Joel was taking his time coming. It was 11 days after my 'due date' and for weeks I had been having prodromal labor. Every day, I had hours of contractions that never turned into full labor and every week, we discovered I had dilated more. Indeed, at 38 weeks, I was 2-3cm and at my 41 week appointment was 6cm.
It was very tiring but also a special time. The contractions reminded me that my body was preparing for our new baby to enter the world and it made me bond more with him while still in utero. On the other hand, it encouraged me to spend special time with my girls, to enjoy them and love on them before their worlds changed and they had to adjust to a new baby.
Additionally, after being so focused on the big move down here to Pearland, it gave me time to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the birth. I had not put too much thought into my hopes for Joel's birth, since I had been more focused on getting here and getting settled in. Not to say I wasn't very excited, I just felt like I needed my 'nest' ready before I could focus on the big day!
Josh said that I became OCD, I had to have everything in the house tidy and clean every second of the day. If I didn't I felt stressed because the house had to be PERFECT for labor. I washed the floors nearly everyday, cleaned baseboards, inside cupboards, organised...
The last 5 nights before Joel arrived, consistently around 4/5pm, I would start having contractions 3-11 minutes apart right up until around midnight when they would stop. They were more painful that the last few weeks but also I could quietly sit through them and enjoy conversation, do chores etc.
By thursday 11th, I was feeling a lot of tension. I had family here waiting on me to have the baby, since they had been sure he would be here already and they needed to get home, phone calls constantly and then news that if I hadn't gone into labor before sunday (14 days 'late'), I would have to be transferred out of the care of my midwife and to an OB. I spent most the morning crying and feeling overwhelmed, I was so tired of everyone wanting my baby to come. I just wanted to relax and enjoy the wait but instead I felt like every morning I woke up without a baby, or a day went by without labor beginning that I was failing everyone and letting people down. He would come when he was ready but the 'cut off' was getting closer and closer.
We began to try so much to get labor going, every old wives tail in the book! Except castor oil. My midwife wanted me to try it and to be honest, I was terrified but I feared pitocin and an epidural more and also trusted her judgement! So, we formulated a plan - a root beer-castor oil float, castor oil massaged into my stomach and covered in hot towels and a strong red raspberry leaf cup of tea with 6 teabags. I sat on the sofa with my tea, my belly covered in towels and watched chick-flicks on the laptop. The girls were with Pammy and Stina out having fun, so it was a nice time at home with Josh, him taking care of me, chatting to each other.
I was scheduled to go in around 4:30 to have my membranes swept. So at 4 we got in the car, seemingly the above plan had not done anything. No awful pain and hours on the toilet, no contractions, in fact I was rested and in good spirits.
On the way I began to feel nauseated but just shrugged it off. We got to the office around 4:30 and as usual my contractions had picked up. Like every night! My midwife checked me and I was 7cm. She decided against the sweep and told me that she had never checked a woman who was 7cm and not in labor and she thought that I was.She said that she had an appointment after me but that she would be on stand by to come asap.
I however was very skeptical. For me, these contractions were no different than sooo many nights before. I was hungry, so on the way home we stopped at the Kroger, I wanted steak so much, but once there, I saw some popcorn chicken that was hot and ready to eat, so I opted for instant gratification.
I did not think I was in labor in Kroger, but in retrospect, I clearly was, as I was swaying through contractions as I waiting for the lady in front of me, who was making the biggest order on earth, while all I wanted was the lone cup of chicken popcorn staring at me from the other side of the glass.
At home, I went to my bedroom, my sanctuary and snuggled up and started to watch another chick flick. I tried to time my contractions on an app on my ipod but gave up. Same as always, irregular, 3-11 minutes apart and no more than menstrual cramps. So laid in bed watching 10 things I hate about you and eating my chicken.
All of a suddenly I had one HUGE contraction and promptly threw up. I didn't question that it was time. I looked at the clock, it was 6:38pm. I called my lovely midwife who happened to be close by (Praise God!).
I informed Josh that I had called and she was on her way. He left me in the bedroom and said he would put the girls to bed then join me. Contractions were coming strong and hard by this point, barely a minute or two in between. So I walked into the front room and said ' I need you now' and went back to the bedroom and got on the bed on the birth ball, rocking through each contraction and trying to focus on relaxing. I decided to focus on God, and just began praying, praying, praying for strength, peace and joy as my body did what He had made it for.
Josh was trying to put some relaxing music on but the music was just annoying me, so I had him turn it off! This was nothing like my labor with Rachel. With her, my water has broke in the night, I was relaxed, everything happened gradually etc, but I was in bed watching a movie one minute and in hard labor within minutes. Trying to make calls, get things ready, and being alone at first all made me feel stressed. So on the bed I was trying to relax. My midwife arrived at 7pm. A little after, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I did not realise at this point that I was probably ready to push.
I went to the bathroom and didn't need to go, but then I started to have one LONG contraction and had Josh bring the birth ball to me. He was doing what worked with Rachel - rubbing my back and speaking encouragement but I didn't want touching or to hear anything. I was quite surprised by this!
Anyhow, during this LONG contraction I started crying and felt frustrated that I was having a hard time handling the pain, I felt weak. It didn't compute how far into labor I was, I thought I still had a long way to go but in fact, the reason it hurt so much was because my body wanted me to PUSH!!!
So I started to push a little and it felt so good but I was still in shock. With the next little push my water literally exploded with a loud POP!, and I felt Joel move done even more. I didn't push with contractions, I just pushed a little, paused and pushed a little more. Before I knew it, Christine said - "Reach back and feel his head!" I did and was flooded with joy and relief. It all made so much sense now and I felt his warm, soft lovely head and gave one more push and he was out! The last 2 times I had pushed for a long time reclined on my back, 1 1/2 hours with Esther and 40 minutes for Rachel, so this I was so amazed how fast he came out, can't have been more than a few pushes! I had thought a lot before hand about trying a different position, so I was thankful how it happened naturally.
I really enjoyed how at no point in labor anyone told me what to do, where to be, when to push but just let me follow my natural instincts. The same way as your body tells you when to eat or sleep - it tells you how to birth your baby!
I had been on my knees draped over the birth ball the whole time (this position was great for me pushing!), so I sat up and she passed him between my legs to me.
A lovely, beautiful big boy, with lots of hair came into this world at 7:15pm on November 11th, weighing 8lbs 5oz (My biggest baby!) and 20 1/2 inches. He arrived hungry and ready to nurse, just 37 minutes after my first 'THIS IS REAL LABOR!' contraction. Jamie, who was assisting didn't make it in time!
It turns out I subscribed to labor on the installment plan. I did all the ground work before hand and went straight into transition.
This labor was very different than my last, the only thing that happened the same was that I used the birth ball. But, it was wonderful and I have a beautiful baby boy!
Now, a lot of you know that I was transferred to the hospital very quickly after birth, but I have decided to dwell on the wonderful, marvelous delivery of our new little blessing rather than on the complications.
This labor was very different from Rachel's - In many ways, it was a lot harder and wasn't my 'dream' birth, it all seemed very chaotic and I never really felt much peace because of how fast it all went and the things that happened after. However, the more I process it all, I see God's provision, love and grace in all aspects.
I am so thankful to my midwife, she was amazing the whole time. I praise God for such a wonderful lady. I was so worried about finding a lovely midwife after moving from Fort Worth to Pearland at 36 weeks.
I am also so thankful to my fantastic husband who is the model of love, gentleness and compassion. I so beyond blessed by his overwhelming love for me.
Welcome little Joel!
PS. For those interested, here is my birth story from when Rachel was born!