Thursday, March 18th: I’ve had Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the whole pregnancy. A couple of times in the past few weeks they were pretty regular and put me on alert. By late evening, after being in high spirits all day, I found that the contractions were pretty regular at about 10 minutes apart, for a few hours. We took a few casual family photos in Julia’s bed just before putting her down for the night. The contractions were not painful but I called Hillary anyway to let her know. She advised that I take a bath and have a glass of wine (the only alcohol we had in the house was Kahlua so I had Kahlua and milk!) and call her back in 45 minutes with an update. She called me back before I had a chance! What service! They were still coming at regular intervals and we agreed that I should go to sleep and see what happens.
Friday, March 19th: When I awoke I realized it was not yet real labor: I felt fine. However, I was nervous the contractions could change quickly so I asked Matt to stay home from work. Julia and I went about our day and attended a Meetup. We wrapped up the day and went to bed with no change: inconsistent, mild, practice contractions.
Saturday, March 20th: I woke up at 5:27 to a stronger, lower and more crampy-type contraction: the ones Hillary said to look out for. I had loads of energy and soon realized that I couldn’t have been in real labor on Thursday. I clearly had not done enough cooking, baking and cleaning. I had a sense that this may be it but I wasn’t going to believe until it got serious. I would, however, keep up with my busy-ness. With my actual due date still 6 days away, Matt was convinced it would be later in the week and I couldn’t agree more.
By dinner time I was starting to notice that I was not able to move as freely through some of the contractions and a few actually caused me to stop talking for a second. Okay, they had gotten my attention but I still didn’t think it was real. I called Hillary at 7:30 anyway to let her know about the progress. She was at another birth here in the city and assured me that she would alert back ups and be close by. Again, she instructed me to take a bath and have a glass of wine to see what, if any, change happened. So we decided to put Julia to bed for the night. As we were getting Julia ready for bed we asked her if baby Minnow would join us tomorrow and she responded, “yes, he will.” For months she referred to Minnow as a ‘she’. I noticed this but said nothing. In the middle of her next sentence she paused and corrected herself, “Baby Minnow a girl.” I was stunned. When we were done putting Julia to bed I slipped into a bath, this time, with a proper glass of wine! We called my mother-in-law to let her know that she may be getting a call in the middle of the night telling her to make her way to us. At 10:16 Hillary called back to check on me and I let her know that contractions were still about 10 minutes apart and steady with intensity. She informed me that the birth they were attending was fizzling out and that she would be staying at Rita’s (her assistant) house in an adjacent neighborhood to us. I felt bad for her staying in the city for me because I really didn’t believe that it was actually going to happen that night. We agreed that we would all get some rest and I would call if I thought they should come over. Still I didn’t believe it was real.
At 1:12 I was woken up by a stronger contraction still. The pain and burning radiated through my lower pelvis and into my upper thighs. By 1:17 I had called Hillary to let her know that I was not able to sleep through the contractions anymore. I told Matt, with a little panic in my voice, to start filling the pool. Still didn’t think it was going to be tonight. After hanging up with Hillary the timing of the contractions began to speed up noticeably. 10, 7, 6, 5 minutes apart and gaining intensity. Shortly after 2AM Hillary and Rita arrived. Matt was filling the pool and got them both a Coke while the coffee was brewing! Hillary checked me right away and I was 5cm, 70% effaced. It seemed my labor was taking off from the same point where the labor she left took a stand still! I was still talking and moving around a lot in between contractions but I was definitely having to work through them now. I labored a lot on hands and knees with my head against our ottoman and someone would always be there to rub my lower back. Breathing(thank you yoga and running for teaching me how to breathe!), moaning and swaying my hips and head were bringing me the most relief. As we all sat around and chatted in between contractions I wondered if I was wasting their time and keeping them from a good nights sleep for nothing. Matt felt the same and asked if they were going to leave soon or stay to see what happens. They thought it was a silly question and joked about leaving Matt a set of gloves.
Around 3:30, Hillary gave me the go ahead to get into the pool. I felt like I was managing pretty well but if she was going to invite me to soak in a hot bath than who am I to argue. I wondered when the really difficult contractions would be coming and if I was really going to be having a baby soon. The water felt amazing even though I was in transition. The next time Hillary checked me I was ready to go but a small lip of cervix remained. I breathed through a few more contractions and began pushing at 5AM. My mother-in-law arrived around 5:30 and we had her wake Julia and bring her out to be with us. She came and looked around a bit and greeted us and then ran out of the room. We all look around puzzled but quickly understood when she returned with some of her bath toys and offered them to me.
I tried pushing in several positions in the water but I was not able to make any good progress in an hour and a half. I was getting frustrated and Matt and I both were having flashbacks of our experience with Julia’s birth. Hillary and Rita were both sensing our frustration. Rita suggested trying another position outside of the tub. With some help and quite carefully, I got out of the tub and climbed into a chair. With Hillary sitting on the ottoman facing me (my feet on her knees), Matt supporting my shoulders and back, and Rita situated behind Hillary using a blanket as a rope, I was really able to put some force into my pushing. Then within a few contractions I had moved Minnow down into the birth canal. With those, eh-hem, intense sensations, I was starting to believe we might actually have a baby tonight. With the next contraction, and by Matt’s measurement 4 loud screams, Minnow was on the way out. After I delivered her head and most her body Hillary had me reach down and grab Minnow as the rest of her emerged from me. I quickly looked and found she was a girl and exclaimed, “Julia was right!” Matt quickly went to get Julia to introduce her to her little sister.