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(If you only want to read about my active labor, skip ahead to Part Two!)
After weeks of early labor symptoms, I was relieved when I thought labor was starting at 38w2d. Contractions had picked up to 2-3 minutes apart and remained there for 8 hours before stopping, leaving me dilated to 3 cm and 80% effaced. It was a long night in the hospital’s birth center, and I was so disappointed to be sent home without my daughter in my arms.
Contractions continued, but irregularly, for the next couple weeks. I was beyond frustrated. Then, on my due date, contractions once again became very crampy and were consistently 3-4 minutes apart and difficult to talk through. I figured since I was 40 weeks and had even had some bloody show earlier in the week, this had to be it. We left our house in the middle of the night and headed to the birth center after dropping the boys off with my mom. But no cervical progress was made, and contractions faded out by morning. I was so embarrassed to be sent home again, but I was determined not to be induced. So, I tried to set my mind to being patient and allowing my daughter to choose her birthday. I didn’t think I’d actually make it to 41 weeks – not with all the symptoms I was having.
The next day at 40w1d, I had a scheduled appointment with my midwife. I was complaining about the horrid menstrual cramps I was getting, even in between contractions, and she suddenly thought to check for infection. I’m very prone to them during pregnancy (I had already been treated twice with this pregnancy), and as soon as she said it, I thought, “Oh my gosh, that explains EVERYTHING!” Sure enough, I had both a bacterial infection and a yeast infection. My contractions and cramping and spotting were all due to those – NOT due to impending labor. I’m very familiar with the signs of infection, but, to be fair, those symptoms are really confusing when your due date is that close! Still, if I had connected the dots earlier, I could have avoided weeks of lost sleep and confusion.
I was checked and was still 3 cm. I then had to have an NST done, and Chloe was acting sleepy, but no one was really concerned at that point. I was prescribed my meds and went home, and within two days of being on the antibiotics, my cramps had ceased and I was starting to feel better than I had since 37 weeks! It was starting to feel like I might be pregnant forever.
Because I was over 40 weeks, it was mandatory to have another NST and also an ultrasound later that week. Chloe didn’t participate very well on the NST, so it took longer than usual, but my midwife was eventually satisfied. The ultrasound showed my fluid levels were 9.9, which were okay. She told me they like to see 10 or above.
At 41 weeks on April 28th, I had another appointment, and this time, Chloe completely failed the NST. The night before, Jimmy and I had had a scary moment where I realized I hadn’t felt Chloe move in a while, and it had taken us over an hour to get her to make one little nudge. So, when I saw the concern on my midwife’s face over the NST, it brought back all that worry.After the machine was turned off, my midwife said, “Well, I think it’s time to get your baby out.” I was so worried about Chloe at this point. I started babbling about everything I had to do (get Jimmy from work, get the boys to my mom’s), and she told me okay, but not to take my time getting in to the birth center.
So I rushed the 25 minutes it takes to get from the office to Jimmy’s work, making all sorts of phone calls on my way. All I could think the whole time is how I barely felt Chloe move anymore, and how it had been that way for days, but I’d just assumed it was because labor was near.
After the stress of picking up Jimmy and dropping the boys off with my mom was over, Jimmy and I headed over to the hospital and checked in. I was under the impression that another midwife whom I see regularly was going to be breaking my water within the next few hours. The midwife at the office had sounded so urgent.
Well, that’s not what happened. I was put on the monitors, where Chloe was watched off and on for the next few hours. I was told she was acting sleepy, but that the situation wasn’t an emergency. Later that evening, we were sent down for a BPP ultrasound. Chloe didn’t move one time for the tech until the last few minutes of the 30-minute scan. Those movements were small, and I wasn’t convinced that my baby was completely okay. My amniotic fluid level was 5, which is considered borderline low, so we left back to our room with a 6/8 score (I was surprised it was that high). After hearing the results of the BPP, the on-call midwife said to keep us overnight, but due to staffing issues, we wouldn’t be breaking my water until the next morning. I had to stay on the monitors till bedtime, after which they would come in and check on Chloe every couple of hours.
