Thank you everyone for your blessings, well-wishes, enthusiasm and congratulations! I have enjoyed and deeply appreciated each and every comment and am very thankful for all of your prayers.
Now that the children are all asleep and the house is quiet, I’ll try to put together a few thoughts and details on the baby’s birth while it’s fresh in my mind. Don’t expect a cohesive, well-written birth story; after all, I was up all night. Nonetheless, here is my account.
Picking up where my own posts left off:
I waited a few minutes for the pool to fill and when I saw that it was half full, I checked the temp and hopped carefully climbed in. The water heater had given out at this point and the flow from the hose was cold so I tossed it on the deck and called to hubby to turn it off. He continued to heat pots of water on the stove while we waited for the water heater to wake up and get back to work.
Once I got into the pool, my contractions continued at a good rate; they seemed to slow just a bit and the warm water took the edge off of the pain but labor didn’t threaten to stall the way it can when I get in too soon. I was definitely ready!
It was still dark outside, and it was an uncommonly cool and breezy morning: about 70 degrees with a steady wind from the east. I was cold at first, but it turned out to be ideal weather once we had the pool filled enough with nice hot water. The hot water soothed my pains while the cool breeze kept me from overheating, and the cloud cover kept the weather from heating too rapidly even after sunrise. In the midst of a drought, the cool breezy weather and cloud cover were a welcome and unexpected blessing.
Labor seemed to progress steadily; hubby ran tirelessly back and forth heating water, turning the hose on and off, bringing me ice and water and offering support and company. As usual, he had an uncanny sense for when I needed his presence and when I felt better alone. Like a good waiter, he was always available, anticipating my wants and needs but ever unobtrusive.
The children slept on, oblivious to lights, noise, and the constant traffic – except Kaitlyn, who knew exactly what was going on but wisely pretended to sleep for as long as she could stand it.
We waited and waited for Ann, our midwife. It seemed like hours, though she was only 70 miles away. Maybe it was hours; I wasn’t exactly watching the clock on her account. I was more focused on the minutes than the hours. On a crazy impulse, I had hubby call Ann and leave a message on her cellphone asking her to stop at the last gas station for a 57-cent cup of crushed ice, my current obsession.
I felt things were going well; contractions were painful but manageable. I was confident that labor was progressing, and though I always dread the first internal check I was also looking forward to finding out just how close we were to the end.
Ann finally got close enough that I could hear her car down the road, but she wasn’t sure of the last turn or two and called for directions. The acoustics in the hills out here are amazing, and I could hear her driving back and forth while hubby talked her through landmarks: “Did you get to ___ Road yet? If you do, just turn around. Wait, did the road make a hard left? No, you don’t have to make a left turn, just follow the road as it wraps to the left. If you go straight, you’ll head into somebody’s driveway…”
I listened through 3 contractions, fantasizing about a 42 oz. styrofoam cup of crushed ice. Finally, Ann pulled into our driveway. No ice. I crunched a piece of common ice and contracted on while she and hubby carried birthing supplies up the steps.
By now I think it was about 6 AM. I had been in active labor – the stuff that hurts – for about 5 hours, with the last 2 hours or so being relatively intense. Ann performed the much awaited and dreaded internal check. Would it be a disappointing 5 cm? 7? 10, and you can start pushing any time?
I was at 8 cm, she said, with a big bulgy bag of water. This was good enough for me. Not at the finish line yet, but an end was in sight. I could do this.
I labored on, mostly in silence, moaning a little with each contraction. They grew more intense. Half an hour, an hour passed. I grew impatient and a little discouraged. I had hoped to be done now, and the pains were still increasing. Worse yet, the pain didn’t really let up between contractions. I was in constant pain. Not terrible, but constant, and I could feel myself beginning to fear the end. I tried to push just a little with each contraction, knowing that I must be ready by now, but it just hurt too much.
Ann and hubby murmured encouraging things like “You’re doing great! You’re almost done!” but my fearful and cynical ears heard something more like: “You’re almost at the worst part! Ready or not, here it comes!” The smart aleck in me wanted to say so and crack jokes about it, but my sense of humor was curled up in a fetal position somewhere far back in my head. It didn’t come when I called it so I kept moaning instead through endless contractions.
I wanted to be funny and tell hubby that I was taking a vow of celibacy after this, but was pretty sure it wouldn’t sound funny just then. Still, I considered it. What was I thinking getting pregnant again? How could I forget how much labor hurt? This wasn’t fun, and I wanted out. I didn’t want to finish the job; I just wanted out.
Ann asked if she could get me anything. My traumatized sense of humor looked up. “Not unless you have an epidural in that black bag?” I joked weakly. Well, I was only joking if she didn’t have one in there. She didn’t, so I was joking.
I felt a little woozy with pain and even saw stars on occasion. I threw up once.
Finally, the continual pain and lack of progress frustrated me enough that I got up and shifted to a new position in the pool. I tried 2 or 3 different positions and at long last, pushing past the pain and fear, I felt that welcome pop as my water broke.
After that, it all happened very quickly: with the very same contraction that broke my water, I pushed out the baby’s head. I screamed, yelled and somehow the next moment I was turned around, sitting down, and the baby was out on my belly wrapped in a towel. It all happened in one quick contraction. It was 8:07 AM. One or two scared pairs of eyes peeked out the front door and were quickly reassured.
Remember what I said about the acoustics out here in the hills? I just hope the neighbors were at work, because earlier this morning I realized I could clearly hear the new neighbors out feeding their dogs, 10 or 15 acres away. We have many other neighbors within a similar range.
The cord had been around the baby’s neck twice, loosely, but she was fine. She came out quiet and content, alert but a little dusky. She took a few minutes to pink up to Ann’s satisfaction, mostly because she had no inclination to cry – she only wanted to look around. I don’t blame her; it was a beautiful morning and we have a spectacular view out on the deck. It must have been a nice way to start life on the outside.
The children had woken up one by one over the last hour or two and were watching a movie in our bedroom. We called them out to meet their new sister and snapped the first of many photos.
- date: June 27th
- time: 8:07 AM
- weight: 7 lbs 10 oz
- length: 20.5″ long
- name: to be determined