And I do. And it hurts. And then Elliott wakes up again.
So I get out of bed to see what he needs and he says he needs to go pee. I take him to the bathroom and then back to his room to rock on the rocking chair for another couple minutes. As we're rocking I feel another couple contractions. All I can think is "I need to get this kid back to bed because these really hurt!" I'm quite sure at this point that this is it. I feel excited, yet distracted by this kid that won't sleep! So I put him back in bed and go back to bed. It's past 4:30 now. Chris is awake and says something to me about how he's sorry Elliott keeps waking up. I grumble something back about how I wish he would just go back to sleep. I don't mention the contractions because I'm hoping that if Elliott goes back to sleep I can just labour quietly for a while so Chris isn't too tired when things really start happening. A couple minutes later Elliott calls out again. Chris offers to go this time so I lay there and try to figure out how consistent these contractions are. I'm not timing them, but I figure they are every 7-10 minutes and man they hurt! When I first went into labour with Elliott the first few hours were such a breeze! I could keep talking through contractions for the first bit, and even after they were a bit more painful I could still follow a movie plot no problem as I laboured on the couch. This time I feel like I skipped the easy breezy beginning and I'm in full on active labour. Ow.
Chris comes back to bed and we chat quietly about how tired we are and wish he would sleep. It's close to 5 now. I still haven't mentioned the contractions. Just after 5 Elliott starts crying again. If it were any other day I would probably take him to the couch to snuggle and hope he falls back asleep. I realize its time to fess up.
"So, here's the thing. I'm pretty sure I'm in labour, and that means Elliott is going to go to Gloria's so we really need to get him to sleep a while longer so he isn't a total bear for her..."
"Wow, you're sure?"
"Do you think we'll have a baby before lunch?"
"Well I doubt that, but it will be today for sure!"
So he took Elliott to the couch. I could hear him chatting away and knew right away he wasn't going to fall back asleep.
At about 5:30 I decide to call my midwife Tara. I've started timing the contractions because they are surprising me with how much they hurt and how long they are lasting. We chat for a couple of minutes. I tell her that they are coming ever 5-7 minutes and lasting nearly a minute. She suggests I get up and get some breakfast and see if they pick up or slow down. She says that she'll start getting dressed and ready too. I remember her asking if I thought she should hurry up and I said no.
Next I texted my Mom- the plan was for her to come pick up Elliott and take him to my sister Gloria's house. I figured it was a good idea to wake her up so she could get ready and head over seeing as she lives an hour away. Then I texted my sisters just so they knew baby was on the way!
I got out of bed around 6 and as Tara instructed I started making myself oatmeal. Except I kept getting interrupted by contractions- I would have to stop and lean over whatever was near me- kitchen counter, dining room table etc. I tried to keep timing them using an app on my phone, but I kept setting my phone down and not being close enough to it when the contraction started. I tried sitting on the couch to eat my oatmeal, but Elliott was a ball of energy and kept trying to climb on me, which did not feel very good! By about 6:30 I had realized that things were really picking up. I couldn't sit on the couch anymore and instead tried breathing through the contractions while standing/leaning on something, or while on all fours on the living room floor. Chris set up the birthing pool in the living room and asked me if I wanted a latte to which I replied yes.
So there I am on all fours in the living room. Elliott is bouncing in and out of the birthing pool having the time of his life, and Chris is making me a latte. I've barely touched my oatmeal. The contractions are now every 3-5 minutes and they are hurting more and more. It was right around now that I wondered why do I choose to birth this way? Maybe I should just head to the hospital and ask for an epidural because damn these hurt!
I text my Mom to see where she's at. She says she plans on leaving by 7:30. What??? It's almost 7 now and that means Elliott will still be around for another hour and a half? I text Gloria and ask her to be on stand by- we may need her to pick up Elliott before Mom gets here. She says no problem. I then go tell Chris to stop worrying about making coffee and to get Elliott's stuff together. Now please. I tell him that Gloria is ready to come get him when we say the word.
I think this put Chris into a bit of a tizzy because all of a sudden he went from leisurely making coffee to running around grabbing things and periodically coming in to tell Elliott to calm down and leave Mommy alone and not to jump on her.
Then all of a sudden he announces he's just going to take Elliott to Gloria's. He had texted her to come get him and apparently she didn't answer so he's just leaving. And just like that he's practically out the door. I stop to get a big hug and kiss from Elliott and ask Chris to take a picture because it makes me a little sad that this is the last time I'll get to hug him as an only child.
And now the house is quiet. For a split second I'm terrified that I'm in labour at home by myself. What if baby comes when I'm alone?? Tara had told me that second babies come fast. What if it comes really fast?? I push the thought away. Silly. I open up the curtains in the living room because it's light outside and I want the room to feel brighter. Then I text Tara and tell her that the contractions are coming every 3-3.5 minutes, are lasting a minute or longer and hurt substantially more. She replies that she is on her way and that it sounds like it's time to fill up the pool.
Chris calls just after 7:30 to say he's on his way home and asks if he has time to stop for a coffee. I say something like "No, no you do not. Come home now please." Gloria lives only 5 minutes away so he gets home sometimes between 7:30-7:45. While he heads straight to the espresso machine to make himself a coffee I inform him that will have to wait because it's time to fill up the pool. It takes no time at all, and shortly before 8 (after Chris closed the curtains, haha) I slide into the warm water and feel immediate relief.
Tara arrived less than 5 minutes later. I tell her that I just got in and I'm feeling good. She starts setting up all her things and we chat in between contractions. I think it was in these first few minutes that she was there that Chris set up the bed (put a liner and new sheets on top of the existing sheets.) Tara said that she sees no reason to do a vaginal exam - it really doesn't matter how dilated I am. I agreed. Things are progressing well and there is nothing to be gained from knowing if I am 3 cm or 8 cm. She checks baby's heartbeat with a doppler, and all is well.
