I was sooooo large at 8 months that we were sure I would be early. But thinking back, neither the midwife nor our backup doctor would even speculate on the date other than the assigned one. My due date had come from my last known period and I had tested about a week ahead on the 7 month ultrasound, so David and I felt earliness would be justified.However, my due date (December 26th) came and passed, and not even the slightest indication of labor to come. Even my Braxton Hicks contractions did not seem very strong to me. I was so, so large, my feet would swell as soon as I got out of bed in the morning, and my wrists had what seemed to be permanent swelling, since I had carpal tunnel symptoms around the clock. Fortunately not pain, just numbness in my middle fingers and weakness in my hands and wrists. I was really, really tired of cleaning up broken glasses every time I washed dishes. I was also at the point where no position was comfortable. Despite all sorts of pillow combinations and a super nice foam topper on our bed, my hips would ache.
(the rest of this was written 3 years later... sort of got away from me in my drafts box...)
I went for lots of long walks and ate spicy food-- no contractions. Of the long list of natural induction methods and myths, I decided to go for acupuncture. I went on Wednesday, then again on Friday. I sort of hated it... she burned sticks of herbs and put them in my little toes, ouch. The baby did move a lot during the treatments though.
One way or the other, I started to have contractions on Friday night. Of course, this made me so excited that it was hard to sleep, not to mention that I hated the sensation of having a contraction lying down. So I was up most of the night, pacing around, sitting on my birthing ball, etc. My husband was excited too, so he finished preparing things and followed me around. I think he tried to go back to sleep, but he was excited too.
Saturday I had contractions all day. They were starting to get more painful, so our midwife came over around 8pm. She checked me and I was 3cm. I moved around a lot... I tried the birthing ball, standing and holding onto my partner, pacing the house, squatting, kneeling and leaning over the bed or the ball, etc. I was trying to use hypnobirthing techniques, but I didn't get much past the basic breathing techniques.
I got in the pool not long after the midwife arrived. I loved being in the pool, it was very soothing.
By the time morning came around, I was really, really exhausted, not having really slept since Thursday night. The contractions were more intense, and I was really feeling that I couldn't take much more. I asked to be checked at 5:15am, and I was 8cm, which was probably good, but I was so hoping that I was there and I could start pushing.
Around 8 or 9 I thought maybe I was starting to feel pushy, or perhaps I just wanted to push, I was in so much pain from the contractions. My midwife said I should push if I wanted to, so I started trying to push. I wasn't really sure what I should be doing, or what it should feel like. So much of what I had read to prepare for the birth had suggested that pushing was unnecessary, suggesting that you could just breathe a baby down the birth canal... and none had really discussed how to push. I tried pushing on the toilet, while squatting down, and on the birthing stool. After about an hour of this and not feeling like I was getting anywhere, she checked and said there was a lip. She said that she would try to hold it out of the way while I pushed. I was pretty desperate at this point, exhausted and ready for the pain to be over, so I agreed, even though it was super painful to be on my back during a contraction.
I'm not sure when exactly this came up, but I was seriously afraid I couldn't do it, and I think my midwife was a bit afraid too since I was so exhausted. But the thought of trying to get in a car, drive somewhere, and go through an emergency room check in was just so daunting that it made me all the more determined to try to stick it out.
She started to coach me on how and where to push, which I really needed. She would put her finger in a position and direct me to push there, which gave me a focus. I was on my back, which wasn't where I wanted to be, but I really needed the direction and encouragement, since I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere with my other efforts.
I was sort of in an exhausted daze at this point. The midwife said I should be able to feel the baby coming down the canal, but all I could really feel was pain. Finally the baby was crowning, and she had me reach down and feel him, and I was hoping it would just be another push or two... but she just wouldn't come out, no matter how hard I pushed. They had me move off the bed and onto the birth stool, and I tried pushing there, and she still wouldn't come out. She was crowning for 20 minutes or so, and she finally suggested an episiotomy, something she almost never does. I just wanted it to be over. I got back on the bed, on my back, and an episiotomy and couple more desperate pushes and she finally came out.
From the midwife's notes, I had been pushing for 4 hours 45 minutes.
They put her on my chest, and it was pure euphoria. Suddenly the pain ended, and there was this beautiful baby on my chest. I just didn't know what to say... I was saying "my baby, my baby" over and over again, so happy that I had done it and that she was finally there with me, and we had both made it. Little Bug was totally calm when she was born, just looking around at all of us. She didn't cry at all.
I was in such a state of joy that I didn't really feel how weak I was... I enthusiastically stood up to deliver the placenta and fainted, which was quite an experience, since I never, ever faint.
I lost a lot of blood and had to have a pitocin shot. I had to have stitches in the episiotomy and also another tear. I also had numbness in my hands and up my arms from grasping things so tightly with my hands while pushing, and this numbness lasted for months afterwards (but finally did go away!).
But little Bug was just perfect. She scored 9 and 9 on her Apgars. She had a huge, hard head... it was very cone shaped when she was born, and still measured 15 inches. She never did have a soft spot on her head, but a ridge where the plates of her skull overlapped (she grew out of this).
It was also really fantastic to be home. After the fainting incident I pretty much stayed in bed for the next 48 hours, except to very carefully make my way to the bathroom (which is only a few steps from the bed). After the midwives left, my husband and I cuddled up in bed, admiring our amazing little girl.
Born January 8th, 2012
(Due date Dec 26th)
9lb 11.5 oz
15 in head
15 in chest
13 in abdomen
21.75 in long
apgars 9 and 9
22 hour labor (by the midwife's count), 4hr 45 min pushing stage