Believe it or not, this is the condensed version...I am a wordy woman! Apparently I still remember lots even though I didn't get around to writing this till 7 weeks postpartum!
I had some contractions on the morning of April 29 that petered out. We had housecleaners due to arrive at 1:30...
The cleaners showed up around 1:00 and not long after, I started having contractions again. I kept in close contact with Mike at work so he was at the ready to come home. It was around 2:30 or 3:00 when I called to tell him I think I needed him at home. The contractions were getting more painful at that point, still fairly mild but enough that I had to stop and focus on them a little more than before. They were still pretty irregular, though. The cleaners were still working and I was getting anxious for them to be finished! Once Mike got home, we decided we had better call his mom to come into town. We told her to head for her sister's house and we would call when we needed her. Then the cleaners finished up at 4:00 and Mike settled up with them.
We hadn't really finished all our preparations for the birth, so I pulled out the list and we figured out what needed to be done. I had a cake mix and icing to make a cake during labour, so I was anxious to start on that while I still felt up to it. We had nothing in the house for snacks, so Mike and Fionn headed out to get some muffins and munchies. I got going on the cake, trying to work through the contractions...I just wanted to keep about my normal stuff as long as I could. After the cake was in the oven, I pulled out the hamburger I had thawing in the fridge and made hamburger patties with it, thinking we could BBQ them the next day for supper. I made them so big that MIL had to re-form them for me the next afternoon! I think I was getting to the point of needing to focus a little more.
I don't know if MIL ever even got to her sister's because we called her again and said she should come straight to our place. The contractions were more intense yet again, but still irregular. If I was standing up, they were less painful and shorter, but they came closer together - almost in clusters. If I laid down to rest, they would be longer, much stronger, but further apart. It was a little bit frustrating...it felt like I was never going to get into a good pattern. And it made it hard to figure out when to call our midwife to come! We checked in with her a couple of times over the afternoon and early evening. She later said that when she got the first call from us in the morning, she figured I would be having the baby that night. She knows her stuff!
I didn't let the cake cool the recommended 4 hours before icing it. It didn't seem to hurt it, though. I can't remember what time I iced it, but it was before MIL arrived. She hung out with Fionn in the basement for a while and then around 9:00 she and Mike tried to convince him to lie down with her on the guest bed to go to sleep. He was having none of it, so we relocated them to the basement to lie down watching the Wiggles. Eventually he fell asleep - yay! Contractions were getting more intense at this point, I was not talking through them and had to really focus on relaxing. I was spending a lot of time leaned over the counter and over the arm of the couch while kneeling on the cushions (familiar positions from my labour with Fionn). I also found tilting my pelvis back and forth helped with the pain a bit. I was also lying down for short periods, trying to get a little rest as I was VERY swollen and being on my feet was really uncomfortable. Around 9:30, I started to complain about pain in my back with each contraction. This was different than with Fionn, I think...I don't remember the back pain as painful with him. I was having a lot of show at that point, so it seemed like things were really starting to happen. By 9:45, the back pain was getting even more intense, and I decided we should call our midwife. Mike called this time, an indication of how much pain I was now in. The last few contractions before we called had been 5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute, so she decided to come over. She said she figured I was going to wait till late in the game to call...although I could tell I wasn't that far along, despite the contractions being close...we still had a ways to go. But it was definitely time to call in some extra support, that's for sure. I laid down on the couch to rest till she arrived and once again, contractions were more intense and longer, but I got nice rests in between - like 10-15 minutes!
Our midwife arrived around 10:20 and sat down with me on the couch to chat. At 10:25, one started up and all of a sudden I felt this weird feeling inside me (baby was moving or something, I think that's what helped with the rupture!) and then started to feel the wet from my water breaking. When I first felt it I said "What the hell was that?" and then almost instantly after that "Oh! My water broke!" and jumped up off the couch to avoid a mess! There was a good bit of water but not a pool of it or anything. Our midwife kind of laughed and said "Ah, the midwife is here!" Apparently I am really good at holding things off until I feel like all the ducks are in a row! Our midwife called the assisting midwife to head to our house, and I headed to the bathroom to pee and check the colour of the fluid...clear. Another contraction or two on the way upstairs to change...things were changing now, contractions were getting more intense and frequent now that the water was out of the way. Our midwife was monitoring baby's heartbeat, it was nice in the 130s and 140s throughout the labour.
Upstairs, I laboured in our room while our midwife set up her equipment. It was hard. I wasn't scared, and I was staying relaxed during contractions as best I could. But I was starting to get into a headspace of "Why? Why is it so difficult?" This was a continual refrain for much of the end of labour. So much for me sucking it up and thinking of all the millions of women that made it through this before me (including my mom, my aunts, my best friend, my ancestors, etc)!! I did think of them, and it helped, but it didn't completely quiet the complainer in me!
This is the point at which time seemed to stand still, because in referring to our midwife's birth notes, I see that we were upstairs by about 10:40 and I didn't get into the tub until almost 11:40. I cannot believe I laboured in our room for an hour! I guess I spent almost all that time on my hands and knees on the love seat, dozing in between contractions, so the time seemed shorter than it really was. We weren't doing any vaginal checks, so I was waiting until I knew we were well into labour before asking about getting in the tub. I got into the water sometime after 11:40. It felt great, but not as great as I'd hoped it would! I guess I was hoping for a miracle? The tub was nice and deep, but unfortunately the shape didn't really allow for a lot of different positions, and the main position it supported (sitting in a slight recline) was the WORST for my back pain. I sat leaning forward for a while, then laid on my side as best I could. Eventually I flipped over onto my hands and knees and leaned onto a pillow at the "head" of the tub. It was hard on the knees and I got pretty cold pretty fast. Mike was trying to put a warm, wet towel on my back but it felt like it weighed a ton as soon as a contraction hit, so I got him to take it off. All the while, I was feeling increasing pressure and eventually I could hear just the slightest hint of a push in my vocalizations. Our midwife started encouraging me to get out and head for the bedroom while I was still good and mobile. So around 12:30, out I got. At this point, I was heavily in labour land...our midwife dried me off with a towel and put a shirt on me. I remember being the same when getting out of the tub during Fionn's birth...being cold but somehow unable to actually dry myself, and the lovely feeling of dry clothing after a bath.
