If you haven’t checked my post on my pregnancy, you can read it here. In that post, I describe when I found out I was pregnant, how I had a lot of bleeding at 5 weeks, and our reaction at the anatomy scan ultrasound. Amelia’s birth was…a long time coming, as you’ll understand in this post. Her birth was also my first in a birthing center instead of a hospital, and after comparing my three experiences, I think I’ll stick with the midwives. Before I go on, though, I have to explain why the waiting was so long.
Calculating My Due Date
One thing I skipped over from first post was how my due-date was calculated. As usual, at my first midwife appointment, I described my past pregnancies and labor experiences, and I gave her my period date, ovulation dates, and conception date. The midwife also asked for my average cycle length, and I had to consult my app to answer.
“35 days,” I told her.
“Oh, so you have longer cycles than usual,” she replied, “The average is 28 days.”
Well that was news to me. Three prior pregnancies, two babies birthed with two different doctors, and this was the first time I’d heard anyone tell me my cycle lengths were longer than average.
The result was a due date one week later than an online due-date-calculator gave me (trust me, I went back and recalculated the due-dates with my other girls). Given my past experiences with going well past my due date (11 days with Genny, induced 9 days after with Nora), I suddenly felt validated. Maybe it wasn’t just my body refusing to do its thing. Maybe my babies just simply weren’t due yet!
New Years Baby?
Fast forward 8 months. Since my due date was between Christmas and New Years, I wasn’t in a hurry to get myself into labor. Although my body was getting tired of pregnancy, I was hoping to get through the holidays without labor interrupting things. Also who wants their birthday on a holiday?
So her due date came and went. Then we rolled into 2022. And day after day passed, yet not so much as a tiny contraction. Braxton Hicks contractions, of course. They actually got to be much more intense than in prior pregnancies. But every night, I went to sleep and woke the next day still in my bed. Still no baby.
Yet again, I tried nearly every method of induction. Except for acupuncture, induction massage, and castor oil, I pretty much did everything I could do get things going. Both the midwife and my chiropractor told me for weeks that I was well aligned and she was in a good position for labor.
As 41 weeks flew by, I started feeling really nervous. Flashbacks of my induction with Nora almost sent me into an anxiety attack. Legally, the birthing center isn’t allowed to have me deliver there past 42 weeks, so when I asked the midwife what would happen, she said I would have to go to the hospital and be induced if I didn’t go into labor naturally. Within the next 5 days.
Inducing Labor Naturally
I kept telling myself the baby would come when she was ready, but that didn’t stop me from becoming disheartened when it wouldn’t happen. I went in for a nonstress test and ultrasound at 41 weeks. Again, they told me our baby girl looked healthy and in a good position.
Saturday morning: I went back for another NST, and this time I asked her to sweep my membranes. This was my first cervical check of my prenatal care this time (another plus for the midwives!), and she told me I was 4 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Not a bad start! Again I heard the reassurance that I wouldn’t make it to 42 weeks.
Encouraged? Yes. Convinced? Not entirely.
To help things along, the midwife gave me a tincture of cotton root bark, a highly potent herbal extract known as “natural pitocin”. *Note: this should only be used under a health care provider’s care as it is well-known to cause uterine contractions* She told me to start it the next morning if contractions didn’t start on their own. Which they didn’t.
Sunday morning: I started on the regiment and waited patiently (as patiently as I could) for the party to kick off. That evening as Ryan and I sat watching Season 2 of The Mandalorian, I had a few real contractions. Excited that tonight might really be the night, I went to bed with plans to visit the midwife again in the morning for another membrane sweep if it didn’t.
Which it didn’t.
8:00AM: First thing, I began taking the cotton root bark again, under guidance of my midwives. I stepped into the birthing center at 8am and asked “Am I the last one?” I was the last pregnant mama at the birthing center who’s baby was due in 2021. There had been two of us, but the other woman had her baby the night before. So it was just me.
The midwife swept my membranes again, discovering I was now 75% effaced and between 4-5 cm dilated. I’d had a couple of light contractions that morning, but nothing consistent. Before I left, she gave me another tip on how to induce labor naturally, which I planned to try once I got home.
9:00 AM: After leaving the birthing center, I went by HEB for some groceries just in case I actually had a baby that day. While I walked the aisles and chatted with my sister in law on the phone, I had my first serious-feeling contractions. Yippee! If you’ve ever tried to induce labor naturally, you know what a thrill it is when you feel your efforts actually paying off. I also had the first bloody show, and that really told me that the ball had started rolling.
10:00 AM: Contractions didn’t stick around, so when I got home I started on an uncomfortable task… I was desperate, I was tired of being pregnant, I was ready to hold my baby. So I did it. For two hours.
Nipple stimulation. I mostly felt stupid doing it, sitting in my glider, watching Smallville and flicking my nipples through my shirt. XD Good times.
10:30 AM: To my surprise, I started having contractions every 5 minutes of so after about a half hour of…discomfort. When a contraction started up, I’d stop, then as it waned, I’d start again until the next one. By noon, they were solidly coming every 5-7 minutes with varying intensity.
12:00 PM: I finished up in the bedroom, then went to the garage to tell Ryan that I was finally having contractions and asked if he’d go on a walk with me. His plan had been to work from home, but he told me he’d been unable to focus on anything knowing that I might go into labor any minute.
We walked up and down the street for about twenty minutes, then headed back home to wait for my mom to drop the girls back off. With nothing more to do except wait, I began vacuuming, picking up the floor, putting in loads of laundry, and pausing when I needed to grip something tightly during a tough contraction.
