Baby E joined our family June 28, 2016 wide-eyed, alert and with a full head of hair.
We’d been trying to bring her into the world for several weeks. With my diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes and our desire to deliver at The Birthing Inn, we had several time limits that necessitated she be born on or before 40 weeks (June 25).
When we went for our 39 week appointment we were in crunch time. E needed to be born in 72 hours…or less but she was making no indications that she was headed that way. After lengthy discussion and debate, we decided to try a natural, castor oil induction. This entailed:
- Eating a large, protein rich breakfast
- Drinking a castor oil milkshake (sounds WAY worse than it actually was…the first 2 times)
- Using the breast pump for 10 minutes
- Taking a 45-minute walk
- Resting for 4 or more hours
Thursday morning, C and I woke up extra early to go out to breakfast and get this process started. Due to some testing and meetings on-site, C was unable to take the day off but he was very available by phone and text if I needed him. I made the milkshake and pumped before 8 and was ready for my walk. I decided to keep myself occupied by walking at Target for the 45-minutes. Target is HUGE when you try to go up and down each and every aisle! I safely made it back home and began to rest for the rest of the day. I was able to doze for about an hour before cramping started. The cramps were intense (picture stomach-flu like cramping) and almost constant. They lasted all day with increasing intensity however they were never severe enough to call contractions. When I touched base with our midwife, she gave us the OK to not do a second round of Castor Oil and to keep her posted. I went to bed that night with cramps that were unfortunately few and far between. We were scheduled for another Castor Oil Induction the next day.
Friday we went out to breakfast again and the process was repeated. Same intensity, same pattern, same results…they petered out before the time I went to bed. On a good note though, when our midwife consulted with the OB supervising my case, he gave the OK for me to continue as planned and cleared E to be born out of hospital as late as July 3. We could all relax.
Saturday and Sunday we rested, relaxed and nested. We had spent the last few weeks stressed for E to arrive on-time, for our house to be completed, for me to finish work, you name it, we were stressed about it.
Sunday I started drinking concentrated Raspberry Leaf Tea and we obtained some Clary Sage Essential Oil to diffuse while we relaxed at home. I was still tired of being pregnant and wanted to meet my daughter. Sunday morning my brother came to visit us for the day. He helped C with a few projects around the house and then we spent the day relaxing as a family. We went to lunch, ran a few errands and made dinner together. It was one of the best days we’d had in a few weeks. I firmly believe that relaxing that much helped E make her decision to come meet us!
Things started to feel different to me while we were eating a late lunch that day. I had some stomach pains, extreme nausea and chills. Things settled down but I went to bed still with some stomach discomfort. I was restless and couldn’t sleep. My brother was staying the night so we’d shut the door to our bedroom which happened to increase the temperature and decreased the air flow. The layout of our house is such that in the middle of the night I use the hall bathroom and C uses our master bathroom. I was up and down using a different bathroom than usual in the dark and overall, I was generally uncomfortable!
At 1:30 am I felt what I thought was my water breaking. Before alerting the midwife, I woke C to let him know I would keep him posted in about 30 minutes. I didn’t want to call the midwife in the middle of the night just incase I’d peed the bed. I personally was convinced that was not what had happened. Although that is a pretty standard symptom of late pregnancy, I had NEVER been afflicted with it and thought it would be a pretty weird time to start!
We called the midwife to let her know what was going on at 2:30 am. At that moment, I had not been feeling contractions so she told us to rest and touch base in the morning. C went back to bed and within the half hour I was feeling rough contractions every 7-11 minutes. I tried to rest and intermittently time contractions but was only successful with the timings.
You time a contraction from the time one starts until the next one starts to determine how often they are occurring. To head into the birth center in labor our contractions needed to be occurring every 4 minutes. When timing contractions, you also need to be mindful of the duration of the actual contraction itself. This needed to be 1 minute long. These conditions needed to be in place for 1 hour or more.
From the time I got out of bed Monday morning, my contractions were occurring 3-6 minutes apart. There were a few other outliers: 11 minutes here 9 minutes there but overall they were occurring pretty regularly around the 3-5 minute mark and were getting stronger…
We were using a free app to track the contractions. Overall, it was simple…press the button when a contraction starts and press it again when it stops. The app calculates the duration of the contraction and how far apart they were. I found this helpful and so distracting as the day went on. In the end, when the contraction was over I just wanted to relax, not worry about pushing a button.
Eventually, this process started causing me significant anxiety and I ended up talking to the midwife later that afternoon, extremely discouraged with our progress. She advised me to not worry about timing the contractions until I felt like they were occurring almost back to back and the intensity was overwhelming. Toward the end of the night, C and I figured out a system of hand squeezes that let him know to start the timer when to stop it.
