I have known that the baby would come once I felt the same internal shift that I have with all my babies – suddenly, out of nowhere, I’ll realize that I’m ready now. (So when I thought I was in labor a few weeks ago, it really caught me by surprise, because I was wasn’t ready at all.)
I had been contracting every 20 minutes or so for about a week and a half. Sometimes they’d peter out, sometimes they’d come more frequently, I tried not to think about it much and for the most part, they weren’t very distracting. When we’d be out shopping or whatever, they’d be stronger and more frequent, when I laid down, they’d be weaker.
So then Monday afternoon, Wally fell asleep in my office chair and I worked at my cutting table for his whole nap – about 2 hours – with very strong contractions the whole time. At some point, in the middle of cutting up scraps into breastpads for the store, I realized I’d shifted. I was ready.
Around 4, I realized I’d started losing my mucous plug and then about an hour later I realized that I’d been having contractions about every 5-10 minutes for at least the last hour. (As I said, I was really not paying that much attention.) (you’ll notice a theme developing here – from this point on, I’m at least 10 minutes behind the action in terms of my being aware of what’s going on.)
So whatever, I played Star Wars on Wii with Wally for a few hours, we ran a few errands around town, ate dinner, went to bed. I fully expected to wake up in the middle of the night and have a baby. But I didn’t. I was very restless and waking up with contractions on occasion, but nothing else.
But when I woke up Tuesday morning, they were still 5-10 minutes apart, and I decided to call Cosette and tell her I thought maybe later that day. She really wanted advance notice if it was going to be during the day. Called Kim (doula) and told her the same thing. But part of me still really didn’t think I was in labor. Spent the day knitting, doing some batik, actually ended up doing a dyebath as well.
So…by Tuesday around dinnertime, I’m doing things like Googling False Labor and have decided I’m not in labor after all. Call Kim to piss and moan a bit, Kim suggests I’m probably in early labor, reminds me of what I already know, which is that I could do this for days. Problem is that the contractions are quite strong and I totally can’t ignore them. I have to stop and focus to get through them.
Cosette says the same thing, it would not surprise her to get a call in the middle of the night, and it wouldn’t surprise her if it were another few days. I mention that I’d been thinking how much easier it would be if W were asleep through my labor, and she says that perhaps that’s what my body’s waiting for, and I concurred.
Alright, fine. Oh, let’s also mention that Randy (husband) has the stomach flu and has spent the entire day in the bathroom or laying down in the bed, leaving me to also take care of Wally’s needs while dealing with the contractions. Suffice it to say, I’m grumpy.
So after dinner, I let Wally pick out a movie (Spiderman 2) and make a deal with him that I’ll let him snuggle up with me on the couch and watch the movie if he will go to sleep. Oddly, this works, and was the earliest he has ever gone to bed NOT in the car – 8:30 or so. And even though I’m super uncomfortable with contractions, I layed down with W and we both fell asleep during Spiderman. At this point, however, I’m waking up every 5 or so minutes with very strong contractions. I tried to sleep for another hour or so, but no dice.
Since Wally was very restless with me awake in the room and walking around, I carried him into the bedroom with daddy and began pacing my dark house by myself. I really enjoyed the dark, the quiet, having the house to myself as I paced and rubbed my belly through contractions. At some point, I got into the tub, but found it to be more frustrating than anything. I was standing and walking a bit and rubbing my belly and blowing through contractions, and couldn’t do that in the tub. I mean, I could stand up, but then I was cold, and I hate being cold and wet.
So I got out and went back to pacing around and watching traffic, blowing and rubbing.
At 1, I woke randy up, because I didn’t know if I was in labor or not and he’s my gauge. (With W’s birth, I did not really ever feel that shift in energy everyone talks about, when you start to get serious and focused. I mean, I was serious and focused, but apparently didn’t really realize it. And so this has been my fear this time, is that I’ll never call anyone to come over, because I won’t realize how far I am until far too late. So this was Randy’s job.) Well, he was tired and still ill and was a sucky gauge, so I called Cosette. Cosette didn’t sound too convinced when she first answered the phone, but as we talked, she went from wanting me to call her back in an hour to wanting me to call her back in 15 minutes. She also said she was sure these contractions weren’t going away at this point, which was the validation I had been looking for.
I called Kim to have her come over, and when I called Cosette back, she was already on her way to the car. She checked me when she got here and I was 4-5 cm.
