Being on the other side of pregnancy I can mostly look back with fondness. I had my fair share of troubles but overall it was a deeply special time for me. I tried my best to savor the moments and find the beauty in carrying a tiny life inside of me and not to wish the time of pregnancy away. So I found it surprisingly hard on me emotionally when my due date approached, then came, then went. I was weepy and upset that I hadn't reached labor yet. I fought pangs of jealousy when other women around me gave birth and had their babies in their arms. I ached to meet Baby vdW. I was finished.
I was ready from week 37, so every day that passed that I didn't go into labor the more it weighed on me. I was scared of going too far overdue and growing a fat baby. Let's face it, I'm not the biggest girl in the world. I was afraid of not being able to birth a big baby, tiring during labor, and needing intervention that I didn't want. We planned a natural birth and I didn't want to veer from that if we didn't have to.
My due date came and went and I swear with each passing hour I could hear my nervous heart beat in anticipation. I tried everything I could to jump start labor. I danced my heart out in the living room. I'd been drinking raspberry leaf tea. I'd express using a breast pump... to no avail. It would produce some small contractions, but nothing that I wasn't already experiencing. Since week 20 I experienced fairly regular braxton hicks. I became resigned to the fact that I may have to be induced and talked to my midwife about my options and when to schedule the birth. I didn't want it to be on our wedding anniversary.
On June 13th the mister and I settled down on the couch and started to watch one of my favorite cowboy movies, Lonesome Dove. We cuddled and settled down for the night and went to bed. At 3:30AM I woke up to go to the bathroom (as I did a million times a night). I noticed a singular tiny drop of moisture. I had kept up with my pelvic floor exercises to help with my hip problems, so I didn't think it was incontinence... but still. I hadn't had any contractions... No matter. Back to bed.
As soon as I lay back down in bed I felt a slow trickle. My heart raced. I knew exactly what was going on. I sat up in a panic and told Phil my waters were breaking. Actually I yelled that my waters were breaking. Phil flipped on the light and grabbed a towel and helped me to the bathroom. My waters broke over the course of two hours in a steady trickle trickle gush and I still hadn't had any real contractions.
I don't know what came over me, but I started cleaning the house like a MAD WOMAN at 3:30 in the morning while my waters were breaking. I tidied the living room, the kitchen, and even a bit of the bathroom. I finished packing my bags and organizing things and then decided that we should probably get some more rest. We went back to bed at 5:30AM.
We had been laying down for only a few minutes when my contractions began. It was nothing like the braxton hicks contractions I had become so familiar with. I feel like "practice contractions" is a really misleading nickname. My real contractions were nothing like them and I had no doubt that this was finally the real thing. We started timing them and they came at regular 10 minute intervals. They were like these intense waves that washed over me and overtook my whole body and there was nothing I could do about it. They lasted around a minute and then they were gone. I felt fine! I felt like me again once it had passed. I cuddled with Phil in between the contractions and squeezed his hand and cried out every time a contraction hit me. I was surprised at the noise I was making already. I couldn't hold it back! Believe me, I tried, but instinct came over me and I was braying like a cow.
We waited for a decent hour to call the midwife and called her around 7:30AM to let her know that labor had begun. It was really exciting! It was all really happening.
I called my family back in Texas and we were able to Skype! It was truly amazing to have them "there" with me in the process and have their encouragement and to have them as a distraction. It kept me in high spirits and excited for the impending birth.
We continued on the same path for hours and hours. The contractions were steady and 5 minutes apart, then slowed to 10-15 minutes, then sped back up again. We weren't making fast progress, but every contraction brought us that much closer to meeting our baby.
Around 6:30PM I couldn't handle the pain any more. The contractions were still 5 minutes apart but I couldn't cope any more all of a sudden. I had this intense pain and I couldn't move it seemed! Phil rang the midwife and she told us to head to the birthing centre and she would meet us there. I hobbled to the car and we were on our way. My labor was becoming stronger and I felt I had less and less control. Fear took over me and I couldn't help but cry out. The staff midwife helped to ease my fear until my midwife arrived. The midwife asked if I wanted an internal check to see how far I'd dilated but I declined. I was scared that I hadn't made much progress and would be disappointed with my progress so far.
I started to feel nauseous and felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I rocked myself back and forth on a labor rocking stool and tried breathing laughing gas but I hated it. It made me feel dizzy and in even less control. It didn't help ease the pain of the contractions at all so I ditched it. My contractions were nearing and were 1-3 minutes apart now. They were right on top of each other.
I had originally planned a water birth. I liked the idea of being in the water to help soothe the pain naturally. At 7:30PM I wanted to finally get in the tub but I had to be checked to make sure I was dilated at least 5cm before I could get in. I was relieved to find that I was already 7cm dilated! Once I got in the tub I realized that it wasn't for me. The tub was huge and there was nothing solid for me to grab onto. Every time a contraction hit I felt lost and helpless in this big tub. I felt my temperature rising and started to feel light headed. I wanted out. I wanted to lie down.
I got into bed and lay on my side for the rest of the labor. The warmth of the water slowed down my contractions a bit and I was thankful for the break. I was dazed and overtaken by the labor pains. I think I slept in between the contractions and at some point I vomited.
At 9:51PM I suddenly snapped out of my fog and felt this insurmountable urge to push. I felt so much pressure I felt a bit of a panic. I couldn't fight it. Instinct took over and (I don't know how I did this) I jumped up from my position of lying on my side and got onto my hands and knees on the bed. It was time.
There are things about the birth that are hazy in my mind but there are things I will never forget. I'll never forget the haunting sounds I made as I started to push. It was so loud. The sounds I made still echo in my mind. It sounded like it was someone else. It FELT like it was someone else. At one point the midwives told me that babies weren't born with ear muffs and that maybe I could try being a little quieter. I roared with such ferocity, and could I have moved, I would have probably killed them. They changed their minds and said it was okay.
I will never forget the intense burning and unbelievable stinging I felt as I worked to push the baby's head out. I could feel myself ripping and I panicked. The head was 80% out and I was too scared to move on. The midwives placed warm cloths on my perineum to help prevent tearing and I plucked up the courage to carry on.
I will never forget the moment the rest of Audrey's tiny body slipped out. She immediately let out a lusty cry and made her presence known. She flailed her tiny arms around and used her lungs for the first time. At 10:12 PM she was born. It was finished. I did it! We did it. She was here. She was healthy. She was safe.
I was tired and happy cuddling with our tiny girl. She was so perfect and she smelled so good. She was so warm against my belly. She was simply beautiful. They finally weighed her and checked her to make sure she had all her fingers and toes. She weighed 6lbs 1oz. She was perfectly healthy and I'd never been so proud.
I had lost quite a bit of blood (around 600mls) and required stitches in some pretty precarious places. The adrenaline was starting to wear off and I was feeling very faint. They wheeled us into our room to settle down and finally sleep for the night. They gave me an IV and a saline drip and put me on bed rest. Baby girl was all swaddled up in her blanket I made for her and all was right with the world.
I love you, little Audrey. I would do it all over again for you.
P.S. - I can't believe I gave birth!!! And naturally! Whaaaaaat?!
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