Week 40 came and went with no labor story to speak of. Each day I was certainly getting more and more impatient. Part of the reason was because I was so anxious to meet Abigail. The other part was that I was getting more and more physically uncomfortable day by day. The pain and pressure on my pubic bone was becoming more debilitating and was making it hard to even walk without hurting. I was having off and on bouts of nausea that I could not pinpoint to anything else but the pregnancy. And the wait was kind of liking expecting Christmas, and then the day coming and being told it was not time yet. Maybe in one more day . . . or NINE!
At my 40 week checkup, I was measuring around 35 weeks physically and up 30 lbs total. My blood pressure was just a tiny bit high for me (119/? I think, it's usually under 100). I was dilated between 2-3cm. I had 2 more nights of false contractions but nothing exciting otherwise.
My next checkup was at 41 weeks and 2 days. I had a non-stress test performed and Abigail was doing just fine. My blood pressure was back to normal and I reached 31 lbs of gained baby weight. My usual midwife was out of town on vacation so I saw another one of the midwives in the office. I expressed my fears and worries to her about being so overdue, being Group B Strep positive and it being my fifth baby, wondering how quickly I needed to get to the hospital. She calmed my fears, checked my dilation (which was then between 3-4cm) and we decided she'd "stretch" me a bit to see if we could get things going. Otherwise, I was scheduled for an induction three days later if nothing happened beforehand.
Fast forward about 5 hours (approximately 4pm). I was having really strong contractions but they were not at all regular and they were really far apart (think 20+ minutes). I kept telling myself that they were probably more painful because of the procedure she'd done that day and I was being very active around the house, likely just increasing my Braxton-Hicks contractions. Yet as the time went on, I began to think maybe this was really it. They were still not consistent but were becoming very painful - enough so that I'd excuse myself to another room so I didn't frighten the kids. My husband got home from work and got dinner prepared for us (I was not feeling up to it). By the end of the meal, I told him I was going to sit down and start timing these contractions and see if they'd stop when I rested. Well, they were still all over the board time-wise but they certainly didn't stop. My doula suggested I head on in to the hospital as soon as they were less than 10 minutes apart because of my quick labor history and the Group B Strep. By 7:45pm, we were headed out the door with bags packed ready to have a baby!
We arrived at the hospital without much excitement. We parked in the regular parking lot as I had plenty of time between contractions to walk to the ER. I checked in, feeling completely silly as it didn't "look" like I was really in labor from outside appearances. My contractions were still pretty far apart and I know the staff probably thought I was crazy. I made it a point to tell them this was my fifth labor and my midwife told me to come on it. I was taken to my room and after about twenty minutes, the antibiotics were started to treat the Strep.
Now here we were. James, my doula Betsy and myself, hanging out in the L&D room, commenting on the beautiful Louisville skyline from my window, and waiting. Just waiting. As is typical of my labors, things were going pretty slowly at this point. My contractions continued to come hard when they came but there was much time in between. Betsy kept telling me we needed to get them to pick up and I kept arguing with her. I told her I wanted this baby but I didn't want the contractions. hahaha . . . She reminded me that it was a package deal. I paced around the room a bit, rocked a little on the birth ball, listened to my YouTube Labor and Delivery playlist, played around on Facebook and texted friends and family. My babysitter laughed that I was texting her about details while in labor. Well, I'm just weird like that.
About 10pm, our friend and photographer Kara showed up. We were planning to text her when we knew how far I had progressed but when I hadn't responded, she decided to just go ahead and join us. And it was a good thing she did. Around 10:30, things really started to pick up. My contractions had finally zoned in and were coming approximately every three minutes and hard. The nurse came in and told us that we'd have to do a full strip on the baby monitor at 11 and if I wanted, she could check my dilation then. So that was our plan. My body started shaking and I couldn't control it. Historically, that means I'm in transition. About fifteen to twenty minutes later, I was crying. Again, historically, that means the baby is coming ASAP. When the nurse came in at 11, she checked me and I was 8.5cm dilated. My doula and I explained to her that whatever my dilation, this baby was coming VERY soon. On the next contraction, I told her I could feel her head and she quickly ran out and grabbed the midwife (who was prepping to deliver another baby elsewhere).
Nurses crowded around and I lay on my side to push. As of this point, my water had still not broken and there was talk of Abigail maybe even being born IN it. That would've been cool. However, as her head pushed through, the water broke and out she came. There may have been two pushes? I was actually asked to slow down because her hand was up by her shoulder and they wanted to be careful that I did not get any tears. If you've ever been asked to slow down or not push at this point, you know how ridiculously absurd it sounds. HOW do I do that?! I was silently a little freaked out at this point because I did not hear any crying. But everyone else seemed calm so I tried not to let my imagination get me. Just moments later, she was placed on my chest and was indeed crying and healthy!
So Abigail Grace was born at 11:16pm on Monday, October 6. She was my biggest baby at 6lbs, 15.5oz and 20in long! We can't figure out which of the other kids she looks the most like but she was the first to get her Daddy's lips (and not my thin ones). So from the first set of contractions to delivery was about 6-7 hours. However, the hardest part of labor was really only 2-3 hours long at most. We were not able to get the full round of antibiotics in during the preferred time range. However, my pediatrician pointed out that my bag of waters remaining intact would have protected her through the birth canal and was even a blessing in disguise really. She was my first baby without ANY jaundice and we even got to check out sooner than 48 hours as long as we brought her back the next day for her final hospital checkup.
I can't believe it finally happened after being 9 days "late." We're so excited to have her on the outside and the kids are totally smitten with her. Thank you for all the help and prayers along the journey. It was a joy!
*If you're interested in seeing pictures from labor and delivery, click here.
**For newborn/family pics, click here.