Translation: DH=dear husband, DD=dear daughter, DS=dear son
My “due date” was anywhere from 12/4/11-12/6/11 depending on what date you use. The first “due date” I got using the suspected ovulation date & an online calculator was 12/7/11.
Around 1 A.M. on 12/7 I woke up with cramps & back pain. I’d been having Braxton Hicks Contractions for weeks upon weeks, and they had gone from annoying, to uncomfortable, to painful, and I’d had a few with some cramping. I thought to myself that I might want to tell DH to stay close to a phone that day in case this was “it.” After I was awoken by “cramps” and back pain every few minutes, I realized that this was, in fact, “it.”
They were fairly strong and consistent with a definite beginning, middle and end, but they were wildly varying in spacing. Some as close as 2 minutes apart with an occasional 10 minute+ lull. I wasn’t able to fall asleep between contractions and finally gave up and came downstairs.
I heard DH’s alarm go off (and off and off and off…for an hour) and debated about asking him to stay home from work or not. On the one hand, DS’s contractions started at 9:44 PM & he wasn’t born until 10:44 PM the next day. On the other hand, I didn’t want to have to drive DD to school while contracting, and I didn’t want DH to drive over an hour to work only to have me call him to come home.
I didn’t want DD to know I was in labor & not want to go to school, so I was frustrated when she came downstairs at the same time DH did. I asked him if he had to go to work today and he said “no, why?” and I just raised my eyebrows at him.
He took DD to school and I made cinnamon rolls (terrible for you but delicious, OMG!) We waited until they were ready for a second rise, then headed out to the grocery store. We stopped at Staples to drop a package off, then got to the grocery store around 11. By the time we got there, my contractions were 4 minutes apart, and got closer while we were shopping. I had to concentrate and slow down during them. I managed to convince DH I was antsy to get home, and we went through the Chick-Fil-A drive through. DH went into Advance Auto Parts and it felt like an eternity waiting for him to come out. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart & I was having to close my eyes and breathe through them.
I had been doing laundry & dishes, hoping to have all the chores caught up. When we got home around 1, DS was asleep in the car, so DH stayed in the garage with him. I had a ton of groceries to put away, plus laundry to fold & put away, dishes to empty from the dishwasher, dishes to put in, and dishes to hand wash. I wanted to finish the cinnamon rolls too.
The contractions were getting serious. I had to stop dead in my tracks & hang onto something and vocalize. I didn’t have much time between contractions, so as I was carrying food to the basement freezer or laundry upstairs, I had to ride the contraction out, then hurry up/down the stairs before another hit. At one point, DH came in to get something and I was in the laundry room hanging onto the counter and vocalizing. He rubbed my back & asked me if I was OK. I said that I wasn’t getting much of a break between contractions.
Part of me wanted to tell him I thought the baby was coming soon, but I also didn’t want to jinx myself. Logically, I thought that since those thoughts of doubt (how much longer can I do this?) were creeping in, I was close. But what if I had 12 more hours of this?
Finally between 2:15 and 2:30, I finished the last thing on my to-do list and the cinnamon rolls were iced & cooling. I headed upstairs and started to fill the big tub in our bathroom & got in. I had brought my phone up to listen to music, and I laid my towel over the edge to rest my arms on.
DH came up around 2:45 to check on me & to say he & DS were leaving to go get DD from school soon. A small part of me almost asked him to go pick her up early.
While the water felt good, I wasn’t really getting any major contraction relief and the cervical pain was getting intense. I was really vocalizing. I was super thirsty but didn’t want to get out of the tub. I almost texted DH to ask him to bring me a drink as soon as he got home!
I was mentally reviewing DS’s labor, trying to figure out how much longer it might be. I think I decided that based on the length of the really tough part, the baby might be here by 7. I thought OK, I can do that, but then time seemed to come to a standstill. I remember looking at the clock between 3 something & 3:16 & being aware that the baby was going to come soon. I was getting slightly longer breaks between contractions and was resting my chin on the tub edge, almost falling asleep.
In the next few minutes, I thought I may have felt a small gush of fluid (exactly what happened during DS’s birth.) Somewhere around 3:27, my water broke for sure and I knew then that DH would miss the birth. With the next contraction, I felt the baby move down. The next contraction came quickly and the head crowned. I had absolutely nothing to do with the process as my body pushed and I roared the head out with the next contraction. I got a few seconds of blissful, surreal relief as I had my hand on the back of the baby’s head, fully out and in the water. The next contraction came and the body shot out like a rocket.
I scooped the baby up and rubbed and talked to it. It just took a few seconds for the baby to pink up & cry. While the cord wasn’t very short, I had a ton of water in the tub and couldn’t easily relax and keep baby out of the water. I decided to open the drain and let some water out, and I wrapped him (barely remembered to check) up in my towel.
I wasn’t sure if I should text DH to let him know, considering he was driving. I waited & it started to seem like a long time.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I was stuck with a wet towel for baby & none for me. I had to walk on the carpet to get to the box of chux pads in the closet. I grabbed the bag of chux pads and a few receiving blankets as quickly as possible & ran back to the bathroom. I wrapped the baby in blankets, then I ripped the bag open and was attempting to lay the chux pads out so I could go back to the closet to get the baby hat. That’s when DH got home with the kids.
I asked him to grab an old towel out of the closet to wrap around my waist, but he wasn’t able to get it tucked around me. Instead, I laid a chux pad on the floor and leaned up against the tub with the towel over my lap. The flash made the color weird in the photos. We’re not as ghostly white as we look.
Everyone admired the baby (except DS, he wanted to watch Mickey Mouse, go downstairs, play with blocks etc. Basically, he was unimpressed.)
A little later, I stood in my own kitchen, eating dinner (after emptying the dishwasher…again) and realized how freaking awesome this all was. I felt better at that moment than I did a week+ postpartum with the other two.
DH is a little disappointed that he missed the birth (we knew it was a possibility if the kids were awake, since he was going to be watching them), but I’m pretty happy with how things worked out. I never felt “out of control,” I always listened to my body, and I was never embarrassed, ashamed, or inhibited by my noises.
The biggest injuries I have are a bruised knee (I must have really been leaning into the tub?) a sore chin from leaning it on the tub, and my back, arms & thighs are a little sore, as though I went on a long hike!
I’m of course very happy with the birth for all the reasons I outlined before, but it was even better than I expected, and I’m just amazed at the difference in how I feel now compared to my hospital births.
P.S. See how his size compares to my “newborn diaper model,” LOL!