I love to read birth stories. There is usually excitement, drama, and joy, which are really all the elements you need for a good story! There is something so special about the miracle of birth and how God weaves it together to provide just what Mom and Baby need. Isabelle’s birth story is no different. It is the story of God’s protection and providence, even when we didn’t realize we needed it.
The Day Before
Those who know me well know that my body does not get the concept of going into labor. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do or how long I wait, my body just won’t do it on its own. Even so, with each baby I do nearly everything I can think of to get labor going and avoid an induction. It’s never been successful. Isabelle is our 5th child and it became clear she was going to be just like the others. She was refusing to come out on her own. We scheduled our induction to start the night she was 1 week late, on May 12th. I was dreading it. Just this once I really wanted to be able to avoid an induction, but once again my blood pressure was problematic so waiting any longer was ill advised.
In a desperate, last-ditch effort to get things going I decided to schedule another appointment to have my membranes stripped by one of the OBs in my office. It hadn’t ever worked with any of my other kids, but it was simple and low-risk, so it was worth a try! The doctor came in a bit perplexed by the plans for induction, but proceeded to strip my membranes. When she finished she said to me, “You know, when I looked at your chart I was really confused about why there was an order for cervical ripening to start your induction. You shouldn’t normally need that with a mom having her 5th baby. Now that I’ve checked you, I’m going to agree with that plan. You need it.” She then proceeded to tell me that I was only 2 cm dilated and that my regular OB was being generous when she said I was 10% effaced. OUCH! Way to dash my hopes, lady! Don’t get me wrong, she was very sweet and kind, but it wasn’t quite the news I had hoped for. Oh well, I made it through 4 inductions and I would make it through another.
I may not have been able to go into labor with my first four kids, but one thing I can do really well is contract. My body has master-level skills in false labor! With that in mind, it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise that I woke up the morning of the 11th with some mild cramping and contractions. I was a bit annoyed because we would be checking in late that night for my induction, which meant I had a bunch of errands to run. Knowing that it would be my last full day pregnant I snapped this one last ‘belly shot’ and then got my day rolling.
As I was getting the kids fed and ready to head out, those annoying ‘braxton hicks’ contractions kept getting more frequent and obnoxious. Even so, I had things to do and I wasn’t going to allow another round of ‘false labor’ to stand in the way. I needed to get ready for our induction that night! Little did I know, that ‘false labor’ was actually the real thing! By the time I got my kids to Payless to find new shoes, my contractions were coming every few minutes or so. Yes, you read that right. I took 4 kids shoe shopping, all by myself, while in early labor! I’m so glad that the shop was basically empty and there was a very kind man on shift, because I definitely wasn’t feeling terribly patient with my kids at that moment!
We wrapped up shoe shopping as quickly as possible, then headed across the parking lot to Target. In hindsight, I now understand why all the other customers in Target were giving me funny looks. Picture a massively pregnant woman (somewhere near the size of a beached whale), pushing a cart with two toddlers in it, with two young children walking next to the cart, stopping every few minutes to hunch over in pain while snarling at her children. I’m pretty sure the other shoppers were afraid I was going to deliver right in the middle of the cosmetics aisle! Even still, I had zero idea I was in labor. I was simply annoyed that this dang false labor was being such a pain in the butt (or should I say pain in the stomach)! As we wrapped up at Target I noticed things were starting to get more intense so I decided to nix the last of my errands and head home.
Heading to the Hospital
Since the ‘braxton hicks’ I was feeling were getting stronger, I messaged my husband to head home and then timed a few so I could tell my OB how far apart they were. Imagine my surprise when they were less than 2 minutes apart. YIKES! I called my husband and told him to get home ASAP. Thankfully my mom was already there so I loaded the car while I waited. As soon as he got home we dashed out the door and hurried off to the hospital. Since it was pretty obvious by looking at me that I was in labor they hooked me up and checked me immediately. In the 24 hours since my appointment the day before I went from 2 cm and 10% effaced to 3-4 cm and 60% effaced!
One of my big goals was to be able to avoid pain medicine during labor. The hospital we delivered at had labor tubs, so I immediately asked to get in. Thank the Lord, he sent me a nurse who had been a midwife in Poland in the 80s. That meant she had loads of experience with natural labor. She had no problem switching to the handheld doppler so I could stay in the warm tub. She didn’t mind my screaming and growling in pain. She didn’t give me any funny looks as I said ALL THE BAD WORDS while dealing with the contractions (seriously, I’m pretty sure the gruffest of long-haul truckers would have been blushing had he been there). It also meant that she could tell by my tone that when I said I was feeling sick and having pressure with my contractions, it was time to check me and call my OB!
Come back for part 2 of Isabelle’s birth story to read about the big ‘adventures’ that came with her birth and recovery!