At my 40 week appointment, I asked my midwife to do a vaginal exam and check my progress. We had been very hands-off until that point, but I had prodromal labor that week, and really felt like I needed a little encouragement that something was going on. Additionally, my mother was visiting, and although she had planned to leave the same day (we never thought I'd go past my due date- haha!), we thought that if there was something cooking, she would change her plane tickets. I was truly very surprised to make it to 40 weeks to begin with, as both Lucy and June were early.
In fact, looking at my old blog posts, I was 4 cm by 37 weeks with Lucy, and the same by 38 weeks with Junie. So naturally I expected that my midwife would examine me, find me similarly progressed, and we’d be on our way.
Imagine my surprise when I was found to be 1-2 cm at most, with a cervix that was thick and long. I about died. I requested that my midwife strip my membranes still, hoping that it would help things along, and she did her best- despite the fact that I was still posterior. That done, I drove my mom to the airport, said goodbye, and headed back home pretty down about everything.
That night, I lost my plug and had another round of contractions. I was SURE this was going to be it. Alas, the contractions died out after an hour or two.
The next week-and-a-half were pretty freaking miserable. I was discouraged, I was sick of being pregnant, and I was too uncomfortable to even sleep. My back and pelvis hurt the most (more on why that was later), and made it impossible to lie down without pain. Emotionally, things were even worse. Without getting into much more detail, I felt like I was in a 24/7 pity party. People who were due after me were popping babies out for heaven’s sake! I spent a lot of time researching and trying every labor induction method under the sun, and NOTHING worked.
Although we hoped I wouldn’t need it, we had scheduled a 41-week appointment with both my midwife and a perinatologist. Sure enough, I was still pregnant the following week (and more grumpy than ever, I might add), so off I went for my ultrasound and non-stress test. Thankfully everything looked great, so I got the go-ahead from the perinatologist to continue on with my home-birth plans. I headed from there to the midwives’, hoping for a better report than the week before- especially since I had ANOTHER round of prodromal labor that very morning. Sure enough, I was 4-5 cm, with a much more favorable cervix. Cue another attempt at stripping, more cramping, and more optimism on my part. This all occurred on Thursday.
Friday came and went. I was really starting to feel the pressure, as I wasn’t exactly sure what our game plan was going to be if I made it to 42 weeks the upcoming Monday. All I knew was that I was going to avoid an in-hospital induction at all costs- however, I was concerned at the same time that we were running out of more natural options, as I had already tried just about everything, to include the cohoshes, with no success.
Saturday morning I woke up with a purpose. Despite the nausea that just LOOKING at the bottle inspired, I was going to do it. I was going to go back to old faithful- the castor oil. Off I went to the store to buy the CO, something to mix it with, and snacks.
I decided that I wasn’t going to mess around and sip the stuff with a straw- I needed it to be over and done with. So at approx. 11 am, Brett mixed 2 oz (half the bottle) of CO with an equal amount of orange juice, and I shot it. I shot it and drank more OJ and wiped my mouth out and gargled mouth wash and brushed my teeth and climbed into bed and prayed I could keep it down long enough to be effective.
Once I felt a little better, I had a small snack. Bad idea. My apple and peanut butter came up about an hour later. Still, I had a few small contractions following my puking episode, and noticed that no OJ/CO came up- which left me feeling optimistic.
At about 4 pm, I realized that the cramping was stronger, and I was feeling some decent (albeit irregular) contractions. Off I went for a walk and to basically distract myself from what was going on. Given my history of prodromal labor, I was NOT about to call it and jinx myself.
By 8 pm, the contractions were regularly 4-5 minutes apart, and I was not able to distract myself anymore, so I called my midwife but told her to take her time.
My midwife arrived at about 9:45, but things hadn’t really changed. Contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart, lasting about 45-60 seconds.
…Cue Junie waking up and refusing to go back to sleep without Mama…
…Cue Mama getting frustrated because she CANNOT have contractions while laying down in bed…
…Cue Brett loading Junie in the car and driving her around the entire Loop in Athens before finally returning home with a sleeping child…
While Brett was gone, I was busy having a pity party for myself. Contractions were lasting longer, I could feel baby moving down, and things were getting really, really difficult. It was evident to me that this wasn’t going to be the same easy-breezy type labor I had with Lucy and Junie. At the very least it was going to be much longer.
As things progressed, my back labor increasingly become worse. Instead of having contractions with a break between them, I had constant, unyielding back pain that was always there- and only got worse with contractions. I literally could not stand upright. Although squatting and rocking were my go-tos with my first two labors, they were completely unhelpful this time around, as squatting only put more pressure on my tailbone. Hence my beautiful labor swing got very little use.
A few hours of this had me cussing and wishing I could escape- two things I had never done in labor before. I realized that I felt out of control, and if I didn’t get things together, it was going to suck. At this point, I retreated to my bathroom and wished I had ordered a birthing tub. Still, a hot bath helped a LOT- even if it wasn’t a cushy birthing tub. It took enough pressure off my back to help me think, and I managed to give myself a pep talk. I felt exactly like the midwife in The Business of Being Born, specifically the part where she mentions hitting a wall where your only options are to either decide to stop fighting the pain, or stay pregnant forever. I drug myself out of the tub and returned to my room with renewed spirit.
After that, things went pretty quickly. I found that I could cope in the all-fours position on my bed with my wonderful, amazing, heaven-sent midwife putting as much counter-pressure as possible on my lower back/pelvis during contractions. It wasn’t too long before I was moaning and feeling a little pushy.
I felt the siren’s call of the toilet, and after sitting for just a moment with my feet raised on the tub in front of me, I felt my first uncontrolled push- which broke my water. I called my midwife in, who pointed out that the layout of my bathroom made it impossible for her to catch the baby in there. So off I went into my bedroom again, and my midwife went to wake Brett up and tell him it was time. (Yes, Brett slept through most of my labor- but it was my plan and my choice. I wanted to labor alone.)
Brett sat in our bed with his back against the wall and I sat in front of him, leaning against him. I tried to take my time pushing, as I knew this baby was bigger than my first two and I didn’t want to tear. Pushing was also MUCH more intense this time around. As a result, it took longer than the 1.5 pushes I gave for Junie to immerge. Still, I felt absolutely giddy and remember smiling and joking, because I was SO GLAD it was all almost over. I love, love, love pushing- being able to actively move baby down and out, feeling like you’re thisclose to meeting baby. I think one of the best parts of having an unmedicated birth is getting to feel pushing 100%- although I know lots of people probably think this is nuts. As much as I had fought the pain of labor this time, I embraced it during pushing. It's like running a race (and we all know how much I love that!) and turning the corner to see the finish line- time to sprint it out to the end!
Before I get to part 2, I want to note that the big reason this labor was different was that Camille was positioned LOT, or Left Occiput Transverse. This basically means that she was neither anterior (facing my back, which is ideal positioning and the way my other girls were born) nor posterior (facing my front). Instead, she was looking at my hip- meaning her head was basically wedged length-wise between my hips. Luckily she managed to rotate just in time- some babies actually require c-sections in this situation, as they are unable to do so.