This may be TMI for some – so read at your own risk. It has birth-related stuff in it. Birth is not a necessarily clean and neat experience. It is also super long, mostly for me to remember everything. 😉
At around 35 weeks I had a bit of a scare. I passed a big clot and decided a call to the midwife was in order. I was checked out, and they told me I had dilated 1cm! Admittedly, a part of me was excited even though I remember our childbirth instructor telling us “those numbers don’t mean much!” — and I knew she was right. So I carried on and put it out of my mind. We continued our walks, I bounced on my exercise ball, and continued my herbal mix from the midwife to help bring on labor.
The next 2-3 weeks after this little episode were different. I could tell Claire was way lower in my pelvis. Some days I woke up and felt great and others I woke up and could barely bring myself to walk because it was just toooo uncomfortable. I also began the restroom trips AT LEAST every hour. Yes, at night, too. So fun waking up that many times a night. If I got 2 hour stretches of sleep I was happy! (Needless to say, I am more tired after Claire came. ha!)
The week Claire was born I got everything done I needed to. It was strange. I kept telling myself “take your time finishing these thank-you notes! I still have weeks left!” or “no need to finish ALL this laundry, I gotta keep myself busy somehow..” But, alas, I could not stop myself! I just really wanted to get stuff done. “Nesting” they call it. I suppose that’s what it was, but it wasn’t some crazy “urge” to clean. Just bored, so wanted to do SOMETHING.
May 23rd came, and I woke up feeling fine. It was just another day. I had just gone to my 38 week appointment the day before – May 22nd. I had my first (and, last) NST – non-stress test at this appointment. I was strapped to a little machine that tracked the baby’s movements and her heart rate. Every time she moved they wanted to see her heart rate elevate for a certain amount of time afterwards. In a 20 minute period, they wanted 3 elevated readings. She barely got her 4 readings in in the first few minutes, then quickly went to sleep. She passed! I then made my appointment for 39 weeks for the following Thursday since that’s when a certain midwife would be there that I had not met yet. Guess it’s a good thing to meet the midwife that could possibly be delivering my baby!
So the 23rd went by, normal. I had not grocery shopped well that week, and all I had was some sausage that I was going to throw on the grill. Luke and I decided we’d go out to eat. We had Greek food at The Olive Oil restaurant. During dinner I realized I had been having contractions and thought I’d time them. They were coming very sporadically. Some every 10, some 20 minutes apart. This had happened before, and I figured they’d go away eventually that night.
We went and picked up some DVD’s at my mom’s house. We had just started watching The Sopranos series two days before and had already gone through the whole first season. Yes, that’s 13 episodes (hours) of Sopranos in just two days. Don’t judge. I told my mom “I’ve been having contractions all evening…” as we were walking out her door. “You have?!” – I figured I shouldn’t have told her, I knew I would just get her all excited for “nothing”.
We went home, took a walk – the first of which I actually had to STOP at a few points to “get through” a contraction. I thought the walk would maybe make them go away, but they didn’t. They were still SO spaced apart and varied that I thought nothing of it. We got home, watched a couple of episodes and they seemed to slow down a lot. Maybe had a few every hour at that point. I took a shower, another suggestion to get BH contractions to stop. I was having some bloody show at this point and still didn’t want to get excited about labor. I figured it was just more cervical changes happening, but knew it could mean nothing for weeks still. I went to bed around midnight. They had dwindled away again, and I was able to go to sleep. Another night of semi-painful contractions and nothing to show for it – or so I thought.
I woke up around 3am and realized, ouch, that hurt. These contractions were painful! Five minutes later (or maybe a little less) – another one. I decided to use my handy iPhone app to start timing (3:22am). They were coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting about a minute long. Strange. I figured I’d try to take a shower and see if they’d go away. I went to the restroom and was having bloody show again, way more this time. I think this was the first time I realized “whoa this maaay be something starting”. I got in the shower and in the 10 minutes I was in there I had 3 painful contractions… the hot water was nice on my back. I was leaning against the shower during contractions just swaying my hips. I got out and continued timing. Around this time I woke up Luke and let him know. He was surprised. I let him start helping me time the contractions as I laid in bed. They were getting more intense as I laid there and got to the point I was having to use my relaxation techniques we learned. They were coming every 3-4 minutes at that point.
Around 4:20am we decided to call the midwife. She asked me some questions and I also was able to have her listen to me go through a contraction – or not listen to me, as I had to concentrate and couldn’t talk. Her final decision was “well, it may be a while, but it sounds like you’re having your baby today!” and to call the next on-call midwife in an hour – so 5:30. I was excited. Another hour seemed like forever.
I decided to get out of bed and try to eat something. I had an apple. I walked around a bit, but quickly realized that was very painful, too. I had a few contractions in the living room, then went back to lay in bed. I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and go to sleep! They were coming pretty fast, and I was having to moan through each contraction. The moaning helped SO much. I was able to really use my voice to really make it up that hill to the peak of each contraction, and once I hit that, I knew it would be better. I was surprised how much it helped.
