Thursday night 7/8 I went to bed with more of the crampy braxton hicks contractions I'd been having for weeks, though these were a bit more crampy than usual. At 3am DD woke up coughing and needing water. I got up to get her some, and as soon as my feet hit the floor a contraction started that was *almost* too strong to walk/talk through. I got DD all settled, and had 3 contractions in 15 min. I was hopeful they would continue. After peeing and getting some water, I decided this was likely 'the night'. It was identical to how DS's birth started. So I made coffee for Steve, started heating pots of water (for the birth tub...nothing as dramatic as movies would have us think), and decided I had time to make banana bread for the kids. All this time contractions were about 3-5 min apart. By 4am, I put Steve on alert and went to lay down and try and rest while I could. All contractions stopped. I was so disappointed. So this is what 'prodromal labor' must be. I turned off the stove and went back to sleep, hoping I was not going to have to do this every night like some women do.
Friday 7/9 I was exhausted from losing sleep, and I guess the contractions took a little out of me too. My mom offered to come get the kids and take them swimming so I could catch up on sleep, so I was able to get about a 3hr nap. The kids and Steve came home, we had a late dinner and put the kids to bed. During dinner I continued to have the crampy braxton hicks contractions and mentally prepared myself for another sleepless night like the one before. Steve and I went to bed at 10:45. I woke up at 11:30 to a contraction so strong it took my breath away. I tried to sit up to get in a better position, but that was a bad idea. It made it 10x more intense if I moved. 4 minutes later another one came. I tried to stay in bed, hoping I could relax and rest inbetween them. But this one made me realize I HAD to be up. I got up to head to the living room, telling Steve on my way out that I was having contractions. We were both expecting a possible repeat of the night before.
After only a few really strong contractions on the yoga ball, I got in the shower to see if they would slow down. I got the same relief from the hot water that I have experienced before in labor, but within minutes had to start moaning through the contractions. I was so happy that I was in labor! But had to make myself get out of the shower so I could have Steve start setting up/filling the birth tub in the living room. I didn't time contractions much after I knew this was it, but I think the few I timed were 2-4 min apart, over 1 min long. Steve got up and started filling the tub. He asked a few times if I was sure we needed to fill it. He wasn't convinced it was real until I snapped at him for talking during a contraction. (Sorry, honey.) I have no idea how long it took to fill the tub, but it seemed like way too long. When it was deep enough I climbed in and was amazed that a contraction that was just starting seemed to melt away. Steve worried I'd gotten in too soon, and was afraid labor would stall. I knew from our previous births that this was only a temporary lull. I had about 5 full minutes of peace before they started again, longer and stronger, but with less 'bite' to them. I was having back labor again, so as soon as Steve got all his tasks done (I have no idea everything he was doing; I do know he lit the essential oil burner, put on soft music, was busy changing cold cloths on my head and neck, and getting me water/nettle tea), I asked for counterpressure on my back/hips since that was so helpful during our other births. I think labor was progressing so fast that baby was moving down with each contraction, and Steve had to try and find the right spot again each time. The counterpressure helped some, but not nearly like it did in our other births.
Things were moving so fast, I really think I would have lost my ability to concentrate had anyone else even been in the room. In between contractions I still had to completely focus; after the first hour I had a lot of back labor that persisted in between contractions. Poor Steve was snapped at more during this labor than the other two combined. He would ask a question and for some reason just hearing a voice (ANY voice) threatened the fragile grasp I had on that wild ride.
At around 12:30 Steve called S to come. She's a homebirthing friend and pediatric ER nurse. She had an hour drive. At some point Steve called my mom who had a shorter drive, but apparently we called a little too late since she didn't make it in time.
I tried sitting on the pool noodle we had, circled like a donut. It was perfect! It barely kept my butt off the ground, and allowed me to sit during contractions instead of having to lean over the edge. I sat there, my arms floating at my side, and my body almost completely weightless during the rest of labor. Occasionally I'd lean over to rest on the side of the pool. I was able to completely relax my body, and realized how much energy I had been using to support myself when I was leaning over the edge on my hands and knees. I was able to use that energy now to focus on contractions, and could tell my earlier fragile grasp was now much stronger. I was even able to speak a little. I stayed this way or in a floating variation until it was time to push. S arrived about 20 min before the birth.
When I started feeling pushy, Steve went and woke the kids. They were reluctant to wake up, and curled up on opposite ends of the couch. I think when my sounds changed from what the kids later described as a 'pretend ghost' to full-on pushing sounds, they rolled over to watch. I pushed for only 1 contraction to birth her head, and another to birth her whole body. She was born at 2:10am on Saturday July 10, 2010. Labor was barely over 2.5 hrs. She was covered in vernix, and gave a cry right away. I was handed a towel and she calmed down as soon as she was covered with the warm towel. Mom showed up a few minutes later. DD came over right away, excited to see her new sibling, but DS was still rather grumpy from being woken up. He decided to come check things out after about 10 min. Both kids fell in love instantly and wanted to hold her at once. Once the placenta was birthed and the cord was cut, they got their turns. She was so calm and peaceful and beautiful.
We all moved to the bedroom to weigh and measure her. Steve guessed about 7lb4oz and was pretty close. She was 7lbs even, and 19in long. A full 2inches shorter and 1/2 lb lighter than her big sister and brother. She seems so little, but absolutely perfect.