1:30 PM: Ryan and the girls sat down to watch an episode of The Mandalorian, which I vaguely remember. By the time it was over, I winced and asked Ryan, “Can we please save the next one for when I’m not in labor?”
I went to take a shower, change my clothes, put on a little makeup, and generally just trying to feel human while killing time before Ryan’s mom arrived to pick up the girls at 4PM. That was my goal – make it to 4pm.
3:30 PM: When I stepped out of the shower, I looked at my contraction timer (“Full Term“) and saw that they were lasting an average of 1 minute long and 3 minutes between them for the past hour. I texted my midwife, still trying to not get too excited and think that this would all be over soon. After the wait I’d endured, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. It couldn’t be that “easy”.
The midwife replied, “Are you feeling like it is about time to come in?”
I answered, “My mother in law is coming to pick up my kids in about half an hour, I was going to assess how I feel then.”
When the midwife texted me back, “Don’t wait too long, there is also traffic to consider,” I suddenly had visions of the baby crowning in the car.
“Ryan,” I called, calmly, “Maybe ask your mom to go ahead and come now.”
He looked at me and said, “Already done.”
She arrived in about ten minutes.
4:00 PM: As soon as my mother in law walked in the door, I grabbed my purse and started for the van. On the way, I had to stop and clutch the railing of the porch for a minute, and my next door neighbor called, “Good luck!” As she got into her car. It seemed like the whole world had been waiting for me to go into labor!
5:00 PM: We had gotten settled in at the birthing center, and I was sitting on a birthing ball, just kind of bouncing around while I felt like everyone was staring at me. The midwife asked if I wanted to get in the tub, and I told her I didn’t know. I hadn’t done the water birth thing, and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of being cold. I also kind of wanted to save the tub until I was almost ready to push, and again I was still in denial that “go time” could be anytime soon. Finally, though, after my mom arrived, I said I’d try the water.
They’d already filled it up (and very warm, I might add), so I gave it a shot. Ryan helped me inside and took the birthing gown from me. I had brought a nursing bra and a sports bra, the latter for the tub, but he handed me the nursing one and I was in no position to object.
The water really did help with the intensity of the contractions. I pretty quickly got to the point where the contractions compounded, starting out mild then growing to extremely intense at the end. I held onto two floatees, and aside from feeling a little silly, it worked quite nicely. I squeezed Ryan’s hands during the hardest parts, and at one point asked, “This is much better than me carving my nails into your back, right?” Referring to my labor with Genny, when I actually scratched up his back during transition.
Time became irrelevant to me. Or rather the actual passing of time. It felt like time moved both fast and slow to me: fast because I’d basically walked in the door, jumped in the tub, and already I was having those intense contractions; slow because I was waiting for that sensation that it was time to push, but with each contraction it never came.
Although I was intensely focused, and feeling more tired between contractions than before, I could hear the midwife quietly instruct the nurse and the student who was observing to prepare for the baby to be born. No way I’m that close, I thought. And it seemed like an eternity before I finally started feeling the slight sensation to push.
“If you feel like pushing, then go ahead,” the midwife said, gently.
“I don’t know, I kind of feel it,” I said. “Can you just tell me when to push?” At the hospital, the procedure was pretty much once i reached 10 cm, the room transformed into a delivery room with a half dozen nurses suddenly appearing and a doctor in hospital scrubs walking in and waiting to catch the baby. This time, my water hadn’t broken yet and I was in a tub of water, so the sensation was different, less intense as compared to after they’d broken my water.
“You’re almost 10 cm, but if you push it would be okay,” the midwife reassured me. I still felt nervous pushing, but I was ready to get that baby out, so on the next contraction, I did.
I tried a sitting up, crouched position for the first few pushing contractions, then after awhile I turned around on my back. One thing I remember distinctly about this moment was that the spacing between contractions seemed oddly long. I was almost irritated because I wanted to keep pushing, but my midwife said, “Go ahead and rest between contractions, she needs to also.” And that fact made me feel a little more patient. I also wasn’t crazy about the idea of tearing.
Finally, after a couple of slightly embarrassing pushes (you know what I mean… at least I hadn’t taken any castor oil!), I felt her head coming. Okay, this is it, this is going to be the one, I said to myself, bracing for the next contraction.
With my other two babies, once their heads came, the rest of them seemed to slide right out fairly quickly. This time, I could now see her head, and I was pushing with everything I had, but the rest of her didn’t come.
“Her hand is up by her face,” the midwife told Ryan, who was poised to catch her when the baby arrived, “So looks like I’m going to have to help a little.”
On the next contraction, she helped pull, and that’s when I felt that all-over, sudden relief from everything, the weight, the pain, the pressure, the contractions. And instead I held my little baby girl in my arms.
My little Amelia.
Weighing 8lbs and 8oz, measuring 20″ long, Amelia was my heaviest baby and my shortest baby.
Upon meeting her, Genny said, “Ooo she’s so cute!!” and Nora smiled and said, “Mia,” then she spotted my bag of gluten free pretzels (which I had been downing nearly nonstop), and suddenly forgot about her new baby sister.
Her delivery had gone quite smoothly, and I made out with only a tiny 1st degree tear that didn’t even require stitches. The midwife said that if her hand hadn’t been up by her face, I probably wouldn’t have even had that.
She certainly made us work for it, but Amelia was definitely worth waiting for.
How did you go into labor? Share with me by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO