I've had several people request I write it out so I think I will do it now while it is so fresh in my mind.
Benjamin Thomas Hill was born at home at 6:25am after 24 hrs of labor. Before I had him, I had weeks of prodromal (false) labor and 2 nights before I had him, I had a very long bout of false/early labor that made me really think "this is it."
To make an extremely long story short... :)
On Monday, December 11, 2012 (four days after my due date) I woke up at about 6:30am to a strong contraction. I started timing the contractions (that were pretty painful, mind you) and they were about 15 mins apart. After an hour, they were under 10 mins apart so I told Thomas to give him a heads up that I thought I was in early labor and of course, like any man, he went back to sleep. :)
I started to bounce on my yoga ball, watched some tv, and tried to straighten up the house a bit. I was pretty tired since the night before I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep but wasn't able to go back to sleep with these contractions. So several hours passed, contractions keep coming about 8-10 mins apart all morning. We go to SAMS Club to walk around for a bit (it was too cold outside) and ate lunch. We came home and put the girls down for their nap and I tried to rest, but wasn't able to.
At about 3pm, I told my doula, Keysha, that I thought I was in early labor and the contractions were getting pretty hard to handle, so she might want to come over soon. She showed up a little over an hour later and at this point, my contractions were still anywhere from 5-10 mins apart. My other doula, Meggan, (who was shadowing Keysha, but was completely awesome help the whole time) I was frustrated that after almost 10 hours of contractions, they were still so far apart and not getting closer together, but they were getting stronger and more intense.
I decided to call my midwife at this time and let her know. She said she was in the Jackson area for the day and would stay the night in the area because she felt this was labor time. She came over at about 8pm, and I was about 4cm dilated at this point. She checked me when I was 38 weeks and I was only 1cm. She expected me to hit active labor pretty soon. We put Clara down to bed, and since we thought that this would be a pretty fast labor once I hit active labor, we let Charlotte stay up to maybe watch the birth.
Meanwhile, the contractions are getting more intense and painful but.... Not closer together. They pretty much stayed 7 mins apart for most of the night. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was! No matter what I did, they pretty much were spaced apart. I bounced on our yoga ball, my doulas helped me in different positions to get baby to descend, and we started to fill the birth pool with water to try to help me relax. I did progress, however slowly. I believe at about 9-10pm she checked me again and I was 6-7cm and that I would hit transition soon.
Honestly, from about 10pm until about 4am, the story was much the same.... Have a strong contraction, wait about 5 mins, have another one. I went to urinate several times (being on a potty can help baby descend), labored all over the house, walked, bounced, tried laying down, got in the tub (it would make them stall more, it seemed, maybe got too relaxed?) standing up.... Nothing would help the contractions come closer. I just wanted it all to be done with! Plus, I was exhausted and again, very frustrated. I broke down and cried to my midwife several times that I didnt know what was wrong, why was my body doing this so slow? It was acting like I was having my first baby, not third! With Clara's labor, once I hit 4cm I progressed very fast in active labor and she was born several hours later. So this time I thought for a third baby, surely labor would be fast, too. How wrong I was! My doulas and midwife gave me an awesome full body massage to relax me because I was just so flustered and upset at how slowly everything was going, I was just plain exhausted but there was no way I could sleep through these "transitiony" type contractions.... I just wanted to be done! I had been laboring for 20+ hours at this point. During this whole time, mind you, my midwife would check on the baby every so often for heart tones and heart rate by doppler. Everything always sounded fine and he tolerated the labor perfectly.
At around 3-4am (cant remember exactly, I was so tired at this point), I started having some really sharp cervical pains. I was 9.5cm at this point, but I felt something was wrong because he would just not descend like Clara had by now. I had birthed two babies before, I knew I could do this! My midwife checked me and discovered that I had what is called a swollen cervical lip, basically it's a small piece of cervix that gets swollen and "jammed", per se, by the baby's head and won't progress to completion. By now I was just so worn out, in serious pain, nothing was helping me to concentrate on breathing.... I had a few crying breakdowns because I just didn't know why this was happening. Again, all this time, contractions were spaced 7-10 mins apart. I thought that if my blasted water would just break, we could get this show on the road! I even asked Norma if she would break it and she said no, she really didn't like to do it, and I was upset at the time but looking back, Im glad that she didn't because it would have just made the contractions even more unbearable for several more hours.
At around 4am, my midwife said she wanted to decrease the swelling in the cervical lip. I asked her how exactly was she going to do this? She explained that she was going to insert a couple pieces of ice vaginally and that it should make the swelling go down. She only had to use two pieces of ice for it to work. The first time she did it I had a contraction at the same time and I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin! Im glad she tried again, though, because it did work. However, she also noticed that his head was a little misaligned and wasn't putting pressure correctly on my cervix in order to dilate me completely and for him to descend down the birth canal. So she pretty much reached in and pushed his head back towards my uterus. She said this would help him be able to get back in the birth canal correctly and dilate the cervix like it should be with the next couple contractions. She told me I had gone back down to 7cm, though. I completely lost it at this point and started crying! The pain was so intense and mindnumbing at this point, I could not imagine going through it for much longer.
I didnt know what to do. Stay and endure hours more of painful labor, or go to the hospital and get relief *maybe* 2 hours from now. I felt completely stuck! I was also not completely sure that the maneuvers she had tried would work. I was just very weary at this point. My sweet husband, though, was always there for me and reminded me that I could do this and that it shouldn't be too much longer. I wish I could have believed him!
