|Three Days Old|
Kaelyn was the first child that I have birthed naturally, so she was more or less like a first birth. I didn't really know what to expect. I knew it would hurt, but I really hadn't put a lot of thought into it otherwise.
On Saturday night, we celebrated our sweet Ella's third birthday. I was miserable. I was ten days overdue at this point and I was tired. My back was killing me, as it had been for several weeks. I just felt worn out. I was ready to have this baby and I felt like the time clock was running out on me. The birthing center was required by law to send me to see an OB for an ultrasound and non-stress test between my 41st and 42nd weeks of pregnancy. The appointment was set for Monday morning. I was sure that I had planned the route of natural childbirth and this was going to be taken from me at the last minute. So on Saturday night, my little sister sent me a text and jokingly asked me if I was going to try castor oil. My midwife has suggested it a week before and I had already tried every other "trick" without producing labor. I had the castor oil idea tucked away as a last ditch effort. I started talking about it with some of my family members and we decided we had nothing to lose by trying it. I called my midwife and she asked that I at least waited until the next day. They had eleven births due in October and it seemed everyone was delivering within a few hours of the previous person. It was a busy, busy month for the birthing center and everyone was working on little to no sleep at that point. So I agreed. Afterall, I wanted a good night's sleep. So, at almost ten o'clock at night, when all our guests had left, we loaded up the kids and headed to CVS to buy castor oil.
We went home, put the kids to bed and then we went to bed. It was hard for me to get to sleep. My back was hurting, I was overtired, but I was excited at the possibility that the castor oil would work and I would be able to labor and deliver the way I wanted to. About 11:30pm, I was finally able to drift off to dreamland.
Around 2:30am, I woke up. What was this that I was feeling? Contractions? On my own, without the aid from anything? They were light and manageable and I had to wonder if that was really what I was feeling, but they were different from previous cramps that I had had. The came from around my back and moved forward. Oh wow, this was exciting! I started timing them - every five(ish) minutes, for about 40 seconds. I sent a text out to my sister. She was asleep, so she didn't answer. I had a few more contractions. I decided I better let my other sister know. It seemed this was the real thing and since my sisters wanted to be present, I needed to let them know. They both live about two hours from us. My older sister answered my text. Then, I decided to call my mom. She wasn't originally going to be able to make it, but still wanted to know when I went into labor. I decided to go back to bed. I couldn't sleep. I was way too excited.
I got up again and took a long shower. The hot water felt good on my back. Not only had my back been hurting for weeks, it turns out I was in store for a lot of back labor. The contractions started coming every two minutes. Wow, I couldn't believe how quickly it changed from five minutes to two minutes. They were still manageable, and still only lasting 35-45 seconds, but why the closeness now? Was I going to have a quick labor? I sure hoped so. I was in labor for 12 hours with Arin and six with Ella. I was hoping this was going to be another quick one like Ella. I decided to call my midwife and tell her that I had been having several contractions, now two minutes apart. She had just gotten home from a delivery and she was almost delirious with exhaustion. I told her I didn't know if it was too soon to go in since I had never done this before. She decided to meet me at the birthing center, but said that she'd call the other midwife in to take over. The other midwife lives about an hour and a half from the center.
So, we quickly got ready and called Andy's brother to make sure it was ok to bring the girls over there. Wouldn't you know it...those every two minute contractions slowed down. It had been like eight minutes since I had a contraction. I was really worried. I woke everyone up, my family, midwives, Andy's brother and his wife, and now labor was stopping, or at the very least slowing down. We decided to go to the birthing center just the same. In the car, the contractions came back about every five minutes for 40 seconds.
Once we got to the center, I was checked out. Fifty percent effaced and five centimeters dialated. Ok, so progress was being made. I didn't feel so bad now. It could go quickly from here, right? I started walking. My midwife said the walking would help it progress faster. I'd walk, walk, walk, then stop and lean against the wall while the contraction was happening, then walk, walk, walk some more.
Handling the contractions was really not that difficult. The only previous experience I had with contractions was the pitocin induced type, which I have always been told come on harder and faster than natural ones. I still assumed that these contractions would have to get stronger, but for several hours they stayed consistent in their intensity.
About an hour after we got to the birthing center, my sisters and my mom showed up. They decided to make a breakfast run at McDonald's. I was hungry too, but decided not to eat. I was sure this labor was going to start progressing quickly and I didn't want to get sick during it because I ate. So they got the food and came back to eat it. Wow, I was hungry! So back out to McDonald's they went and came back with an egg and cheese biscuit for me. That could have been the best sandwich I have ever eaten! My sisters laughed and commented that they couldn't believe I was interested in eating during labor.
After breakfast, we decided to go outside for a walk. We walked over to the lake and then down the street. I gave them all a bit of comic relief because I was outwalking them. I was determined to get this labor going somewhere. It seemed like it was stalling. I'd walk fast, then every few yards, I'd have to stop and hold on to Andrew, or a tree, a street light pole, a street sign - whatever was available at the time. The contractions were painful even though they were still short in duration. Forty seconds seemed to be their magic number.
We went back to the center and I bounced on the exercise ball for a little bit before deciding I was getting pretty tired, so maybe I should lay down. So I laid down and the contractions STOPPED!!! Ugh. I had what you call dysfunctional labor. It did not do what typical labors do where they start out slow, but progress. Nope, my labor was all over the place depending on the position I was in. So the labor stopped for a good fifteen minutes. Then a contration hit and this time it lasted a minute and twenty seconds. This contraction was not messing around. It was much more intense that the previous ones. But I didn't get another one for a good thirteen or fifteen more minutes. Once it hit, it was also strong and long, but it just took a long time to get one. Eventually we decided for me to get out of bed. Immediately I got another contraction.
