Everyone loves sharing their birth story. The more horrific, the better, … it would seem. I try and tell my doula clients to respectfully close their ears and not listen to anyone’s birth story while they are pregnant. So it may seem weird when I’m sitting here typing out just that… But I do this for two reasons. (1) People keep asking about it. and (2) I need this space to process just what happened, what didn’t happen, what could/should have happened, and how I feel about it all. Because the internets need to know … And away we go.
My first was born at 40weeks 6days. My second was 39weeks 5days. My third was 42weeks. So I was no stranger to waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I fully understand that, as my midwife so eloquently stated, I carry my babies a generous amount of time. So when the 40 week “due date” came and went, I was ok. But the thing that kept messing with me was the start and stop contractions. I never had real good “Braxton Hicks” or practice contractions with my other babies. But with this one. Oh this one. There were several times I was timing contractions for a couple of hours, trying different tricks to get them to stop (if they stop, they aren’t for real, basically). I was so thankful for my doula training and personal research, because I would have been freaking out thinking it was time, each time. So for days, the mental question of “is it today, are these contractions the real beginning” was super annoying. I kept asking God for my water to just break, then I would just KNOW. And that’s exactly what happened … sort of.
At about 2am on Wednesday morning (41wks 3days), I woke up to go potty, like ya do. But I felt that tell-tale “uh oh” little gush, and I was fairly certain I didn’t just pee my pants. So I went potty, and laid back down, waited about 20 minutes, and got back up. Another small gush. Yep, this was it. But no contractions. So at 8am when the birth center opened, I called and let them know that my water had broken, but I was not having contractions steadily yet. Midwife said to check back in a couple of hours, and we’d see where we stood. So we did this all day Wednesday. We had the kids packed up and ready to go, my mom even came out and got them, just in case. It was nice, just Jamie and I, waiting and hoping. Wednesday night came, still nothing in a predictable pattern. So Thursday morning (41wks, 4days), Jamie and I packed up and headed to the birth center for an NST. NST was perfect, baby was happy. So we got settled into a birthing room downstairs, the same one #2 was born in, and I drank the dreaded castor oil. 4 ounces of castor oil. Mixed with juice and finessed by my castor oil barista Jamie. It tasted like a melted My Little Pony Doll. But down the hatch it went. … And up the hatch it went. We walked laps around the parking lot, in the drizzly rain. There was one moment, the wind was blowing through my hair, my eyes were closed, I was breathing through the contraction, the birds were singing. It was beautiful. Until I realized it was crow squawking and I was standing in a parking lot next to a Hybrid. Then I just laughed. And kept walking. Once the “digestive effects” of the castor oil began, we also began the 4 hour regimen of herbs (blue and black cohosh). Its a liquid tincture that you hold under your tongue until you can’t handle the burning anymore, then you swallow it. And you do this every 15 minutes for 4 hours. Yippee. But they do their job. And they do it well. Contractions ramped up, got closer together, got more intense. We were on our way!
We called the doula (Caitlin), the photographer (Crystal), and my mama (Mom), and they all arrived around 5:30pm. At this point, the contractions were so close together and getting so much stronger, that I seriously doubted whether they were going to make it at all. Once everyone arrived, I stopped looking at the clock and lost total track of time. The midwife did one dilation check, but I had requested to not know what the dilation was. I have a totally unrealistic expectation of how dilated I should be, when my history has shown that I don’t dilate terribly quickly. So she just encouraged me that I was making positive progress, and we continued getting through one contraction at a time. I was all over the place. The birth stool (magical invention, I tell you), the tub, the bed, the shower, the toilet, the rocking chair, standing. Everywhere. It was somewhere in here that I begin to feel like my hips were literally going to shatter. I understand that labor is hard work, it takes a lot of effort, and it can be difficult. But this was different. With each contraction I had to tell myself that I wouldn’t break in half, I wouldn’t break in half. But with each contraction, that truth seemed less and less, well, true. Physically, I was falling apart. Mentally, I was losing the battle. I wish I had the words to better verbalize this at the time, I feel there were some measures that could have been taken to ease the burden. But I was too involved within myself to express this adequately to anyone. So on I went. In retrospect, I was only 4-6cm dilated, and couldn’t stop the urge to push, which is exactly what happened with #3. Something about the size and position of the baby’s head versus my own anatomy just doesn’t flow well apparently. I wonder if, with this knowledge in light of the progress of my previous labor, if trying the Nitrous Oxide at this point would have relaxed me enough to move past this hurdle and continue with labor. Who knows, though, really. The midwives were periodically checking baby’s heart rate, and somewhere around 11pm (I think) baby’s heart rate started going up. They hooked me up to an IV, because I was dehydrated from the castor oil, even though I was trying to eat and drink the whole time. But then, with one contraction, there was a big gush of amniotic fluid and with it came meconium (baby’s poop). At seeing this, the midwife advised us that we should consider transferring to the hospital. These were not definite signs of distress, but the hospital could offer better monitoring in case baby were to get unhappy. The midwives are very cautious and would rather you walk into the hospital on your own two feet than be wheeled in by an ambulance. So we all agreed (and in my head I was relieved because hospital meant epidural), packed up, and away we went in a blur at midnight.
