Let me start by staying this has been the most unbelievable week. Regardless of a wild labor, serious lack of sleep, juggling baby and Avital, I'm elated and smiling all day every day.
Avital is beyond adorable with her baby sister, Bar is an incredibly easy and delicious baby, and Richie has proven over and over again to be the most amazing father and husband. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.
Now I'll go back to the beginning and fill you in on the crazy details. I went into labor almost exactly a week ago, around noon on Saturday October 15, 2011. It was a strange, slow transition into labor as I'd been having serious braxton hicks contractions for so long. It was honestly hard to tell the difference between real contractions and braxtons for a while and I'm pretty sure they were mixed in for a couple of hours.
We went over to Risa (our aunt and midwife)'s apartment to labor for a bit figuring she was much closer to the hospital and could let us know when to head over and be with us through the stages. Around 2p she checked me. My contractions were getting stronger and stronger and I had to pee what felt like every 2 minutes. I was 2cm dilated, almost fully effaced, soft, and about a 0 station (read getting very close, but not in active labor yet). She told me we could hang or go to the hospital whenever. I was feeling like staying on her couch and walking through contractions in her living room, so told her I was cook to hang. That changed very quickly. Out of nowhere my contractions increased in intensity and I needed to go to the hospital out of fear of the car ride. We packed up and moved out and told Risa we'd meet her in the emergency entrance.
On the ride over I was timing my contractions and while they were bearable (and this is relative after you've been in natural labor before...your pain tolerance is higher than you'd guess), they were coming quickly, about every 1.5-2 minutes.
Once checked in and settled I labored on the bed for a while, breathing and swaying back and forth through contractions. It was funny cause it was exactly what I did when in labor with Avital. Wild how your body remembers how to deal!
This time though my contractions were fast and strong and coming through my back. The back labor was incredibly painful, but the years of yoga paid off helping me breathe through each wave.
After a bit Risa checked me again and I had progressed to 3.5cm dilated and I was on my way. She thought my contractions were not yet strong enough though and wanted me to move around more to get things going. I spent some time in the shower (which was an amazing relief on my back), rocked on my birth ball, then took a 3 lap walk around the maternity ward. My contractions were significantly less bearable and I was feeling a ton of pressure down there, so assumed that I had made some real progress.
Risa did another check and I was still at 3.5cm dilated and seriously disappointed. I had been laboring at that point for some 5-6 hours and my progression felt very slow though my doula Gillian (worth a post all her own she was superduper fabulous) kept telling me how valid all the work I was doing was and how great I was doing (though I, of course, didn't believe her at the time).
In the interest of getting things progressed, I labored on knees hanging over the back of the bed for a while, did some squatting, rolling on the birth ball, then I felt like I needed to pee again. I went into the bathroom, sat on the toilet, had a contraction there, and heard a pop. It was totally freaky and I wasn't sure what it was until I felt a trickle. It wasn't a gush, but I was pretty sure my water broke. Risa came into the room to check me, so I told her about my water and she decided to take a look. With another contraction a lot more water released and the pain was superstrong. Water kept coming and coming and for some weird reason it was freaking me out. Between the water and the intensity of the contractions, I could only imagine I had progressed significantly. Risa did a check (which was wildly painful in it of itself every time) and I was out of luck. Stuck at 3.5cm and this time beyond disappointed, totally distressed.
Apparently, Risa had a suspicion, but couldn't really tell until my water had broken due to the bag of water in front of the baby's head, that she was posterior. Basically that means that she was head down, but facing up (she's supposed to be face down toward your butt, not belly). She was pretty far down at a -1 station, but my cervix was not dilating and at that point I was stuck at 3.5cm for some 6 hours or so.
It was time for desperate measures, so Risa told me it was time for Polar Bear. Polar Bear is a position to turn the baby. It has to be done exactly right and for at least 45 minutes. It basically (from what I can understand) dislodges the baby from her position in the pelvis to allow her to turn and descend again. It was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. The pain was excruciating and Risa kept telling me I wasn't doing it right. She was being so strong about being exactly in the right position and I was not understanding how she wanted me. Basically I had my knees propped up on the bed with towels to raise them as high as they could go, my butt in the air, and my chest down on the bed as close to my knees as I could get them. The idea was to get my thighs straight (I think) and my knees in line with my shoulders, and my back as vertical as possible. The contractions in this position were like nothing I could have imagined and I wasn't allowed to move through them at all. The pain was so severe that it was making me nauseous. I actually puked 4 times in that position! Risa allowed me to lift my head the slightest bit and Richie put a basin under my head. It was wild.
With each contraction I felt the intense need to pee, but I couldn't get out of the position to go to the bathroom, so I had to hold it for the hour (yes Risa tacked on another 15 minutes at the end) (and actually she offered me a basin to pee if I had to, but there was no way my body could do that in that position). At some point I thought I had felt the baby turn, but I was so delirious it was hard to know what I was feeling and what something like that should feel like.
After the hour, Risa let me get out of the Polar Bear and helped me onto the floor. Before I could pee she made me do this waddle walk for 4 steps swaying my hips side to side. Then I had to do a deep, deep squat. Finally the nurse helped me into the bathroom to pee. I did, then felt the intense need to poo (sorry if that's too graphic...). As I sat on the toilet, I had another contraction and felt my body start to push. I warned Risa, but she kinda said don't worry. Then I let out a scream (which is very unlike me as I'm not a screamer) and she realized I was pushing.
It was a total shock as I assumed I had another 4 hours or so of laboring. Before the Polar Bear I was only 3.5cm dilated. I couldn't imagine I had entirely dilated and descended in that short period of time. Risa told me to get to the bed as quickly as I could. She told me to reach between my legs and see what I could feel as she didn't yet have gloves on. As I opened my legs she saw what I felt: the baby was crowning! I was in dumb shock (as was everyone else in the room). Risa was yelling at the nurses to get the room ready. The bed wasn't broken down yet, stirrups weren't out, she didn't have her tray of birthing tools, no gloves. "Don't push" she said, but it was nearly impossible. She got her gloves on just in time for the head to come out. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even push, my body was in auto-drive. The whole thing happened in what felt like 4 minutes and my gorgeous baby was lying on my chest! I was confused, beyond ecstatic, on cloud 9.
She was perfect, is perfect, and makes my world go 'round.
Born at 9:27p Saturday October 15, 2011 to the happiest parents alive.