all incredibly courteous and respectful of our birth plan despite the speed at which things happened. I'm thrilled to have had three in-hospital, positive natural childbirth experiences.
right after birth, doing skin-to-skin:
Not to sure about this place...
A few hours later, looking at the world:
DD Elanor (8), DS William (5), DD Violet (3), DS Gabriel (1), DS Peter (born Oct. '13)
Noel (12/06) and Christian (03/09), always in my heart
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
I love, love, love the name Violet! If this baby of mine was a girl, my first choice of name was Violet.
Best wishes to you and your family!