Our midwife and Mike got me over to the bed. She suggested I do hands and knees up against the headboard but it just hurt so much. When she suggested after just one contraction on my hands and knees that I maybe I could try lying on my side, I said "YES!" and moved about as fast as I had in at least a month, I bet! As with Fionn's birth, I just craved being on my side and once I was there, I did not want to move again AT ALL. This time, no-one suggested that I move, though, (lucky for them!). By 12:50 I was starting to actually bear down a bit at the height of contractions (note: I am obviously going by our midwife's notes for all these times, because she has baby's descent well-tracked almost minute by minute!). I remember that although I had the urge to push, I was tensing up my perineum and my buttocks (wow, I don't use that word often, teehee!) as I pushed...it was almost impossible to resist. I told our midwife I could feel myself tensing and she started doing counterpressure on my back with each contraction. WOW that made a difference! She later told me that with every contraction, she could feel baby's head moving down as she was doing the counterpressure. Pretty cool.
Mike only remembers me pushing for about 15 minutes, so I'm thinking that it was probably around 1:05 when our midwife encouraged me to open up my pelvis some more to ease baby's passage. I did NOT want to do this. I really resist pushing, I guess...maybe because I know the intensity that's going to come with crowning? At 1:10, the top of baby's head was visible during contractions. The pressure was incredible...it had me questioning why I birth naturally and whether I really wanted to do this one more time for a third baby. I spent much of the final minutes of birth (in between pushing contractions) telling Mike that I wasn't sure I wanted to do this again. He kept reassuring me that it was okay if I didn't want to do it again, but I was doing a great job. He is so supportive and loving, I am so lucky! I was still having a hard time opening up and my right leg was cramping up like crazy (and it HURT! Maybe it took my mind off the other pain a little?) so our midwife asked Mike to come around behind me and just support the weight of my leg so I wouldn't have to use my own strength for that. It didn't seem to help the cramping, though, so for the last few pushes I actually held my own leg, which helped keep it from hurting and had the added advantage of helping to focus my pushing a little. By 1:15, baby was almost crowning. The pressure had turned into intense burning by now, and the time between contractions seemed endless. As with Fionn, I got the urge to bite down on something, but resisted (probably lucky that Mike wasn't holding my hand!). And at 1:20 Am on April 30...my new little baby was born onto my belly, crying from the start! Tears are streaming down my face now as I think back and remember Mike exclaiming "It's a boy" with such emotion (and maybe a hint of surprise!? I was a little surprised, that's for sure!) in his voice. There is nothing more magical that that warm, wet, soft little one being placed on your belly, squirming and crying.
My placenta separated 4 minutes after birth and delivered just a minute later. Of course, that was the last thing on my mind as we held our baby, stared at him in awe, and let him nuzzle around my breasts. It's so funny, it was (and still is) so important to me not to have him whisked away, and yet all those first moments are just a blur. It was 30 minutes from birth till he latched on...it felt like about 2 minutes. In that time, though, our midwife examined me and said I just had a small superficial tear, no stitches required (yay!).
Baby latched on for the first time at 1:55 AM, and continued to nurse for a good 20-25 minutes. During this time, Mike went downstairs and got Fionn, who was now awake. He came in and greeted his new little brother. What an amazing moment, seeing both my babies together for the first time! The birthday cake I made was going to have to wait, though ...it was so late, and I although I could barely believe it, I wasn't really hungry!!
By 3:30, all four of us were tucked into bed, and our midwife snapped a picture before she left. I took till about 4:00 to actually settle Fionn back to sleep, at which point we all snoozed together, as we had every night for the last 39 weeks.
By midday on the 30th, that was IT - I wanted that cake!! Mike got the candles and plates and forks ready and we sang Happy Birthday to....baby, since he still had no name! We ate cake in bed and I ate a huge piece plus the better part of Mike's, which he didn't get to finish for some reason. Then during the afternoon, I rested while poor Mike (and his dad) installed the new toilet upstairs (which we had lived without the night before!). I was glad, since getting downstairs was really really hard!!
Later in the afternoon, I was online (with Declan in the sling!) reading congratulations and Mike joined me. We were looking at pictures of Fionn as a newborn and of the new baby, to see if there was a resemblance. We had talked on and off through the day about what to call this new little boy. Mike was leaning toward Declan, and I was still leaning toward Seamus. But as we looked at the pictures, I found myself thinking "Fionn's head was rounder than Declan's is", "Fionn and Declan have very different eyes", etc. I think I thought of the baby as Declan at least 4 times over the course of 15 or 20 minutes. We were heading up the stairs together and I told Mike that it had just struck me that I was thinking of the baby as Declan. So we decided then and there that this baby is a Declan! We had also been discussing middle names throughout the day and felt that Thomas, which is also Mike's middle name, went well with Declan. So Declan Thomas it was. The three of us went upstairs to sit on our bed together and gaze again at our new little boy. Mike had tears in his eyes because he felt like there was something missing when Declan had no name....finally, hours after his birth, Declan Thomas had truly arrived!!
p.s. maybe Fionn's turning of 'Seamus' into 'Tasty' had something to do with my change of heart!?