Originally, my due date for baby Graham was calculated off of my cycle to be September 12, but at my 11 week ultrasound the doctor and midwife both thought we should push it to September 18 because his size was small. I mention this, because I was 41 weeks and 1 day on September 19—his birth date—and Remy was also born at 41 weeks and 1 day (also based on my cycle, not ultrasound measurements). Just an interesting tid-bit to me!
On Thursday morning (September 18), I took 1 tablespoon of castor oil with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter per my midwife’s permission and dosage instructions. Because my cervix was quite “ripe” as they say, this method is usually a successful, natural induction method. It can be done safely, but I am certainly not endorsing it here or advising anyone to do it. If you are considering this means of induction, please consult with your health practitioner and read all the studies about meconium, dehydration, etc. that can occur with taking castor oil to induce labor.
Anyway…It was horribly awful to swallow because of the thick, oily texture. The taste was lacking as well. I am fairly certain that I punched the air about 5 times as I worked it down. I had texted my midwife earlier to let her know I planned to do this, so she had one of the nurses call me in to get checked later that afternoon. I planned to go after Remy’s nap. In the mean time, I laid down for a half hour while Remy watched a little TV and then we took a walk in the gorgeous weather we’ve been enjoying here in Virginia. I stayed very close to home and just made laps to ensure that I could get inside and to a toilet as quickly as I needed to. A little less than 2 hours from the time I took the mixture, I was feeling the “effects” and was glad to be at home in a first world country :) This was not a pleasant experience, but it was not disastrous as many women have reported after taking castor oil on their own, too early, too much, without protein, etc.
Throughout the afternoon, I had cramping and some contractions, but nothing consistent. I went in around 4 PM to be checked and I had made a little progress dilation and effacement wise. The midwife asked me to come back at 6:30 PM with Sam since she knew my labor had progressed so quickly with Remy and she didn’t want things to suddenly change and me to be caught off guard if the castor oil continued to accelerate things. When we got rechecked at 6:30 PM, there was no progress, but I was feeling so much pressure and cramps that I was stunned. She sent us home, but told me that my waters were bulging and she would be surprised if the baby didn’t kick things into gear within the next 24 hours.
When we arrived home, we put Remy to bed, ate dinner, and then tried some other methods of triggering my labor further (pressure points, shower, etc.). Around 8:30 PM, I noticed my contractions seemed consistent and so I began timing them while I laid down to see if they kept up. Well, they did, but they felt so different from my experience with Remy that I was still doubting whether they were contractions or just really bad cramps, possibly from the castor oil. I started feeling like I needed to get everything organized and that was kind of my mental indicator that things were a-go. Oh, and these cramps/contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes. We called the midwife who told us to meet her at the hospital at 9:45 PM. We arranged for our neighbor to come and be with Remy until my MIL could come over.
When we got to the hospital, we had to wait for our room to finish being cleaned (this place is PACKED and we were lucky to get a bed there at all) and this part was not fun. Things were beginning to feel very unpleasant. When we did get into the room at 10 PM, I realized there was only a shower in that room and NO TUB. I kind of freaked out in my head. The tub was a huge reason of why I had such a pain free experience with Remy’s birth. When you are surrounded by 360* of hot water, it is pretty tough to feel tension, which of course keeps you from feeling pain, or as much. “Will I be able to have the same hypnobirthing experience this time around,” I wondered. I decided that I would have to try…so I hopped into the shower and tried to visualize everything, but without my hypnobirthing tracks playing, it was tough. Sam couldn’t read me the prompts either, because it was too freaking steamy in there and so I just told him to hang outside of the bathroom until I got out 20 minutes later. I laid down and listened to my hypnobirthing tracks until they checked me before 11 PM and I’d progressed to about a 6, but there was so much pressure and cramping that I couldn’t lay down anymore. I gave it another hour where I rocked side to side while standing and leaning on the bed. I was becoming exhausted, but not because I had been in labor for days on end (I know MANY women are in labor for excessively long times, so I am not complaining there), but due to the severe lack of sleep that I have experienced this entire pregnancy and in particular the last 6-8 weeks where I was averaging 5 hours of interrupted sleep nightly. Thus, I didn’t really care about having a pain free experience at this point, I just wanted progress, for the pressure to go away sooner than later, and put that baby into my arms STAT. When my midwife suggested breaking my water, I said, “Let’s do this” and so they did at 11:45 PM.
