To be honest, I’m already a little fuzzy about the finer details of my birthing time especially when it comes to the question of “how long were you in labor?” Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. It turns out I had what is called “Prodormal” labor. Something that I had never heard of before and since Baby E is my third baby I did not expect labor to actually take longer since I’ve always heard about labors getting shorter with each child…
On Wednesday, January 10th, I started with contractions that were about 10 minutes apart and pretty manageable at around midnight. By 9 am I was having them around 6 minutes apart. They weren’t bothering me though I was slightly worried about being alone because Jared didn’t have many days left he could take off from work. That has always been my worse fear that I would end up stuck giving birth alone for some reason. It may be a silly fear but I felt like bursting into tears any time Jared mentioned that we couldn’t afford for him to miss much work. I really only did burst into tears once when he mentioned it.
I texted my midwife to let her know my contractions had been steady and then I texted my friend Jenny and asked her if she wanted to come hang out later in the afternoon just in case. My Friend Claudia was already coming for a “play date” with her little boy so I wasn’t too worried yet about being alone. Claudia and I had a lovely time (though sadly she pricked her finger on the lemon tree that hangs over my back fence—I didn’t even know lemon trees have thorns and it’s amazing because I’ve plucked plenty of lemons off trees before). We went to the park and let the kids play and then we went to lunch at Paradise Bakery and I had a delicious sandwich that I shared with Vivian and bought chippers to share with the family for later. The whole time I was timing contractions at about 5 minutes apart and 70-80 seconds long. I went home and took a nap until Jenny came over and helped me time contractions. I was hesitant to get my midwife over because for some reason they just didn’t seem strong enough though I wondered if it was just hypnobabies working really well. At around 4 pm I told my midwife that I guessed she should maybe come since they were 4 minutes and 80-90 seconds in duration.
Around 4:30 Caitlyn, one of my midwifes apprentice’s came and started checking my vitals and then listening for the baby. Alison my midwife, and Kat, the other apprentice showed up not too long after that and Jenny took my kids back to her house for a sleepover. Alison told me to go try to rest so I went and laid down and listened to my hypnobabies “special place” track. Jared showed up sometime while I was resting and made dinner for everyone. I wondered downstairs (after Kat checked my vitals and listened for baby) we had a lovely dinner visiting and joking around and I would take a minute to “peace-out” (not a technical term, but what I call it) every couple of minutes for a contraction. After dinner, Jared and I went to face the cold temperatures (it actually did freeze that night) and try to walk the baby out. We had a lovely walk and we were excited about this baby though I kept feeling like it couldn’t possibly be real that my contractions were so manageable. If anything, just tired from being awake for so long.
When we got back they had already started filling up the tub with air and had the other items from my birth kit ready to go. Alison suggested I rest some more because she felt like I did my “best work” while resting. I did the hypnobabies “birthing day” track and while I was laying there I felt a very strange feeling in my belly and I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling. I woke myself up from that track and went into the bathroom and started having incredibly painful contractions as well as very harsh feelings in my belly. Almost like it was being wrung out. Jared was with me and trying to comfort me and Alison came in and was rubbing my back and I just started crying and crying. Something felt just wrong but I couldn’t figure out what was going on because I’d never felt this way before. Caitlyn checked for the baby and couldn’t find the heartbeat below my belly button (which it should be if your baby is head down). Caitlyn passed the Doppler to Alison and she found the heart beat but it was above my belly which meant that sometime between before I laid down and went to the bathroom, baby E had turned breach. I was stunned and realized that part of what I was feeling was that there was a head pushing up into my ribs!
Somewhat thankfully, I had a rush of adrenaline and it slowed my contractions down (they were about 2 minutes apart before that). Caitlyn offered to run to the office and get the ultrasound machine as quickly as she could. Then Alison, Jared and I started to talk options. Delivering a breach baby is completely possible though not without risks—and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. After some discussion, Alison left Jared and I to talk and pray about our decision of what we needed to do.
First we talked. We decided that if the baby was breach and I was fully dilated we would go to the hospital that’s about 5 minutes away and have her. With my back, I knew that I would have to go under general so I was not looking forward to that but I was much more concerned that my baby be as safe as possible.
Then I asked Jared for a blessing of comfort. I don’t remember what he said but I know that I felt peace and I felt that if I would talk to my baby and ask her to turn, that she would. Shortly after he finished giving me the blessing, Alison came in the room. I just sat there and told E to “Dive honey, mommy needs you to do a cartwheel and dive.” I also told her about her brother and sister who really wanted her to join them in their little “club” of cartwheels and stunts. I just sat there pleading with my baby girl and we all just waited for Caitlyn to show up. As we sat there, we watched (and I felt) as my baby’s head came from under my right rib, crossed in front of my belly and dove to be head down into the best most perfect birth position there is…a position we had yet to see her in even though she’d been head down for months.
Alison checked me at some point and sighed and said that if I went to a hospital that they would send me home. So after me being in “labor” (or in other words having consistent contractions for 28 hours without much dilation) Alison decided to stop my labor so I could rest. We bound my belly to try to get baby to stay in the position she was in and then Alison recommended that I get my pelvis adjusted as soon as I could from a chiropractor that she knows and trusts.
