As her half birthday draws nigh(!), I have finally gotten around to recording the lengthy tale of Verity’s birth. Although I try not to make my birth stories too explicit for delicate readers, I will warn you that there was some… interesting stuff this time. Here’s how it all went down:
Sunday, October 2:
I woke up to a sensation of wetness… but not that much. We went about our morning routine and got ready for church, but a couple of times when I stood up I felt a tiny gush… or did I?
We went to church, and I called the midwife after lunch, just to run it by her. “I’m not convinced your water broke,” she said. “It just doesn’t sound like enough fluid. When’s your next appointment?” “Tomorrow,” I told her. She’d just check me then, to be sure.
Monday, October 3:
Theraplay in the morning. Paige came with me for company, and she brought me coffee. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day. I was still feeling slightly leaky, but figured I’d find out what the deal was at my appointment.
After lunch, my dear friend Bonnie offered to watch the gang so I could go to my appointment by myself. This would prove to be a much bigger commitment that she originally bargained for. Bea came with me, just for some Mommy time.
Midwife Francesca almost didn’t check me for amniotic fluid, based on my description of how things were going, but she decided to play it safe. There were three tests: the pH test was positive (amniotic fluid is alkaline), there was some visible fluid (pooling) but not much, but when she looked at the dried sample under a microscope, she did not see the fern-like pattern she would expect. All things considered, she was leaning towards thinking I had sprung a small leak. She decided to hook me up to a non-stress test and check me again in an hour. At this point, I had already been there or about an hour, so I called Bonnie to update.
About halfway through my hour hooked up to the monitor, my water sprung a bigger leak. There was now no denying we were in baby mode. That was to be the “official” time of water breaking, but I know it was really early, early Sunday morning.
Since we were still hoping for a birth center or home birth at this point, Francesca sprang into action with a new-to-me labor-inducing technique. Apparently, a foley catheter can be used to buy you 3 centimeters of dilation. You can read more about the technique here, if you want, but suffice it to say I had to drive home with a tube draining amniotic fluid all over the place and a lot of extra padding.
By the time I got home, with a recipe for a castor oil root beer float in hand (which I never did use), Bea and I had been gone for some three hours. Trevor would be getting home soon, and it was dinner time. Bonnie called her husband, our assistant pastor at the time, and asked him to pick up four pizzas for us and head on over.
By the time Josh and the pizza came I was having some contractions. They weren’t that impressive, but often enough that I was hopeful I’d manage to dodge the castor oil bullet.
Josh and Bonnie and their two kids pizza-ed with us and hung out for a while, but all the while I was sure things were heading in a nice, steady babyward direction.
We got the kids to bed, and I labored on. I tried to sleep but couldn’t, spent some time in the bath, but eventually woke Trevor to help me assess. After an hour of strong contractions five minutes apart, we called midwife Francesca. She told us she could “be there in 45 minutes,” so we got off the phone excited to be gaving our third homebirth, a detail that hadn’t been nailed down previously because some of the nurses are not trained for homebirths.
Francesca called us back about ten minutes later to say that by “there” she had actually meant the birth center. We were very glad she clarified!
I called my mom, who got to our house as quickly as she could, and we were on our way. We arrived at the birth center (where Annis had been born) at around 5 AM on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday, October 4:
Though my contractions had decidedly lost some of their oomph on the drive over and I was only at 4 cm, we were all certain that walking around would kick them back into gear in no time. We were optimistic that I’d have the baby long before Francesca’s shift ended at 9 am, what, with this being my seventh baby and all.
So I walked and walked and walked. I took some homeopathic remedies to unscare my labor. I walked some more. My contractions were 7…, 8…,10 minutes apart and not that impressive. At the end of Francesca’s shift I was still 4 cm, and very apologetic for getting her up at 4am.
I paced around the birthing suite ALL DAY LONG with midwife Barbara (who delivered Junie and Coraline). She tried some different homeopathic remedies, swept my membranes, sent us outside for a more vigorous walk, and eventually just let me nap for a while.
By 11 pm I was still just 4.5cm, despite some 30 hours of painful-but-too-far-apart contractions, and I felt utterly defeated.
It had now been way too long since my water had broken for anyone’s comfort, and I felt peaceful in making the decision to transfer to the hospital for some pitocin to help get my labor into gear.
Despite knowing it was what had to happen, I cried all the way to the hospital (through contractions that had suddenly decided to come quite powerfully every four minutes, by the way!). I told Trevor I wanted an epidural, maybe even a c-section, and I meant it. I felt like my body had betrayed me and forgotten how to have a baby, and I was done.
The change of scenery and new faces at the hospital did me some good. They gave me some slipper socks, and I found a good comfy chair to labor in. They blew two veins before they managed to get my IV in, and this sent me back to the brink of despair for a few moments, but then I rallied.
Wednesday, October 5:
Barbara started me with just faintest whiff of pitocin at about 2 am, and it was enough to remind my body how to have a baby. The nurse turned it up one time, and I asked if we could leave it there. I could tell it was working, and quickly, but it wasn’t unbearable like I remembered pitocin being when I had it with Pippa’s delivery.
By about 3:30, I called for Barbara. It was showtime.
I have been increasingly fearful about the pushing stage of labor for the last several babies, but this time was different. I was so very weary of being in labor that the prospect of being done won out over my fear. I was actually almost excited to push. Excited to finally meet this new person.
Barbara tried to help me get my knees up and encouraged me not to scream, but to bear down instead, but I ignored all of these instructions, as I always do (earning myself, as usual, a few stitches afterwards). I kicked my legs free of the nurses and let out a few final primal screams, and she was born at 3:52 am.
The 36 hours of labor was forgotten (indeed, to the nurses at the hospital, who had only seen the final three, I was some kind of birthing hero!) and there was our girl. Perfect, amazing, mine.
The nurse asked her name, and Trevor bestowed it. Verity. 7 lbs 14 oz. 21 inches. Very like her oldest sister, but so much her own little self.
Because of how long my water had been broken and the risk of infection, we had to stay in the hospital until Friday, which was a very different experience for me. The first night felt like a welcome getaway, but the second I felt more like a prisoner. In hindsight, the forced rest made it one of my fastest and easiest recoveries, and I thank God for knowing better than I did what I needed.