Based on traditional dating methods, our due date was May 11. However, since I had a pretty good idea of what was going on my body at the time of this pregnancy’s start, I was confident we could say the official “
due guess date” was May 18. We didn’t have an ultrasound at all this pregnancy, but during the pregnancies with the girls my early/dating ultrasound had always pushed the due date a week forward as well. Beyond that, both girls have been at least 1 week “overdue” from the new due date (e.g., Eden would have been 22 days past her original due date, and 15 days past the ultrasound-based date). Once we were able to measure fundal height, baby was measuring right along with the May 18 date. (My body seems to take longer than most to grow babies. ) So, given my history, I expected this baby to arrive sometime shortly after I’d reached 41 weeks. Given my past history, as well, my midwife suggested I take a 5-week-formula, and I ended up taking this one, as it seemed to be the safest mixture and also worked quite well for my friend Kristen. A big role of the 5-week-formula is to regulate hormones/hormonal imbalances, so I knew that it could also help the baby come closer to a 40-weeks range.
May was a very busy month for us, and thankfully I felt better physically and was able to do more than I had the past three-ish months combined. We had a lot of friends in and out during the first half of the month, but once I reached 40 weeks, things were starting to slow down for us. We had either had someone over every day or some appointment for me the last few weeks prior; so on Sunday, Daniel suggested that we just stay home and rest as a family, just in case the baby did come sometime that week. I was a little sad to miss church, but am now thankful I did spend that day resting! We were excited to get a brief visit from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their two little ones on Monday afternoon, and then on Monday evening, Daniel volunteered to go up to Ikea (about 70 minutes away) with the girls and get a few final things we’d hoped to get set up in our house before baby’s arrival. (Of course, the main thing he was going for was out of stock.) I was feeling pretty good, and hadn’t experienced anything to hint that I’d be starting labor soon. He almost convinced me to go along, but as he was settling the girls in the van, a wave of exhaustion hit me. We both felt it would be better for me to stay home and rest. Again, glad I did, especially as I ended up feeling exhausted most of that night.
The next morning rolled around, and I felt better. My friend Kristen had been wanting to get together one last time, so we planned to go out to Panera that evening. However, when it came time for Daniel’s lunch break (he works from home and spends most of his lunches with us), I started feeling a crampy feeling and feeling pretty miserable overall. I also had a very painful toothache. I asked Daniel to take over lunch, and I went upstairs to lay down and promptly fell asleep. Eden needed a nap that day, so Daniel brought her in and we slept together for about 20 minutes while a beautiful thunderstorm passed through our area. She kept sleeping, Daniel went back to work, and Hana Kate quietly entertained herself in Daniel’s office. I e-mailed Kristen to let her know I wasn’t feeling the greatest and feeling crampy and that I might need to call off our “date.” Within an hour of sending her that e-mail, though, I was feeling fine again. I felt bad that I would be apart from the girls for two evenings in a row, especially since the birth was coming soon, so Kristen and I planned to meet shortly after our suppertime so I could have some family time. I made supper, we ate it, and then enjoyed a little family time together.
After that, I headed out to meet with Kristen, encountering yet another huge thunderstorm just as I arrived at Panera. I was glad it worked out for us to get together, but was also looking forward to the slower pace our family schedule would have over the next few days, still thinking labor might start sometime the next weekend. Although we’d been talking and e-mailing about all sorts of things that we’d wanted to discuss, we spent most of our time talking about birthy stuff. Both she and our midwife had separately told me that they were going to guess May 28 as the date, but that night she kept saying things like, “well, it could be tomorrow, you know.”
When we left, I was feeling pretty good, but on the way home I realized we were all out of milk, bread, and fruit. I thought about stopping at Publix on the way home, but was too tired. When I got home, I told Daniel that it would be funny if our baby did come that night, because we were all out of groceries and our house was messier than it had been for a few days. But we were both tired and decided to go to bed without remedying either. Besides, I didn’t feel anything different other than the cramping I’d felt earlier. Meanwhile, the fourth thunderstorm for the day/night rolled in; I did have to wonder if the air-pressure changes with the storms would do anything for me. (Edit: Actually, based on this post by my doula, in which 2 of her other clients also began labor with PROM in the same week as me, I’m guessing it did.)
An Unexpected Beginning
We went to bed, and like normal, I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom. This time it was about 3:00a.m., and I quickly went back to bed. As I was drifting back to sleep, I felt a gush of warm liquid. It kept coming and coming, and I finally accepted the fact that my water had broken. I woke Daniel up to let him know, we cleaned things up, and I told him to get his rest now because we didn’t know what was ahead. (In my last 2 births, my water broke in the later stages of labor during hard, hard contractions.) At that point I was not having any contractions, and having just read this article on the importance of the amniotic sac in labor and with that fresh on my mind, I have to admit that fear started to creep into my mind. Since I was sleeping with a pillow between my legs, this would also be the demise of pillow #1 (a theme in this birth).
