We’ll start the story on Sunday night. That is when I started having contractions that I thought, but was not sure, were getting stronger. After weeks of Braxton-Hicks contractions, this was very exciting for me. Pain! Intensity! Relaxation techniques! I was so happy! But the contractions were not really getting stronger, or longer, or closer together, and as much as I had hoped that I would wake up in the middle of the night with “real” labor, I was disappointed when it was 7:00am Monday and I had slept soundly.
Still. I was having contractions. So I texted my midwife and let her know I thought something might be up. Maybe false labor? Or maybe it was just slow to start? And then I did my Perfect Pregnancy workout video to try to get things going if they were going to go. And then I took the boys shopping and made bread in case I didn’t have a chance to do those things later. We also inflated the birth ball, which not only made a great distraction for the boys, but came in handy throughout the day when I’d have a “good” contraction and need to rock and relax a bit.
By the end of the day I was really confused. My contractions were still strong-ish, but not progressing. I’d have 3 in 30 minutes, and then wait another 20 for another one. By this point Micah was really trying to get everything in order despite the fact that I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on here.” He cleaned and organized our room and then got to work on some last minute things he needed to do for clients. I texted my midwife again to let her know how things had been going. And then, at 11:00, we went to bed. I was hopeful that I’d wake up in the middle of the night, but tried to prepare myself for another disappointingly sound night’s sleep.
And then, at 1:50, I woke up! I was somehow under the impression that I’d had 3 really intense contractions in a row, so I sat up and waited for the next one, just to be sure. I went to the bathroom in case I really just needed to pee, and then sat on the birth ball for the next 30 minutes and several contractions before waking Micah up and telling him I thought maybe he should call the midwife. Which he did. She was at our place by 3:00am. I was rocking on the birth ball, breathing deeply through contractions and reading Bossypants in between. Oddly enough, it wasn’t funny. Not a bit. And before too long I gave it up. I just rocked on the ball and breathed and relaxed while Micah held a hot water bottle to my back.
By 4:30 I thought I was feeling pushy. Or did I just wish I was feeling pushy? I hadn’t been checked at all, so part of me thought I might only be at a 4 while the other part of me thought I was probably at an 8. So finally, I asked my midwife to check me: 7-8. Okay. That’s good. But then things slowed down. It felt like forever between contractions. I was suddenly so tired. I lied down on the bed for a couple of contractions. I told my midwife I was feeling a little discouraged. I wasn’t progressing. This baby was never going to come. She had an idea to help things get going. I sat down on the birthing stool and with the next contraction she pushed the rest of the cervix out of the way. We waited for the next contraction and she made sure the cervix hadn’t slipped back. And then we waited for the next contraction, which is the one where I was going to push her head out. It was about 5:30. And that is when we heard the boys’ bedroom door open.
I kid you not. I was sure I had at least half an hour before they woke up. By that time Abby would be there and ready to take them out if needed. But maybe they had a 6th sense.
So Micah ran and told them the baby was coming. They needed to stay in their room. He introduced the birth assistant, and then he booked it back to our bedroom, where I was on my hands and knees waiting for the contraction. The contraction came. I very loudly pushed with all my might until her head was out. And then I rested. Until my midwife said I could push the rest of her out whenever I was ready. I wondered if maybe, since I had gotten the baby this far, maybe she could get herself the rest of the way out? But it was rather uncomfortable just waiting there, so I gave it another (very noisy) go. And then there she was, crying on the floor beneath me.
“Oh, honey! Thank you!” I said. “You have a lot more hair than I thought you would.” I scooped her up and wrapped her in a towel and held her to me as I knelt there on the floor. I said many more things – apologies, thank yous, expressions of relief – and then my midwife and her assistant helped me on to the bed. Micah and I settled down and began examining our little daughter. The sun was just starting to come up, so we had turned off the light and opened the curtains a bit. We tested out her name and asked, “Are you sure? What do you think?” as we had been doing for the past few days.
A few minutes later the doorbell rang. It was my sister who stayed with the boys while we cleaned things up (you know, delivered the placenta, cut the cord, that kind of thing) and then the three of them came in to meet little Elsa. They watched while she was weighed and measured. Seven pounds, one ounce. Twenty inches long. She bore it all without so much as a peep.
And then things began to wind down. The midwife and her assistant prepped supplies and gave me instructions for the next 24 hours. Abby and Micah got the boys ready to go for the day. They dressed Elsa, too, and we all had a good laugh about her funny little outfit: pink and white striped leggings with a floral onesie on top. We pulled out our phones and our cameras to start spreading the news. And then, a little after 8:00 the apartment was quiet again. The midwife and her assistant left. Abby took the boys for the day. And Elsa, Micah, and I crashed on the bed for the rest of the day.