The next hour goes pretty quick. The contractions are getting stronger each time. For each one I lean over the side of the birthing pool and breathe - the stronger they get the louder my exhales seem to get. I'm loving this birth pool- so much more comfortable than the tubs at the Lucina birth center- at least for me it is because I end up on my knees for each contraction, and the cushy blown up bottom is way nicer than a hard tub. I'm kicking myself for not making the labour playlist I had been meaning to. (The last couple weeks have been pretty nuts!) Instead I listen to a Pharis and Jason Romero album that I have been listening to with each bath I've had this pregnancy. It's mellow folk music and it does the trick. At some point I ask Chris if he's eaten breakfast yet (he hadn't) and tell him to go make himself some eggs. He seems surprised and asks if he has time for that to which I reply yes, with a chuckle (remember I still think baby is coming well after lunch time) He is happy to get to eat and disappears into the kitchen. Tara and I chat in between contractions and she applies counter pressure to my back with each one. At some point, (I think near 9?) I ask Chris if he's almost done eating, and when he is, could he come back in the living room? The contractions were getting more intense and I really wanted him there.
Tara told me to tell her when I started feeling pressure or "push-y" There needs to be two midwives for the actual birth and Tara's partner midwife Heidi was coming from Sherwood Park and would need time to get here. Nothing felt immediate or like we were in a rush. When I did start to feel pressure I told Tara and she replied to just let my body do what it wanted to and not to hold back and to let her know if I felt the urge to push. Shortly after that I heard her answer her phone while I was having a contraction. I think she stepped out of the room for a minute, but I heard her say something like "You might be cutting it close. No, it's fine, just go. See you soon." I remember wondering how long Tara thought it might be before I started pushing.
With each contraction I remind myself that each pain I feel is for a purpose. My body is doing exactly what it's supposed to. I try not to clench up and fight against the pain, but just to picture baby moving down. The last 4-5 contractions had been getting stronger and more intense with more pressure each time. Still no urge to push. As focused as I was during each contraction I still felt a little distracted in between. My mind was moving a mile a minute and as I tend to do when I feel out of control, I was micromanaging anything I could think of. Around 9:15 I told Chris in a panic that he needed to text Gloria. I was worried that no one would go visit my dad if both her and my other sister Nicole came to meet the baby. I asked him to tell her that if my Mom was at her house with Elliott she should leave and go visit him. (I later read the text he sent her, and he did indeed tell her what I asked, followed with "I don't know. Crazy labour talk" Ha ha.) Then about 15 minutes later I asked him to text her again- this time about Elliott. I told him to tell her that he would need to have his nap really early because of when he woke up. And just as I finished my sentence to him I felt another contraction coming on and said "but not yet" and moved to lean over the pool.
This one was different. It felt so strong and I felt so much pressure that I reached down to see if I felt the head. I felt my bag of waters (which still had not broken) bulging out. For a split second I wondered if they would go back in once the contraction was over. For the first time, I yelled out a long "aaaaaahhhh" with the pain. I felt my body pushing and instead of holding back like I remember doing with Elliott, I just leaned into it and pushed... and much to my surprise she came out! I reached down with both hands and caught her in the water- bringing her up to my chest.
I think the only word to describe how I felt in that moment was shock. I sat back against the side of the pool and cradled her, and all three of us were just... shocked. It just felt like this "holy crap!" moment. I couldn't believe that only two minutes earlier I had NO idea that she was that close to coming out. And in one push!! She was born at 9:36 am.
Tara asked if we saw what sex the baby was and so I moved the cord out of the way and spread her legs and saw she was a girl!! Second shocker of the day because I was SO sure this baby was a boy. I had been telling anyone who asked for months that I was at least 80% sure this was a boy. Just goes to show you there is no definitive way to tell without an ultrasound (and even then it can be wrong!) I was so sure because of the speed of the heartbeat - they say that generally speaking, a heartbeat under 150 indicates a boy and over 150 indicates a girl. Elliott's heartbeat was between 140-147 the whole time, and this baby was the same, with a few times being between 136-140 even. So, under 150, and even lower than Elliott's? I felt pretty confident that meant boy.
So there I sat, shocked. Holding our brand new girl. Audrey Hannah. Audrey, because I have always loved that name (and yes, I love Audrey Hepburn, but no she is not named after her) and Hannah from the Bible- I am always moved by her faith and the sacrifice she makes to the Lord.
Chris called our families to tell them. I delivered the placenta in the water as well, and then Tara helped me stand up and walk to our bedroom. This is reason #142 why a home birth is AMAZING. Only minutes after having my baby I walked the 10-15 steps to my own bed. And it felt like heaven.
Tara checked me out in bed and announced I had a "paper cut" size tear not worth stitching. At that moment nothing hurt. I wasn't tired. I felt like a complete rockstar and on top of the world. Got to love that birth high. Audrey came out rooting around and eating her hands so I latched her on almost right away when Tara was done checking me out. Chris asked me if I was hungry, which I was, and he made me the most amazing pancakes with whipped cream, strawberries and bacon. I ate not one, but two giant plates of it. That first post birth meal is pure joy- especially when you've given up sugar for the last trimester. Audrey stayed latched on the whole time I ate, and probably for nearly half an hour after.
Tara weighed and examined her after we were done eating and nursing. She weighed 8 lbs 13 oz and was 20.5 inches long. And she is just perfect; fearfully and wonderfully made!