Note: I wrote most of this a week ago. I'm now holding an 11-day-old baby in my lap. I know it's my last baby and I'm just soaking him in, so unfortunately I can't seem to finish a blog post.
I'm sitting here holding a beautiful 4-day-old baby in my lap. I'm so overwhelmed with love and joy and gratitude. He's perfect. I mean, he sleeps all day and stays up all night, but I'm actually pretty ok with that. I am treasuring every moment I have with this little love, my last baby.
I am not sure where to start his birth story. I guess I can start it on the evening of his due date, which is also when I wrote my last post. I had been having irregular, mild contractions all evening. I went to bed, and tossed and turned a lot from contractions, waking up briefly occasionally, but always falling back asleep easily until about 5:30. I got up and started timing the contractions, and found to my surprise that they were pretty regular, about 10 minutes apart, but not painful at all. They felt like pretty mild menstrual cramps.
I had to get the family up before 8 so everyone could get where they needed to go. Wednesday mornings are always a bit crazy for us, since it's the only day the kids have school in the morning. Also, even though I've given the au pair our schedule, times when I expect her to be "on the clock", and list of things that need to get done, she was not up yet, so I had to get everyone ready for school and get my husband up, etc. Also, the cleaners were coming at 9:30 and the place was a disaster, so I was desperately trying to pick up toys and wash dishes and put things away, too. I wasn't able to really pay attention to the contractions, much less notice them, in all the crazy hustle and bustle. I got the kids and au pair out the door, and husband decided to work from home in case labor was imminent. I kept cleaning while he told me to take it easy. Finally, the house was ready, the au pair was back, and I didn't seem to be having contractions anymore . While the au pair and I waited for the cleaners, I installed the carseat and packed a few last-minute things in our hospital bags, then we left to run errands
We went to the bank and the cell phone store without incident. Since we still had some time to kill, and we hadn't really had breakfast, we stopped at a cafe for a coffee and we sat and chatted for a bit. Finally, around 11 am, we headed home. We arrived just as the cleaners were leaving. As I headed down the hallway to our bedroom, at 11:15 am, I felt a twinge of pain and a weird popping sensation, and it felt almost like I had peed on myself, even though I knew I hadn't. I shouted to my husband that my water had broken. I wasn't really sure what to do, if you can believe that! I had prepared for a lot of things, but I was expecting to be having contractions, and possibly be in active labor before my water broke. I had no idea what to do when it just broke out of the blue.
I ran around looking for my folders from the hospital and my phone and texting with my doula. Earlier she had told me that contractions can stop and start and early labor can last for days, so it was a good sign but I should prepare for nothing to happen. She was surprised by my call about my water breaking. I called the OBGYN office and they put me on hold, then finally told me to come in and get checked out, but to expect to be going back home since I was most likely in very early labor. Contractions started pretty strongly while I was on the phone, 6-7 minutes apart. We packed up the car, left instructions with the au pair, notified the doulas, and headed to the hospital. We arrived around noon, where we were told the OB was performing a c-section and it might be a short wait, but that most likely we'd get sent home after she checked me out. The nurses hooked me up to the monitors and we watched my contractions on a screen.
Contractions started getting stronger and slightly closer together by the time the doctor showed up a little after 1 pm. She didn't want to do a cervical check since the amniotic sac had ruptured, so she tried to take a look with a sterile speculum. She said she couldn't see much since fluid was still gushing out, but she would guess I was in very early labor and I was dilated at most to 1 cm. She said she would send me home except for the Group B Strep, so it would be better to stay and start the antibiotics. She warned that if I were not in active labor within 18 hours, I'd have another c-section, and when I asked for a room with a birthing tub, she said I needed to wait until I was a lot further along.
So I got settled in for what I expected to be a long wait, feeling a bit nervous about the prospect of another c-section hanging over my head. The doula told me that it sounded like I was still in very early labor and should get some rest while I could, and recommended lying down for a while. Contractions were getting pretty painful while we watched a little TV, and I remember telling my husband that I might want a c-section after all. I mean, if early labor were THIS painful, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do the entire thing. Around 2:30 I told my husband it was time to call the doulas. I was concerned about how much pain I was having, and just nervous in general about the birth. Every time he tried to rub my shoulder while I had a contraction, I had to fight the urge to tell him to stop pushing on me. I knew it was early, but I had lost all confidence in my plan for a VBAC without an epidural. I needed back-up for sure.
The first doula arrived a little after 3pm, and the second one probably closer to 3:30. First I stayed in bed, and the first doula tried to get me to relax through my contractions. When the second doula arrived, they got me out of bed, and had me sit on a rocking chair. I was in a LOT of pain at that point. They wanted me to vocalize, but the best I could do was whimper piteously. The contractions were SO strong that I couldn't relax. After only a few more contractions, they suddenly became much stronger and felt different. They seemed like they were lasting much longer, and I couldn't sit still through them. I felt like I needed to poop, and found myself pushing up out of the rocking chair. I could see the really concerned looks on the doulas faces. I wanted to ask what was wrong, if something seemed not normal, but I couldn't get any words out I was in so much pain.
After two of these really strong contractions, I was scared and finally managed to squeeze out "I feel like I need to push" before another contraction hit. It was true. I was not actively or consciously pushing at all, but it felt like my body had taken over and was trying to push. It was almost 4 pm. The doulas decided to call the nurse to check my cervix. The nurse came and asked me to climb onto the bed. I could barely do it in between contractions. When I did, she took one look and shouted "His head is right here! Get the doctor!!!! Call the doctor!! Is someone getting the doctor?!?!"
The doctor arrived in a rush, and now there was calling for the respiratory therapist, since there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid. The doctor took a look and told me I could feel free to push with my contractions - like I could have stopped if I wanted to! After a couple contractions, she told me that she wanted 4-5 good pushes with each contraction. It was so hard. I could really feel his head right there, but I couldn't seem to push hard enough to get it out. Everyone was cheering me on, despite the general chaos (well, it seemed chaotic to me). I don't know exactly how many more contractions I had or how many pushes, but 15 minutes flew by really quickly and I could feel the baby's head crowning and then it was out! One more push and I felt his body slide out, and the umbilical cord, which was a weird feeling.
He was immediately placed on my chest, the most amazing feeling in the world. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. And some pain, as the nurse pushed on my stomach and the afterbirth was delivered very shortly after the baby. I vaguely remember the doctor mentioning that most of the blood was no longer in the cord so it could be cut, and I suppose my husband cut it. I was too busy enjoying my sweet precious babe, who had immediately found his thumb and stuck it in his mouth. He was so beautiful.
I got to hold him for at least an hour before they weighed and measured him. He nursed and sucked his thumb and looked around. It took a little while for me to stop shaking - from the hormones and the cold and the pain. None of that feels like it matters now. My memory of that time is a treasure. It was a beautiful, spiritual experience. It wasn't at all what I had imagined in my head, but it was perfect. I'm so happy with how it went.
I've spent a lot of time in the last 11 days just holding my baby. I want to appreciate every moment and breathe in his sweet scent. He's a calm baby, very mellow so far, easy in a way that Tadpole and Turtle weren't. And of course there's only one of him. I know now how quickly it goes. I know how much I should savor this time in my life. I want to keep writing here to record these beautiful years with my 5-year-old twins and my brand new baby, and so I will do the best I can. The records I have of my last pregnancy and the twins' early years are so special to me.
So now we're a happy family of five. I'll post pictures soon =)