I woke up last Sunday at 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and felt so defeated. After over two weeks of consistent prodromal labor, with contractions between 5 and 15 minutes apart almost every day, I was pretty sure that this baby would simply never come. I'd had my membranes stripped the previous Thursday, but didn't show any signs of progression. I had walked up and down our street more times than I could count, but still... no change.
So Sunday morning, after another sleepless night, I decided to research using castor oil. I'd heard horror stories, but I'd also heard that it worked around 50% of the time to induce labor. I knew that if my body truly wasn't ready, that it wouldn't do anything, but I was so desperate to help those early labor contractions make a change and kickstart active labor. I found an article about gently using castor oil to induce labor, rather than using the traditional "chug and pray" method. Instead of drinking a full four ounce dose at once, this article recommended taking 1.5oz, waiting a few hours, then taking another 1-2oz. It was supposed to lessen the negative side-effects that would have me tied to the bathroom all afternoon. I was convinced, and decided to give it a try. I sent my husband to the store to pick up castor oil and orange juice in hopes that it would do something.
At 11:00AM, I took 1.5oz of the dreaded castor oil, mixed with a glass of orange juice, and laid down to attempt to take a nap. Around noon, I woke up to some mild contractions (like what I had been experiencing for weeks), but thought nothing of it so I went back to sleep. At 1:00, I woke up again to somewhat stronger, closer contractions. After an hour or two, they hadn't eased up yet. This got me a little excited. I alerted our sitters and photographer that I would likely be going in later that evening to get checked out, but wasn't in a rush. But by 4:00, they started getting more painful, and closer together. I started having to pause what I was doing during the contractions, especially if I was sitting down. We packed up Miss A, along with our hospital bags, and headed into Columbus.
After dropping Miss A off, things definitely kicked up. When we got to the hospital, I sat for a 20 minute monitoring strip to see how consistent my contractions were: every 3-4 minutes. While they still weren't super painful, they were definitely a step above what I had been experiencing. A doctor came in to check me, and informed me that I was indeed progressing. I was dilated to 4cm and 50% effaced. The hospital policy recently changed for grounds for admittance from 4cm to 6cm, so they told me to go walk for two hours and come back in.
We didn't want to go all the way home, since we live a solid 40 minutes from the hospital, so we went to Sonic and got milk shakes instead. I didn't want to be that pregnant lady that walked laps around Walmart in the middle of the night to get labor started, but nothing else was open at 9:30 on a Sunday night... So we went back to the hospital and explored the hallways, discussing what we considered to be art, and which pieces on the walls we found to be most interesting. I hadn't seen much of the hospital before, so it was kind of fun exploring while it was empty.
We went back up to L&D at 10:00 to get me checked again. By this point, contractions were strong. I couldn't talk through them, I couldn't walk through them. I moaned and cried through them. Sitting for the monitor was brutal. It felt like my back was breaking from the back labor. Imagine my frustration to find out that contractions had slowed to 7 minutes apart, and that I was still at 4cm. They were sending me home. In complete devastation, I cried. I did not want to go home. I wanted to have this baby. But, we went... I cried through contractions all the way to the car, and all the way home, for the entire 45 minute drive.
Once we got home, I hopped in our garden tub in hopes that it would help ease my back labor. Unfortunately, our tub was about 5 inches too narrow, or too shallow, to cover both my belly and my back, so I was still in quite a bit of pain. I tried using the birth ball to relax my hips, but nothing really seemed to help. Since contractions were still about 7 minutes apart, I decided to lay down for 6 minutes at a time, try to find a position to get through the contraction comfortably, then lay back down again. It made for an incredibly long night.
Four hours later, around 3:00 in the morning, I got back in the tub. My back was absolutely killing me. I soaked, swayed, rolled, and did everything else I could think of to get the pain to ease up, but it stayed strong. I woke up my husband and asked him to call L&D to see what they recommended. Even though the contractions were still 7 minutes apart, they told us to come in again and get checked out. I asked Jimmy to make me some eggs since I was starving and hadn't eaten anything since dinner. While I finished my epson salt soak, he made me some eggs, took care of the dogs, and talked me through contractions.
When I finally got out of the tub, the contractions became a lot more painful. I sat on the birth ball while I ate my eggs. The only thing that seemed to help relieve the back pain was hip compressions from Jimmy. It was 100 times better, but still pretty painful. Once I finished my eggs, I grabbed a strawberry popsicle and headed to the car.
I told him that there was no way I was sitting in the front seat (or sitting period), and that putting a seatbelt on wasn't going to happen. So I knelt backwards in the backseat, hugging the head rest, eating my popsicle. When we got about a half mile down the road, I had an intense contraction. A mile or two later, another one came. I remember Jimmy saying "I don't think those are 7 minutes apart anymore." They were certainly not.
Things heated up quickly. In a matter of minutes, contractions went from 7 minutes apart to about 2.5. They were strong and not letting up. It got to the point that moaning and breathing through them wasn't helping. I was screaming, loud (My poor husband). Jimmy laughed through the contractions as I hollered, but he was calm and driving as fast as he could to get us there safely.
Once we crossed over into Georgia, about 20 minutes into our trip, I screamed "Stop the car and help me!" He pulled over to the side of the road and yelled back, "We aren't having this baby on the side of the road. I know nothing about delivering a baby, do not tell me to pull over unless that baby is between your legs." While that wasn't the reaction I was hoping for, it's what I needed to hear.
Down Victory Drive we went, at 70mph (it's a 45mph zone)... Screaming my head off through each contraction, I felt something run down my leg. "I think my water just broke, or I might have peed..." Jimmy laughed again, out loud this time. I felt so much pressure, and was trying to resist the urge to push since I didn't really want to have the baby in the back of my car either.
