We went to bed very late Monday night/Tuesday morning, and after tossing and turning for a while and dozing off a couple of times, I started feeling strong contractions around two o'clock. I lay in bed and timed them for about forty-five minutes, then got up just before three to take a shower. I woke Olof up about a half-hour later and told him that I was having contractions 7-10 minutes apart. He got up and called the maternity ward and they said to wait until things were "more regular" before coming in. I felt a bit discouraged by that and we decided to lie down again. Olof went back to sleep, but I got up after twenty minutes or so because the contractions were getting more intense. I woke him up again at four-thirty and told him that we needed to leave for the hospital soon.
He called his mom to come stay with the kids and dogs and went to take a shower. By the time we were ready to leave at five o'clock, the contractions were coming every four to five minutes and I could no longer walk or talk through them. We got to the hospital at five-thirty, and the midwife hooked me up to an external fetal monitor to get a ten-minute reading. Before ten minutes had passed, my water broke and the midwife started the paperwork to admit me while Olof helped me change my clothes in the bathroom.
I had my first internal check at six o'clock, and I was dilated to five centimeters. That was a huge relief to me, because my labor with Tage had moved much more slowly and I was dreading a repeat of that. Contractions were coming fast and furious by that point, and I decided to try a warm shower to help ease the pain. After just one or two contractions, though, I was starting to feel more pressure from the baby and the midwife wanted to check me again. At 6:20 I was dilated to 8 centimeters and the midwife said she thought the baby might be coming soon. She wanted to put in a "just-in-case" IV-needle at that point, but I refused. She tried to persuade me, but gave up after a couple of minutes when she realized I wasn't going to change my mind. That really was the only tense moment of the entire labor and delivery, which was a complete--and completely welcome--switch from the way things went
when Tage was born.
I decided then to try the laughing gas, which doesn't do much in the way of pain relief, but does at least provide a bit of distraction. I used the gas for most of the rest of the delivery, but Olof was much more help and comfort to me than anything else. After a couple more contractions it was time to start pushing (and also time for the 7:00 shift change, so things were a bit hectic for a few minutes -- I barely noticed, though, since I was completely focused on laboring just then). After pushing for a short time in a side-lying, semi-upright position, I moved on to my knees and leaned against the upright half of the bed for support. I pushed that way for twenty minutes or so, but didn't make much progress. The baby didn't seem to want to come down into the birth canal, so the new midwife (who was excellent
, by the way, and very encouraging), suggested changing positions and moving to the birthing chair.
The baby crowned on the first contraction after I moved, and the head came out on the next contraction. My contractions had gotten somewhat weaker by then and I had to wait until the next one to push out the shoulders and the rest of the baby. At 7:36 a.m., our baby girl decided to finally make her appearance -- "fashionably late," as my friend, Ally, later remarked -- and she was worth waiting for. She was quite blue for a little while, apparently due to having been stuck in half-in, half-out limbo for a few minutes, but otherwise she was perfect. Her one-, five-, and ten-minute apgar scores were 9, 10, and 10, and she started nursing like a champ more or less immediately. She weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce (4135 grams) and was 20 inches long (51 centimeters). Maybe best of all (from an aesthetic point of view, anyway), she has a full head of almost-black hair, which makes her feel somehow that much more mine
in this land of extremely blond children.
We came home with the newest little Tjerngren mid-afternoon, about seven hours after she was born, and it was more relief than I can say to be back in my own place with the babe finally on the outside.