The labor and delivery with my fourth son were both the longest and shortest labor of my life.
Longest and shortest.
And truly, its hard to say which.
In the days leading up to Samuel’s birth, it seemed that I went into labor at least 3 times, only to have it fizzle out once the contractions got close enough to think about heading into the hospital.
This was so discouraging at times, as I’d anticipated this little guys arrival to be early, or at least a week before his due date like all three of his brothers before him. And with all the labor type symptoms I’d been experiencing (hard regular contractions, cervix dilation etc) there were times during the pre-labor period that I felt rather sure that “this was IT.”
On the other hand, there were also many times during the month before Samuel’s birth that I told my husband and friends that “I feel too comfortable to be this pregnant.” My experiences in pregnancy the previous three times had been that the last trimester is long and hard and super UNCOMFORTABLE. But I didn’t feel that way this time. Whether it was the regular exercise and the healthy eating habits or whether it was God’s pure grace showered upon me, giving me strength and comfort, I don’t know. Probably both. Well, for sure the latter, but I do think the former played a role as well.
As I went through these periods of prodromal labor, I kept thinking, I’m getting close. But then, on other days, I’d be out mowing our 1/2 acre yard in 90 degree heat and think, I feel way too good to be 9 months pregnant.
And so it went. A little labor. A little comfort. A little labor. A little comfort. All the way up till my due date.
Two weeks, prior to my due date (and my delivery date, yes, Samuel was one of the 5% of babies born on his due date), the midwife indicated that she thought little Samuel was in a posterior position. Still with his head down, just his head facing the wrong direction. Sunnyside up, as the laymen call it. And baby’s born in that position tend to not only produce the longest, hardest labors, but they also increase the chances of transverse arrest (getting head stuck in moms pelvis), tearing on delivery, and c-section. Oh, and posterior baby’s very often present with a start and stop type labor that I’d been experiencing.
And well, it made me a bit worried.
Of course, its not impossible to deliver a posteriorly positioned baby. Many women have done it, and babies often turn to a proper position during labor…but delivering a posterior baby had proved nigh impossible my first time round. Isaiah, my oldest son, was born via c-section after days of hard labor, many many hours of pushing, an attempted vacuum extraction all to get that posterior head moved around in a way that allowed delivery.
And so I had flashbacks. Would I need another c-section? Or could I VBAC like I had with my previous two baby’s?
My VBAC’s had been so easy, I knew I wasn’t going to ask or plan for a c-section if I could help it. The midwife suggested several different exercises, as did close friends (thank you, Kelly, Nikki, Alicia!!), particularly the ones found here. And so I exercised my heart out. Every day, 4 or 5 times a day, doing these odd and unusual (but extremely relieving and comforting!!) exercises to rotate the baby.
I kept thinking he had moved some, as I felt kicks and tickling in different areas, but couldn’t be sure. And as time went by, and I continued with the “start again, stop again” labor, I wasn’t so sure. But God was. And He knew. And I think, in many ways, He was teaching me to be active, redeeming the time, but also teaching me to trust Him in new ways.
When September 25th, my due date, rolled around, I was a big ball of emotions. Trusting the Lord (or trying to trust!!) but also worrying that the longer I was pregnant the bigger this baby would be, and the harder it’d be to rotate and deliver him.
That morning though, I woke up with low abdominal cramping and some other symptoms of labor. But no contractions. I was suspicious, but carried on with my morning. I homeschooled the kids, cleaned the house, and went in for my scheduled OB check-up. Of course, when I arrived for my appointment, there were absolutely no contractions or reasons for the midwife to say, “this is IT, head on upstairs.” We actually had a good discussion about where I was at, I expressed my concerns about the baby’s size and gestation, we talked about natural ways to encourage labor and my hubby and I were reminded to be active in that (seriously, as though we needed reminding!!)
And then we talked about c-sections and inductions. I’d have one more week to go into labor on my own, and then a induction would be necessary, if the induction failed (because they were limited in the types of drugs for induction with a VBAC), then a c-section would be indicated.
I left the appointment still pregnant, and with a pink slip to schedule my induction for the following week and a non-stress test too. I seriously just about cried.
Thankfully, my hubby was with me, and the kids were with a good friend (thanks, Kamilah!), and so we went for a walk to unwind and to be “active” in encouraging labor to start on its own.
