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i guess we could begin at my 38 week midwife appointment on thursday the 17th...the one where s didn't make me another appointment. we could start there because right after i left is the last time i started contracting regularly. but they were easy-peasy, hardly-worth-the-label contractions, and nothing that hadn't happened before. i ignored them, went and got my new cell phone activated, went to my mom's house to make noodle happy. came home, went to bed, slept right through these "contractions"...but i know i was still having them, because you know, i was hugely pregnant and hugely pregnant women generally have to get up at least twelve times a night to pee.
friday morning rolled around, we got up and went about our day. around noon, i started thinking that these contractions were starting to feel different...but i didn't really believe myself. i was sure i was just being overly optimistic because of the full moon, and because i didn't have another midwife appointment, and because i was really, really done being pregnant. by the time dale got home at four, i was confident enough to tell him that maybe, possibly, we could be having a baby. he didn't believe me. i convinced him to go grocery shopping anyway, just in case i was right, so we didn't have an empty kitchen and a newborn baby and a mom who was certainly not going to be grocery shopping anytime this week (although, apparently, taking a laboring me grocery shopping will result in a kitchen filled with lunch meat, fish fingers, and nothing else even approaching nutritious food. so that trip was pretty pointless.). right as we were finishing up, i turned to dale and said, "something feels wrong. i can't tell if there's a problem with my arm or with my eyes..." we headed for checkout, and i lost peripheral vision to my left- migraine symptom! i hadn't had a migraine since before bean was born, but it seemed more likely than a stroke. to be honest, i panicked a tiny bit, not knowing how to treat a migraine while pregnant and especially while laboring, and knowing- i can handle childbirth, or i can handle a migraine, but i cannot handle both at the same time. contractions got very weak and spaced out then. i got a dr pepper for the caffeine, and we went home, i took some tylenol, and got in bed. the vision disturbance faded out, and my left hand and arm went numb. as feeling came back to my hand, my tongue and mouth began to tingle. and as i started to regain normal feeling in my mouth, i realized it had been an hour since the first symptoms, and it didn't hurt yet. my eyebrows felt a little sore, like i had scowled at someone too hard and too long, but that was it. that was at seven o'clock, and contractions picked right up then.
the light from our west-facing living room windows was pretty bothersome though, so i had dale tack sheets over the blinds while we ate "ocean nibbles from undah the sea" for dinner (fish sticks for those of you who don't read/watch charlie and lola), and i sat on my birth ball for an episode of star trek. i think it was just before nine when i called aunt ba to come help out with the girls, but she and my parents were at a music presentation, so i told them to stay and finish that. i still don't think dale was convinced we were having a baby,but he humored me and vacuumed the living room and hallway and our bedroom, and we generally picked up a bit. noodle was super excited by now, but bean was clingy and tired. she wanted me to carry her around while i picked up, and then she wanted to nurse, and then she wanted to go to bed...that was really, really sucky. lying down, nursing, contracting to get a baby out...the first two are great when done together. add the third to either of the others, and it pretty much amounts to torture! fortunately, she was out in no time and i got back up- only to discover that a couple of days before when i said "we need a new broom," dale heard, "please throw the broom away and don't mention it to me or put it on the shopping list or remind me at the store." so, no broom, and baking soda spilled all over the kitchen floor. i may have been a little bit mean about asking him to find a way to clean that up for me...
some time right before or right after me possibly yelling at my husband over our lack of a broom, i called my friend and doula, jess, and dale called my midwife. i can't remember for sure when i called her, but it was shortly after the one time i checked my cervix (6 ish and completely effaced) and she came to the door while dale was vacuuming the kitchen for me. at this point, i was vocalizing some through contractions, and as jess put it, "on the prowl." i couldn't hold still for the life of me, and was just pacing the apartment. as official photographer at this point, noodle took a couple pictures of me (and several of the empty birth pool in the bedroom). jess suggested we take a walk, and i agreed. i was feeling bad for snapping at my poor husband, and went to kiss him goodbye, make sure he knew i wasn't really mad. noodle snapped a picture of us slow dancing through a contraction.
