The Short of it:
Lilly graced us with her wonder and beauty at 6:57pm on March 1st, 2009. She weighed 7lb 10oz and was 21″ long, and had a 13″ head. She weighed a mere 4oz smaller and had same size head as her brother who was delivered by cesarean in 2006. (His story will be posted sometime soon.) I was in active labor for approximately 6 hours, and pushed for only 20 minutes before she was born.
The Long of it:
Truman, the husband & daddy
Char Lynn, the main midwife
Crystal, the second midwife
My mom (though I don’t think I call her anything but ‘mom’ in this)
Logan, My 2.5yo son
Friday, February 27th found me with this pressing need to get the pool finally set up and inflated. I’d been deliberating on this for several weeks, but somehow things just seemed to be happening so fast that I found myself constantly out of time at the end of a weekend. And for whatever reason, I just didn’t seem to want to do it myself, it was incredibly important to me that Truman help me get the pool set up. We finally get it set up, test the length of the hose and the flow strength to try and determine just about how long it will take to fill up the tub once labor starts.
On Saturday, Feb 28th, I started having some contractions in the evening. Probably around 6pm or so. They were being obnoxiously persistent, but I figured it was just some pre-labor antics, nothing special. I went ahead and had us run to Publix so I could get some laboring stuff that I’d been putting off buying until I felt sure labor was close. I didn’t really think labor was *close* but I also wasn’t entirely willing to write off that little tiny voice in the back of my head saying, “Get ready.” I grabbed my favorite publix-brand yogurt, some granola bars and other such things. I got several questions of how close I was, and I always responded with a faint amount of humor that I was having contractions as we spoke. Everyone always responded with a shock and, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?!” Sheesh. I just laughed them off and said something noncommittal.
We got back home around 9pm, I tried to let Logan nurse to sleep shortly after that but just couldn’t do it. It was seriously like adding a low dose of pitocin into the mix – it made the contractions completely unpleasant and barely tolerable. So Truman worked his gaming magic on Logan and put him to sleep. I was finally able to fall asleep in a lull of contractions, waking up periodically because of a particularly vicious one or two in a row. But absolutely nothing that was able to keep me awake for longer than a few minutes.
7am on March 1, we all wake up. I’m surprised to find that I’m STILL contracting. Hmm, I say. I tell Truman to go ahead and go into work, because I just still couldn’t completely tell myself that this was it. I tell mom that I’m contracting around 8am and that they’re pretty attention grabbing – but I just wasn’t sure enough to call this ‘labor’ yet. Larry and mom run interference on Logan for the majority of the morning, so I can focus on drinking some water, snacking and resting.
Things started getting a little more intense and I posted on my personal blog, querying as to whether I should put the midwives on alert. The general response was a resounding, “Yes!” So I called at around 10am. I told Crystal what I was feeling, that the contractions are very close to how they felt when I went into the hospital for Logan, and I was a 5-6 then. She sounded positively worn out, as there was another mama in labor that she’d been with for awhile. She suggests that I drink some water and pretty much rest to make sure its not false labor. Sometime between 10am and 1pm, Crystal calls back and asks me if someone could bring me to the birth center to get checked – I’m able to use my brain at least a little bit and ask her whether it would be possible to have my mom check me instead. I get the sanctions for an unofficial-official checking by mom, and Crystal asks that we call her back with the results. 1pm or so, mom checks me and finds that I’m a solid 4-5cm but stretchy to 6-7cm and 80% effaced.
I call Crystal to report the findings, tossing the phone off to mom in the middle of this because of a contraction and not being able to really make my brain function enough to convey questions back and forth. Mom answers a few more questions and then hangs up and hands the phone back to me once the contraction passes. The phone rings around 2pm, and its Char Lynn asking me how I’m doing because she heard that I was in labor. The woman had great timing, I had literally just finished a contraction when the phone rang. I talk to her for a little bit, and at one point could only utter an ‘uh huh’ to her questions thanks to another contraction. I hand the phone off to mom and Char Lynn tells her that she’ll be coming in a little bit, and to let her know if things suddenly accelerate.
I e-mail Truman in the midst this, probably around 1:30, telling him to come home because this isn’t going away, and request that he stop and get a sandwich for me on his way home. About 30 minutes later, he gets home and I eat maybe a 1/4th of the sandwich before having to stop because it was making me feel sick during contractions. There’s some discussion of whether or not I want them to fill up the pool. I decide to not fill up the tub so I can just get into the shower, which sounded vastly more appealing to me than being in a pool at that moment. So I climbed into the shower and stayed there until the hot water ran out. I think it was probably about 3pm at this point. I get out of the shower and go into our bedroom and semi-help with getting the bed ready. I half entertained requesting that we start filling up the pool at this point, but the contractions are starting to get a bit more than just slightly unbearable and requiring longer and more focused attention. I varied position from the computer chair, sitting on the edge of the bed or on hands and knees for the next hour – always making sure to try and move as much as I could *with* the contractions instead of tensing up and fighting against them like I did with Logan’s labor. Every time I stopped moving I had this stern little voice in my head pipe up and tell me, “Heather, MOVE. You need to help this baby down and out. Don’t be afraid of it – you get afraid of it and its going to take even longer for this to end!”
