|She is waving hi!|
|Her big sister absolutely adores her.|
I guess I should start with the evening before. It was Wednesday, October 17th. I was six days past my due date but had big plans. Since I was still pregnant and it was the first day of early voting, I decided I would go ahead and get voting out of the way. Of course my toddler was along for the ride. Voting went much faster than I expected so we had some time to kill before church. We went to McDonald's and had a fun last little girls outing. Then we headed off to church. I asked my friend/doula Susan if she could arrive at church early to work on the pressure points in my feet to see if we could encourage labor. She quickly realized my ankles were very swollen. She told me I should drink as much water as possible and text my midwife to let her know. I did as I was told and by the end of church the swelling was starting to go down. I stopped by the store on the way home to check my blood pressure and it was high but still within the normal range. I talked to my midwife and we decided that since I wasn't having any other issues and I already had a prenatal scheduled for Thursday afternoon we could wait it out but she asked to move the appointment up to the morning just to be safe. I was having contractions but that was nothing new so I just went about business as usual. I put my daughter to bed, read my Bible, and then went to sleep myself. The contractions were getting more uncomfortable but I was tired and just wanted to sleep. This was around 11:30pm. Every time I would have a contraction I would wake up and look at the clock.
Finally at 2am I realized I really wasn't getting much sleep and that I'd been looking at the clock every 6-7 minutes. I decided it was time to get up and let my midwife know. I called Elisha (my midwife) and Susan to let them know I thought I was in labor. Even though I still thought it was pretty early I decided to have them come on over since I knew it would take my midwife at least an hour to get to me. Of course this whole time I was on yahoo instant messenger with my husband. We were both hoping I hadn't called them out in the middle of the night for a false alarm. I had been having contractions since 33wks but these were definitely different. We were hopeful but afraid to get our hopes up too high.
Susan arrived around 2:30am. I was bouncing on my exercise ball in a dark living room on the computer with hubby. We just sat around and talked. She would rub my back through contractions. We did a little bit of straightening up (I had big plans to clean Thursday morning and it was looking like that wasn't going to happen). Elisha arrived around 3am. She took my blood pressure which was still higher than we would like but still technically within a safe range. She said we would just wait and see and try not to worry about it unless we had to. So I just labored. We all sat around in the dark. I could not tolerate a sitting position during a contraction. I would either kneel up against something or get on my hands and knees.
Finally around 5am I felt like the tub sounded good. Elisha asked if I wanted to be checked before getting in and I did. I was between 5-6cm and still seemed to be tolerating things well so Elisha suggested I hold off on the tub until things were a little harder because getting in the tub can slow things down. I was okay with the suggestion and tried to stick it out a little longer. I think I lasted about a half an hour before I decided I wanted in the tub (I had lost all sense of time at this point). Honestly, I was hoping things would slow down a little bit. My knees and legs were getting tired from me spending so much time either kneeling or up moving around. The lack of sleep was also catching up to me.
I got in the much anticipated tub but it wasn't what I expected. I loved it in between contractions. I leaned over the side and it allowed me to float giving my knees and legs a break. But during contractions I just didn't feel grounded enough. I would end up standing up and bracing myself against the side. I'm not sure how long I labored in the tub but looking back it probably wasn't very long. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. Before I got out of the tub, Elisha checked me and I was 8cm. In the bathroom I was starting to fall apart a bit. I was feeling exhausted and starting to think I couldn't make it. Everyone kept telling me how great I was doing but I didn't feel like it. I felt out of control. I just couldn't figure out what position or location felt right and it was extremely frustrating. Elisha had to convince me to leave the bathroom. She asked if I wanted to get back in the tub but I didn't. I was tired and wanted to lay down. The problem? Laying down was way too uncomfortable. I went to my bedroom and moved around all over the bed. I felt hysterical and hated feeling that way. I'm such an internal person and it was hard to feel like I was being ridiculous and knowing others were watching me. Of course I didn't know how fast I had progressed.
Somehow I ended back up out of bed and squatting beside it. I desperately felt the need to go back to the bathroom but Elisha told me I needed to stay. She calmly told me that the bathroom was too small and the reason I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom was because the baby's head was causing so much pressure. She told me I was probably complete and ready to push. She reassured me that she would lay pads under me in case I did go to the bathroom and that it would be okay. She would keep everything clean and contained. Since I was squatting beside the bed in a sort of cramped space she asked me to come to the foot of the bed where there was more room. At first I told her I couldn't. I stayed where I was a little longer and then managed to find the strength to move. I kneeled at the foot of my bed for awhile. I was squeezing Susan's arm, almost worried that I would hurt her. At one point I almost bit her and somehow restrained myself. Then it hit me, I realized I was pushing whether I was ready to or not. The burning sensation was nearly unbearable. I know I was yelling. I felt like I was past the point of reasoning. I kept saying I couldn't do it. I think I pushed a few times while kneeling at the foot of the bed but didn't like it. My knees and legs were still so tired and I didn't like the thought of my bed being all exposed. I climbed into bed (the last place I expected to push my baby out) and laid down. Pushing was a struggle for me because of how much it burned. I knew I should pull my legs back to give the baby more room but they felt frozen in a straight position. I was torn between what I knew I should do and what my body was doing without me. I kept saying I couldn't do it and they kept telling me that I was. We discussed it later and I think the consensus was that I only pushed about twenty minutes. Then my beautiful baby girl was placed on my chest. Less than seven hours after I realized I *might* be in labor. I cried. It was so surreal.
Honestly, it still is surreal. Recovery was rough in the beginning. My back was super sore and the after pains left me feeling like I was still in labor. The best part is that I didn't need sutures. I have a small first degree tear that Elisha said should heal just fine as long as I am careful to keep my legs together for the next few weeks. Although we did recently discover I have two "stretch marks" that are causing a bit of discomfort. One of the hardest parts has been having to avoid lifting my toddler. For the most part she is quite independent but she's still little. She can't get in and out of the tub by herself. She's still in diapers. And she absolutely loves her stationary jumper that she is not able to get in and out of by herself. I try to limit lifting her but without hubby here it's inevitable.
Emotionally I'm a wreck. The day I delivered we learned that hubby is no longer getting the paternity leave we were promised. Honestly, I'm still processing what all that means. I'm pretty much on the verge of tears all day long. No fun and completely new to me. After having my first daughter I just felt numb for months. Now I feel like a disaster. Everything really is different the second time around.
Overall it was the experience I wanted. Things may not have gone the way I envisioned but it was so much better than being in the hospital and something I definitely will plan again, just not too soon.