I began the pregnancy with August 7th as my due date, but an 8 week ultrasound put my due date at August 20th. We evaluated this ultrasound and moved the due date to the 20th. I think I always knew that this was probably the most accurate due date, I just wanted it to be the 7th. So, despite the realistic due date, I still had it in my mind that early August is when we would meet our newest child....I was wrong. The 7th came and went, the 10th came and went, the 13th came and brought my newest precious niece, but not my baby. Meanwhile, I was continuing to grow, not sleeping very well, experiencing signs of labor, but not having a baby.
Since my first two births were medicated hospital births, I was understandably asked if I was nervous. Really, I wasn't nervous about going into labor or even the birth, I was thrilled, excited, and anxious for it to be here. If you had asked me if I was nervous on either of my first two, the answer would have been, Yes! It was different this time. It was exactly what I wanted and needed for me, and it would happen in just the way it was supposed to. The anticipation I felt was almost like the anticipation I felt for my wedding day. What exciting and precious moments make up our lives. I didn't see it as a hurdle to endure before I could meet my little one. I saw it as a blessed experience that I got to have in unison with only my child and together, by His grace, a child would be born. I had told Josh over and over, that while no one loves pain, I didn't necessarily want a super fast birth; it was a special day and I wanted it to be what it would be. It was a life changing day, I wanted to cherish the moments.
On August 17, I thought it was possible that my contractions were becoming a bit more regular, but I had hoped the same thing on many days prior only to be met with disappointment as I laid my head on my pillow at night with no baby on the horizon. However, this day seemed different, so I tracked all day long with little change in intensity and little sign of steadiness. Finally, they looked to remain 15 minutes apart towards the evening hours, so we thought it might be a good idea to head home and do some last minute preparations...Just in case. By the time we got home, though, I felt very little activity with my contractions. I had started to feel some back pains, but I was unfamiliar with this, so I didn't pin it as substantial. We put our littles to bed, and Jacob poked my tummy and gave it a kiss (for the last time). I was beginning to feel disappointed, I showered, turned on the tv and settled into bed, expecting nothing more to happen.
My dear husband reached over to me in bed and told me that he knew I was disappointed, but very soon, we would have a baby, we knew that for sure. I began trying to go to sleep and watch the movie we had turned on, and a few minutes later, about 11:30pm, I felt a small gush. I was unfamiliar with this feeling becuase my water had never broken on it's own, thus I didn't quite know if it was my water. This same sensation happend about 3 more times before I decided it most likely was my water and I called the midwife. She explained that it could be my water or it could be a couple of other items, so she told me to keep an eye on things and to call her when things got a bit "hotter". I loved her phrasing! I continued to loose my water for 30-40 minutes before anything really happened. Finally my contractions were to the point where I had to start breathing through them. I called the midwife again to let her know that I was sure to be in labor now and I was still loosing water. She told me to keep her posted on my progress. We weren't sure how long we were looking at and I, myself, was not prepared for how quickly this would go! Again, being totally honest, here is when my nerves did start to rattle a bit. My mom and my friend had come, we had the aromatherapy going, and we were chatting away lightly. Josh had turned Friends on both the TV sets becuase this helped distract me. I would pause and focus through a contraction.
My goal in each contraction was not to fight the contraction. I focused on leaving my throat and mouth open and tried not to tighten any part of my body. I knew that, while contraction=pain, contraction also =dialation if you allow your body to be open to what was happening. That was what I thought about during each pain. At first the chatting was nice and probably beneficial, but then the birthing ball was helpful. After the birthing ball, standing and leaning on furniture was helpful.
During all of this, we had downloaded an app to help track the contractions, so Josh was monitoring each contraction and updating me on what stage of labor it seemed I was in. About 1:30 or 1:40, when we started noticing that there wasn't more than about 2 minutes or so between contractions, it was clear that the midwife needed to be called, and probably, we should have already called her. She was 30 minutes out. For a fleeting moment, I thought, I hope she makes it, but I let go of that and trusted she would. I decided sitting in the bathroom seemed like a good plan, so I did this, and then I could not get up. I had them draw me a warm bath with aromatherapy oils, and it seemed like a very nice idea, but I didn't have time in between to get into the bath. Finally, I felt that I had a few seconds and I rushed to the bath. It did feel nicer, but the pain was still very real, getting stronger, and offering me little rest in between. I knew the same I knew earlier, so I still tried to focus on allowing the pain to work to my benefit. I left my belly in as much water as I could and leaned over the side of the tub.
