Sorry this is so long! I'm a detail person and I am long winded, so it's a bad combo. ;)
The weeks leading up to the birth of this precious baby were filled with a myriad of emotions. After 5 consecutive miscarriages (7 total), the last resulting in a ruptured ectopic and then emergency surgery to remove my tube, just being pregnant and staying that way was an answer to prayer. So you can imagine what a blessing the little life itself was/is. However I had difficulty enjoying those 40 weeks because I no longer trusted my body to keep my babies safe and alive. I also had concerns about the timing of the birth considering my body felt like a stranger, I had started treating my thyroid (for antibodies....the ONLY indicator that I had a problem), and because baby was likely another big one. I have never "gone early", but I prayed I would by a bit this time. It was also nerve wracking for me to know my father-in-law, who "saved" me by dx'ing and monitoring my thyroid (when other doctors didn't) and who orders my ultrasounds and is just a huge blessing to us overall, was concerned with me going post-dates for the same reason. This pregnancy was just very different from the last ones and warranted different precautions. So as my EDD approached, came, and went, you can imagine my anxiety!!!!
Saturday (4/20) I had been having some light ctx off and on but mostly BH....still it was more daytime action than my uterus had seen in quite a while. I actually thought I might wake up in labor that night. But nope....
So Sunday (4/21) when I still had some light, random ctx and BH, I decided to attempt to get things moving, so I stretched my cervix a bit. Got crampy within the hour and went grocery shopping to pass the time. I continued to cramp and contract irregularly and with varying intensity while in town. I have never started labor spontaneously (the last two were very successful- no negative side effects- castor oil babies, and with DD1 we broke my water) so I really wasn't sure what I was looking for, plus, once again I had dealt with prodromal labor for days/weeks where most "normal" women would have ended up with a baby by the end, but not me! So needless to say, even though it continued I still doubted any possibility that it would become something. Nonetheless, I prayed that it would. God had totally given me a peace about things a couple of days prior, but I was slowly slipping back into my human ways of worry, so I had to keep a constant dialogue with Him to prevent losing my mind. ;)
At about 2pm, when I got home, they were still coming and strong enough that I made mention of them to DH (not something I would do unless I was feeling pretty sure of things because he goes into birth mode right away). I started feeling I might need to begin working through them. I texted my mom to tell her and about an hour and a half later she and my dad pulled up on the Harley. (cool grandparents!) She didn't even get my text until she walked into my living room and said, "Wait, you're having contractions?? I'm just seeing this!" So they stayed and she rubbed my back while I leaned on my exercise ball, played Words With friends, and tried to decide what to make of the ctx. I felt stupid considering saying it could really be labor. But it did keep coming and eventually I got in the shower to "test" the contractions, and when they didn't stop, I figured labor was finally a possibility.
Turns out the family agreed because my sister showed up on her way home from college and my brother and his fiancee drove the hour to my house, and they all made a party of it by having tacos, playing guitars, and my dad even went back to his house to grab their nice camping trailer. He parked it in the driveway (not caring how redneck we appeared at this point) so everyone had a place to sleep AND we had a second bathroom (because like always I wanted to labor on my exercise ball in the bathroom, but we only have one in our little farmhouse, and when there is a crowd....well, ya know....). Turns out the 2nd bathroom didn't work out anyway anyway. Lovely.
I continued to contract regularly all night, but the intensity varied greatly. I sat on or leaned over my exercise ball almost the entire time, and unlike my other labors I was VERY social in between ctx (and even during many of them), which made the process more fun but also weirded me out. It felt too easy for my own good and I started to get frustrated that things weren't more intense.
I checked myself around 8pm and found I was pretty much complete (I had been about 5cm and 75ish% for a long time before going into labor, which is very normal for me), and very anterior, but still had a pretty tight band. I had a VERY obvious bulging bag of waters though (I described it as one of those "tap lights" that used to be popular LOL) and assumed my body was just finishing the process on its own and my water would break soon. I rarely had contractions that made me feel wiped out, but because things were taking so long and I still felt like labor could just STOP at any moment (prodromal labor causes PTSD, I swear!), what WAS getting to me was the idea that this might last a super long time and I feared wearing out. I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and could feel my body asking for food but the thought of eating made me nauseous, so saltines and coconut water were as good as it was going to get. If I did get a little antsy I would just pray for strength, remind myself that God created me to do this, and tell myself that I could.
Time continued to pass and I didn't feel myself transitioning or like anything was changing. Ctx were still pretty easy overall, I was still as chipper as could be in between, and I checked and found everything the same. So I told everyone that if baby hadn't come by midnight, I would break my water. I was hesitant about doing so in case it just wasn't time (because with DD1 I labored with ruptured membranes and found it to be MUCH more painful than having them intact!!!), but I also had my last two births reminding me that when my water broke (whether on its own like with DD2, or by my doing like with DS1- who's labor was much like this one where eventually I just couldn't progress anymore yet he still wasn't coming out), babies were out almost immediately with 2 quick pushes.
Midnight came and went, no baby, no additional progress, I was still laughing and joking around between contractions, but I was too scared to break my water yet. I worked on changing positions a lot and getting up and walking around, hoping to get things to the point, which isn't something I have ever been eager to try since I hate contracting BECAUSE of position changes. To my surprise though no position really intensified things (sometimes it felt TOO easy) so my exercise ball was still the most comfortable option and I kept returning to it. My mom would rub my shoulders and that was awesome...I have never wanted to be touched during labor before but this labor was so much different. Everyone was still up having so much fun that it was hard to not be involved. My brother's fiancee and my mom took lots of pictures, which I am so happy about, as I love photo-documenting the process of homebirth. It's just so natural and pleasant.
