Chicken Nugget is my third child, and I’ve heard it said that third babies can be a wild card labor and delivery. It’s sort of an old wives’ tale that precipitous labors (sometimes just called fast labors or rapid labors) most often happen with the third child. I’d be curious to hear from any midwives or OBGYNs to find out if there’s any real truth to that claim. A precipitous labor is a labor in which the baby is born after fewer than three hours of regular contractions. Nugget arrived 2 hours and 38 minutes after regular contractions began. It was a wild and crazy ride!
The Neverending Pregnancy
It was the night before I was scheduled to be induced at 41 weeks pregnant. My doctor didn’t allow pregnancies to go past 41 weeks, so Baby was getting her evacuation notice. Because I was GBS+ for the first time ever, I was to report to the hospital at 4:00 am for two rounds of iv antibiotics before an 8:00 am induction.
Because my cervix had been favorable for weeks, my doctor assumed this third baby would arrive quickly. Meanwhile, I was emotionally and mentally preparing myself for any outcome.
I began having early labor symptoms at 38 weeks, with increased back pain, regular overnight contracting, night sweats and insomnia. I had frequent tightenings as I bounced on my exercise ball at school. Almost nightly, I would have consistent timeable contractions, but they never became closer than 8 minutes apart. They were also pretty mild compared to active labor contractions.
Because I was to be induced the next day, I had given up all hope of going into labor spontaneously. Increased pelvic pressure seemed to have moved forward toward my belly button, but I blew it off. I remember thinking at dinner time that something had shifted. Since induction was only 6 hours away, I dismissed the thought and reminded myself of the many false starts I had already experienced.
Hard Contractions – But 20 Minutes Apart?
My mother-in-law and mom were both in town with us that night in preparation for the birth. They were eager to meet the baby but also knew we might need help for the two big kids. At 10:30, as I was chatting with my mom on the couch, I had a noticeably bigger contraction. It was a hard enough contraction that I noted the time and decided to go to bed. I knew I needed some quality rest before meeting our new baby the next day.
I followed my normal bedtime routine, and I was surfing Facebook in bed when another contraction hit of the same intensity as the one before. It was 10:50. Because the contractions were 20 minutes apart, I dismissed them, knowing that real birth wouldn’t start this way.
Pretty Sure This is the Real Deal
When the third contraction hit at 11:10 after another 20 minute break, it was strong enough that I nearly came out of my skin and bolted out of bed. I immediately began shaking violently at my bedside as my body adjusted to the shock of how powerful the contraction had been. It felt like my body was going into shock because I COULD. NOT. STOP. SHAKING. I found it hard to catch my breath. I must have known this was The Real Deal, because I got dressed again in a maternity sweatshirt and jeans.
Studying my husband as he slept, I pondered whether or not to wake him. Right as I finished dressing, another contraction hit, and this one was at 11:15, only five minutes after the previous one. I stared into the mirror, and admitted to myself that I was in labor, in spite of how far apart the first three contractions had been. This is what I mark as the start of labor. Fear started to creep in, but there wasn’t much time to dwell on it, because the contractions tightened immediately to four minutes, and three minutes, and then I woke my husband at 11:30 p.m.
Dude, Wake Up
My husband is an extremely deep sleeper, and because I was trying to remain calm, he was difficult to rouse. He sat up in bed like I asked him to, and agreed to watch me for a few contractions so that we wouldn’t rush to the hospital unnecessarily. I’m not sure why I requested affirmation that it was time to go to the hospital; I could have easily just insisted we leave, because I knew it was time.
I think his first thought was that we should try to just get some rest before we needed to wake for the induction around 3:30 a.m. At one point he mumbled, “It seems like they are still pretty far apart, right?” I glanced at my phone and stated, “That was only two and a half minutes.” The next one hit at 11:45 and I couldn’t get through it without vocalizing and leaning against the dresser, and it caught his attention.
The Longest 12 Minute Drive EVER
He bolted out of bed, seemingly aided by a bit of adrenaline, notified our moms that we were heading out early, and began throwing bags in the truck. I reminded him to put a towel down on the seat for me. Our moms watched me moan my way through a contraction while leaning against the dryer and exchanged nervous glances at one another. At this point, I was in a great deal of pain during contractions. Since it was still early, I was fully present with the people around me between the waves.
As I climbed into the truck, I couldn’t bear to sit on my bottom. I rode in the passenger seat, facing backwards, draped across the back of the seat on my knees. The drive to the hospital was about 12 minutes and I had about 4 or 5 contractions during that time. I groaned my way through all of them, and then Hubs pulled under the portico of the hospital so we could check in.
I approached the nurse’s desk, and quickly stated that I was GBS+ and scheduled for a 4 a.m. induction, but added that I was having contractions less than 3 minutes apart as a third time mom. We skipped triage and went straight to a room. They obviously insisted on checking me, which required me to lie down. I couldn’t even stand the thought of being in bed, but it didn’t seem optional. They tried to fit the check in between contractions so I could be standing up for them, but I don’t think they tried very hard.
I was only a 5, but I wasn’t worried about it. I knew things were getting ready to happen very quickly. They offered me an epidural, which I refused. I did request nitrous oxide, which surprised them. Apparently, not many women had tried it, so they didn’t have many tips other than to try and time the mask application right as a contraction was starting and to breathe deeply.
