First of thank you all so so much for your congratulations. I keep reading your comments over and over on my iPod while I'm nursing and smiling at them. You guys are seriously the best.
And now, for the those of you who are down with reading the words "cervix" and "contractions" ten zillion times over the course of several paragraphs...
Now that I have had three babies I know how I labor; my "early labor" is always spread out over the course of a few weeks, hard spells of contractions coming for an hour or so at a time and then disappearing, ultimately leaving me somewhere around 4cm dilated -- and waiting. Then one morning - poof!- I am in hard and fast active labor.
On my due date, I had a midwife appointment. I asked her to check me and she said I was easily 4cm, then decided I was 5cm. FIVE centimeters! I know it sounds like cheating to be that dilated when not in active labor, but trust me, I worked for that progress. I just worked for it a little bit at a time.
Around 5:30 the next morning, I woke up with contractions that I had to hum through. They were hard and evenly spaced, but I expected them to go away like usual. By 7:30 they still weren't gone and I told Luke I was having contractions but to go to work. At 8:30 I called my mom and said maybe she should come get the kids. I had Luke come home from work. I called the midwife and told her maybe today was the day. It's funny in retrospect how in denial I was. During contractions I was 100% convinced I was in labor -- they were really hard and required lots of vocalizing and were rapidly getting closer together and harder to handle. But during the breaks I felt so normal that I would talk myself back into thinking they could still go away. Silly me.
I tried to hold it together in front of the kids as my mom picked them up around 9:30, but as soon as they were out of the driveway I went straight into transition. It was just me and Luke and Wilco at that point, and I felt like I was handling things pretty well. It was hard hard labor, but I got in the tub and relaxed during the breaks. I made lots of noise during the not-breaks. The midwife arrived a little after 10:00 and I asked her to check me so I could know how far I had to go. She quickly checked and said I was just about complete. Hooray! Complete! I mentally high-fived myself and was thinking I could have the baby really soon, maybe even around 10:30 -- the time Alice was born two years (minus one day) earlier. My midwife told me to just relax, that I was doing really well, to keep doing what I was doing, to listen to my body and to push if I felt the urge. But I didn't feel the urge.
Transition went on.
By noon I was getting discouraged. I kept thinking back to my labor with Alice, how the contractions got so much less intense after I was dilated to 10cm, and I was wondering why that wasn't happening this time. The contractions were incredibly intense and close together, but baby's head wasn't moving down and I didn't feel any urge to push him out yet. The midwife suggested that I take advantage of gravity, and helped me get into the optimal positions to do so. We tried a few things, and then I walked around for a while, holding onto Luke during contractions. I asked her check me again and tell me if the baby had moved down at all. I so badly wanted to hear some kind of progress, just for the encouragement. She checked and broke the news that I was still not totally complete, and was pretty much in the same shape I had been in two hours ago when she had arrived. I had a cervical lip -- a tiny piece of cervix that wasn't getting smaller, even though the rest was totally gone. She said she could either try to hold it out of the way so I could push the baby past it, or I could wait. Waiting was better, she said. We didn't want the lip to swell and if I didn't have the urge to push I probably wasn't ready, but IF it worked, the baby would be born and we could rest. Of course I had been in transitiony labor for several hours at this point and was really desperate to GET the baby OUT, so we did a little trial of pushing with her holding it out of the way. It didn't work. And it hurt. A lot. The lip started to swell. A lot. She put some anti-inflammatory somethingorother on it and had me get as comfortable as I could in the tub.
And now, she said, you try to rest.
And now my sweet baby is awake. I will finish the story as soon as I get the chance. I don't want to forget a thing about it.