As we celebrate our little man turning FOUR today, I have been reminiscing on his birth story.
While pregnant with Emmett, I had asked my midwife to give me a "due week" instead of a due date. My daughter was born 8 days overdue, after only 7 hours of labor, and I did not want to be fixated on a 'guess date'. We knew our little Emmett would probably come in the month of September, and possibly the week of the 20th. It was nice not worrying about some of the things I stressed about with my first pregnancy. My husband and I made it a point this time around to be as carefree and natural as possible. My pregnancy with Emmett was uneventful and as simple as possible; we had one ultrasound (we did find out the sex beforehand), we took a birth class refresher, had our birth team ready to go, and we were in good hands - yet again - with our lovely midwives at Nativiti Birth Center.
The weeks leading up to my "due week", I did my usual birth preparation rituals - labor prep tea, my birth ball replaced my sitting chair, I focused on my diet and posture, and I remained active--sneaking in a few runs and doing prenatal yoga a couple times a week. One thing I didn't focus on this pregnancy that I did my previous - seeing a prenatal chiropractor regularly. I had witnessed the magic of chiropractic with my daughter when a week of sessions turned her from a transverse position to LOA (learn more about optimal fetal positioning in this blog post). For whatever reason - my busy schedule or the idea that my body/baby already knew the best position for birth - I didn't make chiropractic a priority this time. But, I wish I would have.
During my due week, I started to feel a few contractions that were stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having for weeks. They would come and go throughout the day and fizzle by bedtime. On Wednesday afternoon of my due week, I started to feel them again. They were more 'crampy' than usual so I called my husband at work to let him know. He finished up his work and headed home a little early. We decided to go eat at Jason's Deli that night - really to take my mind off things and keep my emotions in check. In early labor, it is good to go about your day as usual and not focus on every contraction. You will know things are progressing when your contractions require your full focus.
I pulled out my contraction timer app at the restaurant and started to time them. They were 8 minutes apart. I started to get excited thinking 'tonight could be the night'. On the drive home, I went over everything I had to do in my head. But when we got home, what do you know, contractions stalled. A few hours later, they picked back up, 8 minutes apart again. At this point, I am walking stairs, bouncing on the birth ball, sniffing oils...all the things. It was about 9:30pm, the 23rd, and I called my mom to let her know what was going on. She decided to make the 2-hour drive up that night.
During the night, contractions completely stopped. I tried everything to get my contractions consistent again early the next day. At that point, I was working with my birth team to figure out what was going on. It seemed to be prodromal labor. Prodromal labor is labor that starts and stops before fully active labor begins. It's often called "false labor;" but the contractions are real. They come and go but labor may not progress. Prodromal labor contractions will often come and go at the same time each day or at regular intervals.
My husband stayed home from work that day, and my mom and I decided to go walk the mall. Change of scenery is such a good idea when moms are going through prodromal labor. It's also important not to get too tired or exhaust yourself doing things to try to get labor to progress. We had lunch at Panera Bread, we got some last-minute nursery items at Pottery Barn and then we walked up and down the mall. I was having to stop every 10 minutes and lean over while I had a semi-painful contraction. But, still, no real progress that day. My mom decided to go home that evening and I started to feel frustrated.
That night, of the 24th, my contractions picked up, full force this time. I tried not to wake anyone. I took a bath, watched Netflix, walked stairs, all at about 2am. My contractions were getting consistent and my husband awakes to find me on hands and knees in the pitch dark, "sounding like a hurt animal," as he jokes about it. I needed my birth coach at that point and my husband helped me through a few contractions, giving me hip squeezes and counter-pressure. I timed a few contractions and they were 5-6 minutes apart. This usually indicates active labor.
Early that next morning, on the 25th, we made the call for our families to come. And what do you know... just as they all arrive, my contractions stalled AGAIN. I'm having painful contractions, but no real progress. We politely kicked everyone out of the house while we worked with our midwife and birth team to figure out why my labor was stalling. I was so tired of walking stairs, my calves literally hurt. It seemed to me that his head was stuck and he was mal-positioned. I had read up on Spinning Babies and decided to give it a try. I had not had a cervical check and I did not know my baby's fetal station (how far they have descended in the pelvis), so I did not know where in the birth canal he may be stuck.
My mom and sister arrived around 11:00 with sausage and eggs. They fed me while I was having contractions. I turned the music up and danced through a few. I read some bible verses and birth affirmations to remind me to be patient, as a few tears rolled down my cheeks. Birth takes time.
I got into Open Knee Chest position on the bed and stayed there for 30 minutes. This position allows the baby to scoot out of the pelvis a bit and gives them room to rotate and shift their head position. My instinct told me that is what he needed. I think this was my first realization that birth work is something instinctual and natural to me.
After open knees chest, I stood up in a lunge position. My contractions started to get consistent immediately, 5-6 minutes apart and they were getting stronger and longer. I called my midwife, unsure of if it was time to come in or not; she tells me to trust my body. And just as she said that, I had two back-to-back contractions. These are called double-peaking contractions and it can mean you are in transition phase. Now, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and it's time to GO! My husband could sense the urgency and I knew I was in transition as we raced down the road, in the back of his truck as my body was shaking and my baby was laboring down. Later, I learn that he was driving 90 mph down the 45-feeder and simultaneously calling our midwife to get the tub ready.