As my midwife was pushing me in the wheelchair through the lobby and up the elevator (while still holding my IV bag), there was another woman calmly walking into registration. I tried really hard not to scare her with my labor sounds, but I don’t think I was successful. Sorry lady, I hope your labor was simpler than mine! They got me into a room; my mom had to verify my identity because I left my purse in the car (which was parked 8 years away in the parking deck); and before I knew it anesthesiology was in the room getting my epidural ready. When they were finished, they asked for my ID bracelet, but I didn’t even have one yet. They laughed that that never happens, and I assured them it was because Jesus loves me! So 1am, epidural is in, baby is monitored, and everyone is doing great. Jamie, Crystal and Mom slept as best they could sitting up on the couch in the room. Every time I woke up, Caitlin was either watching the monitors or making notes. Because of baby’s heart rate, I was limited in how I could lay in bed. Even with the epidural, my back muscles were screaming from being in the same position for hours. And I was starving. I hadn’t eaten a full meal since breakfast on Thursday, and despite my snacks throughout the day, by early Friday morning, I was ravenously hungry. So empty stomach plus laying flat equaled ralphing from overwhelming heartburn. So good. And the ice chips I was so graciously allowed helped ever so much. Not really. Well, morning came, and I was almost fully dilated. I knew I wanted to let my body and the baby do as much of the work as possible without me (called laboring down), so I didn’t want to tell them right away when I felt pressure. I pushed for almost 2 hours with my first two babies, but only 20 minutes with #3 because of laboring down, and I wanted to repeat that. But after about a half hour of feeling pressure with every contraction, I remembered that they were going to call in the NICU team (because of the presence of meconium and potential respiratory issues with baby) and that could take some time. So I graciously mentioned to my midwife around 7am that I was feeling pressure but wanted to not push forever. She agreed to that and checked to see if pushing would even be effective yet. It was. So away they went getting everything set up and the mass of people came flooding into the room. And yet… an hour went by. 8am came, my midwife’s shift ended, and in walked my most favorite midwife of all. I was so happy to see her. She caught Emily and is simply amazing. She got me moving into different positions to see how to best get baby down and out. She’s very proactive and even worked to physically shift baby’s head to the best position for it’s grand entrance. So another hour passed. At this point we were all still talking and joking between pushes (the beauty of epidurals). At around 8:45am, Jamie said he thought the baby was going to weigh 10 pounds 13 ounces. Every woman in that room told him to hush, it was hilarious. At 8:58am, Jamie suggested I wait and just push the baby out right at 9am. Again, all the women told him to hush, and I just laughed. So another push and the head was delivered, another push and the shoulders were out. I reached down, grabbed my baby and brought it into the world. Baby started wailing right away, so the NICU team packed it up and headed out. I had wanted Jamie to announce if it was a boy or girl, but I had the best view, so I told the world IT’S A BOY!!
Jamie and I both just cried. We were so happy. HE was here. HE was out. My sweet Ian Grant was here. I held him, so relieved it was all over. I don’t remember what everyone else was doing, I was too wrapped up in this squishy little person I just met. But I do remember listening to my midwife quiz the new nursing student on different aspects of birth, I even remember trying to see between people to see the placenta (it’s seriously the coolest thing. Your body makes an entire organ just for the purpose of growing this baby, then discards it when its done!). When the time came, Jamie cut the cord, we got Ian wrapped up, and Daddy got to hold his new boy. When they finally got him over to the scale, the scale first displayed his weight in grams, which meant nothing to us, but the whole medical team just laughed. Then they hit a button and converted it to pounds and ounces and that’s when we saw it … 10 pounds 14.5 ounces. We all laughed. And I declared that we are DONE. The nurse measured his length. She looked very confused, then measured him again. She still wasn’t satisfied, so she asked Jamie to assist her in measuring Ian. After a third measurement, she shook her head and declared him to be 24 inches long. What?!
By the time we reached the 5th floor (Recovery), legend had spread about this massive child that was just born NOT via C-section. Our nurse came in and just had to unwrap him to see just how big he really was. And she pulled out her little paper tape measure. She had heard that babies can be that long, but she just had to see it for herself. So she measured him again. And again. And one more time. And she said he was only 22 inches long (only, haha). After some investigating, she found out that the nurse in Labor & Delivery pushed his foot down and measured to his toes instead of to his heel. So he wasn’t quite as ginormous as the legend would have it.
Well we’re home now and getting into the groove of life as a family of 6! Ian is eating like a champ, sleeping like a boss, and we couldn’t be happier! And we think he is quite legendary.