My mother-in-law, Jill arrived that Sunday. We took the kids to "school" (a.k.a. daycare) on Tuesday, cleaned/organized boy and girl baby and toddler clothes, and still no baby. Took the kids to school on Wednesday and headed to my appointment with Linda for a check-up, non stress test and ultrasound to check the fluid levels. I had the US first, my amniotic fluid was a 16, which normal was 5-22 I think she said and at 40+4, a 16 was a LOT of fluid. The technician also asked when the last time I had a sizing US was. I told her the only US I had had was the anatomy scan at 20 weeks. She decided to "size" the baby, but made sure to make clear to us that after 36 weeks the numbers were likely not correct (1 pound more or less usually which is a large range). Baby measured 10 lbs 1 ounce on the US, but neither the tech nor I were worried that the baby was actually that big (neither was L, my midwife turns out).
We went back to the waiting room, my feeling a bit better that everything looked good on US, but still feeling nervous and anxious due to my lack of dilation and my desire to NOT be induced. *Sidenote: I know you can go from 0 to 10 in no time flat and have had friends who this happened to but it wasn't my experience so I was nervous. We waited a bit to be brought back and hooked up to the fetal monitor for the NST. Then nurse took my blood pressure which came up high. The baby looked perfectly fine on the NST, however she was a bit concerned about my BP. She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped, I told her yes and explained to her that I was really nervous about being induced as I wanted a drug free, natural labor as I had with Brody and was afraid being induced would jeopardize that. She checked me and said I was 3 cm, then she stripped my membranes and I ended up at 5 cm. She wanted us to just go over to the hospital due to the combination of things (baby on the larger side, high BP, already 5 cm dilated.) Due to my concerns with being induced, I asked her if we could go home and see if the stripping membranes would help jump start labor, on the agreement we would call her before her shift was over and she left work at 4-4:30. She also suggested maybe trying castor oil and chocolate milk to help move things along.
So we drove home, stopped at Walgreens on the way for castor oil and chocolate milk. I ate some lunch, drank the castor oil mixture (this was tough, it's VERY thick. Doesn't taste awful but I had to stir the drink before I sipped due to the separation of the milk and the oil.) Justin and I both took showers, knowing full well we would likely end up at the hospital tonight because I trusted my midwife to help me make the best decisions for myself and my baby. I called her at around 4 pm. Told her I thought contractions might be starting up a bit but nothing significant. She said to call her back in 30 minutes and we would make a plan to head to the hospital. We ended up agreeing to meet there between 5 and 5:30 pm.
We left at the same time as Jill (who was heading to school to pick up the kids) which was about 4:30 pm. On the way to the hospital, I felt like contractions may be starting up so I sort of started timing them (about 10 minutes apart, still not much pain.) We parked at the hospital between 5:20 and 5:30 and walked to Labor & Delivery (we ran into my midwife on the way in just like we had during Brody's labor). There was another midwife there who remembered me from my prenatal yoga teacher training earlier this year which was kind of cool. We got into a room and the nurse took some info from me. Linda came in, looked at the monitors and said, I think you are in labor. I was having regular contractions, much more often than the other ladies on the floor, at least the ones we could see on our monitor. She said she thought I was probably 7 cm, if she had to guess, and likely breaking my water (like she had with Brody) would be all we needed. No pitocin! Yay! She did come back to check me and I was 6.5 cm I think. She broke my water and, again, just like with Brody, the contractions started to get a little more uncomfortable.
A major difference this time around was the scary decelerations that baby was having during certain contractions. It happened first with one of the longer contractions I had. Turns out, it wasn't really a long contraction, it was multiple contractions on top of each other and the baby's heart rate dropped from like 150 to around 40-50 in a matter of seconds. The nurse was searching for the baby's heart beat and instructing me to turn on my side, the other side, or get on all fours. I was scared, for the first real time in any of my labors. After what felt like hours but was actually probably seconds, baby's heart rate rebounded and all was well again. I was so close to telling them to just get the baby out of me. After the first decel, we decided to face time with Jill and the kids. BIG mistake. I was fine, but Kayla was not. She was just crying for me, which in turn made me tear up. Then after we got off the phone, baby's heart rate dropped again during a series of contractions. And I broke down. L, my midwife, knowing me very well asked what was wrong. I told her I was worried about all of my babies. She said not to worry about K and B because they would be fine and then said she and Meghan (the awesome L&D nurse we had) would make sure this baby was fine as well. I still sort of blame the castor oil for those series of intense contractions that made the baby's heart rate drop, but that's the decision I made.
