Everything about this pregnancy and this labor and delivery experience was night and day from my first. I guess that’s why I thought I was having a boy! The only consistent thing was the heart burn – everything else was just in such stark contrast from my experience with Annie B. But my labor and delivery was, by far, the craziest of all. We almost didn’t make it to the hospital.
Let me start at the beginning. Scratch that – let me start with a disclaimer. I am by no means a medical professional. I will talk about things that I did to kickstart labor in this blog and the accompanying video. Some are things that I probably shouldn’t have done, and that a medical professional likely would have told me not to try. This is just the story of how it happened for me. So, if you’re coming here thinking, “I want to have a quick labor! I’m going to do everything Becs did,” stop here. Don’t do that.
It all started (and ended) on Sunday, March 28th.
I was showing signs of pre-labor all weekend long. Even though I had only had one other baby before, the signs were pretty unmistakeable. I was uncomfortable, felt like I was always running a fever, and the contractions would come pretty consistently ten minutes apart. The problem was that that was all they ever did. And they were getting pretty painful, keeping me up at all hours of the night, taking my breath away while I was driving. It was pretty infuriating that it felt like all of this was happening for nothing. What was the point of going through all this hell if I wasn’t going to just have this baby?
At 38 weeks and 6 days, I was already trying plenty to kickstart labor.
I had been eating a steady diet of dates, pineapples, red raspberry leaf tea… essentially, all of the old wives tale foods and beverages that would supposedly put my body in mint condition for labor. I have no idea if any of it works, but I do know that I did it all with Annie and had a great experience. So, I was going to try to do as many things the same as possible. That also meant doing the one thing they tell you not to do: taking the castor oil.
If you’re not familiar, castor oil is used as a pretty strong laxative. You can buy it over the counter at your local drug store, and even in most grocery stores. For my first birth experience, it took one tablespoon and I was in labor in a matter of hours. No problem. On Saturday night, I took my castor oil and went to bed with my bags packed, thinking for sure that we would be ready to go to the hospital by morning. I laid in bed having contractions and woke up with… nothing. Not a single thing. No baby to be seen. No more contractions.
I know that I wasn’t even full term. My friend reminded me as we FaceTimed that I still had plenty of time. But second baby hit me pretty hard. I was exhausted, and I felt like I wasn’t showing up as my best self for Annie B. She had grown so accustomed to people asking me if I was okay that she started calling me “okay mommy.” I just wanted this pregnancy to be over so I could be more present with both of them.
Since this pregnancy was so much harder on my body, I couldn’t really stand the castor oil. I ended up having to take tiny sips of it so I wouldn’t throw up. So, I hadn’t had a full dose on Saturday, and on Sunday morning, I’m not exactly sure how much I had. We’ll call it quite a few little sips. I cannot stress enough how much you should NOT try this at home.
In hindsight, I tried entirely too many things at once to put myself into labor.
I was starting to think that the castor oil was just not going to work for me, so I started watching a YouTube video on the Miles Circuit. If you’re not familiar, it’s a circuit of yoga-like positions and light exercises that can help your baby get into head down position, stimulating labor. My doctor had already confirmed that this baby was head down, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. After a ninety minute circuit, I was getting even more frustrated by the minute and started FaceTiming more friends to complain.
My friend Nicole and I FaceTimed for over an hour. She lives all the way in Texas, so our catch-ups are usually pretty lengthy. I started sterilizing my pump parts while we talked, knocking another thing off my “baby list” to pass the time. Suddenly, my shirt was soaked through. I couldn’t remember having a letdown before Annie was born. In fact, I struggled to get my milk to come in for her. So my first thought was that I should try to pump a little bit and see if it was enough to store. After all, my pump parts were sterile now! But after pumping for a couple minutes and having a really big contraction, I started to panic. Was I supposed to be pumping before she was born? For some reason, I thought I remembered someone telling me that is was dangerous or something, so I stopped and laid back down in bed to see if the contractions would slow back down.
Then, my friend Leanne told me about how she used reflexology to go into labor with her son. Oh, the things you could find on the internet! I had another YouTube video up and running in a matter of minutes, massaging all of my “labor points.” And suddenly, things were ramping up.
As soon as Tanner walked in the door, I knew it was going to be time to go to the hospital pretty soon.
Tanner was headed to a funeral that day. He brought Annie home and she crawled in bed with me, something she was a little too used to doing with her “okay mommy.” She promptly demanded Paw Patrol, and I braced myself on the headboard, trying not to let Tanner see how much pain I was in. But we were too far gone. He called my mom and asked her to come sit with me in about an hour while he left, just in case.
But minutes later, I knew she needed to come right away.
Someone needed to come pick up Annie so we could go to the hospital fast. But she wasn’t picking up her phone.
Can you really have birth trauma if you didn’t have a traumatic birth?
The rest of the story is quite the whirlwind (check it all out in the YouTube video below) and it was actually a little bit emotional for me to share. It wasn’t until after we left the hospital with a healthy baby that I started to feel uneasy about my birth experience. Everything worked out okay, but I still felt scared just thinking about it. I never thought I would feel that way about giving birth unless I had an emergency c-section or some sort of near-fatality.
But here I am four weeks later, struggling to even talk about my experience in the labor and delivery unit. I’m glad I recorded this video so I could share all the details with you, and I think it’ll be the last time. People kept saying to me, “Oh, that’s exactly how I hope it happens to me! Fast and easy!” But there was nothing easy about this. I felt out of control, scared, and in more pain than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. With Annie, I had an unmedicated birth with 30 minutes of pushing and a second degree tear after 8 hours of laboring in the hospital. In the grand scheme of things, I thought that was pretty easy compared to some of the other stories I hear. I would take that over this experience any day of the week.