Thanks everyone! Here is her extra-long birth story, which I like to write up for them to read when they're older.
Although I wasn’t quite 39 weeks yet, the weekend before Lucy’s birth, I had gotten pretty darn desperate for her arrival. Pelvic pain and swelling, feet in my lungs, horrible heartburn, no sleep, two weeks of false labor every night, and having gone 10 days longer than either of my previous pregnancies, left me ready, ready, ready for her eviction! So I decided to start being “proactive” on Sunday. I took the kids for a long walk, during which I pretty much had one solid 45-minute contraction. And then that night, I drank a huge mug of double-strength red raspberry leaf tea. The strange thing about Sunday night was that it was the first night in weeks that I wasn’t really having the false labor. Prior to that, every night around 8:00 the contractions would start, 5-6 minutes apart, and persist until I went to sleep. But Sunday night, almost nothing. As much as I hated all the false labor, I was kind of discouraged, thinking it was a sign of things calming down again and yet more nights of waiting.
Not so, however, as I soon found out! Gabe woke me up a little before 3 a.m. that night and after settling him back down and crawling back into my bed, I realized that I was contracting again. But these ones were feeling a bit different from the contractions I’d been having up to this point. While my tummy was clearly contracting, I was only feeling it in my back. And it wasn’t feeling so great! So although I had my suspicions up immediately that this might finally be the labor I’d been waiting for, and we knew based on my past fast labors that we needed to move quickly once labor started, I was so afraid of crying wolf that I stayed in bed, waiting and timing them, just to be sure. This is where I started getting discouraged again: the contractions were totally inconsistent, 4 minutes apart, 6 minutes, 2 minutes, 7 minutes. And while some were a minute long, others were only 30 seconds or so. Absolutely no pattern to them at all.
But that said, they were HURTING. And the pain was only getting worse. When, at 4:00, I realized that the last contraction forced me onto my hands and knees to breathe through it, I figured something had to be up, and I woke up Randy. “I think I’m in labor,” I whispered. “Really??” he says. And I tell him what I’d been feeling the last hour, but that the contractions were so inconsistent. “Oh, okay,” he says. “Wake me up when you’re sure.” And he rolls back over, chuckling to himself. I gave him a little smack on the back, and he sits up, smiling. So I breathe my way through a couple more really painful contractions, and then call the birth center. I report what I’ve been feeling and I could tell the midwife was a little hesitant at first to tell me to come in, since the contractions were still so irregular. But when I reminded her of my past labors, and the fact that I was GBS+ and needed the antibiotics, she encouraged me to head on in.
And then the madness began. We called my brother and his wife Jen at 4:15, and she hops in the car to head on over to watch our kids. I also called my mom (up in NH) to tell her I thought I was in labor. Over the next slightly foggy 15 minutes I got dressed, brushed my teeth, kissed Addy as she slept (which made me choke up, knowing that everything would be changed when I saw her next), tucked Gabe back into bed when he cried out a couple minutes later, fed the dog, and found the phone numbers for the kids’ schools to leave out for Jen. Not sure how I kept my wits about me that whole time, but somehow I did. My contractions, meanwhile, were getting increasingly painful, now that I was up and walking around, and were now somewhere like 2-3 minutes apart. And, as in the past, they were almost 100% in my back.
Jen arrived somewhere in the midst of that and Randy, in the meanwhile, was getting dressed, making coffee, going through his own last-minute rituals. But when I was at the door five minutes ahead of him, I started feeling that irrational laboring woman irritation creeping up on me. “Where IS he?” I grumbled to Jen, who sprinted up the stairs looking for him. Lucky for him, he was on his way down and a minute later we were out the door. I think it was about 4:45 at this point, and now I was seriously laboring, down to business, no talking. The ride from home to the birth center, which takes 40 minutes in daylight hours, Randy somehow trimmed down to about 20, thank goodness, because every inch of it was pure torture. Being in a car on a pot-holey road experiencing transitional back labor is just about the worst experience you could wish on a person. We called the midwife on duty, Ellen, while we were on our way to tell her we were almost there and called our regular midwife Nikki to see if she could join us, but got her voicemail. We also called my mom to tell her I was definitely in labor, and she hopped in the car a few minutes later to head on down.
When we pulled into the birth center lot a little after 5:00 I was SO relieved, not only to get out of the car, but also to know that, yes, this babe was going to be born here! After months of anxiety about a roadside, EMT-delivered babe, we were going to get our wish for a third birth at the birth center. Walking the 25 feet from the car to the front door of the center was additional torture, and once they let us in, I had barely a word for anyone. The typical protocol is to get checked in an exam room downstairs, but I wasn’t having any of that. I marched straight for the stairs, heading right up to a birthing room. I heard the midwife sort of chuckling behind me, saying something about my complete focus on getting myself up those stairs was the surest sign of hard labor she could have seen.
