Every life that enters this world has some element of uniqueness to it. Every birth has a story – and my 5th baby’s natural hospital birth story of his journey earthside was most exciting to say the least!
Baby S is now 3 months old (I think I just blinked??) and I’m finally sitting down to share the details on how he finally decided to meet us. I had a feeling from the very beginning of his pregnancy that this was going to be a little different. Call it mother’s intuition but I knew that he was going to make us wait for his arrival and boy, did he ever!
I, unfortunately, am not one of those women who have easy pregnancies and glorious, natural hospital births. As much as I wanted this 5th labor of mine to go smoothly and peacefully, that did not quite go as planned. I managed to have my natural hospital birth as desired, but it was quite the journey to get there!
Playing the Waiting Game!
It started around 39 weeks. At my 34 week appointment, I was measuring big and so my midwife wanted to do an ultrasound just to be sure that my fluid was measuring correctly. The baby was measuring 6 lb 6 oz at that 34 week ultrasound, and while we knew that it could be a pound either direction, I knew in my heart that he was going to be a big boy. So I had plans to visit a acupuncturist try acupuncture pressure points to get my labor going a little early (I also experience prodomal labor, which means I have legitimate contractions every day, for hours at a time, usually weeks if not months before the “real deal”). While it did increase my contractions, it did not induce labor.
And so we waited. And waited. His due date came and went and I was still pregnant. My mother-in-law had planned to come around his due date, so she was with me and our four kids (thank the Lord for this – she was a Godsend!). We worked hard to stay busy and preoccupied, because if you’ve ever been with a woman past her due date, we can tend to go a little crazy! Every morning I woke up and focused on what I could do to enjoy that day – feeling him move for some of the final times in my belly, his little kicks, and his hiccups. I made a point to treasure those last moments of time.
He’s Finally Coming! Or IS He??
At my 41 week appointment, my midwives began to discuss possible induction and scheduled a non-stress test for the baby at 41 weeks and 5 days. The morning of that appointment I began to have stronger contractions, and they were closer together as we drove to my appointment (my husband came with me as I was not desiring a “on-the-side-of-the-road” birthing experience!). We thought, “Hey, this could be it!” During my non-stress test, they monitored my contractions and at the end they said, Yep, looks like you’re going into labor, so head on over to the hospital! The baby was still high and on my right side. They wanted to get him moved to my left side which my doula would help with once I got to the hospital.
So my husband and I went to grab a bite to eat at Panera’s, and then took some time walking up and down the Mississippi River, enjoying the beautiful day and these final moments of my pregnancy. I clearly remember leaning over the rail looking at the river during one of my contractions and thinking how marvelous it would be to birth outside in such a glorious summer day! Obviously, that wasn’t a possibility so I was determined to keep that grounded feeling during my natural hospital birth.
At the hospital, my doula (who was actually a stand in for my original doula who was out of town) had another client in labor. So she called in her back up who happened to be an amazing Spinning Babies instructor. So for the next six hours, she ran me through a number of positions and exercises to help get our baby to drop and move to the other side. By hour seven (7:00p.m.), I was exhausted and emotional as my contractions had slowed down and the dark shadow of induction hung over my head. The midwife on call came in to discuss our options, as I was dilated to 5 cm. with no progression over the last seven hours. At this point, I was done. I just wanted to go home and go to sleep in my bed – even if it meant having the baby at home! So that’s what we did. We left and went home and I was left wondering once again, when this child was going to make his appearance.
Struggling To Find Hope
The induction date was scheduled for 2 days later and I prayed so hard that it wouldn’t come to that. Waking up the next morning was almost surreal, having been at the hospital the day before truly believing I would have a baby in my arms by the end of the day. I struggled mentally a bit that Saturday. Keeping my spirits up proved to be a challenge. I wanted to avoid an induction with my entire being, so I went on the local natural Facebook page for mothers and sent out a pleading post for ANY recommendations to help my situation. And like a ray of sunshine piercing dark clouds, hope was given. A chiropractor (and the Spinning Babies doula) who specialized in shifting babies agreed to meet me at her studio the next day, which was Sunday, to see if she could adjust me in a way that would align baby better. I was so incredibly thankful for the willingness of these women to help me!
