March 1st 2016. Brooke had finally arrived in Fort Worth for the birth of her daughter. Our plans were all laid out. Birth plans, birth affirmations, hotels, when the rest of the family would come, how long everyone would stay. We thought we had it all figured out.
Prodromal labor. Better known as “false labor”. False labor isn’t really a fair term. It isn’t active labor, but every contraction is doing something for your body, and the baby you hold inside. Even experienced moms can have a hard time telling the difference.
Two weeks. Two weeks little miss June kept us on our toes, kept us waiting, kept us wondering. It got to the point where Brooke and I were convinced that I was going to be pregnant forever. Was there REALLY a baby continuing to grow inside me, or was it a figment of our imaginations?
March 14th 2016. We have an appointment at the Birthing Center before they even open. They are so accommodating to us. They know our situation isn’t the “norm”. They know that it’s not just an anxious mom waiting for her baby to be born. Our story is so much deeper, and has been going so much longer.
Shannon was the midwife we were seeing that morning. She checked Junes heart and then gave me a membrane sweep/strip with Evening Primrose Oil, twice. After we had some hard things to talk about. I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant. At 42 weeks, you can no longer deliver at the birthing center, as your risks for complications go up. We talked about some more natural ways to kick labor into high gear, and what we would be doing if we went all the way to Friday (42 weeks). At the mention of an increase in the chances of stillbirth, Brooke and I agreed that was not a risk we were willing to take. We set up for an induction Saturday morning, hoping we wouldn’t have to use it.
I went home to rest but felt some good contractions, so I decided instead that I should get dressed and go for a walk. Be alone with my thoughts and maybe encourage my contractions to pick up. As I went to put my headphones on and walk out the door Brooke called me. We talked about what we were both comfortable with as far as interventions and length of the pregnancy. I talked to her about my current set of contractions and my plan to walk, as always she offered to come walk with me.
I just want to pause my story for a minute to talk about Brooke. We are totally different personality types and come from different worlds. But I truly love this woman. Waiting (almost) two weeks later than we expected June to come was hard, demanding, exhausting. But I am so grateful for those two weeks. Brooke and I got to know each other on a whole different level. I got to see her soul in a new light. Each day came with new challenges, and we seemed to be on an optimistic/pessimistic pendulum ride. But we were riding it together, holding tight to each other for strength and courage.
While I was on the phone with Brooke, Shannon popped up on my call waiting. She asked me about what Brooke and I had decided on a number of things and I shared our thoughts and wishes with her. She said that when we left the office that morning she could feel the disappointment and defeat come off of Brooke and I. She was determined to help us get the birth we’d been dreaming of and to keep me out of the hospital. She asked how I felt about castor oil, and if I would want to come back in as the last appointment of the day for another sweep. I agreed to both.
I drank 3-4oz of castor oil as fast as I could and ate as much as I could. It can’t irritate your insides if your insides are empty. I knew it would hurt and I knew I was in for a long night, but I was SO beyond ready to give birth. Brooke picked me up at 4ish and we made our way back to the Birthing Center. Shannon gave me another two GOOD ROUGH sweeps with the EPO and I started bleeding (which is a good thing). While we were there this time we talked to Carla (the midwife in charge at the Birthing Center), and Shannon went over newborn care things with Brooke. When we left Brooke mentioned how exciting it was that she had had that talk with Shannon, because we always talk about the pregnancy and labor, but talking about the baby just made it feel more real, and made her feel like her baby was finally going to come. We had made plans to go to the store to grab some things I needed after the appointment, but I could feel the castor oil taking effect and didn’t feel up to the trip.
Once home I texted with Brooke a couple times. I was still bleeding, in and out of the bathroom and having some contractions but I down played them because I was sure it wasn’t labor. Curtis and I headed to bed at a decent time that night, around 9pm. I slept hard, like I hadn’t slept in days, but for only a short time. I woke up around 10:30 and thought I was still having cramps from the castor oil, I got up and used the bathroom but was still having the pain. I tried to lay down and go back to sleep. I soon realized the cramps were actually contractions, but still I tried to force myself to sleep. At around 11 after failing to sleep, I had one really good contraction and found myself trying not to make noise so I didn’t wake Curtis. In the middle of the contraction, I physically felt a “pop” and immediately my contraction stopped.
I was extremely confused. Was that my water? I sat up in bed and felt just a little trickle. I got up and went to the bathroom. Still bleeding, and now there was fluid, but not enough to be my water. I must be crazy. I put on a pad and went back to the bed. I tried to convince myself to go to sleep. No such luck, the contractions were on top of each other and I was starting to make noise. I grabbed my body pillow and went to the living room. I refused to wake up Curtis and it end up not being labor. I sat on my exercise ball, brought up some music and tried my best to relax. I was unsure on what to do first. I wanted to call my Doula Laney but she had to go out of town to take care of some very important personal business.
At 12:12am I texted Laneys back up Doula, Dana. I told her what was going on and decided for myself that this really was the real thing. I called the on call midwife, Carla at 12:15 and updated her. She said to wait for Dana and then we would re-evaluate and decide if it was time to come to the birthing center.Dana called me at 12:27 and said she was on her way, but she was about an hour away. I decided it was time to wake up Curtis and stop sitting alone in the living room. I woke him up and told him to make himself some coffee, it was going to be a long night. I also decided it was time to call Brooke and tell her that he daughter was finally coming! I called her at 12:31… AND SHE DIDN’T ANSWER! I was shocked! She had been so on edge and on top of her phone for weeks! I couldn’t help but chuckle. I gave it a few minutes while I gave Curtis the full rundown of what was going on and texted Brooke hoping maybe she would hear that. After another five minutes with no reply I called again. When she didn’t answer the second time I called her sister who answered on the first ring. I told her what was going on and that I was freaking out a little that Brooke wasn’t answering. She promised to get a hold of her and said she was going to be leaving Austin and be on her way soon. Brooke finally called me at 12:55 and I had her talking to Curtis because I couldn’t talk through contractions. At 1:09 Dana sent me a text saying she would be at the house ASAP and wrote some encouraging words. Brooke arrived at my house at about 1:15. I labored there in the living room trying to find something comfortable between the couch and the wall and the ball. Nothing gave me relief. I called Carla back and told her I couldn’t wait any longer and needed to come in at 1:46. She said she was going to hop in the shower and then go to the birthing center, she would meet us there in 30 minutes. I was anxious waiting for Dana, and more anxious questioning myself on where I was in my labor. I told Curtis and Brooke to grab our things, and we head out the door at 2am just as Dana is getting there. At the bottom of my stairs I have a good contraction, I hear a car door and feel Danas hands at my waist, she speaks to me and I don’t remember what she said, but all I know is I let go of the anxiety I had a short time ago.
We make the 15 minute drive to the birthing center, I make Curtis drive slow because every bump we hit makes the pain so much more intense. I see Danas vehicle speed up around us. I have a good three or four contractions on the way there. When we pull up, for some reason I think Carla isn’t there yet and I’m going to have to labor in my truck. Dana comes straight to my side (where she stays until long after the baby is born, Doulas are awesome). I look up after a contraction and see Carla.
Relief. It’s time to have a baby.