I had absolutely no idea that things would happen the way that they did this time. After a pregnancy that was simultaneously my easiest and hardest, I had no idea what to expect at birth. Which is good…because it wasn’t anything like I thought!
This is baby #6. And all 5 of my previous babies were born right at or before 40 weeks, so naturally, I assumed that I “just don’t carry babies longer.”
Well, this one had other ideas.
The Final Weeks
For several reasons, we honestly suspected we were having twins, but we opted not to get an ultrasound to confirm this. We did not think this would change the outcome of the situation either way (after much research). I had measured very far ahead for most pregnancy, had been more tired, and felt what seemed like SO many baby parts. I assumed I would deliver a few weeks early, around the beginning of December, although my due date was the 19th.
Even with a singleton, all my babies had been born on/near a weekend (Thurs – Sun, with three being on Sat or Sun), so I didn’t see myself going longer than Sunday, December 17.
The beginning of December came and went. Then, so did December 17. Then, my due date. And then Christmas came and went too…and I was still pregnant.
I was mentally exhausted and physically sore from being so full of baby (which made sense after I found out how big he was).
But, I knew it could only be days…how many, I didn’t know…but days.
41 weeks pregnant for the first time!
Beginning of the End
This one liked to keep us guessing. He flipped all around in different positions right up to the end, almost. He was transverse at 39 weeks, and frank breech at 40. Finally, at 40+3, he flipped head down and engaged — and stayed that way.
I thought, maybe we’d have a baby over the weekend — but we didn’t. At least he stayed head down, though. I had a few random contractions, and was very tired, but nothing really happened. I ran around all day Friday, getting errands done and tying up last minute meant-to-dos. (It’s kind of crazy to shop a couple days before Christmas when you’re past your due date, btw.)
I rested over the weekend, waiting, wondering if we’d have a Christmas baby. But we didn’t.
Labor Starts…Kind Of
Tuesday morning, Dec. 26, I woke up at 3 AM with contractions. They were only 3 – 5 minutes apart and lasting over a minute (which made my contraction timing app yell “birth is imminent! go to the hospital!” — as if). But they weren’t that strong.
After about 2 hours, when the contractions had continued, I woke my husband. I knew that things weren’t strong enough to really go anywhere, so I didn’t want to get up or call anyone yet. I went to the bathroom and checked myself and saw there had been no progress, so I went back to lay down again.
Soon, I felt very sleepy, and the contractions spaced way out, then stopped. I slept for a few hours, then got up. Had a couple random contractions, but no consistent pattern and nothing super strong, so we decided to head to the chiropractor.
He adjusted me, especially working to make sure my ligaments and pelvic floor were loose and flexible to allow the birth to happen. I had a few contractions while there, then headed home.
The rest of the day, I spent in my bed. My parents were with my kids, so my husband stayed with me. I ate lightly, having homemade soup and crackers (and a tiny piece of organic chocolate, because come on. It was a Christmas gift).
By evening, after nothing really happening all day, I was kind of losing it. I didn’t want to think about labor anymore. I didn’t want to think “it’s gotta be just around the corner…” anymore. I didn’t want to wake up pregnant one more day wondering why I hadn’t gone into labor or if my body had forgotten how.
After a cup of raspberry leaf tea, putting some clary sage essential oil in the diffuser, and some “relaxing” time with my husband…I headed to bed, determined not to think about labor anymore.
Throughout the night, I slept as well as I could. I was woken by a handful of much stronger contractions, but they weren’t very frequent or in any kind of pattern. I remember just being annoyed by them, and wishing they would go away so that I could sleep.
But then around 5 AM, I was woken by two or three that were closer together, more like 10 – 15 minutes apart. By the time I had fallen asleep after one, another had started. I decided to give up on sleeping, but not to do anything else just yet.
Over the next hour and a half, I labored quietly in bed, the contractions moving to more like 7 – 10 minutes apart. I got up twice to use the bathroom and realized that, yes, I was actually making some progress.
Just before 7, a very strong contraction that lasted two full minutes hit…and I knew that I was in active labor and there was no turning back. I was shaking and felt very thirsty and somewhat nauseous, so I woke my husband and asked him to help me get what I needed. He got me water, and helped me get the bath ready (we have a deep, jetted tub so we opted to use that and not a birthing tub).
I had envisioned birthing in this tub for months, but as soon as I slipped in, it didn’t feel right. The contractions got milder and spaced apart more. Which was nice as far as getting a little ‘break,’ but I knew that I wouldn’t make any progress in there.
A little after 7, I decided to get out and go back to the bed, because that had been working. I laid on my left side, surrounded by pillows, and we watched some TV as I worked through the contractions, which were picking up again in intensity but also coming more frequently. I texted the midwife to let her know I thought it would be this morning, but that I didn’t need her yet.
I labored on the bed for another 30 minutes or so, grabbing my husband’s hand through the stronger ones. Then I got up to use the bathroom, realized that I was dilated more and the sac was bulging. I got back into the tub and tried to find a position where I could be comfortable and lie on my left side. It was about 8:15, and I told my husband to text the midwife and let her know I thought it would only be 1 – 2 hours before baby arrived. She headed our way.
