Thanks so much for the congratulations!! Here's the full birth story and a couple pics-
Friday I had irregular contractions all day that picked up that evening. They got pretty strong and went to 5-7 minutes apart and stayed that way for around 5 hours. Thinking this was it, I called my mom and my doula in the middle of the night. My mom showed up around 6am to get my other children, and around 7am my doula arrived. Within half an hour my contractions died out and went back to being mild and very irregular. So, exhausted and embarrassed I decided to take sleep and take a couple doses of castor oil Saturday. It took awhile for the castor oil to kick and once it did I had fairly strong contractions for most of the night that died out once again. Even though I was 8 days over due at that point I decided she just wasn't ready to come out and tried to relax and be patient! Sunday we went to church and then went and got our girls and visited with some family that was in from out of state.
I was still having irregular contractions and around 10pm Sunday night they started picking back up. Not getting excited this time my husband played around on the computer while I walked around the house and took hot showers and baths. At 1:30am I called my doula over (again!) because my contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and very painful. My doula took me to the hospital while my husband roused the kids and dropped them off at my mom's. It's a 45 minute drive to the town where they both are, so my doula warned me that the drive might cause my cervix to tighten up some but that it would open back up quickly once we arrived. By the time we got to the hospital (at 3 or 4 am) the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and very painful. The nurse checked me and said I was only 4cm which was frustrating. They took a quick history of my previous births (2 c-sections, both babies had fetal distress) and hooked me up to the monitor (my birth plan asked for intermittent but they wanted to 20 minute strip first). She was having some decelerations so they wanted to keep it on longer. I had been on my back though so they had me turn thinking maybe the cord was getting compressed. Flipping over was horribly painful and her heart was still decelerating after contractions. I started to panic and flash back to my other births and was sure I was going to end up with another c/s. I asked if I could have some nubain or something to calm me down. The doctor came in and checked me (just an hour after the nurse) and I was 7cm and 90% (I think) effaced! I wanted as natural a birth as possible but I don't regret the nubain, it really helped me get out of my panicky state and took the sharp edge off the pain of switching positions. Her heart started looking better and after an hour or two I started feeling mild urges to push. My water hadn't broken yet, though. I was pushing some during contractions peed all over the place, haha. I asked them to have the doctor check me and I was 9cm and completely effaced. I knew once my water broke it would be over soon so I asked him to break it. Within something like 10 minutes I was complete and pushing hard.
Every one talks about the overwhelming urge to push, and it's true! It was an odd sensation. The contractions still hurt really bad but pushing through them almost felt good (at least, it didn't hurt like the contractions did!) I started out pushing on my side. I had a hard time getting my legs to where I wanted, though. I actually found it best for me to have them put the top of the bed all the way up and have my husband and doula holding my feet, almost like laying down and squatting at the same time. Once the nurse asked me not to push through the next one to give the baby a rest, and wow, it was SO hard not to push! At some point they though she was OP (the on call doc got off and my OB came on about this time) so my OB had me get down with my knees to my chest and push for a while like that to turn her. She was moving down pretty quickly, I had my eyes closed most of the time concentrating on pushing as effectively as I could. I remember hearing the delivery nurses come in and them saying "2 c-sections and no epidural? Way to go!" I was losing some steam just from being tired (I'd been pushing for almost 2 hours) and my doula had my reach down to touch her head. My husband said it was funny because my eyes got huge and I jerked my hand back, ha! It was neat, I was just having trouble processing that there was actually a baby coming out of my vagina. The "ring of fire" wasn't too bad, it actually gave me a focal point of what to push through. The nurses had read my birth plan and seen that I didn't want an episiotomy and assured me my OB was one of the least likely doctors at the hospital to do them. So when she recommended one I said yes (she explained why but honestly I didn't care at that point and don't really remember!) My doula said she made a couple small cuts trying to give me the smallest one she could. I ended up tearing a little into my rectal muscles (it just took two stitches back there to fix, I'm not sure how much the rest took). At any rate, after the epi, it was just a couple more pushes! Because she was 10 days past her due date there was meconium when they had broken the water, so after her head was out my doctor suctioned her really well. Delivering the rest of her was cake. It pretty much quit hurting as soon as her head was out. They put her on my chest and I just kind of stared at her in shock! They were really great about the things in my birth plan, they left her cord attached for around 5 minutes (my doula said it was almost completely flat before they cut it, just as I had asked for) and they assessed her on my stomach so I held her for well over an hour after she was born (she nursed for most of that). I didn't even notice the placenta coming until my husband was like "what's that?!" and it was like a half push and it just plopped out. The nurse handling that was happy to show it off to us. I had a really hard time focusing my eyes for an hour or so, everything was blurry and I had to look around with one eye closed. I didn't burst any blood vessels in my eyes, though. Later I noticed I had splotches all over my faces and arms/chest from pushing so hard, and after a day my arms and neck were really sore, but nothing too bad.
My doula was fantastic, I can't recommend having one enough! She was a wonderful source of support and information for me and my husband both and just all around amazing and wonderful.
All in all it was really amazing! I still can't get over how different I feel recovery wise compared to after my c-sections. My bottom is sore, of course, but I've felt really great and haven't had much trouble moving around or anything. Part of me really expected to end up with another c-section so it wasn't until I could feel her coming down my birth canal that I realized I was really doing it! I'm still processing a lot of the emotions and the experience but it was great and I'm really glad I got to experience it and that it all went so well and that I've got such a beautiful, healthy little girl!http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3145/...ff7c90.jpg?v=0http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2058/...700283.jpg?v=0http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3090/...8e1f8e.jpg?v=0http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2229/...fd438b.jpg?v=0