Disclaimer: If you’re a man starting to read this, here’s the short version: I gave birth to our baby in our bedroom. It happened in less then 3 hours, and it hurt. But it was wonderful! Unless your wife is soon to give birth and is making you read this, you can be satisfied with the above story. 🙂
Now for the long version…
Based on our dates, we originally thought Eden was due October 26. However, since I’d only had one cycle between pregnancies (yeah for nursing and pregnancy 😉 !), our midwives had us do a dating ultrasound, giving us a different new date of November 2. (However, based on when I had a positive pregnancy test, this is pretty much as late as it could have been, so she was really overdue regardless of how you look at it!)
Since October, I had been having frequent contractions, and I actually thought this baby might come in October! In fact, one time I was having strong contractions 3 to 4 minutes apart before I was 37 weeks. There were a few things I did that were almost certain to bring on contractions, but they generally faded away after I worked on relaxing and went to bed.
Contractions once again began Monday, November 16, around 1p.m. I had done some things to get them going that had consistently worked to bring on contractions numerous previous occasions, but in the past they had always died out when I went to bed for the evening. Timing them revealed they were about 5 to 7 minutes apart. None were too intense, and for the most part I didn’t even need to do abdominal breathing/relaxation to get through them.
We had an appointment with our midwives, Amy and Linda, at the birth center in Spartanburg at 3p.m., so I arranged for my sister to watch Hana Kate (since I knew her seeing me have an internal exam or being in pain could possibly scare her). I had contractions all the way there; but again, nothing unbearable.
At the birth center, Amy and Linda did a non-stress test and a stress test simultaneously since I was having contractions. Baby tested well, though I only had one real contraction (and not even painful) while doing the stress test. After that, Linda wanted to check my dilation and then attempt to strip my membranes since I was now 14 days overdue. To my surprise and excitement, I was dilated to 3cm! This was great in my mind, because it took me 30 hours of intense labor to get to that point with Hana Kate. Of course, women have However, Linda wasn’t really able to reach back far enough to strip my membranes.
During the visit (our main purpose of going) we signed a release form stating we “refused” to be released from the care of Labors of Love Midwifery and that we were aware of the potential risks. This was to keep us from being required to schedule a hospital induction. There was nothing that indicated any problems with baby. At that time, we also discussed what I would need to do, and what might be holding up my labor from starting.
Linda got a phone call, but Amy recommended some things she and Linda had discussed. Their thinking was that perhaps I was having a positional issue again, and the baby’s head was not aligned in a way that would put enough pressure on the cervix to dilate. Incidentally, Daniel and I had been discussing our thoughts that it may be the same thing.
Since I was having contractions, they wanted me to do several things during contractions when I returned home. One thing I was to do was to put my feet on the edge of the bed/couch and my hands on the floor (like a semi-handstand). Doing this would lift the baby off the floor of my cervix/abdomen, and possibly reposition her in a way that could help her head engage to better start labor. The next was to turn on my left side for two contractions and then on my hands and knees for two, then back to my right side. This is the concept of “spinning babies,” in order to get them to go into the correct position. (And from my experience of attempting this while in difficult labor with Hana Kate, let me just say it was about the most painful thing I ever did…) They also recommended that I go to the chiropractor the next day, and then begin the 3-day induction plan if nothing had started by the next morning. (I had chosen not to do the 3-day induction plan, though they’d suggested starting it a little sooner.)
After we left the birth center, I called my friend Kristen to ask her about the chiropractor she’d visited during her labor with Aydelyn. To my surprise and delight, I learned they’d be open until 7p.m. that night! I scheduled an appointment, and was thrilled that she could see me as soon as I got back to Greenville. I was also glad to have Kristen praying for me, too.
I called Amy and told her that I had gotten an appointment (She joked that she was hoping I had called because my water broke), and she mentioned since I was going in to the chiropractor that I didn’t need to do the positional maneuvers.
Contractions were a bit more uncomfortable by the time we made it to the chiropractor (I think from the car ride), but the heat therapy they did was wondrous! After that, we headed home where my sister was with Hana Kate. We ate supper and decided to proceed with the normal routine of putting Hana Kate to bed. First, we took a walk together as a family in hopes that would help with cutting out labor time if I was truly in labor. By that time, the contractions had slowed to around 20 minutes apart, and seemed to once again be dying out. It was a nice, clear night for a walk, and I remember we saw and heard an owl on our walk (yeah, totally random, but it stands out vividly in my mind).