I quickly realized the tub still wasn’t working and got back out, headed for the bed. I told my husband to put down chux pads this time, because I was fairly sure I would stay there for the birth. I was also very nauseous, and soon got sick — this was most likely the start of transition, which I explained. I felt strangely clear-headed and able to talk, despite knowing I was far along in labor.
I kept laboring on the bed again for perhaps another 20 or 30 minutes — it all gets a bit fuzzy here. The contractions were getting very tough and very close together. I remember thinking “open for baby, stay completely relaxed” during contractions (I had practiced staying relaxed all through my pregnancy and I think this helped, and it did seem to reduce pain a little). In between contractions, I mentally begged “please just give me a minute to rest….”
I had to get up and use the bathroom once more. This may have been around 9. I didn’t intend to get into the tub again, but I didn’t want to keep walking and the tub was there, so I climbed in. I was on my hands and knees when the midwife arrived.
Again, I tried a few different positions but just couldn’t get comfortable or feel like I was making progress. I thought I was almost fully dilated and said so, but when I checked again, I thought maybe I was really only a 4 or 5. I worried that my feeling of being “almost done” was totally wrong and this would go on for a few more hours….
I got back out of the tub. The bed was now covered in chux, and I basically fell onto them. Just walking around felt like one giant contraction. I thought I “should” be more upright or at a different angle than my semi-reclining, half-on-my-left-side position, but nothing else was remotely comfortable, nor did it seem to allow progress. So I stayed.
The next 15 or 20 minutes were the worst. Contractions were nearly on top of each other, and were extremely strong. I got kind of loud, which I normally do not.
My husband sat next to me, holding my hand and doing whatever else I asked for. The midwife and her apprentice sat nearby, just watching and waiting. They let me do my work.
I expected pushing contractions soon, but I wasn’t sure how soon. When I first laid down, baby was still a couple inches back from the opening and I was maybe only a 5.
But after those 15 minutes, baby was right at the exit with only a small lip of cervix! This was, indeed, the end.
Very shortly, although I was trying to breathe/blow through contractions, my body began pushing on its own. (I had pushed when I wasn’t really ready with my 5th, resulting in tears to both my perineum and cervix, and I did not want it to happen again.)
The midwife, Kathy, had stepped out for a minute to use the bathroom, and my husband, who realized I was pushing, said to the apprentice, “Go get Kathy.”
They all sat and watched intently as I tried to breathe through a second contraction…but ended up pushing. And then on the third contraction, almost no break, baby crowned…still in the caul.
Another contraction, and even harder push, and baby’s shoulders were out. The caul isn’t slippery like just a baby, so I had to push again until his torso was out, and then his legs slipped out too.
Baby landed on the chux beds on the bed right in front of me, and then the sac broke and he began to scream. He was lifted up and handed to me, and my husband quietly said, “It’s a boy.” Our fifth boy!
Meet the Baby
He seemed so small to me, but I realized I wasn’t judging accurately. My fifth “baby” is 2.5 years old and quite big for his age, so it was hard to remember how big a newborn was ‘supposed’ to be.
Kathy thought he seemed big, and estimated him over 8 lbs.
Meanwhile, he kept screaming. Everything about this strange transition seemed to bewilder and annoy him. He also seemed to have sniffles from the water that he didn’t like (since his water didn’t break until after he was out, he didn’t get his lungs “squeezed” like a typical baby).
It only took a few hours for him to mellow, though, and realize the world is not a bad place. By 4 hours or so after his birth, he stopped screaming completely and just whimpered and nuzzled to let me know what he needed. (And he probably only screamed a total of 15 – 20 minutes in those 4 hours — it was just not something my other babies had done.)
Upon his newborn exam, we found out he was 8 lbs. 7 oz. and 22″ long! That length is 99% for a newborn, which explained why he could still kick my ribs when I was about to push him out!
He was also an ounce heavier and 1.5″ longer than his older brother (baby 5) and yet, I got a tiny “scratch” with him, no real tears. Essentially…yes, it was really hard, but everything went perfectly!
He was born just before 9:30 AM, or one hour and 15 minutes after my husband texted Kathy to say I estimated 1 – 2 hours left. Good call. Essentially, Kathy was present for transition and the birth and mostly just watched me do my thing.
Oldest and youngest…he’s so strong already! (One day old)
Despite being a 41-week baby, he assessed like a 40-weeker. He had needed a bit more time and knew it. He was incredibly strong, immediately trying to lift his head up and turn it side to side when placed on his tummy. (By the next morning he’d lift his head for several seconds and hold it steady if placed against our chests in an upright position.)
He was healthy, and I was glad it was over and we were on the other side.
I wasn’t sore at all, other than in my hips and ligaments where so much weight had rested in the final weeks. I actually felt surprisingly “normal.” Not too tired, not so weirdly empty, really quite good. I also lost 16 lbs. at birth…which placed me at 15 lbs. below pre-pregnancy weight! (That’s another story for another time.)
All in all…it really could not have gone better for either of us.
It took us two days to officially decide on a name, and when our older kids came in the room and simply started calling him Adam (which had been on our list anyway) it seemed fitting. Hence, he finally had a name!
Welcome to the world, baby Adam!