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I woke up around 6:00 AM on Monday the 28th with contractions that seemed to be pretty consistent. I had a chiropractor and a midwife appointment that day, so I spent the next hour deciding whether I would go to these appointments or not, but by 7:00 it became obvious that this was the real deal, so I went into the other room to wake up DH (he had been banished for snoring ) We called my mom so she could come over and watch DD while I focused through my labor. Thank God we did! She came over just before DD woke up and they played all day long and I wasn't distracted by her at all. We said hi a few times, but it was wonderful.
My contractions felt different than what I was expecting. I don't remember what they felt like with DD, just that they were excruciating and lasted forever. This time, I felt a few things. I felt AF-like cramping right at my bikini line, I felt some downward pressure in my vagina, some rectal pain, and as the day wore on, some low back pain as well. I found that if I focused as soon as I felt one coming on, said "Whooooh" with every out-breath, relaxed my pelvic floor (like an anti-kegel) and kept "off" between contractions, it really did just feel like pressure, not pain. Not to say this was a painless process, it wasn't by any stretch of the imagination, but the vast majority of my contractions were completely manageable, and a lot of them were really pain free. Some of them, I swear I could feel my cervix dilating. I focused on that, trying to imagine my cervix dilating and trying to feel it. It felt like a cervical exam, actually! I learned to love that (not the exams, just the dilating feeling) even though it kind of hurt.
I spent most of the day in the tub because it was amazing. We had this great classical Christmas album playing all day that was so relaxing. I was just in a zone. DH was incredible. He won the "hubby prize" when he threw away a big blob of bloody mucous that came out of me as I was getting out of the tub! Also, he didn't complain at all about cleaning up the projectile vomit all over the bathroom! (I've learned this is an early labor sign for me!)
I was a little apprehensive about when to go to the hospital. With my first, I was in agony, and I went in at 3 cm, was sent home, labored for another full 24 hours, water broke, was in even more torture, went in and had only progressed to a 4!! So this time, I was worried that this whole day of comfortable contractions hadn't done anything and I didn't want to get sent home. At the same time, they really felt like they were productive, so I didn't want to wait too long and then have the baby in the car. We finally dacided, as evening approached, that it would be better to be sent home than have the baby unexpectedly.
We had a minor disaster gettting out of the house when DD ran up to give me a hug and my mom stopped her because I was having a contraction. She cried and it broke my heart! I didn't want to leave her like that! Eventually things calmed down and we left. The car ride was so much more comfortable than the first one! I just stayed relaxed and focused and we listened to that great album. Then, DH dropped me off so he could park the car. I sat on a chair in the lobby with earphones on and my eyes closed and just zoned out. Truthfully, it was amazing. A few times I got kind of emotional listening to a few songs that I really love.
We got to triage and they took forever, but this time I was totally fine with it because I figured I'll labor the same way wherever I am, and nobody was bothering me. I sat in a chair or my ball and did my thing. DH was very supportive.
Finally they checked me....6 cm!! I wanted to be at 8, but I was very happy with 6! She said my waters were bulging and when they broke things would move fast. I got into a room and DH set up Christmas lights (which I later discovered were not allowed, but the L&D people didn't know that!!) an oil warmer with nice smelling essential oils, and my ipod. I sat in this chair the whole time and just focused.
I did have to have IV fluids because baby's heartrate was a little high. This was my only intervention! I was ok with it, too, because they really did understand that I didn't want it, and they waited as long as they could to do it. Really they were amazing. Everyone I met had read my birth plan. Nobody asked if I was in pain or offered me drugs. They were incredible.
After a while, I started having some "pushy" contractions, so I told the nurse this. She said "I can tell by the monitor!" (oh yeah....wireless monitor...great thing! Except they kept losing the baby on it so she kept trying to adjust it during contractions. Not fun.) They checked me and said I was 8. They said if they broke the water it would go fast, and they really wanted to because of baby's heartrate, but I was really afraid that things would get too intense if they did. Fortunately, with some more fluid, the heart rate came down and they said they could wait for it to break on it's own.
DH made me listen to my Hypnonabies tracks at this point. I'm so glad he did! A few contractions later..."POP!!" My water broke. I was terrified, because at this point things were manageable, but I thought if they got more intense I couldn't handle it. I was also oddly afraid of pushing! I'm not sure why. I never was afraid of it during pregnancy. I kept trying to tell myself that it was OK, to release the fear. Things did get more intense after my water broke, but I just really focused on making the "whooohh" sound. Some of them were quite loud, but I tried to keep my voice low in pitch. That helped. I also tried to imagine and feel the downward pressure with each contraction.
The very next time the nurse came in I told her my water broke and the midwife checked me and said I was complete and could push any time I wanted to. I'm so glad they never told me to push! I always wanted to just push with the urge to push. That ended up being a moot point because once the urge to push hit, I couldn't control it and it never went away until she was pretty much out! Hypnobabies tells you to "aaaah" your baby out...yeah right! It was this insane animal growl/yell with every out-breath. I swear it was just one long pushy contraction. It was the most intense thing I've ever felt in my life. I thought that way about DD1's pushing (2.5 hours) but this was another thing entirely. NOT pain-free, but it was over so fast. 4 minutes of pushing! It was so completely overwhelming.
I did have one first degree tear, but they said I didn't even need stitches if I didn't want them. She said it would just burn when I peed if I didn't. I opted for stitches, but said I wanted a local. That ended up hurting more that the stitches! At one point I said "what am I complaining about this for....considering what I just went through!" The MW just laughed.
Recovery was SO easy! I felt (and feel) great immediately. They did give me Emily right away, waited for her cord to stop pulsing, and had DH cut it, but then they had to take her to the warming table because she was having trouble breathing. It turned out to be fluid in her lungs. They gave her a little oxygen, suctioned her and then gave her back to me. They had me wait to nurse her for a few minutes to make sure her O2 levels were OK, but then she latched on and nursed!! Such a change from DD1 who took a month to get used to latching on. It took us maybe 4 tries before she was an old pro! She does have a shallow latch so my nipples are sore. Still trying to work on that.
We came home from the hospital the next full day, so I spent one full night in the hospital. Nursing, not sleeping. Ugh. But, my milk came in the 2nd day, so yay!
It was an amazing experience. Not always my favorite thing in the world, but at no point was I tempted to ask for pain medicines and I'm just so amazed that I actually did it! I thought she would never come out, but now I'm so in love!
24 hours of labor, 4 minutes of pushing. 7 pounds, 1.1 oz, 19 inches long.