When Three Become Four: My 4th Baby’s Birth Story

People tell me that if you have a baby that needs to be induced, it will be the first. So the stories go, each additional child is ready for the world a little earlier. That’s what it is though, a story.

The story for me was different, very different. Forty weeks in and number four was showing no signs of greeting planet earth. At least not from outside of the pregnancy swamp. Kicks were plentiful, wiggles frequent.

The midwives came and went, becoming a daily visit to see is things were progressing. Speculation about the head engaging was the talk of one visit, but the next day a totally different opinion. “The little one isn’t quite ready to say hello yet” was the message. Patience is indeed a virtue.

A week passed. It passed slowly, very slowly. There’s the physical side of carting around a lump and all of the fluid that comes with pregnancy. Day by day you realize that things aren’t going to improve until your little one pops out, and day by day you also start to see the enormity of the task ahead as the belly grows faster than the days to go reduce. The physical side is the small half of the tale though.

The real impatience for me came from inside my head. The desperation to meet that little face was growing larger with each passing heartbeat. Early in pregnancy you can put it out of your head, but when you have to waddle around like a beached whale, it’s hard to avoid that constant not-so-little reminder.

I secretly wanted a girl, but only as a preference, as a baby is precious regardless of the perfect picture in your mind’s eye. Number one and three were girls, sandwiching themselves around my son. As a mom, the bond with an only boy is special. Why I don’t know, but it’s just different in a way that I don’t think would be the same with a single daughter and collection of her brothers.

I suppose for their Dad the opposite may be true, but in those final days the desire to care about that had somewhat waned. I just wanted to say hello.

Once Week 41 was complete, the reality dawned on me that the natural arrival might not be as sure as I’d imagined. I tried to hide from that fact, packing and unpacking the ‘birth bag’ several times to help pass the days.

When you’ve had three kids already, you start to consider yourself a dab hand as popping the babies out, without wanting to sound like one of those old folk referring to shelling peas. That’s the main reason I’d planned to have a home birth and stay out of the hectic labor ward.

On the next home visit, I nervously and reluctantly asked the burning question – could I still have that home birth if many more days ticked by?

The sharp intake of breath from the now familiar health visitor told me it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Her friendly tone suddenly reverted to the kind of professional one I remembered from the first time we met, like when a friend gets a sudden cellphone call from work.

The fact is, you have to do what’s safest, and there’s a reason we ask questions like this to doctors, not friends. In this case, the answer was already almost certain. We were already past term, and that means it was likely to be the biggest baby yet – the first three all arrived a little early.

And then, almost as if by magic, i felt a tightening around my belly, stretching around to my back and within half an hour, my waters had broken. The timing was perfect, with the medical help I needed right there.

I say the timing was perfect, I very much mean for me, the midwife was nearing the end of her day and suddenly had an unexpected appointment.

The time had come for a quick decision. I delegated. My heart wanted to stay home for the birth, my head said I’d been given the advice I’d asked for. My husband did the look he does when he means “Don’t be stupid”. The decision has been made for me.

So, the phone call was made, the car brought as near to the door as was possible, and the bag was grabbed for our new adventure. Just in time for a natural arrival, that’s exactly where we were heading.

Next time, we’ll see how well it went.