IT'S A GIRL!!!!!
We welcomed our sweet girl, Olivia Katherine, on August 22nd at 3:26pm. She weighed in at a whopping 9lbs 6oz and measured 21 1/4 inches long, making her our biggest baby yet!
What follows is her birth story. I am including some details, so if you're squeamish...well, you've been warned.
I'd been having what seemed like contractions off and on for several days. They'd get to about 8 minutes apart for a few hours, and then disappear. (Which believe me, got increasingly frustrating.) Thursday night I started feeling pretty crampy and just shrugged it off, since my uterus had cried wolf one too many times already in my opinion. Around 3am, though, despite still only being 8 minutes apart, the contractions were strong enough that they started waking me up. Every 8 minutes. For the next few hours. I think I gave up on sleep around 6 or 7 in the morning and just got up. At that point, I was pretty sure the real thing was starting, so I told Brett to go ahead and call in to work. Then I worked my way down my "call list", starting with my midwife, then my mother-in-law Barbara who would be driving in from Ohio, and finally our dear friend Stacy who had volunteered to watch the older kids for us. A little while later I called a longtime friend, Katie, who was planning on attending the birth.
Between about 9am and 9:30, my contractions pretty abruptly went from being 8 minutes apart to being 4-5 minutes apart. After another call to my midwife, Jessica, we decided to wrap things up, drop the kids off, and head to the birth center. We got to the birth center around 11:30am. I could tell the contractions were definitely stronger while I was standing, so I tried to walk and stand as much as I could to help move things along. We walked through the birth center a few times, stopping each time a contraction started so I could lean against Brett with my head on his shoulder. It was by far the most comfortable way for me to spend contractions, leaning on him like that. I spent some time sitting on a birth ball, which was comfy for a while, and even laid in bed on my side, although that wasn't the greatest. A lot of moving around, since one position would be comfortable for a little bit, and then I would get all antsy and need to move. I tried to make sure I was staying hydrated, which meant pretty frequent trips to the bathroom. I HATE having contractions while I'm peeing. There's just no way to stay comfortable on a toilet for me. Ugh.
Katie got up to the birth center around 1pm, mercifully stopping to grab some food for Brett, who was starving thanks to our busy morning preventing him from eating. It was so fun to have her there. The three of us chatted between contractions. It was just such a relaxed environment. Yes, I was uncomfortable, but I could still laugh and have fun!
Jessica was in and out of the room occasionally, checking on me and using the doppler to check on Ender. She had a student midwife with her, Andy, whom I'd met before and had okayed to help attend me during the birth. They were very unobtrusive, quietly checking on us and helping remind me to relax when the contractions were more intense and I started struggling a bit, applying some counterpressure on my lower back. (Most of the time, Brett was the one putting pressure on my back. It was SO helpful and was really what got me through the last hour or so before I got in the tub.)
I'd told Jessica I knew I wanted to labor in the tub, and possibly deliver there, depending on how comfortable I was at the time. Probably between 2 and 2:30, as my contractions were REALLY getting intense, she asked if I wanted the tub filled up. It sounded good, so I said yes. Once it was ready, I climbed in, and oh. My. Goodness. It felt AMAZING. The buoyancy of the water really helped take the edge off the contractions, and I was able to focus better, relax, and breathe through each contraction. It made such a difference in my labor. I'm not sure how I managed with David without a tub.
My timeline is pretty fuzzy since we were all focused on what was going on, not what time it was. :) Around 3 or so (maybe a little before), Jessica, Andy, and a nurse (Natalie) came in and stayed in the room. I could tell I was definitely in transition and it was getting close.
That last little while before Olivia was born is what really stands out in my mind as marking the difference between this birth and my hospital births. Jessica was so calm and reassuring, reminding me to relax and breathe. There were numerous expressions of, "You can do this" and gentle touches to my back and shoulders. There were no bright lights or loud bustling about, just the natural light from the several (shaded) windows. I was encouraged to listen to my body, and that I could push whenever I felt like it was time. Someone helped to hold one of my feet because I couldn't get a good position for my right foot. After a while (maybe 3:20ish?) I was definitely feeling some pressure, and started gently pushing a little to test it out. I had a few contractions while I gently pushed a bit, and I could tell she was moving down as the pressure increased. Then it was DEFINITELY time to push. After a couple of big pushes, her head was out, with the amniotic sac still intact. The membranes ruptured when Jessica caught her head. Another couple of big pushes and she was out!
Jessica immediately put her on my chest. Someone asked, "What did we have?" I lifted her up to look and was thrilled to announce she was a girl! She still hadn't taken a breath, despite being rubbed and encouraged, so they quickly put a mask on her and gave her a few puffs of air. She took a big breath and then started wailing, though she calmed back down quickly.
I loved this birth experience. It was beautiful. It was exactly what I wanted (minus, of course, the hiccup with my placenta which couldn't have been prevented). I felt comfortable. I felt safe. I felt loved by every person in that room. I was allowed to birth how I wanted, without interference. I was supported and encouraged. It was by far the most empowering experience I have ever had. I adore my team of midwives: Jessica, Lisa, and Nicole, as well as the rest of the staff at the birth center (Marci and Leanna). Natalie was a fantastic nurse and I loved her, too. I couldn't be happier with my experience and the care I've been given!