It was four days until my due date, and I headed off to the midwife’s office for my weekly checkup, leaving the boys with my mom-in-law. I was feeling largely pregnant, but that was it. My checkup went great, but I was still only dilated to about 1. Kind of depressing when your due date is in a few days. I did my grocery shopping with the thought in the back of my mind- “This very likely could be the last time I get groceries before Owen is born.”
I got home, put the boys down for afternoon naps, put my groceries away, and then sat on the recliner and put my feet up. I tried to nap, but was starting to have cramps that would come and go and were super uncomfortable. An hour later, they were getting so uncomfortable that I had to breathe through them. I still didn’t think it was labor though.
The boys woke up from their naps, and it was time to make supper. Archer had a bad cold and was super fussy and cried and cried, so I set him on the counter beside me. The whole time I was making supper, I had to stop every five minutes and moan and clutch the counter in front of me (with crying, hungry boys all around me, pulling on my skirt.).
I called Nolan to see what time he’d be home for supper, and he said that he was going to be working late that evening. I said o well, that’s fine (while sobbing inside) and told him- just a warning- but i might be in labor. He asked if he should come home, but I said no, because for some insane reason, I still wasn’t convinced this was the real thing. I finished making supper, put the boys in their highchairs with food, made myself eat, and then laid on the couch.
Well the contractions started getting harder and harder and were very consistently five minutes apart. I called Nolan back and said, PLEASE come home, and that I now was pretty sure I was in labor after all. He replied that he was at a job 45 minutes away and would start home as soon as he could. I got off the phone and cried and cried while the boys sat in their highchairs and poor sick Archer screamed.
Those next 45 minutes were pretty nearly the worst 45 minutes of my entire life.
I had been planning to labor at home for awhile and then go to the hospital when it was nearly time for Owen to be born. But when my husband walked in the door, all I wanted to do was leave my crying children and head for the quietness of a hospital room. So we called my midwife, my doula, and my mom-in-law (to come stay with the boys. Bless her heart, she was there in ten minutes) and finished packing our bags in between contractions.
I had never ridden to the hospital before while in active labor, and boy, is it not fun. Every tiny bump in the road during a contraction felt like a speed bump. We were still timing my contractions and they were now 3 minutes apart and so painful.
On our way my midwife, Janet, called and said that she was so sorry, but the doctor she works with was not allowing her to deliver the baby after all. He hadn’t realized that I was having a vbac so soon after the twins were born (13 months to be exact). Because of it being a high risk delivery, he was going to deliver Owen himself. It was a HUGE disappointment to me, because I love my midwife, but I was relieved that if a doctor had to deliver my baby, that it would be Dr. Gentry. He delivered Liam, and is an excellent doctor to work with. Another comfort to me was that my doula, Julia, would still be with me, helping me through labor, and fighting for as natural a birth as possible for me.
We got to the ER, checked in, and Julia joined us. I got to be that classic laboring pregnant woman in the ER that moans and pants as she clutches her belly with contractions, while everyone watches. When the nurse arrived with the wheelchair to take us to our room, Julia encouraged that I walk there instead, so I did. The contractions were still about every three minutes.
Once we got to our room, they checked me, and I was only at a four. WHAT. With how intense my contractions were, I was sure I would be dilated further. I had been laboring since 2:00 that afternoon, and it was now 8:30. This wasn’t going to be the speedy delivery I had hoped for.
I bounced on my birthing ball for awhile, while my amazing doula applied pressure to my lower back with each contraction. It helped incredibly much to ease the pain! I was so thankful to have her there. Not only did she work so hard to help me be as comfortable as possible, she also offered me so much support and encouragement and motivated me to keep going. Nolan also liked having her there because she told him ways to help, and he could relax more and just be there with me.
After laboring for a few more hours, Owen’s heart rate showed some signs of stress, and so Dr. Gentry came in and broke my water to get things moving faster. I was not happy with that, because now I was confined to the bed, and it was MISERABLE. Because of the way Owen was laying, I had to lay on my side in order for them to keep the heart monitor on him, and could barely move. The contractions were so intense and I now could only lay there and try to breathe through them.
The next part of my labor is just kind of a blur to me. I remember crying and breathing and Julia telling me that I was doing such a good job, and I just wanted it all to be over.
The nurse came in and said that because I was still only at a six, and Owen’s heart rate was still wacky, that they wanted to start giving me pitocin to make my contractions harder and much closer together to make labor progress even faster. At that point I gave up. I had been planning to go without an epidural like I did with Liam, but I was already barely able to think clearly during the contractions and felt like I was at my max pain level tolerance.
I asked for some kind of pain relief, and we decided to try Nubain (that or Demerol- I can’t remember which) to take the edge off. Well it did absolutely nothing but make me feel drowsy and slightly delirious. So I caved and got the epidural that I was NOT going to get. BEST. DECISION. EVER. Immediately the pain was gone, and I only felt the pressure of the contractions. I was exhausted, and soon fell asleep. It was now around one o’clock in the morning.
A few hours later, a nurse came in and woke me to do a cervical check, and I was completely surprised when she said that I was fully dilated and ready to push! Apparently the epidural helped my body relax which was what it needed to transition.
I woke my also sleeping husband, and told him it was time! Nurses came from everywhere, and Dr. Gentry came in. Everyone was so calm, I was in my complete right mind with no pain, and WE WERE ABOUT TO MEET OUR BABY BOY. It was surreal.
Dr. Gentry told me that this wasn’t going to take long at all because he could already see Owen’s head. That was so encouraging to me, since Liam’s birth was very difficult, and had required an episiotomy plus suction to get him out.
I started pushing, and in only ten minutes, at 3:10 A.M., he was born, wailing that gurgling newborn cry that always makes me burst into tears. He was here! They put him on my chest immediately (which I did not get to do with any of my other babies), and it was pure heaven. He was so perfect, and so tiny, and the fact that he was my fourth baby did not make the wonder any less wonderful.
The next part is also a blur to me. Apparently, while pushing, I had some varicose veins that ruptured, and I started hemorrhaging. I asked them to take Owen, because I was passing out. They laid me back and tried to get me to respond while the doctor stitched and stitched to try to stop the bleeding. Nolan said I looked awful, and that my lips were all blue and my face was white as a sheet. Thankfully, they were able to get the bleeding under control and I soon came to and was able to talk again. (They later gave me two units of blood because I lost so much, and couldn’t get out of bed without fainting.)
Once I felt better, and the room was all cleaned up, and everyone left, it was just Nolan, and me, and Owen. I was finally able to really look at my baby boy, and soak in every little detail that was him. His little wisps of hair, his button nose, his wee finger and toes, and those little newborn squeaks.
My sweet Owen Ben, you were worth every pain. I would do it all over again, to have you. Your name means young warrior, son of my right hand. I pray you grow up to be a man of strength, who fears the Lord, and is gentle, and always kind to others. May you advance The Kingdom in ways your daddy and I cannot. You are loved and you are wanted, and you are one of God’s greatest surprise gifts to us.
( I need to include a picture of my sweet doula who helped deliver Owen. I cannot say enough good things about her, and I highly recommend having a doula at your delivery, especially if you are planning to have a drug free birth! It’s such a relief to have someone there coaching you, telling you what to do when you can’t think clearly, and to have someone encouraging you every step of the way, and allowing your husband to be completely present with you during your labor.)