I had given up on the idea of having a baby anytime soon- I had my 41 week prenatal appointment on Wednesday (at 40w6d) and had turned down a cervical check because I had one on Monday- as well as a sweep- and knew I was at three cm. I didn't want to be disappointed if I was still at 3, and felt fine being pregnant another week if need be, so we just went home from the appointment and prepped all our Thanksgiving food for the next day. We figured that way if we *did* go into labor we would be able to take some T-giving food with us to the birth center.
We were done by 10:45pm and I had been having my normal, crampy BH contractions all evening. I thought absolutely nothing of it, and even thought about how I had jinxed myself by buying a "My First Thanksgiving" bib for baby. Now he surely wouldn't come!
I couldn't sleep, as usual, since baby was moving a lot and I had to pee. I was used to this routine, so I just got up and finished up a little of my work on the computer before trying to go to bed again a bit after midnight. I don't think I fell asleep until around 1 finally. I had still been contracting, but thought they'd go away when I fell asleep. Well at 2am I woke to a contraction- a particularly crampy one, and I thought it was just because I had to pee. So I got up to use the restroom and quickly realized this one was very uncomfortable. Still, I thought nothing of it (denial!) and went back to bed. I had another, and this time was shaking and panting, which woke up my husband. He asked if I was okay and I said "yeah, just having contractions. It's nothing. I need to go to the restroom again" so he helped me up and came with me. I was very thirsty, and also felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. He held me through another contraction as I shook and panted and moaned. I kept telling him I was fine, it was nothing, I just needed to use the bathroom. So I went and he started turning lights on and getting dressed. I wondered what he was doing, and he said he thought this was it. I assured him I was not in labor, and that everything would stop soon.
I kept having to go to the bathroom between contractions and I was moving and moaning with each contraction. I thought briefly that maybe this was it, and that my body was cleaning itself out. (both were true, but I was afraid to let myself think this was truly it. I also never went into labor naturally with DS1 so I wasn't quite sure.) We were timing the contractions and I was very uncomfortable and moaning through each one. My DH made coffee and I told him again, at 230am, that this was not it, he just needed to go back to sleep. The contrax would slow a bit when I laid down, to about 7-9 mins apart and 1.5 mins long. When I was up and moving they were ~4mins apart and the same length. It felt a little better to have DH push on my back with each one, but he was also busy getting things ready around the house for us to leave. If you have had back labor, you know that there is not much to do for relief. It was frustrating. I couldn't be sure of baby's position either because my uterus wouldn't relax to soft enough between the contrax in order for me to palpate. I just hoped he wasn't posterior (he wasn't. I just labor in my back, sadly.) At 3am I called my midwife and told her I thought I was in labor. She told me to call when I was ready to come in to the birth center. I got in our tub and again moaned through each one while DH kept getting things ready. I still didn't believe it was happening, yet he planned out what we would do (he thought he'd have time to shower, I told him that wasn't a good idea because I needed him.) We thought we could stay until at least 6 am so that we wouldn't have to wake our neighbors too early to come stay with DS. We were also very happy that this was the timing- we could sneak out before DS woke up and hopefully have the baby early in the day so we wouldn't disrupt his routine too much.
I didn't stay in the tub long- I felt like I needed to go get ready. I got out and got myself dressed and composed, all the while still managing contractions that were getting worse. I thought I was just being a baby- this wasn't it, real labor would be much more difficult, and this was just a sucky night of contractions. I rocked on all fours on the bed and started semi-yelling through each one. Finally at 5 am I couldn't do it anymore- I called my midwife again and half in tears told her I couldn't handle it anymore. She asked if I wanted to come in and get in the tub and I eagerly agreed it was time. We planned to meet at 5:45am.
I told DH the plan and we called the neighbors to come over ASAP. DH finished getting things in the car and also ready for the sitters, I kept yelling through contractions (luckily not waking DS), and finally we headed out at 5:30. The car ride was awful- roads are much bumpier when in labor than one would have previously thought Thankfully there was no traffic (holiday and super-early) so we got there in 10 minutes. The gate was locked so I had another contraction in the car and finally the student midwife came and unlocked it. We hurried in before the next contraction. It was two more ctx before I could get in the too-hot tub. Agony! I finally got in and still felt as though they'd just send me home since I wasn't in labor.
