My two daughters, born 6.5 years apart, were born at almost the exact same time of day, weighing almost the exact same amount, and were the same length. The difference is that the first was born at 38 weeks gestation and the second was born 1 day shy of 42 weeks! Crazy how unique each child and each pregnancy is.
On Wednesday (May 6th) I met with my midwife Sherri Price. She put borage oil on my cervix, gave me an essential oil foot rub, and started me on some labor prep herb capsules in hopes of encouraging labor. My cervix was still super thick and only at a 1 despite being a week and a half over due. Her efforts did cause me to have some contractions and lose my plug but still nothing consistent enough to bring me a baby. Things did not start to get consistent until Thursday evening. I decided to start timing my contractions around 8pm. After an hour of seeing they were about 10 minutes apart I accepted that this was probably going to be real labor. Ryan was away from home so I let him know. I also let my midwife and photographer know that I was in early labor just as a heads up. Ryan finally got home and helped get the kids to sleep while I took a shower. He slept a couple hours while I concentrated on laboring. I called my midwife to say things were picking up around 1:00 am. When she arrived and checked me (around 2:00) I was about 4cm dialated. Not too exciting but it was something. Sherri brought two other gals with her (basically a second midwife and a doula) to help with everything. They busily ran around the house making sure they everything was set up and ready while I continued to labor. At 3 AM I started to get shaky. I knew that this often means transition, but I wondered if I could be at an 8 already. I went ahead and told my photographer (Brandy) to come since she had a long drive and my transition/ birth only took like an hour total last time. We were kind of worried she might not make it. I sat on the birth stool so Sherri could check me again and when she checked me she said my cervix was pointing back (this was odd considering in was in a great place when she checked it Wednesday.) She physically pulled it forward during the next contraction. (This was about as fun as it sounds.) Then after that she said oh that made a huge difference your at like a 7.5- 8 now. I was thinking okay we’re back on track, it will go fast from here. I was still thinking there was a chance she’d arrive before Brandy. Brandy arrived shortly before 4 and we all were relieved. After a while of trying to change things up here and there, I still had no baby! Sherri checked me again and to my horror the cervix had gone back again. Sherri thought maybe it was the way the futon was throwing my hips back so we said no more futon. She pulled the cervix forward again and had similar positive results. So again we thought, “Okay almost there.” I did some standing, hands and knees and other various positions and just kept waiting for that uncontrollable ejection reflex. When she still wasn’t coming I agreed to be checked again only to find a posterior cervix once again. I got a little emotional and asked why this kept happening. We decided to try having me lay on the bed since we hadn’t tried that yet, I would pull my knee up when having a contraction and Sherri would try and encourage the cervix to continue to work around the head. She had me taking a contraction strengthening tincture every 15 minutes. Eventually, she had me trying to push so that the head could get past this silly cervix and things could start happening. Progress was being made and I just kept remembering the way Benton slipped out so easily on the birth stool and I wanted that again so I asked to move back to the stool. I sat down and leaned back to give her an easier path. I then said I’m going to throw up. A bowl made it to me in time and I threw up three times. While throwing up I thought maybe she’ll come out with the force of the puking like my nephew did, but no luck there either. The uncontrollable baby coming down feeling never came. I continued put my conscious effort into getting her out for another couple contractions and was grateful I could at least feel that was working. As the sun came up she began to emerge. Sherri tried really hard to make me feel the head but I could not take my focus off of putting everything I had into getting her out. She emerged shortly after the sun rose. It was 6:27 AM (on Friday May 8th) but I honestly thought it was more like 9:27. It felt like an eternity of transition. Immediately after the birth I was bleeding and Sherri reminded me I promised not to bleed for her. (Sarcastically of course, as I have no control over this.) They pulled the stool out from under me and laid me on my back so that gravity would stop encouraging the bleeding. Thankfully this slowed the bleeding right away and overall my blood loss ended up being normal. The greatest part of this story is that Sherri worked tirelessly to ensure my perineum remained happy and I had nothing but a tiny tear that required no stitching! This was a first for me and I was thrilled. We wondered if I had my due date wrong because I had never been over due before but after she was born her placenta and peeling skin made it pretty clear that this baby girl was late.
My oldest awoke just in time to help with all the newborn checks. Our little Elizabeth weighed about 7 lbs 10 oz and was 19″ long.
The thing that made this labor so much harder than my others was not it’s length. My first two labors were much longer. My second labor was not complication free. He was posterior and complex presentation. My second birth was very difficult but this one still takes the cake in my opinion. Physically I have always been in pretty good control of my labors up until the very end. I’ve always thought myself to be pretty good at giving birth. Nothing can prepare you though for feeling that ‘out of control’ feeling that comes with transition. I had the transition adrenaline and out of control shaking that comes with it for over 3 hours. That terrible feeling that there is no position in which you could possibly be comfortable and the desire to retreat from it all was equally long. The nausea was inescapable. This experience pushed me up against a wall I wasn’t sure how to get over. Trying to ‘relax’, ‘work with my body’, or ‘let my body do what it knows how to do’ was off the table. Figuring out how to survive each new wave was all I could manage. Thankfully I had so much hands on help and emotional encouragement from a great birth team. On top of the physical difficulty of the situation I also had the mentally disastrous feeling that all this work had been for nothing. It’s possible to handle hard things with a purpose but mentally nothing makes you want to shut down like the feeling that you’ve worked really hard for insignificant changes. It was a lot to process at first. Despite getting no sleep at night I had a really hard time napping that day.
It was interesting to hear Sherri’s take on the birth the next day. From her perspective, 5 hours of active labor and 12 minutes of pushing was a great birth. She said I did so great at relaxing and it was a beautiful birth. She reminded me that each birth is always going to be different as is each child. I might have set my expectations too high because my 3rd birth was my easiest.
My body is very exhausted. Four pregnancies, labors, and nursed babies in 6.5 years and this body just gave up. The way this last pregnancy just shut my body down and the way my body could not work up the courage to bring this little girl out into the world is mildly concerning. It’s time now for me to concentrate on healing me!
I’m so happy to have her here (finally!) She has a sweetness to her that you can’t deny. Her siblings love her so much. She holds a special place in my heart because I was the 4th child in my family. I’m so thankful to have had Ryan as my rock through the labor and post partum. Onward to our adventures as a family of 6!