My third child was born just over a month ago, on August 3rd, 2017. I had joked that the labor would only take three hours because my first had taken around nine and second only six hours. I was off by an hour – the whole thing, labor and delivery from start to finish, took only TWO HOURS!
The day before, I felt especially heavy, uncomfortable, and unable to sit, relax, or even walk. I had lower back pain and lower abdominal discomfort. I was tired too. I took a long nap that afternoon, which I never did, and before bed, I made last minute preparations for baby’s arrival: I ensured everything was in my delivery bag, put a sheet on the crib mattress, and I downloaded a contraction counter app on my phone. I was 42 weeks and a day pregnant. If you’re wondering why we hadn’t already put sheets on the crib, it’s because with baby one, I had the entire house ready at 36 weeks, and then we had to wait a whole six more weeks until baby actually arrived (read that story here). Dust gathered on the crib sheet while we waited, and I washed and changed it at least twice before baby finally came. So I was in no hurry this time around to put a clean sheet on the crib mattress.
I highly recommend using a contraction counter app during labor, by the way. It’s such a hassle to keep up with it on your own with a stopwatch. Plus, I now have this amazing record of the exact details of the labor. Which I will share below!
I woke up around one or two thirty in the morning with what I thought was a contraction. I started timing it but fell asleep before it ended (if it was even one at all). So the app read “error” or something when I next woke up, and I erased the record of it rather than invent an end time for what might not have been a contraction. I had expected to have contractions in the middle of the night because I had had a singular, highly-intense contraction in the middle of the night several hours before labor began with my second child (which you can read about here). I didn’t have any contractions during the night with baby three however, as far as I can tell. I woke up several times to use the bathroom, but I always fell heavily back into a deep, deep sleep.
At five in the morning, I awoke for good, with a contraction. It began at 5:08 am. They starting out being on average only five minutes apart but were lasting only 45 seconds or so until 5:38 am. Rather than write it all out, I took screen shots of the details saved in the app:
The dots on the left show the intensity. As you can see, on a scale of five, I considered them pretty intense right away, even though they weren’t horribly painful.
At 6:04 am, I gave my midwife a heads up that I was probably in labor with contractions occurring every 4 1/2 minutes and averaging 40 seconds in length. She said to let her know when they were closer to a minute long.
At 6:08 am, I texted my mother-in-law: “Probably going to have a baby this morning. NBD.” and then “Everyone is still asleep.” She asked if she should go ahead and come over to watch the kids, and I told her not to rush. Did you catch that foreshadowing?
I rolled over and nudged my husband awake, telling him I was in labor. He thought I was joking at first I was so nonchalant about the whole thing. I said, “Nope. Go ahead and get everything ready, I don’t really want to get up yet.” Because I didn’t. If you’ve ever been pregnant or close to someone who has been pregnant, you probably know that you’re supposed to sit or lie down when you think you are in labor to see if the contractions peter out and go away, as a means of making sure the labor is real. Since my contractions were already under five minutes apart and intense, I DID NOT want to know what they would be like once I stood up.
But I did get out of bed. You can see at 6:15 am, below, I had my last, long break between contractions before baby was born. Three and a half whole minutes! That’s around when I got out of bed. Once I was up, the contractions came much quicker and with more intensity (Note the dots on the left of the pics).
At 6:20 am after experiencing a very intense contraction, I texted my mother-in-law to hurry over – hardly ten minutes after telling her not to rush, lol! Checking my stats on the app, I then texted my midwife at 6:23 am: “Over 50 seconds and every 3 1/2 minutes.” Followed by: “Intense.” She said she would see us in an hour.
I hardly remember what occurred over the next twenty minutes. All I know is that I couldn’t move from the spot where I stood in the kitchen, and that I was experiencing contractions almost every other minute. If you aren’t aware, the ‘frequency’ is calculated from start of contraction to start of contraction. So at 6:30 am and 6:32 am, I had a minute long contraction followed by only a minute’s reprieve before the next one started.
I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, could hardly think. I bore it all in silence. The kids were still asleep. My husband was running around, gathering things and taking them to the car.
At 6:40 am, I texted our midwife again, knowing I couldn’t wait a whole hour: “Down to 2 minutes 15 apart.”
She asked if we were already on our way, and I answered that we were about to be. I was ready to go, though not actually ready. It was a struggle to slip on my shoes, which were flip flops, lol, and my mother-in-law wasn’t there yet. I was almost prepared to leave the front door unlocked for her with the kids still asleep in their beds while we headed to the birthing center; my labor pains were that intense. But never fear, we didn’t have to do that. My mother-in-law arrived just in the nick of time.
I waddled outside either having contractions or pausing every few feet to have them. You can see the change when I started walking (instead of standing still) most acutely at 6:49 am. I had a 54 second long contraction and then exactly 49 seconds later, starting having another, at 6:50 am. That contraction, I had in the front yard, leaning against a giant oak tree while my husband rubbed my back, fearing I wouldn’t be able to even get in the car.
