But honestly, I really love birth stories. Childbirth is one of those things that is just so fascinating to me. It's terrifying and inspiring, painful and joyful, disgusting and beautiful, all at the same time. Every story is so unique. And every woman cherishes her story so much, and I feel like that really comes through when you read or listen to them. So I love it. Which means that I'm going to be "that lady." Just so we're clear.
That being said, this isn't going to be the four-part epic tale that was Parker's birth story, but I think we'll have two parts, easily.
So buckle up, folks.
Hm...where do I begin?
The fact is, I was expecting to have this baby the first week of August.
My latest baby to date (Maddy) came on her due date; the others were 8 and 3 days early. Labor always started on its own; I was never induced.
At my 36 week appointment in mid-July, I was 3 cm dilated, 70% effaced. Good start, right?
The next week, my doctor put me closer to 4 cm and 90%. She also said that my belly was measuring a little small, which surprised the heck outta me, but whatever. So they had me go in for an ultrasound the next day, just to make sure everything was going well. And it was! Baby girl was measuring on the small side, but within the normal range. I think the estimate at that point was just over 6 lbs.
And the weeks went on. On July 31, I had some contractions that I thought might be the real deal. I only remember the date specifically because that was Charly's birthday, and I was worried about having to cancel her party the next day. I had contractions that weren't necessarily painful, but made my belly super tight. They were very consistent at about 3 1/2 minutes apart, and they lasted for a couple hours.
Now might be a good time to explain why I didn't go to the hospital when I had contractions like this. These were the circumstances I was in when I went to the hospital with Charly -- consistent contractions that weren't really painful, and that weren't getting worse. And well, Charly's birth wasn't my favorite, so I didn't really want to recreate that experience. I was really waiting for a repeat of my labor with Parker -- consistent contractions that I could tell were progressing, and that were painful enough to make me really want that epidural. Without that, I wasn't going in.
So my due date was the 11th, and I was really hoping she'd come around the 6th. That weekend, I made like the pioneer children and walked and walked and walked and walked. That Saturday, the 8th, I actually walked a total of 8 miles. I'd have those Braxton Hicks contractions, and I'd get a random painful one thrown in every now and then, but never anything serious.
And well, that was basically my life for the next couple weeks. I took it easy for a few days while school was starting. Maddy started Kindergarten on the 12th and I really just didn't want baby stuff to get in the way of that too much. But we made it through all that, and I went back to walking whenever possible the weekend after. I actually thought she was coming for SURE on the 13th, but it was just another false alarm.
I also had another ultrasound that week (weight estimate: 7 lbs 4 oz, I think), and had to go to the hospital for a nonstress test that Saturday (my birthday, the 15th). Everything still looked good. Baby girl was very healthy, but apparently also very stubborn.
At this point, to be perfectly honest, I was actually in pretty good spirits. Obviously, I was ready for the baby to come; the bags had been packed, and the plans for the other kids had been in place, for weeks at this point. Everyone I saw was asking how I was doing and telling me how sorry they felt for me. Everywhere I went, I would think "What would I do if my water broke here?" The girls were asking when the baby was coming almost constantly. But I was honestly okay. I wasn't too physically uncomfortable, and I really just wanted the baby to cook for as long as she needed to.
But then I hit 41 weeks, and my doctor started talking induction.
Now, I don't necessarily have anything against induction in and of itself, but I really, really wanted to avoid a c-section, and I know (or at least, have heard) that being induced raises the risk of needing a c-section. I also knew that because I was already dilated so much (still 4 cm), they'd probably want to break my water, which I didn't want to do because of what happened with Parker (even though I knew that was a total fluke). The whole thing just made me nervous.
But not as nervous as thinking about what might happen if we didn't induce. I know that things can get pretty ugly, pretty fast, if the placenta stops working at any point (talk about a guaranteed c-section!), which is more likely to happen as the placenta gets older. So I obviously didn't want to risk that.
Ultimately, my doctor eased my fears a bit by telling me that because this was my fourth baby, and because I was already dilated and effaced, I was a good candidate for induction and the chances were good that it would work like it was supposed to. I agreed to schedule the induction for 9 am on the next day, August 20th. But that still gave me one day to try to make it happen on its own.
And so I cleaned my house like a madwoman. I must have gone up and down our stairs a hundred times that day, and I'm not sure that's an exaggeration. I folded laundry downstairs, and I made a separate trip upstairs for every single piece of clothing. No joke. There was no holding still that day. Every time I might have stood still, I bounced instead. And that night, I walked (or, more accurately, almost ran) around the mall one last time. I had the same contractions, but they stopped as soon as I got back in the car.
That night was the first night that I really got discouraged. I had been working my body so hard for the past few weeks, trying to get this baby to come, and nothing had worked, and now I was facing an induction. I had no idea what to expect, and I was scared. And I kind of felt like I had failed, which sounds silly now, but that's how I felt. Dallin and I talked about it for a while that night, trying to decide if we should cancel the morning's appointment. Ultimately, though, we decided we needed to do it. We'd get our kids to all their various caretakers the next morning, and we'd go to the hospital at 9 to have our baby. I went to bed feeling mostly at peace about the whole thing.
I actually slept surprisingly well that night, but I did wake up early -- at about 5:15. Lying in bed, I pulled out my phone and checked my email, and then read a couple things about what I could expect from the induction.
At about 5:30, I rolled over in bed...and a contraction hit.
I remember thinking "That felt real." It felt exactly how I remembered my contractions feeling from my active labor with Parker. But I didn't want to get my hopes up again.
And then about 8 minutes later, I had another one. And then another one 8 minutes after that. And then, around 5:50, I had one that, well, really hurt. That's when I woke Dallin up.
"I think I'm in labor."
Spoiler alert: I was right.