Baby Schweitz was due January 28th.
As you may recall, we were doing everything possible to naturally induce labor, so that my wonderful OB could attend Baby Schweitz's birth before he left for St. Lucia on February 1st.
In addition to all the pitted dates and red raspberry leaf tea and borage oil pills and neighborhood walks and eggplant parm and sex . . .
On January 23rd, I got my membranes stripped. Ummm. Yeah. OUCH. Doc gets his fingers all up in your business and SWOOP, runs his fingers along your cervix to separate it from the placenta. Not fun. But a low risk way to naturally induce if baby is ready. So we did it. It obvi didn't work, but it caused me to lose my mucus plug. And doc checked me and discovered I was already 3cm dilated AND 80-90% effaced. At the very least, we were pretty pleased to hear that!
On January 24th and 26th, I went to the chiropractor to get aligned for labor. I wasn't expecting this to really induce, and it didn't, but I was happy to be lining up all my bones and such to make an easier escape route for baby. And I think it actually helped!
On January 27th, I went all hippy and tried acupuncture. When booking the appointment, the receptionist claimed the last 3 pregnant mommas they treated had their babies in their arms by the next morning. SAY WHAT?! Sign me up! First, the acupuncturist burned a moxa stick over my lower back for about 5 minutes. Then, she put needles in 15 different points all over my body and left them in for about 45 minutes, popping in my room every once in a while to wiggle them around and activate the points. Each needle and point had a different purpose: one in my forehead to calm me, two in my legs for cervical dilation, two in my feet for pain management, and so on. Every point used was specifically related to labor and delivery, so if my body and baby were ready, it would have sent me into labor. Throughout the procedure, I felt one Braxton Hicks contraction, but that was it. Nothing the rest of the day, nor the next day. So I'm not sure it worked. But it definitely was relaxing!
On January 28th (THE DUE DATE!), I drank a hyper concentrated version of my red raspberry leaf tea. It was bitter and so so so strong. I had been drinking red raspberry leaf tea pretty much daily for my entire 3rd trimester, to tone up the uterine muscles for labor, but this hyper brew, called Labor Day Tea, was supposed to get things going if body and baby were ready. It may have helped, as I started to feel contractions less than 24 hours later, but who knows, right?
Also on January 28th, I was starting to get antsy about castor oil, which was basically the last natural thing I had left to try to induce labor. My plan was to drink it on January 30th if baby still wasn't making moves. But I was so nervous about how sick I would feel. Was it going to make labor even more painful? Was I going to have continuous castor oil diarrhea and great bowel discomfort while also going through labor contractions? Ick! It didn't sound fun. But of course I was also desperate to deliver with my OB, so I was pretty determined to try.
While listing all my worries to my dear husband, he says, "Well, why don't I try it first? And that way if it's terrible, we'll know and we won't have you do it." Ummm, prince charming, much? He's seriously a doll. So as mean as it may have been, I took him up on his offer and he drank the crazy castor oil concoction and, well, paid the consequences.
4 oz castor oil + 2 oz vodka + 6 oz orange juice.
He said it tasted like an oily screw driver. Yum, right?
It went down so easy and then for 8 hours after, absolutely nothing happened. And all was right with the world.
But then, it hit him ALL at once. Poor poor guy. Through the entire night, he was in and out of the bathroom, clearing out his system, one gush of fluid at a time. Oof.
He was pretty much recovered by the next morning, a little less than 24 hours from that gross dose of castor oil. In summary, he said it was rough, but not so rough that he thought I'd need to avoid it. But he wasn't going to be trying it again any time soon. I also ran it by my doula, who said it would work a little differently on a pregnant woman, more like a natural prostaglandin, and labor would start after I was entirely cleared out. That all made me feel a little better.
So by the afternoon of January 29th, with John fully recovered from all the castor crazy, and me still definitely pregnant, we decided I would, in fact, try the castor oil bright and early the next morning.
Except God laughs.
Not even a few hours after making that decision, right around 3pm, I had my first contraction.
Lolololololol. Sorry, John!
But seriously, PRAISE THE LORD! Castor oil avoided.
The contractions started off super mild, actually without pain at all, just tightening in my belly. But predictable tightening. They lasted a bunch of seconds and happened every few minutes to every 20 or so minutes. I know, not very specific. But I could tell things were progressing. They weren't just your average, run of the mill Braxton Hickses.
We were due over to John's parent's house for Sunday night dinner (which we do every Sunday night) just an hour after contractions started, but with them being so mild, we decided to go anyway and just not tell anyone, cuz I'm pretty private like that.
Turns out, dinner was a lovely distraction and we got through the whole affair without anyone knowing what was going on. Win win.
Upon arriving home, around 8pm, we put John Paul to bed and decided to play a board game, to keep the distractions going. Contractions were getting a tiny bit stronger and longer and closer together, but still nothing serious. We stood through the whole game to keep me in a good position to keep the labor progressing and it definitely helped. Oh, and in case you were curious, our game of choice was Forbidden Desert, a co-op game that we love and that night we totally won. Boom. Labor luck.
The game ended around 9:00pm, and we still weren't exactly tired, so we decided to rent a movie: The Girl on the Train. The more distractions you have going during early labor, the better. And this was yet another good distraction.
During the movie, contractions started to get just a tiny bit painful, longer, and closer together. They were coming every 2-4 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. Progress! I bounced on an exercise ball and it was honestly way comfier than I was expecting. Great labor tool, as it turns out!
By the time the movie ended, around 11pm, we decided it was time to call my doula and make a plan. She suggested trying to sleep for a while while things were still low-pain. If we were about to labor through the night, getting in just a few extra hours of shut eye was going to be super helpful. She figured once they were painful enough to wake me up, it'd be time to get things into gear for our trip to the hospital. So up to bed we went.
But sleep didn't happen. Within 10 minutes of lying in bed, the contractions really picked up. They went from a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale to a 4. While that doesn't sound like much, it was enough to make me anxious to get a move on. We still had to alert the in-laws so they could drive over and watch John Paul and we had a 40 minute drive ahead of us to the hospital. Plus, I knew I had been 3cm and 80-90% effaced before any contractions had started, so I didn't want to suddenly be in a HOLY MOLEY THIS BABY IS COMING OUT situation while driving because we decided to wait too long.
Contractions got even more intense while we waited on my MIL to arrive, so I was happy with our decision. We slow danced through the contractions and I squatted by hanging on John to work with the contractions and keep baby low.
One last pic of the belly . . .
And by 12:45am, we were off. And in the snow! We've barely had an inch or two all winter, and the night our baby decides to make moves, snow is sticking to the roads. Perhaps, even with all that natural induction stuff, all I really needed was a change in barometric pressure to kick things in the gear. We may never know. ;)
Labor in the car got even more intense. I prayed for everyone's intentions between contractions, each followed with a Hail Mary to our sweet Heavenly Momma. And when a contraction hit, I'd pause and squeeeeeeeze John's hand. All while he prayed along and navigated the snowy roads. Seriously, I married super dad, folks.
After what felt like an eternity, (because seriously, car contractions are the woorrrsttttt!) we finally arrived around 1:30am. Wendy, our doula, met us at the doors of the L&D unit, and we all walked up to the nurses' station together. A little oversight on our part . . . we forgot to do all the pre-registration stuff, so between my contractions, I filled out a pile of who-knows-what paperwork as quickly as humanly possible and then we were moved into the triage area so they could check my vitals and my cervical dilation.
For part 2, click here.