I went into labor just a few hours following my last pregnancy update, and what a fast labor it was! Here's the story of her most wonderful birth experience. :)
Like I said in my last post, I hadn't been having any labor contractions or any signs on oncoming active labor. My midwife found me to be 4cm dilated and 80% effaced that afternoon and predicted that it wouldn't be much longer. Boy, was she right! At 2:45am that night I woke up to some contractions and got up to move around to see if they would change. Everyone (including me) was anticipating things to progress quickly but I didn't want to jump the gun. From the moment I woke up, contractions were taking my breath away every two minutes. I waited half an hour to wake Clark up, and it wasn't long after that that we decided it was time to call the midwife. She said to come on in! We called up our dear friend Katherine to come watch Lily Mae (who was peacefully sleeping, thank goodness), and we left just minutes after she arrived.
We got to the birth center at 4:30am. The midwife (Laurie) needed to see three contractions on the fetal monitor before she could let me do my thing. Everything was looking great and I was at 6cm. The contractions were intense and painful which I of course expected, but I threw up quite a bit which was not so fun (I threw up in labor with Lily Mae, too). Anyway, once the birth tub was filled up I put on my bathing suit top and got in. Oh.My.Gosh. what a relief! The water took so much of the pressure off my back and belly, and the warm water just felt SO good! We had the room lights turned off and the tub lights on, and there was some pretty cool "mood" lighting they projected on the walls. (Of course we had to use the flash in pictures so you can't tell what it looked like in there.) I got to play my own music from my iPhone - I chose Snow Patrol to get me through my labor and birth and I really appreciated the tunes. :)
Laboring in the birth tub
Photo I snagged from the birth center website - just showing you what the room actually looked like the whole time (Cool, right?)
I don't know how long it was before pushing began, but it couldn't have been long. Clark got in the tub with me and he was super supportive. He held me through the hardest contractions and provided the best kind of encouragement. It was really amazing to have him there. Maybe this sounds weird, but it was kind of.....intimate? I just felt very connected to him through the experience; it was wonderful! Well, Laurie just let me do my own thing - there was no monitoring aside from periodic checking of Julee's heartbeat with a Doppler, and I wasn't examined any more which was nice. I told her when I was ready and she went to get the pediatric nurse to join the party.
So, I started pushing! Not gonna lie....the tub was wonderful but yeah, it still hurt like the dickens. I don't know how long I pushed - 10 minutes maybe? 15? (It's hard to keep track of time when you're pushing a human out of your body.) A midwife student actually was there to do the baby-catching; her name was Jennifer and she was super sweet. I had had one of my prenatal appointments with her and totally felt comfortable with her skills. So between Clark, Laurie, and Jennifer, I was more than encouraged during the process and knew the pain wouldn't last forever. It's amazing what a great support system can do for a girl - something I didn't have with my first labor. They suggested that I lean back into Clark, but after one contraction like that I knew it wasn't for me. Instead, I got on my knees and buried myself in Clark's arms and did my best!
Lily Mae must have left notes for Julee on how to come out, because this one was born posterior (sunny-side up), too! UGH. And OUCH. But there were no complications and I did it!! Jennifer caught Julee like a pro and passed her through my legs under the water to me so I could pull her out. CRAZY, WONDERFUL, JOYFUL. What a great moment!!
Seconds after I pulled her out of the water!
Cutting the cord. (That's Jennifer!)
Within seconds she was showing off her strong lungs with some serious crying, and if you've given birth before you know there's no better sound in the world. It was so perfect - I'm still smiling about it. :) I got to hold her until her cord stopped pulsing and was cut. Clark had gotten out of the tub by that point and was in the bed getting ready for some skin-to-skin time with our girl while I got out and finished up labor. I had one minor tear, but it didn't even need stitches (SO much better than the massive episiotomy I had before).
A sleepy Clark doing some kangaroo care/skin-to-skin right out of the tub.
So, I gave birth after just over 3 hours after waking up with contractions (and an hour and a half after getting to the birth center). The nurse took her vitals and measurements: born at 5:59am weighing 6 pounds, 7 oz, and 19 3/4" long. And we made it to 38 weeks and 1 day of pregnancy! She looks exactly like Lily Mae did when she was born, but a little bigger and with a little more hair. Like....they look like the same baby. That's still pretty strange for me, actually....a baby that looks just like my firstborn but is actually someone totally new and different. We then started what's called the "breast crawl" to get her to nurse for the first time, but she wasn't really making much progress. After an hour and a half, I scrapped that idea and just latched her on myself, and since then she's been nursing like a pro. I love having a new nursling!
Attempting the breast crawl
Tiny girl (and look at her perfectly round noggin!)
Not the best picture, but I don't have any better ones! Whoops. She's super cute, I promise.
Naptime with Daddy
5.5 hours postpartum and happily headed home!
We both had our vitals checked periodically, and we were both great! We were cleared to go home at 11:30 that morning to meet big sister Lily Mae! I'll let this post just be the birth story, and I share all about Julee's first week soon!