At 1:30 in the morning of June 28th, I woke up and realized I was feeling a cramp in my back. It took me a bit of time for my sleepy mind to decipher what I was feeling. I knew this was the start of labor. I went back to sleep only to wake up to a full-blown contraction. I have no idea when Peter realized that I was in labor but for a few hours we both woke up with each contraction and he rubbed my back for me. By 5:30 I was awake for good and decided to take a shower while he quickly got ready to milk the cows so he could come back and labor with me for the day. We both didn’t think things were going anywhere fast (and they didn’t).
I had brought home 5 gallons of cream the night before to be made into butter and since there wasn’t any point in waiting around for the next contraction to happen I decided to get to work making butter. I did this plus started on making grilled veggies as chicken for lunch and just took a break for each contraction. By the time Peter got home I was starving so put him to work grilling while I continued to wash the butter. It didn’t take long for the contractions to amplify and soon I was calling him over to rub my back every time I felt another one coming. I was able to eat a bit of our lunch and Peter took over washing the butter. The butter process got completely hijacked when the contractions had grown so close together that Peter could get his hands messy and then wash the butter off in time to come to rub my back.
Our doula (a long-time friend, nurse, massage therapist, and nutritional therapist) showed up sometime in the early afternoon and we went into serious labor mode. I laid on the bed while she rubbed my feet. Peter timed contractions so we had an idea of how close together they were and would know when to go to the midwife’s house. A few hours later our doula’s daughter (a friend who is a nursing school student and future midwife) arrived just as we were deciding to make the car ride to the midwife’s before I had progressed past the point of wanting to get into a car.
Once we were at the midwife’s I mostly labored on the bed, getting up to try walking around once but couldn’t relax enough through the contraction while standing. A dear friend who’s a photographer came to be with us and take some pictures of the birth. Turns out she didn’t get any pictures of the actual birth but she was a constant comfort and helped massage me, drove to our farm to pick up raw milk which I was craving during labor, and grabbed evening primrose oil from our house when my cervix was stubbornly stuck at 9 cm and needed extra help.
Soon I wanted to get in the tub so the midwife checked me and I was at a 7 so she suggested trying the shower first. I have always loved hot showers and labor was no exception. All through the night, we labored between the shower, tub, and on the bed. Peter and I were able to sleep together through contractions for a few hours after midnight. Sometime the next morning (Tuesday morning) the midwife checked me and I was at 9 cm with a lip. I stayed this way for a long time and don’t actually remember when she announced that we were at a ten.
By Tuesday morning labor was getting very long and tiresome (30 hours). Our doula could see we weren’t progressing as we should and suggested we call a chiropractor to come to do an adjustment. A local chiropractor friend dropped everything she was doing and drove an hour to reach us. Knowing she was coming was the best feeling and I couldn’t wait for her to arrive. The adjustment was unusually painful as I could feel it really affecting my hips. Not long after this I finally felt the urge to push and we entered the pushing stage.
Pushing felt a lot more productive than relaxing through contractions and we fell into a routine with everyone performing a different job while I pushed. Peter supported me as I leaned back on him. Two people massaged my legs as I got charlie horses with every push. If it wasn’t for their dedication I wouldn’t have been able to even focus on pushing because my legs were cramping so much.
Pushing went on for hours and everyone in the room looked like they wanted to fall asleep in between every contraction. After 3 hours we started the conversation about transferring to the hospital because the drive there would be an hour and a half. The baby was doing fine (as monitored by the midwife’s doppler) but my contractions were becoming very spaced apart and not as effective as my body grew more tired by the hour. We all agreed it would be best to go to the hospital now rather than wait till something got more urgent.
Thankfully our doula had a large car and I labored just fine on the way to Minot. With each contraction, I felt like I was pushing against a brick wall and nothing was happening although I so badly wanted to have the baby in the car before getting to the hospital.
Once at the hospital contractions were terrible as I couldn’t concentrate with a baby monitor on and 20 people asking me questions (ok, maybe not 20 but it felt that way). Although I must say that all the nurses were so nice to us.
They took an ultrasound to see the baby’s position and even though we had hoped to try and strengthen contractions, the OB explained that this wasn’t a possibility this late in the pushing stage and a c-section was our best option. We consulted with our doula who was able to be at the bedside with Peter and she agreed this was the best option for us. My parents came up from Bismarck (two hours away) and made it to the hospital so I was able to see them before going into surgery.
Peter was able to come into the surgery room and stand by me after the anesthetic set in and I was prepped for the procedure. They said that he would want to sit down and not watch but I assured them he was a farmer and wouldn’t mind watching. I joked with the nurses that if they didn’t hurry up the baby would be born on my birthday as it was about 10:50 p.m. and my birthday was June 30th (the next day)!
I breathed through the pressure of what I was feeling as they worked on me and shortly after our baby was born with a healthy cry. They held him up for Peter to see and he announced, “we have an Edward Cornelius!” I was able to see the baby for a minute before they took him away to check him over before bringing him back to me and laying him on my chest for skin-to-skin as they finished stitching me up. He was a perfect size at 7 lbs 15 oz and 20.75 inches.
It was a wonderful feeling to finally be finished with our 46 hour labor and to hold our little Edward for the first time. He is a healthy baby and even though labor didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, we know that it all happened according to God’s perfect plan.
Some thoughts I came away with from this experience:
- Laboring at home was amazing and I would definitely do it again if I have the choice. It was such a blessing to be able to try our hardest and labor as long as we felt comfortable.
- Food in labor was very important. I didn’t feel like eating any solids so having quick energy on hand was crucial. I ate some dried dates, honey off of a spoon, lemon water, and the very best thing — raw milk. My mother-in-law pitched in to bring food and snacks for the birth team which was very needed considering the fact we were at it for two days.
- Practicing labor with Peter months in advance and knowing the emotional signposts of labor was extremely helpful. These things are talked about in the Bradley Husband-Coached Childbirth book.
- Having a very supportive and highly trained birth team made all the difference in the world. When it came time to transfer to the hospital I knew I could trust the midwife and doula’s judgment and do what they were suggesting. Altogether we had a midwife, massage therapist, nurse, chiropractor, and close friend along with my husband.
Have you experienced labor that didn’t go as planned too? Leave a comment below!