5:30am came way quicker than I thought. I always thought time would drag since you’re having to “get through EACH contraction” – but time went by quickly. We called the other midwife – well, I think Luke called. At this point I was not in any position to be on the phone. She called us back and let us know that the midwife that I had never met (hah) would meet us up at the birth center. Luke was surprised that we were already going in. But in my mind, I thought they were coming pretty fast. And they seemed painful, but I had nothing to go off of, so wasn’t sure if it was “just the beginning” and they would get way more intense later or if I was progressing faster. Part of me secretly wanted to be in transition, since I was getting the contractions every 3(ish) minutes, but part of me still thought I’d have a crazy long labor – it WAS my first, after all. The last few contractions at home were getting pretty intense, and I used Luke to lean against. I had my arms around his neck and he helped hold me up while I kinda swayed. He was doing so good supporting me.
We packed up, threw in the car seat (of course we hadn’t installed it yet, we still had weeks to go! ;)) and got on the road by about 6am. I managed to text my mom and Luke’s mom that we were headed to the birth center and we’d update on progress when we got there. In the 15 minute car ride, I had maybe 4 contractions. Each one hurt – a lot. Of course, in a car, there’s not many options for comfort. I would just kinda hold myself up with my arms, slightly raising my butt off the seat, and moan loudly. The stop light before getting to the birth center took extra long, of course.
We made it to the birth center and I had another contraction before walking in, leaning against Luke, and having him help me hold myself up. I got checked and the midwife said “oooh yeah, you’re at 7cm!” — no sweeter words have been spoken. We moved over to the room, after having another contraction or two. At this point I just found a chair or table near me and leaned over it during the contractions.
We were able to start filling the tub up immediately since I was so far along. It took a little while to fill up, meanwhile I was just standing up, still leaning on Luke during contractions. At this point I was still able to talk between contractions and I think at one point I was even laughing, though I don’t remember what the joke was. I was surprising myself. And I was proud of myself.
I got in the tub, and it felt nice. But finding the position that made me most comfortable took a few contractions. I ended up on my knees and leaning over the side of the tub, my forehead pressed again Luke’s. I remember the midwife putting on some music, classical piano music. At one point it got really loud and fast, and I had her turn it off. I also had her turn down the lights very low. I got hot while in the tub, and Luke got a cool washcloth for me to press on my head during contractions. That felt so nice. Luke kept telling me how good I was doing. He was proud… he did awesome at supporting me and calming me.
At some point I ended up getting on my back, I was tired and just wanted to lay back in the tub and “relax” – ha. I would squeeze Luke’s hand during each contraction and moan. Around this time I felt an urge to push. I let the midwife know. She said she could either check me or to just listen to my body and if I felt that way, to just push. She ended up checking me, and said I was about 9.5 cm, almost there. I went through a couple of contractions just breathing out, and trying not to push. Sometime around now my water broke. It was a strange feeling, and it freaked me out a bit. I remember saying something about being scared the contractions were going to get way more intense. The midwife assured me that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get more intense. It actually felt kinda nice, and I was happy to know that the time to get her out was getting really close.
After that I decided it was definitely time to push, this was around 7:20m, we had been at the birth center just over an hour. (So from 7-10 cm was just about an hour – a nice, short transition length.) It’s amazing how much you’re in tune with your body during labor, and how the “urge” to push really is so natural and REAL. I tried pushing and felt what must have been Claire descending into the birth canal further, and I freaked. Panic struck. THAT was painful, I started almost hyperventilating and saying “no no no!!! I can’t, I can’t!!!” I honestly thought there’s no way this happening. I cannot push a child out of there! The midwife calmed me down and said “just breath, you have to breath. It’s just a new sensation..” I then thought “ok, well, what’s my option? she’s gotta come out!” So I got up on my knees again and leaned over the side of the tub, with Luke in front of me. I was gonna use gravity to help me out!
With the next contraction I pushed, and realized it actually started feeling kinda GOOD to push. I was finally an active part of this labor, and I felt like I was doing some good here. I went through a couple ctx, and announced each time I was going to push. It was hard work! I remember thinking “yeah, there’s no way this stage is lasting for hours… she’s coming out… and I’m gonna push her out quick!” So I pushed with alllll my strength. So much so that the midwife said “if it started burning, blow out, stop pushing” which I had to do a few times. I didn’t want to cause any damage to my body, so decided this may be a good caution to heed.
The most annoying thing during the pushing stage was having the midwife check Claire’s heart rate. I knew it was necessary, but the position I was in didn’t really make it easy for her to check. She had her arm between my legs, reaching all the way up to my belly. Yeah, annoying. After a few more ctx, I knew her head must be close. I asked if she could feel the head. She could, and asked if I wanted to feel. I said no. I was way too concentrated on just getting her out – not feeling her head! Luke felt, but later admitted he had no idea what he was feeling. LOL.
Finally, I pushed hard and her head came out. It felt AMAZING getting that head out! I knew she’d be here within one more push!! I pushed again and out came her body. It was seriously awesome. The midwife told Luke to reach down and grab his baby. I think it surprised him that she was out already! He brought her out of the water and had her in his hands while she took her first breath! I laid back, and took her on my chest. She was perfect. She arrived at 7:47am. Just 20 minutes after I started pushing, 1 1/2 hours after we got to the birth center, and 4 1/2 hours after I woke up to contractions.
I can’t believe it all went so fast and she came early! I think I was almost in shock. I was shocked that she came two weeks early, that my labor was only 4 1/2 hours (of painful, whoa-this-is-it labor) and that I did so good and actually pulled off my natural labor! I am proud of myself, and happy to be starting this next phase of life!