Much to our (mostly mine I’ll admit) relief Caleb Joshua decided to come join us. We had been working with the little guy ever since he officially scored the over-due label to try to convince him to come out and meet us. He seemed more than a little reluctant even going so far as to fight against whatever contractions I managed to get going by curling up in a ball towards my ribs as far away from the Exit Sign as he could get.
We managed to log more than 7 individual sessions of very-well-could-be-and-maybe-probably-is-but-maybe-not- false labor sessions over the past two weeks. All that advance work did pay off a bit. For those of you who care about such details as of Friday 70% effacement and 3 cm. Yet. No labor. The midwife ordered a bio-physical profile + stress test to make sure Caleb was still going good inside just in case he decided to stay put a few more days. On Monday we went to the hospital to do that and then to the midwife. 90% effacement and up to 5 cm dilation during contractions. At the visit we discussed induction options. An herbal protocol was decided on for a variety of reasons and we drove the hour home from the birth center.
I began having heavier contractions on the way home. But what was new about that?? We’d done this more than a half a dozen times before. This time though they felt…different somehow and in an hours time I went from sending DaMan and the Doodlebug off to play basketball to saying that maybe they should stick around. Another hour or so had me texting my labor support staff a tentative “I think this might very well be it…” One of my dearest friends was going to drive 3 hrs to be help and support at my birth and I vacillated back and forth about calling her out when it could be so very easily yet another false alarm. She listened to what was going on and decided to brave the drive. Around 8 or 9 PM a collection of our labor support team had arrived at the house…aaaand the oh so convincing contractions that caused me to send the summons began to disappear. Typical. Classic. Oh so frustrating. I continued taking the herbal tinctures per the protocols instructions but inside I was upset because in spite of the strength of the contractions, they were following the all too familiar pattern of getting further and further apart.
Around midnight I reluctantly dispersed everybody to go sleep and we made a plan to be at the Birth Center the next morning to attempt more induction options. The reason for the rush and urgency to get him here was due to the Birth Centers strict no-deliveries post 42 week policy. Around 1 AM on what was now Nov. 1st I decided I might as well try to get some sleep inbetween the now very far apart contractions myself. I laid down and woke up to the indignant, groggy and still mostly asleep thought that I was NOT on a water park ride why on earth did the water splash in and get my PJ’s wet?? It took me a few minutes to wake up enough to realize that my water had broken. After I got everything cleaned up I woke Steve up and told him what had happened and informed him that since contractions appeared to be totally gone my plan was to go back to bed and sleep until they decided to show up again. I had begun to violently shake and he cuddled up next to me. This was right around 1:30am. I thought at first the shaking was entirely due to cold, and maybe it partly was, but then I realized it must be hormonal or something. The shaking continued somewhat abated, and then three back to back contractions hit at once. “We’d better head to the Birth Center now” I told him.
Texting of labor support began and the last minute items were grabbed on the way out the door to the Birth Center. It is a bit over an hour drive to the Birth Center and things got progressively more intense on the way over. Definitely not the most fun way to labor…in a vehicle on curving roads. Still, it was all very manageable and I employed the deep breathing and relaxation techniques that were so helpful to me with the Doodlebug’s Birth. Arriving at the Birth Center just after 3 AM, the midwife ascertained that we were now at a solid 5.5-6 cm and 100% effaced. Yay. We were on our way, but seemed to have a lot of work ahead of us.
Mentally I prepared for several more hours of gradual progression and secretly hoped we would have a baby by 9 AM, but feared it would be more like noon. In between the three min. apart contractions I was able to talk, laugh and interact with everybody. Inside though I began to really long for that birth tub. After what felt like ages, but was only about 30 minutes, the checks were done, the tub was filled, and I gratefully sank into it. Relaxing completely is so much easier when you are able to completely float. The tub was such a relief and I settled in for the long haul. I was still able to laugh and talk between contractions and the mood was very lighthearted. I wasn’t in the tub long though before I began to feel overwhelmed. About every other contraction for a while, I informed Steve and Doulas that I really didn’t think I could do this anymore and then calmly gave instructions in between contractions. Steve ran off to find out if I could possibly be in transition already??? The midwife confirmed that yes, I really was so he came back excited with his mental timeframe for labor adjusted.
In what felt like no time at all I was fighting the urge to push. It was too early. I knew it was too early. After one particularly “pushy” contraction I opened my eyes and apologized and said “I’m so sorry, I just couldn’t help it”. Around this point time ceased to exist for me and although my ears heard the ridiculous comments being passed around like “Steph we are going to have a baby VERY soon!” the logical part of my brain was like “Yeah right…soon is sooo relative. Four to six hours from now is soon but I still don’t think I can make it that long” Very shortly after that a huge-massive-monumental contraction hit and in the course of the one contraction Caleb’s head was brought down from +1 station to being half delivered. What a time for a contraction to end. As it turns out he was sunny-side up and my labor support inform me that his eyes and nose made it out while the rest of him waited for me to get my act together and get him out of there. Thankfully a second massive contraction quickly followed on the first ones heels and he was out.
Mentally I was still so far checked out from the reality that I had just birthed a baby the Midwife had to tell me multiple times to pick him up out of the water. It was so surreal to scoop his little body up and hold it against mine and realize it was all over. He started working on breathing right away and gave a tiny indignant sob or two over how difficult the whole thing had been for him. After that he settled in and started trying to open his eyes and look around. I was absolutely elated. Steve and I cried as we admired the wee arrival.
Caleb and I right after birth
It was right about 3 hours from the time my water broke until I held Caleb in my arms. The contractions seemed to just get more and more intense like a freight train coming, and the sequence of events surprised everyone. The nurse didn’t get called in time to make it and showed up about 20 minutes after the birth. I was only in the water for maybe an hour before it was all over. As hard and intense and painful as it was, it was no nice to be able to have mental, and physical reserves, and be able to bounce back and interact with everybody and my baby for hours after the birth – sore, but happy. Caleb stayed awake for about 4 hours after the birth, and seemed very content once he got warmed up. It was such a different experience than before where we all just wanted to crash ASAP including Noelle. 😀
Caleb weighed in at a healthy 7 lbs. 8 oz. All of one ounce more than his sister. We are so thrilled. So grateful. Marveling at God’s goodness to our little family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the prayers for this little mans safety over the past few months.
Caleb Joshua Tallent