On Friday October 12 I woke up, once again, pregnant. Now 10 days past my due date I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and anxious to have a baby. Matt, Joseph and I all had a cold and the mood around the house was gloomy.
At 10 AM I had an appointment with on of my midwives for a non-stress test and checkup. Sue, the midwife, called early in the morning to tell me that she was at another birth and would have to postpone my appointment. I rested and waited until noon, when I met up with her at the birth center. The NST went fabulously. The baby continued to have good accelerations and I was having consistent contractions (as I had been for approximately 4 weeks). A cervical check showed me to be dilated to 3cm and 80% effaced. Sue did a quick membrane sweep to help get/keep things moving.
On my way home I picked up lunch for Matt, Joseph and I. After we ate Matt put Joseph down for a nap and he and I played a game of chess. Matt kicked my ass, but that is neither here nor there. At about 3PM I laid down to take a nap and Matt went to try to work for a while. I couldn't sleep despite only having gotten 4 or so hours of sleep the night before. I was crampy from the membrane sweep and feeling anxious about not being in labor.
At about 3:30 I had a good contraction. It felt stronger than my cramps and the pressure felt even and consistent. After a few minutes I felt another. I grabbed my phone and put it in stopwatch mode so I could time them. I timed contractions for about an hour. They were coming about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 30 second on average. Joseph's labor started similarly - fairly suddenly and pretty consistent from the get go. I called Nema, Janelle, Sherilyn, and Dawn (the second of my two midwives) and gave them all a head's up that I was pretty sure we were starting labor. I called to Matt and showed him the stopwatch times on my phone. He was immediately excited. "You did it!" he said.
"I haven't done anything yet!"
Little did I realize how true that statement was.
I felt like I needed something to distract me from the prospect of labor so I suggested we take Joseph to Barnes & Noble for treats and maybe to buy a book for him. Janelle met us there. We had something to eat and Joseph played in the children's book section for a while. Matt picked out a puzzle for him.
Matt and I headed home and Janelle took Joseph to her place and to the store. By this time it was raining lightly. I got in the hot tub in our backyard and enjoyed the rain and the quiet for a short time. Sherilyn came by and sat with me for a while. At this point contractions were intense and uncomfortable, but I was still doing very well with breathing through them and relaxing. I told the baby that I wanted her to come, so the more intense the contraction, the better.
In the meantime, Matt was making a big dinner for us (spaghetti with sausage and bell pepper). Janelle, Joseph, and Nema arrived and hung out. I vacuumed the house (late term nesting!) and continued to take contractions one at a time. We ate dinner together and then Janelle took Joseph to get ready for bed.
Dawn (the primary midwife for my birth) called just before 9 PM and I told her that my contractions were now lasting about 40 seconds and coming about 4 minutes apart. She told me to call or have someone call her when I started feeling more serious between contractions and when contractions were lasting a full minute.
Sherilyn arrived just after 9 PM.
I went back out to the hot tub. It was raining a little harder. I felt great - relaxed, ready, and very happy to be in labor. I stayed in the tub until about 10, when I decided I should get out and move around to keep things moving.
Things picked up pretty quickly after that. My contractions began to change in character. The pain went from a strong, sharp, crampy pain to a deeper pain that I can't really describe. When I felt it I immediately recognized it as the pain of a more powerful contraction, but before that I didn't really remember that feeling. The memory of labor is an elusive thing.
I stopped being able to breathe through contractions. I was starting to have a harder time staying relaxed and controlled and my ability to be social between contractions went away.
At about 11 someone asked me if we should call Dawn. I couldn't decide. Janelle was timing my contractions and told me they were lasting about a minute now. They called Dawn and asked her to come over.
Dawn arrived shortly. By then I was feeling very worn out and the pain of the contractions was so overwhelming that I cried and yelped through them. I had completely lost my ability to relax during the contractions and was feeling desperate to be done. A bit after midnight (maybe more like 12:30), a cervical check revealed that I was dilated to 7 cm.
"No!" I cried out. I couldn't believe that I had made so little progress. Dawn reassured me that things were going well. She recommended that I get into the shower for a while. This was a great call.
I had a very hard time in the shower, but the water, which Sherilyn, Nema, and Janelle took turns aiming at my belly, was soothing and warm. I howled through my contractions. Matt got in with me and supported me as I needed it.
I can not express how awesome my husband was during this labor. He was so present and reassuring. He knew when to touch me, when to back off, how to support me, when to push me forward and, most of all, that I really needed him right there. I really don't know what I would have done without him.
