It had been a pretty normal Saturday. I had some mild menstrual-like cramps while Michael was showering, but nothing more serious. I napped for a couple hours and started texting with Michael. A little after 10pm, I asked him when the next band break was. I was beginning to realize that the mild menstrual cramps I’d been feeling were perhaps a little more noteworthy than they had been.
At 10:30pm, he texted that he was coming home and did I want to notify Amber. I emphatically said no to both. I admitted to having timeable contractions that ended abruptly, as opposed to the BH that tapered off gradually. Since they were 10 minutes apart, and I’d only had a couple, I figured that having him or Amber come over was really premature. My water hadn’t broken and there was no bloody show, so I thought we were at the very, very beginning of what could be a long ordeal. I didn’t want to wear out my support team with early labor, even though I was fully aware of how short Lenore’s labor had been.
Around 11pm, I texted to Michael that I didn’t want to be alone anymore. He later told me that he knew then that this had to be labor, if super stubborn me was asking for help. I had hoped that something of that nature would occur, come D-Day; that I might not clearly recognize my mental state, but he would. And he did because he is awesome. I also texted Amber. We had all shared the concern that she might not make it to Weston in time, since Lenore came so quickly, and Amber lives nearly an hour away from us. Michael’s faith in my ability to ask for help (or “bother people,” as I put it), was such that he texted Amber as well. Of course, his text was something about timeable contractions, whereas I simply asked what she was doing at that moment.
Michael arrived home shortly after 11pm and asked what birth preparations I wanted him to start on. I made him come close enough to smell and explained that I wanted to shower and he, having been at the pub, needed to shower. We did that and then he worked on the birth pool, moved lamps from the living room into the kitchen so we didn’t have to use the florescent lights. He gestured to his camera stuff and asked if wanted any of that set up. I told him that I absolutely did! I fear he felt silly, setting up flashes and such, but I knew we would both want pictures. I put in my contacts, for the first time in weeks. I know how blind I am and wanted to be able to see without worrying about my glasses. I put clean sheets on the bed. All the while, my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. Yay for contraction timing apps! So much easier than pen, paper and stop watch. Except that my phone died shortly after Michael got home, so I commandeered his phone. I said, more than once, that I would feel very silly if this wasn’t actual labor. He pointed out that in less than an hour, my contractions had gone from 10 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart. I honestly believed that to be some kind of operator error of the contraction timer. None of these contractions had bowled me over with intense pain, like the first ‘real’ contraction of Lenore’s birth. I was still waiting for pain so severe it made me think, “I can’t do this.” Amber had told me earlier that if I could walk and talk through a contraction, it was BH. Since I was, mostly, capable of these things, I was still discounting the contractions as BH.
Amber arrived around midnight. She wanted to listen to Baby’s heart. As I laid on the couch, Rocky tried to sit on my legs. We had planned to send him to Doggie Daycare during labor, but couldn’t since it was the middle of the night. We were worried that he would be anxious about the whole process. The last thing I wanted was dog-breath in my face during contractions. Amber got him to lay down on the other part of the couch and he pretty much stayed there for the rest of the night.
Baby’s heart rate was in the 140s and Amber noted that she picked up the heart far lower in my pelvis than ever before, so Baby was indeed moving into place for birth.
My biggest fear with this labor was that the birth pool wouldn’t be filled in time. Lenore’s labor had been so short and everyone knows second babies take even less time. However, Michael got it filled quickly with appealingly steaming water. I feared that getting in would slow down my contractions. As they were already more than uncomfortable and I still thought that we were at the very beginning of labor, I didn’t want to prolong the process even though I was beginning to want some relief. I told this to Amber, and she wisely pointed out that if getting in the pool stalled my labor, I could get out.
As soon as I got in the pool, I wondered aloud how women in colder regions gave birth. The water felt so good, so relaxing to muscles that were working overtime. Michael used this time to finish setting up the flashes for his camera. He also put a couple pots of water on the stove to heat, so we were certain not to run out of hot water for the pool. For awhile, the break between contractions was an absolutely blissful experience. There’s nothing like pain abating to make one appreciate how awesome it is to not hurt. It wasn’t long before those moments of respite evaporated. I remember apologizing to Amber and Michael for it being so boring. I didn’t want music or any other distractions. I figured that watching me through contractions and giving me a cool towel in between them was not exciting.
The contractions were getting more intense. Definitely couldn’t walk and talk through them anymore! I was groaning low through them, trying to remember to stay as relaxed as possible. Amber’s assistant, Jessica, arrived around this time. I was mid-contraction and couldn’t spare any attention for introductions. Well before I thought it possible, I felt a slight urge to push. As I hadn’t been in the pool that long, I feared that this was premature. Also, if it really was getting close to time to push, I wanted to be in a better position for Michael to catch the baby. I was sitting in the pool, leaning back against the side of the pool; it just didn’t feel like the right position for birth. Amber suggested that I turn over onto my knees and lean over the side of the pool. I managed to do this. It seemed seconds later that I recognized that this was IT. That was Baby’s head. Until then, I had truly not believed we were so close to the birth. I vaguely remember asking the baby to be gentle. Amber told me that if I reached down, I would feel our baby. I was worried that somehow, Michael would miss out on catching the baby. I desperately cried out to him, asking if he was ready to catch our baby. He assured me that he was. After a brief eternity, Baby’s head was out. For the final few weeks of pregnancy, it felt as though Baby was doing that break-dance move of spinning on one’s head, right against my cervix. Not very comfortable. Baby did it one more time, mid-birth. Amber told me that another push would see our baby born. I wasn’t ready to push right then. One contraction had ended and the next yet to begin. Then Amber suggested I put one foot flat on the bottom of the pool; that that shift in position might all it took for Baby to be born. She was right. I was again consumed with the concern that Michael wasn’t in position. I needn’t have worried. He was there. I couldn’t quite believe that Baby had really been born, then Amber/Michael was guiding Baby into my arms as I turned around to sit back down on the soft bottom of the pool. I cradled our baby in my arms, very curious to know the gender. I looked down to discover that we had a daughter. Michael was impressed with her color. From the birth videos we had watched, he expected everything but pink, but pink she was. She latched on quickly, but wasn’t very interested in nursing. We stayed in the pool for awhile, but I was having a hard time not slipping downwards into the water. I worried about this. Amber and Jessica started to pump the water out of the pool while Michael and I marveled at the tiny, precious person in my arms. I was not only having a hard time remaining sitting, but beginning to get cold, despite being covered by towels. We checked Eliza’s cord and it had stopped pulsing. Michael cut the cord and took his daughter into his arms. Amber helped me to stand up and get out of the pool.
I moved to the bathroom, hoping to deliver the placenta before getting into bed with my family. After what seemed like a very long time of nothing happening, Amber offered some herbal assistance. We joked about how bad it tasted. After another interminable wait, I stood up and easily delivered the placenta.
Finally, finally! I was able to crawl into our bed. Amber weighed and measured Eliza, much to Eliza’s indignation. Amber gave us a few postpartum instructions and then she left. Michael and I spent the next few hours marveling at Eliza’s tiny perfection. She squeaked with every exhalation for the first few hours, but was otherwise calm. Babies are indeed common little miracles.