So far I’ve covered our pregnancy announcement as well as the pregnancy. Now comes the big moment… Little Deer’s arrival! As my due date approached, I just kept thinking about how she would finally be with us, any day now. I had a feeling she would be on the later side, so I wasn’t overly concerned or surprised when my due date came and went. I think many tend to think of going past your due date as being late, but from doing a little research I knew that just as many babies are born in the two weeks after their due date as they are before, so I wasn’t worried.
At my 40 week appointment they said everything looked good but that they wanted to induce me at 41 weeks. We were trying to have as natural a birth as possible, and I knew if I was going to be induced that the pain from the pitocin-induced contractions would pretty tough to handle. I also knew that an induction typically increases your chances of a c-section, something I also was hoping to avoid. You would think that being a nurse I’d be more comfortable with medical interventions, but for me it was the opposite. I hated the thought of being hooked up to machines and IV’s.
A few days after my due date, I went back to the hospital for a non-stress test and to check my fluid levels. Everything looked great. The midwife asked if we would like her to strip my membranes, though she didn’t think it was totally necessary. At that point we were a few days out from when they wanted to induce us, so I was leaning towards doing it. Mr. Deer stayed strong though and said he didn’t think we needed it, so I agreed and we skipped it. After the appointment we talked about what would happen if we got to Saturday and Little Deer still hadn’t arrived. Would I get induced? Would we elect to wait a few more days and continue with monitoring fluid levels and her heart rate?
Friday, December 21st – 7:00 AM
I woke up the morning before I turned 41 weeks with a plan: I was going to take some castor oil. I had done a lot of reading about castor oil and decided it would be worth a-go to see if I could get labor started. Of all the interventions, this seemed like the most natural. Some people believe there’s an increased risk of the baby passing meconium while still in the womb, but I wasn’t convinced that it was a huge risk. Especially when I compared it to the risks associated with inducing labor via pitocin. So yes, that morning I woke up, poured some castor oil in a shot glass, and downed it. I wish I had realized how gross it would be! I definitely recommend mixing it in something; swallowing that was just plain gross. Though I was definitely in the bathroom more frequently that morning (castor oil is used as a laxative after all), I didn’t feel any different and figured it hadn’t worked.
Since Mr. Deer was at work, my dad and I decided to meet up and go grab some lunch. While we were eating I could feel I was having some contractions. I had been having contractions for weeks, but they were painless and I only knew I was having them because of how hard and tight my stomach would feel. This time though, they felt a little different. They weren’t painful, but I was more aware of them. After we finished lunch, we decided to walk around the outdoor shopping area by where we ate to see if we could get some contractions rolling. I pulled up the contraction timer app on my iPhone and kept track of them as we walked around. Pretty soon I noticed that I was definitely feeling a little pain with them, and they were about 7 minutes apart. After about an hour, we decided it was time for a change of scenery, so we drove to a nearby park and walked along Lake Washington. Though it was December, it was a sunny and beautiful winter day in Seattle. After a bit more walking it was getting to the point where I was having to stop during a contraction. It was then that I realized it was really happening, Baby Deer was finally on her way!
As my dad drove me home, I called Mr. Deer. He was on the ship that day and was supposed to stay overnight since he was on duty. Fortunately they were aware we were expecting Little Deer anytime and he was able to leave and come right home. Though still there, the contractions had waned a bit. They went from being about 6-7 minutes apart down to around 15 -20 minutes. We called our doula to check in, and she told us to relax and possibly have some intimate time together to see if that would help move things along. Around that time I also took another dose of castor oil (again in a shot glass, what was I thinking?). During the next hour or so Mr. Deer and I hung out together, got our hospital things laid out, and read the Bible and took communion together. As we were sitting together on the couch reading, my contractions really began to pick up.
By this point things were in full-swing; we were definitely going to meet our sweet baby soon. I remember thinking that the pain was so much worse than I thought it would be. We had followed The Bradley Method and taken classes to prepare ourselves. We learned about different positions and pain-relieving techniques, but I was having a hard time finding something that would help. I would try and lay on my side on the bed, sit on our yoga ball, the toilet, lean against the kitchen counter… nothing was helping. Around this time I told Mr. Deer that he should call our doula to have her come over. I was feeling like we were definitely at the point where I could use her help and support. That being said, Mr. Deer was doing an awesome job supporting me. He was so good at being calm and guiding me through my contractions (minus the part where I yelled for him to come help me in the bathroom and he ran in and ripped the toilet paper holder off the wall, whoops!).
Our doula arrived and I was so excited to see her. She is a friend of my sister-in-law, and we had met a few times throughout my pregnancy. Her mother was a midwife and they usually tagged-team home births, but she was willing to be our doula and come with us to the hospital. She had such a knowledgeable and calming presence, and I am so glad that she was a part of our birth. When she arrived she helped us try a few new things to see if we could relieve some of the pain from the contractions. I think one of the hardest parts was that with each contraction, I felt like I was going to throw up. And though I never did, I was so sure that I would that I had to have a bucket with me at all times.
I was starting to get really antsy and felt like we needed to head out to the hospital. Our doula and Mr. Deer got the car packed up and off we went. Let me say this — it is not easy being confined in a car while having contractions. That is not a fun experience! Though it was kind of a blur, there was one funny moment I remember. We were sitting at a light when the song Thriftshop came on the radio. Apparently Mr. Deer looked over at me, and although I was sitting there with my eyes closed, hunched over the puke bucket, I started bopping my head and humming to the song. I guess the music was working for me! Once we arrived at the hospital and parked, we walked in through the ER then up to the Labor and Delivery unit. They offered me wheelchair, but honestly the idea of sitting down did not sound good. I needed to be up and moving.
