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On my due date, Thursday 12/4, I woke in the night with cramps and an upset stomach, very similar to the way labor started with Nolan. But by mid-morning the cramps had subsided. I had contractions again the next night so I woke up early and made breakfast to try to keep things going, but the contractions fizzled out again. I wasn't disappointed though, I felt like it would happen very soon. I spent Thursday and Friday resting and preparing.

The morning I went into labor it was cool and sunny, a beautiful day to be born. Labor and delivery lasted about 11 hours from start to finish and it took quite a while to push her out, but it was very manageable thanks to my amazing midwives and hypno-doula. And I got to catch her just like I hoped. It wasn't the peaceful waterbirth I'd envisioned, but it was a beautiful birth nonetheless.

Early morning
On Saturday 12/6 Nolan woke me up around 2 or 3 AM because he'd had bad dreams. He got in bed with me in the guest room, but I didn't sleep well after that. At around 4 I got up and watched Grey's Anatomy on the couch downstairs. Around 5 I started having regular contractions (about 10 minutes apart) and I tried to go back to sleep on the couch. I couldn't sleep, so around 6 I got up and tried to sleep in my bed. It was soon apparent that today was Lucia's birthday however, because of the regularity and intensity of my contractions. I woke Steve up and he started getting everything ready.

6:30 AM
I started having contractions every couple minutes. They weren't super strong, but I had to stop what I was doing during them. I took a quick shower and tried to get dressed. The contractions were so frequent it took forever to do anything. Steve brought me some toast and I sat down on the bed after my shower to eat.

I felt like this was going to happen really fast so I called Merka (my doula) and Nicole (my midwife) at about 7 to let them know what was happening. Nicole said the contractions would probably space out again and to keep her posted.

I sat down in my rocking chair and tried to relax and focus. The sun was bright and beautiful in the window, and I was so excited to be having my baby. I rocked and listened to one of my hypnobabies scripts, Easy First Stage I think.

I found it hard to time my contractions and relax so I called Merka to help me. While Merka was on her way over I had several really strong contractions so I called Nicole back and asked to come to the birth center; she said she'd meet us there in 30 minutes (8:30). Merka came over and timed a few contractions; they were 5 minutes apart. I felt like I must be in active labor and wanted to be in the tub.

8:30 - on our way to the Birth Center

But when we got to the birth center Nicole said she wanted me to wait to get into the tub because I was GBS positive and we suspected my water my have broken. We did a hybiclens wash and I had to lay in bed for a while, which was very uncomfortable. My contractions were still very close together, but when Nicole checked me shortly thereafter I was only dilated to 5 centimeters.

I tried several positions (rocking chair, birth ball, etc.) and I tried to get into deep hypnosis, but I couldn't concentrate and relax. I was too antsy. Merka read me a hypnosis script and that really helped. I felt myself slip deeply into hypnosis for the first time that day.

Around 11
I wanted to help Lucia move down, so Steve, Nolan and I went for a walk outside, up and down the sidewalk in the parking lot. Luckily it was a Saturday so there was no one around to see me in my pj's. The sun and wind felt so good on my back as I rocked back and forth during contractions. Nolan practiced balancing, walking up and down the parking lot curbs.

I started to get frustrated again that I couldn't get in the tub (we were sure my water had broken by this point) so Merka suggested I get in the shower. Steve and Nolan came in the bathroom with me and Steve ran the shower. The only way I could get comfortable was in a hands and knees position, and then suddenly things got really intense. I started to moan through the contractions and felt like things (the pain) was getting ahead of me. At some point I asked for Merka to come help me with hypnosis.

Nicole came in and said I was probably in transition so they ran the bath for me. The contractions were so strong. That kind of intensity is hard to explain, but it blocks out anything other than that moment and that contraction. I was having a hard time staying calm but the water felt so good; I could float and let my whole body relax. Merka was there and had her hand firmly on my head, saying "relax" and other cues to help me cope. Her voice and hand on my head was my focus and it helped me so much. It was like my anchor to the real world. I think transition passed really quickly, like in less than 5 contractions but I'm not sure. They were very intense. I started to feel like I needed to push.

I don't think I was in the tub very long before they told me Lucia's heart rate was really slow and I had to get out of the tub. I remember hearing her heart on the monitor and thinking how strange it sounded. It wasn't the normal gallop of a baby's heartbeat, it was slow like an adult's.

2:30
They helped me get in the bed and I was very unhappy to be out of the tub. But the only way they could keep Lucia's heart rate up was to have me on my back. I started to feel the need to push again, so I started to push. They had me try different positions (side, hands and knees) but the only position that Lucia liked was flat on my back. I remember saying something about this being a stupid position to push a baby in. But pushing felt so good, it was quite a relief from transition.

I found out later that Lucia didn't turn her head like she should have as she came through my pelvis, so it made it very hard for me to push her through. It took 1.5 hours, and I think I scared Nicole a bit. She said later that every time I pushed Lucia's head would swell more and more, but she wouldn't come down. But I had no idea this was happening at the time; my midwives were so calm and supportive. They kept telling me I was doing a good job and coaching me on how to get her out. I remember opening my eyes a sliver every so often and seeing my amazing midwives circled around the bed in the afternoon sunlight.

I wanted to be done pushing so badly. I kept focused on Merka's hand on my head and her voice. I was exhausted and couldn't open my eyes, but I just kept thinking that I wanted her out. I wanted Steve in the room but I didn't want Nolan in there, so they waited until Lucia was crowning before they went and got Steve (who was caring for Nolan).

Finally at 3:57 Lucia was born. I felt her crowning and the ring of fire which was surreal. It scared me but they told me to push through it. That may have been the hardest part for me, feeling that stretch and choosing to keep pushing. I was very exhausted and couldn't open my eyes, so when her head and shoulders came out Nicole told me to reach down and catch my baby girl. I got her under the armpits and pushed one more time. She was so slippery! I pulled her to my chest, so exhausted and elated. She was so incredibly warm and heavy on my chest. I remember peaking my eyes open and seeing Steve there next to the bed. Lucia was very purple, but fine. They brought in some oxygen for her to breathe while I rubbed and held her.

8:00 PM
Just a few hours later, after everyone was fed, cleaned and checked, the four of us went home. By then it was dark and cold outside. As we drove both of our sweet kids fell asleep in the back seat.

Pictures
 

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Congratulations! What a beautiful family. I'm so glad that you had a good birth supported by those you love. Nolan's face looks so excited in that family picture. Your husband looks so proud. You, of course, look tired, but content. I'll have to remember to get out the fuzziest, coziest clothes that I can to cuddle everyone in after my birth. You all look too cute! Best wishes for a wonderful babymoon!
 
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