April 29th. I woke up at 7:30 to ds (3) beside the bed asking to nurse and noticed that dd (6) had climbed in, too. He had a quick nurse and I got up to pee, then decided to stay up since it was sunny and I was wide awake. Usually I would've dozed for another hour or so. It had been a long time since I'd seen both kids snuggling with Daddy in bed and it was a sweet way to start the day. I put a load of laundry in, renewed the library books due today (planning to go tomorrow instead) and then sat in the kitchen, enjoying the quiet and thinking about my plans to go to the DMV to register our van.
By 8:30, everyone else was getting up and I realized that I was feeling a sensation of pressure in my abdomen at regular intervals. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining it, I started writing down the time when they started and they were 4-5 minutes apart. Even though it was exactly how I felt the morning of ds's birth, that didn't stop me from thinking maybe I was a little dehydrated and just needed to drink a lot of water. I was starting to think maybe I'd skip the DMV and rest instead, and told DH what was going on. He left for work around 9 and I gave him a long hug, pushing aside the feeling that I didn't really want him to leave.
By 9:30, I decided maybe it would be good to set up the birth tub, just in case... The kids were starting to drive me crazy with their bickering. I told dd that I was feeling a little like I did the day ds was born, and needed her help. She immediately stopped squabbling with ds and started doing things like reading to him instead. I got online and babbled to DH about how I was having trouble with the air pump for the birth tub and which scissors I was planning to use to cut the cord. I still wasn't sure today was the day, but it seemed like a good idea to start getting things in place.
Around 10, I told DH things were getting more intense and he should plan to come home at lunch time and see if he could work from home that afternoon. I was trying to think if I should call someone to help me with ds, who was grumpy and needed attention I couldn't give him. Ten minutes later, I called DH and told him to come home now. I was getting snappy with the kids when I had contractions and getting down on all fours to rock through them, and I'd put on a skirt because pants felt too restrictive but I didn't want to walk around the house in only a shirt with the blinds open. I figured out the pump and was struggling to get the tub ready in the short time between contractions. DD was being a HUGE help, doing things like asking me if I wanted her to rub my back and getting me almonds and water. She even remembered a straw! I'm going to start hiring her out as a doula.
It's funny how part of me thought the baby might be early, and part of me stuck to the idea that she was due on 5/24 and would most likely come within a few days of that like her siblings. When my mom came in March, she said it didn't look like I was going to make it to May but I wrote it off as one of her tactless but insignificant remarks. I had some signs that my date was off, but it seemed right on by others. I decided that as long as I felt good, baby kept moving and in a good position, and everything else felt right, I didn't need a professional opinion. For the previous couple of weeks, I'd have these moments where I'd worry about all the things I hadn't had time to do yet, and then I'd remind myself how basic babies' needs really are, and that if she came before it all got done, we could make do. To get to the point of this tangent, part of the long list of things undone was the birth tub test run we had planned to do the previous weekend, but ran out of time. In the back of my mind, I'd been thinking, "I can do a land birth if I have to," but in the moment, laboring without water seemed unbearable.
DH got home around 10:30. I remember telling him I was so tired already and I thought I had hours to go. He took over the tub setup (it was inflated, but no tarp or towels under it and the hose wasn't hooked up yet) and I asked dd to fill the bathtub for me. I stayed in the bathtub for a while, anxiously awaiting the birth tub with more space and deeper water. I kept asking if it was ready yet. I finally got impatient enough to see for myself and it was about half full but barely warm. We realized that even though the tap was turned to all hot, we must've used it all filling the bathtub, so we turned off the water and pulled out the hose and I got in anyway. It was around 10:45, maybe a bit later.
DH asked if he should boil some water to add to the tub and I was debating when my water broke. It felt great and I had a brief break from the contractions, which had seemed to be almost nonstop. Suddenly the head was right there, no time to boil water. I told DH I felt the head and he got in the tub, ready to catch. In the course of an hour, I'd gone from thinking "hey, looks like this is actually going to happen today" to knowing that I was about to meet my baby. My older 2 were born at home, but this was our first UC. Throughout the whole labor, I was more able to let my body do its own thing instead of overthinking or listening to someone else's suggestions or instructions. Instead of pushing through the ring of fire, I breathed and relaxed, and it was so much easier. Nobody told me I had to sit on my butt to push her out this time, so I didn't.
Her head was born. The kids were playing downstairs, so DH went to call them up. I said, "Tell dd to get the camera" and had a brief moment of panic when DH went out the door to do it, but somehow they were all back in time for dd to get a picture of the head sticking out and some goofy pictures of ds watching it all, like time froze for a bit, and then she slid into DH's hands. It was 11:04. She was perfect, and now we are five.