I stayed in the shower for a while. Janelle got in at some point and supported me from behind/the side as I stretched out during strong, powerful, surges of pain and power. I was nearly hysterical and had almost completely lost my ability to relax at all. I really started to feel like I couldn't go on. I looked at my belly and saw my baby's rear end, sitting right where it has been for the last month. I was distressed - she wasn't moving down at all and I was nearing the end of my rope. A couple of times in the shower I was able to let my body go and surrender to the contraction.
In the meantime, Joseph was sleeping soundly. He woke when I left the shower and only stayed with us for one contraction. I told him I was ok and that I was working very hard and Janelle brought him back to his room. It was just too intense for him. I was so grateful to have her there to make that call.
Dawn asked me if I wanted her to break my water. I did. We broke Joseph's water when I was 8 1/2 cm dilated and it had helped move things nicely. I was a little concerned about bringing on an urge to push too soon. On the other hand, I had felt some push urge in the shower and I wanted the baby out.
Dawn broke my water at 1:05 AM.
Naomi Catherine Wronkiewicz was born only 16 minutes later, at 1:21 AM.
Pushing was intense. I never got up from the floor, but simply rolled to my side, braced my feet on the wall and pushed with the contractions. I asked Dawn and Matt to tell me what was happening and their progress reports encouraged me. I felt the burn as she crowned and, somewhere in the chaos of the screaming and the pain, told myself that this was better than not pushing and that I'd be done soon.
Her head was out.
Dawn said something about her not rotating. Later she would tell me that, while most babies rotate so that one shoulder comes out before the other, Naomi had come out straight on. Both shoulders came at the same time.
I sustained a moderate tear. Not as bad as with Joseph at all.
My bum really really hurt. Much worse than with Joseph.
After Joseph was born I felt myself come back to the room quickly and, while shaky and uncomfortable, I felt incredible relief. Naomi's birth had taken a greater toll and I had a hard time in the half hour that followed. I held her for only a few minutes before handing her to Matt while I tried to lay still and relax my legs so that I could deliver the placenta and Dawn could repair my tear.
Naomi sat attentively in her daddy's arms. She was absolutely taken with him and, even though I was shaky and upset and hurting, I loved watching them. Joseph came into the room. Nema had brought him back to the doorway to watch the very very end of the birth. He was now walking around announcing that the baby had been born. He touched her tentatively a few times. She was rooting and sucking her hands loudly. Dawn worked steadily so that I could get to a comfortable place and nurse my new baby.
She latched on quickly and well. Joseph was a tricky baby to latch on, so I was amazed at how easily it came to Naomi. I took some ibuprofen and drank some gatorade while she nursed.
I started feeling better. I came back to the room. My midwives, were both there (Sue arrived while I was pushing, I think). My wonderful friends were busy cleaning up, taking pictures, and shooting video of Naomi's first moments.
Janelle put Joseph to bed. He fell asleep quickly and without protest.
We all guessed at her weight. Sue guessed 9 lbs 2 oz, but questioned her estimate after picking Naomi up. Janelle guessed 25 lbs even. She's a funny girl. I guessed 9 lbs 6 oz.
Sue did the newborn exam:
9 lbs 3 oz
20 1/4 inches
I don't remember her head and chest size.
Everything else looked good and normal.
Janelle dressed Naomi in her first outfit.
Sherilyn buzzed around helping out with all kinds of things.
Nema documented Naomi's first moments.
Matt made phone calls.
Dawn sat on the floor and filled out paperwork and we all chatted. The mood was relaxed and drowsy, but celebratory. It was really wonderful.
By 3:30 or so everyone was heading home except Janelle, who I asked to stay the night so that she could help with Joseph in the morning.
We didn't sleep much. Naomi only slept while nursing or while snuggled up onto Matt's chest. She sucked on her hands or Matt's neck all night. I hadn't peed and was having a hard time resting and getting comfortable.
Today we have been resting. Friends have brought us meals and we have all had good naps and some quiet time together. It has been very nice.
The most surprising thing about this birth was how much harder it was for me than Joseph's. I wonder if it is because Joseph's birth was so "against the odds" (with 2 doctors having told us he would likely be too big to deliver vaginally) that my stubbornness was more of a factor. Whatever it was, I definitely had a much harder time this time around.
But, today, just the same, I have a healthy, happy baby, and sit recovering in my own home with my beautiful family.
EDIT #1: Some edits from Janelle. . .
The majority of the time I was in the shower Matt was behind me supporting me and Sherilyn was in front of me. Matt moved in front of me to help me out and Janelle jumped in behind me when I ended up being in the shower for a few contractions after that.
Also, Sue was not there until just after Naomi had been born. Things moved very very fast once my water was broken and Dawn had Nema call Sue at the last minute, but Naomi's head was either out or almost out by the time Nema and Sue were done talking.