When I was pregnant, I loved reading the birth stories here. I wanted to post ours – this is the long version! I wanted to be sure I remembered everything; it was such an incredible experience!
George was born on Saturday, November 16th at 7:13 am, 13 days after his guess date.
I spent most of my 41st week of pregnancy doing everything I could to let baby know we were ready for him. In addition to sex, evening primrose oil, and spicy food, this included: a foley bulb placed by my midwife, two acupuncture sessions, and finally a castor oil herbal induction on Friday prescribed by my midwives. I was 41+5 at that point, and if I got to 42 weeks my midwives would need to transfer my care to an OB, and instead of giving birth at a freestanding birth center, I would need to deliver in a hospital. I was willing to try anything.
I took the castor oil around 3:30 pm by mixing it in a chocolate milkshake. It was awful going down, and I’ll probably never want a chocolate milkshake as long as I live. After the milkshake, there was a 4 hour herbal induction which required taking herbal tinctures and supplements for the next 4 hours. After that, I was instructed to call the midwife on duty. I called her around 7:45, and let her know I had finished the induction. She asked some questions, and asked if I would be willing to give the same thing another try the following morning. I was not sure I would be able to get down another castor oil cocktail, so I asked her if I could sleep on it.
Shortly after I spoke with her, the castor oil made me really sick. I spent from about 8 pm Friday evening to 11 pm in the bathroom. Immediately after I started feeling better from having the castor oil cleaned out of my system, I started having regular, intense contractions about 3 minutes apart. Everything my husband and I had learned in our Bradley classes said to not take early labor too seriously and we knew it could go on for awhile, but these contractions seemed way too intense to be early labor. I don’t think my husband believed how intense they were and suggested we try to sleep/watch tv. There was no way that was happening.
I usually have a pretty strong stomach, and around 11:45 I threw up. I knew labor was getting serious so we called our midwife at about midnight. I had a couple of contractions while I was on the phone with her. She asked to speak to my husband, and she told him to call back when my contractions were 2.5 minutes apart or lasting at least a minute.
We called our doula, Bridget (who was amazing by the way) and she arrived around one am. I took a bath but it didn’t do much to help the intensity. Other than getting in the bath for that short time, I didn’t sit or lay down at all during my labor. The only way I could bear through a contraction was to be standing, with Dan and Bridget pressing my hips together, and I would lean over a pile of pillows so my belly was hanging over the ground. I would never have been able to labor on my back or in a bed without drugs.
Around 2:30 am I threw up for a second time, and almost immediately after my water broke. My water was perfectly clear; contractions were still hard and fast. They were so quick it was hard to time them. My water breaking was the weirdest part of labor. I texted my mom in NY who was planning to fly in to take care of us that we were having a baby (she had actually come to MN when I was 39+5, and we both got frustrated with no baby so she had gone home just a couple of days before – a watched pot won’t boil was our theory – but she was planning to come back when the baby arrived. Since our baby was born so early in the morning, she was able to get back out here by that evening and still cook us dinner that night).
We called Monica, our midwife, who said to meet at the birth center in a half hour. Luckily we only live 1 mile from the birth center, and that was the longest mile long car ride ever. Leaving the house was a total blur. I’d had our bags packed for weeks, but there were those things you can’t pack until you leave and hardly any of those things got packed. It wasn’t a big deal at all because we were at the birth center for such a short period of time.
I continued to labor at the birth center, but after being sick from the castor oil and then not being able to keep down my dinner and most of the fluids I’d had, I had a little bit of a plateau. Monica checked me when we arrived and I was a 6 (I had been a 2 earlier that day when she gave me the castor oil). Contractions were still strong and frequent but she was worried I was getting dehydrated and asked me if I would be open to having an IV for fluids. I really, really, really did not want an IV or anything attached to me. That was just the motivation I needed to kick my water intake way up. I was also drinking emergen-c for extra electrolytes. I think I ate about a half of a granola bar too. After she threatened that IV, I kept everything down from that point forward. It’s amazing how the mind and body can work together.
