With my previous 3 kids, I used an OB and while I think all their births were fine, I knew that I wanted to switch to a midwife for #4. We had switched insurance after #3 was born so I was in new pregnancy territory this time. With the insurance we switched to I basically had the choice between the insurance’s OB’s or midwives. Both worked at the same hospital but I knew I was going with the midwives this time. I knew that a midwife would be much more in favor of a natural birth (something I have wanted from the beginning but never got for one reason or another) and a midwife would be more willing to accept my requests and refusals whereas an OB would more than likely kick me out of the office for some of the procedures I wanted to refuse. I am all for home births but I know it’s just not for me; I like being away from home for my births. I also didn’t want a birth center; once again I think they are great but I have yet to find one that I like plus I don’t have any qualms about hospitals in general. So I went with the midwives who deliver at the hospital. I absolutely loved them. There were about 7 or so midwives in the practice and as you never knew who would be on call when you delivered, they like you to rotate through them all. Each and every one of the midwives were great. They were much more natural than my previous OB’s, I could related to them and felt like my “crunchiness” was not seen as a weird thing to them, and they didn’t bat an eye when I refused certain procedures or requested to be re-tested. I knew that I had made the right choice in switching to midwives.
At 40w4d, I woke up at 2am with some mild contractions. I tired to tell myself to go back to bed as they were only 7-10 mins apart but of course I couldn’t. Finally slept a bit only to wake up at 6 am with contractions that were a bit stronger still ranging in the 7-10 mins. I had my husband stay home from work as I assumed things would move quickly. With my last baby labor only lasted 6 hrs (although she was a pitocin baby) so I assumed this one would be close to the same…. We decided to tell our roommate (the one who would help watch my other three kids) to stay home from work as well.
Well I labored with contractions coming every 7-10 mins from 6am – 4pm… so much for making everyone stay home from work. Around 2 or 3 pm, I noticed that if I was standing my contractions would come every 3-5 mins but if I sat down they stretched back out to every 7-10 mins. At this point, they had definitely picked up in intensity but still were totally bearable. I use Hypnobabies as my birth method and while I will admit that I am definitely not a poster child for Hypnobabies (no pain free birth for me…but then I wasn’t a good student and didn’t listen to my tracks while in labor), I do think that it’s the only way I was able to get through labor; without it I would have been a mess. This fluctuation in contraction timing didn’t really help me in deciding when to go to the hospital so around 4pm, I called L&D just to see what they said. They didn’t seem all that concerned but of course once they read that I was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) albeit this was my third VBAC, they decided to have me come in.
We got to the hospital around 5pm and contractions were probably around every 5 mins by then. I got checked and found out that I was only dilated to 4cm. Not what I was hoping for. With my last baby, it took me quite awhile to get to 6cm but after that I went from 6-10cm in an hour. So hearing that I was a 4 made me think I still had a long time to go. I thought about going back home to labor there for a bit longer but I knew going back would just upset my youngest even more (she was quite insistent that she wanted to come to the hospital too and we had to leave her in tears…although apparently she stopped crying by the time we were in the car). So we stayed. Got through all the paper work, got my saline-lock put in (I would have rather had nothing but I figure it’s a minor annoyance to put up with just in case something horrid happened), got the monitors on (would have liked to skip these too although at least they were telemetry so I could move around…although this ended up being my second birth were the dumb monitors kept loosing the baby’s heartbeat and contractions… what’s the point then?) and then we decided to walk around the hospital. We wanted to have this baby that day and if I was only a 4, we figured we had a long way to go! Turns out that we couldn’t walk the halls, as the monitors weren’t picking things up right. So we stayed in my room while they tried to fix them.
By this time it must have been around 7pm. I had resorted to standing and then leaning over a counter when I had a contraction at this point and so while they were trying to get the monitors just right, I started having contractions every 2-3 mins apart. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that I was in transition. I even figured I probably was just because I was suddenly overly warm, thirsty, and getting nauseous but I had bigger things on my mind and so I didn’t bother telling anyone. I feel like I had maybe 5 of those contractions but it must have been more. At one point, my wonderful nurse suggested a bath and while sitting sounded like the last thing I wanted to do, I knew that the warm water would probably be great. The bath was finally full and my husband and the nurse had finally convinced me to walk all the way to the tub (I did NOT want to move anywhere) when my body started to push.
As this hospital doesn’t do water births and I had no intention of having one, it was a long walk back to the bed for me. As I mentioned before, my preferred labor position was standing while leaning over something so that was where I found myself at this point; standing and leaning over the foot of the bed. My poor nurse was sent scrambling to get all the stuff ready and calling for my midwife. Everyone under the sun was trying to get me into the bed but for how timid and easy going I normally am, I was very clear that I was not moving. I was having this baby standing (which I had previously thought would be one of the last ways I’d ever want to deliver!) I felt like I pushed forever but my husband tells me it could have only been maybe 3 minutes. In truth, I think it’s because with my previous baby, I had an epidural and so I only pushed 3 times with the 3 contractions so with this baby I felt like 3 pushes would do it. However, when it’s your body pushing involuntarily, it’s just a different story. So I felt like I did a lot more pushing but I really didn’t. All this time, my water still hadn’t broken. It never does…I must make strong bags of water or something. And thus my daughter was born at 7:52pm in caul, which is rather rare (although I wonder if it wouldn’t be if people didn’t tend to have their water artificially broken)
All in all, this labor was technically pretty short. I did have a lot of early labor (from 2am – 4pm) but active labor was only about 3 hours (from 4pm – 7pm) and transition was about an hour give or take (7pm – 7:52pm). I thank my red raspberry leaf tea for the short active labor, transition, and pushing. That stuff is amazing. So while one could say that my labor was 18 hrs (if you count all the early labor), most would say it was only 4 hrs (if you start counting from active labor). 4 hours is my shortest labor and it was the only one that was pitocin free!
I have now run the gauntlet for every birth type imaginable. We started out with an emergency c-section with my oldest, a VBAC with epidural and pitocin for my next two (although the third one I almost made it all natural) and finally ending with my completely unmedicated natural childbirth. While natural birth is no walk in the park, I will say it has been my favorite birth and easiest birth by far. There will be no turning back for me…(assuming we have more kids, that is)