Labor began the morning after I wrote my "sick of waiting" blog post. After writing that post I called my most even-headed friend Nataki and told her "I need you to tell me all of that crap about how the baby will come when baby is ready. I just really need to hear it right now." Somewhere in-between those two sentences I started to cry. And if you know me, once I start crying it's hard to stop. True to form, Nataki calmly told me all of the stuff that I needed to hear. About how God was just putting His finishing touches on the baby and how with all that science knows about so many things, no one still really knows what signals labor. I had forgotten that part. After awhile of talking she asked if I would like her to pray for me and I said "Yes" and she prayed for me over the phone. It really meant a lot to me. I carried a lot of fears in my heart this pregnancy and it helped to just have someone pray for me to give my fears to God and get it out.
The next morning I woke up and pretty quickly noticed that I felt some increased pressure. After weeks of feeling basically nothing I was really delighted to feel something, even if it wasn't much. I would even have a little contraction here and there. Just feeling that little change reassured me that maybe I wouldn't be pregnant too much longer. Thank goodness!
I continued about my morning and continued to feel a mild contraction every once in awhile. Since it was Tuesday, I busied myself with getting the kids ready for our weekly park day at Memorial Park in Claremont. When we got to the park I was happy to see so many friends there and even my friend Therese who drove all the way down from Palmdale. I spent my time at the park walking circles in the tennis court and watching Adam throw his ball around. The gals even made fun of me as I walked by chanting some dorky tribal beat to the rhythm of my steps. That's friends for ya! During the two hours or so that we were there I continued to have a few contractions. Toward the end of our park visit the contractions picked up some in their intensity so I felt it was time to go home. I rousted the kids and got us back home by about 12:30.
At home I put Adam to bed and fed Frannie some lunch. I told her that when she woke up from her nap I was going to have Daddy take her and Adam to play over at Grandma Carol's house. Once I got her in bed for her nap I called Lori to give her a head's up that I was having some contractions although nothing serious. They were probably about 6 mins apart at this time. I also called Jason and let him know. At that point I still wasn't positive that I was in real labor like 'These Contractions Will Culminate In The Birth Of Your Baby Today' labor. I mean, I knew I felt something, but they still were so manageable and far apart enough that they could have easily gone away.
Even though I wasn't sure if it was the real deal, I wanted Jason to come home because the house was a wreck and I needed it to be CLEAN. I knew that I could not clean house, take care of the kids, AND have potentially increasing contractions all at the same time. So knowing that he was on his way, and with the kids asleep, I made myself a nice big lunch and set about cleaning the house.
I spent virtually my entire labor cleaning just like I did when I was in labor with Adam. I cleaned every single room and cleaned it well. The entryway. All three bathrooms. Kitchen. Living Room. Organized the kids toys. Kids bedroom. Folded laundry. Playroom. Our bedroom. I vacuumed. Scrubbed some dirty baseboards. Cleaned the icky parts behind the toilets. The floors. I dusted. I swept outside. Watered my plants. Up and down the stairs. Bending. Stretching. Scrubbing.
During all of this I was having contractions. Jason was at home at that point and he'd ask if I was having them because he couldn't tell. My contractions continued to be very manageable. For awhile I could clean right through them, but eventually I'd stop my cleaning to focus and breathe and then when it was over I'd continue.
My aunt Carrie gave me some great advice that I feel helped me a lot. She told me to talk to the baby during a contraction and let the baby know that Mama was here for her and was going to get her here safely. I'd stroke my belly and talk to the baby in my mind when I'd get a stronger surge and it really helped me to relax and feel the contraction as the loving presence of my baby trying to enter the world. I also have a Labor Companion CD that has a few key messages that stayed with me. They are, "the stronger the contraction the more you relax." "The stronger the contraction the closer you are to the birth." "Experience each contraction as the loving voice of your body telling you to relax even more." All of these techniques kept my contractions very manageable for virtually my whole labor. I also feel like cleaning keeps my mind busy and helps the time to pass very quickly. I think my urge to clean is some sort of instinctual thing because it naturally provides a way to move my body and get into positions that help the baby to have a good position for birth. Going up and down the stairs, being on hands and knees, and all of the walking I know make a big difference, to the baby and to my experience of pain.
At one point I was cleaning in the kids' bedroom and had a stronger contraction so I decided to get on hands and knees to stretch myself out. So there I am on the floor with my fanny in the air and just rocking around and feeling good when I look sideways and see my reflection in the kids' mirrored closet doors. As I assess this vision of myself it occurs to me "Hmmm...I'm on hands and knees right now. Maybe I should call Lori." Because this is exactly what happened to me the last time. It takes a long time for my brain to click in that 'This Labor Is Progressing. You Will Be Having a Baby Fairly Soon.' And this is how I found myself in the situation the last time of not realizing how deep into labor I was until I felt the urge to push while in the shower and Jason ended up delivering Adam. So I learned my lesson, and when I saw myself like that, it occurred to me that even though I was still feeling good I needed to give Lori time to get to the house and set up and all of it.
