"Every pregnancy is different." We remind each other of this fact often, but despite that, still look for patterns in our own to make them more predictable. It's hard waiting and not knowing. This pregnancy reminded me of that very strongly. My body followed its pattern of earlier symphysis pubis dysfunction and earlier prodromal labor--but not earlier labor itself. The baby inside me settled differently, responded to stimuli differently and, in general, was as unpredictable as could be.
I assumed on the 'safe' side, that I would have a day-long labor as I've had in the past. Well, right from the start, my actual labor started differently--it started at night. Around 9:20 pm or so. I just figured it was more false labor, but the contractions were intense enough that after a few hours of it, I texted Tara, my doula and turned on my contraction timer and recorded that they were averaging approximately a minute every 3 minutes.
I danced around to music and sang a little bit. My contractions were only really bearable when I was standing or dancing, so it seemed like the best thing to do. I couldn't get baby to drop and my labor pains moved around into my back a bit and down my legs--things I'd heard about, but never experienced myself before. I figured the dancing was still helpful anyway.
I posted on Facebook a few times, to keep everyone in the loop as promised, then decided I had to have a shower around midnight. I got into the shower and sat down, letting the water fill the tub and rain down warm on me. The contractions broke a little, but did not become less intense. I still felt better for having it. I put on a Poise panty just in case, so I could just go to bed and not worry about making a mess with my water.
I tried to get some sleep, as I'd advised Tara. I had a strong feeling that I was definitely in labor. I'd been tricked once before, so I still questioned it repeatedly, but I wanted to be rested as much as possible regardless. I was very glad I'd made the kids let me take a nap earlier. Off and on, I used the hypnobirthing/hypnobabies wrist drop while breathing through contractions and while I wasn't able to do anything involving the 'hypno' part, it still helped, surprisingly.
I woke up to contractions off and on and started chanting positive messages: "I'm fine." "It's the baby; I'm going to have a baby." "I can do this." "I've done this before." At first, they were just in my head, but I started having to breathe them out as it got harder to tolerate them while being so tired. Eventually, they became verbal and I decided I was too loud and gave up on sleeping, trying to let my family get as much as they could.
Every time I went to the bathroom, it was terribly painful from the pressure of the baby and I finally couldn't take doing it all on my own anymore, so a little after 6am, I called Tara and told her that I needed her. I had tried to make it at least until 7, but I wanted her there as soon as possible and I knew she would take about an hour to get everything ready to go. My bloody show was becoming more and more red and it seemed a good sign that things were progressing.
I called and left a message at the birth center that we were having a baby today, but didn't want to call and wake up Rachel herself when I was so sure I still had half a day left or so.
Tara came and we talked for a little bit, then I dozed on the couch off and on between contractions while she stayed next to me, dozing on the labor ball that I just could not stand to use more than to squish baby down a bit. She helped me get through more intense contractions and I returned to chanting my positive messages when I wanted to scream.
A few times, I did howl and yell, but I tried to turn it into singing, goofy sounds or more positive words when I could. My family woke up and Brandon made the kids breakfast. I was torn between starving and so nauseated I didn't want to eat. Tara had retrieved a bucket, just in case, but thankfully, I never used it. The birth center returned my call to see what was going on, but I wasn't able to talk, so I gave the phone to Tara.
Transition hit hard and fast around 10:45 or so. The birth center called back again and talked to Tara to assess where I was in labor. Tara confirmed that I was definitely in labor and that things were going quickly. Neither of us had really recognized transition yet, but my contractions had doubled and I wasn't tolerating them much anymore. I kept trying to chant my positive phrases, but I was shouting them and crying.
I was afraid of how intense it was getting, flashing back to Naomi's labor. Nausea had taken any desire to eat away and I wanted the birth pool, which I cried into Tara's shoulder as I held onto her and we swayed through a contraction. She called and told Rachel to fill it, who said she wanted to wait and check me first (which I figured, since I'd always had slower labors).
I lost all my positive and started crying that I couldn't do it, things were too hard, it was killing me, etc. and Tara just stayed positive, just as I'd asked and told me I was just in transition and it was almost over. She and Brandon got the girls ready and all the stuff out to the van while she continued to support me every couple minutes in between. Everything seemed to be flying, suddenly.
