I birthed my 4th baby! I am still surprised as I’m writing this, even almost two months later, that my 4th baby is actually here in my arms. It has taken me a while to feel up to writing out his birth story as the newborn phase has demanded much of my time and brain-space. However, it’s time to record his story as I did for all my children. This one starts with a bit of a scare.
For some background, I have a history of carrying “late” or past 41 weeks gestation. I also have a history of longer labors (18 hours being my prior shortest labor). So when I went to my midwife for my 40 week appointment (the way scheduled worked out I was actually between 40-41 weeks, 40 weeks and 4 days) I expected a normal check in with more waiting time.
I was excited about this appointment because it was on a Saturday so I had childcare for my older children and my husband was able to go with me. We had planned to make an afternoon of it and have a dinner date afterwards, a rare treat as parents of multiple children. When we arrived, my midwife offered to do a non-stress test (abbreviated as NST; monitoring baby’s heart rate for 20 minutes). It was offered because I was between 40 and 41 weeks and was driving an hour and twenty minutes to each appointment. Therefore, it was a fair option for me as I could either come back a few short days later or delay the monitoring until almost 42 weeks. I chose to go ahead and be monitored for my piece of mind, fully expected everything to be fine and be more comfortable waiting on my next appointment. And fully hoping to have a baby before that appointment came!
I got comfortable on the bed and chatted happily with my husband and midwives as we waited the 20 minutes. However, while my sweet baby was having wonderful variability (heart rate showing different rates, not one continuous rate), his heart was dipping right around 108-110. We tried changing positions which did not make a difference. At that point, my midwife offered to do a membrane sweep to see if we could get labor going as my baby seemed fine but the lower heart rate was a concern. I consent only to find out I was only 1 cm dilated, which is not enough dilation to do a membrane sweep. The next suggestion was that we consider going to the hospital for a longer NST and getting a second opinion.
I knew at this point an induction could be very likely. I felt a lot of anxiety as a hospital induction during COVID with the extra precautions and protocols would be vastly different than my planned home birth. I cried off an on as we made our way to my preferred hospital to be monitored. My husband repeatedly helped shift my focus back to the present. It was difficult as my mind would race ahead, knowing all the variations of what could happen once we got there. Our dinner date turned into Arby’s drive-thru (one of the few fast food places I could eat decently on my low-carb/glucose intolerant diet) eaten in the car as we made our way to the hospital.
What happen once we got there, as my midwife had called ahead to let them know what was happening and that I was coming to be monitored further. So the kind nurses hooked me up to the monitors and we settled in to wait our minimum of 40 minutes on the monitor. I tried to breath slow and steady, texted my doula off and on, and update my family. I felt waves of grief as this was not how I wanted this birth to go. As my last planned baby, I really wanted my family and children to be present. I felt afraid that wouldn’t happen.
After 45 minutes or so the nurse came back in to let us know the doctor had reviewed my monitoring and saw the same thing the midwife had. Baby has great variability but is dipping down around 110 periodically. I was contracting at this time and so they could see how baby was handling those contractions, as well. This doctor’s opinion was that I could certainly stay to be induced in the hospital or I could go home to see if things progressed. My husband and I called our midwife to discuss our options. After being given many different opinions, including doing nothing at this time, we decided to go back to the midwife to see if she could place a Foley bulb and discuss some other at home induction methods.
We left the hospital and headed to the midwives. At this point, it’s past 10:00pm and we are stressed and tired. Our midwives kindly walk through the options again and I get ready to have the Foley bulb placed before I head home to sleep and begin some other induction techniques in the morning. However, in the time I’ve left the midwife and come back, I’ve dilated to 2cm! This means she can do a sweep (and does). I’m incredibly relieved at this news because I have experienced successful membrane sweeps at this gestation in previous pregnancies. This gives me hope that I can safely have this baby at home sooner rather than later. She then tries to place the Foley...three times! It simply won’t stay in place as my cervix is soft and stretchy because I’m a 4th time mother. I head home without the Foley, but having received a membrane sweep and instructions on pumping and castor oil in the morning. They also prepared me a ginger tea to drink on the way home which I found soothing, if not helpful for labor.
We arrived home around midnight and I hadn’t felt any contractions after leaving the hospital. My children stayed with their grandparents so that my husband and I could get some sleep and we did. When we woke in the morning we ate breakfast and I took my first dose of castor oil mixed with ice cream and peanut butter and began pumping for nipple stimulation at 9:00am. I felt a few contractions around 11am, but they were far apart, irregular and not very long or strong. I texted my midwife who suggested eating a healthy, filling lunch and taking another dose of castor oil if nothing had picked up by 12:30pm.
