Josh cleared out the big clutter-corner in the kitchen for me since I wanted to set up our birth pool by the window. I don't know whether it was my nice, clean, roomy kitchen or my crazy nesting/cooking baking urge kicking back in, but I got the itch again and wanted to go nuts. I ended up making smoothies and crock pot bread pudding, which were less messy than all the stuff I really wanted to make.
I headed to bed around 11 pm, I think. I'd just started dozing off when a pretty strong contraction hit me and woke me up. It didn't last very long, but it made me have to pee pretty fiercely. I went back to bed and was just dozing off again when another one hit me. Made me have to pee again. This time, I grabbed my cell phone and decided to time them if they kept coming. Sure enough, just after I'd fallen asleep, another one came. They seemed to be coming at a pretty regular 15 minutes apart, which was the first time it had been regular all day. They weren't lasting very long at all, probably less than 30 seconds, but they were definitely coming like clockwork. I got up around 12-12:20, realizing that I just wasn't going to be getting any sleep as long as they were coming. I ate a snack (more bread pudding, I think) and told Josh to go ahead and go to bed, since it wasn't too serious but it might get that way later.
Now, a few days before, I'd had contractions coming pretty regularly every 10 minutes apart after I went to bed. I got up and played online, and they quit after about two hours. So I thought I would just relax and see if these stopped too. I didn't really think it was labor at that point, since these were even further apart than my "false start" a few days before. These were a bit stronger though, and I had to pee every time I had one. I was definitely feeling them in my back a lot, and I couldn't sit comfortably through one. I ended up sitting the computer on the couch and kneeling on my knees in front of it, catching up on my f-list for a while. I was okay while I was kneeling.
It was about a little after 3 am when I realized things were changing, and I finally realized I was definitely in "early labor". (In retrospect, I was likely much further along than I thought!) I had a pretty darned strong contraction that was about 10 minutes from my last one. It seemed longer than they had been all evening, and there was some bloody stuff in the toilet after I peed. I noticed on facebook that my midwife had left the birth she'd been at all day and was on the way home. I decided to message her to let her know that I was pretty sure it was real labor, though seemed to be going much slower than my first two. I knew it was a bigger baby and suspected it would take a bit longer, so I didn't know if she wanted to try to get a few hours sleep or come out. I didn't think it was too pressing, but they were definitely starting to get stronger and harder to work through.
Then the next contraction came only 8 minutes later and was a LOT harder for me to work through. I realized that I really wanted to start setting up the tub, so I thought, 'You know, maybe I ought to call Terina before she goes to sleep. It's definitely getting real.' I called her right around 3:30. She was close to her house and had a placenta in her car, so she said, "Let me get this placenta in my fridge and I'll be right on my way! Try to get in the tub and see if you can slow them down." I was still all, "Well, it doesn't seem too awfully pressing. I know you've been at a birth all day. Don't worry about rushing out here if you're too tired. I'd hate for you to get in an accident." She just reiterated that she was on her way and I should relax and get in the tub. She told me later that she rushed, given my history of fast births, but I was so calm and she didn't really hear anything unusual in my voice, so she was surprised by the subsequent calls and how quickly I had that baby!
At 3:34 am, I posted to facebook that things were definitely real and my midwife was on the way. I asked for prayers and energy that she would make it on time. I went to wake Josh, but he'd heard me on the phone and was trying to wake up anyway. Another contraction came over me, and I guess it was obvious that they were stronger, because Josh didn't even bother going to set up the pool we had bought. He just started filling the garden tub in our bedroom. It's tucked away in a corner with only one little access point, so I hadn't wanted to use it for the birth. Not really a lot of room for support people or anything. After peeing yet again, I jumped into the tub before it was even all that full. I couldn't really sit down very comfortably though. Contractions were coming much closer together and hurt mainly in my back, so I leaned over the tub and needed Josh to press on my lower back through them.
