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Sage dropped 4-5 days before she was born. I had the same "practice contractions" all day, every day as I had with all my other pregnancies. It felt a little different with that little bowling ball lodged in my pelvis, but they still weren't painful or progressing, just annoying.
The night before she was born, I was having a lot more contractions than usual, but I put it off to the busy day we'd had and the fact that I went grocery shopping after the kids were in bed, too. I knew I just needed to get off my feet and rest and they'd go away. While my husband was helping me put the groceries away, I told him I felt weird and my lips were tingly. He looked excited, but I told him it didn't mean anything as far as I knew. I went to lay down for the night, thinking I would fall asleep easily with how tired I was. I remember being annoyed that the contractions weren't going away, but looking at the clock, they didn't seem to have any pattern. I kept going to the bathroom, but nothing would come out. I couldn't figure out what my body was trying to do, but I did NOT think I was in labor.
Around 1am, my husband came to bed. He was tired, too. Lucky for him he falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Unfortunately, I had to wake him up 20 minutes later. I had been in the bathroom, finally managed to poop, and I was trembling and feeling like I might be in labor. I checked my cervix and was only 25% effaced, maybe 3cm dialated. I STILL wasn't sure it was labor, but it seemed like it. I told him I hadn't been able to sleep because the contractions wouldn't go away and that I felt cold and thought I was in labor and could he pleasefillthepoolnowthanks? His initial thought was that it would end up being a false alarm, but the dear man jumped up and went to work on the pool anyway. He knew we wouldn't have much time if I really was in labor.
I got out my birth ball and sat at the foot of my bed so I could lay my head against the mattress. The next contraction was intense enough I felt the need to vocalize through it. I vocalize an "OHHHHH" sound (for "open"), with a visual picture of my cervix opening for the birth in my head. I reminded myself that the cervix can dialate from 0-10 in a very short time, so I pictured it happening fast. At 1:30am I called my Mom/doula and told her I was thinking it was labor because I was trembling and pooping and "ohhhhhhhh." After having that one contraction on the phone with her and the other details, she later said she knew she needed to hurry because those were transition signs. The next call was to my best friend. I had a contraction while on the phone with her, too. She tried not to rush too much on the way here. I heard some other friends arrive a few minutes later. By the time Mom came to see me in my bedroom, I was kneeling on all fours and contractions were one on top of the other. I really didn't know how close I was to birth, I thought it would be another hour or so. It was 2:07am and she told me I really ought to try to get to the pool now, or I might not make it. My husband came to see if he could help me. I tried to get up, managed to walk around the bed, then a contraction started. My husband held still while I wrapped my arms around his neck and hung through the contraction. We had to do this 3 more times on the way to the pool, then once more before I could even get in. I loved smelling his clean scent and feeling his warmth while he held me. He hasn't gotten to be that involved in my labor since our first. I usually don't need any help at all.
I got in the pool at 2:21am. Three contractions later, I was pushing. I had 7 contractions, and once her head started crowing, it was like one big long freight train that wouldn't let me stop. I was blowing and doing everything I could to not help, but my body just kept bearing down! Her head come out and one shoulder before she could even turn. Then she seemed stuck for a minute. I tilted my pelvis/butt up and the other shoulder came out. The last contraction got her body out. I quickly turned around in the water and lifted her out. She was asleep, relaxed but not completely limp. Her color was good. I couldn't believe how fast it happened! I sat there marveling at her while our family and friends talked about everything. I kept her body under the water while I waited for the cord to stop pulsating. She gave a good cry about 7 minutes after birth, and then I pushed the placenta out. I handed the baby off to my 9 year old who was ready with a baby blanket to wrap her in. My mom was holding the bowl with the placenta.
My best friend helped me get out of the pool and to my nest spot on the couch. I just put a rolled up towel between my legs and sat on a cloth chux pad. While I got myself situated, my mom cut the cord with my daughter, and checked the placenta to make sure it was all in one piece. They brought the baby to me, and I tried to get her to nurse. She took a while to latch on. We then weighed her with a fish scale, but we accidently set it to 1lb instead of the 0 mark. So we told everyone 9lb 14oz at first, but she was really 8/14. She was also 20 inches long. Still my biggest baby yet! She was a week early, had TONS of vernix all over her, and lanugo hair all over, too.
The birth went so fast this time, and it's funny because I kept saying "this one's just gonna fall out of me!" I also said many times that the baby was getting chubby, and was going to be my biggest one.
It's a good thing I am an experienced unassisted birther, because the midwife wouldn't have made it, and I wouldn't have been able to get to the hospital in time!
I feel like I was very distracted by all the people at this birth. Each one was invited and I wanted them there, but I know I was better able to listen to my instincts and less scatter-brained when it was just DH, Mom, and me. I am so glad I was able to demonstrate what birth can be like for the friends I had there, but if we have any more children, I won't be making it a party. =)