Birth story time!
I love a good birth story. This one has a bit of a crazy ending. Enjoy:
All of my first four kids were born after their due date. The third and fourth (Sis and Bubba) were induced five and one days past their due dates, respectively (you can read the birth stories for Lass, Sis, and Bubba here. I’m not sure what happened to Miss’s?).
So, I felt pretty confident that with this fifth delivery, I would be going to my due date once again, when I had an induction scheduled. December 29th was to be the day, I was quite certain.
What’s that saying about what God does when we make plans?
I woke up on December 28th at around 5am with some contractions. They weren’t too bad, but they gradually got stronger as I stayed in bed, half sleeping and procrastinating getting up for the day. Around 6-ish I started to time them, and they were about 7-8 minutes apart, lasting around a minute each. I decided to get up and take a shower, both to see if anything changed, and also, just in case.
Once I was up and moving around, the contractions got closer together and a bit stronger, more like 3-4 minutes apart, but they were shorter, only 30-45 seconds long. So I didn’t know what to think. My doctor always has told me that I should call if my contractions were five minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for an hour. These contractions weren’t fitting the prescribed pattern! I wasn’t sure what to do. It had been over seven years since the last time I had gone into labor on my own, but I figured I should still be able to determine if I was actually in labor or not. I did not want to be the fifth-time mom who came into the hospital in “labor,” only to be sent home.
My husband asked me if he should try to find someone to cover his shift at work. I thought maybe I should call a nurse. But it was early, before office hours, and I knew I’d probably have to wait a while for the on-call nurse to call me back if I called then, so I told my husband to go ahead and go to work. I said, “I’m going to go downstairs and put my feet up. These contractions will probably go away.” (If you have read Bubba’s birth story, you might remember that I started having contractions the morning he was born too, and they stopped on their own).
So, I woke up my Mom to chase Bubba around while I put my feet up and let the contractions go away.
Except the contractions didn’t go away. They gradually got a little stronger (though they never did get to the one-minute-long-every-five-minutes criteria). Since I have had a c-section (and for that reason a nurse once yelled at me on the phone for not calling sooner when I was having contractions with Lass), I figured I should call the nurse and see what she recommended. When I did, she said that my doctor (Dr. K) was off that day, but that the doctor who delivered Bubba (Dr. C, not my usual OB, but the one I went with for his delivery and also loved, because when I was pregnant with Bubba, Dr. K had taken a break from delivering babies for a while) was the back up on-call doctor and could see me that morning.
So, I called my husband and said he needed to come home from work, got my stuff together to go to the hospital, and off we went.
When we arrived, we went right in to see Dr. C, who checked me and pronounced that I was at 5 cm (already!) and that I was in labor and should be admitted. She said she’d come upstairs later that morning to break my water, and we went on upstairs to the L&D floor to have a baby.
As usual, the nurses assigned to me had me get in the bed for monitoring and to get my blood drawn and have an IV needle put in place in case of an emergency. My contractions weren’t too bad at this point, so I was talking and joking with my husband and the nurses throughout this time.
After this part was done, I got up and began to walk around the halls with my husband. We have done this together so many times before. So many laps on this same L&D floor. We talked and joked. He hummed Pange Lingua. Every few laps we’d stop and let the nurses do their monitoring. The contractions were getting a bit stronger, but not too much at this point.
I focused on offering each contraction for a prayer intention, which I had loosely planned out in my head, but had not gotten around to writing down (I was supposed to have one more day for that!).
On one of our laps when we passed the nurse’s station, our nurse told us that Dr. K had called (Dr. C must have called her), and said that she had an appointment that afternoon that she couldn’t miss, but if I hadn’t delivered but he time she was done, she would come in and do the delivery. How awesome that my two favorite docs were both willing to deliver my baby!
At around 11am, Dr. C came up and broke my water.
A few more laps after this and things started to get real. I started to feel like I didn’t want to walk anymore, but when I stopped in the room and sat on the yoga ball (my go-to position from my labors with both Sis and Bubba), things would slow down.
My husband said I needed to stop looking so cheerful when he took my picture
I was torn, because I really liked being more comfortable on the yoga ball, but I wanted things to keep moving, and walking was a good way to get things progressing. For a little while, we alternated between walking and sitting. By about 1:00 or 1:30 or so, my contractions got too hard for walking.
No more cheerful
I have a history of labor-puking, and I felt extremely hot and nauseated, so I made sure the puke basin was nearby, though I didn’t end up needing it.
At some point, I really don’t know when, maybe around the time I decided I was done walking, the nurse checked me again and said I was at seven centimeters. I suppose that was decent progress, but I remember thinking that seven still seemed awfully far from 10.
Around 2:00 or so, I started having a lot of back pain and couldn’t sit on the ball anymore. I had my husband adjust the height of the bed and I stood up and leaned over onto the bed on my elbows, which helped a little bit. I had my husband squeeze my hips during each contraction, which helped some too. He was reminding me to get through one contraction at a time and to offer up the pain, which was also helpful, though I was beginning to really struggle to get through the contractions around this time.
The nurses came in, and I told one of them something like, “I think I’m starting to maybe feel a little bit of pressure.” I was definitely feeling pressure, but afraid to get my hopes up or to have my progress checked only to find out I had made minimal gains. I was experiencing a strong fear of the end-of-labor despair. The nurse asked if I was feeling pressure all the time or only at the end of my contractions, and I didn’t really know the answer to this, so I just said “only at the end.” She suggested maybe waiting 15 minutes and then checking my progress. I think she too was concerned about my reaction if I had made little change.
Within a few minutes of her saying this, I asserted a bit more confidently that I was feeling pressure and really felt the need to push. One of the nurses said something like, “Hop up on the bed then, and we’ll check you.” I remember thinking how ridiculous that idea was, and I said, “Okay! I’ll just hop right on up there then!” with the tiny bit of a chuckle that I could muster.
Then things got crazy.
The next few minutes were a complete whirlwind as I barely managed to get myself onto the bed between contractions (I think my husband and/or one of the nurses might have had to half lift me on there?), then I immediately said that I had to push. My nurse checked me, and told the other nurse to call Dr. C, and suddenly there were tons of nurses in my room, but no OB, and I remember thinking “Please don’t try to tell me I have to wait until the doctor is here!”
I noticed that my nurse was gowning up and there was a senior nurse who had come into the room who basically told me to just do what I needed to do, which was good because I had already been covertly pushing as everyone was hurrying and getting things ready.
A few minutes and a few more contractions later, Little Buddy emerged, delivered by the nurse, in a dramatic entrance to rival that of Sis (in which I did manage to wait for the doctor to come upstairs).
The doctor came in a few minutes later. Everything was fine. Baby was healthy, I was fine, we all had a good laugh about it. My two OBs had been willing to deliver the baby and neither of them made it in time.
The nurse who delivered him told me I did a good job, and I told her she did too. Then I asked her how many times before she had had to do the delivery. She said, “Technically, that was my first” (She had had one other situation when she could have delivered the baby, but she deferred to the more senior nurse that time).
And there you have it. My first ever delivery before my due date. My first delivery without an OB present. Not my first fast-ending delivery, but perhaps the most dramatic.
Sweet boy was 8 lbs, 13 oz (my smallest baby) and 21 inches long, born at 2:32 on Dec. 28th.
We are all soaking up the newborn days. The kids adore him, and we are happily (though sleepily) adjusting to life as a family of seven.