I just love birth stories. And I really enjoy reflecting on labor and delivery of my own kids. So, three+ weeks after the fact, here’s the story of my little man’s birth.
Note: I’m not going to go into crazy detail, but there are a few birthy-type words coming up, so be forewarned.
My due date was May 31st. I had an induction planned for June 1st. All my kids have been born past their due dates. But, up until the first few times that my OB checked my “progress” toward being ready to deliver, I thought I might go into labor early this time. My last two kiddos were breech until being turned at around 37-38 weeks. This little guy was heading in the right direction the whole time, which led to him being much, much lower than any of his sisters had ever been, to the point that I kind of thought he might fall out. Therefore, for a while I was sure I would deliver him early.
So, I was a bit surprised to find out that, at each OB appointment in the few weeks up to my induction, I had made almost zero progress toward being ready to deliver. One centimeter at each appointment. One. At my last appointment one week before my induction, I had to see a different OB because mine was out of town. He said I was at one centimeter “on a good day.”
This lack of progress made me a little nervous, because my doctor said she might want to give me some pitocin for my induction if I wasn’t any more dilated than that, rather than just breaking my water, which is what I had done for my last induction.
Knowing that I planned to deliver without pain medication again, I really wanted to avoid pitocin if at all possible. So I was really, really hoping to make a bit more progress before induction day. Fortunately, the night before my induction was scheduled, I started having some stronger contractions at about 3am. They weren’t regular or very close together (just enough to keep me mostly awake for the rest of the night), but they were much stronger than any I had had previously, so I was hopeful that maybe they were doing a bit more work than had happened up to that point.
The contractions never did pick up or turn into actual labor, so on induction day, we showed up at the hospital as scheduled at 6:15am.
My doctor came up to break my water at around 8 am. At that point I found out that the contractions from the night before had been working. I had progressed to 3cm, which was a big relief.
I asked my doctor to hold off on the pitocin, and she didn’t have any problem with that. About a half hour after she broke my water, I was about to get up and start walking to get things going.
My husband and I walked, and he hummed or sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (a favorite hymn) as we went. With my previous induction, it took several hours of walking for my contractions to really pick up. This time around, it took much less time. It was only an hour to an hour and a half before I was ready to stop walking and stay in my room to manage the contractions on the big yoga ball. That’s what I did with my last labor and it was the best way to deal with the contractions then, so this time I figured I’d start out by trying what worked before.
The yoga ball was the most comfortable way to labor this time as well, though I was struggling a lot more this time with back pain during contractions, so they seemed harder. During each contraction I tried to offer it up for an intention from the list I had made. Offering the pain I was experiencing for the intention of another was helpful, but I did have a few contractions where I couldn’t seem to focus my mind enough to think of an intention to offer up (and by the end I lost my ability to focus on this technique at all!).
After a couple of hours, the contractions were getting really intense. The nurse checked me and I was only at 5-6cm, which was pretty discouraging. I think I was remembering my previous labor too much and how quickly that ended up, and hoping for the same fast resolution this time, which led me to feel disappointed when it wasn’t wrapping up as quickly as before.
My back was killing me. My husband was awesome. He kept reminding me to keep relaxed and to breathe slowly. Up until I got close to the end, I think I did a pretty good job with this, thanks to him.
After a little longer the nurse checked me again, or maybe it was my doctor, I’m not really sure, and I was at 7-8 cm. After this, everyone seemed to think that delivery was rapidly approaching. My doctor even stayed up on the delivery floor, not far from my room. So when the nurse asked me if I wanted to get out of the bed and back onto the labor ball, I said that I might as well just stay where I was.
In retrospect, I think this was a mistake, as laboring for that last little while on my back on the bed was really, really awful. I think the yoga ball would definitely have been better. The one good thing about being on the bed was that I was able to doze off a bit in between contractions. Since I had been up since about 3am with contractions and nervous anticipation, I was pretty tired. My husband thought it was pretty amusing that I was snoozing between contractions, and I think he was making jokes about this to the nurse. To which I replied, “I can still hear you” quite a few times. It seemed to me in the moment like a little bit of comic relief, though I’m not sure if it was actually funny.
^^ It’s quite possible I was asleep when this photo was taken ^^
Anyway, when I was awake and contracting, I remember praying for St. Rita’s intercession during this last part of the delivery. She’s my Confirmation saint, and I remember thinking that she had children so she would understand what I was going through. And also, I was praying for Mary’s intercession, because she’s Mary.
When I started to really feel like I needed to push, my nurse said I wasn’t quite fully dilated, so I had to wait a bit. My doctor told her to get out a labor ball thing they called “the peanut.” I had to try to roll over on my side, as much as that was possible given my enormity and pain level, and hold this peanut-shaped labor ball between my knees for a while. This was supposed to be some sort of magic trick to move things along the last little bit so I would be ready to deliver.
After doing this for a bit, my doctor came in and said the trick had worked. So, on the next contraction I started to push and then started to scream. I clearly remember having the thought that if I was screaming, I couldn’t be pushing very well. So I clamped my mouth shut and got to work. At least for a few pushes. I still yelled a lot, though, especially right at the end (my husband got a video of the birth and it was, um, intense). I think it was about 4-5 contractions after I started pushing that my little man came into the world, just over five hours after my doctor broke my water. He emerged with his fist up by his face, just like he often was in ultrasound images.
He was absolutely perfect at 9 lbs., 11 oz., and 21 inches.
It’s been over three weeks, and sometimes I can still barely believe he’s here.
Welcome to the world sweet boy.