Opal was due Dec 20th and was born Dec 29th at 41 weeks 2 days, my latest baby! Labor started on Christmas Eve, strong, regular contractions in the night. They never got quite strong enough that I woke DH and then they quit. Oh well, I took a nap the next day and all was well. We stayed home for Christmas as I really didn't want to go into labor over an hour from home and we got 8 inches of snow! Contractions happened again on the 26th, regular and strong, but not strong enough and they quit after about 4 hours. The next time labor started was the morning of the 27th, a Monday. It was much stronger this time and I did wake DH and we filled the birth pool. Contractions were getting longer, stronger, and closer together, this was it!! Then I got in the pool and they stopped. Grrr, it was frustrating, I was really tired and made DH go a head and stay home that day. We saw our midwife and my chiropractor and went home and took a long nap with 2 yo DS. On the 28th, my birthday, I was very uncomfortable all day, but enjoyed getting out and spending time with good friends in the morning. My parents came up and took the kids out for the afternoon. Contractions started again after they left, even stronger this time. I walked and pushed acupressure points to keep things going. They were getting stronger and stronger so again I had DH fill the pool. I called and had my parents keep the kids for a bit longer so I didn't risk labor stopping when they came home. They were getting stronger and stronger and I needed the relief of the water. I got in and the contractions stopped. Aaahhhh, so frustrating!! I got out and tried to get things going again, but nothing. I broke down and cried and cried and cried. I hunkered down in the dark in my bed and felt sorry for myself for a while. I couldn't believe how great a toll this prodromal labor was taking on me! The kids came home and wanted to sing Happy Birthday to me so they could eat the cake my mom brought. I dragged myself out of bed and went down stairs to put on as happy a face as I could muster up. As soon as I got back up I started contracting again, randomly this time. It was just aggravating, annoying, teasing, and unwelcome at that point. I had DH put the kids to bed and I got into the birth pool to get a break. I listened to my Hypnobabies, lit all the candles, turned the lights off, wore my birth beads, and tried to rest and even sleep a little. At midnight I got out to go to bed and contractions started right back up. Out of desperation for rest, I took a shot of vodka and went to lay down. My midwife and I had discussed this as an option if I got to this point of desperation so I felt safe making that choice. I laid down and fell asleep after about 30 minutes. 2 hours later I woke up with contractions again. After half an hour I couldn't stay in bed. I woke DH and told him I needed to get back in the pool, this was 3 AM. He came down and warmed the pool up for me, we had to drain some water to get enough hot water back in to have it at a safe temp. So I worked through super difficult contractions while he did that. At around 4:30 I got out to go to the bathroom and things just kept getting stronger and stronger and I was sooo tired. I told DH to go ahead and call the midwife because I was either having a baby or going to the hospital, I just couldn't keep going indefinitely with contractions this strong. I had him call my friend too because either way someone needed to be here with the kids and I knew there was no way I was waiting for my parents to make the trip. A contraction or 2 later I just decided to be done, so I tried pushing. I felt the bag of water come out, like giving birth to a tennis ball, and then it popped. With that came the unmistakable and impossible to ignore urge to push so I did and out came the head. I said to DH that the head was out and he said, "What!?!" or "Wow!!!" and I then gave another push and out came the baby. I reached down and brought her forward and up to my chest. DH said "good job!" and then immediately called our midwife back to say the baby had arrived and to double check on what he should do (keep her warm and nothing else). She was screaming which was nicely reassuring. He called 1st at 4:52 and she was born at 5:01, 9 minutes later! He then asked what she was and so we checked, but her cord wasn't long enough to lift her up high enough out of the water to see. So I went with the fact that I didn't feel a penis and announced a girl! We hung out for a few minutes and then DH called my parents and went to get 5 yo DD. I was worried that she would be upset to have missed the birth, but all was well, she got her sister!! Our friend arrived and DH got DS and we all just hung out for a bit. I was still having really big contractions, but the placenta wasn't coming out. I didn't want to get out of the pool until it did because I had scary thoughts of it falling out as I was climbing out and ripping her cord from her belly, so we waiting in the pool. When the midwives arrived, about 40 minutes after she was born, I asked them to go ahead and cut the cord so I could hand her to DH and focus on the placenta. The placenta was born an hour after birth, after lots of hard contractions and pushing as hard as I did to get the baby out! That just wasn't fair. Baby girl was 8 lb 8 oz and 21 inches long.
This was, without a doubt, my most difficult birth. If it had only been the intense 2 hour birth, it would have balanced, but all the prodromal stuff put it way over the other 2. At the same time, it was a really powerful experience, I did it *all* on my own. The laboring, the birth, the placenta, all of it. No one checked me, no one touched me (other than some counter pressure in the last 30 min from Dave), no one coached me, no one guided the placenta out, nothing, it was all me!! That is a powerful feeling, but it has taken me a few days to come into that and move past the overwhelming-ness of the birth.
After a difficult pregnancy and birth, this has been my best postpartum by leaps and bounds. I used my placenta to my benefit and I highly recommend it. I definitely feel a difference. I had a smoothie and then encapsulated it. I have also found belly binding to be really nice.