Around 6am the junior midwife showed up and asked to check me. I was so fearful that I was still at a 3, and begged repeatedly out loud "please don't be a 3, please don't be a 3" as she checked. He was at 0 station, 70% effaced (still), and a very stretchy 6! HALLELUJAH! I was so happy I cried. I said "So I'm really in labor?!" and she said "Oh I could have told you that before I checked you". Whew! All this time I thought I was just being dramatic
At this point I was just laboring in the tub, trying to get through each one but also starting to say things like "I can't do this, I need a break, I want to stop, no no no no no no". They kept encouraging me to embrace it but I just couldn't. It was excruciating and I felt like the contractions were lasting SO very long. Around 7 I wanted lights off, voices quiet, blinds shut. I kept thinking "hmmm maybe I am getting close?" But still felt like I was just being dramatic. I *thought* things were going to get SO much worse- only because of my hospital experience where I was induced, had awful unnatural pitocin contractions, and couldn't get a handle on my body even during my rest periods. I was still talking and even joking during rest periods now, so I thought for sure things would get hellacious later and that I might be laboring well into the afternoon. I wasn't sure if they'd called my head MW in yet, which made me really doubt my progress. Around 8 I asked if Steph (head MW) was coming, and they said she'd be there any minute. This made me feel better- maybe they thought this might not take so long. I think in terms of numbers and concrete evidence, so it helped to think about things being over in a couple hours rather than "as long as it takes" IFYKWIM. By now I was letting myself float with each contraction, and vigorously rubbing my own lower back as I yelled through each one.
Within a ctx or two I started to feel like I need to have a bowel movement. I cautiously said that I felt pressure, maybe a little pushy. (Can you tell I had a hard time trusting my body's signals?) They said to breathe through the next one, maybe give a tiny push and see if it felt good. I did, and it did. The urge got stronger with each one, but I was just convinced I needed to poo Steph showed up and I told her I couldn't do it, I needed to stop and that I also needed to push. She told me to go ahead and push- I asked her to check me to be sure I wasn't making things up in my mind. She said "no, if you feel like you want to push, do it. I'm not checking you." Okay, that cleared things up for me and I decided fine, I'm pushing! She asked if it pinched or stung to push and I said no. She assured me that meant I was dilated and nothing was swelling. At this point I realized my water really hadn't broken, and thought maybe it would stay that way.... I also hadn't had any bloody show. Weird, but whatever! I couldn't believe that I had been through transition already and never asked for pain meds ;-) All the "no no no, I want a break" stuff was apparently transition for me. Easier than I thought it would be!
blurry, but so dramatic. I love it.
I pushed and asked for more concrete numbers- how many pushes would it take? I knew multiparas push faster- 20 mins on average- and felt as though 20 sounded fine but not much longer than that. Nobody could give me much info, of course, but she encouraged me to reach in and feel him and I could feel the bulging bag of waters just one knuckle in. WOOHOOO!
This was after only a few pushes, so I felt great about that. I hadn't felt him come through my cervix- I attribute that to him being in the sac still. It was very, very gentle. I started feeling like I could really do this. I was so happy and so proud that I was almost finished!
I tried being on my back. Um, no thanks.
The contractions were hard- I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could but pushing in water is much different than on land! It took a few times to figure out where to focus my pushing. I finally got it :-) Eventually I could feel this weird thing hanging out of me- it was the bag of waters, and it was so strange because it would kind of wave around in the water. Weird sensation . I reached down and felt it- it was so cool, big and bulbous, about the size of a large grapefruit.
It still took a little over an hour to finally get to the "end"- I felt the ring of fire and within a minute or two I just pushed with all my might for as long as I could stand it- primally screaming all the way- and pushed out his head and then quickly his body. Apparently my MW had slipped a loose cord over his head while he was still in the bag- all without breaking the bag! It broke after he was birthed, but we don't have a photo sadly! It was tough to get the camera to focus on things underwater. She said "J sit back and grab your baby" so I did and just swooped him up out of the water. He was a slimy, beautiful little bundle! We just cooed over how beautiful he was and how amazing of a job he- we- did. It was shocking and wonderful and surprising that it was all over. 9:20am, 8 lbs 11oz!!!, and no tearing. My placenta came out easily, and I am feeling wonderful.... and also eating many, many, many carbs. We brought pumpkin pie and pumpkin cinnamon rolls to snack on. Good riddens gestational diabetes!