Gracelyn Jean was born July 23 at 9:04 am
She weighed 8 lbs 9 oz & was 20 inches long.
I woke up on Tuesday morning to mild but semi-regular contractions. But, at 10-12 minutes apart, I had awhile to wait. I was 3-4 cm dilated two weeks earlier at my OB appointment. I didn’t get checked every week because all it does is stress me out and it doesn’t really predict when labor will start. But, that Tuesday felt like the day.
I sat on my birthing ball all day long, because I had a gut-feeling that the baby was posterior. I had an intense pressure in my lower back. And I had not progressed as quickly as I did with my last labor so I thought maybe the baby was sunny-side-up and stuck. I did a lot of different things to “spin my baby”. As the day went on, contractions stayed about 10 minutes apart — some closer, and some farther apart.
Late in the afternoon I called to see if I was to call when they were 5-7 minutes or 3-5 minutes since it was my third birth and things are unpredictable. I didn’t want to bother someone on call if I needed to wait longer — but I didn’t want to wait too long either!! The nurse called the midwife, who said I could come in whenever I felt like I needed to. But, the nurse wasn’t convinced, because she called the midwife back and then called me back to tell me that since it was my third, I really needed to go get checked because my contractions might never get closer together.
She knew what she was talking about — because they didn’t.
I went in for a non-stress test that proved that my contractions were 10 minutes apart and baby was fine. At that point, my contractions were actually getting stronger and more difficult to walk/talk through. But, it was 5 pm, and I was hungry. The midwife told me I could go home and come back when I was ready to have a baby.
So, I did. My husband took me to McDonald’s for a McFlurry and french fries. Because, you know, I needed good healthy food to fuel my labor…. right? It was comfort food. I was terrified of laboring with a broken leg. I was also terrified of running into issues if the baby was posterior. I wanted a drug-free natural labor, like my second and NOT like my first. I didn’t want anything to complicate that.
When I had myself mentally prepared, we grabbed my bag and headed back to the hospital. I ended up with the nice big room in the back corner — one perk of leaving the room I was in earlier to go home for a little while! I was 6 cm dilated and contractions were 10 minutes apart when I was admitted. The midwife said she could break my water at any point to get things to speed up, but I wanted to hold that option for later if labor stalled. I called my labor coach (who is studying to someday become a doula, but isn’t technically one yet!) and she agreed to come out.
The nurse asked for my birth plan. I was surprised because I don’t remember being asked during my other births. My husband proudly presented her with my nerdy document equipped with itemized bullet points. I was very skeptical that anyone would read the plan, let alone take it seriously. I was very impressed with the staff because they followed all of my requests, to the letter! The doctor was slightly hesitant to not administer Pitocin immediately after delivery, but I won her over in the end.
I really wanted to have an active labor, and avoid laying in bed at all costs. I had laid around enough the last four months with my broken leg!! I tried sitting on the birthing ball – which was more than awkward with my leg in a boot. I still had that intense back pain and the ball did help alleviate that a little. Plus, my friend massaged my back while I was on the ball and that felt great. I was much more comfortable in my hospital bed, though, even if it went against all of the dreams I had of walking the halls to get my labor to progress.
My contractions hurt more and more as the night went on, but never got closer. My blood pressure was high the whole time, so they did some bloodwork to check for pre-eclampsia. Everything came back fine, though. I was offered to have my water broken again but I was able to get short 10 minute naps between contractions and I was tired. I didn’t want labor to speed up and then to spend the next day with family, friends, and my new baby, being sleep-deprived after delivering in the wee hours of the morning. So, I decided to wait until morning to try any interventions.
I was most comfortable with pressure on my forehead and someone holding my hand. Weird, but whatever makes you comfortable, right? I sipped on lemon lime soda and water all night. Towards morning, I started to feel more and more nauseas. I was trying to breath out of my mouth and focus during contractions, and the mouth breathing just made me more thirsty. I desperately wanted to take a drink, and I desperately did not want to throw up. I told the nurse and she offered an IV anti-nausea drug which I accepted. And I felt great after that.
I’m so grateful for my friend attending my labor! She stayed up with me all night long while my husband slept. Which sounds like he got the easy way out, but she left right before 8:30 am and that’s when everything started.
When the morning shift change came, the doctor on duty for the day did my exam. I was 6 cm dilated. Still? After all those contractions? What?! My last labor was only 4 hours!! What was happening?! I agreed to have my water broken, hoping things would speed up. We took off my boot, so it wouldn’t get covered in the various bodily fluids that accompany delivery. The best news of the day was the doctor announcing, “You’re water is clear!” No meconium. No whisking my baby away for suction and testing. Thank you!
She reminded me that if I had excessive bleeding after delivery I would need Pitocin. I explained that I understood that and just do not want Pitocin administered for no reason. No need to make those after pains any worse than they need to be.
The doctor sternly told me, “I need to go back to the office for appointments. Tell the nurse immediately if you feel the need to push.” I was at 6 cm, so I was like, “Yea, okay, we have time.”
I felt like I had to push with my next contraction. It’s all in your head, I told myself, you’re just worried because she’s over at the office. Then, I felt the same with the next contraction. And the next. I decided to tell the nurse, and she checked my cervix and sent for the doctor immediately. “Don’t push!” she yelled, “Just wait for the doctor. I can’t deliver this baby!”
My worst fear was that someone would grab my now unprotected broken leg, yank it back for that “optimal” delivery position, and break my ankle all over again. Everyone files into your room to help with delivery. I felt like there were nurses everywhere. And, right on cue, a nurse that hadn’t been in my room at all so far, grabbed my left leg and pulled it back. “Don’t do that!!” My husband, the doctor, and I all yelled at the same time. The poor nurse. I’m sure we scared her half to death.
The doctor turned around to finish getting dressed up for the occasion. “Don’t push yet, or the baby will hit me in the back of the head,” she joked. My husband appreciated the humor a lot more than I did at that point.
Not pushing is the hardest thing in the world. I spent so much energy not pushing that I was a complete mess when it was time to push. Between screaming, “I can’t!” and trying to breathe when they wanted me to, I was all over the place. This is when I needed my doula!! My last baby was born in one big push. I wasn’t prepared for all this! I heard the doctor say, “She’s holding back.” Then, she coached me through a few more breaths. I composed myself and did a lot better with the next contraction.
“It’s a girl!” the doctor exclaimed. I think the hospital staff was just as excited as we were to find out the gender of our baby! “A girl?!” I said. We were convinced it was a boy because the heart rate was always so low. For the first time ever, I got to hold my baby just seconds after birth.
The baby was posterior, and that’s why I was stuck at 6 cm for so long. Breaking my water allowed her to descend and forced me to dilate to 10 cm VERY quickly. Her little nose was squished to the side for a few days from being stuck in there backwards for so long! What a cutie.
My doctor said, “You don’t need any stitches! And you’re not bleeding so, for now, we will skip the Pitocin.” I hate Pitocin. I will do anything to avoid it. Thankfully, I didn’t need it, but the nurses and doctors were skeptical up until the day I left the hospital.
“Can I nurse her?” I asked. I wasn’t sure if they had cut the cord yet or not. “Can they nurse that early?” the doctor asked one of the nurses. Seriously? Yes. Baby Gracelyn rested happily at her mama’s breast. And we both rejoiced in our accomplishments.