This was easily my hardest pregnancy. I had a few odd symptoms that we never figured out. They weren’t worrisome just odd. This was my 4th baby so I was expecting my normal symptoms but this baby wanted to be different. A month before I conceived this baby I had an early miscarriage. Around the time of my third trimester my midwives and I started wondering if maybe I hadn’t had a miscarriage and was in fact due a month earlier than expected which would explain a lot of my odd symptoms. With this in mind, I was still trying to prepare myself for the baby to come on the original date so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up and end up having to wait “longer”. However, when I began having prodromal labor at 32 weeks it seemed that I was due earlier and my mind started believing it more and more.
Prodromal labor (where you have contractions that become regular and seem like labor but eventually stop) is normal for me. I have had it each time and it is very frustrating trying to determine when it is actually the real deal. The prodromal labor sessions continued for weeks and weeks past the earlier due date. No big deal… I also have always gone past my due date, twice to 42 weeks. But still no baby even up to my original due date. There were so many false alarms, so many days thinking today has got to be the day! And so many symptoms pointing to it coming soon.
On December 2nd , 41 weeks and 5 days, I woke up annoyed I still hadn’t gone into labor. I had thought yesterday was the day but again everything had slowed down again. But around 8 I started having contractions again. They were strong but short. At 8:44 we text the team to give a heads up that today may be the day. A contraction later at 8:52 we told them they should start making arrangements to come over. Then another contraction later at 8:57 we said you should come!!
The contractions picked up hard and fast, also normal for my labors. We wanted everyone to make it so we told them to come quickly. When the midwives arrived, they began setting up the birth tub and as soon as it was ready I jumped in. I have never been able to use the tub in my labors before for different reasons and I was very grateful for the relief it gave but after some time my contractions started spacing further apart and weren’t quite as intense. Scared my labor would stop again I decided to get out and walk around to see if the contractions would pick back up.
A midwife suggested we go for a walk. But my husband wasn’t sure he wanted me to go outside this far along in labor. So we went back and forth while I got dressed for the cold outside. By the time I was dressed the contractions had picked up and I was thankful for my husband’s wisdom because I would not have wanted to be outside during the contractions that followed. I walked the hall for a little bit then labored in my room for a bit. The contractions were very strong but the whole time since they’d started they seemed to be spaced apart and not getting closer like I expected them to. Instead of appreciating the breaks I would try to will them to pick up. I was so worried of them stopping which looking back was so silly because it was obvious this was labor and I was having a baby. At one point a midwife came in and began to say “if they don’t pick up maybe we should try walking again” but she was only able to get out the “if they don’t pick up” part before I had a really strong contraction, and in my mind I finished it with “then we are going to leave.” I was so scared of them leaving that my mind began to lose it. My husband could see this and tried to encourage me but at that point I was deep in my irrational thoughts and nearing transition.
The contractions were getting so very intense. During them I would think the baby must be close!! But then the space between them made me think I am still so far away. With the battle between thoughts I began doubting my ability despite having done it 3 times already. I thought I was still hours away but the with the intensity I was already feeling there was no way I could last more hours. So I decided to check myself and see if the baby was close like I felt it should be. But when I checked I couldn’t feel anything. No bulging waters, no head, I couldn’t even feel the head against my pelvic floor. This is when I lost it. I cried out, “It isn’t even close!!!” Quickly my midwife got down and looked me in the eyes and said she wanted to take me to the living room and check to see where the baby was and what was holding it back.
I agreed then proceeded to have 2 long and hard back to back contractions with the urge to push. I pushed then walked to the living room where she had set up pillows for me to recline on. The next contraction she checked me and said there was a tiny lip of cervix. She wanted me to push the next contraction and once it was gone I would get up and finish in whatever position. So the next contraction I pushed and they heard an audible click. Baby moved down a lot and my bag of waters was bulging. Soon after I had another contraction, no time to get up, and my water broke as my body started pushing for me. Her head came out and I reached down to feel her lovely head of hair! But instead of the rest of her coming out quickly like my others had she slowly emerged the rest of the way. I was anticipating the relief of her being out after the head but she wasn’t out yet!! I yelled out, “Get it out of me!!” I was so done doing this myself I didn’t care for the hands-off approach I normally take; I just wanted her out! I wanted this pregnancy and all the hard things that came with it to finally be over and to hold my sweet baby in arms at last! She finally did fully come out! What felt like minutes was only seconds but they were very long seconds!
She put her on my chest and my husband announced “it’s a girl!” I was shocked! We were all thinking it would be a boy! She made a small bit of a cry then happily rested on my chest breathing as if all was right in the world. She nursed soon after like a pro and hasn’t stopped since. After delivering the placenta and getting cozied up into bed we weighed her. We were absolutely shocked to find out she was 10 pounds 1 ounce!! All my other babies were ounces away from 8 ½ pounds! She was so much bigger!! And I didn’t tear at all :)
Photos were taken By Kara Lofthouse Photography
Justine is a birth videographer and photographer serving the Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado County. areas. Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, Granite Bay, Folsom, Sacramento, Orangevale, Placerville, Antelope, etc