Here is Grady's birth story. It's pretty long, I warn you. Mary & Andy are my MIL & FIL, Chris is DH, Ada is DD (almost 5yo).
All along, I felt like Grady would be born sometime during the week before his due date. The week came and went with increasing cramping but nothing that developed into anything. On Sunday, I felt a new, distinct pressure on my tailbone and a strange sensation in the front which I couldn't quite place. That night, I felt like baby's head had dropped even lower and thought maybe tomorrow was the day, but didn't want to get my hopes up. I listened to the Hypnobabies "Out Baby" track on Sunday evening and tried to really focus on letting nature take its course and being patient.
I woke up at about 1 am Monday morning after only 2 hours of sleep. I had some very mild pressure waves but nothing too unusual. I couldn't get back to sleep, mostly because I had slept too much on Sunday and had some pregnancy insomnia. The waves continued very irregularly but did feel a bit stronger/different than the cramping I had had earlier. I hung around alternating trying to sleep and trying to time the waves (unsuccessfully).
By 4:30am, they were getting very obvious, though not regular or time able. I texted Mary & Andy at about 4:45 to see if they were ready to come down. I hadn't woken up Chris yet because I wanted at least one of us to be well rested. I got in the shower at about 5:00 am and Chris woke up after that. I tried to sleep again while Chris got up with Ada at 7:00am, but really couldn't sleep. I tried timing the contractions, but they were very irregular. We decided to keep Ada home from school since we suspected this was the day and didn’t want to have to worry about picking her up if things suddenly progressed quickly. We hung around the house most of the morning and I listened to some Hypnobabies tracks and tried to practice some of the skills during the pressure waves They were getting more intense but still very manageable at this point. I made some cookies for the nurses, and we started getting ready for the day, knowing by now that it was really happening.
Mary & Andy got to our house around 10:30am and the pressure waves were coming every 2 minutes, but were only 30 seconds long at that point, though they were getting more intense. I asked Chris to go for a short walk with me since they seemed to intensify with walking and really slow down when I sat or laid down. Chris, Andy, and I went for a very short walk, stopping so that I could breathe through each pressure wave. Chris timed the waves on his phone and they were 2 minutes apart or less, but still only 30 seconds or so.
We decided to go home and just hang around outside in the sunshine for a bit and start getting ready to go to town where I could get checked at the midwife's office. We assumed if I wasn't too far along, we'd just go to a nearby park and play for a bit to waste time before heading to the hospital. I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show so I knew it was on. I sat outside while everyone slowly started getting ready. We took a few photos, etc. Chris went inside to get a final cup of coffee and suddenly I just felt like we needed to leave right away. My pressure waves were very intense and I was starting to feel nauseous during & after them, so I sensed I was nearing transition. I sent Ada in to tell Chris that I wanted to leave NOW. He rushed out and off we went within about 5 minutes.
Now I realize I was actually in transition here.
The pressure waves in the car were pretty intense. I called the midwives from the car and they said to go straight to L&D, which I was glad about because I felt like I was far enough along that I needed to stay. I remember thinking in the car that it was getting pretty difficult to manage and yet my water was still intact, so it was going to get much harder still. I listened to my Hypnobabies in the car. I couldn't really get into a deep hypnosis, but the reminder to stay loose, relaxed, and calm was helpful. I focused on breathing, keeping my muscles relaxed, and imagining my cervix opening up during each pressure wave.
We got to the L&D entrance (it was about noon when we got to the hospital) and I was shocked to walk in and find this LONG empty hallway that they expected me to walk through while in labor to get to the elevator. I was not too happy about that, but we made it up to the floor and they got us into the water birth room. Chris handed out copies of the birth plan and reminded the staff of our basic wishes. We had been there about 5 minutes when I told Chris I really wanted them to get moving and start filling up the tub, because I knew it would probably take awhile. He went and got the nurse and she came in and started a monitor on the baby and said we shouldn't rush to get the tub going because it would slow down my labor. I knew this, but I suspected I was much further along than she thought and was at the point that the tub would really help, but for once in my life wasn’t feeling pushy and didn't want to say anything in case I was wrong.
