Where To Begin...
So much to catch up on after three weeks away! I've missed you all but I really enjoyed all of my guest bloggers' posts and was really inspired by their tutorials and links. I'm so thankful for their willingness to fill in for me while I focused on our new little girl. Jen, Jenny, Ashley, Ruby, Mandi, Vivs, Candace and Dylan, thank you for the gift of time! Now it's time to share how it all went down.
Unlike my first pregnancy, warm up contractions with Ruby started around 36 weeks and grew more frequent the closer we got to the 38-39 week mark. After two or three days of thinking 'this is it' and frantically cleaning the whole house, Brett and I decided to take a step back from the edge of insanity and go on with life as normal until the contractions stopped me in my tracks with seriousness. My due date rolled around, family came in from out of town, and the contractions maintained their teasing.
I woke up in the morning on Saturday, November 7th with the Black Eyed Peas song 'I've Got A Feeling' running through my mind. I tweeted about it, ate breakfast, and then watched Sebastian play in the front yard. It was a gorgeous Fall day. Around 10:30 a.m. I felt a contraction that made me sit up straight and wince a little. Two strong contractions later and I decided it was time to record them. Sure enough, they were coming regularly about 6-8 minutes apart and lasting about 20-30 seconds. I told Brett but we decided he probably still had plenty of time to go to the YMCA with Sebastian to get in a workout. I was off to take a shower and get the house picked up. Just in case.
He hadn't even pulled into the parking lot of the YMCA before I called him to come home for moral support because my contractions were about five minutes apart and getting stronger. The next 40 minutes were nuts. I was ordering him around with jobs to do while I wiped down counter tops, cleaned the bathroom sink, picked up the studio, and put away laundry. I knew I only had about five minutes of work in between each contraction so I made sure I was always somewhere that I could squat and relax my muscles. We finally called the midwife and nurse around 12:30p.m. and then called my dad to tell him to text my mom that I was in labor. She was currently 40,000 feet in the air on her way to see us!
Our nurse, Beth, showed up at the house while Brett was getting the laboring tub filled up with water. She checked my vitals and then helped Brett with the tub. My contractions were now strong enough that I needed to lie down to manage them and asked Brett to stay close to offer counter pressure on my lower back where I felt the most pain. He was great and remembered exactly how to help me through them. I really felt like we were a team working to bring this baby out. Twenty minutes later Brett's mom and then the midwife arrived.
I got into the laboring tub soon after as my back pain was getting pretty intense and was able to relax in the warm water by hooking my arms over the side and relaxing my stomach and back muscles. Despite having learned a few pain management methods, the only things that worked for me were counter pressure on my lower back, visualizing the wave of each contraction, and low deep moans. I sound like a water buffalo when I'm having a baby. The midwives didn't need a monitor to show when they started and stopped because I was providing plenty of audio in that department.
I felt the urge to 'go to the bathroom' but didn't want to get out of the water. Lori told me it might make me more comfortable if I tried so after a contraction I was helped out of the tub and towards the bathroom (dripping wet in my skivvies and sports bra) and had another four contractions in about two minutes. Beth later reminded me that changing positions brings them on faster. Once I got back in the tub things got serious and I started feeling like I couldn't do it any longer. The pressure was getting stronger and I knew I was in transition. My water broke and relieved a little pressure but I was starting to need some direction from my midwives who had stayed pretty hands off until that point. Lori told me I needed to decide where that baby was going to be born. In the tub or in my bed.
It was a short walk from the tub to my bed but the significance of changing locations with each stage of labor wasn't lost on me. We were getting closer! Lori checked me for the first time to see how far along I was and enthusiastically told me I was at 10 cm and could push when I was ready. The problem was I wasn't ready.
I got on all fours to let gravity help me along and could feel an incredibly sharp pain in my lower back that made me want to yell, "Just pull her out!" Brett wasn't allowed to counter pressure any more since it could work against her moving down the birthing canal. I remember everyone being on the bed around me encouraging me to bear down and push through with each contraction. I was very aware of the sounds outside, the cold wash cloth being held to my forehead, my hair being a complete mess, and the bright sunshine that filled the room. It was beautiful but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to push her out. I was suddenly scared of the pain.
I finally got rolled onto my back again and in a matter of minutes I was moaning and groaning and yelling and finally able to push. Brett told me one second he couldn't see anything and the next second her head was out! Another push and at 3:46 p.m. she was mine. All 9 lbs of her! She was placed on my stomach and Brett cut the cord and other than being slightly blue when she came out, scored 9's and 10's on her Apgar. She was a loud little thing, just like her Mama. Labor lasted five hours and sixteen minutes and I know it's because those weeks of contractions had done a lot of the hard work beforehand. My mom arrived thirty minutes after she was born. We did the usual weighing, measuring, smiling like fools, and enjoying the natural high that comes with a new life in the room.
Our midwives stayed until about 9:00 p.m. that night making sure we were stable, giving us post-natal instructions, helping Ruby and I get a sitz bath, washing our sheets and towels, emptying the laboring tub, making sure we took to nursing, and sharing stories about other births. It felt so warm and comfortable and familial and Brett and I felt so thankful to have had the birthing experience we were hoping for.
Recovery has been speedy thanks to some homeopathic remedies and plenty of help from family, and despite being sleep deprived and smelling of milk and spit up most of the time, we are completely enjoying life with a newborn.