In a new city and state once again, I began my search with Doulas of North America. Doulas in your area can be a wealth of information when it comes to hospitals and doctors. They've seen it all, worked with it all. And most are more than willing to share that knowledge, even if you don't intend to hire them as your doula. I located all the doulas in my area and sent them all a lengthy email, describing my past births and telling them about my hopes for my current pregnancy and birth. Then I asked if they would please recommend a physician in my area who would align well with my desires. Without exception, every single doula I contacted responded with the same recommendation: a certain group of midwives who work within an OB practice and deliver at a local hospital.
|just seconds old|
The next several months flew by and before I knew it we were fast approaching my due date. How different it was this time around! With Princess #1, if anyone asked me how far along I was I could tell them, down to the day (14 weeks and 3 days thankyouverymuch!). But by this time?? (uh, 4 months? I think...) Like my other pregnancies, I didn't have much lead in or warm up for labor. A few Braxton Hicks in the weeks proceeding my due date, but nothing remarkable. Given the fact that Princess #2 was fashionably late, I wasn't expecting anything different.
I saw my midwife for hopefully my last office appointment 2 days before my due date. During a very uncomfortable exam I believe she tried to "stir things up" a bit. She announced that I was already 4-5 cm dilated, a fact which made me very very happy. I went home feeling a bit crampy, and very anxious. I was certain I was going to wake up in the middle of the night in labor.
|my biggest baby|
The contractions continued erratically throughout the morning. They weren't incredibly painful, but disappointingly, they were also very irregular. It was hard to tell if I was actually in labor. The hubs was scheduled to go into work at 1pm, so at noon we made the call and decided he better stay at home, just in case. My parents came to pick up Princesses #1 and #2 to keep them at their place indefinitely.
At that point I was free to just be in labor. But labor did not cooperate. Although I thought the contractions might have been getting a bit stronger, they stayed irregular and weren't settling into a good rhythm at all. Knowing that my midwife would not be able to do anything for us other than to suggest to take walks, baths and um, have sex, we decided to not bother her and just set out on our own. I should mention at this point that this was the first labor that we did not hire a doula. With my first labor we wanted a doula because we were completely clueless, and I wasn't sure I could manage going natural on my own. With the second, we knew we were using a doctor and hospital that were not natural childbirth friendly and we wanted someone we could count on to advocate for us if necessary (which it was). But this time around, with a midwife by our side and experience under our belts, we felt we could make it on our own.
We pulled our labor #1 trick out of our bag and headed out to the mall to walk around for awhile. We window shopped and chatted and timed contractions the best that we could. They were still sporadic and not incredibly painful. It made timing difficult because I'd barely notice I was having one before it was nearly over. I have no idea if my pain tolerance is really high, or if I was just really used to being in labor. After a few hours of walking the mall we decided to get dinner at a nearby Chili's. I have such fond memories of that meal, sharing chips and salsa with the hubs, hoping the spicyness would kick out that baby.
Finally, around 7pm we headed home. Still with nothing exciting to report, we decided to walk around the neighborhood a couple of times. It was March and fairly comfortable out, a storm seemed to be brewing. We passed by a friend's house and stopped to chat a bit. I remember as we stood there I began to question if I was really in labor at all. My contractions had not gotten harder, were not in a pattern and quite honestly, didn't feel like they were doing much of anything. If it weren't for the fact that I was mere hours away from my due date and I knew I was walking around at 4-5cm dilated, I probably would have just called it a night. But instead, we pressed on, determined to have a baby.
We headed home and began a chick flick marathon. I can't even remember what movies we watched. I sat on my birth ball and tried to visualize the baby moving down. Each time a contraction would come, I'd sink into my ball and relax as much as I could, hoping that doing so would enable my body to kick it into gear. At one point, exhausted from anticipation and the late hour, I started to cry. I was resigning myself to the fact that the baby wasn't ready to come yet.
We decided to attempt one last ditch effort. Hubs put water in the tub and around 1am I eased myself into it. I don't know what it is about water, but clearly it works magic on my body. My contractions started coming harder and faster. They still weren't in a pattern, but I was having to work to get through them. Using the water to aid me in relaxing, I floated, and concentrated on the sound the water made lapping against the side of the tub.
