My Third Birth

When writing my 2nd birth story and this last birth story, the most difficult part for me was to figure out where to start… my last two births both had a clear-cut “beginning,” but most of my laboring was done before the “beginning” which is why I can’t really call it an actual beginning. It’s a bit muddling when figuring out how to put it down on paper/computer screen!

For my last birth though… I suppose the real beginning was the day before my third beautiful daughter was born. I had been laboring for several days at this point, but my prodromal labor, while very effective, didn’t interfere with my life much at all – which is what happened with my second daughter’s birth as well. The contractions weren’t difficult or very uncomfortable at all and yet they got me more than halfway dilated before active labor ever began.

Anyhow, back to the day before my daughter – I’ll call her “Little Anne” – was born. I was done. I was more done than a burned Thanksgiving turkey. There was no room in my midsection whatsoever. My ribs were sore from the baby pressing against them constantly and kicking the right side. Every time I had a contraction, the upper part of my uterus felt sore just like my ribs did. The space was maxed-out to the extreme.

I don’t think I’ve ever been *that* done with a pregnancy before. I thought I was done with my other two, but I wasn’t. Not really. Not like I was this time. I honestly, for the first time, doubted that the baby would ever come out. She was just going to stay in there, getting bigger and bigger until I popped a few ribs or needed a c-section or something. I knew that I was about 6-7cms dilated because I checked, but even that didn’t help the feeling in my mind that I would be pregnant forever.

At the same time though, I had the feeling in my body that if I moved too quickly or rode in the car over too many bumps the baby would just fall right out. I knew that feeling… it’s the same way I felt a few hours before the precipitous (fast) birth of my second daughter. So, that evening, I called my midwife to give her some warning. My body felt as though labor was going to start that night or the next day at the same time as my mind was convinced that it would never begin. Ever.

Needless to say, this was very confusing and I probably wasn’t particularly convincing when I called my midwife because I wasn’t completely convinced myself.

We went out fairly late that night to pick up some good Chinese food and to get a few things from Wal-Mart that we needed before the baby could be born. Then we came home and ate some Chinese food. My husband set up the birth tub and then we went to bed.

I woke up the next morning at 5:24am with a quite strong contraction. I had another one about 8 minutes or so later and decided to get in a nice warm-hot bathtub to see if they calmed down so I could go back to sleep or if they got stronger and closer together in which case, it was probably the real thing.

My husband woke up as I was filling the tub and he helped me keep track of the timing because I really wasn’t able to do much in that area. I would forget the previous time by the time another one would start. The contractions were still not particularly close together or regular (ranging from 5-15 minutes apart), but they were definitely getting stronger and not calming down at all.

At around 6:30am I called my midwife and told her that I was pretty sure the baby was coming. I still wasn’t 100% sure, but by the time she arrived at our house about 15 minutes later, I was definitely in transition and was working through very intense contractions that were just a couple minutes apart.

My mom and my midwife’s assistant arrived not long afterwards. When my mom arrived, I was out of the bathtub because the birth tub was full. I made a stop at the toilet to make sure my bladder was empty and *WHOOSH* my water broke. On the toilet. Perfect! Just like last time 🙂 I felt stuck on the toilet for a bit – whether because of the contractions or because my legs just wouldn’t work, I don’t remember. I didn’t think I could walk, but my husband helped me and somehow (I don’t remember exactly how) I made it into the birthing tub where I knelt, leaning against the side and held onto my husband’s hands through every contraction.

I didn’t push for very long before the baby’s head crowned. It crowned for what felt like forever, but was really only about 4 minutes. I was able to reach down and feel the baby’s head – complete with hair! – as it crowned. I had to go slowly because it was quite a large little head and I didn’t want to tear, but it was extremely difficult to keep from pushing as hard as possible to finish up my least favorite part – the crowning – ASAP. I tried doing some panting-type breathing that helped to slow things down a lot. When the head finally came out, it only came out part-way because there was a little hand on the little cheek so I had to push an extra time to get the chin out. I had a wonderful short break between pushing the head out and pushing the body out – no crowning sensation anymore!