Chloe finally woke up and gave one good strip right before bedtime, so I was reassured enough to rest. All day I had been grieving a little about being induced for the third time, but by bedtime I was finally at peace with the fact that I was having my water broken in the morning. I think it’s a blessing in disguise that we ended up waiting so long in the hospital; I was given a chance to adjust to this sudden change of plans. I realized that, at this point, I felt like it was time for Chloe to be here. I was too worried about her well-being to not be able to physically see her and hold her in my arms.
PART TWO: Active Labor – Chloe is Born!
Based on my experience with Lucas’s delivery (I was induced with him in the same way—no Pitocin, just my water broken), I had a feeling that things would move quickly. I was nervous because I remembered how fast the contractions had intensified after my water was broken with him. Around six in the morning on April 29th, as I was mentally preparing myself to handle the pain, my morning nurse came in (a wonderful woman! I loved her right away!) and informed me that we were only waiting for my midwife to get to the hospital so she could check me and break my water. I was so shocked! I figured things would’ve been dragged out until at least noon before anything was started.
A little while later, my favorite midwife arrived. When she checked me, I was 4 cm, and Chloe was at a -1 station. She said my bag of waters was bulging some. It was pretty uncomfortable when she held my cervix open and inserted the little plastic hook that ruptures the membranes. She was in there FOREVER! Because next to nothing came out, she couldn’t be sure that she’d really broken it. Chloe’s head had likely come down and plugged the opening right away. My midwife was literally in there for like 10 minutes, digging around. THEN she had the nurse feel to see if she could feel a hole in the membrane. Eventually, they agreed my water was definitely broken. GOOD GRIEF. I think that might have been my least favorite part of the whole experience. By the end of it, I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was 6:47 a.m. I texted my older sister to let her know because I wanted her there. She had to wait to put her kids on the bus at 8, but we all thought we had time for her to get there.
I wanted to get up and start walking right away because I knew that’d ramp things up, but I had to stay on the monitors for 20 minutes to make sure that Chloe was handling everything okay. She was doing fine aside from her heart dropping to the 80's a few times during contractions. (I had immediately started contracting every 4 minutes once my water was broken; there was no waiting for anything to start!)
I stayed on the monitors till around 7:10 a.m., and while I was in that relaxed, reclining position, my contractions were just very, very crampy. I was excited to make them much more painful, ha! So as soon as the monitors came off, I got out of bed. I barely got to the end of the bed before I had to lean against Jimmy and “slow dance” through one. Because I’d experienced how quickly things changed with Lucas, I was MUCH better prepared mentally this time! I didn’t start wailing and crying; I started using my breathing technique right away. Soooo much easier!
Still, through a few contractions, I thought to myself, “Can I really handle this without an epidural?” But I just kept telling myself to get through one contraction at a time, and that was working for me. The nurse came in to check on me, and I had sat at the edge of the bed because I already needed to relax through at least one of the contractions, and she told me later that she was surprised when she found me like that, already in the thick of things.
I paced around the room for a little while, leaning against the sink or Jimmy when a contraction took over. It was about 7:30 when I wanted to get in the Jacuzzi tub. With Lucas, I had hated being in the tiny bathtub that the birth center had used to provide in their rooms. But everything since then had been updated, and this tub was like a gift from the gods, haha! It was huge (could’ve easily sat three people!) with a faucet tall enough to allow the water to pour over my shoulders and over my belly while I labored. It really did help. It didn’t erase the pain, but it helped me keep my focus.
I wasn’t in there very long when I started feeling a lot of rectal pressure. I kept breathing through it because it didn’t exactly feel pushy, but I lost focus a few times and had to get back on track with the words of encouragement my nurse was giving me. She kept telling me one contraction at a time, and that I was doing great.
The pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it should be, if that makes sense. I figured I was only about 6 cm dilated. Thus, when I felt a strong urge to poo, it didn’t occur to me that it might be almost time to push. After this point in my labor, I think I must have said the word “poop” at least 50 times, hahaha!That’s pretty embarrassing in hindsight, and doesn’t make for a pretty birth story. But that’s what I kept saying over and over again: “I think I have to poop. No, I REALLY DO have to poop.” And my nurse would say, “Go ahead and sit on the toilet if you have to,” but I’d say, “I can’t. I don’t know. I think I have to poop. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just pressure.”