Im not really sure what time it was at this point. Maybe 5am? The contractions kept coming. I had been planning a waterbirth, but since we started having the issues, Norma (my midwife) decided it be best if I move to the bed, so we did. I dont know how long I was there, but it seemed like over an hour. Thomas was behind me and the "transition" contractions at this point were extremely intense. I writhed all over the bed, my doulas standing by massaging me and affirming me, my midwife trying to talk some sense into me, lol. Thomas began reading Scriptures to me to help me relax. I was praying Dear God, please help me, I wanted it all to end! I was just so delirious at this point, I wanted all the pain to go away, but I didn't have a choice but to get through it. Norma at one point looked at me and told me I had to calm down and do this or it was going to make it last longer. Well I think that's all it took because after that I really tried to control my breathing and would look into her eyes during a contraction to get through it. I started throwing up during and after them, they were so intense and painful. And of course, crying and saying I couldnt do it. :)
I knew that I was almost complete by this point because of my delirium and throwing up (it happened during Clara's birth). I was just waiting for that "pushing" urge that I've always heard about but it wasn't coming yet.
Finally, I sat up against Thomas and pulled my knees back and I could feel that "gotta poop" urge, lol. (Sorry this is a natural birth story, if ya cant handle it, move on!) I will tell you that at this point, I just lost it. I knew it was almost done and I could push him out now, and my body just kind of took over. I started roaring through the pushing contraction (sorry, dont know how else to explain it!) and pushed, but Norma told me to slow down. It was burning and to be honest, I was just SO READY TO BE DONE that I didn't listen to her! lol I stopped for a second and tried my best to control my breathing but it started to really burn. I felt another push coming and I pushed as hard as I could... And his big head popped out, in the bag of water! Norma told me to reach down and feel my baby's head, but all I could feel and see was this gooey white mess, haha. She popped the bag of water now to check for nuchal cord, but he didn't have that (when the cord is wrapped around the neck). With one more strong push (and roar, lol) I pushed the rest of his body out and she laid him on my chest. What a relief! I was so happy it was finished, Thomas was ecstatic, I just couldn't believe I did it!
Here is a picture that I just love, snapped by the lovely Meggan Wehmeyer, one of my amazing doulas that helped me through all the tough times and knew just how to keep me relaxed during the trying moments... (I recommend all pregnant women have a doula! Keysha and Meggan are amazing...)
I love how it just screams "FINALLY!" when Norma hands him to me and Thomas directly after being born. I look completely exhausted, and I was!
He started screaming instantly, was pink as a pig, and I noticed immediately his very fat and swollen face! At first I just thought, maybe that is just typical newborn squishiness..... And then she weighed him.
10lbs 7oz. My jaw about hit the floor, there's no way I was pregnant with a 10-pounder this whole time! My girls were both very average weight (7 lbs) and length, so I just never imagined I could have a big baby like this. I knew my belly had been maybe a little bigger this time than with the girls, but I coughed it up to third pregnancy and a couple extra hamburgers. ;) I figured if he was bigger, he would maybe be 8lbs. I never had a late term ultrasound because I stopped going to my OBGYN prenatal visits, but I did measure ahead a week or two during a couple of my midwife visits. Again, didn't think anything of it. Little (big?) Ben could barely fit into his newborn sleeper we picked out for him to wear and the newborn diapers are pretty tight! Might not be in them for long. :)
He also measured 22.5in long with a 15in head (read: big head). Well, it's no wonder his head kept getting kinked in there and it's also no wonder I had so much prodromal labor for so long. I guess my body had been trying to get him into a better position, but just couldn't on its own. I'm so thankful that my midwife knew how to get the swelling down in the cervical lip and also knew how to get his head realigned to fit so I could safely push him out! Had I been in the hospital, I'm not sure what a doctor would have done, but a c-section would have been very likely, I imagine.
After he was born, I was kind of numb from all that had happened the previous couple hours. I was completely exhausted, in pain, and just felt in a daze. I will not lie, right after he was born, I believe I was in shock from the trauma. The pain, frustration, exhaustion, and fear that I could have been in labor for several hours after she tried to correct the cervix, just all added up and I started bawling to my husband. And after all of this, my midwife told me that I had a 4th degree tear and would need to have a doctor at the ER stitch me up. (We ended up going to the hospital and my doctor told me it was a 2nd degree, not 4th.. thank you, Lord!)
After all was said and done, neither of us were ever in any harm. Benjamin always tolerated the contractions and labor well, I guess it was more of a mental and fear thing for me that I had to push through. Being in labor that long and with no choice but to deal with the pain and get over it, well, was a difficult challenge for me. It was very hard and I'm still kind of dazed about it now and dont like to think about it, but I do not blame being at home to have his birth. This would have happened in the hospital, too, but I doubt the outcome would have been the same and I've never heard of a doctor shoving ice up on a cervix, have you? ;)
Though it was a rough and long 24 hours, Im so glad Im done and that baby B is finally here. He is perfectly healthy, adorable, alert, and nurses very well so far. He's sleeping on my chest as I write this, and thinking back over the last 9 months and how utterly miserable they have been, from the extreme nausea/vomiting in the beginning, the horrible 24/7 spitting Ive had to live with since 8 weeks along, to the extremely painful SPD that left me cruising Walmart in a motorized wheelchair, :) Im so glad he is here and that God has given him to us to raise for His glory. This last year has been a very trying one and Im excited to see what God has in store for our now family of five!
Happy birthday, Benjamin!