A Late Baby, A Fairly Short Labor, An 11-Pounder!
My fourth pregnancy was pretty uneventful, although I did have a lot of pelvic achiness in the last trimester due to ligament stretching. My fundal height measurements were right on track for the baby's age, and my ultrasound and other prenatal tests were all fine.
About two weeks before my due date, my doctor asked if I wanted to be induced a little early because we knew that I had a history of large babies (and was not gestationally diabetic). My last child had weighed 11-1/2 pounds, but I had a pretty uncomplicated (and fast) vaginal birth with him, so, impatient as I was, I decided against induction.
On April 10, the day before my due date, contractions began at about 1 a.m. Because my last labor had progressed so quickly (one hour and 37 minutes from first contraction to birth), we called my mom to come watch the other kids, called my doula, and headed to the hospital. The contractions were very manageable, coming about four minutes apart. I was four centimeters dilated -- not much more than I had been the week before at my 39-week prenatal appointment.
An hour and a half later, there was no cervical change... and the contractions were five or more minutes apart. An hour later, they were coming just every now and then, and I had made no progress. Labor had stalled. Maybe my body wasn't ready, or maybe the baby changed his mind! In any case, the doctor offered to induce, or I could just go home and see what happened. I went home, hopeful things would pick up soon.
The baby was in no hurry. A (very long) week later, I was still no further along! Four centimeters, only partially effaced, and the baby was still very high (-3) and "floating." My doctor was very concerned that the baby was just too big, and that's why he was so high: The head couldn't even get into the pelvis. I went for an ultrasound to check the baby's size, and the news was not reassuring. The ultrasound estimated his weight to be 11 pounds, 10 ounces... plus or minus 33 ounces. (Quite a spread!)
I spent the next several days getting opinions from doctors, midwives, my doula, friends, and family. There was a real split: those who thought that a scheduled c-section was just the best bet at this point, and those who encouraged me just to hang in there -- the baby was just on his own schedule, not mine. I agreed to wait, but because of my history of large babies, didn't feel comfortable going past 42 weeks.
On Thursday, April 19, I went for a non-stress test and the baby was fine. My doctor said we'd discuss our options the following Monday. He didn't think an induction would work because my cervix was so unfavorable. I was also losing confidence. I did, however, start taking evening primrose oil -- orally and inserted vaginally.
Mercifully, my baby didn't make me wait much longer. Early Saturday morning, around 3 a.m., I started feeling some irregular, but strong, contractions. I tried to time them, but they were all over the place -- anywhere from five to 30 minutes apart! When my husband and I got up in the morning, I told him about the contractions... and then they stopped.
Around 1 or 2 p.m., the contractions returned, but were again totally irregular. Around 3 p.m., I noticed that they drastically increased with activity -- and were getting painful. Since my mom was out of town for the weekend, I called my dad to alert him that I might be in labor and may need him to babysit. He had plans that evening, which he offered to cancel, but I wasn't sure enough that this was it. He said he'd be home around 8, and he'd call me then to see if I still wanted him to come down.
After I hung up, I realized that the contractions were getting a lot stronger. Not only did I not want to wait until that night, I didn't even want to wait the hour and a half it would take him to get to our house. I called my wonderful doula, a friend to come watch the kids, and a neighbor to watch the kids until our friend could get here. We left in a hurry and saw several neighbors outside as we got in the car -- everyone realized I was in labor. Particularly after the last hospital trip, I felt some performance anxiety. The contractions still weren't regular, and I'd only had the tiniest amount of bloody show. What if this was another false alarm?
We arrived at the hospital about 10 minutes later. The contractions were hard, but not unmanageable -- I could get through them by myself with only a little breathing. The nurse checked me, and we were surprised that the bag was bulging, I was completely dilated on top, and there was a centimeter "lip" on the bottom of the bag.
At about 4:30, my doctor arrived and assessed me and said the baby was still high. He wanted to break my bag of waters because it was likely they would rupture soon. He was concerned that if they popped hard, the umbilical cord could prolapse (come out first) and would be compressed by the baby's head -- an emergency situation. Remembering how my bag had broken with my last labor (fast and hard), I agreed. He used a sheathed needle to gently pierce the membrane. There was no gush, just a tiny trickle that would allow for a slow leak of the fluid and encourage baby to descend gradually.
Breaking the waters escalated the intensity of the contractions... but I didn't really seem to be dilated. At about 5:45, I started to overload. The contractions were coming non-stop, double-peaking, and even hurt constantly during the short moments in between. Finally, I had enough, and found myself asking for an epidural. Once I made that decision, I realized that the anesthesiologist could not get there fast enough for my liking! Mercifully, it didn't take long too for him to arrive.
At 6:25, I got the epidural. It was a wonderful help! I specifically requested the lowest dose possible so I would still have some feeling (in contrast to the epidural I had with my second child). It was perfect. I could still feel the contractions and move my legs -- but wasn't in agonizing pain.
My doctor checked me again at 7 pm, and I had only barely progressed. Since there has only been so little change, my doctor wanted to augment my labor with pitocin. I agreed, since I wanted to move things along knowing that we were all a little tense about the possibility of actually delivering vaginally.
About 20 minutes later, the baby had some heart decelerations, so they turned the pitocin down. I concentrated on taking deep breaths for the baby. I seemed to be making progress, and the doctor said we should "have faith" and see if the baby would descend.
At the next check another 20 minutes later, I was complete! The doctor surprised me by asking for a couple trial pushes. The baby came down very smoothly. Everyone got geared up and I pushed -- not too hard -- and helped our little boy out into the world.
Quinn was born on April 21, 2001 at 7:50 p.m. My long-time dream came true when, for the first time, my still-wet newborn was placed onto my chest. My husband and I were both thrilled to meet him! He seemed very healthy, and had APGAR scores of eight and nine. He looked smaller than anyone expected, and as they took him over to the scale, everyone called out guesses of his weight. He weighed exactly 11 pounds, and was 21-1/2 inches long (with a 15-inch head).
While they cleaned me up, another nurse in the room checked the baby over. My doula stayed with me while my husband went home and picked up our other three kids. It was wonderful to introduce them to their brand new baby brother!
Quinn has been a fantastic baby -- very easygoing and full of smiles. I feel like we won the lottery -- for the fourth time!
My advice to moms who think they might be delivering large babies: Have faith. The human body is made to bring children into the world, and is a truly amazing thing.