After talking with Lori, Jason started setting up our bedroom. He put plastic down on our bedroom floor and some towels. We already had a waterproof sheet on our bed underneath the fitted sheet. At that point I could feel my body beginning to pick up the pace. As soon as the room was set up I was actually feeling a bit tired from all the cleaning so I took some time to lay down on the bed. This is the first time I have ever layed down during a labor. Usually I can't stand laying down at all. But this time it felt good to rest on my side, and when I'd get a contraction I'd breathe deeply in and out like a jogger. Jason asked if I wanted him there and I did. He layed down next to me and we'd talk some and I'd have a contraction. He let me know that Lori was downstairs. I asked who was with her and we talked more about things like that. Very soon as I was lying down I felt a splooge feeling in between my legs. I stood up and headed over to the toilet and saw that my mucous plug was coming out. Lori came into the bedroom at that point and she took some heart tones while I was sitting. I knew baby was doing well because I could feel her kicking all of the time. Lori then left and the contractions got more serious. I'd get a much stronger one and now I was moaning and toning through it. There is something about releasing the voice that feels good and makes the surge manageable. It is at this point that I was very glad that the children were not in the house. I needed Jason's full attention and presence and I needed to make sounds without feeling self-conscious.
Jason's presence helped me so much. We moved into the main part of the bedroom and when a contraction came I'd grab onto his forearms and he'd hold me up. My forehead was either buried into his chest or off to the side as I'd moan and tone my way through the surge. In between contractions I sat on our recliner. Lori came in again to check heart tones and said that I was making good progress. I wasn't sure that I was really progressing all that much, I just knew that I was louder now. I guess being louder means that you're making good progress :)
Soon after she left I was standing with Jason and having another contraction when water began to come out. It wasn't a whole lot of water but I knew what that meant. Jason and I didn't do anything differently. We just kept up with our stance. During contractions I stood up and braced myself against him. Inbetween contractions I'd sit back down and rest.
More contractions. Getting children into this world is hard sweaty work.
Next Lisa came in to check heart tones. All was well. As soon as she left I had a stronger surge and began to feel something slightly different. At the very next contraction, there it was, the grunting. I called "Lori!" and I began grunting deeply because I'm pushing now. The midwives bound up the stairs and come into the bedroom. Lori asks me where I want to have this baby and I tell her "Right here. Standing up." Jason continues to hold me up as I'm braced against him.
I have another contraction and I am miserable because now it is excruciating pain. As the contraction comes I say between breaths that I "Fucking hate this part" and I'm grunting and pushing down and I wonder why I do this to myself? Why do I put myself in this position? During my rest period I'm still standing against Jason. And then another surge comes and I GRUUUUUUUNT a big long grunt again and I can feel this baby moving down. That push wasn't so painful. But soon here we go again and a surge comes and I'm GRUUUUUUNTing again and howling out loud like a tea kettle because now I'm feeling the burn of this baby's head stretching in between my legs. I know this is going to be over really soon and that once this baby is out I'm going to feel a lot better. But for a few moments longer I continue to endure this burn with the baby's head right there stretching my skin. Then a contraction comes again and I push through the burn to get the baby's head out. I'm feeling slightly better. Quickly another surge comes and the baby's body slips out through mine. I'm done. I can hear a baby cry behind me.
Instantly I'm feeling better. On multiple levels. My pain is essentially gone. I can hear my baby crying so I know he/she is healthy and ok. I am feeling a wash of peace as I stand there hunched over. Someone passes the baby through my legs so I can hold him/her. The baby is crying and is blue. Being born blue isn't a good thing, but I'm not worried because I just know the baby is fine. The midwives tell me to talk to the baby but I can't talk yet, I can't really think yet. But I do think enough to look between the legs and that's when I was first introduced to my Natalie. A girl! Oh, I'm so delighted. Frannie will be so happy.
Now it is time to deliver the placenta. We scoot over to the bed and I roll on. I believe Jason did the honors of cutting the cord but I can't remember. My placenta was taking awhile to come out. I'm not used to that. With the other two it plopped out pretty quickly after the baby came, but this one held on longer. I tried to get Natalie to nurse, but she wasn't ready yet. So we just waited and waited. I began to get concerned because birth isn't really over until that placenta comes out. Lori gave me some sort of herbal tincture called Placenta Out of all things. Anyways, tick tock, tick tock. It took awhile. Finally she had me do a squat on the floor and it plopped out. Jason said we waited about an hour and a half. No one was worried, I guess because I wasn't bleeding at all. If I were bleeding it would be more of a concern. But, no blood. After the placenta plopped out there was still minimal blood.
Hooray! The job is done! I'm feeling REALLY good now! I have my baby and here she is in my arms and she's just nursing away like a champ. So so sweet. And she is so healthy and I'm feeling so good. I'm just delighted through and through. My baby is here! She's born!
Lori checked my bottom and I barely tore. She gave me one stitch. I feel like the standing position helps a lot with that. I was also standing when I gave birth to Adam and had a minimal tear. Lisa had on her sheet that I pushed for two minutes. It was painful, but fast. As much as I detest pushing, it's ultimately worth it to me for such a healthy birth. I really can't complain when I think of the entirety of the labor and how smooth and calm the whole thing was.
Soon after Natalie was born I showered up and put on some jammies. I sent Jason to go get the kids from my in-laws' house. I will never forget Frannie's eyes the moment she came into the bedroom. Just seeing her face made me cry. We'd been talking about this moment for a long time! The baby was here! She had requested a few weeks earlier to find out for herself whether she had a brother or sister, so I let her unwrap the blanket and pull the diaper tab open herself. She knows what's what anatomy-wise so as soon as she looked we asked what it was and she proclaimed "a sister!" Adam's first reaction was to point at the baby and say "Football". He kept that up for about three days. Now she's "Now-wee".
Sigh. I am so grateful for this baby and for such a healthy birth. I'm really grateful for the health of all of my three kids! I don't take for granted any of it. I remember holding Natalie and looking at her right after she was born, with me still standing and the cord uncut. Moments before I had been experiencing such pain, but as I looked at her I saw what a miracle she is and how God blesses this. God blesses these babies. It is truly amazing to me still how it all happens.