The Birth of Ronan Westly
This pregnancy, my third, was fairly uneventful and straightforward. Other than measuring large at first and gaining a surprising amount of weight right from the start, everything was normal. I felt very healthy and took good care of myself. My last birth was also unassisted, but my baby was born breech. It was long with intense back labor. This time around I really wanted as little pain and drama as possible. I spent quite a bit of time reading about fetal positioning and tried to sit in a way that would ensure the baby was not breech or posterior. I also faithfully drank about a quart a day of red raspberry leaf tea starting around 20 weeks. I also added nettles, alfalfa, rose hips and a pinch of spearmint. I planned to make the strong raspberry leaf infusion once my labor began. I bought a few birth supplies and some snacks, like tortilla chips and ginger ale to snack on during labor, since I had trouble with exhaustion and nausea during my last birth.
I had numerous Braxton hicks contractions all throughout my pregnancy, which steadily grew more intense as I approached my due date. In the middle of the night on the 25th of April, three days past my official due date, I awoke and felt different somehow. I was having early labor type contractions like I had been having during the night off and on for the past week. They weren’t regular and didn’t usually keep me awake. I got up to use the bathroom and noticed bloody, mucousy stuff and some pink tinged liquid, as if my water were leaking. I then couldn’t sleep anymore, although I tried. I had a few more of those early labor contractions here and there but nothing regular. I figured with the new symptoms that labor must be imminent, so Scott stayed home from work.
The day was pretty uneventful, except for more mucous plug loss, small water leaks and mild, irregular contractions every once in a while. Scott was kind of antsy because he stayed home from work and now nothing was going on. He wanted me to try to get things going, but I knew that it would be better to rest. I did not want a repeat of the exhaustion I suffered during my last labor and birth. I almost went on a shopping trip to a local fabric store that was going out of business but was just too tired. After resting, eating and drinking lots of fluids all day, I told Scott that things would probably start this evening, as that is when I typically have the most contractions.
Around 7:45 pm I logged onto my local AP moms group to say that there was still no baby, that this baby was taking its sweet time, etc. It seemed shortly after that I felt that I was having mild contractions very close together. I never timed them, but it seemed around 3 to 5 minutes apart. I decided to make my labor infusion with the red raspberry leaf. After steeping for a half hour, I drank a bunch and promptly puked it all up on the living room carpet. It was then that I knew for sure I was in labor!
Every once in a while one of the very close together contractions was pretty sharp and painful. I told Scott he really needed to fill up the birth pool. He and my two daughters began filling the birth pool in the bedroom while I did various things to help myself deal with the contractions. The birth ball helped at first, but then I had to be briskly walking around in order to get through them. It was strange because although I had just started laboring, I felt really overwhelmed and like I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I kept thinking, “how am I going to be able to keep this up for hours and hours!?” I was thinking about how I probably should have just gone in somewhere for pain relief, because I wouldn’t be able to take much more. I wasn’t even making much noise during the contractions or in much pain at that point.
Some of the contractions began to have very painful, intense peaks to them, and I really had to have Scott right there with me to hold onto. He put a DVD on for the girls at one point so that he could focus more on me during the contractions. I tried drinking some ginger ale due to my mouth being dry and thirsty, but like the tea it came up very forcefully. I was starting to feel really out of it and out of control. All the pain during contractions was right down in front, and the baby was wiggling the whole time. The baby kicking my belly during contractions was really unbearable for me, and no matter what position I went into, it seemed not to take the extremely intense pressure off of my pelvic area. I tried the pool at one point, but it just didn’t seem to help. I did check myself at one point, even though I had decided previously not to check so early in labor. I felt the walls of my vagina and this big wrinkly, hard, squishy thing only about 2 or 3 inches in. I was like, “where is my cervix?!” I could not wrap my brain around what I was feeling for some reason. After a little while later, I had two contractions right on top of each other, and I actually said to Scott “I can’t do this!” just like you hear about women saying during labor. He was very reassuring, telling me that it probably won’t be much longer now, even though he admits later that he really wasn’t sure if it would be so fast.
I don’t know if it was the suggestion that it wouldn’t be much longer or what, but suddenly I found myself bearing down. I said “Nooooo” during the pushing, since I was disagreeing with Scott who said it wouldn’t be much longer. I had never felt an urge to push with my other two births, so this was rather odd to me. I pushed on my side for a little while and then checked myself again. I felt this weird little pouch of skin right there, and for a little while thought, “oh no, it is a breech baby boy!” I thought maybe it was a scrotum. I said to myself that if it were breech, that it would be fine, as I had already birthed a breech baby without problem. Shortly after that I felt the burn of crowning. I tried panting and blowing during the contractions to avoid tearing. I held off pushing for a short while, but then suddenly bore down uncontrollably. Scott said, “I see the head!” and then the rest of him shot right out. It was such a relief.
The girls were in the room now. They asked if it was a boy, and Scott said yes. Sierra looked at my belly, which was still kind of poufy and said, “There is still another one in there!” I told her that no, there was just the one. He was very pink, alert and crying instantly after birth. The time was 10:50 pm, so the whole thing ended up being less than three hours! Scott wrapped him up and we held him next to us. He wasn’t interested in nursing for a little while, as he was just looking around wide eyed. I started having killer, transition type contractions. I really was not prepared for that. I told Scott to call a friend who had some herbal tincture for after pains to see if she would be willing to drop it by. She did come by and brought Tylenol as well, but none of it really helped. I lied down when the after pains started and needed an ice pack for my perineum, which tore and a hot water bottle for my lower back which hurt during the after pains. I was really miserable and couldn’t even think of nursing the baby during all that pain. I realized that if I pushed during the pains that they were much more bearable. After a while of lying on the floor and pushing some during the pains, I thought that I had to get upright and try to deliver the placenta. As soon as I sat upright and pushed with the contraction, it came right out. I think it had been sitting at my cervix all that time. Fortunately, the contractions were much better after the placenta came out.
I can see from this labor that my belief that it would take a long time really had a negative effect on my attitude and perceptions of the contractions. I can see in hindsight that I was fully dilated for quite a while before I started pushing. I believe the relatively short and much less painful labor was partly due to my drinking raspberry leaf tea faithfully during pregnancy and also partly due to the fact that he was head down and in a good position to be born. If we decide to have another child or happen to get pregnant again, I hope to be much more positive about my labor progress and realize that my labor could be short and simple again.