For our third child, we were living in Maryland and had decided to use a birthing center about ten minutes from our house. We were told that the third baby is almost always the “odd one”. They don’t typically follow the labor pattern set by the first two. In spite of this, our biggest concern was that I’d have the baby in the car, or possibly, unintentionally at home. We practiced the back way of going to the birthing center, in case of traffic, and timed our ride there several times just to make sure we had it down.
We also had the concern about having two little boys to think about. The birthing center had a nice waiting room, stocked with toys and videos, so in a pinch, we could head over there with the kids, and let them play in another room, while we waited for friends to come to pick them up or stay with them.
The plans were in place. One of my best friends, Jenn, who lived in D.C. at the time, was going to come and watch the birth (if she wasn’t at work), a friend from church volunteered to come and watch the kids, if needed, and then my niece and her husband decided to come up and visit, with the added benefit that they would be around to stay with the boys, should it happen during the middle of the night.
The morning of my due date dawned. Like clockwork, I lost my mucus plug. We got excited and called our friends to let them know and then called the birthing center. I was having a few contractions, though nothing too hard. We quickly took showers and got ready.
Of course, by the time we got there, nothing was happening. They started a saline lock to start the I.V. antibiotics because of my positive strep B test. I finished that and it was pretty obvious nothing was going on. It was decided that we would go home and wait. While I could’ve come back in every 6 hours for the antibiotics, we decided that I could just administer the I.V. while at home.
My friend, Julie, offered to stay and watch the boys if we wanted to try to rest or whatever and I tried to sleep but really couldn’t. I think we spent the afternoon just talking and relaxing. Jenn showed up as soon as she could after work and then my niece and her husband arrived from North Carolina. It was like one big party. I was having occasional contractions. A few times in the evening, I remember they made me stop and pay attention, but they still were not bad at all. I don’t remember getting anxious about it, because I knew I was going into labor soon.
The party continued on. Finally, Julie, who had stayed all day, decided to go home to her husband around 9 or 10 p.m.. She was somewhat interested in being there for the birth as she had never seen one, so she and Jenn made plans to call when it was close (probably during transition). My niece decided to go to bed and then Jenn, Mr. French, and I kept talking until finally, at midnight, we decided we really needed to get to bed.
Of course, that’s when I started to have the harder contractions. They were 30 minutes apart, so I slept well in between. After a couple of hours, they started to pick up in frequency and intensity. About 2:30 a.m. I woke Mr. F up and said I thought we should go to the birthing center. He called ahead, woke Jenn up and got the car ready. By now, I couldn’t talk through them and had some difficulty getting down the stairs and out to the car. I laid down in the back seat while Mr. French drove through the dark streets.
I was mentally preparing myself to not be as far along as I hoped I was. I said to myself, I hope I’m at least a 6, but then wondered if I should lower it to a 5, just in case. I think I knew it wasn’t going as quickly as the last two times, but I was still hoping it wouldn’t go on too much longer. When we got there and the midwife checked me, I was a 6. I decided to try the whirlpool and I labored in there for what seemed like forever. The contractions were hard and I just felt like it was taking forever. Of course, it’s all relative, but I had become so accustomed to labor going quickly. The midwife checked me again and I was only a 7.
Jenn decided to call Julie, just to let her know things were progressing and to see if she wanted to come over. After the call, she came and told us that Julie had decided not to come after all. I didn’t blame her at all. In fact, I was thinking at the time, I would do anything right now to trade positions with her, all snug in her bed. I was so tired and ready to be done.
They talked me into getting out of the tub and going to the bathroom. When I got back out, I laid on the bed. I was feeling discouraged by how long it was taking. By now it was getting close to 5 a.m. and I had been in labor for about 5 hours. Longer than I had ever been. At this point, another woman came in close to delivery and so my midwife was moving between the two rooms until the second midwife could arrive to take over. The nurse stayed pretty close to our room. At one point, as things were intensifying, the midwife asked if I felt like pushing.
I said, “I don’t think so.” She left the room for a second.
But the very next contraction sent her running back in the room. She said she could hear the change in my voice. She checked me and I was complete.
At this point, Mr. French asked if he could help deliver the baby. I wasn’t too excited about it because I was comfortable with where he was supporting me, but I knew he really wanted to be at the other end and see the baby come into the world. He had wanted to do that the last two times, but hadn’t ever asked. So I agreed. The midwife showed him where to put his hands to support the perineum when I pushed. The nurse was at my side to help coach. Mr. French, following directions exactly, placed his hands in the proper place.
It was all I could do to get out the following words. “Too. Much. Pressure!” He immediately removed his hands. Then the midwife helped him get it right the second time.
Again, I pushed with contractions and it didn’t take too long before the baby finally made his way out into his father’s hands at 5:35 a.m.
Another boy. He was the first one with dark wavy hair like me and dark eyes like his father. He was 8 lbs. 3 oz.
The other woman, who had come in after me, delivered before me, was ready to leave before I was. Jenn had seen her in the hallway and said, “I didn’t want to tell you this, but she was wearing a dress walking out of here. You wouldn’t have believed she just had a baby.” This, of course, as opposed to me, slowing shuffling out, dressed in a baggy t-shirt and shorts, out-of-breath as I made my way to the car at least an hour after she had left.
Oh, well. We can’t all be superheroes.