A few miles down the road, I remember seeing flashing lights reflecting on the ceiling of the car. "Well, they got me..." I heard Jimmy say. We were getting pulled over, two miles from the hospital. I yelled at him, "Let me out of the car!" He contested, rightfully so. With all of the cop-hating going on these days, getting out of the car at a traffic stop in the dead of night probably wasn't the best idea, but there was no way I was going to sit there while the cop ran our plates and took his sweet time getting to the car. So, I yelled again, "Let me out of the car!"
I hopped out and started screaming at this young cop, "I'm in labor!" as another contraction hit and I started yelling through it. I guess the look on the cop's face was pure horror. An older cop hopped out of the passenger side of the squad car and said that they had called an ambulance for me. There was no time for that. We tried to get them to let us go, but they wouldn't because if we crashed they'd be held responsible... So we waited. As I stood there, crying and barefoot on the side of the road, another contraction hit and my water broke. I had to push. The pressure was insane and I couldn't hold out any longer. I remember asking Jimmy to help me take my underwear off, but he wouldn't. Apparently public indecency wasn't something he wanted his wife charged with... Then I bit him (I don't remember that part too well, but he swears it happened).
After what seemed like forever, a few more squad cars showed up. I kept yelling at the cops, "How much longer?!" and "This baby is coming NOW!" Finally, more lights... It was a fire truck. Why on earth were they sending a fire truck?! Minutes later, an ambulance finally showed up. One of the EMTs got out and said "Hey look, her water broke." I could have punched someone.
They loaded me into the back of the ambulance while I was screaming away, and looked down to see a scalpel. An episiotomy was very high on my list of labor fears, so I started panicking "Don't cut me! I do not want to be cut! Do not cut me!" A fire fighter standing at the door calmly said, "No sweetie, we're not going to cut you. That's the last thing we want to do. That's to cut the umbilical cord." While an ambulance was a step up from the side of the road, or the back of my car, I still didn't want to deliver outside of the hospital. I wanted Jimmy to get in the ambulance and go with me. The cops wouldn't take our car to the hospital for us (again with the liability nonsense), so Jimmy was forced to follow us. They closed the doors, and off we went, in the wrong direction.
The ambulance driver was trying to take me to a different hospital, more than 10 miles away, and one that I'd never been to before. The other EMTs finally were able to set her straight and we pulled a u-turn in a parking lot and headed the right direction. When we got to the hospital, they wouldn't let Jimmy park in emergency parking, so I was wheeled up to L&D without him. He went and parked, and ran up as quickly as possible. We got to L&D at 5:30AM.
Our awesome photographer was waiting for us there, and came in the delivery room with me right away. Jimmy got up to the room minutes later. I remember them wanting to hook up monitors, check my blood pressure, getting an IV set, and all sorts of other things, but all I wanted to do was get on my hands and knees, and push. They kept saying "You need to let us get the monitors on," or "We have to do this, that, and the other thing..." but I wasn't having it.
Since I'd been seen by midwives my whole pregnancy, I wanted a midwife to deliver our sweet boy. I was just elated to find out that the midwife on call was still 20 minutes out when I felt even stronger urges to push... A male doctor (whom I had heard horror stories about) walked in our room, when I turned and freaked out "I do not want a male doctor! Get out!" He didn't come back...
All the while, a nurse was trying desperately to get an IV in my hand. I didn't want one to begin with, but definitely not while I was pushing. She eventually got it in, but had it turned off... I'm not sure why they even gave me one in the first place. Once they finally placed the IV, I rolled over on my hands and knees, since that was the only position that seemed to help with the pressure of back labor. I didn't want anything touching me. The IV cord was ran over my back, the monitor straps were draped over me, my dress and bra felt too tight. I didn't want any of it. I ended up stripping down buck naked for a sense of relief.
The resident who had checked me earlier in the night was seated at the edge of the bed, ready to deliver our little man. Jimmy was at my right side, holding the monitor on my belly with one hand, and pushing on my back with the other. With every contraction, I pushed. No one was telling me to, but I had to. There was no one screaming "push! push! push!" to three counts, no one telling me to keep going, no one trying to control what I was doing. It was just me, following my instincts.
With a strong contraction, I hollered and pushed. The resident finally said something, "you need to keep pushing honey!" I told her I couldn't, as I was completely out of breath, and exhausted. That's when she surprised me, "Well you need to! Your baby's head is out!" Then I hear Jimmy say, "You need to! Our child's life depends on it!" What?! His head was already out?! With one more big push, our sweet boy entered the world.
After a few moments of getting him wiped down and breathing properly, I was able to roll over and he was placed on my chest. We were able to delay cord clamping, and Jimmy was even able to cut the cord. The doctors allowed us to have the "golden hour" undisturbed, waiting to take all measurements and do any tests until Baby James had breastfed and had an ample amount of skin-to-skin time.
Jimmy was able to carry him over to the scale and oversee all the newborn procedures. He weighed in at 8lbs 4oz, and is 20 inches long. I was able to get up and walk shortly after delivery. We were able to bond as a family without the presence of tons of doctors and nurses hovering over our shoulders. It was incredible.
While his birth was anything but what I expected, it was everything that I'd hoped for. I got the natural, unmedicated birth that I wanted (even if I was begging for morphine when we got to the hospital). Baby James has a birth story that I will never forget. He's such an amazing baby, so cuddly and squishy. We are so in love with this little baby.
Miss A got to come meet her baby brother a few hours later, and is completely smitten. She loves to hold him and play with his little fingers. They already have a great bond that I can't wait to watch grow. Our family is so blessed. God is good.