It took awhile to get this written...
Weeks of pre-labor... Not long or hard pre-labor, but still.
Contractions for weeks.
I expected it this time since I had it with Aila, welcomed it actually since my last labor fared so well. But... contractions for weeks will wear you down. Kids will wear you down.
Every night, I'd tuck my cuties into bed Then go sit in mine- heating pad, IPad, Olympics... Check, check and check. Contractions, cramping, exhaustion... Cheeeeeeeck!
I worried that labor would progress a bit too rapidly once it began for real, and while I wasn't that freaked out about accidentally having the baby at home, the logistics of it all had me nervous. I willed myself to keep her "in" until my mom arrived on Saturday, February 15th because I needed to know that my kids were not coming with me to the hospital! I mean it too- I have this gift of deciding it is okay to let my labor kick in. She arrived Saturday evening and Sadie was born Sunday morning (just as Aila had been born 4 years ago).
It was all horribly wonderful again.
Around 11 pm, I was watching the Olympics (it was truly my nighttime ritual) and some light contractions began. They were long and pinchy, but not really painful. It almost felt like persistent indigestion, and with my heating pad, I fell asleep not expecting much. I woke up to pee around 2 hours later, and told Aaron that I was still having some regular contractions, but went back to bed. He came to bed about 30 minutes later and AS SOON AS he got into bed, I sat upright and said "yep!"
My water had broken.
It was mostly a trickle. I checked for cord prolapse, etc. and there was none, my contractions were still mild and far apart so I told Aaron to try to sleep. He'd need to be rested for constant counter-pressure and massages though I still think he got the "better" end of the stick ;) My adrenaline kicked in so I got up and started running around doing random chores, because I didn't need rest for my marathon, I guess...
About an hour and a half went by. Contractions intensified and moved to 5-6 minutes apart. I drank my raspberry leaf tea, breathed, relaxed. Eventually I decided we'd better go (hospital is an hour away). My children stayed warm in their beds since my mom had arrived!
We left the house around 5:30 am. I was annoyed at the constant trickle of fluid, but I was feeling relaxed and positive. On the way, we stopped at a gas station and I actually had to use the bathroom... in labor... Thank goodness no other customers were in the store to see my pained expression and amniotic fluid wet pants!It all seemed totally ridiculous.
When we arrived at the hospital, the usual stuff commenced, labor slowed down as I sat hooked to the monitor for awhile and figured out that my doctor would probably not be available because of a personal emergency. Still though, I felt calm and relaxed, if uncomfortable.
After an hour or what felt like 10, I met my new nurse Emily who was a heaven-sent, natural birth-loving doll who I could tell would advocate for me if Dr. McD didn't make it (my ob is also phenomenal, even in absentia). She got me off the monitor so I could move around and Aaron and I settled in.
Over the next hour, I alternated between side-lying and sitting on the toilet. With each contraction, I let myself go limp and breathed low and deep. Aaron was a wonderful- breathing, counter-pressures, water, support. We really knew what to expect this time.
I could feel baby moving down. Contractions continued to increase in length and intensity, which totally sucks, but is welcomed at the same time because, progress... Emily was ready for me to "jump" because of my history of transition directly into crowning and so were we. I could tell I was getting close when I started feeling panicky. When I transition, I just want everyone to get the hell off of me. Emily checked me and I wasn't complete so I got up and walked back into the bathroom. While I was in there, the labor team all showed up to set up. I just wanted to hide out in my safe little space with Aaron because everything was so intense. My legs started shaking so I asked Aaron to pin them down as I sat on the toilet and leaned back to relax. It is so hard to relax when you are shaking uncontrollably. "I just want it to be over" I remember saying through tears, but I also knew we were getting there.
I had been in the bathroom for ten minutes or so, feeling baby get progressively lower, my hips feel wider, my contractions blend together. The house ob, a tiny soft-voiced lady poked her head in and said "do you think maybe we should get you to the bed?" They were really worried about a toilet baby... I looked at Aaron and actually laughed. "Promise I won't drop her in the toilet, okay?" ob lady retreated.
Burning! Stretching! Pressure!!!
I was on all fours as Emily and Dr. W, my ob's coverage doc (bless him) BOTH asked me how I wanted to deliver. Part of me tucked this away as something to appreciate later, but at the time I felt like I couldn't move. Baby's head was lodged between my legs and I just didn't see how i was going to get my legs under me to squat like I had planned. I froze, wide-eyed and overwhelmed and yelled "this is fine!" They cranked up the back of the bed so I had something to lean on. I went up to as kneeling position and reached down to feel baby's head- there was so much pressure and I had a really hard time not gasping for breaths.
Aaron was at my right reassuring me and everyone encouraged me to relax and push when I was ready.
Somewhere inside, I pulled some energy and grunted and pushed and it felt like she shot out. That tremendous force was 'just' her head (her poor face had some bruising later because of her rapid descent). I pushed one more time and the rest of her emerged.
Tears! Relief! I heard her angel cries and leaned forward over the bed sobbing, so overwhelmed and tired. How the world can change with two pushes!!
I turned around and sat on the bed so I could see her for the first time.
My absolutely beautiful and perfect Sadie.
7 lbs, 7 ounces of blessing.
It was 8:48 am.
She snuggled into me for immediate skin-to-skin and latched on. I had forgotten how tiny those little searching mouths are. Eventually the cord was cut, I pushed out the placenta and was cleaned up, but she remained in my arms. No one rushed me and everyone was on a birth high. I had a very small tear but was given the choice to stitch it or leave it. I just waved my hand "it's fine". That was that.
The hospital was renovating the birth suites, so we changed rooms after a couple of hours of rest. I walked, holding Sadie, and as we passed the nursing station, they all smiled and congratulated me and honestly looked a little surprised to see me up. I felt fantastic- energetic and little to no discomfort aside from the raging afterbirth pains (holy $#%*) that come out of nowhere- definitely worse with each subsequent child.
She slept all afternoon and cluster-fed all night, a pattern that would die hard... and we went home the next morning. I never needed a sitz-bath, ice pack or anything stronger than ibuprofen once we left the hospital and I couldn't have asked for a better birth. The other day, Aaron casually mentioned that Sadie was the easiest birth. I giggled as if he could know and said she actually was not. I guess I have just gotten better at what he calls the zen master skills!
After I delivered Aila, I always said I didn't feel "finished"- that we would probably have another baby. I am not sure, but this might be it for us- we feel complete(er) if that makes sense. Here, 9 weeks out, it feels like she was always here. One day she looks like her big sister and then the next day like her brother, but I already see tiny glimpses of the little girl she will become. She is going to be fantastic :)