Sure enough. It did.
As we walked, contractions came on about 5 minutes apart. Sometimes hard. Sometimes long. Sometimes easy. Sometimes short. I was so hopeful that this was IT, but given the number of times (3) that I’d had labor start up only to fizzle out, NO WAY was I going to go into the hospital until I was absolutely certain.
So we kept walking, putting in a mile or two. To my delight, the contractions got harder and steadier, down to about 3 minutes apart. We walked over to the car, and as soon as I sat down and buckled in, the contractions slowed down to about 10 minutes apart. Sigh. I nearly cried again. We decided to go out for lunch and get Thai food for a treat.
On our car ride, my contractions stayed very hard (had to stop talking in order to breath and concentrate), but didn’t get any closer. We grabbed our take out and headed home to eat.
But no sooner was I out of the car, and moving again, than the contractions sped up again. Nick insisted that we not linger at home very long. (I think he was more convinced that this was IT, than I was). I managed to get a few bites of lunch in, and rocked on the birthing ball a few times too, before we headed back to the hospital.
I wasn’t quite feeling a sense of urgency, but good thing we didn’t wait at home any longer, as Samuel was born barely 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
We got up to labor and delivery (I insisted on walking, I didn’t want the contractions to slow down and fizzle out by staying stationary). I was still laboring so calmly when we reached the unit, that the secretary actually sent us out to the waiting room. I know he was probably thinking the same thing I had been: “is this really IT? normally women in labor are crying and yelling” I think I will always laugh about that.
Even funnier was that the waiting room was PACKED with pregnant moms and dads and relatives etc. I had a horrified thought that they were all awaiting L&D beds in front of me, but then quickly realized, I was the only one in the waiting room that was actually in labor!! As it turns out, I must have horrified them, as they were just there for the Tuesday, Labor & Delivery Unit Tour. Haha. That just cracks me up.
So we left the waiting area, and I labored with Nick in the hall through a few contractions before we were brought back to a room. I think the seasoned nurse that checked me knew how far I was beforehand. Seasoned L&D nurses just know. And by that point, I did too. I was 8cm and in transition and hurting something awful now. The midwife was quickly in the room, as were the nurses. We had a few moments to get acquainted, and review my medical history (VBAC, history of big babies, and a potential posterior presentation) before my water broke. I was so thankful for Nick’s help and support in articulating our concerns and making sure they understood my needs, because there really wasn’t much time for chit chat.
Samuel was born 4 minutes after my water broke. One contraction, about three little pushes, and there he was. A smoking 10lbs, 1oz, and 22 inches long!
Wow! What an experience! My labor was just over 2 hours long, if we can actually call it that. Nick was wonderful, helping me through each contraction, and encouraging me during the most intense part. I couldn’t have done it without him. The midwives were amazing too. I was so thankful that they knew what they were doing, and didn’t insist on many formalities before the baby arrived. So often, they are trying to fill out paperwork, start IV’s, and all the typical admission processes, but they saw where I was, heard Nick explain, and just let me focus and “get it done.” They made sure (at Nick’s adamant request) that Samuel had turned to an anterior position before I started to push (which he had, praise the Lord!). They also helped prevent birth trauma for me by easing Samuel out, with pressure points, stretching and massage. And yes, I yet again, escaped without a stitch or tear.
Wow! So fast, and intense, compared to the long wait and early prodromal labor I’d had before. God was so good in every moment of it. Giving me strength and stamina. Allowing Nick to be by my side. And in getting us to the hospital so that this big boy wasn’t born in the car!!
And wow, what a big boy too!! I had been saying that if I went too much further, I’d be delivering a 10 pound baby, but no one believed me (except Nick!). Every midwife and nurse that I saw, insisted the baby was in the 7-8lb range. Even the midwife that delivered him, felt my belly and said “I don’t think we have a LGA (large for gestational age) baby in here.”
After delivering this 10 pounder, I kept having nurses stop by the room and say, “we heard there was a 10 pound baby born in here!!” and funny thing was, they kept asking me where his mom was!! I’d laugh and say, “It’s me! Right here! The one in the hospital gown.” Yes, I guess that even after labor and delivery I just looked too good to have had such a moose. Haha.
So there you have it. My longest and shortest delivery. My biggest baby. And another story of God’s goodness and grace. Praise the Lord!