When the clock hit midnight July 23, a contracting pain in my back struck - thus the name contractions. My midwifes had been preparing me for what to expect so I would know it was a contraction and not just another random pain of pregnancy. As they said, it felt much like extreme menstrual cramps that radiated from my back to my front. I told Chris and he said, "That's great! You should get some sleep!" He wasn't being a jerk, this is what the midwives and doulas had suggested. But it wasn't going to happen for me. I went for a walk.
My brother who was in town for the weekend and staying up late on the computer saw me walk out the door. He caught up with me quickly.
"Everything okay? Whatcha doin?"
"I think I'm in labor."
"What?! What are we doing out here?! Don't we need to do something?!"
He hadn't taken the "centering" courses Chris and I had that kept us a little bit calmer. I told him that walking is good to do in early labor and because this was my first pregnancy it would probably take several hours before going into late labor. Then I changed the subject to just talk with him. He would be leaving for Ukraine in just two weeks so I wanted to have good bonding time.
I came home to lay in bed for a little while; not sleeping but just thinking and contracting. I downloaded an application on my iPhone that helped time contractions. In retrospect I should have bought this application before going into labor and should have bought the full version rather than buying the free version that only allowed me to track a certain amount of contractions. This application was extremely helpful when answering the midwife's questions about my labor.
In the meantime I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom, scrubbed the bathtub, and actually so much is a blur I don't remember what I did till 4 m when I finally called the birthing center. I spoke to the sleepy midwife on-call who felt I was a little too calm to be in labor. But my contractions were around 6 minutes apart and strong. She told me I could probably hold out a little longer. So I attempted to rest for an hour and called her again when they were 4 minutes apart. Another woman was in the birthing center giving birth so she said I could come in when I wanted since there would be people there anyway.
I took a shower and woke my mom to tell her what was going on. She braided my hair. It's so wonderful to have my mom braid my hair. My mother was the one to braid my hair when I was a child. Even into adulthood it has been a soothing experience to have my mamma braid my hair just as she did when I was a little girl.
Chris and I got in the Jeep around 7:00 am with the empty car seat in the back and headed to the Taco Cabana near the birthing center, all the way timing my contractions.
I had some doubts this whole time...was this really it? It felt different then anything before, but I just had this feeling it wasn't really the time. Perhaps I was just fearful and it manifested itself in doubt. I texted my friend Felicia who said she would photograph the birth, to tell her that we were headed to the birthing center and she could take her time coming up there when she was ready. I expressed my doubt to her. But she told me not to worry, it was time.
I had a couple flautas at Taco C and vomited them quickly. Another sign of labor. So we headed over to the birthing center to meet with the midwife. She checked me out and I was indeed more dilated than she expected. I've since heard that many of the women who have gone to Centering classes have remained calm during their labor and confused midwives into thinking they were not very far along. So I continued my early labor in the beautiful birthing center room. Chris was by my side the whole time.
Chris massaged my back through the contractions. I laid on a birthing ball for a while to relieve some of the pressure. We did something like a middle school dance for a while that also helped with the pressure. Then eventually I laid on the bed and rested. Every time I contracted I would tap him on the arm without talking and he would massage my back. (Okay maybe it was more like a loving punch in the arm.) I was starting to look a little too pale and throwing up frequently so they put me on a liquids through IV.
My mom came in at some point, too. She sat on the other side of me and just softly rubbed myarms as I asked her to do. This was something she and my dad would do for me as a little girl to help me sleep. Of course, it didn't put me to sleep, but it did help relax me. I even stopped telling Chris I was contracting so he thought I had stopped having contractions. But they were still there and still strong, I just finally was able to bear the pain a bit better.
Eventually a new midwife, Vicki, was on duty. She checked me out and I was dilated enough that I was beginning heavy labor. The assistant filled the bathtub and I got in. I was in that tub from noon till about 2:30. The pushing was difficult. Chris was behind me the whole time holding my arms up in the tub. At one point he was shaking so much I asked, "why are YOU shaking!?" He said his arms were going to sleep!
After two and a half hours I just wasn't progressing enough. The position wasn't working for me. Vicki, who had been sitting there with me the entire time, told the assistant to get out the birthing stool. I was really hoping for a water birth, but at this point I cared more about getting the baby out than having a pretty water birth for the photo books. So I got on the stool as she suggested and started pushing. I was feeling extremely weak and having trouble breathing so the assistant gave me oxygen - that really helped clear my head and let me focus better. Then things really started moving.
Chris supported me from behind the whole time. He had one of his hands on my belly and he said he could feel the foot in my belly start moving down.
After maybe 30 minutes on the stool the baby's head started to come out. Vicki suggested I get up on the bed (to reduce the chances of tearing, I found out later), but I couldn't do it. I didn't want to get up and just wanted to get the baby out. So I took some big pushes and out the baby came!
My first words were: "THAT FELT SO WEIRD!"
The midwife sitting on the floor caught the baby and the assistant helped wipe her down and handed her straight to me as they both cleared the mouth so she could breathe.
I said, "Hello baby, I'm your mommy." Then I looked down at her and asked "Are you a boy or a girl?" Chris took her legs and tried to separate them frantically but gently to find the answer and said, "It's a girl."
He had tears in his eyes. I was so happy in that moment. We embraced and never in our lives had we felt so close.
After just a few minutes they asked me to get on the bed so I could deliver the placenta and get the cord cut.. They asked Chris to cut the cord, but I suppose he was so overwhelmed at just looking at the baby on my chest that he told my mother she could do it. She cried and her hands shook as she proudly cut the cord. I had a considerable amount of tearing ... the baby's head was 15 and 1/4 inches around! So Vicki sat on the bed to sew me back up while Chris and I just admired our little baby who sat on my chest.
Family sat on the other side of the door anxious to get in, but Vicki insisted we be alone with the baby till I was done being worked on. It was a little painful despite the topical numbing drugs they gave me before she began the stitches, but having Baby A helped distract from the pain.
After they cleaned up the room and me up a bit, they allowed family and friends in. Everyone took their turn holding the precious baby. Neill brought me McDonalds that I tried to eat but felt too excited to eat. While everyone was present, Vicki measured Adelaide and checked her out. What a joyous moment it was when the scale said TEN POUNDS. Everyone cheered, giving me a little nod of respect.
When everyone had left I got up to use the bathroom for the first time and I fainted. They quickly got me into bed to give me an IV and oxygen. Vicki insisted I eat more and drink a whole smoothie that Chris prepared in the birthing center's kitchen. I simply lost more blood than normal while giving birth and it just took me a couple hours to feel better.
So she was born at 3:12 pm and around 9:00 pm that same day we headed home with her in the car seat of the Jeep.