In case you were wondering, eating all of those dates worked.
Although statistics say only 10-20% of women will have their water break before labor starts, I’ve had it happen twice now. This time around, I woke up around 3:30am to a small wet spot in my bed. I wasn’t 100% positive it was my water, since it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to pee their pants at this point in pregnancy, but I had a gut-feeling that it was amniotic fluid starting to leak out. So, I went back to bed to see if I’d leak more or start feeling contractions.
I woke up later that morning around 7am and didn’t feel any more leaking or contractions, so I got ready and went to work as usual– it was a short day for the holiday weekend, so I figured I could get through a 4-hour work day and leave early if necessary. The day went by uneventfully, and I started to wonder if I really did just pee my pants that morning. I was afraid I had gotten excited over nothing!
Later that afternoon, probably around 3:30pm, I started to see more signs that I was losing my mucus plug, so that started to give me hope again. (I had been gradually losing my mucus plug for the past week, but this time it was tinted pink which I had read was a sign that labor was really close!) I decided to be productive while I could, testing a couple of new recipes in the kitchen and then I took a walk around the block to see if I could get any contractions going.
It wasn’t until I was putting my son to bed for the night that I started to feel some contractions. Perhaps it was the breastfeeding that got things going? I feel bittersweet about that, because that was the last night my son wanted to nurse– we officially made it one day past his third birthday. (My mom nursed me until my third birthday, so I’m happy we made it that long!) Once my milk came in for his baby sister, he attempted to nurse for two more nights but told me that my milk “tastes yucky” now. I might have cried a little when he asked me to toss his nursing pillow out of his bedroom.
After our bedtime routine, my contractions were still mild, so Austin and I went to dinner because we already had a babysitter lined-up for the night. My contractions were 5 minutes apart almost instantly, but they still felt like menstrual cramps– nothing I couldn’t talk through. So, I used my contraction timer throughout dinner and then we headed home to get our hospital bag ready. After talking to my doula team, they suggested that I try laying down for the night to see if the contractions get better or worse. I definitely didn’t want to go to the hospital for false labor, though at this point I was pretty positive it was the real thing. To my surprise, I could sleep pretty well. I would wake up for a particularly bad contraction only to fall right back asleep. The bad thing about coping with them this way was that I stopped timing my contractions… I was too much of a zombie to use my phone each time a contraction woke me up. However, around 5am I had one contraction that shot me out of bed! I instantly called my on-call midwife to let her know that I thought things were getting real.
The weird thing was, as I was making my phone calls I realized that my contractions were significantly stronger but much further apart than they had been– more like 10 minutes apart. Though I probably sounded crazy for calling, I knew I had to get to the hospital ASAP. In the back of my head, I recalled that during my last labor my contractions became further apart when I was ready to push. Austin and I jumped in the car and had a 12 minute drive to the hospital, which was pretty torturous for me, since I couldn’t position myself comfortably in the car. I couldn’t possibly sit through the contractions at this point, so I must have looked ridiculous trying to find some relief! When we arrived at the hospital, I knew my body was already trying to push the baby out, so I could barely walk. Austin got me a wheelchair and I did my best to resist the urge to push… I didn’t want to have a baby in the hospital lobby.
When we got to triage, I asked them to check me ASAP. Not surprisingly, I was fully dilated and the nurse could easily feel the baby’s head– very similar to my last labor experience, though I think I was even a little further along this time. My midwife arrived at the hospital 5 minutes later, and my doula arrived shortly after I started pushing. I was so happy to see them both!
Other than getting the intervention-free birth I had wanted, what was wonderful about this particular labor experience was the zen-like mood in my birthing room. My midwife was calm and relaxed, my doula was rubbing my back with an essential oil blend that made my room smell like a spa, and my contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, so I had a long break between each of my pushes. No one counted down when I needed to push; I simply pushed when and how my body told me to, without feeling rushed or pressured to do anything I didn’t want to do. I also didn’t lay on my back this time around, which was a nice change. (Being on my back was torture last time.) I started off pushing on all-fours, which is how I’m usually the most comfortable getting through contractions, and then my midwife suggested that I try laying on my side so that I could immediately use my own hands to pull my baby up onto my chest when she came out. I loved that idea, and as soon as I was on my side our baby girl came out on my next push. Despite the brief and intense pain, I was reminded how AMAZING it feels when your baby comes out– there’s instant relief! Our baby girl rested on my stomach while we waited for her umbilical cord to stop pulsing. (We did delayed cord clamping, so we didn’t cut it until the pulsing stopped.) Shortly after cutting the cord, I delivered the placenta, and we all celebrated that I was officially “not pregnant” anymore! I was also happy that my midwife let me skip the post-delivery pitocin, since I avoided it last time, too.
From start to finish, my entire labor was about 27 hours (17 hours with no contractions), but just like my last one I was only super-uncomfortable for the last hour or so. According to my phone records, I called my doula at 5:40am to let her know that my contractions had picked up and I was at the hospital and ready to push just 30 minutes later– so things definitely moved fast! Apparently I just can’t tell that my labor is “real” until I’m ready to push. And even though our baby girl was 8 pounds (about 1 1/2 pounds larger than her big brother was), I only had a tiny tear and my recovery has been a breeze this time around. I think the position you push in makes a big difference!
Because I wasn’t able to deliver within 24 hours of my water breaking, our baby girl did have an extra blood test run to make sure she showed no signs of infection, and everything turned out perfectly. Just like my last labor, I knew that my risk of infection would increase as soon as we started introducing cervical checks at the hospital, so I tried to stay at home as long as possible to avoid unnecessary interventions. Baby girl was moving well all day long, and I had tested negative for Group B strep, so my midwife was comfortable with this game plan. (I probably would have gone to the hospital after 24 hours if I showed no labor progress, just to be on the safe side.)
For any other pregnant moms out there, I wish you a full-term pregnancy like I had this time around. While we were SO happy to meet our son 3 weeks early, I had no idea how much easier babies can be when they make it to nearly 40 weeks! Our baby girl was instantly good at breastfeeding (no pain for me!) and she seems to have less digestive/gas/reflux than my son did as well, which I assume is because she had 3 more weeks for her digestive system to develop. While it’s easy to feel impatient to meet your baby, the wait is so worth it.
If you can’t tell, we’re feeling incredibly lucky over here!