Leading Up to Labor

Just a heads up, this blog post has a touch of TMI thrown in for good measure, so if that’s not your thing feel free to come back another day for regular posting. There’s also a lot of random medical details but I wanted to write this out while it’s fresh in my memory so I can go back and refer to it later on as part of the story of how he came into the world. :)

The Backstory
When I went in for my 36 week OB check, my doctor felt like baby was in a weird position so she had me pop across the hall for a quick ultrasound to check things out. Unfortunately, what we discovered was that Fletcher was breech — more specifically, he was transverse (laying sideways across my abdomen instead of being head down with his feet up by my ribs). I was so discouraged to hear this — as having a c-section was something that I hadn’t really even thought about until this moment. I just figured that if I wound up needing a c-section it would be as a last-resort emergency situation during labor — never a planned one.

My OB discussed my options with me — she could schedule an ECV the following week to try to manually spin him around or we could schedule a c-section for 39 weeks. I didn’t want to do an ECV because the success rate was only 50% and if my water accidentally broke or if Fletcher freaked out during it, I would have to have an emergency c-section right away (which I would have only been 37 weeks). My doctor said to talk it over with Andy and then let her know our decision. She also said she wanted to see me in a few days to check on him again just in case he still had room to spin around on his own even though the chances of this were slim due to being so far along in my pregnancy.

Andy and I went out to dinner that night and I was feeling so discouraged by the news; however, Andy is definitely a glass half-full kind of guy and remained optimistic that Fletcher would flip to the correct position in the next four weeks. Determined to have a vaginal birth, I committed to getting him to flip. I did inversions, walked daily, sat / bounced on an exercise ball, went to the chiropractor daily, got a prenatal massage, played music and turned a flashlight on towards the bottom of my abdomen, talking to him, used ice packs and peppermint oil to try to steer him away from the top of my stomach, etc. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of exhausting because this felt like a part-time job on top of working full time, being 9 months pregnant, and going on with just day to day tasks.

I went in for another ultrasound at 37 weeks and he was still sideways, so my doctor and I scheduled a c-section for noon on Friday, January 4th. I was so discouraged by this but ultimately surrendered to it because in the end, the only thing that really mattered was that Fletcher was safe and a year from now, how he got here wouldn’t even matter.

On Christmas Day, you might remember that we headed into the birthing center in the middle of the night due to me experiencing pain in my upper abdomen. Part of their process of checking me out involved monitoring his little heartbeat, checking for contractions, and doing an ultrasound. Well, imagine our surprise when they pulled up the ultrasound screen to find that he was head down! Merry Christmas to us! We left the hospital feeling SO relieved!

I saw another OB towards the end of that week for my 38 week appointment since my doctor was out of town for Christmas and I was literally holding my breath as she pulled up the ultrasound screen. I immediately let out a sigh of relief when I saw that he was still head-down. This sounds ridiculous, but I was SO paranoid about him flipping back to the incorrect position even after he was head-down. We didn’t tell many people that he ended up flipping due to it still feeling really stressful at the thought that he could flip back to transverse. I felt like I had to keep “checking” him each day by feeling my baby bump to make sure I didn’t feel a head on either side. I always felt so relieved whenever he would kick me in the ribs because it meant he was still in the correct position for a vaginal delivery.

I saw my OB the following week for my 39 week check and since he was still head-down, she canceled my c-section and we talked about signs of labor and when to check into the hospital.

However, 40 weeks came and went and there was still no signs of labor. I had an OB check at 40 weeks, 2 days and hadn’t really made much progress as I was only dilated to a 1, 50% effaced, and he was in the -3 pelvic position when my doctor checked me. I was feeling a little discouraged by this (however, not really surprised since I honestly didn’t feel any different other than growing more uncomfortable by the day) because it meant that we would most likely be choosing an induction date rather than letting him come on his own.

I’m not sure why, but choosing a date on a calendar to be his birthday didn’t sit well with us — Andy and I really wanted him to come in his own time, even if that meant going past 41 weeks. She scheduled me for an induction on the evening of January 15th, meaning he would most likely be born on January 16th since it takes awhile for things to progress once the meds are administered. I really didn’t feel comfortable being induced at 41 weeks so I let things play out through the weekend and planned to call the day before the induction to cancel it and tell them I wanted to schedule it for 42 weeks instead. Well, I ended up never needing to make that call since he came on his own on January 13th!

