The midwives also said the cord was really thick and healthy, as was my bag of waters (which they had to rupture, as usual in my labours!) I must say I'm proud to support such strong healthy babies in my body!
It sure was a tiring 9 months, but definitely worth every ache and pain, all the nauseousness and hunger of the first trimester, constant emotional upheaval, complaints, grouchiness and sighing! Oh, and that whole getting bigger thing...(I must say I'm excited to become small again!)
A week ago today I was out and about, taking the girls to the library story time, going to my midwife appointment on my own while some neighbours cared for Greta and Therese, and then spending time chatting with these friends and watching all our girls play together at the community centre. I was at the point where when people would ask me my due date I'd say, "Well it's March 1...so it could happen tonight!"...hoping it would...hoping I wouldn't be overdue...hoping to get the ordeal over with so we could all hold this little guy finally...trying not to think about how some people go as much as 2 weeks past their due dates.
All in all it was a good day. I had enough energy, relatively speaking, was in a pretty good mood, and was SUPER SUPER HUNGRY. We baked up a frozen lasagna someone had given us, and the smell reminded me of after Greta was born--of all the home cooked meals people had given to us--and it was so comforting. I mentioned it to Matthew and he felt the same way, and remembered that we had been given several lasagnas after Greta's birth! Anyway...I ate so much that night. I was so hungry. I kept having increasingly intense Braxton Hicks ("practice" contractions) and tried not to get my hopes up, but secretly thought the labour would start that night. With that thought in mind, and after a little chocolate and ice cream (I can't eat chocolate when I'm breastfeeding, so I thought I might as well get some in me before I fast for a year!) I went to bed early, around 10pm.
I was able to sleep pretty well, but when at 3am Therese crawled into bed with us I stayed awake, noticing these "practice" contractions I'd been having earlier get more and more serious. After about an hour of this I woke Matthew, told him I thought it was starting and could he please take TT back to her bed. She seemed so big to me then, all of the sudden she seemed like a nearly 3 year old...not my little baby anymore! I didn't want her around for when things started getting crazier.
He took her to her bed and then we started making our phone calls: the midwife on call, Camille, with her student Amanda ("arrange your childcare, call again, then we'll meet you at the hospital"), Marilyn and Ralph from church...Marilyn is an older woman who LOVES the girls and looks after them at our Wednesday morning mom's group...she's actually Linda's mom (Linda looked after Greta when Therese was born!), also Matthew called my mom to let her know. By this point I was beyond the excitement of "It's finally happening!!" and on to "Oh no! It's happening! I'm scared!" so I had a little chat with my mom, which was comforting.
We got everything ready, Marilyn arrived, and Ralph drove us to the hospital. By this point it was about 5am, the streets were quiet, and with only 2 or 3 contractions on the 10 minute drive there I managed alright. I always dread the drive to the hospital, but this one wasn't so bad.
At the hospital we checked in and waited for Amanda and Camille. They arrived, checked me and I was 3cm dilated...not as far as I'd hoped, but oh well! They suggested Matthew and I walk around for a bit to help labour pick up. On this walk I was so slow going, I didn't want to go too far from my midwives, and I was getting more and more afraid. It didn't matter how much I told myself: "You can do it! You've done this before! This is how it works! Connect with other women! One contraction at a time!" I just kept having flashbacks to my past labours, knowing how bad it gets, and knowing there was medication here, so why not just get some???!!! I'd done the natural thing fully once, nearly twice actually (even though the first time ended in a cesarean) so why not take an easier route this time?
I wanted to walk back to my midwives, I needed their comfort and their presence and I needed to know there was laughing gas nearby for when I wanted it! So we walked back. I cried and shared my anxieties with Camille (for the 2nd or 3rd time already that morning!) and she was very supportive. She sped things up so I could get a room, and someone gave me the laughing gas. It worked for a few contractions, made them a little more "fun" but then it didn't seem to do much for me at all, except help me concentrate my breathing. I was 5cm by this time, just the right time for an epidural, so I asked for it!
I managed those last few contractions pre-epidural better than I thought I would. Someone came in who I thought was the anesthetist, and we joked around about how he was actually the OB, NOT someone I wanted to see...and then soon the wonderful anesthetist came in :-) Within about 20 minutes my midsection could only feel the pressure of the contractions. My legs were fully usable and awake! I was more comfortable than I'd been in MONTHS!!! I laid down and dozed off, had some juice and a popsicle, and relaxed, knowing every time I had a contraction I was getting closer to seeing Hosea. It really was lovely.
Eventually they broke my waters, and then it was time to push. It was so different pushing with pressure, rather than pain. I pushed for about an hour, with lots of motivational coaching from Matthew and my midwives. But then they realized that Hosea's head was having trouble maneuvering past part of my pelvic bone on one side, so that OB came in again, Dr. Rosengarden (I think?) He was kind of intimidating at first, examining me briskly and all "doctorly" but eventually I came to trust him more. He proposed 3 things: help Hosea out with this vacuum thing (yes, crazy), with forceps (these scare me to death because of the horror stories my mom shared with me about her forceps deliveries) or possibly a cesarean if Hosea's heart rate started to drop. I was hoping for the vacuum I guess, and expressed extreme opposition to the forceps, and of course didn't want a cesarean! The midwives and Matthew talked me through the forceps, as did the OB. He said they were just "small forceps, to pull baby's head to the right spot, and then YOU will push baby out...we just have to get him in the right place", when he told me it would just take a short while and then a couple more pushes and he'd be out, I was sold!
I closed my eyes, I did NOT want to see those things, then was told to push! push! and I felt Hosea's head come out and then the rest of his body slid out afterwards and they threw him on my chest!!! "I'm done! I'm done! It's all over?!! He's out?!" I exclaimed! Oh, the moment I'd been waiting for for 9 months, finally here.
It really was a lovely, lovely, peaceful birth. Only a small tear to stitch up, while snuggling my son. All else went smoothly. Hosea began nursing right away, he was fully alert.
Since the birth we've had so much help from people: our moms, people from church, and neighbours. People have looked after the girls for us, brought us meals, and picked up groceries. I am so grateful.
Now that it's been nearly a week I'm starting to get my energy back, little by little. I'm trying to let go of control in the mean time, take in this little baby boy--his little noises, his so so soft skin, his sleep smiles and laughs, his snorts and sneezes, and his alert eyes looking right into mine! Also it's so fun to watch the girls with him: they have been making him pictures and telling him they love him for months, but now they can do it for REAL, he's finally out! Yesterday Therese said "Babies always come out"...now it's been proven :-) She was probably skeptical before! Next post I will put some photos of the girls with him.
Matthew often gives Hosea "pinky" time, as we always call it. Our babies always love to suck on Papa's pinky! Yesterday he even took all 3 out to a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner/service at the Anglican Church in our neighbourhood. It was too quiet around here for me, but I did appreciate the peacefulness, and wanted to give Matthew that chance to take Hosea on his first official outing. They all had a great time, but I was sure glad to see them when they got back!
Not too sore anymore, just slow going and emotional, with all these crazy hormones swirling around. Maybe today or tomorrow I'll go down the street to the park? But for now I'm enjoying this quiet morning, Hosea in the baby carrier on my chest--sleeping peacefully as I write this, while the girls are being looked after by some church friends and Matthew's at work for a bit.
Yes, I am so grateful!