The next morning, Jared decided to stay home from work in case I went into labor again. I was able to make a chiropractor appointment for that afternoon and I also asked our home teacher to come and give me a blessing with Jared that morning. Then I uploaded the hypnobabies “turn your breech baby” track and the piece Daughter of a King. Jared slept in the other room but I was so high strung that I just listened over and over to the music and cried. I knew that my little girl is a daughter of Heavenly Father and that He wanted her to come safe and that I just needed to have faith but honestly, I was fearful and my fear was shrinking my faith that everything would be alright. I was being stupid, listening to the negative voices of those people who have been critical of my choice to give birth at home, which I knew better not to do.
That afternoon we went to the chiropractor and she said my hips were needing an adjustment but that now there shouldn’t be a problem passing the baby through. It was incredible because after my adjustment, I felt so different. I felt more like I did before having Vivian. This gave me a lot of confidence to just go into labor and have my baby. We went to the park with the kids and played tagged and then went home and had a “dance party”. I don’t know why my frame of mind was such that “any minute” I could go into labor and have this baby, but it was. I would start having contractions again and they would be even and consistent and building for hours and then they would disappear. This happened throughout the whole weekend.
On Saturday night Jared and I decided to rent a Redbox movie, and he came home with “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. It was pretty funny, ha, ha until the end when the women all go into labor because suddenly I was having VERY strong and consistent contractions—so strong that I had to bite my pillow to deal with them. Jared called Alison and she came with Caitlyn shortly after. She wanted me to sleep and rest as much as I could so that my body would have the energy to do what it needed to do. They kept coming though they were varied in intensity and in the morning we sent the kids to church with our home teacher and his wife. I called some family members to ask them about their labors and it seemed that the trend in my family was to have an induction or a c-section….both were things I was trying to avoid. I had Alison check me and I had barely dilated from the last time. This was so discouraging for me because I was keeping a mental checklist of all the hours I had spent having contractions. Around 1pm my contractions had stopped and I was relieved and discouraged. Alison told me then that I had what is called “prodormal” labor which means that two out of the three layers of uterine muscles were contracting but not all three so that dilating was slow. I felt like such an idiot for having Alison come already two times and spending hours at my house but she was very sweet and reassured me that she had had prodormal labor herself which really helped me. She also assured me that I was not “broken” and that at some point the tables would tip and I would have a baby.
I was happy to have a “term” to look up on the topic but finding information on prodormal labor was really scarce. I was super thankful for the few blogs I found from other women who had experienced the same thing.
On Monday, I decided that I just was not going to do anything to make the baby come because I was sick of pretend labor. Besides, the baby was safe and just fine inside of me for a while. I was a couple of days past my guess date but that was pretty common in non-induced babies. I told Jared not to even talk to me about contractions and labor or having a baby because I just refused to go for hours of non-progressing contractions again. It was too frustrating and dumb.
So that next day, I woke up and read Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” This was exactly what I needed to hear that day. From the beginning of my pregnancy I knew that a home birth was the right thing for me and I had felt at peace when I met my midwife and told her she was hired.
I felt rejuvenated and cleaned up my whole house and “hid” anything that reminded me of my impending “birthing day” (The birthing pool had been set up for days which was an annoying reminder to me of the past few days). Then I even made a nice dinner that night.
The next morning was an awful lot like the previous Wednesday, I started having contractions that were consistent again but I sat there debating on telling my midwife. Lo and behold, she texted me and asked what was going on so I told her and she said she had midwife ESP.
I tried to just carry on with my day though I did ask Jenny to come over which she did for a while. I had her take some photos of Vivian and I since I felt like that might be the last chance for my belly to be photographed by someone other than Jared. She left and I put Vivian down for a nap.
I could not really sleep so I just rested and at about 3:30 pm I told Jared that he had better think really hard about being home on time that night. He came home on time and arranged for Vivian and Christian to be with our friends Ben and Bernadette for the evening. I really was not focusing on the arrangements with the kids because I was just too focused on “being in labor”.
I had been texting my midwife between contractions and was starting to get worried because I wasn’t getting a response. So I tried calling her and her inbox was full. Thankfully, I was able to reach her via Facebook and this is what I said at 5:50pm “Your inbox is full on your phone. Been trying to text you but there's no response. Contractions 70-80 secs with 3 mins apart. SUPER INTENSE.” she responded right away and was there before 6:30pm. (It turns out her phone was sitting right by her but she was in a “dead zone” and once she left the house she was inundated with calls).
When Alison showed up, I was sitting on the birthing ball and playing on Pinterest….honestly, that site is a fabulous way to distract ones’ self from labor. I was looking up all kinds of interesting articles about oxytocin and birthing at home and labor. It was easy to just look at things in between contractions and then “peace-out” and turn off my “light switch” during the pressure and then come right back to the glories of pinning.
