After my October marathon in 2014, the plan was to start trying to have a baby in hopes of a fall 2015 delivery with plenty of time to bounce back and train for the 2016 Boston Marathon--I know, family planning around marathons, I'm insane. Thankfully after a few months of trying, I took a pregnancy test a few days prior to my missed period and on January 21st, we found out we were expecting baby #3! I was quick to call the doctor and schedule lab work as well as obtain a prescription for additional progesterone hormone--2010 was the year of miscarriages and the last thing I wanted was to repeat that heartache. So, just as I had with Caroline, I began taking Prometrium every day for the next 12 weeks to ensure this pregnancy had the right amount of hormones to survive. The worrying and praying for a healthy baby was constant, and I am so grateful that God used me to create such a strong, healthy baby.
We got to see our little sweetie via ultrasound at 10 and 20 weeks, and decided not to find out the gender this time, a surprise baby would be fun! The first 4 months of the pregnancy were filled with lots of nausea, way more vomiting than I'd experienced in all of my pregnancies combined, and slow easy miles of running to try to maintain my sanity. It was hard to see my pace slow so quickly, and to experience difficulty running so early in my pregnancy, I had hoped to run until I delivered. I ran a 5k (7weeks), the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon (15weeks), the Freedom 4 miler (27weeks), and a sprint triathlon (29weeks), and finally had to call it quits after my 30th week of pregnancy due to pubic bone pain. I decided to be smart and remain injury free, I mean, I have a marathon to run next year and all! So the last 9 weeks of the pregnancy were filled with walks, squats, stretching, and lots and lots of contractions.
The baby had been transverse (laying sideways) for most of the pregnancy, so at 32 weeks I started seeing a chiropractor that was skilled in the Webster technique of aligning the pelvis so that the baby could turn. At 34 weeks we had our last ultrasound and got to see a 3D picture of the baby's face. My husband was convinced it was a girl the entire pregnancy, I thought it was a boy. The baby was still transverse, not to mention huge. At 34 weeks the baby was measuring like a 36 week baby, weighing approximately 6lb3oz in the 93 percentile already! My first baby weighed 9lb12oz so I knew I could birth a big baby, but I was hoping that by running so much I would have a 'normal' sized baby this time, no such luck. By my 35th week the baby had turned and was head down. Braxton Hicks contractions came and went, and by 37 weeks I was contracting for hours at a time on a daily basis, constantly wondering if it was the real deal. At 38 weeks the doctor said my cervix was 3-4cm dilated and he suggested inducing me then, but I preferred to wait. By 39 weeks I knew I couldn't last much longer, I'd been having contractions for 3 days and was nervous that my water would break and I would have an impromptu home birth--refer to Caroline's birth for reasons why I assumed I would go fast.
...On to the good part, the birth story!...
On September 25th, 2015 I was 39 weeks pregnant and planned to be induced. I had been having mild contractions still through the night and morning, but nothing as regular and aggravating as in the days prior. We headed to the hospital and arrived at 0530 to begin the induction. It always takes time to admit a patient, start an IV, obtain lab work, etc. So it was no surprise that the induction medication wasn't started right away. By 0715 the day shift nurse had checked my cervix, determined that I was still only 3cm and had placed a dose of Cytotec next to my cervix to induce contractions and cervical ripening. I started having more noticeable contractions within 15-20 minutes of the medication being inserted, but nothing that was painful. 90 minutes of fetal monitoring went by and then I was allowed to get out of bed to walk. We walked and climbed the stairs, I did lunges and rocked on the birthing ball. I spent as much time out of bed as possible in order to hopefully progress this labor.
By 1100 it was time to check my cervix. Even though I was having contractions, my stubborn cervix hadn't made much change. So at 1115 I got a double dose of Cytotec and spent 90 more minutes in bed to monitor the baby and my contractions. The baby looked great, and my contractions were coming every 3 minutes or so, but still didn't hurt. At 1245 I got out of bed to get moving again. By 1500 I had done a ton of moving, but was still 3cm. My cervix must be made of steel! I was having enough contractions, so the doctor chose to wait and see if my body would keep it up on its own. The nurse listened to the baby a bit and then I got moving again. I walked inside and outside, up hills, and up stairs. I took the stairs 2 at a time, climbing them sideways, anything to hopefully get this baby positioned correctly and to move this labor along! After at least 30 minutes of walking, I got in the shower and started doing squats and swiveling my hips with each contraction. I had a lingering suspicion that this baby was OP or sunny side up based on where I was feeling baby move and needed baby to turn its head in order to have an easier delivery. After 30 minutes in the shower I moved to the bed and used a birthing ball to support my upper body while I rocked back and forth on my hands and knees in another attempt to move this baby. My husband used a scarf and did an exercise called rebozo sifting, where he supported my belly with the scarf and jiggled it back and forth, he called it shining a bowling ball. Whatever he called it was fine, it felt good to relieve some of the pressure and weight and it helped to do this through the contractions.