Within a couple of minutes, our midwife showed up and I allowed her to check my cervix. My water broke as she checked me. She announced that I was at 9.5cm and the nurse nearly fell over when she heard that. The nurse quickly gave up fetal monitoring and staff starting hustling around to get the room ready for baby. I said, "Well, now can we fill up the tub?". She said, "I'm sorry, we don't see many women walk in the door at 9.5cm!... if I had a nickel for every woman who comes in here thinking they are in labor...." I responded with, "well, I'm not that woman!" and she laughed and said, "No, I guess you’re not!" I actually really didn’t care for this nurse too much as she was really dismissive of our birth plan and didn’t seem too enthusiastic about natural childbirth when we first arrived so I was happy that she ended up not being my main nurse after this.
Chris went out to get Ada who had just arrived while nurses were prepping the room. I waited on the bed working through the pressure waves, which were VERY intense. I thought for a moment that I was going to push the baby out on my own with no one even paying attention, so I said to whoever would listen, "I'm feeling very pushy!" My official nurse came in at this point (just got off lunch break) and checked me (12:28pm) and I was ten and pushing while she checked. She called out for the midwife and somehow I managed to get into the tub between pressure waves.
The water felt nice though I wasn’t going to really have time to let it relax me too much as I was already at 10 and my body was pushing. I was able to get into a good position on my knees, leaning over the side of the tub, which felt just right for pushing. Everyone stood back and my body just pushed on its own when and how it felt right. It really came naturally. I was groaning or grunting with each push, which surprised me. I really just let my body take over and do whatever felt right and that is what it did. I could feel the baby moving through the birth canal so I knew my body was doing exactly the right thing and I focused my mind on relaxing and just letting my body work. Ada was right there next to me with Chris and was very calm, happy, and excited. I tried to be sure to smile and talk to her in between waves and she was really in a perfect mood. Chris stood back and took photos, which was just what I wanted him to do (we found out later that this is against hospital policy, but luckily our awesome nurse and midwife turned a blind eye).
Ada comforting me between waves.
After several waves of my body pushing, I could feel Grady crowning and I reached down to verify I was right. I was very motivated to just be DONE at this point, and the thought, "this is definitely the last time I do this!" did cross my mind at one point. I consciously pushed out all negative thoughts and reminded myself that there was no turning back at this point - I had no choice but to finish this.
I let my body push hard on the next wave, but also reminded myself not to overdue it in haste as I didn't want to tear. I maintained a steady but comfortable pushing pressure between waves to avoid tearing. I pushed out his head and reached down and felt it hanging out. My midwife said that all I needed to do was lean back a bit when he was coming out so she could help catch him. I asked her to remind me when exactly to lean back because I was afraid I might not be able to during the pressure wave. I knew the next part would possibly be the hardest, but also knew I was almost done. I rested through the next small wave and on the next big one, let my body really push. My midwife asked me to lean back whenever I felt like I could. I was finally able to toward the end of the wave as I pushed and out he came. I reached down and brought him up with her help and sat back in the tub. He was born at 12:39pm, so basic math tells me that I was only in the tub for about 10 minutes and only pushing for 15 minutes or so. It didn’t feel like a long time, but I was shocked to find out it was that short. It did take several waves of pushing, but they were coming very close together so I guess I got several pushing waves in within that 15 minutes or so.
My first thought was just pure relief that he was out and it was finally over. We sat in the tub together while his cord finished pulsing and then Chris cut it. After a little while, I was ready to get the placenta out and get more comfortable, so I handed him off to Chris while the nurse helped me out of the tub. Once in bed, I birthed the placenta while Chris and Ada helped the NICU nurse suction him & check his Apgars (7 & 9). They brought him over to me quickly after that and we all sat around checking him out, etc. He was quietly alert and didn't really want to nurse for the first 20-30 minutes, but he was happy just checking everything out. After about an hour, Andy & Mary came in to meet him for a bit.
Then, they gathered up our things to bring to another room while my nurse helped me clean up and get dressed before moving to the other room. We had to move rooms only because there is just one water-birth room so they try to keep it open in case a laboring mother wants to use it. We got to a nice, clean room and hung out there the rest of the afternoon and evening. Andy & Mary took Ada out to play at the park and get smoothie, etc before returning that evening for another visit. She was a perfect big sister – very loving, excited, sweet, and happy, but it was a long & overwhelming day. Andy & Mary took Ada home around 7:00pm. On Tuesday, Ada decided she would rather come see us than go to school, so Mary & Andy brought her to the hospital at around 8:00am and we all hung around until we finally finished everything up and got discharged at around 10:30am.