I very reluctantly decided to take another dose of castor oil on Saturday afternoon. Both times I had a good contraction pattern going the previous week, it was the morning after taking a dose of castor oil. Only then it didn’t do any dilation. I had, since then, been having lots of mucus discharge, was dilated to 3 cm., 60% effaced, and just sitting there, doing NOTHING! I was 20 days late, which is the latest I’ve been and twice. I figured the castor oil wouldn’t hurt, other than the getting it down part (disgusting), but if it did work, I would be holding my little one soon. So, 2 p.m. I chug-a-lugged it down mixed with a home-made Orange Julius. I had not been having any contractions except for an occasional Braxton-Hicks (BH), maybe 1 every other hour. It had been like that for days. I was a little discouraged, because from what I had heard from others, drinking raspberry leaf tea was supposed to make you have more BH contractions. I had had more during other pregnancies. This was the first pregnancy that I drank the raspberry leaf tea. We left for my mom and dad’s house for a family get-together/bbq. about 3:30 p.m. I noticed a couple of contractions on the way, but they were nothing to write home about, so I attributed them to BH. I had several more over the next few hours. They felt like nothing more than BH, too, so I didn’t get excited about them. I told my mom and sisters that I had taken castor oil again, and they were a little excited about maybe being the real thing this time. I was reluctant to get my hopes up. It was only a week since the last castor oil attempt that had caused lots of contractions that eventually petered out. It had gotten me all excited for nothing. Around 6:30 p.m., I mentioned to my mom that the contractions were getting closer together now, but were still nothing as far as being strong or anything. I didn’t even want to start timing them, for fear that I would just get excited for nothing again. We left for home, which is only a 15 minute drive, about 7:30. I had several more contractions on the way home, but still nothing to get excited about, strength-wise. When we got home, I asked d to check me to see if the contractions were doing anything, or if I should just forget about having a baby that night. When he checked, he said that there might be a slight change in the effacement, but not much else. There was more watery mucus than there had been before, though. He decided to wait to check during a contraction, and when I had one just a couple minutes later, he said he could feel the difference in the cervix during a contraction. He said he believed I was for sure going this time. Based on my previous labors, starting out from where I was right then, I figured I had at least a good 10 hours or more of labor ahead of me. I called my mom and two sisters who would be coming to the birth and told them not to get too excited yet. I said I was having regular contractions but it would probably take all night. I would have dh check me again in a few hours, then I would call them the let them know if there was any change. That was about 8 p.m. Dh asked why I called them and I told him I wanted them to be prepared in case it was tonight. Then he told me that he wasn’t really sure that it would be tonight, since there was so little change, and now my mom and sisters wouldn’t be able to sleep very well because they would be waiting for me to call them. Well, that put a damper on my mood real fast. First, he told me he was sure it would be this time, then he said he wasn’t so sure. (It just goes to show how predictable labor really is, right?) The contractions were continuing to come, but now I noticed a low ache in my back each time. I still was not timing them, but I could tell they were getting closer together. I had what felt like a little water dripping out, and when I checked my underwear, there was a wet spot. I had just gone potty not five minutes before, so I knew it wasn’t pee. I figured if it was my water, it would gush pretty soon, since that is what happened in my 5th labor, my water broke early on. I had a leaking feeling, then a few minutes later, the water poured out . I walked around in the house, just puttering, actually, and they were still coming pretty constant. A little stronger each time. I could feel them in my back, real low, but still not too bad. I had a few more feelings of dripping, with the wet spot getting bigger each time. I was waiting for a gush, but it never came. I knew this was real labor now, but thought I had a long time to go. About 9 p.m. I went downstairs to where dh was using the computer in his office and told him that my water might be leaking and I wanted him to check me at about 9:30. But I had forgotten about the hour-long radio program we always listen to at 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Since I didn’t want to miss any of the program, I put off the check until 10. I continued to have low back-ache type contractions throughout the hour, but still not too bad, with more leaking. When we sent the kids to bed, I told them that if the baby came tonight, we would wake them up so they could watch the birth. Dh checked me shortly after 10 p.m. He said I had not dilated much, but I was definitely effacing more, and when he pulled out there was a lot of watery mucus. I was excited to be in real labor, finally, but dreaded the hours to come. Dh started setting up the birth tub, but he said I shouldn’t call anyone yet, because I still had a long time to go. I said I wanted to at least call my mom, because I had told her I would let her know if there had been any change before she went to bed. I called her house, but the phone was busy. “Wouldn’t you know it, she’s on the internet,” I thought. I waited a while and tried again. Still busy. “Come on, Mom. You’re expecting a call from me. Get off the internet.” I waited a little while