Breaking my water actually relieved so much pressure and allowed me to bear down a little and utilize my breathing techniques to move Graham lower and lower. It felt very rewarding and actually less uncomfortable than the lead up to that had been. Finally just before midnight, the midwife excitedly told me that he was an inch away. And I kind of yelled at her, “You’re telling me he’s an inch from my vagina!?!?” I’m not sure why…haha! Labor is very intense. She clarified he was an inch away from the path that leads out (another 4 plus inches or whatever) and that I should begin bearing down when I felt the urge. Meanwhile, she was massaging my perineum to prevent tearing and my body began bearing down all on it’s own and he began coming out very, very fast. In the last few seconds, she told me to slow down for a second and I was like, “Um, how is that possible!?” so I held my breath for what seemed like forever, but it was probably 2 seconds and he literally shot out of me at 12:04 AM.
It. Was. Crazy. And that last stage where he literally flew out was insanely painful, but also only about a minute, maybe less. It’s a time distortion thing, so as much as it hurt, I’ll totally do it again! Birth is awesome.
Graham Lawrence Waters arrived with perfect apgar scores across the board, weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces (Remy was 7# 9oz.) and measuring 20.5” (same as Remy). I got to hold him right away, which was wonderful and totally distracted me from the fact that I lost a lot of blood and made what the staff noted was one of the “worst messes” they had seen in a while. Strangely, they blamed my midwife (including her), but they were laughing about it. I wasn’t embarrassed. If you shot a baby out in a kneeling position, you’d probably have made a similar mess. Notice I’m not including a picture of the scene…
They got the bleeding under control and proceeded to clean up the room and me, and Graham. Somehow Sam stayed clean! I loathed the hospital experience (but loved the staff) because of how bothersome, tiring and generally uncomfortable it is. I had also never stayed at a hospital over night and I had to stay for two. Let’s just say it tested my type A need to control my environment.
We’re home now and so grateful for all of our many, many blessings. Our new ones…you know, that sweet baby Graham…and the familiar ones like our Remy girl, families, friends, neighbors, and the love we’ve received from everyone.
Follow me on Instagram for the latest updates. Sam is off of work this week, so we’ll be spending all of our time together and the bare minimum responding to calls, emails, etc. Like last time, we’re not taking any visitors aside from parents and immediate family and do not need any help with meals, Remy, or the house at the moment. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers throughout the last 9 months. We are overwhelmed at the beauty in our lives.
He sleeps. A LOT.
It’s been an interesting week. Sam recently began grad school (thankfully he’ll only be gone two weekends and a few nights monthly for it) which has been tiring for him and tiring for me as I played solo, pregnant parent much of the weekend, and now I’m trying to give him the space he needs each morning to get his work done before going to his full time job. I’m grateful for that man, his hard work and the past 8 months that he’s been handling Remy every morning while I sleep in (or try to). I appreciated it while it was happening, but now I wish I could go back and REALLY enjoy that time.
To put it simply, I’ve complained a lot more this pregnancy than with Remy’s and I’m still complaining.
The last few days have put things into a bit of perspective. We’ve had multiple friends and family members discover major health related problems/injuries/unresolved crises and have to endure them while trying to do all the same things I’ve been complaining about doing. I have always been blessed with good health and I continue to assume I’ll have it. To see others struggling in this area, while I’m not and yet I’m the one complaining, has been pretty emotional for me. I know I’ve had my fair share of trials in my life, but at this particular time, I think it’s appropriate for me to step back, be grateful for all that is going SO well for me right now, and check the groaning at the door.
I’m 37 weeks as of yesterday and thankful for my little (though growing) family and the opportunity to be able to be present for them and visa versa. Even if my health was in serious decline, their love makes me feel secure, content, happy.
And how can I complain about that?