So, after going 11 days past her due date, she arrived very fast in the end - just 1 hour of hard labor and 10 minutes of pushing! 8 lbs 8 oz, 20.5 inches long.
I had had "false starts" on Wednesday and Thursday nights - hours of somewhat strong but short contractions. Some of the ones on Thursday were hard enough to keep me from sleeping. But both times the cx petered out around 6 AM... on Friday morning I was very discouraged and tired and feeling like I'd be pregnant forever, or at least long enough to have to jump through hoops for an OB.
After going to our mw appt, I convinced dh to stay home from work so he could take care of the kids, since I was exhausted. Throughout the morning I got the occasional cx, some of them reasonably hard but none longer than about 30 seconds and usually no more than two an hour. In the afternoon I decided to try to nap. Before I laid down, I asked dh to massage my belly since my uterus was feeling crampy and I was having a lot of round ligament pains. After the massage, I felt so nice and loose and relaxed!
So I tried to fall asleep, and was almost there when I was hit with a strong cx. I ignored it and continued to try to sleep, but had another one a few minutes later... and then a few minutes after that... and suddenly I realized i was in labor. At 4:17, I went downstairs - dh was like, "What are you doing up already?" I don't think he believed me at first when I said I was in labor - after so many false starts, and it being so sudden. But after observing me through a few cx, he started to set up for the birth. I called the mw, who asked how far apart the cx were - I had no idea. I said I'd call back in 15 minutes after timing them. I called back 10 minutes later to say they were 2 or 3 minutes apart, and the mw said she was on her way. I also called my MIL to have her and my SILs come over to take care of the kids. Then I helped dh set up all the birth supplies. I kept yelling at him to fill the birth tub, because I wanted to get in, and then yelling at him to come help me through a cx - his belly rubbing and encouragement were essential. All this time my cx continued to get closer together, until they were almost back to back. Oddly, they were still not very long - maybe 45 seconds.
Somehow, dh managed to get the birth tub filled. MIL and SILs arrived and started boiling water (for the tub, since our hot water tank is not that big). At this point I started having some longer cxs, including a couple really unpleasant ones that double-peaked. But it was only about 5:00 pm - less than an hour after I'd given up on napping. I was sure I couldn't be that close to the end, so I started to get scared that I'd be having cx like these for hours. After all, my other two labors had lasted for 22 and 20 hours. Fortunately, I was too busy dealing with cx to panic.
I started to catch my breath during the contractions and then to get an urge to push. With dh's coaching, I breathed through it, but my body was pushing without me. I was really worried that it was too soon, and I'd hurt my cervix. The tub was finally full enough and hot enough, so I climbed in - instant relief! It felt so good to be in the water, even though the cx were very difficult at this point.
Just then the first of our two midwives arrived. "I'm pushing! Check me!" I yelled. She quickly gloved up and felt my cervix and said the words I'd been dreaming of hearing - "You're fully dilated! The baby's head is right there!"
I was relieved, and also in some disbelief that the first stage was over already - it had been so short, and even though it was intense, really not that bad. I started to push with the contractions - I was really trying to work with my body's cues, and at first I only gave short little pushes. It wasn't too uncomfortable. The baby's head moved down pretty quickly. Once she was got to the point where she wasn't sliding back between cx anymore, the sense of pressure (and the discomfort) increased dramatically and I instinctively moved into a full squat. I started pushing a lot harder, and getting that stretching sensation. I knew I was really close! The mw kept telling me to rest between cx and let my tissues stretch. I did this as much as I could, but at the end it hurt so much I just wanted her out. "I want it out now! I want it out now!" I screamed, and pushed as hard as I could - and her head was out! One more big push and I felt the rest of her body slide out, and then I was holding our new baby girl in my arms! It was 5:18 - just 10 minutes of pushing, hardly more than an hour after I realized I was in labor!
She was wriggling around right away, and soon took her first breath. We were all surprised to see that she was covered in vernix, given how overdue she was - my other two dc hardly had any even though they were born much closer to their dates. I pushed out the placenta a couple minutes after the birth, and I was done.
In all, it was pretty much a dream birth. I even managed to escape with only a very minor tear, despite my impatience at the end. I had been hoping for a short, relatively easy labor but never expected it to be that fast! It's a good thing we weren't planning a hospital birth, we could never have made it in time.
We are all babymooning nicely here. Labor vibes to anyone who still hasn't had their's yet - hope your labor is as great as mine was!