more, the contractions were getting stronger each time. I tried to call again about 10:30. Still busy. “MOM!” I called my sister, A., who would be riding over with mom when the time came, and I told her that I was definitely in labor, but I couldn’t get hold of mom to tell her. I told her I thought I still had several hours to go, if not all night. She said that she would keep trying to call mom and have her call me when she gets hold of her. I turned my attention to getting the video camera set up. I noticed that the time was wrong and started messing with the buttons, trying to reset it. I had a pretty strong contraction, way low in the back that I almost had to moan with to keep on top of it. “Wow,” I thought, “I don’t have to moan with contractions until late in labor.” I continued fussing with the camera. The next contraction took my breath away. [I forgot to mention, since about 6 p.m., the castor oil was having its effects on my system, and I had to visit the toilet about every ½ hr.] I found the camera’s instruction booklet and grabbed it on the run to the toilet. As I was sitting there, reading the instructions for setting the time, I have another very strong contraction that I really have to moan through. Dh, who had been in the kitchen setting up the tub, came in to take a look-see. When he saw me on the toilet, he said, “You better not have my kid in the toilet.” When I was done, I fixed the time on the video camera, 11 p.m., but not before having several more very strong contractions that required some breathing through. I had tried to call my mom a few more times, but the phone was still busy. I told dh, frustratedly, “I can’t get hold of mom. She’s on the internet. She knows I was going to call.” Dh asked why I didn’t email her since she gets her email almost instantly. It was about 11:10 p.m. when I went downstairs to dh’s office (and our only computer at the time) to email mom. I had several more good contractions that I had to breathe hard and moan through. They were real intense in my back area, but dh was not with me to put counter-pressure on my back. I got the email program running, but didn’t have to type anything because (thank goodness we have 2 lines) our phone rang. It was mom, “What’s up? A. said you want me to call.” (It turned out it was my dad on the internet, and mom had gone to bed. Since A. didn’t have internet, she called my other sister, R., who was planning to come to the birth, too, and asked her to email mom to tell her to call me. WHEW!! What a hassle!) Oh, I was so glad to hear her voice. I said, “I’m in labor!” She asked how far along, and I started to tell her that at 10 p.m. I wasn’t very far, but now I’m not too sure, but I had another very strong contraction and had to put the phone down so I could grip the arms on the chair that I was sitting in. My mom could hear me moaning pretty loud. When it was over, I picked up the phone and she said she would be over by midnight. I asked her if she would pick up S., a teenage girl I had invited to see the birth. She said she would, but I needed to call S. to let her know that they were coming and when. Before we got off the phone, I had another very strong contraction. I called S. and talked to her mom. Another contraction. They were very close now, but I still wasn’t timing them. Probably about 3 minutes apart and lasting a minute or more. I called R., to let her know everyone was on their way, but I could not talk long because a contraction was coming. She called my mom, “What’s going on? Charity’s not telling me much.” Mom told her I was in labor and couldn’t carry on a conversation right then. They decided that R. would pick up S., so she wouldn’t have to drive alone. After I was done calling everybody, I decided to make a quick post to my Unassisted Childbirth Forum to let anyone know who might check, that I was definitely in labor. If you go read the post, it is at 11:19 p.m. and it is titled “It worked!” In it, I said that I was in labor and hoped to be holding my baby by morning. Little did I know how soon it really would be. When I finished the post, I got up to go back up stairs, where dh had remained the whole time. I didn’t get far before another strong contraction gripped me. I had to stop and moan. I thought dh would hear me and come help me, but he didn’t. When it was over, I started up the stairs, but ½ way up, another one. I had to kneel on the stairs and moan through it. When it was over, I finished climbing the stairs, but as I got to the kitchen, another one. “Oh, man,” I thought, “these are pretty strong.” I didn’t dare hope that I was very far along. I was wondering how I was going to make it several more hours if it was this bad already. I got to dh, who was lying down on the sofa, looking at a book, and told him he needed to check me again, because it seemed like it was going pretty fast. It was about 11:25. I told him everyone was on their way and they should be here around midnight. As we went in to the bedroom, another good contraction hits. I lunged for the edge of the bed to kneel next to it and insisted that dh give me some good back counter pressure. Oh, it felt so much better when he did that. When it was over, I took my underwear off and started to climb on the bed when another contraction hits “I hate this,” I said to dh, “YOU did this to me!” He laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s what you say every time.” When he checked me, he was in there only a few seconds when he said, “Oh yeah. You’re at least 5 cm, maybe more, but at least 5.” I felt some relief at that point, because with my last baby, I went from 5 cm. to baby in an hour. That was in the birth tub. The tub was only half filled right then, so dh scrambled up to put more water in it. I said to him as he was leaving the room, “Well, we’ve got about an hour.” He said, “You got maybe 15-20 minutes max.” “Yeah, right,” I thought, “I’ve