When the baby’s body came out, at 7:24am, I was able to catch her and bring her up to find out that she was a gorgeous little girl! Not so little either… she weighed 9lbs. 10oz. I still have a hard time believing that I – not quite 5’4″ tall and 110lbs when not pregnant – pushed out a 9.5 lb baby with a nuchal hand! Without tearing. Before I got pregnant last time, I could still fit into a size FOUR (might never be able to again though!). It’s no wonder that I felt there to be no room in my womb – there really wasn’t any!

The rather corpulent placenta came out 9 minutes after Little Anne was born and my husband cut the cord about two hours after that.

I remember my older daughters (2-yo and 4-yo) asking me questions periodically – “Is the baby coming out?” throughout this whole time. They woke up soon after I got in the bath and were very excited about the baby coming! My mom stayed with them and read them books while I was pushing. I think they were more interested in what was going on though. They also wanted to stay in the room. I think my mom suggested going into the living room, but they wanted to see the baby come out.

Before my baby came, I watched birth videos and slide-shows online with both girls so they’d know what was going on and I think that helped a lot. They weren’t worried or scared at all and afterwards they were thrilled to have a brand new baby sister! They both wanted to hold her as soon as possible and my oldest told me that I was very strong and brave to push that baby out!

It’s so amazing to me still that this birth even happened… the baby came out! And she was huge! Still is, actually 🙂 There’s so much of her to love and she’s the snuggliest, chubbiest little baby ever ❤ At least, she's the snuggliest and chubbiest that I've ever had! She's a good little sleeper (whether I'm next to her or not) and she nurses like a champ.

Welcome to our family, little Anne! We're so glad to have you with us!

~B.

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The Almighty “Due Date”

The most important date to me throughout my pregnancy with my first child was, not surprisingly, my due date. I was convinced that my baby would come early – several days early, no less. My mom’s babies came early and therefore mine should too, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when my due date came and went and I was still pregnant!

My midwife had prepared me for the possibility of going over my due date, or at least she had tried to prepare me for it. No matter how many times she reminded me that it didn’t matter when my mother’s babies had come or that the almighty Due Date was just an approximation, I was still convinced that my baby would be early! Or, at the very least, not late. That is what I thought, at least until after my due date.

As due dates go, my first one was pretty accurate. My daughter was born only two days past my due date. That’s practically right on time! Except that after my first birth, I learned a bit more, and came to realize that the due date doesn’t really mean very much at all which is why it is more accurately referred to as an “estimated due date” instead of an “almighty due date.”

During my pregnancy with my second daughter, I viewed the due date very differently. In the first place, we were basically just guessing about the due date. I didn’t have much of an idea of when I actually got pregnant since I was nursing my older daughter at the time. It was much less of a sure thing. If we went by LMP, my due date was nearly a month earlier than if we went by implantation spotting and uterine size determined by palpation.

When people would ask me when I was due I would tell them, “Oh, anywhere from 8 to 13 weeks from now.” I figured out the number of weeks by including the three weeks before and two weeks after my estimated due date which is the usual window for a baby to be born during. I figured that this way I could avoid having other people thinking of me as “overdue” and I could avoid that thinking for myself as well.

I think that by having a “due date” it’s all too easy to fall into thinking that the baby needs to be born *by* that date – as I felt with my first daughter. I think that women would be better served by thinking of their “due weeks” – the 5 week period of time when it’s most likely their baby will be born. The vast majority of babies are not born on their due dates and that’s completely normal! Babies born during that five week window do not have any extra risks compared to babies who are born on their exact due date. Those five weeks are all considered full-term when labor begins spontaneously during them.

On the other hand, the common practice of artificially inducing labor just because a woman has reached or passed her due date can lead to completely avoidable complications – babies born too soon (since labor begins when the baby is ready to come out), labor that isn’t progressing well enough (since the mother’s body wasn’t ready to have the baby quite yet), and unnecessary c-sections (for labor that isn’t progressing well enough).

An excellent short article about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) that also includes a bit of the history of the origin of estimated due dates can be found here.

The due date should be a guide and a reference point, but it is not an expiration date!

~B.

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