On July 30, 2018, at 6:21 a.m., Grady Tate Hobson was born. He clocked in weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 21 inches. Despite being my fourth baby, his labor was the slowest. After mentioning that to my midwife and OB, they both said that tends to happen often with third or fourth babies. At any rate, here’s my account of Grady’s birth story while it’s still fresh.
The past month of pregnancy had been hard between a little sciatic nerve pain and a lot of baby’s head hitting some nerve that triggered pain down my right inner leg, often knocking me to my knees in the evening when it ramped up. Couple the nerve pain with some painful baby movements high up in my ribs and a hard time sleeping at night, and I was more than ready for this little boy to arrive.
I had been cramping in my back and lower abdomen off and on for a week, but when I went to bed each night I woke up feeling good in the morning. But on Sunday, July 29, I woke up feeling a little off. The crampiness was still there for once. We talked about going to church as normal, but decided instead to go to a local park and let the kids play then walk for an hour to see if that would do anything. Walking was slow and hard to do with the cramping. I was interested to see if I felt anything once we got home when I rested after lunch. Sure enough, the cramping was still there and I noticed light fairly consistent contractions in my back and lower abdomen about 8 minutes apart.
I sent James off to volleyball mid-afternoon and took the kids to my parents’ house to play as planned. There, I started timing my contractions and once they were 5 minutes apart, my mom suggested we go on to the hospital since it’s my fourth baby and you never know how fast he will come. I had a hard time deciding since the pain wasn’t unmanageable, but eventually we left for the hospital just after 4 p.m. because I was determined not to miss my window for an epidural (#priorities)!
My contractions were less than five minutes apart and when the nurse checked me. I was 4 cm dilated but at station -5. If you know anything about baby stations, -5 is the highest possible station, meaning baby boy had quite a ways to go down the birth canal before making his grand entrance. This made sense since I was still feeling so many kicks high up in my ribs, and also every time I got a cervix check the nurse could barely reach it (it felt like she was aiming for my stomach!). When the nurse checked me at the hospital, she had this crazy look on her face and told me that as she was checking the dilation, she felt Grady’s hand reach down below his head and she felt his fingers. Crazy little baby.
To ensure I was in active labor, my midwife came up with a plan to have me walk the halls for two sets of 30 minutes before checking contractions and dilation again to see if anything changed. The first set of walking wasn’t too bad. It was slow going and I kept questioning if I was in active labor or false labor. I did not want to be sent home for false labor when I was so close (and so ready) to meeting little man. The second set of walking is when the contractions kicked up a notch (finally!), slowing down my pace and causing me to pause during them. The nurse suggested squatting during the contraction to help move baby down, and that’s what I did. This is where working out and Crossfit come in handy!
After the second set of walking, my contractions were still consistent as well as the back labor. The nurse said that I felt it in the back likely because Grady was so high up still.
When she went to check me this time, her eyes got really big and she had a strange look on her face. She basically froze and told me she thought she felt the cord. Then she very slowly pulled out her hand and explained what that meant. If the cord comes before the baby’s head during delivery, it puts the baby and the mom at risk for cord prolapse, and the protocol is an emergency C-section. I’ll be honest, hearing that was a bit scary. Not only did I want to avoid a C-section after three vaginal deliveries, but more importantly I did not want my baby to be at risk during delivery. So I said a quick prayer and tried my best to stay calm and breathe. The good news is I was dilated to 5 cm at this point.
So they admitted me and took me back to a delivery room and started and IV and fluids since I knew I was getting the epidural at some point. A hospital staff doctor came in and took an ultrasound to get a better idea of the cord’s location. Thankfully, it appeared the cord was actually higher up near Grady’s arm, and the doctor thought that what the nurse felt was some sort of membrane of fluid. I wasn’t completely in the clear, but it was very reassuring to know that things were looking more hopeful for a vaginal delivery.
Because there was still a chance that the cord could come first and because Grady was still so high up, the team wanted to take labor slowly and not break my water but instead let him slowly work his way down the birth canal. They started a low dose of pitocin to get him moving down at the same time I got an epidural, and then we waited.
My mom and husband were there with me, and when we got to the hospital we seriously thought we’d have a new baby by midnight. Little did we know they would both be staying overnight as I labored slowly til 6:21 a.m. Not only did they deal with the discomfort of trying to sleep in a labor and delivery room, but the nurses had me use something they called The Peanut that I stuck between my legs while laying on my side. Apparently, this would help the baby move down, but of course it was super uncomfortable, which means I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
But the good news is that our slow approach was working. Grady began gradually descending and I continued to dilate as the hours passed on. By 4:30 a.m., I was 8 cm dilated the nurse said we’d have a baby by 7 a.m. At 6 a.m., I began to think that my epidural was wearing off, because I could feel intense contraction-like pain on my right side that had me yelping, moaning and doing lamaze breathing. What’s crazy is that when the nurse timed my pain with the contractions on the monitor, it didn’t line up. I didn’t feel pain when the contraction peaked, but at the tail end of the contraction and I could literally feel Grady inching his way down the birth canal. It was a crazy feeling.
Once he was all the way down and it was time to push, I started sobbing uncontrollably. I’m not sure if it was hormones or tiredness or being so close to the end—probably all of the above—but I finally regained my composure and started pushing. I don’t have a good gauge for how long I pushed, maybe 15 minutes. Pushing was harder than I remembered with my other babies. Every time I leaned forward to push, I could still feel Grady’s feet up in my ribs so it was hard to get in a good breath but also hard to contract forward with his legs there.
But at 6:21 a.m., after my longest labor to date, out came my long, lean little boy, who still had no name until Day 2 at the hospital. Overall, it was a lengthy delivery, but I am grateful that my midwife took the time to let me labor slowly and safely to keep baby healthy. I had no tears or stitches, the same with my second and third baby, but I definitely feel more achy postpartum than with my other babies. My hips and especially lower back where I had back labor are still sore a week later. I guess that’s what I get for having a baby at “advanced maternal age!”
My three older kids (ages 6, 5 and 3) got a chance to meet Grady roughly 12 hours after his birth. To say they were over the moon is an understatement. They could not stop petting him or bouncing around the hospital room with excitement. It’s so special that my kids are older and can really grasp having a new baby in the family.