… I digress…
So when Alison showed up I said “Why don’t you check me and then stop my labor so I can go to bed?” her response was “Or, we could have a baby.” When she checked me I was at a 5+ and baby was about a zero station. “Welcome to active labor” was what Alison said to me. I was thrilled! I spent a little more time on the balance ball and Jared was in and out of the room bringing me food and such. That is one thing I absolutely LOVE about non-hospital births is that midwives know that you need to keep your strength up and so they let you eat (Yay for food!). My midwife actually sent up certain food items based on what my urine test showed so that I would have enough protein and potassium etc to be in top form to have a baby.
Jared and I decided to watch the BBC movie Albert and Victoria. Poor Jared because I was making him push pause every time at the last half-hour we watched it so that I could breath through contractions and focus. We only got about half-way through it when we talked about me moving to the tub so I could relax. It was about 9pm at that point. Jared lit some candles and I got in the tub. At first it was really relaxing but soon after it was starting to just get terribly intense for me. Alison would put counter-pressure on my back and I would squeeze Jared’s fists. After some time of that I started tensing up and getting upset. Alison asked me to calm down because the baby was responding to me as I was getting upset and her heart was starting to get a little high. I calmed down and then her heart went back to being at a better rate.
Alison suggested at that point for me to rest in the bed and put pillows between my legs to help me continue dilating and to calm down. She continued to push on my back and Jared was right there so I could squeeze his fists some more. After a while of that, Alison checked me and said I was at 7cm but baby had floated back up. Honestly, at this point I was pretty ticked and knew that though I was tired and this wasn’t fun I needed to walk/squat/sit or kneel to get my baby to come out. I went in the bathroom and sat on the toilet and Jared sat in front of me and was right there. Alison suggested I turn around but I just couldn’t stand the thought of cold porcelain at that time. I honestly don’t know how long this next part took but once I came out of the bathroom they asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to try the water birth still. So they started filling the tub as I stood there and used whoever was around for support and swayed my hips and told baby to go down.
At one point Kat mentioned that I was a beautiful laboring woman and I felt so far from beautiful that I told her she’d better take a photo for me to decide later. I’m not too sure I’m beautiful but I sure looked tired. This next picture kills me that she took it because if you look at everyone in it, they are smiling…what a totally unsympathetic birth-team! Actually it’s because I had just yelled out “Damn that hurts” and at their office they have a saying that “You know someone’s going to have a baby when the Mormon girl swears”.
Once I got in the tub, we realized that the lovely hot water heater apparently didn’t have enough hot water in it so the pool was quite chilly. The poor apprentices actually had to boil hot water which makes me wonder if they felt like they were living in the dark ages at my house.
Thankfully, after a couple of pots of hot water, it was a nice temperature. The only posture I could take in the pool was kneeling, so I kneeled in the pool with Jared sitting right in front of me and me clenching his fists. I guess I should mention that I am a VERY loud birther, so I am so proud of Jared for suffering through all my loud low tones as I felt all the interesting sensations of birth. He was right in my face the majority of the time. At one point I glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost midnight and I started feeling way too wimpy to keep going so I started whining at Alison “I’m tired, let’s do this tomorrow!” She looked at me and said in her calm mommy voice “Let’s do it tomorrow!” I think right then I realized that I was getting so close to the end. I just started really trying to push that baby down with each contraction and low sound.
With both of my previous babies I had never even felt the sensation that I should push because I had always been in a bed with my legs in the air and honestly, any woman who has been potty trained for 20+ years does not feel like pooping in the bed on their back is natural…just saying.
So I started really pushing and when I felt my baby’s head come out I just kept pushing because I wanted her out! Then they told me to reach my arms down and get my baby who was in the water in front of me. I know that the first thing out of my mouth was “No Way!” and then I kept saying “I did it” I was so relieved to be done! She was so slick and tiny I was pretty nervous to hold her.
Somehow, they helped me to sit down with her and Jared came and kneeled behind me. I couldn’t believe how beautiful my little baby was. It was strange to me that she hadn’t really started breathing consistently when I first held her, but she didn’t need to yet since the cord was still attached and pulsing. Alison gently rubbed her back and time just seemed to fly as I studied my new baby. Jared held the baby during the afterbirth and after that, I got out of the tub and into my own warm shower which was wonderful.
During my shower I was informed that baby E was born in the caul and that they found it at the bottom of the pool intact.
When I got out of the shower, I got to look at my placenta and the caul which Alison thought was pretty neat and I asked them to take a photo of it because I thought it was awesome.
Then I got into my own bed and was handed my brand new baby to cuddle.
So, she was born “tomorrow” which was Thursday, January 17. She was 20.5 inches long and 7 lbs. I am very pleased with how things went, it was very intense this time but my body knew what to do to have a beautiful birth and I’m so grateful that I listened to my heart and body. Of all the times that I’ve given birth, this was definitely the most safe and secure I’ve ever felt. I am also so filled with gratitude that I had the birth team that I did. They were all amazing and were so patient and encouraging to me. I am also so happy with Jared and the support that he had given me. With my other two births, Jared had been pretty distant and read big fat novels the whole time. This time, he was front and center and the best biggest support I had. I have never felt so in love with him before that day. Mostly I am grateful to my Heavenly Father who gave me a beautiful baby girl straight from His loving arms.