I had what I was thinking were "fake" contractions off and on starting Friday mid-morning thru Saturday evening. Just enough to make sleeping or napping not happen, but not enough to feel like anything was happening. It was so weird, they were really light, but kind of "stabby" on only my left side, so I just thought labor was having a hard time getting going.
At this point I was exhausted, so I desperately tried to take a nap Saturday night, as I was giving up on anything happening, but after a few hours had to admit I still couldn't nap. DH called my cousin at 11:00 ish to take me to the hospital to get checked out, as they had big bathtubs and I was really looking forward to taking one--and getting a break from the other kids.
I know from experience that when my labor really does start it goes very quickly, but based on my pain level I thought I was maybe 2-3 centimeters along. Didn't want to call my doctor at midnight, as I was sure we had hours left to go. Checking into the hospital took 30 minutes, and this random woman waiting in the lobby at midnight heckled me the whole time about how "I clearly was not really in labor, as I was not crying or making any noise". I told her that I agreed in theory, but was tired and decided to come get checked out anyway. Also about the awesome bath I was hoping to take
Talked the nurse into checking me out, and we both agreed (from my descriptions) that I was coming in early. I also told her this was my fourth and that I did think labor was picking up at that point so opted to come in on the early side rather than rush in at the last minute. After 15 minutes on the monitor she did a vaginal exam and we were all stunned to hear that I was "at least an 8", but the water bag was bulging out so far she could not check very well. At this point contractions still weren't very painful and we walked to another room to set up for delivery and get my doctor to come in.
I should add that my cousin was my planned labor support as DH gets sick about blood and pain and I am just so glad she came! He was never going to come for the delivery so I didn't have to worry that he would make it there on time. Cousin and I joked and talked and she pushed on my back for the whole labor (lucky for her it was short as well--she's pretty sore still). She did an awesome job!!!
Luckily my doctor was actually at the hospital, so he came right down and I still was saying that "there is no way I am this far along" I could still somewhat talk thru contractions, and never did feel like I was going thru transition. I remember getting a little bit hot and sweaty for a second, but no real pain so I discounted it as important. I am not sure exactly about the time-line, but we were only in the delivery room for an hour before she was born and I remember joking/arguing that we still had hours left and peeing three times before things got hectic, so I think the truly painful part must have lasted a very short time. While I still trying to argue we had tons of time left, my water broke and things got intense very quickly. Pain levels shot way up, as the knowledge that I really was in labor hit me and suddenly there was no more talking or joking while contracting.
I pushed her out quickly, without tearing!!!, with the door wide open and my doctor and nurses just sitting in front and watching. Very surreal. Pushing is always my downfall, and the lovely hemroids I was sporting really held me back mentally, but once I just gave in to it things went quickly--I think only five pushes, probably only three that I was really trying to push for.
It was painful in the end, but was by far the best birth experience I have ever had--and strangely I never felt any panic or that things were going too quickly which has been a problem for me in the past. I feel great just one day later, have always torn or been cut previously so this whole "no damage" to the mama thing in truly appreciated by someone who always assumed recovery had to be slow and painful.
I heard the next day that the whole thing made a big impression on the nurses and other patients as they rarely see people who want to go natural anymore, much less anyone who can come in completely oblivious to the fact they are only a water-breaking away from an imminent delivery. I am sure they thought I had no clue and would be screaming for the epi once the pain actually hit me Yikes, she could have been a car baby.
The important thing is that she is perfect, and we all love her very much! Welcome sweet Francie Vi! Some pictures of her eldest siblings meeting her (I forgot to have pictures taking while delivering, but could care less as there was truly no time to worry about things like that)