The Day Before Labor Started
After my 40w2d appointment that Friday, I headed to a coffee shop to do some prep work in my 2019 planner. My boss recommended this little cafe to me since her friend owns it and it instantly became a new favorite — it was so cute inside and my cherry-almond latte was so delicious!

IMG_3428.jpg

I sat and planned out some of my priorities for the year and looking back, I feel like this was the perfect activity to complete before Fletcher’s arrival. I have a blog post that outlines the prep work for the year (what worked in 2018, what didn’t work, what I hope to accomplish this year, etc.) started so I’ll be sure to publish that one sometime soon. Side note, the day before was such a rough day — I’m not sure if that had anything to do with labor being on the horizon or what but there were so many tears, nerves about labor, and overall just feeling really exhausted. Therefore, taking time for myself on this particular day really did wonders for me as I headed into the weekend on an optimistic note.

The next morning (Saturday, January 12th), I woke up around 2amwhich was pretty typical for me towards the end of pregnancy. I usually woke up around this time each morning due to needing to use the bathroom (baby was sitting right on my bladder towards the end!) or just being plain uncomfortable. I used the bathroom and as I was walking back to bed, I felt kind of weird so I went back to the bathroom to see what the deal was. What it looked like was the early stages of my mucous plug dislodging — this is the little plug that “seals” things down there and keeps baby safe and sound.

Upon discovering this, I was super excited because I thought it meant that things were progressing! However, once I got back in bed and started googling it, I lost a little hope as some articles said you can lose it weeks before labor starts and that it might just come loose after a cervix check (which I had the day before) and can regenerate if labor is not on the horizon. Humbug.

I never ended up falling back asleep but by the time I got out of bed later that morning, there was more and more of the mucous discharge. I texted a few friends and some said what it said online (that it could be weeks away), while others said they went into labor that night after losing theirs. I tried not to get my hopes up and just went along with my day. I napped throughout the morning due to being awake half the night and then I walked on our treadmill for over an hour while reading a book in hopes that that would help things to keep moving along.

All throughout the day, I continued to have the discharge and overall just felt crampy and just “off”. I had a hunch that he was coming the next day and even delayed our grocery delivery that I had originally planned for Sunday morning at 9am just in case we had to rush to the hospital in the night. Turns out my intuition was correct! :)

IMG_3476.jpg

Andy also hung up Fletcher’s bookshelves in the nursery and I couldn’t help but lay out a cute little outfit on his changing table as I was waiting — I just love looking through his dresser drawers at his little tiny outfits. Later that evening, I took a shower, got ready, took a baby bump picture, and then Andy and I headed out for a date night!

IMG_3290.jpg

Our first stop was Caribou to purchase a few items from the winter drinkware collection I that designed. I have one more mini collection launching for Valentine’s Day and then that’s the end of it as I’m at a new job now.

Afterwards, we headed out to grab some pizza and I planned to order the spicy one just because some say that spicy foods can kick you into labor. I figured that anything was worth a shot at this point; some of the other things that I did in the week or so leading up to labor were:

  • Eating fresh pineapple

  • Walking for at least 35 min each day

  • Adding crushed red pepper to a lot of my foods

  • Sitting / bouncing on an exercise ball

  • Focusing on staying relaxed (meditation app, taking a bath each night, etc.)

There was a long wait at the restaurant (okay, so maybe 50 minutes isn’t that long but when you’re overly pregnant, starving, and tired, it feels like forever, haha). While we were waiting, Andy and I were chatting and I was also texting a friend of mine who is pregnant (and due just a month or so from now!) and she suggested sipping raspberry leaf tea to help induce labor. I told Andy about it and we decided to stop to grab some after dinner.

IMG_3468.jpg

We enjoyed our pizza and what ended up being our last date night before baby! Andy’s pizza had a bunch of meat on it and I went with the Jamaican Jerk chicken pizza with pineapple salsa and a sweet chili glaze. It was SO good!

IMG_3469.jpg

On the way home, we were able to find the tea right away and I started drinking a cup of it while relaxing in the bathtub before bed. It definitely doesn’t taste like raspberries, that’s for sure — it reminds me more of a green tea if anything. I’ve also continued to drink it postpartum as it helps with a lot of birth-related things such as reducing bleeding, balancing hormones, and increasing milk supply. I’ve found that I prefer it iced, with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a splash of cranberry juice.

The next morning is when labor started, which I’ll cover in Fletcher’s birth story — stay tuned!

If you’ve had babies, what was the first sign of labor for you?
Favorite kind of pizza?