And then I had a contraction where I pushed involuntarily, and I said in panic,“I think I’m going to poop in the tub!” My nurse looked a little worried by this point, because they don’t like to deliver in the water just in case a situation arises like shoulder dystocia. It’s a pretty deep tub, so I don’t blame them. I grunted and pushed again, and I was soooo sure that I was about to embarrass myself. “Let me go ahead and check you,” my nurse said, and I was 8 cm. She told me not to push so I didn’t swell my cervix, but my body pushed again on the next contraction anyway, and she ran out to call the midwife in.
After that contraction ended, she helped me out of the tub and I walked to the bed. I honestly don’t remember if I contracted again in between walking from the tub to getting in the bed, but I don’t think so. It wasn’t a far distance. I laid down and had another contraction, and I was starting to feel REALLY pushy. She told me to pant, so I tried to do that through maybe two contractions. The midwife came in after I had laid down, and I was 9 when she checked me. That was just a few minutes after I was an 8. I went from 9 to complete in about two minutes. I know that because I suddenly got the BIG push—the one where you want to punch them in the face for telling you not to push. The nurse kept saying not to swell my cervix, but I’m pretty sure my cervix was gone at that point.
Suddenly my mother-in-law entered the room—she was supposed to be there, and barely made it in time!—and I was still worried I was pooping. I’m not even kidding. I think I was in denial that my baby was coming already. I just kept saying, “I’m going to poop on the table! Hide it! I’m going to poop!” And I don’t remember if it was my midwife or the nurse, but someone said, “That’s not poop, it’s hair!” The midwife told Jimmy to turn his phone on, and I gave one huge push that brought Chloe straight down to crowning. I waited a couple minutes for the next contraction to start, and then when it did I pushed and felt the most burning sensation. I had to push through it, and unlike with Lucas, it didn’t feel better to push. But the fiery pain definitely encouraged me to push harder just to end the pain! Out came her head, and then another rush of pain as her body slid out of me. Everything felt on fire for a few minutes afterwards—talk about a ring of fire to the max! I’m guessing it’s from how fast she descended.
Right after she came out, I looked down and was just in awe with her chunky little pink body. She was thrashing and wailing like the world was ending, haha! She’s got quite a set of lungs on her. I’ve never had the experience of hearing my baby cry like that after being born. Caleb barely cried at all, and Lucas had issues with choking on mucus. So this was truly an awesome experience.
And, for what it’s worth, I never did poo on the table, LOL.
I was watching the birth video again and realized I said, “That was so easy!” Makes me laugh, because it DID hurt, but the water helped so much. It made me feel like a 7 when I was at a 10, and my contractions never got closer together or more painful. I don’t have any clear idea about when I was transitioning. I had felt like there’d be at least a couple hours left just minutes before I pushed her out. I never got nauseated, or shaky, or panicky. It was seriously an awesome birthing experience, and I am so thankful to have that as our last baby.
Delivering the afterbirth was more painful than I remember, but I hear that’s typical for third babies. I also needed five stitches for a two-degree tear and first-degree tear. That was when my older sister arrived, and she'd been brought by my mom. They had both our boys with them and had intended to take turns watching them in the waiting room while I labored, but instead I had to tell them to wait because I didn't want the boys to see all the blood. So after I was stitched up, Chloe's big brothers got to see her right away. I loved that!! It was actually what I wanted, so I'm glad that worked out that way.
Chloe and I had skin to skin for about an hour before they weighed her, and during that hour she latched right on and nursed like a pro as soon as we tried. She is just perfect.
Birth Stats: Chloe Elizabeth was born at 8:44 a.m. on April 29th, weighing 8 lbs 6 oz, and 20.5 inches long with a 14.25 inch head circumference. Apgar 9/9. She is my heaviest baby by about a pound, and taller than both boys were by an inch. She also never needed to be under the bili lights, a first for us!
After 48 hours in the hospital, we are now happily home, and she is doing wonderfully. My recovery has been a little rough; I don’t remember my lower back and hips hurting this much with the other two. But I’m so happy to be home with my family! The boys love her and are so helpful—it just warms my heart to see them doting on their little sister!