I had my 37 week midwife appointment on July 2nd. I hadn’t had many braxton hicks that were “timeable” in any way, but had been feeling lots of cramps and pressure that lasted extended periods of time. I was feeling more and more like Ava would make her arrival later than her 38-weeker sister. Or maybe I was just convincing myself of that to keep anxiety at bay. The midwife offered to check my cervix, so I agreed. I was at 2-3 cm and 50% effaced, an improvement over my barely-dilated cervix the week before. I allowed myself to be excited, thinking she would definitely be here in the next week!
Off and on I would feel like total CRAP. Cramps, but not really contractions. Looots of pressure. So much so that I would just have to SIT and could barely walk around. Saturday evening we had a going away party for Zack, he had just gotten his first commercial airline job. I was miserable. I left my in-laws house feeling like Ava might be coming THAT night. I didn’t get much sleep, again. It had been a couple of uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden nights.
Woke up Sunday – no baby. Luke and I had a nice, kid-less breakfast that morning, our last for a while. I felt pretty good that whole day. Not many cramps, no contractions, just a “normal” day. My sister left town to go to the Valley, and wouldn’t be back til Thursday. I was again starting to think Ava would be here later than I thought, in time for Erica to make it back (and I’m sure she hoped so, too).
That evening Luke and I spent lots of time playing with Claire and we both tucked her in that night. It was the last night she would be tucked in as an only child! I was feeling good, but hadn’t gotten much sleep the past couple of nights. I decided to take a Unisom to get some good sleep, as good as it can be when you’re really pregnant. I went to bed around 11, and woke up just before 2am with contractions. I immediately remembered that these felt the same as with Claire. I knew this was it!
I waited about 15 minutes to wake up Luke – to make sure they were coming at somewhat consistent intervals and I wasn’t craycray. They were about 5-6 minutes apart. I woke up Luke to let him know, and we decided to let Jan know and have her head to our house to stay with Claire. Luke gave her a call, she answered with, “you’re joking”. She also got pulled over for speeding on her way, just like a sitcom. I called my mom. I knew she wanted to leave Kerrville (a four hour drive) as soon as I was in labor. I wasn’t sure if she’d make it in time.
The contractions were strong, but not unbearable. They were also coming every 5-6 minutes, but a few times they were closer to 10 minutes apart. Then multiple times they felt like they would start to build up, but never peak, and just go away. It was slightly discouraging.
I called the midwife around 2:30 to give them a “heads up” – as I was still timing and figuring out a pattern to the contractions. In a previous appointment they told me that if I started having contractions five minutes apart, I would need to come in sooner rather than later, given my fast history with Claire. Jamie was the midwife on call (yay!) We had formed a good relationship, as she was the midwife I saw for most of my prenatal visits. She was already at the birth center with another woman, and informed me another was on her way! Looked like it was going to be a busy night at Nativiti…
The next 1 1/2 hours I labored at home, quietly, as I didn’t want to wake up Claire! I took a shower, ate a snack, laid down for a bit, then decided to go into the birth center around 4. I was confused by my contractions. They weren’t as consistent as they were with Claire. I also felt a lot of pressure between contractions. This made me nervous that I was somehow fully dilated and wanting to push. Thankfully, I wasn’t.
Around 4am, we got to the birth center, I was checked – 6cm! I immediately didn’t feel as calm and relaxed as I did when I was at the birth center for my first birth. I think it was a mixture of more people around (one midwife, two nurses) coming in and out of the room and anxiety of knowing what was coming.
The bathtub seemed to take forever to fill. As I was waiting, I sat on the bed, leaning forward onto Luke for support.
I eventually got into the tub. I was having trouble relaxing between the movement of people in and out of the room, nurses talking, and the lighting being too bright. I asked to turn the lights down, which helped. Jamie pulled out a pool-noodle floatie thing, and I was able to kinda “lay” on my side, with my arm wrapped around it. That was nice… I relaxed a little more and stayed in that position for a while. I had Jamie snap a few pictures, as my “birth photographer”, Erica, had skipped town (which later, I realized was ok, I am not sure I would have wanted any extra people around).
I was so uncomfortable at one point, having a hard time breathing through contractions and relax, I felt like they were never ending. Jamie said to me “you need to distinguish between the contraction and the pressure.” She was right. I was having trouble feeling the end of the contraction because there was a ton of pressure. I thought maybe I was needing to push. The midwife checked me, and I was around a 9 and my water was “bulging”. After a few more minutes, Jamie offered to break my waters, and I agreed. She thought if we did it, there would be a baby’s head RIGHT there and I would go fast. That was encouraging. I was worried in would hurt, but it really didn’t. She was able to do it right away, not having to wait for a contraction like she thought. Ahhhh… I felt instant relief. In a strange, strange way.
After a few more contractions, I felt like I needed to push. Midwives are all about listening to your body, so Jamie said to go for it.
I pushed for about 10 or 15 minutes. Jamie would be “checking” internally (yeah, so. fun.) and quickly realized that baby wasn’t descending at all into the birth canal. She thought I might have a cervical lip. EEEEK. I had heard and learned about these. It was one of those things I always thought would suck royally to have. I was right! Her first solution was to not push for the next few contractions and let’s see if that lip will go away and I would fully dilate. Let me make this clear, not pushing during a contraction is the hardest. thing. ever. to do. “Blow out, like your blowing out candles” – yah. It was awful. It’s like going against every (overwhelming) instinct you have.
After a few contractions of that torture, I couldn’t take it. Her next solution? Insert Finger. Push lip up over Ava’s head.
Yep, it’s painful.
I almost started crying just hearing her say the words.
Luke immediately put his foot down, saying, “ok, calm down. Stop crying. You can do this.” – sounds mean, but that’s what I needed to hear. He knows me so well. 😛
I got into an awkward, side-lying position and prayed for the best. After she was able to push it over Ava’s head, I could feel the difference immediately. It was insane. I could literally feel that the baby had descended. I was back in business. Let’s get this baby out.
Four minutes later, Ava was born. 7/7/14 at 6:04. Luke pulled her out of the water and handed her to me.
I cried, Luke cried. It was over!! Hallelujah. My first thought was “she is tiny!” but really, she was only 2 ounces smaller than Claire. She had thicker, darker hair. I felt pure joy. She was here, and labor was over!