Wow, what a difference a month makes. I feel like I have aged 10 years since my last post. It will take two posts to cover everything that has happened since, but I will start with Shrimpy's birth story and then post about the two weeks we spent in the NICU (so glad to be home now!). Both posts are bound to be quite long...
The prodromal contractions that I had been having continued and I lost more of my mucous plug in the little over a week that passed between my last post and labor. They were still manageable, and my spirits were high, although I did start drinking raspberry leaf tea as well as verbena tea, as recommended by my midwife. All of my visits confirmed that everything was fine, and that we were in no rush to meet baby. Since I was ready, I kept on with the tea, and tried to stay well-rested.
On the night of the 16th, I decided to put the theory of eating eggplant parmesan (with plenty of oregano and basil) to the test. The food turned out great, and I was lying on the couch watching the news when my water broke after a mild contraction at 20:10. It felt like a small "pop" and I said to Broom "I think my water just broke!". I stood up, had a small gush, and went to the restroom, where I lost more clear water (as described by the midwife, it looked like mozzarella water. We got excited, and checked our bags for later and decided to try and get some sleep after letting my family know that we could use their positive energy.
The contractions were 20 minutes apart and only mildly more painful than the contractions that I had been having for the past 3 weeks, and they stayed like that for three hours or so. I was able to rest some, but then the contractions got more intense and were 15 minutes apart, so I went to the couch where I turned on Tim McGraw (his music always helped me sleep while flying) and dozed in between them while timing them the best I could.
At about one in the morning, my timing made me notice that the contractions were coming every 5 minutes- a pattern that I observed for 45 minutes before waking up Broom, after which I woke her to have her support. She applied counter pressure on my back and helped me breathe in the living room, where I had set myself up. They were intense and required all of my concentration, but the pain was instantly gone after the contraction was over. Broom and I decided to call the midwife at 2:30 to let her know that my contractions were still 5 minutes apart, and she thought we could still be a long ways out. I talked to her on the phone and realized I was dealing quite well and found talking to her to be quite distracting, and to wait to go to the birthing center.
After talking to her, I decided I wanted to try and take a bath. The first few contractions in the tub were fine. Suddenly, they got much more intense, and my whole body, each and every particle from my head to my toes, convulsed and drew together, automatically pushing the baby without me actively doing anything. This felt wrong. I had just had ok contractions, and now my body was pushing?!? Something had to be wrong, and I knew, that if this was early labor, that I couldn't do it.
Instinctively, I put my hand between my legs when these contractions came, but I seriously doubted that this could be what I thought it was. In between the pushing contractions, I kept thinking to myself- it would make sense if this was transition...and then I threw up, which really had me thinking- "could I already be there?!?".
After throwing up, I had to get out of the tub. I laid down on the bed and continued to have the pushing contractions, every 2-3 minutes.
At about 3:15, Broom called the midwife again, who heard my guttural, growly contraction and told us that she was leaving for the birthing center and would call us once she confirmed that the room was free. Broom got stuff ready while I tried tipping my chin back and panting to hold back the pushing contractions that were so intense and heavy. I told Broom, "This sounds crazy, but I think the baby is coming, I swear I can feel the head."
About 15 minutes later, the midwife called back and told us we could come any time we were ready. Broom somehow got me dressed, holding me up through the contractions. In the car, I braced myself in the back so that I wasn't sitting down, so convinced I was that the head was right there. I gave Broom directions (who had only gotten her driver's license a week beforehand), who was understandably nervous- so I didn't tell her how I felt like the head was there- that, and I was in disbelief.
Once she parked, I went to get the parking ticket, where I had such a strong pushing contraction, that I was starting to believe what I was feeling. On our 2 minute walk to the birthing center from our parking spot, I had two more contractions, one of which on the few steps down to the birthing apartment.
The midwife proceeded to ask me if she should fill the birthing pool or check me. I told her "You better check me- it sounds crazy, but I think the baby is right there". She asked me to sit down, but I refused, stating that I didn't want to sit on the baby. Broom and the midwife helped me get my pants off, and she took a look, stating: "Yes, the baby is right there, reach down and touch it's head." After doing so, I realized that I could, indeed, trust my body. She told me to kneel at the end of the bed, bending my body over the bed itself (since the kneeling pad wasn't there yet, I asked "But you are going to put something down, right?"), of course pulling out the birthing pad and something sterile for the baby to be collected on underneath me.
After kneeling, I had another pushing contraction, letting my body do all of the work, and immediately felt the "ring of fire". Another pushing contraction came, and the head was out! The body followed immediately afterwards...two minutes after entering the birthing center, and the midwife just barely had enough time to put on gloves!
I looked down, and couldn't believe that my baby was already here! I picked up baby and crawled into the bed. After expressing concern about keeping baby low enough to let the umbilical cord pulse out, the midwife let me know that it was already pulsed out and I had some skin to skin time with baby while the midwife gave the umbilical cord a gentle tug. Out came the placenta without any problems.
It was only at this point that we asked if it was a boy or a girl, at which the midwife told me to look.With my first glance down before crawling into bed with baby, I thought we had a boy- but I was wrong! We had a little girl! After seeing that surprise, baby and I were able to nurse for awhile, with the midwife checking on me and determining, despite the fact that our Shrimpy came out with her hand on top of her head, that I had no tears, only a few scrapes. Baby weighed in at 3250 grams and 49cm long and had perfect APGAR scores. Since she had spent such little time in the birth canal, her head wasn't deformed at all, and her cheeks were really filled out- making her look older than she was. Surprisingly, she also had quite a bit of hair!
After feeding, it was time to attempt my first trip to the bathroom in order to empty my bladder and encourage my uterus to contract further. My midwife and I made it to the bathroom, but while on the toilet, I passed a large blood clot and passed out- waking up on the floor. After Broom helped me to bed, the midwife gave me a catheter to empty my bladder, and continued to give me sugary drinks. However, she stated that if I didn't come around with my dizziness within 30 minutes that she would have to transfer me to the hospital for a transfusion. Luckily, this wasn't necessary, and we were allowed to stay in the birthing center room longer than usual after the birth so that I could rest and regain my strength.
It was a truly amazing experience, feeling the power that my body possesses, and finally meeting the little girl that made us parents! A part of me wonders how long her birth would have been had I not fought the pushing contractions- but either way- 8 hours from water breaking to holding a baby is pretty amazingly intense for a first child!
These wonderful moments would keep us going once our Shrimpy got sick a day and a half later....which will be another long blog post itself.