I’m Not Impressed
I want to preface this by saying that we’ve historically had fabulous nurses. Both my sister and sister-in-law are nurses and I have deep respect for them. But these nurses were no bueno.
I’m sure plenty of women have delivered without medication at this hospital, yet they seemed completely clueless about supporting women in an unmedicated birth. They kept asking me the dumbest questions literally at the peak of a contraction. The floor was pretty quiet that night, so I have NO IDEA why these questions needed to be asked at full volume, with the lights on bright, and at the worst possible times.
How hard is it to observe a woman in pain, lower your voice, dim the lights and wait about 45 seconds before you feel the need to ask me if we want Daddy’s thumbprints on the keepsake card? It was ridiculous, y’all, and it was about to get even dumber.
Just the Two of Us
They left Hubs and I alone for a short bit as we adjusted to our surroundings. We were standing next to the bed and nitrous oxide machine. I draped my left arm around his shoulder and used my right hand to stay in close range of the nitrous oxide. When I could feel a contraction starting, I would immediately begin breathing deeply into the mask and sort of swayed as I held onto my husband.
There was no laughing or talking between contractions at this point because even just waiting for the next contraction without tensing up required complete concentration. The mask was handy because I could be fairly loud, and it muffled the sounds I was making. Hubs had the good sense to remain silent. Immediately after the contraction ended, I would be super thirsty, and he’d hold the water jug and straw to my lips.
The contractions got closer and harder and tighter, and at some point, I found it helpful to stand on my tiptoes at the peak of a contraction. I kept groaning, roaring, and mooing (lol) into the mask, but the sounds were muffled. I remember wondering why the nurses weren’t present, because I knew this baby was coming fast. It seemed like Hubs and I were the only ones that grasped how quickly this was happening.
As for the nitrous oxide, I found that it did nothing to ease the pain, but it did seem to take the edge off any anxiety I might have otherwise been feeling. It also helped me remain fully present between contractions. It gave me something to do, and that was helpful.
Sneaking in a Little Push?
After perhaps an hour and half of standing and rocking next to the bed, I felt the baby move much lower. I wanted to try out pushing. So without mentioning it to Hubs or a nurse, I gave a little push while contracting, and I wasn’t surprised to discover it felt much better. I knew not to push without permission, in case my cervix wasn’t quite ready. I asked the hubs to call a nurse and let her know I wanted to push.
The nurse arrived, checked me (oh, the misery of getting back in bed!), and stated that I was only an 8. I needed to hold off on pushing. Ten minutes passed in which the urge to push became overwhelming. I was doing everything I could to just try and fight the sensation.
Precipitous Labor —> Fetal Ejection Reflex
Suddenly, at 2:06 am, the baby moved much lower and I experienced fetal ejection reflex. I wasn’t deliberately pushing, but my body pushed without my conscious decision to do so. I was still standing by the bed, and as my body took over, my water splashed all over the ground. Hubs yelled, “Oh #$%^” and ran into the hallway to get a nurse. With him in the hallway, I reached between my legs to discover the baby’s head on the way out.
A couple of nurses ran into the room and asked me to get on the bed, but I felt paralyzed and unable to relocate. I stated, “I can’t, the baby is crowning,” and the nurse reached between my legs. On the next push, the head was out, so I took one deep breath, and then the body was born. Once the nurse had her safely in her arms, I was able to carefully crawl into the bed with the cord between my legs.
That’s Gonna Be a Lot of Paperwork
It was 2:08 am when she was born. As they laid her on my chest, Hubs unwrapped the blanket and said, “It’s a girl!” I was blissed out on delivery hormones and couldn’t have cared less if she came out as an armadillo. She would have been the most perfect little armadillo I had ever seen!
Several minutes later, the on-call doctor arrived to catch the placenta. Somehow, even after two previous deliveries, I forgot that had to happen. She asked me to push and the placenta was delivered without much fanfare. I shook uncontrollably for almost an hour as my body recovered from the shock. Hubs admitted to me later that the shaking was making him nervous. I wish someone would have told him it’s totally normal, because I was oblivious to his concern.
I’m told that when nurses catch babies, there is lots of paperwork involved. We arrived over an hour before she was born. I wasn’t too impressed with this particular team of professionals.
Chicken Nugget had a beautiful little golden hour. Much like my birth with Chicken Patty, she executed an absolutely amazing breast crawl – a phenomenon that’s pretty shocking to witness. How can such a tiny, brand new creature just instinctively know how to meet her own needs? And where does the physical strength come from to make her way across my belly and chest without the help of her mother? I just laid there and soaked in the incredible beauty of the moment.
My recovery was incredibly fast with this birth. As soon as the shakes wore off, I was able to walk around the room and the hallways as if nothing had happened. Of course, I was sore, but nothing more than an Ibuprofen was ever required. I think I lucked out, because apparently precipitous labor isn’t always so uneventful.
The only downside was staying an extra day in the hospital. Because I didn’t have time for my scheduled IV antibiotics before her delivery, they needed to watch her an extra day. They measured her at 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 21.5 inches long.
Since I was an experienced mom, nursing was much easier than it had been with my first birth. Today, she’s two months old and a very peaceful baby. She was born just before the Covid19 pandemic and has spent her entire life in quarantine. I can’t wait to introduce her to extended family and friends.
If you had a super-fast (often called rapid or precipitous labor), tell us about it! Was it your third baby – little Mr. or Ms. Wild Card?