In September of 1994, we discovered that God was blessing us with baby #5. After having our last two at home, unassisted, we never even gave it a thought as to where this baby would be born. During our monthly checks to make sure everything was progressing normally, we found that my fundal height was larger than my weeks gestation. We wondered if perhaps I was farther along than we suspected. We checked for a second heartbeat a couple of times, but were pretty sure that there was only one baby. It was just on the large side. I had already had a 9 lb. 12 oz. boy in the hospital, and a 9 lb. 2 oz. boy at home, so I wasn’t very concerned about it being too large.
Using my LMP as a guide, I figured the due date to be around June 8. But since all of my babies have been late, I didn’t expect it before the 15th. During the last few weeks, I was getting Braxton-Hicks contractions increasingly stronger and closer together, so that I was never sure when I would go into real labor. My cervix wasn’t changing all that much, as my husband would check almost every day, for his own peace of mind. He could feel that this baby’s head was not engaged, and we wondered if this was the reason why the contractions were ineffective. I was getting tired of calling my friend, L., to tell her, “Maybe tonight,” only to wake up in the morning with no contractions at all. My sister, R., was going to videotape the birth, so I was calling her, too, to make sure she would be prepared for whenever it happened. I tried using castor oil to make myself go into labor, but all it did was make me sick. I was so huge with this baby that I just wanted it to be over. My belly went straight out above my pubic bone, and you could feel some part of the baby’s body hung up on it.
On June 15, I was so tired of being pregnant that I decided to try to start some contractions with nipple stimulation. I had read in several different midwifery textbooks about using nipple stimulation to get a sluggish labor going, so I thought I would give it a try. Around 11 a.m, I twisted and pulled on my nipples for about 10 minutes, while I was soaking in the bathtub. I noticed a few contractions, but they weren’t very hard, so I didn’t really give them much thought. They did continue to come while I was soaking in the tub, so I tried the stimulation a little more after I got out. The contractions were definitely getting stronger, and then they started coming closer together.
It was now around noon and dh was at work, a 45 minute drive, with several errands to run on the way home. I wanted him to come home to be with me, as it seemed like things were starting to happen. I called him and told him,”No hurry, just do the errands, then come home.” Not long after that, contractions started coming faster, 4-5 minutes apart. I was starting to get a little concerned, as I thought I might have to deliver the baby by myself if things kept up like this. I knew dh had left work already and probably wouldn’t be home for at least an hour and a half. My 4 children were all gathered around me asking what was the matter. I asked them to go play quietly as Mommy wasn’t feeling very well.
I called my mom and asked her to come get the kids, and also called L. and R. to come, as it looked like the baby would be here very soon. I told them that I was worried that dh wouldn’t make it and I didn’t want to be alone. L. arrived first and asked if there was anything she could do to help me. The contractions were 2 minutes apart and very strong. I asked her to entertain the kids in the other room, because it was getting hard to concentrate. I told her that if dh didn’t get home soon she might be delivering a baby. My mom and R. got there shortly after.
This whole time, I had been sitting in my recliner chair, breathing through each contraction. My mom commented that by the looks of me, I would deliver within the hour. Not long after, dh arrived and was surprised by all the commotion. We explained the situation, and then I got up to go to the bedroom for him to check me. I was sure that I would be completely dilated, by the feel of the contractions. After getting up and moving around, I felt the contractions lighten-up. He checked and informed me that while there was some change since the last time he checked me, I was only about 3 cm. dilated. That was a big disappointment.
The contractions gradually slowed down to about 10 minutes apart. –[Too bad I didn’t know then what I figured out in a subsequent labor- if had I kept up the nipple stimulation, I probably would have had the baby much sooner.]– After my mom took the kids home, we began to try the fundal pressure that had caused my last baby to engage, but this one wouldn’t budge. We could feel that some part of the large baby was hung up on my pubic bone.
We all tried to rest as my contractions continued throughout the night, but by morning I was only about 5 cm. It looked like it would be awhile still, so L. and R. decided to go home and shower, and said they would come back as soon as we needed them. I thought I might take a walk, as I knew that walking was good for stimulating contractions.
They left around 8 a.m. and within minutes of them driving away, my water broke. I was real excited then, because I knew the baby would definitely come soon. Dh checked me with a sterile glove and found that the cord did not come down with the water. I was relieved. (That is the main concern with the water breaking early in labor or before the head is engaged. If the cord prolapses, the pressure of the baby’s head against it pinches off the oxygen, then the baby could die or be brain damaged. It is a definite obstetrical emergency.) One of my friends is a Labor and Delivery nurse at a local hospital, so dh called her to get some advice about how to handle this situation most effectively. She told us to check the heart rate more frequently than usual, and to drink lots of fluids.
We called L. and R., and they came back immediately. My contractions gradually picked up their frequency, and by 2:30 p.m. I was almost completely dilated. I had planned to try to squat to deliver the baby, but I was so large that it was very uncomfortable, and we also attempted to try it too soon. So dh had me sit upright on some kitchen chairs that he had rigged up as a kind of birthing stool. We had delivered our last baby this same way and it worked really well.
R. began videotaping about 3:15. When I felt the urge to push, dh said to push slowly. He was remembering that our last baby had come so fast he almost dropped him and he didn’t want to have that happen again. When I began to push, I expected the baby to come right away, as my other babies had taken only 2 or 3 pushes. But I pushed very hard and this baby hardly moved at all. After several pushes, the head was out, and what a very large head it was. Dh helped ease it out to try to keep me from tearing. After about a minute, I tried to push the rest of the baby out, but with all my strength, it wouldn’t move. [I remembered with dread that my first baby had been very large and gotten stuck. The doctor had a nurse push on my belly just above the pubic bone (called “supra-pubic pressure”) to help get him out.] Dh had L. push very hard right above my pubic bone area as I pushed, but the baby still wouldn’t come. This was all happening in a matter of about 2-3 minutes.
I thought that it might be easier for me to push if I laid down on the floor. So, with the baby’s head hanging out of me, I started to stand up to get down on the floor. As I stood up, I felt something shift inside and decided to try to push again. I said, “Wait a minute,” then pushed. The baby slid out at 3:31 p.m, right into daddy’s hands. All 10 lb. 8 oz. of him! I was so glad that was over! And not a single tear to show for it.
We named him Nathan, and he let the world know that he arrived with a loud, lusty cry. (He is still a very loud crier today.) L. cut the cord this time, and the placenta arrived with no complications. Before he was 2 weeks old, we took him to the ‘Well-Child Clinic’, where he was pronounced ‘healthy’. They didn’t like it that I refused a PKU test and immunizations, but we feel they are unnecessary. We applied for his birth certificate and S.S.# shortly after. We felt euphoric, and thankful that God had given us another blessing.
We had intended to have photos taken, but in the hurry and excitement of the moments, they were forgotten. I am very thankful for the video, though. It came out nice, and I will show Nathan his birth when he is older.