It must have been around 2am that everyone gave up on me and decided to try and sleep. That is also when I started feeling pretty hopeless. I got in the warm bathtub...not comfortable, that small hard thing, but the water always feels nice. (also where I birthed last time...not planned, just ended up there) DH stayed with me and encouraged me the entire time. He was incredible. He totally kept me going. I kept struggling with whether or not to break my water and since I can't seem to separate my mind from my prayers (as in, listen to God and not myself), I decided I was going to pray that God would speak through DH...I just trusted Him and my husband to help make the call. So when DH said, "Why don't you try and break your water now", I asked if he was sure, he said yes, and I knew it was time to try. This is where things got even more interesting. Anyone who's tried to break their own water before can probably relate. It was a struggle with DS1, but at least it only took a couple attempts and worked once I could reach well enough. But this time, I think I made about 30 attempts over about a half hour. It was ridiculous. TMI here, but those membranes were SO strong that I could pinch them and pull, but instead of breaking, they would snap back into place, and it felt and SOUNDED like a rubber band! Yes, SOUNDED...you could hear it from across the bathroom. The first couple times DH and I just looked at each other kind of shocked and it was one of those things where we weren't sure whether to laugh or be horrified or what! So that process repeated over and over again. DH left the room to go get something and I tried again...and incredibly, I succeeded that time. (but next time, I am totally stocking up on amnihooks in my birth kit!) However, the physical relief it brought for those first moments also came with some concern as there was some light meconium staining to the water. Thankfully the rational part of me kicked in as I noticed it was light, well diluted, and the color indicated it had been passed quite some time ago (days or possibly weeks), and since I had been monitoring his heart rate and movements regularly I knew that distress wasn't the cause and that aspiration wasn't likely something we'd have to have any concern about.
With DD2 and DS1, as soon as my water broke (or I broke it), it was just a matter of seconds before my body started pushing uncontrollably and within 2 quick pushes they were out. I expected it to be the same this time. However, the next contraction came and I didn't feel "pushy" at all. That ticked me off and I decided I was pushing anyway, I'd been at this long enough. I pushed HARD and it wasn't until the end of that first contraction that I felt like baby was actually finishing descending. It wasn't a pleasant experience...I much prefer my body just doing it's thing rather than me trying to make it happen. But after that first contraction I knew it was all about over, and so with the next one I pushed HARD once again, and like with the first, it took until the end of the contraction to feel I was actually making any progress with the pushing, and so even after the contraction ended I kept at it and his head came out. DH was SO encouraging and when he said, "He's rotating" to let me know things were actually happening, it gave me enough strength to get the rest of him out right away as soon as the next contraction started just a matter of seconds later. My mom had come in at this point, and I think the others were waking up...or attempting to. Even DD1, who had attempted to stay awake the entire time, and DD2, who wouldn't have wanted to miss it, were on their way.
We didn't have a huge amount of water in the tub so we lifted him right out and he was crying instantly- my first baby to do that! I think he perked up faster than any of the others as well (even though my girls weren't slow to start)...just so full of life at that very first moment! I just happened to notice he was a boy as I was pulling him close to me, so I announced that. (we had suspected he was a boy...and apparently my mom "knew" so she said, "I told you that!") I was surprised at how tiny he felt. Granted, DS1 was huge (9lb 10oz, 22", 15.5" head) but to me he still felt like a tiny newborn, but this little man felt even smaller, which caught me off guard because his late ultrasound measurements- which, when done with DS1, were pretty darn accurate- were showing him to be quite large like his brother...head included! But it didn't appear that way. He had a head full of precious dark hair, which I was expecting. I also noticed that he had VERY little vernix left on him, a common thing for post-dates babies. We snuggled, he cried, I loved on him, and just felt sooooooo good that he was finally in my arms and I no longer had to worry about my stupid body trying to keep him safe. Seriously, the relief was HUGE. I also didn't tear at all (though I didn't with my last 2 births either, only with DD1, who was my tiniest baby, yet I pushed from a bed with an epidural...)
Everyone was in the bathroom at this point, "ooh'ing" and "ahh'ing" and taking pictures. Once his cord stopped pulsing, which was actually pretty quickly, we clamped it and my mom cut it, though it took her a couple attempts to figure out which side of the scalpel was the sharp one. Ha! He wasn't quite ready to nurse so eventually I passed him off to DH and I waited to birth the placenta, which actually came quite quickly, surprisingly. Another big one! Upon inspection it was all intact and calcifying, so I bagged it, showered quickly, and dressed so I could go hold my new baby.
He weighed in at 9lbs, measured 21", and "only" had a 14.25" head! He entered the world on 4/22/13 at 4:22am after 14 hours of interesting labor. SH desperately wanted me to hold out until 4/23 so he would have one less birth date to remember (both girls were born on the 23rd of their months). But our cat had kittens that next day, the 23rd, so that would have to suffice. LOL (and the cow calved the next day, LOL...spring is in the air!)
Little man has been an absolutely precious baby, and we are all so in love. It feels like we've been awaiting this little guy for over 2 years now, considering all the babies we lost during that time. DD1 is over the moon and will tell you herself that he's so sweet she just "can't stop looking at him and needing to hold him!" DD2 isn't quite as interested but loves to snuggle him when she gets the urge, and LOVES to comment on what is in his diapers when I change him. She's hilarious! DS1 is the average 3 year old big brother, just excited for him to get bigger so he can teach him to play cars and pee standing up. ;) He can often be found in baby's face, rubbing his head, saying in a feathery soft voice, "Hi buddy...Hi buddy...Hi buddy..." DH and I are enamored with the little guy, too...we can't stop looking at him and snuggling him and kissing him and smelling him... These are precious times, ones we've come to be more grateful for than ever. We praise God for giving us the opportunity to bring another child into the world. We feel so blessed.