Over the past couple of years, I have run across so many blog posts written by mothers of 2+ children that communicate they have figured out their body, what labor and delivery are like for them, and are giving advice to other mothers on coping with labor. This is not one of those posts! 🙂
I am now a mother of 3, and each one of my labors has been so dramatically different, that if we have a fourth, I would enter it with as many nerves as the first time around because I would have no way of even guessing what it would be like. The reason I’m wanting to share the birth of my third child with you is that it didn’t go very well. Hopefully, someone reading this will be able to benefit from the things I have learned to do differently for next time.
To give a little background…my first child, Heidi, had to be induced because my water broke, but the contractions didn’t start. After 12 hours of hard labor, I had not progressed and was told that she wasn’t taking it very well and if things didn’t change soon I would be getting a C-section. So they gave me an epidural and apparently that relaxed me to the point of being able to progress and she was in my arms within the hour. I knew I was in for a rough go when my first (usually your smallest) little girl (usually smaller than boys) came out a week early weighing 9.5lbs!
Then came Daniel…those pains hit me so hard that, even though I wanted to do it naturally, I asked for an epidural within an hour of getting to the hospital. But it was too late. From the time I felt the first contraction to having him in my arms was five hours. Five BRUTAL hours. He was so big and came so fast that the pain was much more intense than the first time around.
I also had a slipped disk in my back from Heidi’s birth that we didn’t know about until I was 35 weeks with Daniel and nothing could be done about it. While it caused no long term damage, it simply made it feel like I had a knife in my back throughout the entire labor, leaving me no true breaks between contractions. All of the research and planning I had done was for nothing. I researched that the way to get through a natural birth was to relax during the breaks. That strategy obviously didn’t work for me. But at the end of the day, we had a handsome little boy entering the world at a whopping 11lbs!
Now enters Charlie…
This pregnancy was a bear from day one. It was the first time I had morning sickness. Although I had the best intentions of eating well during this pregnancy, I was a mom to two toddlers while also a nanny to two more toddlers almost the same ages, and absolutely repulsed by 95% of all food. So when I got the chance to eat, I ate WHATEVER looked good!
Then I moved into the second trimester and the morning sickness went away. But apparently, an SI joint in my back was still loose from my large babies. Once Charlie got heavy enough, I could no longer move without pain. Keep in mind, I was still watching four toddlers in my employer’s three-story house every day. So I’m going to be real with you, I did some terrible eating because after carrying this baby, and enduring all this pain, and chasing around these four toddlers, and taking care of this huge house, and going home and taking care of our own apartment in the evening…I told myself, “Girl! Whatever junk food you are craving right now, YOU DESERVE IT!!” Ever been there?
Now let’s move into the third trimester. I left my nanny position so that I could focus on preparing for the baby. About that time we found out my husband was being offered a new position, taking us from Illinois to Georgia! All of our family lives in Florida and we longed to live in the south again, so the move was such a blessing. The timing was just a bit difficult. We literally moved when I was 36 weeks along. We spent the first week unpacking and the second week prepping freezer meals for after the baby came.
Something was wrong
But one week after we arrived in GA, I started noticing something was changing. It was very common for me (and just about every other pregnant woman), to be a little extra hungry. But it wasn’t just that. It truly felt like I had another entity inside of me that was draining me of my energy. I was very hungry all the time, but yet I was losing weight. My energy was suddenly gone and I felt very heavy like my muscles were having a hard time doing their job. The most disturbing thing is that I literally felt bigger by the day. People around me were noticing how much my belly had grown in a week’s time…but yet the scale continued to maintain or even drop!
Thankfully, I had a doctor’s appointment shortly after we moved and was able to go in and get an ultrasound. My fears were confirmed. At 37 weeks my baby was predicted to be between 11-12lbs! You have to understand, the one labor that I had entered naturally (Daniel) I went at 42.5 weeks. In most cases, you can predict the time you will deliver naturally in the future based on your first. So if Charlie was 11-12lbs now and we waited for him to come on his own in 4-5 weeks….oh, I can’t even imagine…
Given an answer
They decided to take my blood sugar over that weekend to see if it could be sugar-related. I hadn’t had any problems with this in any of my pregnancies, but they just wanted to rule it out. Sure enough, my numbers were slightly elevated. Come to find out, all placentas give off a substance called human placental lactogen (HPL) that makes it harder for your body to handle insulin or control your blood sugar. In a healthy mother, carrying a normal-sized baby, her body can compensate and it’s no biggie. HPL is why gestational diabetes exists and why it usually goes away right after you give birth. The doctor predicted that my placenta had gotten so big (because my baby had gotten so big) that my body was losing the battle and my sugar was losing control.
This switched their suggestion from induction to C-section because “sugar babies” (babies coming from a mom with blood sugar problems) can be extra broad in the shoulders and are at a much higher risk for getting stuck on their way out. A few days later, they decided to do a more detailed ultrasound. This time they predicted that he would be between 12-13lbs!
Now, I had researched all of the benefits of a baby being born naturally through the birth canal. But since his growth could have been affected by the sugars, we didn’t feel peace about trying it naturally. So on February 12th, 2020, “little” Charlie was C-sectioned out 2.5 weeks early, yet still weighing over 12lbs!
Because of the C-section and his early arrival, he had to stay in the NICU for two weeks following his birth. But we are so thankful he is now a happy, healthy four-month-old who is growing like a weed!
Learning our lesson
The main lesson is that we have no way of predicting what a pregnancy/birth will be like. We truly need to be prepared for everything. What I mean by that is that we need to take care of what is in our control. To be specific, our health. The placenta might have made it more difficult for my body to combat my insulin. But if I had weighed less or eaten a diet better for insulin control, I probably would have faired better.
For a few weeks after his birth, I struggled with regret and shame, blaming myself for his difficult start. But another lesson I had to come to grips with is that this life is about learning and moving forward. Tomorrow is a new day. Starting now, I can make changes so that I can become more of the person I want to be.
In the last four months, there have been a lot of changes around here. A lot of learning, new habits, lost weight, and gained health. I’m so thankful that you have joined me for this ride so that we can continue to learn together!