We were checked in and settled in our hospital room. They listened to Little Deer with a doppler during a few contractions and found I was about 5 centimeters dilated. In the room was Mr. Deer, our doula, the nurse, and our midwife. Both of our parents, Mr. Deer’s sister, and her husband and our niece were downstairs in the waiting room. I had always thought that I wouldn’t have a problem with family members being in the delivery room, but that was before we decided to have a natural birth. I didn’t want people seeing me in such a state. And I wanted to focus. I decided that my mom could come in near the end to see the birth though.
The pain of the contractions continued to intensify. We were taught in our classes that I should stay loose and try not to tense up any part of my body. Frankly that went out the window pretty quickly. I mean really, how am I supposed to sit there and be calm and relaxed when I felt like I was being repeatedly stabbed in the stomach? Since we got to the hospital, and from there on out, I clutched Mr. Deer’s hand with every contraction. Though I tried to move around, ultimately I decided the comfiest place was to sit on a yoga ball while leaning over the foot of the bed. Anytime I tried to deviate from that position the pain just got worse. There was a jacuzzi tub that mothers could use for laboring in, but they were having trouble getting it cleaned for some reason so we had to wait to use it. I remember being pretty grumpy about that. It sounded so good to get in some warm water!
During the next hour or so there were two moments where I almost called it quits on our natural birth plan. I had a contraction that was unlike anything I had experienced previously. I had been good about making low-tone sounds and such during the contractions, but when this one came I remember just screaming. I sat up and panicked, feeling like I had to run out of the room. It was terrible. A few minutes later it happened again. I remember looking at Mr. Deer and very seriously saying that I could not handle one more contraction like that. He of course encouraged me, told me I was strong and that I could do it, and reminded me of all the reasons why we wanted to have a natural birth in the first place. I was super serious though, one more contraction like that and I was done.
Finally, hours after we arrived, the jacuzzi tub was ready. I’m a pretty modest person, and although I knew that most laboring moms throw modesty out the window, I was convinced I would be different. I was very wrong. I was so glad to see that jacuzzi tub that I didn’t care what I had on (or didn’t have on). It was so nice sitting in there with the jets swirling around. And it truly helped relieve a lot of the pain from my contractions. Unfortunately, within less than hour of getting in the tub, our midwife asked me if I was pushing. I wasn’t quite sure, but I was feeling a little different. Water births were not allowed at this hospital, so once they knew I was pushing I was kicked out of the tub.
When we got back to our room, our midwife asked if she could check me again. I was as little hesitant because I knew that if I heard I was still around 5 centimeters I would feel discouraged (even though I also knew that the last few centimeters can happen very quickly). In the end I said yes. I was so happy to hear that I was a smidge over 9 centimeters… Yes! That was all the motivation I needed to keep going. I was less than a centimeter away from being able to push out our baby and see her sweet face. Not to mention I was that much closer to being done with the pain. Though she said there was still a lip of cervix left, my body was telling me it was time to push so I went with it.
I had always heard that pushing was the best part, and that you would finally feel some relief. In my experience, that just wasn’t the case. The pushing was so hard! Not only was I having a contraction, but I had to push into the pain too. I quickly realized that I wanted to be done, so I was going to do whatever I needed to do to push her out quickly. Using the squat bar on the bed, with each contraction I got into a squatting position and did some serious pushing. I remember feeling like I was being ripped open. I really wanted to avoid tearing, but from what I was feeling, I knew that wasn’t going to be possible. I didn’t care at that point, I just so wanted to be done.
It wasn’t long before they gave me a mirror and told me that I could look and see a little bit of her head. I took a quick peek then said I didn’t want to see anymore. It didn’t gross me out or anything, but I just wanted to keep my eyes closed and focused. Though my bag of waters had leaked a little, it was still intact and was coming out ahead of her (apparently that’s not very common). By this point there were a few extra nurses in the room since we were getting close, and everyone was checking it out and saying how interesting it was. Remember when I said I had no modesty anymore? Yup, this was another example of that.
I knew I was close. I was truly in another dimension by this point. My eyes were closed in between contractions and I was concentrating super hard. Luckily our doula remembered that I said I wanted my mom in the room for Little Deer’s birth, so she ran out to get her. My mom did great and stood off to the side, quietly watching. I remember saying hi when she came in but that’s about it, I was focused.
Saturday, December 22nd – 4:36 AM
Finally, with one last push, Little Deer was born. I remember they placed her on my chest, and I looked down at her and couldn’t belive how beautiful she was. Though just a newborn, I could instantly see both of our features in her face. She had my eyes, Mr. Deer’s nose, and a good crop of hair. Because of the bag of waters being intact, and how quickly I pushed, her head was perfectly round. Several of the nurses said she looked like a c-section baby. Though we were all swooning over her, she quickly brought us back to reality by pooping ALL over me, Mr. Deer, and our nurse. What a welcome!
They weighed her in at 7 pounds and 15 ounces (though pre-poop I’m sure it would have been a lot more!) and she was 19 1/4 inches long. Ten fingers, ten toes… everything looked great. I was so relieved to be done, and just couldn’t believe that Little Deer was finally here. I wanted to snuggle and nurse her right away, but I was still having trouble with my bleeding. I’ll write more about that and the rest of our hospital stay in the next post!
How was your delivery? Smooth? Unexpected?