outside it felt wonderful. aunt ba and my mom arrived just as we were leaving, i guess this was around eleven. the moon was out, it was just a perfect temperature, and the contractions were enough to make me lose my train of thought on occasion, but i could still walk through them. up the street we went, and the street light cooperated so i didn't have to break stride, and the sprinklers were on at the start of the nature path. jess and i talked about how the day had gone, and laughed at stuff our kids had done. i was feeling pressure in my hips and back, so jess tried a hip squeeze. it felt great, but i still needed to move and that was awkward, so we didn't do it again. we turned around when i decided i needed to pee again. the sprinklers were still on, and i said something about how nice they had felt before- and wouldn't you know it, i jinxed it. every one of them missed spraying us.
we got back, i peed, and started pacing again,but not for long. i decided that the pool was sounding really nice at this point, so into the bedroom we went. dale brought me my swim suit top, and jess wiped my feet because they were pretty dirty and i didn't want all that in the water. it took me a minute to figure out how to put my swim suit on, but i eventually got it and climbed in. noodle had blown up a bunch of exam gloves and put them in the water for me...apparently to test the temperature. if they exploded, it meant the water was too hot, and if they turned to ice, it meant too cold. i thought it was cute, unless they touched me during a contraction. when i first got in, i was still smiling and talking between contractions, and apparently even eating- i don't remember it, but we have a picture of me grinning and eating an apple slice with noodle!
i couldn't have been in the pool very long, but it felt like a while to me. s arrived sometime while i was in there, bringing a student with her, h. i wasn't thrilled about that, it already felt like there were too many people around, and i said as much at one point. several people left when i said that, although i'm not really sure who. i'm also not sure when exactly dale got in the pool with me, but he did, and held me and told me i was doing great. suddenly the water was feeling too cold, and i decided to get in the shower instead. as i stood up from the pool, i announced, "i want it out." somebody got the shower going, somebody else wrapped me in a towel, and dale helped me down the hall and into the shower. after just a couple of contractions in there, i started feeling just a little bit pushy, but nothing like the overwhelming urge i felt with the girls. i told dale, "i'm done. i want it out, and i'm done." i was also pretty tired, and somehow i found myself back in the bedroom and lying on my side on the bed. somebody had drained off some of the cool water in the pool so hot water could be added again, but it didn't look so appealing to me any more, so i opted to stay in bed (i knew there was a reason i got the mattress protector!). jess held my top leg up for me to push, but it didn't feel right. s asked to check me, the one and only time she did, and just like i knew, my cervix was complete and baby jelly was just waiting for me to give a good push. so i changed positions, dale got behind me and i tried a semi sit, but that was even worse than side-lying. s told me, "your baby is right there, you may as well push it out." i tried to explain that i wanted to, i was just having a hard time getting behind the contractions. she suggested that breaking my water might help. i attempted to push through a couple more, while dale asked about the risk of cord prolapse (see, he was paying attention to the risks of [early] arom!), and i said, "if it will help me push, let's do it, let's have a baby." so h broke my water, and i had the presence to call noodle in. i thought she'd be fascinated, because she had been so preoccupied with my water breaking the last few weeks, but she came, asked a couple of questions, and left again! breaking my water still didn't help while i was sitting, so for the next contraction, i flipped to my hands and knees-and that did it! i think i pushed through two contractions, and the baby was here! somebody passed it between my legs and i sat back against dale and took it, while we hustled noodle back in to tell us- "it's a boy! baby jelly is a boy!" he looked great, his one-minute apgar was a nine. and then my placenta came, and i started bleeding, and people got preoccupied with me, and i got a shot of pitocin but he didn't look right. and i asked, a couple of times, "is he ok?" and then i'm not sure if i actually said it or just thought, "i don't think he's breathing." whether or not i said it, somebody heard, because s looked at him then, and we put him on the bed between my feet. she gave him a couple of rescue breaths, and chest compressions, suctioned him a little bit, and he started to come back to us. he was handed back to me, and i rubbed him to keep him breathing, and finally he cried! mom brought both the girls in then- somebody had gotten bean up- and they climbed up onto the bed to meet their new baby brother.