This is long winded and slightly graphic, so really only geared towards my birth junkie friends out there ;) Happy reading!
Blogging is clearly not a top priority these days. I'm getting by with our beautiful newborn, aided by hot cups of tea, chocolate and lots of support from family and friends. That said, I'm excited to write down all the details of our daughter's birth, as I've now had four weeks to reflect on the events of October 17th, 2012.
The final weeks of this pregnancy were really tough for me. Which was surprising, given that I had no problem going over 40 weeks with my first pregnancy - in fact, I enjoyed all the "me" time spent at the movies, getting pedicures and prenatal massages.
For some reason, this time around, I really struggled to remain patient. Some physical challenges made it impossible for me to do much of anything except lie around on the couch moaning for Tom to fetch me what I needed. Tom had to take his parental leave early, because it got too hard for me to chase the 3 year old around.
So despite my misgivings about "messing" with nature, I was adament that I wanted a stretch and sweep at my 40 week appointment (if you want to know what a S&S does, check this out). My house was ready, my body felt ready, and I was desperate not to be pregnant for one more day.
The afternoon of October 16th, I visited my midwife and had the procedure done. I also had a really good cry in the clinic, and was reassured by my lovely caregiver that I would indeed go into labour, and no, I would not be pregnant forever. I think the emotional release paired with the membrane sweep helped to kick start things.
I immediately began having contractions on the drive home, and by dinner time, I was up and pacing the dining room while hubby and A ate their dinner. I knew something was up when my stomach told me to avoid the fettucine alfredo and opt for toast and yogurt instead. I still managed to lie down with A before bedtime, and her nighttime nursing brought on a whole new set of painful contractions.
By 8pm, contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long. They were painful enough that I had to get up and move through them, but I could still talk through some of the weaker ones. I texted my doula, and also my midwife. I wasn't sure what to do, as I knew that second labours could be quick, and I was already in a regular contraction pattern. My midwife advised me to get into the bath and see what happened. Sure enough, my contractions stopped the minute I began soaking in the warm water. Crestfallen, I made my way to bed, almost positive I was going to wake up the next morning still pregnant.
Hubby got to sleep quickly, and I made my way to the spare bedroom, as I still felt restless. As soon as I lied down, contractions began coming every 10 minutes, moving quickly to every 9, 8 and 7 minutes. Finally, I couldn't stand lying down anymore and decided to get out of bed. It was about 10:30pm.
The second my feet hit the floor, contractions were on top of me, about every 2 minutes. My endorphins hadn't kicked in yet, so this was probably the only time during the entire labour that I felt I wasn't coping well. I was alone in the basement (where we were going to labour, hoping to avoid waking A up), moaning loudly, and panicking slightly. I yelled for Tom to wake up, and he sleepily joined me downstairs while I cursed and complained. I called my doula and asked her what she thought - she asked me what I wanted to do, and worried it was still too early, I told her I'd call her back in half an hour. As soon as I hung up the phone I had a giant contraction. I called her right back and told her to come as soon as possible! Meanwhile, Tom phoned my midwife and let her know that things were progressing.
By midnight my support team had arrived and I was feeling much calmer. I managed contractions without too much difficulty, and still had time for a smile and a joke or two. Tom was busy filling up the birth pool, and my doula was providing wonderful hands-on support.
I soon decided it was time to get into the birth pool, only to realize we'd drained the hot water tank and cold water had been pumping into the pool. It was lukewarm at best, and Tom had to drain some of the water out and head up to the kitchen to boil some pots. I stayed in there anyway, and within about an hour, we had it back to a temperature that would be sufficient for the baby (should she be born in the water).
Somwhere around 1am I had my first urge to push. It wasn't strong, and when I began to try pushing, I had intense pain in my back and lower abdomen. My midwife checked me in the pool, and we realized I still had cervix left. We suspected baby was sunny-side up, which usually causes a premature urge to push, and also leads to pretty intense back pain. My midwife suggested I get out of the tub and try some different positions to help baby turn.
At this point I was going through transition and dry heaving into a bucket. The transfer out of the tub was super hard, and I remember repeating "I can do it" over and over in my head. After a while, and a bunch of position changes later, I finally had an uncontrollable urge to push, and knew that baby girl was finally on her way. I had been expecting my second stage this labour to be really quick, and I remember yelling "who told me this was going to happen in two pushes?!!" It certainly wasn't two pushes, but it also wasn't the epic 2 hour, 45 minute second stage I'd had with A.
By this time my second midwife had arrived, and my incredible photographer had been snapping shots for the past 2 hours. My midwives convinced me to move out of the bathroom (I was about to give birth on the bathroom floor, only because I didn't want to get up!), and I ended up side lying next to the fire. How romantic!!
My midwife asked my permission to break the bag of water when baby girl's head was crowning. As fascinating as it would have been to see her born in the caul, I was more than ready to have her born, and knew that the slippery bag of water was making pushing slightly longer. I gave my OK, and within minutes she was born. She cried before I even pushed her shoulders out, and it was the sweetest sound! Finally, at 2:44am, there she was on my chest.
The difference between this labour and my first was huge. I was entirely aware of my body this time around, and felt every little pain and discomfort (as well as every little joy!) I was also aware of my "doula-ing" everybody else, as in between contractions I was asking Tom to make coffee and defrost muffins. It was hard to ignore my desire to make everyone else happy, and I remember thinking (after the delay in my pushing and baby girl's OP position) "oh no! everyone is waiting for me to push her out so they can go home and get some sleep!" Silly, I know, but hard to ignore when you're a doula :)
In some ways, this birth was ten times easier than my last, and yet a lot harder. Because I was so aware of what was going on this time, I felt I had a lot of mental hurdles to get over as I progressed. I forgot how much it really, really hurts! Despite the pain, we were over the moon with our experience - the care we received from my midwives, our doula, and our fantastic photographer made this a night we will never forget.
Welcome to the world baby girl.