Although I knew it was common for first time pregnancies to go past the estimated due date, waiting the 12 days for Noah to arrive felt like an eternity. When my due date came and went, I was still in good spirits, hoping he would arrive on his own, while we tried all the old tricks to get things started. When 41 weeks came and went with still no baby, I started to get worried that we would hit the dreaded 42 week mark and be transferred to Christiana hospital for an induction.
On Wednesday the 5th of April (5 days late), I had a routine appointment with Dorinda, and we were pleased to find out that I was 90% effaced, 1cm dilated, and the baby was securely in the pelvis at +1 station. We made our next appointment for Monday April 9th not expecting to need it and also scheduled an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid levels for earlier that morning.
I was extremely anxious after the ultrasound because of the technician’s behavior. After five minutes of the radiologist reviewing the findings in another room, the technician came back in and said she needed to take some more measurements. Then after another five minutes with the doctor, came back and said “The Birth Center will call you, so we won’t be giving you any results right now”. My appointment was two hours later, so why would they call me? I assumed it could only be bad news — I would be risked out due to my AFI being too high or too low. For two hours I paced around the house while my husband, Jake, tried to calm me down.
When we finally arrived at The Birth Center I was a nervous wreck. I was so relieved when Lindsay told me my AFI was within range, albeit on the low end. She also commented that I was clearly stressed about it because my blood pressure was higher than normal. I confessed to her how worried I was about a hospital birth (9 days late at this point) and Lindsay was so amazing. She reassured me that there were still plenty of steps to take before an induction would be necessary and really calmed my frazzled nerves. She checked me and said I was 95% effaced, 2-3 cm dilated, and the baby was still at +1 station. Lindsay swept my membranes, and I left the appointment feeling a sense of renewed optimism. The sweeping resulted in bloody show but did not start labor.
On Wednesday (11 days late) Sarah swept my membranes again and gave us castor oil to help get things going with instructions to take it in the morning. That afternoon and evening I had minor contractions so we went to bed hopeful that labor might start during the night, but no luck.
The next morning, I took the castor oil at 7:30am. After a few hours, it took effect and contractions soon followed. They started out like mild menstrual cramps. Once they were timeable, which was just before noon, Jake started keeping track. We labored at the house for two and a half hours, and checked in with Lindsay, the midwife on call, twice to advise of our progress. Soon the contractions were coming closer together and becoming more and more intense. I found that leaning over onto something while Jake applied strong counterpressure to my hips was the best way to manage the pain. Together we repeated my hypnobirthing affirmations. I also got in the shower, which helped me relax between contractions. After a while I was alternating between hot flashes and chills. We were both exhausted laboring at the house and at 2:30pm decided it was time to head to The Birth Center.
It was a challenge just getting out the door because every couple minutes we had to stop for a contraction to pass and I felt like as soon as I recovered from it, another was starting. I was feeling tired and weak. It took 15 minutes but somehow we made it to the car.
I remember the car ride being difficult. I was strapped into the passenger seat with no range of motion and each contraction felt very intense. Looking back I probably should have gotten in the backseat. I made Jake keep the windows down the whole way even though I was basically screaming through the contractions. We could not get there fast enough! When we finally arrived 15 minutes later all I wanted was to get into my room. Within 10 minutes of our arrival I had about three contractions sitting on a birthing ball leaning over onto the bed when I said “I feel like I need to push.”
Lindsay asked me to get on the bed so she could check me, and when she said “you are fully dialated. You can push with next one,” I was in complete shock! I was expecting to still have hours of labor to go. I asked if I should get into the tub since my plan was to birth in the water, and when she told me it would take 20 minutes to fill I knew I would have to start pushing on the bed. Lindsay suggested I get on my side and I began pushing when I felt the urge. They checked the baby’s heartbeat at regular intervals and gave me some oxygen when the baby’s heart rate dipped. Lindsay was telling me when my pushes were making progress and Tyler, the nurse, was reminding me to relax my face. I had not met Tyler during my prenatal appointments but she was absolutely amazing, especially during my hours of postpartum recovery.
At one point Katie, another midwife, appeared. I later found out that Lindsay asked her to come in as an extra cheerleader to liven up the energy in the room. When she came in I got my second wind and to their encouraging cheers birthed our baby on hands and knees. As he was crowning they used hot oil and warm compresses to help avoid tearing. I remember Lindsay telling me to reach down and grab my baby. I couldn’t believe I did it and he was here. Noah was born at 4:47pm on April 12, 2012 weighing 6lbs 9 oz and 20” long. The cord was a little short so I couldn’t put him all the way up onto my chest until Jake cut the cord. I laid him on my chest and they cleaned him off and checked his vitals. Noah latched right away and stayed skin to skin with me for two hours before they weighed and measured him. He was so alert and curious. I remember his big eyes staring right at me as if he knew exactly who I was.
After three hours of quality time with our new little family, I got up (with Tyler’s help) to use the bathroom and take a shower, while Jake held the baby. A little later he picked up sushi for our celebratory dinner (and after a nine month hiatus, sushi never tasted so good) and we left at about 11:30pm. On the way home we picked up the day’s newspaper as a momento and a small birthday cake. We celebrated Noah’s birthday with a slice of cake at 11:58pm (just made it!) and then got in our own bed for a good night’s sleep.
From beginning to end the labor lasted five hours, including about an hour and a half of pushing, which to me felt more like five minutes. Some of the contractions were intense, but I never felt that I needed medication to cope with them. And surprisingly the pushing was not painful. I would say the most difficult parts were the car ride, at which point I was probably in transition, and the crowning, both of which are very fleeting moments in comparison to the overall length of labor. Over the course of my pregnancy, we built relationships with each midwife and felt confident (excited even) to deliver here. I feel so blessed that Noah is a Birth Center baby and so glad to have experienced a natural, un-medicated birth.