We sent my sister home, a little disappointed that we didn’t need her to watch HK, but it was her bedtime and not much was happening. Besides if I was going to have another long labor and it was going to start in the night, I’d rather her be away from us all day than have to spend the night away from us. We got her into bed a little after 8p.m., and then I told Daniel I wanted to try to go to bed by around 9:30p.m. that night.
I began to grow frustrated that nothing was happening. Kristen had recommended a few things she had tried during labor to speed it up, so I tried one of her recommendations. I started pumping, trying to do 15 minutes on each side. The only result seemed to be that I was a bit sore afterward. All the while I was praying God would bring this baby in His timing. Although Amy said I did not need to try the head-stand technique, I decided to do it anyway. Still nothing. Contractions were pretty much gone by that time. I was excited and nervous, because I knew my time was up…labor was imminent, but there wasn’t really any time to spare. I just wanted to get it over with and hold my baby!
Around 9p.m., I took a shower. At that time, I tried to check for dilation but was really unfamiliar with what it was supposed to feel like to gauge how far I was. I could tell it was different, but that was all. I also had a tiny bit of bloody show when I had returned from the chiropractor and had a tiny bit more. This signified to me that at least if it was not the next day or so, it would be soon!
Around 9:30p.m. Daniel gave me a massage to help relax. During that time, I felt a strong contraction, but relaxed well through it. I asked Daniel to tell me the time so I could note it in case this was for real. It was 9:36p.m. After a couple of contractions, I realized they were about 5 minutes apart.
With Hana Kate’s labor being approximately 46 hours, I realized it could be a long, long night ahead if this was labor starting. So told Daniel to try to get some rest in case this was the real thing. Meanwhile, I read some verses and an encouraging e-mail from Kristen and tried to relax through the contractions. At some point in there, I also e-mailed my friend Ashlyn to pray for me, as well, as I was fairly certain I was going to be in labor at some point the next day or so. My goal was also to type a labor journal as long as possible.
My entry at 10:17 reads as follows:
Contractions definitely picking up in force and pain, but not sure on time. I’ll start timing again soon. Had Daniel go back to bed to try to get some rest. Pretty sure I won’t be sleeping tonight, at least not this half of the night.
Thinking a lot about thanking God for Christ’s suffering during each contraction. But honestly, if I want this labor/delivery to grow me closer to God in the way I’ve asked friends to pray, I have a feeling I’ve got a while to go in labor. We’ll see.
Thinking about how when I first heard that Christa’s [my sister-in-law, who was due after me but also overdue, and whose little girl and mine are now 6 days apart] first labor was less than 5 hours, that it was hard for me to swallow that. (Obviously, that boils down to jealousy and covetousness.) It was hard to hear that on Wednesday, both that she went before me and that it seemed so easy [please forgive me, Christa, I know it wasn’t easy; but I was thinking in terms of length, and compared with my last labor J]. God gave much grace through that. Today, Kristen wrote me a kind e-mail, and at the end she stated, “Although I didn’t handle my labor nearly as “spiritually” as I wish I had at some points, when it was all over, the Lord had definitely humbled me and I really believe my delivery of Aydelyn was a turning point in my relationship with the Lord. May He use your labor experience in your heart for His glory!” Wow. What a rebuke and encouragement. Really, this is the type of labor I should be “jealous” of—one that is a turning point in my relationship with the Lord. I know that’s what I need in my life at this point; even more than I need a short labor.
To go back to the past Wednesday when I heard Christa had had Anna Grace, that was a huge turning point in my waiting. Until that point, it wasn’t really so hard to be overdue, especially since I had a fellow overdue partner in Christa. But after AG was born, I was really discouraged. In retrospect, it seems silly, but I suppose at 42 weeks pregnant with the corresponding hormones added to the mix, it was a big deal. I was determined to have the baby that Wednesday, too! I went on a very, very long walk, which ended up in a jog when it started to rain (because Hana Kate was with me in the stroller). But I did not give up after that, and did a lot of bouncing on the birthing ball. By church time I was exhausted and in pain and spent the night at home trying to alleviate the pain. The next few days were hard, but what God did in my heart was beautiful. And it never would have happened if she wasn’t so late. I began to see that I was praying for the wrong thing: a short labor, when what I should have been coveting more was for God to use this however He saw fit to draw me closer to Himself. (Though praying for a short labor was not wrong, necessarily.) By the day Eden was born, I had gone from praying for a short labor to praying more for a labor to draw me closer to God.
My next and final labor journal entry came at 10:29p.m.,
just survived a killer contraction…hmm, I have a feeling this is merely the beginning. Holding onto the hope that they peak [in intensity] around 30 seconds in. So far, true at this point.
(at this point, I threw the computer onto the bed with next contraction, and told Daniel that I would probably need him. 🙂)