I went into this last month of pregnancy feeling like I knew what to expect. In all physical ways, I was ready to have our baby-- bags packed by the door, including our birth pool and all supplies, a stash of freezer meals ready to go for post-baby, childcare worked out, 3rd car seat installed into the van, clothes and cloth diapers washed and ready to go. We were ready! ... And because I've had 2 kids before, I swore that I knew how it would go and what to expect.
What I wasn't expecting though, was that things are so different the 3rd time! Everything is so much more pronounced, more harsh, earlier and more messy the 3rd time. Some examples of life being pregnant with the 3rd....
-Braxton Hicks contractions began as early as 17/18 weeks.
-Of course many of you know how hard my battle with all day sickness was already. With Hayden, I was in the hospital for fluids at 18 weeks.... with Joel, it was at 9 weeks, and I continued to be sick and throw up my food after I ate it until around 24 weeks.
-Sciatic nerve pain began around 34 weeks and as we neared the end, I could not sit without my butt going numb, but also couldn't lay down without extreme hip pain.
-Baby "dropped" sooner leading to a whole lot of downward pressure early on and a swagger walk like no other.
-..... And my boobs started leaking at 32 weeks....
These are just a few things, that show how much of a hot mess I was! There's no other way to describe the 3rd pregnancy. So anyway, I went into this last month with confidence. Baby could come when he was ready. I could wait as long as I needed to. I knew what labor would be like, and I knew what signs to look for....
.... And then around 36 weeks, prodromal labor/false labor set in. Basically I would have hours of what felt like consistent contractions and then they would stop. The first few times, it was only about 2.5 hours or so before they halted and they would be 15-20 minutes apart. Then at around 38 weeks, I had a night of about 5 hours of contractions getting down to 10 minutes apart. I called Daniel home from work, we packed the last few items in the hospital bag, and then they completely stopped.
With all of these false starts, the confidence I had went out the window. My body was such a tease! After being up for hours timing contractions each of these nights, I was exhausted, and I was so upset because each time, I thought it was time to meet our baby.... and it wasn't. Not fair! Right?
The 39 week mark came and went....
.... I was bored out of my mind! I had literally made no plans for August because "we were having a baby and I would be busy."
Then the 40 week mark came... and went. And I honestly felt like if I reached 40 weeks, I would be disappointed. But surprisingly I wasn't! I was feeling really good this particular week, not as much sciatic pain because baby must have shifted or moved somehow, and I still knew that we were almost done. The medical community frowns upon going beyond 42 weeks in pregnancy, so while I was holding out hope that he would come on his own and we would avoid induction, I also knew for sure without a doubt at 40 weeks that we would meet our baby boy within 2 weeks. And at the end of the day, what's 2 weeks compared to 40!?
Two days past due date, my contractions came back. Nothing regular, but after two weeks of sleepless nights with contractions and then 2 weeks of absolutely nothing, they were welcomed back regular or not. We took it as a good sign that maybe we were on the right track.
Four days past due, I woke with regular contractions about 15 minutes apart that lasted around 3 1/2 hours. Naturally we got excited again.... and then they stopped. It was a fine line between being excited that things were happening, but frustrated that we were past due and still only dealing with false starts. A repeat of weeks 36-38. Not to mention, in my head, he was already supposed to be here. I hadn't made any plans for the first half of August in anticipation of Joel, but I knew the end of August was approaching when small groups would start back up at church and Leeland's school group would begin. Our family guesses for his birthday were-- Daniel the 3rd, Dana the 10th, Hayden the 11th and Leeland the 15th. All of these had passed!
The 41 week mark came-- officially the longest I've ever been pregnant. I had a check in at the doctor's office where I was required to do a 2nd non-stress test. Thankfully all checked out well. And then I was informed that there would be no more weekly appointments. Either they would see me at the hospital on my own accord, or an induction would occur and the hospital scheduling staff would be in touch with me soon to set that up. Of course we couldn't let the 41 week mark pass without some excitement, so yet again late into the night, another round of about 3 1/2 hours of contractions all 10-15 minutes apart that completely halted at midnight. My body had become such a tease!
The next morning (Thursday 8/20), the hospital scheduling staff called to let me know that my induction had been scheduled for Saturday if he doesn't arrive before then. I got off the phone and cried. Overwhelmed with emotion that the end was finally in view but also frustrated with my body and anxious about inducing. (Keep in mind Leeland was an induction baby, and Hayden was not..... Hayden's birth I would do over again.... Leeland's birth, I would not.)
Then on Friday 8/21 we woke up accepting that induction would be the next day and that would just be how he came. I was bummed that induction was necessary, and anxious about the pitocin, but also feeling ready to be done and to have our baby boy on the outside to meet him and know that he was ok. We started the day with cleaning the house knowing that we would have guests in and out after he was born and also, I kind of like the idea of coming home to a semi-clean space. All the while we were brainstorming how we would spend our FINAL day as a family of 4. We were talking with the boys about doing something fun after nap time, though we weren't quite sure of what yet-- maybe catch dinner and a movie, or go play mini golf or out for ice cream. Wherever the wind blew us.
The boys went down for their nap, and I decided that I'd go take a nap as well. Not unusual at this stage in pregnancy-- the last few weeks left me incredibly exhausted. I was asleep for about an hour when I was woke up with some discomfort. I'm not sure if the contraction is what woke me up, or if it was my usual numb hip. Baby Joel found himself quite comfortable on my nerves in the last month, so every time I slept, I would have to wake and rotate sides like a rotisserie chicken because my hips had to take turns going numb. So one contraction came and I thought nothing of it... 15 minutes later, another.... 15 minutes later, another. In all honesty, after all of the teases and false starts, I really did NOT think that this was labor. I had accepted I was being induced, so surely this wasn't labor.