I headed straight into the room where Addy was born, five years prior, walked over to the bed, and then leaned over the bedside table. I didn’t move from that spot for the next 15 minutes. The contractions started piling one on top of another . “Oh, she’s just not getting a break,” I heard Ellen say behind me. Randy at this point has assumed his massage duties, digging his thumbs as deeply into my lower back as he can – and still, I grumbled at him to dig harder. (Even though, in the end, he only did this for 15 minutes, my poor lower back feels so bruised right now!) The midwife’s assistant also managed to get the IV line into my hand during this time to start the antibiotics for the GBS (really wishing I’d had the sense enough to refuse them at this point, since they were clearly useless in the end!).
The big drama during this stage was the “Hollywood” water-breaking moment. There I was, leaning over the nightstand when I suddenly felt a huge “POP!” and water just gushed out between my legs – literally like a tap had just been turned on. All over the floor, all over everyone’s feet. It was impressive, really. Just like in the movies.
After that, I really started to feel “pushy” and my arms were tired. So I climbed onto the bed and had a couple more contractions on my hands and knees. And then, like a switch was thrown, I just had to push. Ellen clearly trusted my pushing instinct enough to just tell me to go for it – she didn’t even bother to check me for dilation. And so, I pushed. On the first push, Lucy crowned, and on the second, out she came. I never moved from the hands and knees position, and in the end, that’s probably why I had no tearing and (honestly) only a bit of soreness afterward. Definitely my easiest birth!
Ellen guided Lucy down to the bed between my knees and I sat back on my heels and scooped her up – but only after checking out her “parts” and seeing – to my thrill – that she was a girl! I held her close to my chest and after a comical scene where Ellen and her assistant helped me take my bra off (the only piece of clothing I had left on at this point), during which it got hopelessly tangled with the umbilical cord, to which Lucy was still attached (the placenta wasn’t out yet), I turned over and collapsed back against the pillows with my little girl in my arms. Randy crawled up next to me and there we sat for the next 20 minutes or so, admiring our girl and reeling from the intensity of the whole experience. It was the beautiful post-birth high you just wish could go on forever!
About an hour later my regular midwife, Nikki, arrived. She had started into the center after getting our message that morning, but obviously didn’t have enough time to get there for the birth itself. It was still wonderful to see her though and, luckily, she was on-duty that day, so we knew we’d get to see her off and on throughout that first day – which, in the end, was just as nice as having her at the birth! Shortly after Nikki’s arrival, around 7:30, my mom arrived, full of tears and smiles and blessings for our babe.
We had about two hours at the birth center to get our wits back about us and make a few phone calls to family and friends. But in short order, due to the GBS situation, we had to be transferred over to the hospital across the driveway in order to have Lucy’s blood drawn and the 24-hour culture process started. So we went from our roomy, sunny birth suite to a teeny, tiny, HOT hospital room. Kind of a downer of a transition, but in the end, not such a big deal. The nurses over at the hospital were all very kind and pretty much left us to our own devices (which involved lots of local take-out cuisine and a secret bottle of Moet! I only managed a couple sips of this, but still, the ceremony of it was wonderful.)
Around noon Randy left to go home to relieve Jen with the kids, and put them down for naps. Mom and I hung out in the hospital room with Lucy for the next few hours until Randy came back around 4:00 with Addy and Gabe. Oh, the look on both their faces as they came into the room was priceless. Awed and tickled, all rolled up into one. They were both SO excited and SO sweet to their little sister. We had managed to not reveal to them all day what the baby’s gender or name was so that I could see their reaction when they found out. The first words out of Addy’s mouth: “Mommy, is it a girl or a boy??” “Well,” I said, holding her up, “which does she look like?” Addy stared into Lucy’s little face, and then turned to me: “I don’t know.” “It’s a girl, Addy. You have a little sister!” A HUGE smile broke over her face and she started giggling. “I knew it! I knew it! I knew it was a girl!” She was beyond thrilled. Gabe didn’t seem to care about the gender much one way or the other, which I expected. He was just so eager to love that baby up as much as I would let him. It got a little chaotic after a few minutes with both kids clambering to touch her, kiss her, inspect her every crevice, but it was so sweet to see how excited they were to meet her and welcome her into our family.
The rest of our hospital stay was pretty uneventful. All of Lucy’s bloodwork came back just fine, as we expected it would. She didn’t sleep so well the first night, so neither did I, of course. Randy seemed to do pretty well on the fold-out chair next to us, but he had a lot more champagne than I did! I still had so much adrenaline in my system that I was still functional the next day though.
All in all, another great birth. I feel so blessed!
Oh and she was 8 lbs, 3 oz, 20-1/2 inches. One hour oldMeeting the siblingsMommy and Lucy