Then as we were walking me out, I grabbed Tara, falling into a contraction (to which, I had begun pleading and occasionally screaming in shock) and told her I was feeling pushy. It was a strange, half-feeling, but I knew it very well and instead of the joy with which I announced it with Naomi, it was a half-panic. She asked if she should call Rachel to come and do it here, but I was determined to get to the big, blue pool and was sure I could make it the barely 10 minute drive.
Before I could put on my seatbelt, another contraction left me screaming and arching and my water broke. I yelled at Brandon to buckle me in and hurry and that my water had broken. I started apologizing before contractions, because I knew I couldn't not scream through them. But more, 3 minutes into the drive, I was pushing and couldn't stop.
Brandon sped, worrying about being pulled over, but worrying more about not making it to the Birth Center. He kept telling me that he didn't know why I was apologizing, that I was okay. I just kept doing it--it had become a mantra. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I was writhing in the seat, trying to get away from the intense pressure on my perineum. I knew it was the baby's head and I didn't want to sit on her.
We pulled up to the ramp and Brandon ran out and banged on the door to get the midwife while I unlocked the doors as Tara ran up and unbuckled. I arched away from the seat, screaming that I was crowning, the baby was here, I was going to sit on her! When Rachel opened the door (Tara meant to call her to let her know we were on the way, but things had just moved so fast right before we left, we forgot plenty in the whirlwind), she heard and saw me and ran out, Sheena following behind.
Then she told me what I knew and didn't want to hear--I needed to get out of the van and into the Birth Center. I howled that I couldn't and she argued with me. The second there was a lull, I was being pulled out of the van and supported to the ramp. Due to my weight, I'm always nervous about people supporting me, so I was terrified that I couldn't do it. I made it almost up the ramp and then collapsed onto my hands and knees as another contraction caused my body to push and push hard!
I continued to argue with them that I couldn't get to the door as I tried to do what I knew had to be done. Just a few more feet, but my contrary birthing brain kept arguing grumpily at them (which was how I was able to keep going--that fighting urge).
"It's too cold to have the baby out here!" I heard Rachel say and I forced my hands and legs to crawl me in the door. I chewed Rachel out for not filling the pool for me and yelled that I wanted it. They started filling it while Rachel apologized, pointing out that none of us expected me to be going so fast! Later, when I had access to logic again, I'd know that there was no chance I would ever have got in the water anyway--I couldn't stand up to get in! I could barely move my legs and my uterus had a mind of its own.
I was pestered toward the bed, but I finally called it and just worried about crawling out of my pants and Poise panty (which had contained my entire water mess, hooray!), then lifted up one leg and reached down as I screamed while my body pushed again and I felt something soft and strange, but hard at the same time, coming out of my body.
I wondered if I was feeling buttocks instead of a head and asked what was coming out of me. There was a questioning, "Maybe your bag of waters?" as people shuffled to see, but I just kept wanting to know what I was feeling. Then the rest came out and I realized it was my baby's head just as someone told me that was what it was!
I couldn't see Brandon and I yelled for him and a camera. I had kept meaning to ask for pictures during labor, but it wasn't to be, things just went far faster than I expected. Instead, it was going the way we had hoped (only a little faster at the end than I meant!). Brandon appeared and pictures were taken, though it was Tara taking them.
The kids were playing in the lobby/living area of the Birth Center and totally missed the actual birth because I screamed one more time and my baby girl flew out of me. I looked down in shock and couldn't actually comprehend that I was looking at my baby. I was very confused. A closed-eyed baby was in my hand, very still. Someone mentioned that the cord needed to be moved off her neck and it was. I heard someone say it was 11:42 when Rachel asked for the time.
After a moment, I realized that she wasn't moving as they rubbed at her and brought over the oxygen. I rubbed with them and started down, still in shock, responding mechanically. I said, "I had a baby!" in surprise as I finally absorbed that it was my baby in my hand, not breathing. Then she gave some coughs and started writhing as I yanked off my shirt and pulled her to my body, still attached to me. I looked at her ginger hair and grey eyes and noted what a round little chubber she was.
