My third pregnancy was easier than my first and harder than my second. I was sick, sick, sick till about 12 weeks and then the nausea started receding,which was great, but it just hung around popping up at odd times until the third trimester. Zelie was just shy of 2 when we conceived this baby, but I was still nursing her around the clock. She’s on the tiny side,and tends to be opposed to food in general, so I wanted to make sure she was getting enough nutrition. Between nursing her at night and the pregnancy I was crazy exhausted. My grad student husband took his oral prelims (a big presentation and oral exam) at the end of my second trimester so he was a bit stressed to say the least. You could say it felt like a long pregnancy.
My official date came and went, but after two postdates babies I wasn’t a bit surprised. Then 41 weeks passed. Then we did a 42 week ultrasound to check on baby (which was a really cool experience since we’ve never had an ultrasound before). And still no baby. I was huge and tired, and really, really tired. My veins hurt, my hips hurt, my teeth hurt, and strangely my right ankle hurt. I felt like the baby was literally absorbing every bit of nutrition I ate and leaving nothing for me.
I did not want to castor oil again because of the misery that was my first birth. So, I tried basically everything else first. Mountain Meadow Herbs Gentle Birth Formula from 37 weeks. Oral and cervical evening primrose oil from 37 weeks. Homeopathic Caullophyllum and Cimicifuga, 1 day on 1 day, off from 42 weeks. Enema at 42 weeks. Breast pump on and off from 41.5 weeks. And still no baby. Finally I sucked it up and took the dreaded castor oil. Thankfully, I found a recipe that made it tolerable at least.
On Sunday June 24th we sent the kiddos to my in-law’s house and I took 1 dose of 1 oz at about 1 in the afternoon. I knew I wasn’t willing to take multiple doses in a row like I had with Toby. Strong contractions plus the effects of castor oil simultaneously, for me, crosses the line from pain to suffering. Contractions kicked in every 3 min or so. I had the same pattern in my first birth. Apparently this is what my body does with castor oil. I think I pooped once, not bad really. I was vaguely nauseous but my nausea had returned for the last few weeks of pregnancy so I was pretty used to it anyways. I knew they weren’t strong enough though. We did blow up the tub but didn’t fill it since we were using a La Baissine with doesn’t have a heater. My husband and I went for a walk and I didn’t have to stop for the contractions. I called my midwife and told her what was up and then went to bed around 9.
I got up early the next morning ready to get the show on the road. I took the same amount of castor oil about 7:30 then ate some eggs, and Timothy and I walked to the coffee shop near us. I think I had decaf, in retrospect I probably could have used a bit of caffeine.
When we got back he headed up to work and I immediately started having 2-3 min apart contractions that hurt like hell. I was trying to read, something I had done during my daughter’s birth and really enjoyed, but I couldn’t really concentrate. I called Timothy at work and asked him to come home (I think he had been there about 15 min) Thankfully, he works just up the hill from us. By the time he got home I was crying with some of the contractions. I had this crazy pain in my left hip and I would lean on him with the contractions and have him push on my hip. I was holding this little statue in my hand that my sister had given me when I was in midwifery school. It’s the perfect size to fit right in my palm. We called our midwife about 10:30 since she had a busy prenatal day and had asked that we give her a heads up. My contractions were still really short, like 30 seconds, but after a brief conversation, which included me putting the phone down to handle a contraction, she decided they would finish their prenatal and then head over.
I’m a bit stubborn about timing my contractions. I feel like all it does is stress me out. So, my midwife will ask me things like how far apart are they and I’ll say close. Or not close enough yet. It probably drives her crazy. She also told me to go ahead and get in the tub. I was worried about the water getting cold since we didn’t have a heater. I got in and she arrived a few minutes later. The water felt good and it helped, but these contractions were still really strong and the hip pain was crazy. Our second midwife arrived and then we called the doula in training we had hired to come photograph our birth.
I was in the tub for a while and then my midwives told me to get out for a bit. With Zelie I basically refused. I happily spent almost her entire labor in the tub and everything went great. This time I was okay with getting out. I wasn’t getting the same relief from the water and I knew the baby wasn’t in a great position. So I leaned on the ball for a while and had some awesome back massage and counterpressure. My team was amazing. Every contraction I needed tons of counterpressure on my left hip. They were using tennis balls for massage and at one point one of them broke. I sat on the ball. I stood. I was in and out of the tub. I walked upstairs to try and pee at one point and spent a few contractions kneeling and leaning on my rocking chair.
It really hurt. This was my third birth. I know what contractions feel like. This one hurt like hell. Some people don’t like to use the word pain to describe birth. I’ve always been okay with it. I think many women do experience birth as painful. I would say my other two births were painful, but this labor was extremely painful. If someone tried to tell me to just think of it as pressure they probably would have been kicked in the face.
I kept saying “I just want to be done. I don’t want to do this anymore.” My midwife checked me at some point and told me I was stretchy to a 7. Which, according to my chart, meant I was about a 5. The baby was staying really high. I remember thinking at one point “I’m not totally out of it yet so its still going to be along time”. With my other births movement was amazing relief. With this one I needed the counterpressure on my hip so badly that I couldn’t move around much with the contractions. Then I was totally out of it. Someone was giving me a cool washcloth on my head and I threw it across the room when the contraction hit. After eating some yogurt and beef jerky (don’t worry it was my pick) I threw up. My midwife stopped asking me to eat after that and I just stuck with vitamin water I remember sitting on the ball and saying “and then I still have to push and I hate pushing” and my midwife said to me “but you like nursing.” I begrudgingly agreed.
Soon after that I had 3 huge contractions in a row. I was sitting on the birth ball and I literally fell off of it. Awful, awful contractions and then I reached in and felt him right on my peri and such relief. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in hours. My midwife checked and I was indeed complete. So, I climbed back in the tub. I immediately had this urge to push. My midwife was saying “You don’t have to push if you don’t feel the urge” but this was the real deal.
Just two pushes later his head was out, and I felt the small tear again this time. Apparently, I’m only a fan of slow head delivery when I’m on the other end of the birth. Something to consider if I ever do births again. As soon as his head was out I had this overwhelming urge to pull him out and be done with it. Thankfully a bit of my thinking brain was still working and I was like “NO! you can’t pull on a baby’s head”. He had a nuchal hand that was holding him up a bit so with the next contraction I pushed him out.
I scooped him up and was so glad to be done. He was the oldest looking baby I’ve ever seen -super wrinkly, with no vernix at all. I was immediately thinking I wanted to name him Felix but decided to wait until we had time to talk it over. Thankfully, my placenta came out easily. Retained placenta is an ever present fear for me due to my first birth. Felix was cut from his placenta and passed over to Daddy. I got out of the tub and sat on the couch with him for a bit. Timothy and I just looked at him and enjoyed him. We didn’t call anyone until a few hours later, and since no one knew we were in labor so it was a bit of a surprise. We went upstairs after a bit where I showered and Felix had his newborn exam. We ordered Chinese food and spent the evening resting, which was good since the next day Toby and Zelie came home and immediately came down with the flu. . . but that’s a different story.
Felix Reino is named after St. Felix of Cantalice and his Great Grandpa Reino. He’s super happy and loves to be around people. He brings so much joy to our lives. It was actually a bit of a surprise to me how much I adore him since his pregnancy was yucky and his birth was awful. I guess one of Felix’s first lessons for his Mama is the value of sacrifice.