never gone that fast.” I suddenly felt effects of the castor oil doing its work again, and told dh, “I need to poop.” “Don’t have my baby in the toilet,” he reminded me. As I was sitting there, I got another real strong contraction that I felt a slight pushing urge with it. “No,” I thought, “It can’t be time yet.” As I finished wiping, another one, with a stronger urge, this time. I grunt with it, “UUHHGGG!!!.” Dh came in to check on me, and I groaned “Bear down!!” “No!” Dh exclaimed, “Don’t bear down yet, its too soon!” I finished in the bathroom, and called out to him, “Don’t forget to wake the kids, at least the older 3, when the time is near. I told them they could watch.” Dh came out of the bedroom with the video camera, trying to get it set up. “Okay,” he said. I walked out into the living room as dh went back into the bedroom to get a few more video items. Suddenly, I was gripped by the strongest contraction yet, and went down on one knee, near the sofa. As I was going down, I felt and saw at the same time the water pouring out all over the living room/hallway carpet. At the same time, I had an irresistible urge to push. I called out to dh, as I was groaning with the push, “Uughh, the water broke!” I felt an extreme amount of pressure. Dh was coming out of the bedroom just as it was happening. He looked down and saw a head. I didn’t realize that the head was even out yet. I heard him say, “Oh, Charity! Down on all fours!” I complied. He got behind me to hold the head so the baby wouldn’t just plop out on the floor. I felt another contraction and pushed and that was when I realized the head was already out. I reached through my legs and felt this wonderful, warm, wet, fuzzy ball. “My baby is almost here,” I thought. Dh suddenly remembered the kids. “Sally! Sally, if you’re awake, come here!” They had only been in bed a little over an hour and a half, so I was hoping they were awake. “Roy! Hey, Roy, come see the baby be born!” I heard a noise from Sally’s room and thought she was coming, but instead it was Abby, our 20 month old. We were in the hallway, not 4 feet from her bedroom door. She just stood there and watched the rest of the birth transpire. I wanted the baby out, so I began to push, but dh said, ” No, don’t push.” (He is always concerned that the birth happen slowly so I won’t tear. This is not a concern of mine, since I birthed a 10½ lb. boy with no tears.) I said, “I asked you not to say that this time.” So he gave in and as the next contraction came, I pushed with all my strength. Out slid my wonderful little baby. The blood and fluids spilled out all over the carpet. Dh had to rush to get a towel for me to sit on, so I wouldn’t make the floor any worse than I already had. Abby was staring wide-eyed. I didn’t know what she was thinking, so I pointed to the baby and said, “Look! Mommy’s baby came out.” We had been talking about mommy’s baby coming out for weeks, so she understood that much. She would put her mouth on my belly and say, “Come out, Baby!” I pointed to it and said, “Mommy’s baby came out!” I asked dh what it was, as he had flipped the baby over onto its belly to help the fluids drain. “Its a boy!” He said it, like, “Of course, what did you expect?!” I was slightly disappointed, but that didn’t last long. I scooped him up and held him for the first time. “Oh, baby, I’ve been waiting so long to hold you!” Abby came over close to take a look-see. The baby started crying as soon as it was born, even before I could flip over. He had a good strong cry and pinked up immediately. I asked dh for the time, but since we didn’t look immediately at the time of birth, he guessed that 2 minutes had gone by and that the time of birth would have been 11:42 p.m. July 11, 1998. Dh got an absorbent pad from our birth kit and laid it out on the floor in the living room for me to sit on, as the towel and floor where we were was totally drenched with fluids. As I was sitting there, I nursed the baby. We were waiting for my mom, sisters and friend to arrive, as well as the placenta. It was almost like a race to see which got here first. It wasn’t even 10 minutes after the birth when the placenta slid out. It came with no problems, but the membranes were still adhering somewhere. We left it alone for a few minutes and then did some uterine massage until it, too, let go and came out. At 11:55, we heard the first car pull up. I was sitting in straight view of the front door, holding the baby. I couldn’t wait to see the expressions on their faces when they realized they missed the whole thing. It was my mom and A. A. had been to 3 of my home births already, so knows how long I usually take to labor. Mom walked in first, and we said, “Hi. Sorry, but you missed the whole thing.” (They told us afterward that they thought we were kidding.) It took a minute before they realized I was holding the baby. “WOW! I can’t believe you had it already! That was so fast!” A. said to mom, “You shouldn’t have stopped for gas!” At 12:10, R. and S. showed up. I felt bad about S. missing it, because she had been looking forward to watching the birth since I first invited her, back in April. They, too, were surprised it was already over. Everyone had brought their breakfasts, figuring they would still be there in the morning. We weighed him. He weighed 8 lb. 12 oz. just one oz. less than Abby. It was 12:40am when everyone went back home. He was an hour old already. Since I didn’t want to waste the water that was in the birth tub, I climbed in with the baby and cleaned up a little. I would estimate his gestation (using the clinical gestation guide) to be about 41 weeks. He had vernix in his creases, but most of the rest was washed off. He had a little dry skin, too. But otherwise looked to be right on time. So I am going to plan that my next baby won’t show up until 43 weeks, and I won’t get my hopes up about having an earlier birth.