December 20: We celebrate Christmas with the kids just in case we are in the hospital on Christmas morning.
December 21: I post this to Instagram. The day passes without any sign of labor and I spend the afternoon at a baby shower.
December 22 & 23: Acupuncture worked last time so I get two treatments before the holidays and fully expect to have a Christmas baby. Acupuncture is super, super relaxing (but also the only place I get to be alone so maybe it is just that).
December 24: I’m probably the crankiest I’ve ever been at a Christmas Eve service. This whole pregnancy has made me think I need to write a book about being pregnant for introverts. It is not easy getting a ton of attention that is well-meaning but that you really don’t want. I’m tired of talking about being pregnant with everyone I see. We celebrate Christmas with my parents as planned.
December 25: Still pregnant and no sign of a Christmas baby. I’m attending all the family events I had assumed I’d be missing this year. At least the kids are happy and it is a nice distraction from being overdue.
December 27: I quickly use the pedicure gift certificate my mom gave me. The women at the salon are terrified that I’m going to go into labor there. I’m running out of tricks to induce labor and getting really close to the 41 week mark.
December 29 (AM): I’m 41 weeks and a day pregnant and that means I have to have an ultrasound. I was really hoping to not make it to this appointment but no such luck. Thankfully, the baby looks great but the ultrasound tech declares the baby is “10 pounds 4 ounces.” I laugh and say, “Are you sure?” She is sure. I am not but I’m doubting myself now. I don’t feel like I’m have a 10 pound baby. We call the midwife when we leave and she says ultrasounds are off all the time “give or take two pounds” and not to worry about it. But then later she calls and says she wants me to come into the birth center to talk about my options before the OB who oversees her does an official report on my ultrasound.
December 29 (PM): I nap and then we go into the birth center. We are too late. The OB has seen my ultrasound and says that baby could be 10.5 pounds and I’m officially “risked out” of the birth center. This is pretty disappointing. The midwife does an exam on me. She thinks my baby is more in the 8.5 to 9 pound range but cannot talk the OB out of her decision. She gives me a few options of what to do: 1) Elective c-section 2) Castor oil or 3) Just keep waiting. The c-section sounds really tempting (this could all be over with so quickly and we’d have our little girl). But, overall, I want to minimize my time in the hospital as much as possible because I have three other kids at home. Dan and I decide to eat dinner, get a good nights rest and I’ll take castor oil in the morning.
December 30 (AM): Dan goes to Target to get me castor oil and raspberry sorbet (the midwife says this will lessen the grossness of the castor oil). As usual, the midwife is totally right. Castor oil is not that bad. I take it at 9:00am and am told to wait four to six hours for it to go into effect. I have some very mild contractions. But six hours later nothing is happening. We call the birth center and they say I can come in to discuss my options. My parents come to watch the kids and we head back to the hospital. This time we are going to labor and delivery since the birth center is officially off the table for me and my very content baby.
December 30 (PM): We arrive at labor and delivery. Dan is super awesome and starts making sure they know I want to see a midwife and reminding them that I would like to avoid interventions if possible (again, being a great doula). My FAVORITE midwife is there (I like them all but this one has also adopted a child through foster care and we have bonded). She gives me my options (there are many) and tells me what she would do (which I really appreciate). We decide that I will get Cytotec to try get my cervix to dilate. I also get an Ambien and a good night’s rest. I have some super mild and unimpressive contractions through the night. I wake up very much not in labor.
December 31 (AM): Nurse and midwives change and it is time to start Pitocin. We are basically out of options are this point. This is what I’ve feared all along but it is where we are at. At 9:00 am they start the Pitocin and slowly crank it up throughout the day. I’m not getting what the big deal is about Pitocin. I’m having contractions but they are totally manageable. I have the best nurse ever though who has promised to help give me a birth as much like the birth center as possible. She keeps coming in and turning up the drugs and saying she wants to see me in more pain. We basically hang out all morning and I feel mostly fine. At noon, the best nurse ever says, “Okay, we need to break your water to get this going.” I’m cool with that. In the meantime, another woman has arrived and given birth (of course) so my midwife is wrapping things up with her. Once she is done, she comes in to break my water.
December 31 @ 1pm: I decide to use the restroom before they break my water. I’m sitting on a birthing ball and when I stand up my water breaks with a pop. Such great timing (finally!) Contractions immediately get super intense. Way more intense than they ever were with my last birth. I go into a zone and sit on the bed cross-legged and breath through each contraction. In my head, I decide, “I can do this for one-hour and then I’m getting an epidural.” My stomach feels like it is blowing up to the size of a beach ball with each contraction. I think I actually asked Dan if it was (he said it was not). I ask the midwife to set up the portable birthing tub so I can labor in the water. She is flustered and it appears has not used the portable tub before but goes off to get the supplies.
December 31 @ 2pm: Contractions are still crazy and I still have no tub. No one seems to know how to set it up. Even Dan is working on it. I’m annoyed but also just focusing on breathing. With each contraction in my head, I’m saying, “Up, up, up, down, down, down.” Knowing the contractions would go down is what got me through even though they were super close together. At this point, I think, “I just need to get in the tub. If that doesn’t work, I’m getting an epidural.” (Also, at some point Dan asks me if he packed his Excedrin Migraine. I’m thoroughly annoyed by this question and I’m pretty sure he immediately regretted asking me).
December 31 @ 3pm: The tub still isn’t set up. At this point, they are filling it with water but it is the slowest process ever. The nurse checks me and I am about 5/6 centimeters dilated. This sucks! I’m really starting to think I can’t do this. I’m pretty sure I said that. I’m still just chanting, “Up, up, up, down, down, down” in my head. The tub is finally set up and I get in.
December 31 @ 3:40pm: The tub is awesome. I enjoy it for all of five minutes (maybe) and then I am 100% sure I have to push. And just like that, I’m out of the tub and back on the bed. They call in an extra nurse because we are supposedly having a big baby and they want to be prepared for any complications. I’m expecting this to take awhile based on my last birth but at 4:00 pm our little girl arrives. They put her on my chest and all is well. She looks like her sister and she is very much NOT 10.5 pounds. About a hour later, we find out she is a nice 8 pounds 10 ounces (only slightly bigger than her sister at birth).
A few things…
- Do not underestimate the awesomeness of sleep. I was so exhausted in my last labor. Having been able to get a proper nights sleep this time made all the difference. I love sleep.
- I really don’t like being hooked up to stuff in the hospital. I was super claustrophobic throughout this pregnancy (and even still now). The most irritating thing about this labor is that I had to be hooked up to an IV and the Pitocin. I obsessively asked the nurses to remove the port as soon as the baby was born (but they couldn’t). It drove me crazy until they finally removed it the next day. I’m sure this is a minor detail for most people in their labor but it really, really irritated me.
- The really nice staff at the birth center let me recover there and it was nice to have some of the same nurses we had for my first birth.
- I don’t really know what to say when asked how long my labor was. I was in the hospital for a lot longer than I was actually in labor. The hard part was three hours. The rest was just hanging out with my great doula/husband.