The next day after my husband got home from late church service, I drove over and ran through my exercises once more before getting adjusted (which as a immensely pregnant person, was a whole new experience for me!! This adjustment was much different than what I was used too!). I left with the hope and prayer that this would do the trick!
That evening I went to bed, knowing in my heart that things were starting. I woke up Monday morning, induction day, at around 4 a.m. and realized that he was REALLY coming! I was going to get my natural hospital birth without having an induction! The contractions were 5 minutes apart and much deeper than I’d felt them before. I woke my husband up around 5:30, and told him that we might be heading to the hospital a little bit earlier. We were out the door by 6:15 and got to the hospital around 6:45. Since we already had the induction scheduled, I was able to avoid going to triage and they got me straight up to my room. My doula met me there around 7:15 a.m. and it was clear I was definitely in labor. We were going to do this on our own! My adjustment had worked and little man was on his way!
I was determined to have as much mobility as possible in my labor so I utilized the birthing ball, yoga mat, the bed and even sat backwards on the toilet until about 8:45am. As the contractions got stronger, my doula filled up the tub that was a walk-in for me to sit it. This was probably my most relaxed and enjoyable position as I leaned over the edge and breathed through each wave that came.
Around 30 minutes later, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. So of course we had to empty the tub in order for me to get out. It was during this time that I felt like I needed to push a little, so I was checked and unfortunately, I was still only a 5.5 centimeters! I quickly made the decision to break my water to see if that would get me to dilate quicker (my water has NEVER broken on its own). Boy did it ever! The midwife broke my water and within 20 minutes, I was needing to push and I was 9cm. The midwife stretched me to a 10 and I pushed on my hands and knees for 30 minutes. I will never forget the guttural pain and effort spent as I bared down into each wave.
Unfortunately, the baby was just too big to stay in that position. It seemed like I wasn’t able to push hard enough to get him to come down. And even though it was my deep desire to birth on my hands and knees, the midwife encouraged me to switch. I pushed for 10 minutes on my sides and then moved to my back. She was right; my pushing was much more effective in this position.
I was able to birth his head and shoulders in about 5 minutes but then his torso seemingly got stuck for a bit. This was a big baby! After a few more minutes of patiently waiting, baby S was finally born at 11:27a.m.!
I will never forget that feeling the moment when he was put on my chest. All I could think was, It’s finally over! I briefly remember the midwife, my doula, and the nurse exclaiming how big he was! They said he was an 11 to 12 pounder. I thought, “No way, there is absolutely no way that that is possible!” Almost immediately, my body seemed to react to the stress of having him. I started to shake uncontrollably. It was like my body went into complete shock after the work and strain it had been put under. My husband held the baby because I was shaking so much. Finally, when I was able to calm down and get warm again, I got settled with the baby on my chest.
It was definitely one of the most powerful, painful, and intense experiences of all of my child births! When they finally weighed him an hour or so later, I was completely stunned to hear that he was 11 lb, 12 oz. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever carry, much less birth, a baby of that size! It is truly a remarkable testament to how God created a woman’s body to be able to do such a task!
Baby S’s pregnancy and birth taught me so many lessons. One of the biggest lessons I learned towards the end was to appreciate the little things. That extra time waiting for the baby to come allowed me to spend precious days with my other children. I was able to do some special activities with the kids and won’t forget those last times that we spent as a family of 6.
I also ended up having a very different natural hospital birth than what I had envisioned for my labor. All through the pregnancy I was bound and determined to have a calm and focused labor. I poured over Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, visualizing the calm I would have around me. I wanted to be one of those women who could deliver out of the bed and on the ground, connected to the process. But let’s be honest, when is labor ever the way we envisioned it! It truly was the hardest and most painful labor that I had experienced. It was the absolute definition of fast and furious – with an almost 12lb child! I really wasn’t in labor very long – I believe it was less than 6 hours. But the intensity and feeling of literally being torn from the inside out; that memory will never leave me. But what’s incredible is the complete and utter feeling of fulfillment as I have been blessed hold my child in my arms and to love him with every ounce of my being.
After delivery and while I was holding him, the one constant thought that I had was the worst is over! I can breathe easy now. Little did I know that I was to embark on the most challenging six weeks of my life. But that is for a different day.
What has been your most difficult/memorable childbirth story? Did your natural births go as planned? Share in the comments!