After 5 contractions consistently 15 minutes apart, I let Daniel know. The 5th was the most painful of them, which Daniel witnessed me going through and said, "I think this is it. Let's pack."
We got the boys up and dressed. Called my parents and told them to be on standby, that they might get the boys a day earlier than we planned. Called my midwife and explained that they were only 15 minutes apart but that it would take us an hour to get to the hospital once we got kids dropped off at my parents and drove there so we were on our way. The midwife wasn't so sure about us coming so early and said, "Are you sure? I don't want to have to send you guys back home." And to be honest I was NOT sure. I still had a month long history of false starts, I had accepted that I was being induced, and it still seemed a little early for me to tell. What I DID know though was that I was feeling more pain this time than I had, and that Hayden's labor went very fast and with a long drive and fast labors, I needed to at least get moving in that direction if I was going to have a chance at a water birth.
We piled in the car and got the boys dropped off and the contractions began to get a lot closer. 8 minutes apart, and then 6 minutes apart.... All the way there, I still felt unsure and kept repeating to Daniel, "I hope this is it." and, "I don't want them to send us away, I'll be embarrassed."
We arrived to the hospital and walked in and had to wait in the waiting room to be checked in triage. Super duper annoying! Just my opinion, but when a lady walks into a hospital in active labor, it's usually kind of obvious... why would you make her wait!? So that was super awesome swaying in the waiting room doing the labor dance as a waiting room audience watched. After about 10-15 minutes of swaying around the waiting room, I was pulled into triage for my midwife to check me out and make the call on if they were going to keep me. By this point, contractions were becoming more intense and were closer to 2 minutes apart and all I kept telling Daniel was, "If we miss getting the birth pool set up yet again because of timing, it is SO the hospital's fault for making us wait like this." I was getting quite frustrated, dealing with back labor, quicker contractions, daydreaming about my birth pool and yet just being told to wait....
Anyway, midwife comes in and a lie back to be checked in between contractions. At my appointment this past Wednesday I had been 2 cm and 50% effaced. (I had been 2 cm and 50% effaced since 36 weeks actually.) And then in triage, the midwife checked me at 4 cm and 70% effaced and said, "You're a keeper. We'll find you a room." Immediately felt both relieved and completely overcome with emotions of all sorts. Are you kidding me? God is SO good! All I kept telling Daniel was, God is good. It was kind of humorous that only hours before our scheduled induction that I was so anxious about, we were checking into the hospital to have our baby naturally.
We were wheeled back to a room and Daniel set out to get the birth pool set up, while I labored away bedside sitting on a birthing ball and hunched over the bed. It was the most comfortable position I found when in labor with Hayden so I sort of assumed, it would be the best here too.... however, I didn't have back labor with Hayden and my oh my, my lower back was on fire this time around. We were listening to the "needtobreathe" station on Pandora and in the first half hour or so in our room, I would sit up some in between contractions, but as labor progressed, my head just stayed buried into the bed. I couldn't get comfortable with my back and I was beginning to feel more and more pressure and was starting to wonder if the pool wouldn't be set up in time yet again. (Because that's what happened with Hayden's birth.) While I was totally silent, I know that Daniel was feeling the pressure too-- he was working SO hard to make it happen and he was facing an array of roadblocks with hoses not fitting and things not working as smoothly.
Finally, the pool was full and ready.... and I immediately started stripping down layers of clothes, so eager to get in and hopefully find some relief to the back labor I was having. When I stood up from the birthing ball, my water broke in a small gush and the midwife said she wanted to check me before I got in. We weren't aware until AFTER labor... but this was about to be my midwife's very first water birth. In order to be water birth certified, she needed someone to supervise her first water births (I think up to a certain number of them) and as it turns out, her back-up who would be supervising her lived 30 minutes away, so while we weren't aware, she was also feeling some pressure because she had her hands full with 3 patients all about to give birth and me being a water birth that she needed to call in enough time to get her back-up person there.
... So my water broke and she checked me as quick as possible so I could get in the pool and at this point I was 7 cm. I squatted down with my chest and arms over the side of the pool and felt another large gush of fluid and then immediately announced to the room that I was about to push. Natural labor is such a cool thing when it comes to the pushing-- it's no one telling you when to push, and in my experience, it isn't even me doing the pushing. It's like my body just takes over and starts pushing for me-- it's unreal.
I blurted out a shout of "It hurts" and the next thing I knew the midwife said, "Turn around so you can hold your baby." and the little man was handed to me as I sit in the pool. I just kept saying over and over, "He's perfect. I love him." And he is!
As it turns out, I was only in the pool for literally 5 minutes before Joel was out, so we just barely got it up and got in. Another testament to God's perfect timing is that the midwife never had to worry with calling the person who was 30 minutes away, as it turns out, they had just changed shifts and there was another midwife who was headed out the door home who could rush in to help in the last minute to help make my water birth (and her first water catch) possible.
Joel Willis Kroh
August 21, 2015
9 pounds, 2 ounces and 21 inches long
His birth was such a rush and such a testament to God's love for me (and us.) His hand was in every single detail, both the big things and the little things and His timing was absolutely perfect! I could not imagine things unfolding more perfectly, from the timing of going into labor just hours before my induction, to getting the pool set up just 5 minutes before he was born, to my midwife and the incredible hospital staff of believers that surrounded us and encouraged us along the way. His glory shone so bright and things worked out so perfectly like they can only do with God's hand in it.
"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!" -Psalm 126:3
Thank you Lord for this perfect blessing!
***If you enjoy reading labor stories and birthy details, I have more! You can check out Leeland's birth story here and head over here for Hayden's birth story. Each of our boys' stories a little bit different.***