If you're interested in birth stories, then this blog is for you!
My fifth baby joined our family on Sunday Oct 8th. That's him oh-so-cutely yawning above :) He was born at 41 weeks and 2 days gestation, and let me tell you, the week before he was born was the longest, strangest week of my life. I worked until the 40 week mark, which was Friday Sept 29th. That weekend I attended a retreat for mothers put on by my church, which was great for distracting my mind and also for connecting with other mothers. I had made it to my two goals: work until my scheduled maternity leave and attend the mothers camp.
Now we just anxiously waited for our baby to join us! I knew at this point he was a boy, but we hadn't told anyone. My pregnancy had been very similar to my pregnancies with my two girls, with daily nausea from about 6 weeks to 15 weeks. My husband opened the envelope we got from my midwife after the anatomy scan with the baby's gender written on it at 28 weeks, and at 32 weeks, when I was still very convinced we were having a girl (and was starting to think of the baby with our girl name), he told me we were having a BOY!
So I mentally shifted gears that our tie-breaker baby was going to be a boy. Both of my boys were born after 40 weeks so I was curious if this baby was also going to be born after, like his brothers. And yes indeed he was! If you've ever been pregnant before, and you've gone past your estimated due date, maybe you have experienced the mental and emotional rollercoaster that this can be. Every day I would wake up wondering if this was going to be the day labor was going to start. I would make plans, but with a hope that they would get cancelled because I was having a baby. Every night I would go to bed hoping that I would wake up in the night with contractions.
On Thursday the 5th, when I was 40+6, my midwives and I did a trial run with a cotton root bark protocol. Most evenings I was having a few contractions, and this herb would give labor a kick start if my body was ready to go. Nothing happened except a few odd contractions. The following day my midwife did a cervical check and I was dilated 1 cm. Logically I knew that dilation doesn't equal when labor is going to start, but emotionally, I was started to feel frayed at the edges. I know women aren't pregnant forever, but I was surely starting to feel like I was going to be the medical exception to this! We were at the 41 week mark and were starting to talk more serious induction methods for the following week. I also had a nonstress test scheduled to make sure my baby was still doing okay and my placenta was still doing its job.
By Saturday I was determined to do something, anything, to have my baby. I had already gotten our household laundry caught up a couple times in the past week, in anticipation of having a baby. We were stocked on groceries. The house was in order. I was feeling like it was prime time to have a baby! I curb walked. I did Spinning Babies exercises, such as side lying release, rebozo sifting, and forward leaning inversions. I crawled around my house (yes, that probably looked as ridiculous as it sounds). I used my breast pump for two pumping sessions to try stimulate contractions. I ate a spicy pepperoni and jalapeno pizza. I had been using evening primrose oil suppositories to help efface the cervix. I did the Miles Circuit. At this point, based on the cervical check, my midwife was suspecting that my baby was positioned posteriorly, meaning that his head was going to come up facing forward, also known as sunny side up. His positioning could also be a reason for labor not starting, as his head wasn't engaging properly with the cervix. The Spinning Babies exercises and the Miles Circuit were meant to help with positioning.
Lo and behold Sunday morning around 5 am I woke up with some contractions. I fell back asleep and when I woke up closer to 7:30/8:00, I realized that the contractions were still happening and were happening regularly. Because they were happening enough that I could time them, I texted my midwives. They were coming anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes apart. This continued until about 10:30 am, when all of a sudden a very intense contraction occurred. I panicked and texted my midwife, as well as my husband, who had gone to church with our kids. I was having visions of having my baby all by myself and I was not mentally prepared for that to happen!
Carrie arrived and got all of her supplies set up. Derek came home, and in the 5-10 minutes it took them both to arrive, I had calmed myself down. Contractions were still about 10 minutes apart and were strong enough I needed to focus on and move through them. Carrie assessed me and said I was about 4 cm dilated. She left to get lunch and said to keep her updated. Around 1:00 pm I took a nap between contractions and then ate a light lunch. I wasn't really feeling like eating, but knew that it was important to keep up on my food intake for the sake of my energy levels. My previous labors had all been around 11-12 hours from start of contractions to baby being born, so I was anticipating this being the same. However, I also knew that each baby can have a mind of their own and that I shouldn't be too worried about the clock. Despite that, I did keep telling myself that by 4:00 or 5:00 I would probably be holding my baby.