Since we were planning a homebirth and we're quite a long distance from any hospital, I'd talked with the local EMTs/ambulance service about Plan B just in case anything did go wrong. We were supposed to call them when I went into labor, just to give them a heads up so they could kind of be "on call". There aren't a lot of homebirths around here, I guess, but any real emergency would have likely involved air evac, so they just wanted to know when labor started and be prepared if we did need them. Josh went to get my purse and had the hardest time finding their card. Finally I made him give it to me and I found it in only a few seconds. He started to call them, but the contractions were definitely coming faster now, and I snapped at him to just please hurry up because I needed him to press on my back! I guess maybe they heard me, because he was on and off of there pretty quickly.
He was pressing down on my back with most of his strength, and it started feeling like it wasn't really doing anything at all. I kept moving around to different positions, but nothing felt comfortable. They were still making me feel like I had to pee though, so I decided that I needed to be on the toilet. I thought maybe I had to go to the bathroom, but that's exactly what happened with the older girls and so Josh realized it was coming soon. He started getting out the birth kit and trying to find everything we needed. I was snapping at him through the door to just go away and give me some privacy, but he pretty much ignored me since he realized we were nearing the home stretch.
I started making some deep pushy noises, which worried me because I still thought we weren't too awfully far along. I was really afraid of pushing before I was complete and messing things up. I was trying to breathe through it, and Josh was encouraging me through the door to breathe through it, and I was just all, "I'm breathing! Breathing isn't helping!" Then I heard a loud "POP" and felt a trickle of water. Not much, but I realized my water had broken. I wanted to stand up and look in the toilet to see what color it was and if I could see any meconium or anything, but I couldn't stand up. My legs were shaky and I really felt pushy after that. I hollered at Josh to call Terina and tell her that my water had broken and I felt really pushy.
After my water broke, I definitely started feeling the head descend. It definitely felt bigger than the other two, and it kind of felt like it was trying to come out the wrong end. I was leaning forward and reached behind myself, holding my bottom, trying to give as much support as I could. I really didn't want to tear badly, especially without the midwife there. So I was holding my bottom, doing my best to breathe/pant, and telling Josh to hurry up because I needed a warm rag. I could definitely feel a head start bulging against my bottom. It wasn't coming out yet, but I could feel it pressing. Josh got off the phone and opened the bathroom door, which was quite a blessing because I was starting to feel very hot. He said I was shaking and my face was dripping sweat, but only my face.
I looked up at him and said, "It's coming." I managed to get up off the toilet and kneel on some towels on the floor. Josh gave me a warm rag and I held it to me, doing perineal support as I felt the head start to come. I did manage a glance at the toilet, where the water was murky but no meconium that I could see. It hadn't been a big gush though. Josh had dipped the rag in some iodine water, following directions of "what to do if baby comes before the midwife" and had already put on some gloves and was ready (small gloves that came with the birth kit – I have no idea how he fit them on). He tried to get me to turn around, facing away from him, so he could catch. Our bathroom is super-tiny though (a toilet across from a stand-up shower – the sink and tub are in our main bedroom), and, honestly, with hemorrhoids and the way my poor bottom felt at that moment, I was not about to turn around. Heh. I was lucky I got off the toilet. There was no more moving for me.
Apparently I started talking to the baby. I was just holding that rag down there, telling it, "Easy, baby! Slow down! We've got this. Just slow down. Nice and easy." I said "We've got this" several times, it would seem. That was what Josh had said to me a couple of days before, when I was worried about the idea of an unassisted birth. We had planned and researched for that possibility, given how fast my previous births were and how far away the midwife lived (almost two hours), so we were prepared for the possibility. I had just been stressing about it a bit, and Josh and I had a good talk where all my fears went away. He basically said, "We've done it before. We both know what we're doing, no matter what happens. If it's just me and you, then me and you will do it. We've got this." So that apparently became my mantra.
