On Friday, January 13, I was 41w1d, and sick and tired of being pregnant! I'd had prodromal/pre-labor for over 2 weeks and was getting tired of constantly feeling on the verge of something happening. Even though I felt that 'today something's going to happen', I didn't believe myself.
My midwife came to check me and do a sweep at 7:30am; baby had dropped even farther and was definitely at +1 station, and my cervix was 3cm, easily stretchable to 4-5cm, and was over 50% effaced. She then did a very thorough sweep, and said that she'd come every day over the weekend to do them. She was incredible; I was hell-bent on having the baby at home, and we were starting to run out of time (by 42 weeks I would have been strongly recommended to go to the hospital, because of the higher risk of complications). I was contracting and spotting after the sweep; I didn't think much of it, but started feeling more and more uncomfortable throughout the morning. I finally called my husband's work around 1pm to say that there was a chance I would need him to come home soon. Thankfully he was wrapping up his day at the time, so he was home shortly after. (Even though everything felt 'different', I was still in denial, and feeling stupid that I wanted him to come home because it made me feel better)
I texted my doula around the same time to give her a heads-up (but made sure to say that I thought it was still pre-labor), and then spent the afternoon puttering, watching movies, and knitting. Around 8pm I called my midwife and doula to say that I was contracting fairly regularly and maybe I'm really finally in labour...the doula started to head over. (We were at the tail-end of a snowstorm, so it ended up taking her over an hour). By 11pm stuff was definitely picking up, and I came out of denial (until then I figured it would just end up being a false alarm and I would feel terribly foolish for getting my doula over, etc...) and DH called the midwife. She came to assess me; my cervix was thinner, but still around 3-4cm. She went home to go to bed.
We tried to lay down for a while, but I had to get up with each contraction because they were so uncomfortable, so after around an hour, I gave up and roamed a bit; doula suggested that I try a couple of contractions on the toilet, which turned into spending most of the night in our tiny bathroom; I'd sit down between contractions, and stand leaning over my sink, holding the faucets, during them...hubby rubbed my back and doula applied counterpressure on my tailbone; it felt amazing...
Around 2am (I think), hubby called the midwife again because it was starting to get pretty intense; I was having trouble talking and was having to vocalize most of the way through a contraction. She came over to check again (thank god she lives a 5-minute drive away) and I had made some progress, but not a whole lot. So she went home again. We kept doing our thing, and when we called her the next time (which I think was around 5 or 6 am), she came and stayed. I believe I was at about 6cm by then... I hit active labour shortly afterwards, and was getting more and more uncomfortable, and wanting to crawl into my birthing pool, but also wanting to wait until the last possible minute, because I really didn't want it to stall anything! I stayed laboring in the bathroom until the sun came up, and then I moved to my bedroom, and used the side of the pool and my ball for a bit. Contractions were very intense and I was only getting about a minute to 1 1/2 minutes in between. They also started occasionally rolling into one another, so that I'd have 3 or 4 contractions, then I'd have 2 to 3 right on top of each other. I think around 9am my midwife said to get into the tub, because it would give me a break and she was worried about me getting too tired, as I'd already been going for so long.
Oh. My. God. That was the most incredible thing ever!!! Even the midwife couldn't believe how I responded to the water! Firstly, my blood pressure dropped from approximately 130/82 (which is high for me, but normal for a woman in labor) to 110/60, which was what my blood pressure was when I was 5weeks pregnant!! Secondly, I went from not being able to walk or talk at all during a contraction to smiling, having a sense of humor, and holding a conversation; my sister popped in for a visit, and I had 5 contractions in our conversation, and no one could tell!!!! It was heaven :) I definitely got a break, and was able to relax soooo much.
Shortly after that, they started building in intensity rather fast. My midwife checked me at 10am and I was stalled at 7cm (which I had been at 6 or 7 that morning), but we figured it wouldn't be too much longer. She was worried about me getting tired, and offered to break my water, if I wanted, in a couple hours. At noon, I said let's go for another hour and then try. So at 1pm, I got out of the pool and she tried to break my water, but the membranes were so tight around the baby's head she couldn't. It was also incredibly torturous to have a contraction out of the water; they were up to 2 minutes long by this time, with about a minute break in between....awful...I got back in the water, and stuff started getting more intense again. I think I hit transition around this point, and kept saying I couldn't do it (and everyone would say, "but you are!", which didn't annoy me like I thought it would have; it was just so loving and affirmative). Around 2:30 I shrieked that I was feeling pushy, and my midwife said to pant a bit (she was only half-done setting up her equipment). A few pushes later I could feel the baby's head, and the membranes over top. A couple pushes after that was the blowtorch of fire, and I could faintly hear the midwife telling me to relax, to let everything slowly stretch, but after trying to slow down the next couple pushes I couldn't and she came out in either one long push or two smaller pushes. The midwife caught her, and I turned over to get her and hold her, and just started sobbing. (I had wanted to catch the baby, but ended up on my knees leaning forward, with a vice-grip on hubby's hands)
...the sensation of pushing her out was so incredible, so overwhelming...and then to see her and hold her...
She came out yelling and coughing and sneezing, and glaring at everyone she could see. I held her in the water until the cord stopped pulsing, then we asked our doula to cut the cord, and about 20 minutes after that I delivered the placenta. Except for how long it ended up being, and getting an oxytocin shot to help deliver the placenta, the birth went totally as we had planned. She latched on within an hour, with no troubles at all! The midwife checked and said I had one minor tear, but it was so small that it would take one stitch, which would be more of an irritation than anything.
And that's my birth story, which ended up being rather longer than I had planned :)
Willow Lynn, born January 14 at 3:07pm, 8lbs 2oz, 21 inches long.