I happen to have a few spare minutes (that's a big deal with an infant and a 3-year-old, by the way), so I figured I could share the story of how Leah entered the world. You know, in more than one word. Usually when people ask me about the experience, I just say "long." And it was. But we'll get there.
My due date was July 2. When my weekly doctors' appointments started in June, my nurse practitioner checked my cervix, found that I was already dilating and effacing, and said, "Oh, I don't think you'll make it to July." Awesome! I'd love to have this baby early. Like before this Minnesota summer gets really hot. Well, I made it to July. I made it to my due date. I even made it to the 4th of July, which was really the only day I didn't want to give birth. I mean, who wants to share their birthday with the country? I had a weekly appointment on July 6, at which time my doctor performed a non-stress test and scheduled an induction for the following Monday, July 13. REALLY not a route I wanted to have to take (mostly because I was planning on a natural birth, and my confidence in that dwindles at the very mention of pitocin). Anyway, since I had to work until I went into labor, I just kept trucking in, my very presence answering the ever-present "you're still pregnant?" questions. But I hung in there. All the way until July 8.
July 8 would have been a great day to have Leah. Not only would her birthday have been 07-08-09, she also would have shared her birthday with her Poppa (my dad). But that didn't happen. Not even the tiniest hint of a contraction. However, I woke up on Thursday, July 9 at about 5:00am with more than just hints of contractions. I was pretty sure these were the real thing. And I was excited! I went to the bathroom and came back to bed and told Dan that he probably shouldn't go to work because I was pretty sure I was in labor. He took Jack to daycare and came back and made me some toast. I had started timing contractions and was just watching TV in bed. Well, by mid-morning, I was only having a couple contractions an hour. We decided to go for a walk. Rather than get things going again or speed things up, the walk seemed to stop things all together. Great! So I think I took a nap. A few hours later, I started to get contractions more regular again. Okay, here we go! Nope, they stopped again after a while. Dan picked Jack up in the afternoon and we all took a little trip to the Maple Grove Farmers' Market after supper. We went on with our evening and I went to bed convinced that I would, indeed, need that induction on Monday.
Then I woke up at about 2:30 am on Friday, July 10. This time I was confident that these were the real thing. :) I started timing contractions again, sent Dan downstairs so he could actually sleep, and watched the hilarious middle-of-the-night television selection. Luckily, these contractions actually stayed pretty consistent and some were pretty intense. Yay! Maybe this is it! Dan took Jack to daycare again, with plans for my parents to pick him up (you know, in hopes that we'd be at the hospital or something). Well, although the contractions stuck around all day, they never really got bad enough to go to the hospital. They would be between 3 and 6 minutes apart, varying in intensity. I was sure I'd be doing this for a while, and I was a little discouraged. Finally, around dinnertime, things seemed to pick up. I was needing to really concentrate during contractions and they were finally getting closer together. At about 7:00pm, I had been having contractions 2-4 minutes apart, lasting 45-80 seconds, for about two hours. So, we decided to head to the hospital.
I was a little nervous about getting to the hospital too early. With Jack, I was only at 2 cm when I arrived and STILL at 2 cm about 6 hours later. Depressing! This time, we arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 pm, got up to OB triage, and got settled so the nurse could check me. I was at 4 cm. Okay, better than 2, but I was hoping for at least 5. Due to the shortage of nurses and rooms not being ready, we had to walk around for a while. After about an hour, I really just wanted to sit, so we went back to our triage room. It wasn't much longer before we had our own room, which was lovely. We met our awesome nurse (Erin), one of the on-call OBs, and a great attending. The nurse and the attending were around quite a bit, and they were great at distracting me between contractions. During contractions, I found it most comfortable to rock in the rocking chair. Dan was fantastic support, and we had an awesome playlist going on our laptop.
At about 11:30 pm, my nurse decided to check me again. I was at 5-6 cm. This was my first clue that I was in for another long labor (oh, did I mention that Jack's was just over 30 hours?). Dan called my mom, who wanted an update before midnight and then not again until the baby came. We continued to labor and things got more and more intense. I was sure I must be dilating really quickly, and hoped I was nearing transition. My nurse checked me again at about 4:00 am and I was at 8 cm. Progress! Slowly but surely. I decided to have them break my water, hoping to speed things up a little. (Unfortunately, they found that I had meconium--baby poop--in my fluid. It would require a couple extra people at delivery to make sure Leah didn't aspirate any of the fluid). All breaking the water did was make the contractions nearly unbearable. It's amazing what a little cushion of amniotic fluid can do! The intensity had me convinced that I must be close to complete, so I asked my nurse to check me again around 5:00 am. Unfortunately, I was at ALMOST 10 cm. There was just a lip of cervix left. Piece of cake, I thought. I'll get rid of that lip in no time. False. at 5:30 or so, the lip was still there. I was clearly frustrated, and in pain, so my nurse offered to push it back during a contraction while I started pushing. It sounded brutal, but if it meant getting to 10 cm and ACTUALLY pushing this baby out of me, I was for it. Yeah, brutal doesn't even come close. I'm pretty sure I thought I was going to die. But it worked! And my little girl started descending almost immediately.
"I have Erin Bennett ready for delivery in 352." A more perfect sentence had never been spoken by my beautiful labor nurse. :) In came the on-call OB, the attending, at least three pediatric nurses, and two more OB nurses. It was quite the party. I started pushing and she started coming pretty quickly (I joke that my gift after long labors is quick deliveries). Once she crowned, I slowed down the pushing a little bit. Then all of a sudden, her head was out, and with one more push, all of her was out! Seriously, the most amazing feeling in the WORLD! Official birth time was 5:53 am. Due to the fluid issue, Leah was clamped, cut, and whisked away before I even had a chance to look down and see her. They brought her to the warming bed and started working on her lungs. Basically, they wanted to get as much as they could OUT of her lungs and mouth and everything before she started crying and breathing. So while they finished with me--placenta, a few stitches, etc--Dan went between me and Leah, giving me updates and taking pictures. Finally, they were done with both of us and I got to hold my sweet girl! My sweet LITTLE girl, at 9lb 13oz. :) She beat her brother by 5 ounces! I guess that's what an extra week in the womb will do!
And what timing she has--she just woke up. :)