My body contracted again and I felt something coming out. I reached down and birthed my placenta, setting it on the floor. It was still partly inside, so Rachel was looking at it and waiting for it to finish. She said to give a little cough and it would finish coming, but I told her I couldn't do anything right at that moment. My body was tired and barely listening to me, though that was too much to convey.
I felt okay after a moment and gave a little push and the rest came out. I realized I'd had a lotus birth in the back of my mind, but now I was too interested in the baby I was holding. I also noted that my placenta looked to be much smaller than Naomi's.
I mentioned that Lilly should be called in to cut the cord and the girls were brought into the room to see their new sister. Lilly asked a ton of questions as Sheena opened the clamps and scissors kit and we answered her. Lilly cut the cord, though it took her a few tries to get all the way through. I examined it in fascination both before and during the whole process.
The baby had covered one of the towels in meconium shortly after being born but was mostly clean all over from all the rubbing to get her breathing. I was helped to get into the bed and snuggle with my naked baby. She and I just stared at each other for a while. I was super weak from the intensity of everything that had just happened and she was so chill that I didn't offer to nurse her. We just looked at each other, both of us surprised. She was so quiet and calm and we realized her purple complexion on one side was due to a bruise when looking for birth marks (she had none).
Her head was perfectly round, which made sense since she went from feeling high in my belly to shooting through my pelvis in only 11 minutes. Only four minutes passed from us arriving to her coming into the world outside of me. It was an hour before the shock wore off and she and I tried to nurse. I finally got her latched on (her rooting instinct hadn't kicked in) and her eyes went wide and she drank enthusiastically, looking more surprised every time she sucked and got milk.
Time flew by after that and I was only half-aware of what was going on. When Tara was ready to leave, I asked that she stay and Brandon go to Subway to get me my celebratory turkey sandwich that I had so been looking forward to. So she did and took pictures during the newborn exam. Naomi got to trim the cord down and I finally got to find out how much the baby weighed--8lbs, 13 oz and she was 20" long.
I fuzzily did the math at just under 14 1/2 hours from beginning to end.
Brandon and I talked about names (he still had my list on his phone and when he brought up one of my favorites from the old list and paired it with my favorite from my new list as a middle name, I liked the combination) and texted Tara as soon as we'd decided, then I called my mom while Brandon posted on Facebook that we had chosen--without revealing the name.
He told his sisters, parents and one friend who texted with a good story as to why she deserved to know (and hadn't been a pest about it, so he was happy to tell her anyway). He had been pestered severely by coworkers for weeks for a name (that he wouldn't have told them had we known) so he took delight in keeping it to ourselves for most of the day.
I ended up with two stitches, before which, I got up to pee and Katarina Xylia cried for the very first time as she woke up without me. Immediately, Mommy instinct hit and I called out for someone to pick up the baby, but she wasn't totally content until she was given to her daddy (since I couldn't hold her right then). She knew him right away and settled back down.
I ate and was encouraged to nap some more after a failed attempt to go shower. I didn't make it to the shower (nearly fainted) and instead, the pool was filled back up for me to take a bath. It was heaven and I brought Katarina in and we bathed together. The moment she hit the water, she relaxed and slept against me, so content. It felt so wonderful.
I was encouraged to stay a bit longer and nap some more since I was barely able to walk. It took me longer than average to recover, since things had gone so fast after so little sleep and I wasn't feeling my body's cues, so I didn't know when I was hungry and thirsty. Once I was hydrated, fed again (pizza) and napped, I was able to get dressed and walk out, feeling much better. We went home around 7pm and my sister met us at home to make sure that there were two adults to help me into the house in case I nearly fainted again, but I did fine.
My fastest labor, my heaviest baby who was the calmest, most alert newborn baby I've ever seen. My first totally natural birth--it was intense, but amazing and everything went the way I'd wanted (except for the land birth, but that's what I get for hoping for a fast birth!). I'm feeling good and I have a little baby who likes to talk already (and two proud big sisters and a sleepy, proud Daddy holding Katarina as I typed this out).