It went on like this for what seemed like forever. Sometimes the contractions were long and strong and close together. Sometimes they were short and sporatic. It just didn't make a lot of sense. They were here and there and just all over the place.
Oh yes, and at another time I got really hungry again and ate a peanut butter granola bar, which also tasted like the best thing that I had ever eaten. Again, my sisters were amazed that I could eat during labor. I threw up shortly after eating it though.
I finally made it to 7 cm dialated after hours of labor. I thought surely things would progress quickly now. Nope!
Everything was going well until the last hour or maybe two. I stopped keeping track of time, so I am just guessing. I was tired. Really exhausted by now. The contractions were finally coming strong and very close together, unless I'd lay down. Then they would go away. But like I said, I was tired, I was frustrated, I was scared. You know how you see people in the movies screaming during childbirth? Yeah, that was me. The contractions hurt so bad at this point, mostly the back labor, that I would scream with them. I was not a graceful laborer. I cried real tears everytime I felt the contractions. I felt overwhelmed.
I had considered waterbirth at one time, but to use their waterbirth tub would have costs us almost $200 and I just couldn't justify it. There were moments in those last hours that I almost told them to fill the pool, but then talked myself out of it. I did get into the bathtub for a while (that's free to use). I could not get comfortable.
No matter where I went, bed, bath, birthing stool, squatting, I just could not get into a comfortable position to deliver. I felt defeated and did I mention that my back felt like it was breaking? At one point I told Andy just to take me to the hospital to cut the baby out. I was hurting that badly. I really should have listened to my mother and gone to the chiropractor previous to labor. I was paying for my stubborness during labor.
I was checked again. Fully effaced, fully dialated. They wanted me to push. I didn't feel the urge to push and when I did, it felt like my back was pulling in half. My midwife had her hand inside me holding back some cervical lip or something and telling me to push. Worst pain I have felt and I kept telling her to leave me alone. I think I was frustrating her. I was getting more and more frustrated with everyone and the whole situation. I felt pressure to get the baby out immediately, but I hurt so badly. I still could not get comfortable. I was so tired. I told Andy that I needed a nap and I'd push the baby out when I woke up. Haha!
I guess I finally offended everyone. I told them to stop asking me questions, stop giving me advice, stop pressuring me, and just let me do this myself. Everyone left the room. Everyone except Andy. He had been silent in the situation, but by my side all the time.
Once everyone left, I relaxed a little. I got up and went to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet. There was a handcap handle installed on the wall on one side of the toilet and a sink on the other side of the toilet. I sat there, holding on to both, resting my head on the wall. I gave myself a little pep talk to stop being scared. At this same time, my two sisters had decided to go for a lunch run, even though it was nearing 3pm. They sat in the parking lot and prayed for me. Once I was alone, everything went VERY quickly. I got a contraction. I finally felt the urge to push and I did with everything I had. I could feel the baby coming. Only Andy was in the bathroom with me. I started yelling, "Catch her, catch her". The student midwife ran in. She could see Kaelyn crowning. It all happened quickly. She started yelling for gloves and then told me to slow down. I was pushing too hard, too quickly. I slowed it down. Kaelyn's head was born, then another contraction and her shoulders and then she slid out.
(My sisters were upset that they missed the event. They left because I didn't seem to be progressing, then within 3-5 minutes after they walked out, Kaelyn was born. I don't think they had even driven out of the parking lot yet. Oops!)
The midwife wanted to hand her to me. I wasn't interested. I was so exhausted. I hadn't even looked at her. I just laid my head on the wall and closed my eyes. The midwife thought she was losing me. She kept saying, "Cara, look at me" I assured her I was fine, just tired!
It would probably be half an hour before I was cleaned up and back in bed, ready to hold my baby. I am not even sure that I was ready for her then, but they said I needed to nurse her. Giving birth to Kaelyn was the hardest thing I have EVER done. Her birth did remind me a lot of Arin's birth though. Both were eleven days late. Both were 12 hour labors (Kaelyn's was actually a little over 12 hours). Both were new experiences. I was completely worn out with both. I was uninterested in either right after birth because of the extreme exhaustion. But in case you were wondering, that feeling has passed and we have been bonding wonderfully. Kaelyn (like our other girls) is an amazing blessing. She is a sweet, sweet baby and we are thrilled to finally have her here!
It was a student midwife that actually caught Kaelyn. I had met with her (under the supervision of a licensed midwife) during several of my visits. I liked her and was comfortable with her being present. She was so excited that she made it to the birth (baby was born shortly after she arrived). This was her first toilet birth. Hahaha - a first of the kind for me as well. It just happened to be the only place that was comfortable.
Also, I loved being home right away. My recovery time has been so much quicker than that of Arin or Ella's births. When I was asked right after birth which way I'd go next time, I think I said epidural, but after this wonderful recovery, I am thinking I would go birthing center (or home) again next time. I would just have more experience and know things like to stay home longer and to offend people sooner so they'd leave me alone :) Ok, maybe not the last one, but you understand what I mean - I'd know what to expect and I think it'd go a little smoother next time :)
(I may or may not add pictures to this post later (just haven't decided yet), for now I just want to get it published for those that have been asking for it)