In a matter of 2 hours I went from wondering if I was in labor to full blown contractions and heading to the hospital. The roads are eerie at 3am. As we raced down the highway I held on and worked at keeping myself on top of the contractions. Still no rhythm, but no doubt that I was about to have a baby.
We arrived at the hospital shortly after 3:30 in the morning. My midwife greeted us in my room, after I had gone through the ridiculous routine triage exam (yes, yes, I'm really in labor...). She examined me and found me to be at 8cm. Pleased with that progress I asked to return to the tub. She immediately went to go run the water.
I only sat in the tub through 3 contractions. They were closer together than any of my others had been. They were hard, although honestly they weren't the hardest I'd ever felt. My midwife watched me from the side of the tub curiously and after the third contraction she requested I get out of the tub and sit on the toilet. When I asked her why, she said that she was suspicious that I was in transition and in fact fully dilated and she wanted to check. I thought she was crazy. I'd been through transition a couple of times. Transition feels like your insides are going to be squeezed out through every pore in your body. Transition makes me throw up. Transition is hell. I had not yet been to hell with this labor. I thought I had a long way to go.
But she was right. She checked me and found only a lip of cervix remaining and with the next contraction was able to push it out of the way. Suddenly, hell was upon me. In hindsight I wish I had stayed on the toilet because I think I could have gotten the baby out without even trying from that position. But relying on familiarity, I got back into the bed and prepared to meet my nemesis: pushing.
The pushing phase was really sort of a blur to me. Except I remember clearly the atmosphere in the room. It was quiet. Dim. Only my midwife, hubs and a nurse were present. It was almost reverent. And given the atmosphere at my last birth, I so appreciated that. I worked hard, pushing against my midwife's fingers, struggling to find a place to focus the energy in the midst of managing the pain of the contraction. At one point I remember the pain getting the best of me and crying out, "why am I doing this??" Hubs and my midwife seemed amused at that, but kept themselves in check. At long last, the baby began to crown.
A few weeks earlier at an appointment, my midwife asked if Hubs would like to deliver the baby. At first we thought she just meant cutting the cord. But no, she meant actually deliver her. Hubs didn't even have to think twice. He was thrilled at the thought. She talked him through what the process would look like and prepared him the best she could. And suddenly, that moment was upon us.
My midwife had Hubs take her place of honor at the foot of the bed. As I began to push with the next contraction, she vocally guided him in easing the baby's head out and turning her to let out a shoulder. One little hand was pressed up against her cheek as she emerged. And in one smooth movement, she was there. In his arms. A daddy and his daughter. Princess #3.
Hubs placed her carefully on my chest as my midwife clamped off the umbilical cord. Hubs cut the cord as Princess #3 simultaneously let out a wail. We both noticed at the same time a little dimple, placed carefully on her upper cheek directly under her right eye. Even now only visible when she smiles or cries, she's going to break some hearts with that dimple.
I was hooked up to an IV at that point, having received the hep lock upon arrival at the hospital. I was given pitocin to aid my uterus in contracting down, due the hemorrhaging I experienced with Princess #2's birth. But there was no trouble this time. My midwife delivered my placenta and allowed Hubs to actually take pictures of it. No, we're not crazy. It's just truly amazing to see the miracle that kept your own miracle alive for 9 months.
Born on her due date, at 6:32 am after a long 20 hours of labor (although I really only count the last 4 hours as real labor) and 45 minutes of pushing. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces. I remember being shocked at that size. She weighed a whole pound heavier than Princess #2.
The rest of the hospital stay is a blur. My parents brought Princess #1 and # 2 to meet their brand new baby sister the next day. Postpartum rooms are definitely not as peaceful when you have 2 little kids running around in them. We didn't stay long. I was eager to get home and begin our life as a family of 5. I had no idea what I was in for, but I was ready. We had our Princess #3 and our family was complete... or so I thought...
Hang on! There's one more chapter to come! Want to read about the birth that changed everything for me? You can read it TOMORROW over at Ingenue Mom where I will be guest posting! Hope to "see" you there!
*Want to read more posts like this? Head over to Giving Birth With Confidence!