Then there was a huge gush of fluid, and the head started coming out. I dropped the rag and felt the head. It was soft and fuzzy. "It's got hair!" Josh told me I was going to have to let him catch, which I was quite happy to do. I was busy trying to hold myself up and ease out the head as gently as I could. I tried to sit up, so he would be able to catch. He grabbed the head, and I guess he was pushing or trying to support it or something, but it felt different than what I'd been doing and I gasped, "Well, don't try to push it back up!" He was very calm and reassuring and apologized, and I think he said something about how the little "directions" sheet said to apply light pressure or something. I don't remember exactly. But soon enough the head came out, and more amniotic fluid, and then the body slipped out and we birthed a baby together!
The baby was a bit blue and floppy, with its little eyes closed, so I rubbed on its back and tried to get it going. Josh handed me a towel, and I started drying it and rubbing it. I was worried that it wasn't breathing, and it seemed like it took forever, but Josh said it was really only about a minute at most. It just seemed like forever. He went to get the bulb syringe, and I peeked to see what we had. It was another girl! Josh suctioned her mouth out while I kept rubbing and talking to her. After he suctioned her, she made a little mewling sound, and then she took her first breath and started to howl. And, boy, could she howl! She pinked right up.
I reminded Josh to check the time, and he said he already did. She was born at 4:36, about an hour after I called the midwife to tell her I was in labor.
Terina, our midwife, called back shortly thereafter. The baby was still howling, and I could hear Josh say, "Yeah, the baby's here already." I moved out of the bathroom, to the bedroom floor right in front of the bathroom door, where Josh had put some of those little green pads down. I tried to see if she wanted to nurse, hoping to quiet her and help with the placenta, but she wasn't interested yet. She just wanted to holler. I figured it would wake up the kids, as it had all started moving too quickly and we hadn't had a chance to go wake them. I knew they'd be upset, but waking to a new baby isn't all that bad – and I'd really needed Josh's support once it got fast and intense. The placenta came much more quickly than it had with my other girls, and shortly after that came, Ivy came walking into the bedroom and said, "You had the baby already? Why didn't you get us?"
We explained how fast it was, and she pointed out that my feet were bloody, and we explained that, yeah, there would be quite a lot of blood, remember? I told her to go ahead and go get sissy, and then I tried to get up the mess in the bathroom. It seemed like the amniotic fluid did have a dark tinge to it, but it could have been mixed with blood, I guess. Baby was breathing fine, so she didn't seem to have any issues with meconium. The girls came and saw the baby, and Eden fetched the big salad bowl for us, so we could put the placenta in that and have a bit of movement. Josh took the baby (and the salad bowl), and I jumped in the shower to clean up as best I could. When I got out, Josh clamped the cord (incorrectly, but it was sweet and worked well enough) and let me cut it, since he caught the baby and he'd gotten to cut Eden & Ivy's cords. So I cut her little cord, and shortly after that, the midwife arrived, just after 5 am, I think.
At 5:36, exactly an hour after she was born, Eden posted to my facebook and let everyone know that we had another baby girl (they were hovering a bit, and she needed something important to do while the midwife checked me out). Her assistants arrived shortly after she did and helped to weigh and check out the baby. They were really sweet ladies, and one of them stayed with me to help me get settled a bit, as Terina got called to another birth while she was checking on us. Terina said I had a couple of 'skid marks', but I didn't need any stitches (three for three! Yay!) - and I didn't even feel anything. It stung when I went pee after having Ivy (with one little skid mark), and I didn't hurt at all after this one. I felt really good.
It took a few days for us to settle on a name, but we finally agreed on Maya Sky Trancoso Mack. She was 8 lbs 7 oz, 20.5 inches long, and had a 15in head. She also has a head full of dark auburn hair, and she latched on immediately and started nursing like we'd done it a thousand times. I'd always needed help getting started with the other girls. All things considered, I'm really glad that it happened the way it did. It was an intense but amazingly awesome, spiritual, bonding experience to share with Josh. One of the best experiences of my life!