Char Lynn called around 4:30pm, only talking to mom this time because I’m in the middle of a contraction and sincerely thought that if I opened my mouth to talk, I’d just be unintelligible. She tells mom that she’s at the birth center and gathering a few things before heading over and confirms directions on how to get here. At this point, I’m pretty well done. I kept thinking, “Just a little bit more.” and “You can do this, Heather. You know you can, now put your money where your mouth is and DO IT.” (I think I need to be a little easier on myself, lol) At this point, things sort of fall into a blur.
Char Lynn arrives around 5pm, as I’m having a contraction. She asks me how I’m doing and I think I said something to the effect of I’m doing alright. (As an aside, mom says that I never once really lost my sense of humor and that I was really a great laborer.) I spend a little bit more time contracting while mom and Char Lynn are talking quietly. I half way expected anyone talking to bother me, but I was so focused inwardly that I didn’t really notice it much. I recall Char Lynn at some point during this looking over my bookshelf and quietly laughing and saying that I have a better library than the one at the Center. She also asked at one point why mom and I don’t go into practice together, mom laughed and said that she couldn’t do the on-call nights and she just doesn’t have the physical strength to assist a woman in labor on a regular basis.
The contractions eased off a little bit then came back harder – I had several coupling contractions at this point. I was sitting on the edge of the computer chair, and during one of these was lifting myself off of my bottom – almost like I was pulling away from the sudden downward pressure I’d felt during the contraction. Mom tells me that at this point, she and Char Lynn look at each other and just shared this, “Here we go!” moment. Char Lynn checked me and said that I was 8 and 80%, she told me in a quiet little proud voice, “You’re doing it Heather. We’re going to have this baby today!” and feeling comforted by this and maybe even strengthened to hear it vocalized.
At some point, I dragged myself off the chair and down to the bed to sort of be on all fours-ish, with pillows under my upper body to sort of prop myself upright because I wasn’t convinced that my arms would hold me upright during a contraction. (I’m not 100% sure on why I felt this way, even still.) During this, the contractions had started wrapping around to my back, which I think is why I felt the need to be on all fours. I think I thought that it might relieve things, and it did briefly, but then went right back to being just as intense. I think it was probably 6:15-6:30pm or so, when Char Lynn suggested that I lay on my left side for a little bit, with a pillow between my knees to see if things are a little more tolerable in that position. They were, briefly. And thats when I started having the bearing down urge. She encouraged me to go ahead and try pushing down to see what would happen. I pushed (rather ineffectively, I now know, haha) with the next one and felt something pop – I finally had the bloody show that Char Lynn kept expecting to see earlier than now.
Then the contractions seemed to at once get lighter but..heavier? I’m not sure how to describe it other than that. Char Lynn left the room to go get Truman, again telling me, “Heather, you’re having this baby! You are doing so well!” They came back into the room and the urge to start bearing down was unbelievable and (felt like) immediate. Truman came over to the side of the bed that I was on, they shoved pillows behind my back to help me stay a little more upright. Mom was on the bed to my right, with my right leg on her thigh (she has 3 bruises, I feel somewhat bad, though she assures me she wouldn’t have bruised if it weren’t for her medication) and Char Lynn was with my left foot braced on her shoulder. Using Truman & mom’s hands as leverage, I began to push. It took me about 5 minutes to really get *how* to push, but after that, we were good to go. I remember the sensation of her head descending. That was really just..wild. Crowning was just a lot of really intense pressure and stretching feelings. I remember pulling away from it slightly at that point, thinking that there was no way in hell this was going to work. But with the help of Truman talking encouragements into my ear and my internal mantra of “The only way out is through.” I recentered myself in a brief moment between the near constant urge to bear down and started pushing again. Her head was out after maybe the 3rd rounds of pushing, and I just laid back a little bit for a moment with this odd sensation of A BABY. With its head outside of ME. She had her cord sort of draped around herself, sort of like a feather boa. At some point during this, Crystal arrived but was very much in the background, I barely remember seeing her come in. The urge to push came back and I delivered the rest of her body at 6:57pm in one push and what felt like a huge gush of amniotic fluids came with her. She was placed on my belly and I just stared at her.
I laid back and just breathed for a moment, about the only rational and comprehensive thought that was going through my mind at this point was “OH MY GOD I DID IT!” over and over again. I felt like my 2 year old whenever he does something all by himself – he loudly and proudly proclaims, “I did it, mama! I did it!” Her cord stopped pulsing and was duly clamped and cut, she was brought up closer to me and immediately started rooting around, so I latched her on and just marveled at this tiny, perfect little girl who granted me the wonderful and most beautiful opportunity of my life – the restoration of the knowledge that my body isn’t and wasn’t broken, that I can grow these wonderful, beautiful babies *and* birth them too.