Our youngest was born last month. (Yeah, it's taken me exactly a month to get around to writing this) As expected we glided right past the 40 week mark (I refuse to use the word “due date” because it indicates anything past due). All 4 of my previous healthy pregnancies were the same. We hit 41 weeks and still no indication of labor. Also expected. Since we planned to have this baby at The Farm, I decided we would drive up to our cabin on Monday at 41w 3d whether I was in labor yet or not, because I figured at that point I would be close and didn't want to have to drive up in active labor.
My mother-in-law drove down Sunday to stay with my girls. As I lay down with Baby Bear to get her down for a late nap I nursed her as usual and my contractions started. By the time MIL got there I was having them ever 5 minutes. Not strong, but pretty regular. So I called Papa Bear at work and told him I wanted to go up a little early. Called the midwives on the way and they said they'd meet me at the entrance of The Farm. It was around 9:30pm when we got there. The cabin we had planned on staying in ended up still being occupied by the woman before me who went well beyond her expected date. So they put me in a much smaller, older cabin. When first told, I was a little disappointed. I was worried the old place wouldn't be very warm or nice. I couldn't have been more wrong though. It was so warm and cozy and I just fell in love with it. They tell me it was the first cabin built at The Farm.
After I got settled in, it became clear that my labor wasn't really progressing anymore and the contractions had spread way out, so the midwife and her apprentice said good night and went back home around 10pm or so. After they left, my contractions became regular again, but I just stayed in bed and tried to rest. They continued regularly all night long and by around 4 or so in the morning, I felt they were strong enough to warrant calling the midwives back. When they arrived they began setting up, including the birth tub/pool which I planned to give birth in. As I watched them set everything up my contractions continued, but did not intensify. By the time I got into the pool I was pretty sure I was stalling again. I tried several positions trying to get the baby to descend. I had dilated to 6 but stopped.
Eventually the midwife and her assistant said they'd go do some of their prenatal visits with the Amish in the area while I continued to labor. If I needed to I could contact one of the midwives who live there at the farm. I labored all day long, but by the end of the day was still at 6. They emptied the pool and put in a fresh liner and went home. It was suggested that I have a glass of red wine and try to get some sleep. I tried, but unfortunately I vomited shortly after drinking the wine. Still I was able to sleep during the night between contractions; even through some of them.
Before dawn on Tuesday morning, the contractions started getting very intense and I felt sure my time was coming soon. I called the midwives again. When they got there, I was still at 6, which was very disappointing. When my contractions started tapering off again, they decided to stay out of my hair, and go wait at the office. The hope was that their being out of sight would allow me relax enough to progress again. Unfortunately, I still did not progress. We went on a few walks and it was beautiful weather and a lovely place to be.
From the start of labor I'd had no appetite and been able to just sip water. But at some point on Tuesday, I quit being able to even keep down water. At that point I called my midwife and she came over to start me on IV fluids. She struggled to get the line in my veins so she called over "D" another midwife and former NICU nurse who was accustomed to getting into difficult veins. After a bag of fluid was emptied and the next one started my contractions really picked up and I decided to get into the pool again. I felt uncomfortable with the IV so they removed it. At that point I was feeling pretty pushy. Baby was descending, though my body wasn't 100% ready. I'll leave out the nitty-gritty details. But after a little while I stalled again. Still contracting, but the urge to push went away completely. I walked around trying some different positions, including laboring on the toilet, on the Amish birth stool and holding onto a rope hanging from the ceiling, lol. No luck. Got back in the bad and got the IV re-inserted. Very soon after that, my contractions got strong again.
The last part felt like an eternity. I think it was my most emotional delivery. Part of my mind even wanted to jump out of the bed get in my car and drive to the nearest hospital and beg for a cesarean. I'm glad that's not what I did. In many hospitals, I doubt I would have even made it that far without someone pushing the idea themselves. What I did do was stick it out. I'm so grateful for the wonderful midwifes who were there for me to encourage me, remind me that I could do it. Assure me that I was doing “great” even when I felt like I was completely out of control and a little crazy. My regular midwife “S” was there, as well as her apprentice “L” and a more seasoned midwife “C” even showed up and I felt like I had a mother there, which I hope isn't offensive to say. But she just made me feel extra safe somehow. I twisted and turned on the bed, having given up on the water birth I had envisioned (I had one with my third, and longed to repeat that birth. I've since learned that birth/life isn't like that). Despite my own desperation, the baby was fine the whole time. The midwives did regular checks with the monitor and his heart rate was always great. They had me do something called the “pretzel” I think, to get my cervix ready, which had me begging for mercy or some craziness. But it did the trick.
Before I knew it, I was pushing my baby out. My urge was to push him out as quickly as possible. But they reminded me to go slow. It was hands down, the hardest pushing phase of my birthing career. I felt everything in detail. The head felt the size of a watermelon. Turns out he was facing sideways with his face and body facing my inner thigh, instead of the typical face down position. (and his head wasn't really molding at all) Once I got it out things were easier, as they always are. The apprentice caught my baby, which I think is great. My last two babies were caught by apprentices. While my birth wasn't a piece of cake, it wasn't dangerous, and I'm glad they are able to get some of the experience they need with my births so they can continue to help women in the future.Soon I was looking at my fabulous new boy. Yes, we confirmed he was a boy right away. I looked at his face and it was strange. Funny thing to admit, but my first though was “he doesn't look anything like my other babies”. And he didn't. After just a few hours though, his face looked more normal to me. The first thing they did after putting him on my chest was hand him to Papa Bear and give him some oxygen. They said he was a little blue-ish and grunting. All I could see was a baby I wanted to hold and nurse. But I waited as patiently as I could. It didn't take long. Mother-in-law (who was home with our girls) called just minutes after he was born. She called back later and let me tell each girl myself about his birth. It was only via phone, but it was still a beautiful and touching moment, and I'm glad she gave that to me.
We stayed at the cabin the next day or two. I had some concerns about his breathing. After my experience with Goldilocks I admit I'm a bit jumpier than I used to be. On Thursday midwife “S” suggested we see the local pediatrician and she called ahead for us and so we went in. He wanted to do overnight observation, which was a bit crushing to me. But we did it. “S” thought it was a good idea. In the end, I'm glad to report our little guy was/is just fine. He had a stuffy nose, but otherwise nothing to report. His breathing was just taking a while to get normal, and the congestion was causing him to breath harder/faster. First thing Friday morning we left the hospital as soon as discharged and went back to the cabin. Unfortunately, we discovered that the pipes had frozen overnight, so we had to leave a little earlier than expected. I was pretty heartsick to have to leave sooner than planned. But we were eager to introduce our new boy to our girls at home.
They were quite enthusiastic when we arrived.