The rest of the midwives arrived around 3:15. We hung out the living room, and during contractions I moved around on my exercise ball, either doing hip circles or resting my head and shoulders on the ball with my knees on the floor. During a few contractions Heather did belly tucks to continue to encourage my baby's positioning to be more anterior. Another check around this time said I was 7 cm, which meant I was now actually in active labor! Around 4:00 I hopped in our bathtub as contractions got more intense. I have never felt strongly about doing a water birth, but water does feel amazing when contractions are increasing in strength. Our tub was narrow enough that I was sideways in it, alternating between resting my arms on the side or resting them on Derek, who was sitting next to me.
When it became apparent that I was going to be pushing soon, Carrie said it was important that I not come out of the water if his head was born into the water. If his head emerged and I moved out of the water, I couldn't sink back down. Contractions were building to a point that I was swaying and moving through them and I didn't want to have to worry about how I was moving. So I chose to get out of the tub and go to the side of my bed. The next contraction was incredibly strong and I knew I was at the point that the contraction following this was going to be the one that actually moved the baby out. Keeping my eyes closed, deep breathing, and moving my body around was helping me lean into the intensity. I remember looking at the student midwife at one point, and wishing that we could trade places; that she could be the one giving birth and I could be the one just watching!
There was a sense of losing control at this point though, when my body absolutely took over and my mind had to leave the equation. I panicked during this contraction, feeling this lack of control. Heather recognized this and told me to open up my eyes, and when I did I felt myself settle back into the room. I mentally prepped myself, knowing that that I was going to feel my baby move down and out in just a few minutes. At this point it was just after 5:00. Sure enough, in the next contraction, in a series of surges, I felt my baby moving down. I heard Carrie next to me calling out "Bag! Head! Shoulders! Body!" My water hadn't broken until this point, so once the bag emerged and broke, his head and body very quickly emerged too.
What an adrenaline rush! I remember exclaiming "I'm done I'm done!" and scooping him up to my chest. I'm not too sure what all else I said or did, but it was enough to trigger tears in everyone in the room at my emotional response. The overwhelming relief of being done with labor and holding my baby was an incredible feeling. I wasn't too far off with my estimates of how long my labor was going to be, with Emory's delivery officially being recorded at 5:15 pm.
He is now 5 weeks old and how time flies! He We have had incredible help and support from family and friends. My husband was home the first week and took care of all our family's needs. For the next two weeks my mom friends watched my kids during the day and brought us supper. My oldest is in kindergarten so she was picked up from school by a friend. I had made two weeks worth of meals, and today we are cooking our last prepped freezer meal for supper. My sister who works as a household cleaner came and did cleaning for me. One day I went and hung out at a friend's house for the sake of connecting with another mom (who also had her 5th baby a few months ago!) and another evening our family visited at another friend's home. In addition to getting time to rest at home, I have found that postpartum I also need to get out of my own house for short periods of time and visit with friends for the sake of my mental sanity.
That isn't to say that there hasn't been some struggles! I've had mastitis twice, and a few other viruses. It has been frustrating to feel like I put in systems for after postpartum for good healing and recovery (shout out to my Prepare For Your Postpartum course, tooting my own horn), and then to get stuck in the cycle of having a handful of really good days followed by getting sick. After texting with one of my midwives a few days ago, the verdict was that I just am doing too much too soon. This is the tricky balance of postpartum, especially once I'm out of the acute healing of the first few weeks. I want to get into a new normal, a new rhythmic routine, and do my usual things around home. But continually getting sick is a pretty loud message that my body is still depleted and not ready for that level of activity. So for these next few weeks, before I start working again (and take on the holidays, and we move into our home we just bought), I'm going to keep taking it easy! Really I just need to take my own advice, but needed an outside perspective from another person to point that out.
So if you need me before I see you all again in the office, I'll be in my recliner rocking my baby :)