By 1645 or so, the nurse wanted to monitor the baby and my contractions, and the doctor had decided to plan to come break my water by 1730. The contractions were actually starting to hurt a bit, and after a short time in bed I got on the birthing ball to wait for the doctor. Shortly before 1730 the contractions made a change, they finally hurt! I could rate them on the pain scale and I was happy to finally feel like I was in labor. My husband and I sat together and talked while listening to some OAR and watching the monitor as the contractions ticked by. I was having to hang on to the bed while I rocked because some of the contractions were really started to pinch. By 1800 the nurse came in and said the doctor would be here soon and that they were filling the waterbirth tub with the assumption that I would progress quickly after my water broke. My sister had arrived shortly before 1800 and I was happy to see her, knowing that she was excited to be there for the birth of her third niece or nephew.
Around 1830 the doctor came to my room, checked my cervix and said I was 4cm (was hoping for more progress than that!), and then he broke my water. Within minutes the contractions were stronger and I did not want to be in that bed. I listened to my marathon playlist on my iPod and counted down the minutes until I could get in the tub. By 1835 the nurse came in my room to see me moaning through contractions and knew I needed to get out of bed and into the tub. She checked me once more and determined I was still a tight 4cm but my cervix had thinned out and the baby was very low in my pelvis. I got out of bed, and started the trek down the short hallway to the room where the birthing tub is. I went to the bathroom one more time before getting in the tub and the pain was so intense I didn't think I'd be able to get up. After the contraction ended I hurried up and got in the tub, on my hands and knees to let my belly rest in the warm water. The staff was wonderful, they got me a fan, some cold washcloths for my face and neck, and they all stayed nearby to keep encouraging me through each contraction. Anette, the nurse who had been with me for most of the day, stayed near the tub as I moaned with each contraction. I felt like I must be progressing fast, as I was feeling pressure with contractions soon after getting in the tub.
By 1900 I was really hurting, moaning and crying out with each contraction as my husband sat in front of me, holding my hands and rubbing my shoulders as I survived each contraction. I remember looking to my left and dropping and F bomb, telling Anette how much it hurt. She knew what I was dealing with, she had 5 babies of her own without epidurals, and she kept telling me what a good job I was doing. The night nurse had arrived and suggested she check my cervix to give me an idea of where I was in labor, so shortly after 1900 she checked and said I was 7cm! As expected, once my water broke I got down to business. My body doesn't 'move' through labor, it blows through it in less than an hour--intense doesn't come close to describing the way I felt at this point. I did a lunge in the tub with my right leg forward, as they said my cervix was thicker on the right side. One contraction later and I was already feeling a ton of pressure. The nurses stepped out to call the doctor and within another minute I was yelling at my husband to get them back in the room because I had to push. He yelled, "she needs to push!" and they all came barreling in the room and throwing gloves on to catch a baby. My daughter had come in two pushes, so they were prepared to catch a baby without the doctor. I began pushing with everything I had, yelled out in pain once and cried to my husband that it was so hard and that our daughter had been so much easier to deliver. He held onto my face and told me I was doing great as I pushed and moaned. The burning I felt was so intense, I reached down in hopes of feeling the baby's head crowning. It wasn't but I could feel the baby just inside as it was ready to make its way out. The doctor came in the room after a few pushes and I heard my husband say, "The doctor's in the house! First time they've ever made it!" (both of our other kids had been delivered sans doctor thanks to my pushing efforts) Everyone laughed, except me, and then another contraction came. I think I was fairly delirious thanks to the adrenaline and the pain, because it all became a blur after that. The doctor tried to help stretch my skin as I pushed, to which I apparently replied with another F bomb, yelling at him, "F*ck that hurts!" He quickly stopped and apologized, which wasn't necessary. I was just in so much pain, I didn't know how else to respond. With the next strong push the baby's head began to emerge and as the head was delivered, the staff turned me from my hands and knees onto my back so the doctor could finish helping the baby out. After the head was delivered I remember feeling such relief, and not wanting to push anymore. One of the staff members got close to my ear and told me I had to push with everything I had. The staff pulled both of my legs back, I tucked my head down and pushed as hard as I could as the doctor freed the babies shoulder from under my pubic bone and the baby delivered into the water at 1917. Doc then lifted the baby up and put it on my chest. I cried out in relief and the baby cried immediately. Covered in a wet towel I lifted the baby off my chest to finally find out the gender and yelled out, "It's a boy!", to which my husband smiled and grabbed his face in excitement. He was like a little kid on Christmas, so surprised to have another son. He quickly came around the side of the tub to get a better look and we decided that he looked like his big brother. After a 12 hour induction, with only 2 hours of what I would consider active labor, our big new boy was here. After we let the cord pulse, and decided it was time to deliver the placenta, they clamped the cord and took the baby off to the nursery to check some vitals and allow me to get cleaned up. As I was getting ready to head back to my room, my husband came in and told me the BIG news, the baby weighed 10lb0oz! No wonder that delivery was harder than his 8lb sister!
At the end of the day, exhausted and elated, I had delivered another sweet baby in the water without pain medication. I had relied on my ability to push through the pain in my previous marathons in order to survive one of the toughest 'marathons' I'd ever endured. Connor Mattis was finally here and our family of five couldn't be happier.