When we went to our birth preparation class the instructor suggested that we come up with a project to do when labor begins. She mentioned how one of her clients had made cookies. She knew it was time to go the hospital when her cookies started burning because her contractions were occurring too closely together to keep an eye on the cookies.
We hadn’t given it much more thought past the class but when labor was actually occurring I thought it was a good idea to make cookies. We had almost all the ingredients and they sounded good at the time. A quick run to Target yielded baking soda and all-purpose flour…and a ton more snacks!
We made the cookies but labor continued to fail to progress past contractions of medium intensity every 3-5 minutes with the occasional 9 or 11 minute interval. We were stuck in an in-between. We were having a baby but we weren’t sure when or where. If we weren’t in active labor with an end in sight by 1:30 am Tuesday, we were likely headed to the hospital.
When I called the midwife discouraged in the late afternoon, she offered to meet us later that evening to check progress and make a plan. It was helpful to have a time that we were working toward as opposed to the 4-1-1 rule for contractions.
Seven-thirty that night we met at the birth center and found out that we’d made 2 cm of progress since our check the past Wednesday. We’d packed the car with the carseat, our labor bag and our food…just in case! Tests to see if my water had broken continued to come up negative however when the midwife checked for progress she clearly felt E’s hair (a lot of it!) and determined that my water had indeed broken. We were sent home with the instructions to do another Castor Oil Induction and to touch base via phone at 1 am…or sooner.
This induction did not go as smoothly as the other two and I ended up getting sick from the milkshake. On the other hand, my contractions greatly increased in intensity. As the evening progressed, I became unable to sit down without a contraction occurring and I was significantly more uncomfortable. C called the midwife at 1:00am as planned and it was arranged to meet at the birth center in 30 minutes.
The First Change
Our 1:30 am check proved that we had made no progress toward additional dilation and that the OB consulting on our case wanted us to go to the hospital. To make matters even more complicated, it was a different hospital that we’d planned to be sent to if something changed. When the midwife contacted the OB he recommended that we go to Tacoma General. We’d never toured their birth center and were unfamiliar with their medical campus.
Our midwife as amazing and accompanied us through the check-in process and helped get us settled in our room once we were there. It was incredibly helpful that she was able to pass along my chart and relevant information as well as make sure the staff there knew it was not our original plan to deliver in a hospital. Being wheeled through the halls toward Labor and Delivery was very surreal. I felt like I was getting a mobile tour of the hospital and it hadn’t quite sunk in that our daughter was going to be born there.
As soon as we were settled and all hooked up to IVs and monitors our midwife headed out and we were left alone with our nurse. We got our own nurse for the whole process! Shortly after getting settled, my contractions seemed to increase in intensity but not spacing. I attribute this to the Pitocin started as soon as we were settled. I tried several laboring positions but relief was not available and after about an hour I opted for the low level pain relief.
I am convinced that my body processed the Pitocin and the IV pain releif immediately. That explains why my contraction intensity sky rocketed and why I had only about 5 minutes of pain relief. Eventually, I realized I was making little to no progress and that I’d been awake now for almost 2 days so there was absolutely no way I’d be able to actually deliver this baby without some rest. I also didn’t want my body to be interfering with progress. We opted for an epidural and both C and I were able to get 2-3 hours of sleep.
The Second Change
Around 9:30 Tuesday morning, we were visited by Dr. B, the OB who’d been consulting with my midwife and would be our delivering doctor. He checked our progress and gave us our options. We hadn’t made any progress since starting the Pitocin…or really since 7:30 the past night. Dr. B told us we could labor for another 10 hours and likely have a C-Section then or we could have a C-Section in about an hour. The risks were higher to wait the 10 hours but he wanted us to have the option. My water had been broken for over 24 hrs by now and the risk of infection was growing. In addition, E had passed some Meconium.
C and I opted to meet our daughter sooner rather than later. We were tired and anxious. We would have about an hour or more to process what was going to happen since there was a scheduled C-Section ahead of us.
As it turned out, the procedure ahead of us was bumped and we were moved up! I’d never had surgery before so the whole preparation phase as well as going into the OR was super scary. I was surprised at how small the OR was but how many people could fit in that room. It was nice that my L&D nurse accompanied me and I had the same anesthesiologist that administered my epidural.
A C-Section is a weird procedure. A screen was between me and what was happening. As a result, I heard E exclaim twice then she was quiet. C said she was perfectly fine and just examining her surroundings. I still hadn’t seen her. I could only see C and he looked so happy!
When I finally got our daughter in my arms, I was still super numb but couldn’t believe she was finally here. I still can’t believe she’s finally here and ours and we did it!