When we decided to try for Baby #3, I knew from experience we would probably get pregnant quickly. I got a book that taught me how to try to swing the odds in our favor for getting a boy this time. (Just to be clear, we wanted a third no matter what, and would be perfectly happy with either gender – but I will admit to a part of me wanting to be football and karate mom. We live in a red state. That means boy.) In order for that to happen, you have to very meticulously track your cycle, learn your ovulation patterns, etc. Needless to say, we managed one month of that, and on month two of me trying not to get pregnant and just learn my cycle – we were pregnant. I actually found out the day AFTER my 30th birthday party. I immediately made contact with midwives about an hour away who offer both home births or birthing at their center. Because my dates weren’t quite matching up, they had me to an ultrasound to approximately date the pregnancy. I found out the first week of April I was about 6 weeks along. Estimated due date? Thanksgiving. November 24, 2011. I immediately noticed nausea much worse than with the other two pregnancies. My mother in law was ecstatic about that. She was sure that meant it was a boy. (Turns out, she was right.) I had a relatively uneventful pregnancy, which is good news. I hired the same doula I used with my second baby, and promised her we would not be birthing at the same place L was born. She agreed. I was glad, we worked well together there and knew we would again this time.
Fast forward to the end of the pregnancy. Those last weeks seem to take forever, and there is excitement and anxiety not knowing when labor is going to start. Week 38 passed. Week 39 passed. I was due on Thanksgiving, and the family was headed almost 2 hours away, so we sent the kids with them and my husband and I watched the new Twilight movie. Renesme’s birth did not implore J to come, and a few more days passed. I enjoyed seeing people holiday shopping at Target and them asking me, “When are you due?” and replying, “4 days ago.” They get a freaked out look on their face like you might have the baby right then and there. Good times.
My midwife scheduled me for a biophysical profile at 40 weeks & 5 days, which is basically just a very thorough ultrasound. The tech checks in particular for the health of the placenta. Mine was great, no need for concern. That was a Tuesday, the ultrasound in the morning and my midwife appointment in the afternoon. She stripped my membranes (with my approval) at that point, but nothing happened that evening. (I had been having mild, Braxton-Hicks contractions off and on for quite a while, but nothing any stronger than that.) The next day, I went back to Norman and met my doula for some afternoon walking (after a much needed pedicure), and contracts started to pick up. I felt like I should stay nearby, and decided I would call my husband to come meet me and we’d get a hotel. My friend met me there, and my contractions became much more regular quickly. I asked her to drive me back to the birth center, and called my husband to meet us there instead. My doula and midwife arrived, and we called our mothers. We should have waited on that. I got ahead of myself, thinking since my contractions were coming 2.5 minutes apart, that we’d be having the baby soon. Well, they kind of stalled out. We hung out talking in the lobby until late, and I was disappointed thinking maybe I got everyone excited for no reason. I felt like a watched pot, and now no water was boiling. I was very frustrated. I convinced my mom to take our daughters to the hotel to sleep. My mother in law and friend hung out in the lobby with my husband and doula while I slept. Then I woke up. Some cervical change, but not as fast as I expected. My midwife and her assistant were great to keep encouraging me. They kept reminding me that these things take time, and I was progressing. They were happy with my progress. I needed rest, and food. (What a change from the hospital, huh?! The midwives were encouraging me to eat if I felt like it.) After sleeping a while, I woke up at 6 am. The midwife said she still believed I was in early labor, and need to get up and around a bit. She suggested I shower, eat, and walk around – but not go as far as the hour to my home. I got up and took a shower, and had a pretty strong contraction. Hmm. As I got dried off and was putting on my clothes, another one. I was hungry, (big shocker if you have read my other two birth stories, right?) so my friend and I went down the street to Starbucks, for oatmeal and coffee. It was less than 3 blocks away, and I had another one in the car. And another one while I ordered. I turned my face away and tried to conceal from the barista that I was in labor – because who wants a freaked out barista making their coffee? Not me, or anyone else there either. Breathe. We went back to the center, and I told the midwife I wouldn’t be needing to go anywhere. These are the kind of contractions that get babies out. I ate all the oatmeal, but didn’t take but a few sips of my coffee. Your body knows what it needs, and it didn’t need that. I drank water. The contractions that had started around 6 am got gradually closer together for over 3.5 hours. I walked around the center, made deep guttural moans, and swayed on a birth ball. I even handled some contractions leaning over one particular chair. My doula was right by my side, talking me through them. My husband was watching us, staying out of the way but being supportive. We women had our thing going. He was careful not to disturb it. (One thing that’s funny about this birth is that I had found a contraction timer app and downloaded it, which we used to time the contractions. See, I do use some technology at my birth!) I had made it to an 8, and I still had my bag of waters intact. The midwife felt like if the bag broke, we’d be ready to push. Apparently, I had a bag of steel, because through several contractions I tried different squats thinking maybe that would help it break. It didn’t, and I didn’t like squatting during contractions. A little later, I asked the midwife to go ahead and break my water. Contractions were very close at that point, and I knew it was almost time. As soon as she broke my water, I felt the baby’s head move down. Time to push. A couple of contractions occurred while getting situated. I felt like staying vertical, and I ended up on the bed, on my knees, facing the wall. I sort of leaned over and braced my hands on the headboard. Only a couple pushes later, and the midwife asked me to hang on a minute. Baby was crowning. I couldn’t wait too long. I didn’t know why she asked me to, and I counted slowly to 5. Then I had to push again. With that one, J was born! Little did I know at that time, but he was presenting with his hand at his face, and she was trying to release his arm to help me out. With that final push, he actually did a flip and she made an amazing catch! (We were on the bed, so he would have had a soft landing regardless, but she got him!) They helped me turn around and handed him straight to me. I will admit to screaming some during the pushing stage. Yep, I am a little loud, but you always know we are about done! I think my entire pushing stage was 5 minutes long, and less than 9 minutes passed from the breaking of my water to his birth. He was born at exactly 41 weeks, at around 10 am. My mom had arrived with the girls, and they came in to meet their baby brother. He latched on quickly and has been the best nurser of all the kids. I had a shower soon afterwards, and by 3:30 pm we were on our way to the hotel to spend the night. We wanted to stay close, so that J could be seen by the pediatrician the next morning. As soon as that appointment was over, we headed home!
I felt so much more empowered about this birth than I had baby #2. I had more support, including a care provider that understood what was important to me. I waited it out, and the natural birth I wanted was completely worth the wait!
One interesting thing we did with this birth that we didn’t know about with the other two was encapsulate the placenta. Within a few days of the birth, I had over 100 ‘happy pills’ to help promote milk production and level out that hormone drop that occurs a few days after birth. I know it sounds bizarre, and I don’t think ingesting the placenta any other way is something I could do – but put it in a capsule and it’s no different than any other supplement in the way it tastes. When I first told my husband I wanted to do it, he was a little put off. After seeing the difference it made for me postpartum, now he talks it up to other dads!