I ended up having to get up to go to the bathroom, due to the castor oil I am sure. Sitting on the toilet and getting all that out of me felt SO much better. But then, when I got back to the bed, things definitely entered the serious phase. Before this, Meghan had told Justin she wanted him to go watch another woman labor at 7 cm because "this" (gesturing at me) wasn't normal. I have really been blessed with generally easy and fast labors, at least with the boys. Contractions got significant more intense in the next few minutes and everything is somewhat a blur to me. I go from 8.5 cm to complete in mere seconds it feels like. Apparently there was a lip of cervix that L flipped over baby's head and then we were pushing...well I was pushing. I do distinctly remember saying I couldn't do it, mostly because for some reason the pain and contractions and emotional distresses had really worn me out. I felt so tired I truly wasn't sure I had the energy to push. They were asking me to hold my legs so I could push but the thought of pushing was hard enough, let alone holding my legs as well.
I recall the "ring of fire" distinctly again, and L asking me to wait at one point when she was getting all her labor gear on. At this point, I wanted to scream as it felt like the "ring of fire" but almost as if the baby's head was halfway out and just holding there while everyone got ready. It was pretty awful but probably only lasted a minute or 2. I think I pushed for about 5-10 minutes and L helped get the baby out. She then said "Look!" I said I couldn't because lifting my head felt like a lot of work. Justin was on my right side and I managed to look and say "It's a boy!" After which I said, "He's not crying! Is he ok???" They had called the ISCU nurses in just in case due to the decels baby was having during labor. Turns out, the cord was wrapped around his neck and his body 2-3 times. It took a minute but I did end up hearing him cry, obviously since he's here and thriving. :)
I had minimal, but odd tearing, so L called in the OB on call. I recall liking this male OB much better than the lady that stitched me up after Brody, solely for how he spoke with me and with L. It took about 40-45 minutes to stitch up the superficial tears I had internally. No tearing externally. The OB apologized for the time it was taking. He said it usually would take less time but it was a little bit odd tearing and he wanted to make sure he did the best thing for me. I told him I was a pelvic floor PT and he could take all the time he wanted as long as he fixed everything up well down there!
My mom and dad were there in the delivery room this time which was actually pretty nice. It's hard not to be embarrassed by how you react to labor, the yelling and crying, etc, but that is life. And it is beautiful. I think my yoga training really helped me breath through the contractions this labor and also helped me try to focus on my breath with the decelerations that were happening with baby as well. I was blessed with three beautiful but very different labor and delivery experiences, all of which I am so very thankful for and don't regret in the slightest. I'm so glad to have L taking care of me and the amazing nurses I've had as well. And honestly, I had three very healthy pregnancies and labors, but I'm glad I was in the hospital especially with this babe because of the heart rate dropping. I think I felt safer there.
In labor, I recall my dad laughing at me when I told Justin we were "definitely done" with three. But the minute that adorable babe falls asleep in your arms and snuggles up to you, it's hard to not want more. Really hard. And if we decide to have a fourth down the road, I suggest everyone just assume the baby is coming four days late. I find it completely crazy all three of my babies were pretty much spontaneously four days late.
Final point, labor is one of the most beautiful things in life to me. There is no greater feeling of power and strength than giving birth and subsequently having someone announce that it's a boy (or a girl). However, watching the man you love in tears of joy and relief when his son (or daughter) is born is seriously another miracle. Justin is a very strong, steady and calm presence in my life. He is like a rock. I've seen him cry exactly three times and each time it makes my heart swell with pride and love for him more and more.
Tanner David Hales was born on 10/14/2015 at 7:54 pm at 9 pounds 3 ounces and 21.75 inches long. He barely lost any weight at the hospital and is an excellent eater. He surpassed his birth weight at 5 days old, something doctor expect by 2 weeks. He is a very calm presence in our family so far and despite a rough start meeting at the hospital, Kayla and Brody cannot get enough of him.