End of Pregnancy – “Early Labor”:

Early labor. Photo by Wild Heart Photo and Film by Amanda Smith

I’ll start at the beginning of the end with my birth story and break it up into 3 parts. I feel as though this played out if acts if you will and this seems the appropriate way to tell it. As I have stated before, this pregnancy was really rough for me physically. This was mostly due to the extra hormones required to keep the pregnancy viable but, I was also really sick up until about 30ish weeks. After that, I finally felt like the normal pregnant person I usually am. I was enjoying it more and I was able to fully eat again. During the end of my pregnancy I was still taking births as a Doula and a Student Midwife. I did my last Doula birth mid December and I was taking Midwifery catches all the way through and past my due date.

Texting my partner and Midwife team Photo by Wild Heart by Amanda Smith

In previous pregnancies, I had only gone to 40+2 and 40 weeks exactly and I had zero postpartum complications so it felt safe to take about 4 catches throughout January because chances of me going into labor on the same day as some else was very low. I also had assumed that this little girl would come at the beginning of her window since she had given several scares throughout my pregnancy. One at 15 weeks with lots of bleeding and contractions that put me back on progesterone supplementation for a bit and then another contraction episode around 32 weeks where I had to lay down at the birth center and take some herbs to stop it. I also had a ton of toning contractions and even at 38 weeks I had a round of consistent contractions at night that stopped in the morning despite my efforts to keep it going. I was dilated to a 3, then to a 4 and we did everything to try and keep me going since I was having so much prodromal labor. When we tell you as a Midwife that a sweep and herbs and caster oil will not work unless baby is ready… we mean it and I am a prime example. Even with this being my third pregnancy and despite dilation and contractions, my body was not ready to go into full blown labor.

Rebozo

This period of waiting was the biggest mind game I ever could have imagined. There was a LOT of crying in January. A lot of processing and releasing things I could not control. My due date came and went and even though previously I had delivered really close to and on my due date, and even though we knew her exact gestational age because we put her there in a clinic, even with weeks of contractions, she still was not ready. I knew IVF babies tend to come later, and I had prepared a bit for this possibility but it just was not what I thought would happened with everything leading up to this point.

I was really surprised at just how upset I was watching the days past my due date as they kept adding up. I still attended births because I felt great and I even caught a baby the day after my due date, at 40+1, very very pregnant. I felt great physically and I do feel like it helped me emotionally to keep busy. Then came 41 weeks and still nothing. At this point, I was starting to worry a bit. I have never had to face the possibility of timing out of midwifery care and being medically induced. I knew I still had 6 days left, but each day closer to midnight at 42 weeks, the more worried I became. Another factor in this process was that it isn’t my baby. I was carrying for a friend of mine and our relationship had become a bit strained and I did not want them to be worrying to the point where I would have to go in for an induction despite baby being perfectly fine. The horror story running through my mind was that I would be in the hospital, hooked up to medication and machines forcing this baby out of me while a room full of people stared and judged and I couldn’t get away. When those images and worries started coming, I decided it was time to have a serious chat with my fetal passenger and to let them know that the way we had planned to birth at home without medication was a much nicer way to labor than to have medications force her out when it was not medically necessary.

Days kept passing and then finally, at 41+2 at about 7:45pm, I was eating lentils and watching some trash reality tv, and by belly buddy got really active. Like mosh pit in my stomach active. Then, I felt a slight little gush. At first I thought to myself that it was probably just more mucus plug because I had been losing tons of that, but then the slight gushes continued and it actually soaked the pad I was wearing. I had a few amnio swabs so I checked myself and it was an immediate positive. I was so excited because this means that there’s no turning back and statistically I would have her within the next 24ish hours (or at least have labor started). I texted my midwife team and my doula to update them and I went to bed immediately, expecting to start labor within a few hours. Silly me. I woke up the next morning still super pregnant at 41+3. I decided to not let it get to me but it was hard emotionally because again, this wasn’t my baby and I couldn’t make certain decisions. I would have to go into the hospital to be augmented if labor didn’t start soon on it’s own even though I was GBS – and I knew that it was safe to stay home for a few days with MFM monitoring, but I knew they would get anxious and I respected that but yet again, I was at the point of dreading a possible transfer and induction.

Walking to help engage baby lower.

My Midwife, Faith, came to do vitals on us in the morning when I was still not in labor. We both looked great and we decided to let my intended parents know that I had released waters and that labor should be sometime today and that everything was fine. I was feeling some pressure but nothing major and we made the decision that if I wasn’t feeling more things by the afternoon I’d start taking some herbs to get it going.

My photographer came up to be with me because I have a history of pretty quick labors and I was feeling consistent tightening, however, for me, they usually are not “painful” or intense until I am closer to about 7cm dilated so we knew there was a chance of her missing it. She hung out with the boys and I. My Doula, Mychal came over and we did some rebozo sifting and stretching to loosen up my ligaments and get baby maybe a bit lower to get this labor thing going. We went on a walk and both my Photographer and my Doula could tell when I was having contractions, but I reassured them they were not anywhere near painful and that this could take a while. I started the herbs and I did one round of caster oil just in case because I knew that it could take up to 12 hours for the caster oil to take effect. I also continued to eat really well and hydrate as well as just rest and enjoy the day. I set up the house and my room for birth whenever it decided to come.

To be continued…

Early labor tickles with my youngest. It’s always nice when birth is family centered.

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