On January 13th I went into labor. Truth be told I'd been having good contractions fairly regularly for a couple of weeks. This morning was different.
When our oldest woke, I got her out of bed and was changing her diaper when I had a contraction that stopped me dead in my tracks. Punkin' Pie had the misfortune of trying to be goofy with me right at that moment and I snapped at her for it. Papa came in and took over and when the contraction had passed, I called my parents to ask if Punkin' Pie could spend the day with them.
We took her to their house, then decided to go to the Co-Op for some supplements, and stopped on the way home for burgers at Suzy's which had just opened. Throughout lunch I had to stop periodically as the contractions continued to come. After lunch we drove home. Once home, Papa and I continued doing things around the house, watched TV, went for walks, came back and had some dinner, called my parents to see how they (and Punkin') were doing and then went out for another walk. At some point that afternoon or evening, I notified the midwives that I was having strong, regular contractions and that I hoped something would finally come of them soon. I called our wonderful doula who helped me get through a tremendously long labor the first time. She had a cold.
As we were walking around the neighborhood that evening, Papa started timing my contractions. They were 10 minutes then 8 minutes, then five minutes, then 9 minutes apart...finally I asked him to stop as I felt the timing of the contractions was pointlessly upsetting to me. I don't think he listened because shortly after that he got a concerned look on his face and said they were three minutes apart and very regular. We went inside and I gave him permission to call the midwives. I wasn't really keen on having people around me yet and I had wanted to put it off, but he look petrified so I gave in and I'm glad I did.
I talked to Kaleem on the phone and told her, yes, I was having good contractions, and yes they were regular, but my last birth took over 3 days and I really was concerned about calling them too early. She reassured me by saying that they would come over and check on me and if I really didn't need them yet they could leave and come back later. That was around 10pm.
While we waited for the midwives to arrive, Papa and I turned off all the lights in the house and lit candles. I think I took a shower somewhere in there (my 3rd or 4th of the day), but mostly I walked around the house contracting here and there. The only feeling I remember strongly is the feeling I had of peace, contentment and anticipation, and the overwhelming desire to be alone with my love.
The midwives arrived between 10:30 and 11pm. Marleen checked me and then asked how far along I wanted to be. I didn't know, all I knew is I wanted to be far enough along to know that things were really happening. Papa said I wanted to be at 3cm and Marleen smiled, "you're at 5" she said. I felt relief and excitement for about 5 seconds when another contraction hit. After that passed, I called my Mom to tell her things were progressing. She said she was going to sleep and to call her in the morning when I needed her.
I'm not too clear on what was happening around me for the next few hours. I know sheets were changed and things were set up. The birth pool (a stock tank) was set up in our living room, water ran into it for awhile until the hot water ran out and then they told me I had to wait a while. I walked all over the house, peed about a thousand times and stopped for contractions every few minutes.
I was sitting on the birth ball, Papa beside me, sometime later and had a contraction that felt like a wave washing over me...for a few seconds I literally felt like I was drowning in it and yelled out "when is the damned pool going to be ready?!" The midwives, who had been sitting the kitchen drinking tea and knitting a hat for the baby, came out to check the pool and decided that it had enough water in it so I got right in.
The water was pretty darned fabulous, but labor is still labor and contractions are still difficult. I labored in and out of the pool going back and forth between pool, floor, couch and birth ball. At some point Marleen checked me again and I was at 7cm and feeling very overwhelmed. I thought things were moving fast and that we should call my parents but just couldn't make a decision at that time. Papa made it, and the phone call for me. My parents and The Punkin' were on their way over. I also called the doula to tell her that we were going to have a baby and that it was probably best for her and the baby if she stayed at home in bed.
Then came transition. I've never felt so horrible in my life. I was nauseous and still contracting a lot, but I couldn't be in the water. I felt so unstable already that I could not stand the motion of the water. So, I sat on the birth ball. I must have gotten whiny and vocal at some point because the midwife trainee (also a doula) came in to offer some words of encouragement. This was truly transition because even though I like her very much, I just wanted her to go away.
My parents and Punkin' Pie walked in mid-contraction. She came over to me and touched my leg and asked "Mommy OK?" I managed to pull myself together long enough to tell her that yes, mommy was okay, and this is what we had been talking about - it's hard work to have a baby, but our baby is coming today." My mom (or maybe it was my dad) swept her away as another contraction hit and put her to bed thinking that things were going to take a while longer.
Soon after that, I felt stretched and swollen and reached down and felt my baby's head - she was on her way out. Then I realized that my body had taken over...I was no longer a congnitive human being. I was an animal, giving birth, and my body pushed. This scared me so I asked Kaleem when it was ok to push, she replied "your body knows when the time is right" so I went with it. A short time later, Papa, who had been supporting me in the tub, started to let go and I freaked out. But he assured me it was only to trade places with my father who took over. Kevin went around front and got into position. Someone noticed that the bag was still around our baby. Things got really intense as I was pushing and I was certain I couldn't do it, but everyone in the room calmly reassured me and so I repeated the mantra "I can do this" over and over. First I felt her head come out and was relieved. One more push and Kevin caught our beautiful baby, bag and all. He placed her on my chest and we realized we had another beautiful girl. I was helped out of the pool and onto the couch where I nursed our newest family member for the first time. My Bunny-Boo was born in our living room, delivered by her father's hands; weighed measured and assessed in our bed. She didn't cry until she was a few hours old, in fact her first facial expression was a smile - a contented little smile.