We’d had a busy weekend with Aviana and Cadrian’s birthdays back to back, so I wasn’t too surprised when I woke up Sunday 22 July with extremely swollen fingers and face. (Extremely being relative, I know people who get much worse.) I was concerned enough to mention it to a friend at chuch, and when she confirmed my worry, I went ahead and texted my midwife, Kathy. Part of me was worried it would be pre-eclampsia again, like I had with Aviana, and part of me was sure it was nothing.
We stopped to get my blood pressure checked a couple of times on the way home from church and sure enough, it was elevated. Pregnancy induced hypertention is fairly common and the main ‘cure’ for it is to rest plenty and of course, not be pregnant anymore. I still had five weeks to go, so the second choice wasn’t an option.
Thus my weeks of modified bedrest began.
I really hated the restricted activity and was already getting bored and lonely and feeling sorry for my kiddlets and myself. I was trying to do my best for Babe E though. I would allow a small outing some mornings or doing some housework and then when the children started quiet time at one, I would sit on my bed for the rest of the day.
Kathy was being vigilant about the situation. I was monitoring my blood pressures three times a day, and checking my urine for protein as well as weighing myself daily. Protein and sudden weight gain combined with the high blood pressures can both be signs of pre-eclampsia.
The night of Monday 6 August I went to bed with a fierce headache. I had just been adjusted that day and hadn’t had a headache since May. As another sign of pre-eclampsia, I was mildly worried; but at the same time knowing I am just prone to headaches, I tried not to think about it. Because of the pain, I couldn’t sleep. Also because of a brain I am incapable of shutting off, I couldn’t sleep.
I was so miserable through the night, I was just praying that God would just start labor and my water would break and I would be able to just meet out Babe E. I was 37 weeks 4 days pregnant and felt Babe E would be healthy if he/she was born now. I was up doing random stuff like finding baby hats and getting out the old sheets we had procured for the birth. At about four in the morning, I was getting a drink of water when I felt something running down my leg!
Startled into stillness, I watched some liquid pool on the floor. Could this be my water breaking and the onset of labor? Could this be an answer to the prayers I was just sending? I went to get a towel from the bathroom and it happened again.
Knowing your water can break hours before contractions start and that there really isn’t anything urgent about the situation, I decided to wait for a reasonable hour before telling Kathy and Kevin. I checked for protein just to be on the safe side and was relieved to see the test strip showed a yellow green, which means only a trace. Nothing to concern oneself with, especially in the middle of the night when one’s urine is more concentrated.
I may have slept for an hour or two. About 7:45 I texted Kathy and my prayer chain (friends and family) to keep everyone abreast of what may or may not be a “situation”. Prayer is always a good thing.
We already had planned to give me the day off by sending the girls with Kevin’s sister and the boys with Kevin’s mom for a day date. I was relieved for that as I possibly would get to nap and could baby my aching head.
Kathy came to check on me about one, to see if my waters truly had ruptured. As it turned out, it was copious amounts of cervical mucus, entirely normal. Odd, the things that are perfectly normal in pregnancy.
She did the whole run down in a prenatal check, including checking my urine for protein. Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the square on the test strip turn bright green–definitely a bad sign. Upon discussion, we decided that Babe E would be better off out than in. With high blood pressures, the placenta has a higher chance of tearing away from the uterine wall, baby isn’t getting as much nutrition, everything is more difficult for the mother’s body to maintain due to the constriction of vessels. With the added danger the protein was indicating, Kathy wanted to be cautious about letting the pregnancy go on any longer.
She checked my cervix; finding it dilated to a three (10 being ready to push the baby out), midline and very soft, all of which showed that my body was getting ready for labor. She stripped my membranes, gently separating the bag of waters from my cervix, encouraging the body’s own hormones to get labor underway. She also opted to give me a homeopathic (less intense than the actual herbs) version of both black and blue cohosh. These herbs have been used for centuries to start labor. Unlike artificial methods of induction, black and blue cohosh don’t cause crazy intense contractions, nor will they work if your body isn’t ready, eliminating the danger of “failure to progress” and Cesarean section (typical hospital induction carries with it a 67% increased risk of being cut open).
I planned to try to rest and see what happened and she left to go check on another client who is a dear friend of mine. She was 41 weeks pregnant and had been more than ready to meet her baby for a month. I was planning on taking her birth photos when her baby made his/her appearance. I was also feeling guilty because I was due four weeks after her!
After getting and replying to some texts, I silenced the phone and tried to take a nap. Suddenly I felt a *poof* and knew without a doubt my water had broken in earnest. I was thankful I had decided to lie down on a towel! I texted Kathy and tried to rest some more. I felt a few ‘real’ contractions, and was starting to get excited that we were really doing this!
By about 3:30, the contractions were feeling a lot more serious. They were only about three minutes apart. I was having to stand up or breathe through them, but labor didn’t feel like was super intense yet. My other midwife Monica arrived as well as my birth photographer Kelcy. My mom had gotten there sometime as well. All the people suddenly were in my space and the contractions were tapering off and becoming less intense.
Thankfully Kathy and Monica recognized what I needed and left the premises and Kelcy went home for dinner. At about 6:45 I made my last status update asking people to bet on Babe E’s arrival time. I was through with Contraction Master too, no longer needing to see the frequency of contractions, knowing I was just going to go with them.
The next hour was a total riot of my moving around from hands and knees, to squatting to kneeling to finally standing next to the bed leaning on it. Apparently I only pushed for 25 minutes, but it FELT like 25 years. Babe E was coming down face up and whole headed, instead of face down and crown first, just like Brielle had been. This time though I didn’t need an epidural to be able to get her out, and I didn’t tear at all.
She is beautiful.
I was surprised she was a girl!
She was covered in vernix and I couldn’t get over how sticky she was because of it.
Holding her was kind of like touching contact paper!