In all of this, my dear husband and wonderful birth partner desired to be exactly what I needed, and he would have done absolutely anything. He was given a very introverted wife when it comes to pain. I don't recieve comfort well, especially in the form of touch. Any touch put my skin on fire, and all I truly needed or wanted was to know he was there, willing, and he was. I know he would have loved to do more for me, but he doesn't understand the depth that his support was to me in that time.
I felt my first urge to push while in the tub, and I considered for just a moment, if having the baby in the bath tub was what I wanted. It really wasn't, but for the time being, I was staying put (I wasn't exactly sure I would be able to get out when I wanted to). While still in the bath tub, I made Josh warm the water several times and I am sure I was a bit high maintenance with my turn it on, now turn it off demands, but agian, my dear husband was a willing and loving partner and did as I asked.
I felt another urge to push during a contraction. I knew the time was very near, but I also knew he wasn't quite to the stage of arrival yet. I could FEEL that. I knew that, all by myself. After this contraction and pushing urge, I thought, I would love to hear the beautiful sound of my midwife's voice. Probably 2 minutes later, I heard the front door open and a new set of voices entered my home. It was my midwife and her assistant. My mind let my body know that she was here and it was ok to finish this. She came in and looked at me and she knew that the baby was coming and soon, so she went to get things ready. She came back in and asked if I wanted to have the baby in the tub or just outside the tub, and I told her I wanted to go back into the room. I have absolutely no idea how, but with the help of my husband and the midwife, I stood up and walked into my bedroom. I remember being asked where in my room I wanted to be and I pointed and things were thrown down onto the floor. I was on my knees leaning onto a chest. Josh knew I needed some hydration and instinctively went to get me water. At first, I thought, I didn't want it, then I realized upon drinking that it was exactly what I needed. He was my rock. He brought a towel to put under my arms. I remember the first contraction back the bedroom... I bit the towel and I pushed. I could tell it was now time. The next contraction I pushed hard, and he was there, but not out, and that pain was powerful and intense, I was crying, and although I had been relatively quite throughout, I now vocalized my pain in a powerful scream through my teeth and my tears. I knew what was coming would be no easy task. About 2:15 am the next contraction came and I pushed hard and could feel that sweet head imerge, yet at the time, it didn't feel sweet. It felt like I was birthing pure fire, I again screamed and cried. I knew it was just the head and there was more work to be done, so without wasting time to wait for another contraction, I pushed as hard as I could to truly and fully bring my precious baby into the world, then the crying changed, what was a cry of pain and strength miliseconds prior was now a cry of nothing that can be put into words, maybe peace, maybe elation... and I wasn't alone. Beneath me in the steady competent hands of my midwife my sweet baby was crying and being placed as close to my shaking body as possible. I tried to pick him up and nuzzle that sweet bloody little angel as best as I could as Josh says, "It's a boy, baby," he choked through the tears. Behind me I sensed my mother crying, also. My dad and my friend waited patiently for the news to be shared after having to hear my cries. Of course we weren't completely done, but we made it over to the bed where I was able to have plenty of skin to skin time waiting to deliver the placenta and for the umbilical cord to fully finish it's job for my baby. After about thirty minutes, it was completely finished and the two of us, blood and all laid together enjoying the love high. My husband remained by my side and stood in the beauty of these moments with us. Anxiously waiting friends and family that had come trickled in to catch a glimpse of the sweet boy. At 4:00am my precious first and second born child joined us in the room to meet their baby brother. Audri was so very exctied and all aglow! Jacob was very uninterested and wanted to go see grandparents, but it was our wonderful family of 5 now and I was so happy.
I realized after he was born that not only was I never checked prior to labor to inform me of any possibly progress towards labor. I was never checked during labor. No one said, "Ok, you are an 8, just a little bit left," no one said, "Ok, you are there and he is crowning, you can push now." It wasn't necessary. Part of me wanted to know before hand, but part of me was excited to not know. As my midwife likes to say, it helped me, "Trust the process, Baby!" As for during the labor, it wasn't really an option, but regardless, my body knew exactly what I was dialted to, and it wasn't really very important for anyone else to be in on that information. My body and my baby knew exactly what to do. It was messy, it was exciting, it was painful, it was moving, it was life changing; I did scream, I did cry, and it was totally imperfectly perfect. It took less than 3 hours of actual labor, and it's 3 hours that will remind me daily of the beauty and awe of life.