I quickly sent a text to my friends Ashlyn and Kristen, as well as my midwife, Carey, and my doula, Julie, just to give them a heads up that my water had broken, but that I wasn’t having any contractions. Ashlyn and Kristen both sent a text back right away! I had to laugh at this, because I wasn’t expecting anyone to be awake and just wanted everyone to have the info whenever they woke up. (Ashlyn later told me my text woke her up, but then she was so excited about it that she went ahead and started her day.) I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I knew having my water break could also mean that contractions might start coming fast and furious, and that I could potentially have another precipitous birth like my last. (Often, having the waters break without contractions/being in labor is an indicator of either 1) an infection of some sort (like Strep B) or 2) a malpositioned baby. But in my case, it was likely a result of the atmospheric pressure.) I stayed in bed for a while, and finally started having a few mild contractions. I decided to start timing them, but realized I’d never downloaded the app on to my iPhone. When I attempted to, I realized Daniel had changed his password (not from me, but because Apple/iTunes recently added a capital letter-in-password requirement). I did not want to wake him up, because I knew he’d need the strength later on. I tried to have it send me the password to his e-mail, but I was getting locked out. By that time I was quite frustrated, woke him, got the password, and started timing away.
Mild sooned turned into manageable and I did a lot of hip swaying to get through these contractions. They soon progressed into “difficult to talk through,” so I jumped into the shower for comfort. (Well, I didn’t jump, though maybe I should have.) I also e-mailed my friend Kristen and asked if she could come sometime between 7 and 8a.m. and then stay until her husband had to go into work later that day. Then, since I have always started labor at night/evening, I decided I was going to “look nice” for this birth, (Hahahaha! I would think to myself when labor lasted way longer than I’d expected.) especially if the baby would arrive quickly like last time. So, I put on my “birth skirt” and then put my hair in a nice-looking ponytail and put on a little eye makeup (I don’t even have face makeup, but if I did I probably would have put some on). It was a nice thought, anyway…
I was growing increasingly frustrated that Daniel was still sleeping (emotions: definitely a sign my body was doing something). But, a big concern I’ve always had about labor is that I’m going to be mean to Daniel while in labor. (Thanks to horror stories some women I used to know told me about swearing at their husbands and saying all kinds of crazy things.) So, I got the meanest I’ve been toward him in labor (last time around, I was eerily too polite to him) and said something like, “Can you please just wake up!” After he quickly did, around 6:50a.m., I asked Daniel if he could go ahead and call Julie (doula) to come. A few minutes later, I told him he probably should call Carey (midwife), as well. By this time I was beginning to grow frustrated and impatient. While my contractions were coming harder and more steadily, it still felt soooo slow compared with my last labor. Multiple times between contractions (or, pressure waves if you want to call them such), I told Daniel that this was incredibly boring and slow. The contractions were powerful enough that I had to really concentrate to get through them—enough so that I didn’t feel like I would do well making a birth day cake or something like that. But in between, it was frustrating to just wait for the next one, especially when things weren’t consistent.
Eden woke up around 7:10, and then Hana Kate around 7:30. This was not the scenario I’d imagined, and was a bit concerned that me being in active labor when they woke up (as it can sometimes be a grumpy moment in the day for either one of them) might scare them a little bit or make it hard since Daniel needed to be with 3 people at once (doula and midwife not quite here).
The day came, and it was a foggy day. Julie (doula) called to tell us it was taking her a little longer due to traffic. At 8a.m., I was sitting on an exercise ball during contractions. My leg and hip muscles felt tight all over (another theme: I think I was low on electrolytes for some reason), so I drank a Gatorade and tried to eat some apples that Daniel sliced up for me even though I didn’t feel very hungry.
Carey arrived a few minutes later, and my friend Kristen and Julie came in shortly after that. I continued to labor alone, and Daniel got the girls dressed and then he washed and prepared some of the instruments for Carey.
Kristen took over with taking care of the girls (along with her little 4-month-old girl), and the girls were very excited to spend the morning with “Miss Kristen.” Carey came in to check my dilation. I tried to be a realist, and set my expectations low. I prayed and hoped I’d be at least 2cm. It’s good I wasn’t hoping for higher, because Carey measured me at 2cm., but stretchy to 4cm. That was okay with me at that point. This was the first time I had an internal exam this pregnancy.
Contractions petered out with Julie and Carey with me, so they decided to leave Daniel and I alone in hopes things would pick up a little more. Gradually, they did and I hopped in for another shower. Daniel was journaling my labor as he could, and wrote:
9:02: “I feel very relaxed; no stress. She always hums in the shower. I like that”
9:15: “Huge contraction.”
9:30: “Julie comes up and helps through some contractions. “Just be” is her motto. She waves a washcloth sprinkled with peppermint oil. As Keren has a contraction, she applies counter pressure to her hips by squeezing then. This really helps Keren. I watched and learned. I would later be doing this same technique for a very long time.”
“Carey suggests ‘the rotisserie,’” (2 contractions on each side, 2 on hands and knees and 2 on the back) so Keren struggles to move in various positions during the next few contractions. She is yelling through them. I try to lamely assure her with kind words.” [He did assure me.]