Once I was rehydrated and refueled, things started progressing quickly again. For 99% of my contractions, starting at 11 pm, I had 3 minutes between them at the most. I literally had NO down time. For the other 1% of the contractions, I had maybe 5 minutes. I paid for it though, because after the longer breaks the contractions were that much more intense!
At the birth center, they checked my blood pressure every so often and the baby’s heart rate every so often. They had to rush between contractions to get the info they needed, because as soon as I was contracting I was leaning over my stack of pillows and begging my husband or doula to press on my hips. Other than the first cervical check when I was a 6, I was only checked one other time.
I tried to take a quick shower, but I just couldn’t labor anywhere other than over my stack of pillows with my hip presses.
Around 6 am, I started to feel like I could start pushing. I started to get into a bit of a squat/goddess pose during contractions (while still leaning over my pillows). Monica said I could get in the tub when she heard me start to push a bit. I just kept saying “move down baby.” She ran the water and I got into the tub. It felt good and I got my hands and knees. I still needed hip presses through contractions. I labored in the tub, pushing for a bit. I could feel my baby’s head with my fingers, baby had about an inch and a half until crowning. Monica suggested we move to the birthing stool, so we did. I got out of the tub and my husband was supporting me on one side and my doula on the other. I pushed on the birthing stool for about 15 minutes and Monica suggested we move to the bed into an assisted squat. She could see my baby had an elbow by his head which was making the decent a little more challenging. They found his heart tone and I could tell it was really really slow. She said his cord was wrapped around his neck and he needed to come out. I was terrified and I think it took me 2 more pushes to get his head out and one more push to get his body. He came out purple and not breathing or reactive at all. She immediately cut the cord around his neck and put him on me skin to skin. She told us as he was coming out we would need to talk to him right away. I was talking to him, petting him and blowing on his face. Monica used an aspirator to clear his passages and he started a labored breathing. They put an oxygen mask on him but he was skin to skin with me the whole time. He started to pink up and within 5 minutes or so he was much more reactive. It was scary, but I know that it happens pretty frequently and Monica was so calm, collected and efficient the whole time. I knew we were in great hands.
After an 8 hour labor, and within 4 hours of arriving at the birth center, our baby was born. We spent some time skin to skin until Monica asked if we had noticed if it was a boy or a girl. Neither of us had even looked when the baby came out because we were so worried about his health. My husband looked to see and told me it was a boy. I said, “it’s George!!” It was so fun and so exciting.
After pulling an intense all nighter, my husband almost immediately passed out after the birth. I still had George on me and he fell asleep as well, so I let myself sleep and we all took our first family nap in the queen size bed at the birth center. We probably slept for 45 minutes or so. When we got up, Dan went out to get us some breakfast and to check on our dog. One of the other midwives at the birth center stitched me up. I had 2 first degree tears. They did George’s newborn exam and weighed him. I guessed he was around 9 lbs, and couldn’t believe he was 9 lbs 6.5 oz. He barely even looks like a newborn. After our nap, he nursed for a little bit. He was a lazy nurser the first day and a half, until my milk came in. Now, he can’t nurse enough. My nipples, ouch. But it’s awesome and I’m so proud of all of his nursing and dirty diapers!
It really was not fun at all being pregnant for almost 42 weeks – George was born 1 day short of the 42 week mark. However, I will say this: it’s pretty awesome having a baby who is fully baked and who came on his own (with some gentle nudging). He is a great sleeper, when he’s fussy he’s pretty easy to sooth, he’s just a mature newborn.
They let us come home about 5 hours after he was born, which has been amazing. My mom arrived that evening and has been taking care of us the last few days (waiting on us hand and foot, cooking, cleaning – we may never let her leave). Since she’s taking care of the house, we’re able to hang out in our room with our new baby and get to know him. It’s been the best few days of my life.
This first pic is George as a newborn, still at the birth center. The second is this morning at 3 days old!