So then the next few hours were kind of the same – I didn’t let anyone turn on lights, Randy sitting in the room with me, wanting to be close but afraid he was going to start throwing up again, Cosette around but not conspicuous, and Kim with me. Kim is about the only voice I can listen to in labor. And this time, I really needed her voice more than her hands. Because DAMN. This labor was so different than Wally’s. I’ve always said I was not in pain with Wally. I was uncomfortable. This time? Pain. The contractions were soooo strong. Kim was like my personal, live EFM, telling me when they were about to let up, which was nice to hear reassurance that they were, in fact, going to end.
But then the strangest thing – in between, I was just normal. I could talk, I could form complete sentences, I made sense. With Wally, I tried to talk, but nothing would come out.
Another treat was that I was vomiting. At the peak of contractions, or sometimes just as they were ending, I’d vomit. That was thrilling. I never wanted to be one of those women who vomited in labor. Not to mention, the physical act of vomiting only made the contraction that much worse.
So Kim’s telling me, as I have three contractions with no break in between, that these are the 9-10 cm contractions, and I’m literally thinking “sure they are.” Then I start to have irrational thoughts like “I’m really ready to be done now. How about if I just go get in bed and take a nap and we can do this again tomorrow?” and so I tell everyone “Hey, I think I’m in transition because I’m starting to have really irrational thoughts like sending everyone home and having the baby tomorrow instead.” Everyone laughed at me. I threw up again.
At some point, I went in to pee. I really intended just to pee. I never got up. Standing and rubbing my belly during contractions was the only way I was vaguely comfortable, but I kept clenching my butt cheeks together during contractions, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop myself. And I knew I had to stop that. Sitting on the toilet, I couldn’t do that. So I was in there for a while before Kim realized i wasn’t coming back out. Cosette’s notes mention “Sarah did not want to get off the toilet, but at the same time, she had no idea birth was imminent.” That’s accuracy for you.
(edited to add, at some point, my legs started shaking uncontrollably. It was strange, but since I had gotten very shaky legs after Wally was born, I didn’t think too much about it. Kari commented that it was because my leg muscles were tense, but I don’t know if that’s true – I felt pretty relaxed. I also hyperventilated during one contraction, the one right before she was born. My blowing air out to relax my uterus just took on a life of its own.)
At one point, I noticed it felt nice to push a bit during contractions, though it was nothing like the overwhelming “I need to push now!” feeling I got with W. I asked whoever was there if that was OK, and somebody answered it was fine. But then the next few contractions came and went without any pushing and then suddenly I was pushing and then suddenly something went splat and I remember thinking that must be my water breaking, and I hear Kim say “bulging” and I thought “no, I swear it just broke” but she meant the head.
And then there was a lot of activity as Cosette realized I was still sitting on the toilet with a head pretty much coming out of my vagina, Randy was by happenstance right there (he wanted to catch, but was actually on his way to get the potty for Wally, who had just woken up about the time my water broke), Kari was apparently nowhere around, and Kim was about the only one within reach of me, and she really didn’t want to catch the baby. And I still had NO IDEA there was a head coming out of me. At some point, someone told me I really had to stand up and I said “ummm…” and Kim was right there helping me stand up.
And suddenly I realized what had happened and there was a baby right there, all slippery and bloody and, even though I know I heard her cry, she wasn’t crying any more and someone ran off to get the oxygen. She perked up eventually, I moved to a stool Cosette brought in to the bathroom to deliver the placenta.
But the pushing part with W was such an ‘event.’ I mean, it was about an hour and I could feel the head creeping out and crowning hurt like the blazes. This time, the labor part was hard work, but the pushing her out part – it was nothing. It was over before I realized it.
So, the cord was wrapped around her neck, but it wasn’t a big deal. She had been crying, then kind of petered out, but got going again with oxygen and lots of rubbing. Her placenta was really, really small, which is why she’s so small. (Cosette noted she would not have lasted a whole lot longer in there.) It was about the size of a dessert plate, but very healthy looking. She had trouble maintaining her body temperature, but by the next day, that was fine too.
I’m doing really good. I didn’t tear at all, and i don’t even have that swollen, my-crotch-is-hanging-down-to-my-knees feeling. My boobs are giant. Randy’s finally perking up, too. She’s nursing pretty well, hasn’t lost any weight, sleeps a lot except at night.
She’s 6 lb 3 oz (TINY compared to W who was 8 lb 11 oz). I’m using PREEMIE size prefolds on her and the newborn covers just swim on her. She’s so skinny and her butt is really really tiny.
Wally loves her, sings songs to her, brings her toys, etc.