So, I soldiered on, downloaded a contraction counter app, and practiced breathing. On the evening of the 24th we finally picked a name that Austin and I both loved all that was left to do was see if it matched his little self when he arrived.
I couldn't sleep. I was excited. The little light from my contraction counter stayed bright as I logged each one and finally around midnight I poked Austin. "I think this is it!" I called Angela (my midwife) and she gave the same advice as before with instructions to call again when things "changed" or I thought it was time for them to come. After I hung up with her I had a panicky moment. Changed? wait a second I'm not sure what that means, why was I the one who needed to decide this? I relaxed into the contractions trying to remember what they had felt like when I was in "real" labor with James. Pretty soon I enlisted Austin to start giving me pressure on my back and knees. The pain got to me and I threw up. Austin called for back up.
As soon as my birthing team arrived I felt more calm. No more wondering where I was in the process, I could just get lost in labor land. Austin turned on Pandora's "ambient" station. We'd freshly upgraded to ad-free listening--not that an advert for McDonald's dollar menu would have killed the mood or anything.
Austin and I got into a groove that was really wonderful. I mostly wanted to stay lying on the bed and in the wee hours of the morning was even able to sleep a little in between contractions. I threw up a few more times, just one of the not so fun ways my body responds to pain. Someone brought in cold damp wash cloths for my face. There was often a straw pointed in my direction gently urging me to keep hydrated.
An interesting observation about contractions this time. My saving grace when it comes to keeping in control is surrendering completely to each one and relaxing into the pain instead of fighting it. This is WAY easier said than done, but it makes all the difference between panicked excruciating pain, and peaceful, endurable pain. With my first delivery I'd practiced for months and months in preparation teaching myself to surrender and relax, this time I was less vigilant in my pre-labor practicing and it showed a little. I needed a reminding. Weirdly, if I forgot to relax all the way to my feet, my toes would curl up and then chain react up my body until Austin or a midwife reminded to me to relax and with the help of their pressure points and encouragement I could get my groove back.
At about 7:30 AM I had a particularly ouchy contraction and reached for Austin in desperation, when "POP!" my water broke!
Wowza that was weird. Last time my midwife had to break my water for me so I was prepared for the flood. This time, one second I'm breathing through a contraction and then next I'm sitting in a pond. (For anyone who is stressed, I was on our bed which was fully lined with a waterproof mattress cover and then a sheet so after easy clean up it was replaced with a fresh sheet and all was well.)
I took the opportunity to take a warm shower, but wrapped it up quickly as contractions were getting BAD. Like Oh-wait-a-minute-what-was-I-thinking-I-changed-my-mind bad. I thew up in the shower, dried off, put on a fresh nightgown, and told Austin I needed all hands on deck because these contractions were doozies: can't do this by myself contractions. He enlisted everyone (both midwives Angela and Sara and the student midwife Maggie) They coached me through with loving encouragement, pressure where I needed it, massages, cold washcloths, and reminders to breathe deeply.
My moans, once quiet and rhythmic became deeper and more like a sob. It couldn't have been more than 5 of these contractions before I realized I was actually pushing. Completely involuntarily. I could feel the baby moving downward and I got EXCITED! I think Austin was a little surprised it was already time to push, but the midwives were set for action. Austin held me as I leaned back into his lap.
I LOVE pushing. Call me crazy, but it's just the best part. I know I'm almost done, the pain of the baby crowning overrides all the other pressure I've been feeling for hours and it's like fiery relief. I remember Sara saying she could see his head and Austin asking if he had any hair. I couldn't wait to meet him, he was right there! Almost all the pushing was completely involuntary, my body and the baby were working together to ease him out. It wasn't until the very last push that I gave it a little extra and he was born.
The placenta and the cord clamping all happen somewhere next, but I wasn't aware of anything but the rosey morning sunlight and the little wonder in my arms. Austin and I were rather emotional when I realized our sweet little boy has my dad's signature brow and forehead furrow. All around me the midwives quickly and quietly cleaned up and cleared out like magic fairies leaving Austin and I to enjoy our little boy for a few moments together before his newborn exam.
It was so beautiful to sit back, know that everything was taken care of, and I didn't have to go anywhere. Isaac and I could just fall asleep right there in my new fresh sheets on my very own bed.
Isaac Elliot Fife born 9:23 AM on February 25, 2015. 8 lbs 7 oz 19.5 inches long.