So, let's travel back to April 23rd...it was a Friday, and I was over a week overdue. I had a midwife appointment that morning, and as expected, she told me it was time to try some castor oil. I had tried castor oil with Jack...it was super gross and didn't work at all. I swore I'd never do it again. But I had been having contractions for *weeks*, real ones that seemed like they could "take" at any time, but nothing more would ever happen. My back and hip were aching all day, every day. And when my midwife did a nonstress test, the baby's movements were almost nonexistent, though his heartrate was good. I was looking at an OB/hospital birth referral. I was feeling all kinds of desperate and decided it was worth a try.
I swung (swinged? swang?) by the store on the way home and bought a bottle. My midwife's instructions were to drink one ounce every hour. The bottle contained six ounces. Ugh. I decided to get started as soon as I arrived back home. My labors are always days long, so I knew that even if I managed to get labor going I'd have plenty of time to finish getting ready. I had already looked on the internet for ideas on making this task easier, but in the end I just decided to chug it. With Jack, I had mixed the oil with OJ. This didn't work at all, because guess what? oil and water don't mix!!! So what you would get is a couple of swallows of OJ and then thick, gloppy oil all by itself at the end. This time I decided on a shot of castor oil (literally...I used a shot glass) followed by an OJ chaser. It was still horrifying beyond all reason. My stomach is lurching now just thinking about it. If you ever do this, imagine swallowing a big ole heaping spoonful of vaseline. A couple of saltines afterwards help remove the oily ook from your mouth. Blech.
John happened to be home from work that day. He was actually supposed to work and had been sent home. So, I took my shot and we started puttering around, getting ready just in case this actually did anything. An hour later I took another shot,,,barely. It nearly came back on me, and I was trying not to think about taking four more of these. Another hour passed, and I took another shot, and I'm serious, it very nearly didn't stay down, and I told John that was it, there was just no way on earth I was going to be able to take anymore of it. At this point it was almost 6pm...getting late, and I was looking at being up all night with other "returns" from the castor oil, if you know what I mean. I sat down to check my email, and right in the middle of an email, no lie, there was this sudden "clunk" on my pelvic bone. It felt like something had...slipped, or something. And then I had a *strong* contraction. I went to the bathroom to kind of see what was what, and my water broke! And then another *strong* contraction. Hrmmm...interesting, I thought, and maybe I should start getting ready in earnest, we might be leaving sometime tomorrow. I went upstairs and started gathering up things for me, John, and Tess, and I told Maria to do the same for the boys and herself. I called my mom and told her to keep her cell phone nearby just in case things moved faster than usual and we needed to leave during the night, but that surely she would just get an update in the morning. Because, like I said, my labors are *days* long.
And then another contraction. And another. Consistently very strong, and coming 5 minutes apart. Very weird. I went downstairs and proceeded to hem and haw with great anxiety. My gut said it was TIME, NOW, and my brain said, "Puh-leez, do we have to go through this with every labor, you KNOW your labors always take FOREVER!" And after a couple of more contractions, I was convinced. This one was different. And I felt strongly that we should leave NOW. The birthing center was almost two hours away. I called my mom and told her to meet us at the center. I swear I could practically hear her eyes rolling. Because I just don't *have* fast labors, and I always think things are happening faster than they are. I ran around in a vague panic, trying to get everything together and having a really hard time because I couldn't concentrate well at all. It seemed to take an eternity to get everyone loaded up and get on the road, although really we were on the road shortly after 6pm, and the whole time I was trying to picture the logistics of having the baby on the side of the road, mostly worried about how badly that would freak out Jack. The whole scene was like the ones I've always made fun of on television, the ones where the woman grabs her stomach and says, "Honey, it's time", and they all run around like lunatics trying to get to the hospital.
Once in the car, I removed the rosary from the rearview mirror and started praying with the contractions. It went something like this, "Hail Mary full of gracetheLordiswiththeeblessedARTTHOUAMONGWOMENARGGGHHHAILMARYHAILMARY,(pant,pant,pant).......and the kids going, "Are you ok?" and me going, "Umhmm, oh yeah, I'm fine, I'm ok, it's just hard work you know, tralala!" We arrived at the birthing center just before 8pm. My parents were there waiting in the dark parking lot, and I think they were surprised to see me lurch out of the van panting and working hard, rosary clenched in my sweaty fist. I left John and my parents to deal with the stuff and the kids and lumbered into the front door, pausing for another contraction on the way. Once inside, I undressed and flopped down to be checked, waiting for the news that the baby was immenent. "You're only about three centimeter dilated, hon," she told me. I nearly fell apart. I had *hours and hours* to go, how could I work this hard for that long? John came in and we started to work, but this labor was so different. With Tess and Jack, being on my feet helped tremendously, but with this one I just couldn't bear it and I was rapidly becoming truly hysterical as the contractions were literally one on top of the other. How could I possibly keep doing this for hours? I decided I needed to do something different. I lay down and positioned myself all Bradley-method like, propped up with pillows, John rubbing my back, eyes closed, breathing deeply. This was *much* better. The contractions were still just as fast and hard, but I felt more in control, more able to focus. I disappeared inside the work, and I distantly heard John say, "I think she's sleeping!", but I wasn't, the contractions were still rocking and rolling, and I would surface with them to pant and breathe. At some point my midwife wanted to check the baby's heart rate and I had to roll over. I cried to her that I just couldn't see how it was possible that I had so far to go and I really couldn't do this for hours and hours. She tried to check my cervix and I just couldn't get in position for her to check. The contractions at this point were literally just one after another with no break at all in between. She urged me to get onto the birthing chair, but I just couldn't see how I could move with no time at all between contractions. I muttered that I would try after the next one. The next one finished, I started to sit up, and another hit so I flopped back against John and said I just couldn't get up, no way. Suddenly I felt that familiar full and burning pain and yelled that the baby was coming, right now! Maria and my mom, waiting just outside the door, came running in just in time to see his head come out. Another contraction, and he was out completely, and I was laying there gasping like a fish out of water, still flopped back against John from when I was trying to scooch off the bed. It was 9:34, an hour and half from when we arrived at the center 3 centimeters dilated, about six hours from when I took the first dose of castor oil.
And that was that. Henry Robert was born. John picked the name Henry and I picked Robert for my sweet Grandaddy. He had died when Jack was a newborn, and I had decided then that if I ever had another boy I would name it after him. 10 pounds, 10 ounces, 22 1/2 inches long. My dad and the other kids had just arrived back at my parents house. If we'd had any idea it would be so quick they could have stuck around, but I never in a million years imagined I'd deliver so quickly! And I marveled at God's providence that John had been sent home from work that day. If he had been at work, I probably still would have started the castor oil because the midwife really wanted me to start right awya, and John was off that weekend and I never would have guessed it would have worked so fast. I don't know how he ever would have gotten out of his hospital shift and home on such short notice...he probably wouldn't have! Anyway, we got cleaned up, I ate something and recovered a bit, and we were back home around 2am. In less than 12 hours I'd gone from not being in labor at all to being back home with a newborn. Still unbelievable to me.