I sat on a towel for the drive in case my water broke in transit. Somehow, that minor cushion made all the difference in the world during the ride compared to what I had experienced during my second pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, the car ride was still immensely uncomfortable, but the cushion helped. Consider it my labor tip #2: plan to have a towel in the car for the ride to the hospital or birthing center for comfort and in case your water breaks!
The drive from our house to the birthing center usually takes around fifteen minutes. We made it in ten. We passed a cop while going 50 in a 35 mph zone at one point, because of an annoying truck we had to pass (we weren’t speeding that much for the other parts of the drive, promise). Our hazard lights were on, and somehow, I managed to breathe, “I don’t care (about the police). Let ’em follow us to Labor of Love and see me having contractions in the street.” The cop did not pursue, lol. Must have sensed my pain.
And now the fun part! I told you my labor was only two hours long. Time is almost up! At 7:03 am, I sat inside our parked car outside of Labor of Love, waiting for my contraction to end so I could move. In the thirty contraction-free seconds that followed, I walked up the path and two short flights of stairs to the front porch of the building.
The door was locked. We knocked. No cars were in the drive. I had another contraction, leaning against a porch chair and then against the wall. I felt pressure and knew. It was time to push. I gasped at my husband that he needed to call the midwife. As he fumbled for his phone, I remembered that he didn’t have her number.
I texted her, “Time to push,” at 7:06 am.
She immediately called me. I was confused and breathless during the brief conversation. But I got out that ‘no, her assistant wasn’t there yet, and yes, we were waiting on the front porch.’ I got off the phone.
7:07 am. The next contraction started. I pressed my hands against the wall and braced myself, feeling an overwhelming desire to push. My water broke. Right there on the front porch, just beside the front door.
I stopped worrying about the contraction timer, lol. As my contraction was ending, a car pulled into the driveway in my peripheral vision. A few seconds later, our midwife opened the front door. She confirmed with me that I could make it up the stairs without her and then raced up ahead of us – she had to get the room ready!
My husband had a giant bag to carry and the front door to close (I think he actually left it open in his haste, lol!), so I didn’t even think to have him help me. I bear crawled up the stairs behind her, hands and feet dragging my body ever upward as I gasped and moaned that I needed to push, ‘the baby was coming!’ LOL!
As I came to the upstairs landing, I could see the midwife stripping the bed, gathering supplies, and pulling on gloves. I couldn’t get up. I was on the ground, hands and feet, constantly enduring a contraction it seemed, and I didn’t have the strength or energy to push myself up to stand. So I Mowgli-crawled into the room and towards the bed, lol.
They pulled me up as I approached the bed, and I collapsed onto it, partially on my side. One hand gripped my husband’s upper arm, squeezing skin and muscle, as he stood beside me.
“Yep, you’re crowning. Go ahead and push,” the midwife said.
“You’re doing great. You’re amazing,” my husband crooned.
I tried to ask if my position was alright, should I move? And if my husband was okay, was I hurting his arm? (If you’ve read my L&D Story #2, you’ll recall that I bit him that time around LOL)
“You’re fine. You’re doing great. Keep pushing,” came their responses.
Baby’s head was out. I pushed again, expecting the body to follow easily. It didn’t. I pushed again. Slow and steady, slow and steady. It felt like forever. Ever pushing.
It seemed like I pushed for a while, but I didn’t. My last contraction on the porch began at 7:07 am and lasted over a minute. The midwife arrived, I crawled up the stairs, I pushed – all of that happened in FIVE, count ’em, FIVE minutes! Baby was born at 7:13 am.
The first thing my husband said was, “It’s a boy.” He couldn’t even process that we hadn’t known and then suddenly we did – the whole thing was such a joyous event. I felt the same way. I was so excited to finally have a baby to hold in my arms, that the gender reveal seemed less of a surprise than I had expected it to be, haha.
Start to finish, the whole labor and delivery took two hours, two hours and five minutes to be precise: from my first contraction at 5:08 am to baby’s birth at 7:13 am. And he beat our second child’s record of how long we were at the birthing center before he was born too. We arrived at 7:02 am and were only there for eleven minutes before he was born. Our daughter took a whole fifteen minutes to be born after our arrival at the center, lol.
This third experience of labor was crazy! I was having contractions every two minutes for the last half hour, meaning one minute of pain, one minute of relief, over and over again. Needless to say, after waiting 42 weeks, I think I deserved to have a quick labor, and after having such an intense, constantly painful labor, I think I deserved to not have any pain afterward – and I didn’t!
Miraculously, after baby was born, I felt amazing. Absolutely amazing. I could move, I could bend. I wasn’t sore. And I didn’t become sore later. I was tired, but that was it.
We were at the birthing center for three hours. Around ten o’clock we made preparations to leave. Our four year old and two year old ran out to meet us when we arrived home with their only-three-hours-old little brother. They immediately wanted to hold, pat, and kiss him.
They’ve been absolute darlings to baby ever since. They haven’t gotten jealous of him, give him way too many kisses (seriously, I have to tell them to stop sometimes lol); they tell me when he’s sleeping, when he’s crying, when he’s happy, when he’s awake. They constantly ask to hold him, say ‘aww’ and coo over him. It’s incredibly sweet. Almost as sweet as our precious, brand new baby boy.