On Sunday the 13th, I lost my mucous plug in the morning. Since Addison was my only other experience in childbirth, I figured that things would go similar this time. With Addy, everything happened at once: first my water broke, then the plug, then 6 hours later I was having good strong contractions progressing hourly in dilation. So I anixously awaited Penelope's arrival. In fact, every morning I woke up thinking TODAY COULD BE THE DAY! As the week wore on, I began to realize that it just wasn't the same birth or the same birth experience. I was definitely right on that one!
Friday all day I had a calm feeling and found myself tidying up 'loose ends' and completely cleaning the house. I even sent a couple of emails to colleagues letting them know I was on maternity leave starting Monday. Strange how right I would be! That Friday night, I was lying in bed talking to Michael as he got ready for bed and I heard and felt a POP! and then....gush....my water had broken! Yay!!! I immediately called my family and posted on Facebook that Penelope would arrive the next day as surely, I thought, she would! I went to bed and began having contractions that progressed to every 10 minutes for about 40 seconds long. I called my midwife and she said to wait til they are a little stronger and longer. I fell back asleep.
I awoke at 6 am excited about what the day would bring! I had only slept about 4 1/2 hours due to the excited anticipation and the contractions. So I had some breakfast and sat down to daydream and IM with my friends. The contractions subsided. As the day progressed, so did NOT the contractions. I timed them all day (obsessively, yes) and the best they got were about every 20 minutes. Yet they were intense enough to make me uncomfortable. We even tried some nipple stimulation to get them going to no avail. I received countless calls from family and friends asking about P and if I was ok. At about 8 pm I spoke with the midwife. She said that although many hospitals recommend a baby needs to be born within 24 hours after water breaking, her experience from the scientific literature she has read indicates that a baby is safe up to 72 hours so long as there is nothing that you insert into the vagina (such as multiple cervical checks from the doctor). So she said to relax that all would be well and Penelope would come when she was ready. However, if I WANTED to progress things, I could drink castor oil. She claimed this almost always works and the only time it doesn't is when a woman tries it too soon with no other indicators of readiness. At first I didn't think it was a good idea...but then Michael (my hubby) talked me into it because he said that it's possible I would not get good sleep again due to the contractions and so I would be in terrible shape to deliver.
At 9pm I made the icky castor oil milkshake and by 10 my labor was progressing! I was having contractions every 5 minutes that were 1 minute long. Then my midwife showed up and she told me to get walking! So hubby and I took off marching up and down our hilly road. Boy did that work! My contractions got MUCH stronger. So the midwife checked my cervix. I was shocked to find out I was only a 3 dilation! After all that work! So I started really walking. We took an hour long walk at about midnight! We're nuts, I know, but at this point I was desperate to get on with it. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together but I kept walking! I kept thinking in my head, "yes, bring it on!" every time I got one.
By 2am I was pacing around the house moaning. The contractions were strong and long now. I knew we were getting close. Around 3am she checked my cervix again and I was dilated to an 8!!! Yay! I asked if I could get in the water now. She said absolutely! Neither of us wanted to get me into the water too soon for fear of stalling the labor since I had so much trouble getting to this point. Most women would have been able to get into the water at a 6 dilation.
The 3 midwives went around my house gathering all the supplies. I noted an oxygen tank nearby and the gauze and medical instruments. I saw one of them bringing in the towels. The whole while I walked in the house having more and more intense contractions. I was encouraged by the thought that they really had their game down! They seemed methodical about what they were doing. I was drawing on a new energy now. Amazing how God gives me what I need exactly when I need it. Good thing too because without that power I am a wimp!
I got into the water at 3:40 am. It felt soooo good. I was comforted by the warmth and the weightlessness. I got on my hands and knees and rocked gently back and forth. I entered another place in those minutes. Then I felt a contraction coming on. As it started, I shouted out in a voice that didn't sound like myself: "I THINK I HAVE TO PUSH!" My midwife calmly responded, "well then go ahead and push." I succumbed to the uterus pushing. That is the best way I can put it because it was nothing like pushing Addison out. I didn't work at it, nor did I hurt at all, I only gave in to the strength of the contraction. It was amazing! The first push and POP! I felt a balloon popping between my legs and looked at the midwife worriedly. "Something happened" I said. Her calmness was astounding. Her energy was peace and I felt it. She asked "what happened, Toni?" I told her and she explained that the amniotic sac is in two layers (later she showed me these layers) and that I had only ruptured one of them. Now they were both gone. I rocked some more. Another minute passed and I felt a contraction coming on. I asked Michael to rub my lower back as hard as he could. I reached down and felt her head emerging!!! Thrilling! There's even a picture of my face during this contraction and you can see there is no pain in my face. Only relief and concentration. With this push out came her head! And the contraction was done. Only her head was out. I asked if she is ok. The midwife said she is fine and Michael told me she is lovely. I couldn't wait to see her and hold her....my precious little girl! Oh my.....
But no contraction. We were all so excited! Kept waiting. I asked again if she is ok. The midwife said she is fine but she can't stay like this forever. I felt a little panic come over. I was stuck again? Oh no! I asked if I could try just pushing with no contraction. She smiled and said I could try. lol Nothing there. She suggested I stand up. So two midwives helped me stand and as I was standing, I began to contract. At 3:52 (4 minutes after her head emerged) she was born! 12 minutes after I entered the pool.
I held her for a few minutes in the pool falling absolutely in love as no one can understand but another mother. My midwife Kate helped to ensure that her lungs were clear though we all knew they were loud and strong. She had cried as soon as they took her out of the water....must've been cold! Brrrrr...
Then the midwives helped me out of the pool while I carefully held my baby who was still attached to my placenta inside. We went to my bedroom and, on my own bed, while I nursed my baby, I delivered the placenta. Daddy fetched Addison and my friend Amber came upstairs too at some point (I'm not sure when). I cuddled with her until the cord blood didn't give her any more nourishment. Daddy snipped the cord and Kate took measurements. I took a shower and came back to my own bed and snuggled Addison on one side of me while Penelope nursed on the other. Michael laid next to us and we just all loved each other.
The midwives, as quickly as St Nicholas' elves, cleaned the whole house, did my laundry, drained the tub and loaded up their cars. Kate reminded me of the do's and don'ts postpartum and asked me to phone her later in the day to let her know how we're doing. My blood pressure was 112/68. I felt like I could fly!
My friend Amber saved the day by taking Addy so we could have our much needed sleep. We awoke at noon, she left, and we got on with enjoying our new lives together. Life will never be the same now that you're here Penelope. Thank God for you!