After 3 boys, gave birth to a baby girl this afternoon at home. Charlotte (waiting on middle name still) was born at 2pm, 7lbs 0oz, 19 inches. She is lovely, and I am soaking up newborn delciousness. Story to come. :)
Baby Charlotte arrives!
So, I'd been having some "gearing up" early labor contractions for awhile before really getting into active labor- not BH, really. They were the real thing, and they persisted for several days. From about Monday night on, they were a big source of anxiety- a foreshadowing of things to come, so to speak. My last labor was very long and difficult, and started in a similar fashion- the prospect of taking on another birth like his was positively terrifying to me. Still, I knew that my body was doing something important, and I did my best to rest and keep my strength and mood up. I suspected that the baby was not in a great position, and that might be what was causing the delay in labor "really" starting. I did some inversions and other hip-openers and spent alot of time on my birth ball, in hopes of encouraging baby to move as he/she needed.
I had a great support system. On Tuesday, my friend invited the boys and I over. We ate brie and apples and drank iced chai and I sat with my feet up while we talked about the things that scared me about birth. By Wednesday I was feeling really tired and not holding things together very well at all. I had some bloody show and alot of contractions, but nothing seemed to be really moving very fast. My younger sister came out and watched my kids all afternoon while I went out with another friend (a mother of 9, no kidding)- we went thrift store shopping. She insisted I buy some girl outfits "just in case"- even though both DH and I felt certain that this baby was another boy. "You wouldn't want to be born either if you had to wear boys clothes!" she told me. :) I also bought a sweet muslin girly baby blanket and a set of brightly colored striped "birth sheets". It was all really inspirational-- it made the baby and the birth feel real to me for the first time, really, in the entire pregnancy.
After thrifting, we went out and got a burger and chatted about how daunting giving birth is- how amazing it is that really, you don't have to "do" anything- your body and heart makes space for your baby- all you have to do is accept it. It is not, however, painless. Contractions were coming about every ten minutes at this point. She drove me back to my house, and insisted on picking up some happy meals for my kids on the way so I wouldn't have to do anything but relax when I got home. Such a wise woman, I tell you.
So, I went home and fed my boys fries and chicken nuggets and threw the mess in the trash, put the baby clothes and birth sheets in the wash, and then got everyone ready for bed. After they were asleep, I poured myself a big glass of wine, took a warm bath with jasmine, rose, and lavender oils. My belly was full of protein and I felt both strong and tired at once. Contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but I went to sleep and slept soundly the entire night.
I woke up at 5:45 with a contraction, and another about 5 minutes later. By 6:30, I was pretty sure they were the "real deal". I was in touch with the midwife, and told her that things were progressing, but that I'd like to labor alone for awhile (well, with DH). DH decided he ought to stay home from work. At 7:30 or so my mom called to ask how I was doing, and then came to get the kids. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting just under a minute. I had an agenda- folding laundry, making the bed (with my kickass birth sheets, mind you), showering, and making banana bread. And that is pretty much what I did. By 10 or 11am I felt like I needed to vocalize to cope with contractions. Sometimes this meant cursing like a sailor. :) I talked to Karen, one of my midwives, at 11, and told her that I was afraid that if she came and checked me, I'd only be 4cm- and that they really hurt, and I couldn't deal with it (my last labor was very slow to progress, and this has been a big fear of mine through the entire pregnancy). At this point contractions were closer than 5 minutes apart. She said she'd really like to come over- she wouldn't check me if I really didn't want it, but that things sounded like they were moving and that my baby would be here soon. She was super soothing and encouraging, and it suddenly sounded perfect to have her here.
She got to my house around noon and sat with me through a couple of contractions, at which point I found myself saying "I can't. I can't do this" over and over. Since my water was still intact (and I've never had my water break on it's own), we discussed the option of breaking the water bag depending on where I was, progress-wise. I was still convinced that I was 4cm.
Anyway, I wasn't. I was 8, transitioning, with a bulging bag. The other midwife arrived at about 1pm and broke my water. Those were really hard contractions. I was kneeling on the floor in the living room, in front of a chair with a stack of pillows. After a few contractions, I started to bear down, but still had a cervical lip and the midwives encouraged me to save my strength for a few more contractions. Ick. After 4 contractions of just letting that lip melt away, I really got the urge to push. As suspected, the baby was in a goofy position, with a hand next to her head and was stuck behind my pubic bone. With direction from Karen, I started alternating kneeling on one knee, then the other with each contraction. Hard. Really hard. After a couple of contractions, though, I felt the head move down. I reached down and felt my baby's head, RIGHT there. Just barely inside, and I got a new surge of energy. I swung my other leg around and came into a full squat (ringing in my head from a prenatal yoga video- malasana can shorten the birth canal by nearly 30%), and with my next push, out came a tiny head of dark hair. And with the next, a tiny body- a GIRL, much to all of our surprise. 7lbs, no ounces, 19 inches long, at 2pm.
She is super sleepy and mellow, nursing really well. No stitches needed, and we're just spending our time soaking up the aforementioned newborn deliciousness. Thanks for reading, everyone!