My husband made me a really delicious lunch of steaks and asparagus. I had the passing thought of, “I’m either going to throw this up or have crazy diarrhea with all this castor oil but, I’m going to enjoy it now!” (Interestingly enough, I did not throw up or have crazy diarrhea during this labor at all.) I took my next dose of castor oil and began pumping according to my midwife’s instructions. My parents add children arrived around 1:00pm and from there it is a whirlwind.
Contractions went from nothing to active labor with that second dose of castor oil. I was trying to keep my doula and midwife updated as they had a drive, but also do my “5-1-1” guideline, which is that you want contractions to be 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long for 1 hour before calling it active labor. My body was simply not for that and it took my mind a long time (after my baby was born) to caught up with that fact!
I was pacing my house and in less than 30 minutes from he time they’d started it was difficult to walk or talk through contractions. I didn’t like the noise of my children, my parents, spouse and brother talking. I sought refuge in the shower, but I had told my older children to bath really quick when they’d arrived home because I had planned to fill the birth pool soon and waited to give the hot water heater time to reheat. (This is of course laughable, now, as labor took off without any regard to my plans!) So, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in long but I also did not want to get out. I began getting very vocal while in the shower during contractions. My husband and mother felt I needed to get out as everything had picked up while in there and the midwife wasn’t yet notified. I got out, and made my way to my bedroom. I wanted to get in the birth pool very badly but was told to wait until the midwife was close in a previous prenatal visit and had that stuck in my head. I texted her my new contraction pattern and she immediately called me and said she was on her way. I had typed out the text to my doula to come, too, but forgot to hit send. Someone did notify her shortly after. This was around 3:00pm.
I continually kept saying, “this is so fast, so fast...” as I struggled to express to my husband and mother how I was feeling. My brother had begun to fill the birth pool for me as I wanted to get it in as soon as the midwife arrived. He wouldn’t have time to fill it and I wouldn’t have time to get in it. I cried off and on as the contractions pulled me from one to another, with only maybe 10-15 seconds between them. One would end as another was building and I only remember not having time to think or process what should be happening around me (preparing for a baby’s arrival!). There was only room for what my body was doing. I got nauseated for two contractions and thought I would throw up. But my body didn’t have time for that and the nausea gave way to the force of my uterus bearing down.
At this time, I was standing next to the bed leaning over with my face in the mattress. My husband was behind me with a flashlight looking to see if our baby was visible yet. I demanded no one touch me so he did not. I could feel his presence behind me and hear him reassure me he wouldn’t touch me, just look. My mother was just outside the door on the phone with the midwife who was still 35-45 minutes away. My mother was a bit panicked as it was obvious the baby was going to arrive before the midwife. When she said, “I cannot delivering this baby” my husband calmly said, “I can.” I groaned and felt my body give a huge bearing down. I roared and let go of all control as my baby crowned. I reached down to feel my baby’s head and my husband encouraged me to squat if I needed. I pulled my torso upright and bend my legs in a plié as our son was born into my husband’s ready hands. He passed the baby between my legs and, in complete shock, I took in my beautiful baby boy. He had pinked up before my husband could even complete the quick pass to me. He was perfect and healthy and whole! Born at 3:32pm, 7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches. Making this a record fast labor for me (or anyone) as start to finish, if we count my irregular 11am contractions, 4 and a half hours.
My midwife asked questions and instructed my husband on what to look for and do as far as hemorrhage concerns and the placenta. He supported me in a squat as I delivered my placenta. Then we laid back and took in our baby. My midwife arrived in record time, really, and began our postpartum care. As is common with faster births, I bled quite a bit and consented to a shot of Pitocin. Other than that, we were and are both perfectly fine. My doula arrived 10 minutes after my midwife and took picture for me.
We had waited to find out our baby’s sex and I was delighted to see I was right! Just this once, as my husband had accurately predicted our other 3 children, but I’d finally chosen the winning side as my husband had guessed girl and I boy. Our children and family took him and cared for us in those immediate hours. I’d achieved a home induction and was able to share this experience with those I loved as I’d wanted. It could have easily gone the other way and I am grateful.
Overall, this was a beautiful birth experience. It has taken me some time to come to terms with having induced it. I struggled with the decision in the moment and I struggled with it afterwards. Was it the right choice? For me, it was. That’s enough. I don’ t have to explain it further, but I will this once. His heart rate dipping could have been for a variety of reasons or no reason at all (as it turned out) but the anxiety of waiting further and doing more testing was an additional stress on my body that would have helped neither my baby or myself. The pregnancy was challenging/stressful and it was time, under those circumstances, to encourage birth.
I'm the owner of Sage Roots. Woman, wife, mother, doula, writer, bookworm, hiker, gamer, and Christian.