It's funny that the last time I posted to this blog was when I wrote Ammon's birth story. I think Olivia deserves to have her birth story written down just like the other three, even though it is probably going to be much shorter and less detailed than the others... But better now than later, since I will just continue to forget the little details as time goes on!
It all started around 2:30 am on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016. I had just started to fall asleep when I found myself woken up by a somewhat uncomfortable contraction. I was 8 days overdue at this point, but I didn't want to get too excited because of my experience with multiple false labors in my last pregnancy. Even in this pregnancy, I had already experienced a couple of nights of wondering whether labor was starting or if it was a false alarm, so I tried to fall asleep and not think too much of it. But sure enough, 10 or 15 minutes later, another uncomfortable contraction came. And then 10 or so minutes later, another one. I was timing the contractions on my phone just in case it was the real deal. After about an hour and a half of this (at around 4 am), my contractions were starting to get closer together, more like 6-8 minutes apart. I called my mom to let her know that I thought I might be in labor and she may need to come get the kids soon. We decided to wait just a little bit longer before she came over to make sure that the contractions continued to get closer together, since there was still a big part of me that was worried it was all just false labor again. Sure enough, my contractions continued to come closer together, and a little under an hour later they were coming between 4-6 minutes apart, sometimes even 3 minutes apart. I called my mom again and she headed over to take the kids.
The contractions didn't seem to be quite as consistent with this labor as my previous two labors, though. Soon after I called my mom, I had a space of almost 8 minutes in between contractions. Then 6 minutes, then down to 4 or 5 minutes after that. I had made the decision previously that I wasn't going to call my midwife until I was having contractions 4 minutes apart for at least a few times in a row. Between 5:40 am and 5:58 am, that happened, and I sent a text to my midwife letting her know she may need to come soon. Shortly after, she called me and we decided to have her come check me, but not call the other midwife or her apprentice until we knew for sure that I was making progress and really in labor.
Well, only a few minutes after I spoke with her on the phone, my contractions came further apart again. First 5 minutes apart, then 6 minutes, then 3 minutes (?), then 10 minutes. This should have clued me in to the possibility that this labor would be a bit different than my previous two... but here I was, almost 4 hours in, and still hoping for that short 5 or 6 hour labor that I had been lucky enough to have with my other home births.
My midwife arrived probably 20 minutes later, and I had been having contractions between 7-10 minutes apart. My heart sank a little bit at the thought that this may not be real labor and I was going to have to wait even longer for our little girl's arrival. After getting some things set up, Sherri (my midwife) checked me and said that I was dilated 7 cm. Whew! That's a pretty good sign that something really is happening and we really are going to have the baby soon. I had just read that it's best to wait until you are at least 5 cm dilated before you get into the bathtub (especially if you are hoping for a water birth) so I went ahead and hopped into the tub shortly after and started to relax. Since my contractions had become a little unpredictable, I was hoping the warmth of the bath would release any tension I had and would help my contractions start up strong and steady again, and that I would be holding my baby before too long.
I got in the bath around 7 am and stopped timing my contractions on my phone at this point. But what happened soon after I got in the bath was disappointing. The contractions practically vanished. They slowed down to every 20 minutes or so. Soon after this, the other midwife and Sherri's apprentice showed up, and I felt so silly. Here I was, just chilling in the bath tub with hardly a contraction to get excited about. They were so far apart, and sometimes they were even mild - hardly noticeable. I can't say exactly how long this went on for- it seemed like probably 2 or 3 hours. It got to the point where I felt scared to do anything to get the contractions started up again because I had become so accustomed to feeling like I wasn't in labor anymore - I was scared that it would suddenly hit me so strong and I wouldn't be able to handle the sudden intensity of labor that I would be thrown into. Sherri checked me a couple of times while I was in the bath, and somehow I continued to (slowly) dilate another centimeter or two, until I was about 9 cm dilated... yet still only having contractions 20 minutes apart.
I wondered if I was going to have to somehow push the baby out without any contractions to help me? Sherri assured me that wouldn't be the case - we would need contractions to start up again, especially because contractions are necessary after birth in order to keep the bleeding to a minimum. So we waited, and waited. Nothing was happening or changing, and I was starting to get tired of it. The other midwife attending the birth, Eva Price, had an herbal "tincture" (I think that's what they called it) that was supposed to help contractions start up again - so I started to take that every 15 or 20 minutes. It seemed to help a little bit, but still nothing to get excited about. Sherri suggested I get out of the bathtub for a bit and try laying down. Maybe the baby wasn't in the best position for birth, and we could try a few things to re-position her and get things started again.
So, as much as I wanted to stay in the calming bath, I got out and laid in bed. I got in a certain position on my side that was suppose to help turn a posterior baby. Contractions still came about 20 minutes apart. Only now they felt more intense and difficult to withstand. Sherri suggested that, as soon as I felt the next contraction coming, I turn over into the chest/knees position (with my bum up in the air, chest on the bed) and she would check me during the contraction and try to push any remaining cervix out of the way. Super fun, right? ;) But it had to be done. Sure enough, the contraction came, I switched positions, and Sherri was able to push the remaining cervix out of the way (it was just a tiny little bit left anyway) and she encouraged me to try pushing. What? I felt absolutely no urge to push at this point!
The contraction was intense and painful, and I found myself repeating "I can't, I can't, I can't" -- even though I had determined earlier that I wouldn't say that this time! That's how you know you are in transition and about to have a baby (at least in my experience) -- you lose your cool, you lose control, you lose your ability to maintain any calm disposition you were attempting to maintain previously, and you say and do whatever your brain stem decides to say or do. Anyway, still in this same contraction - I started to try to push the baby out. Again, with no urge to push. This was probably around 11:30 or 11:45 - 9 hours of labor. I had been awake since 2:30 am, and Sherri was worried I was too tired and would run out of energy unless we took advantage of gravity to help me push the baby out. Also, after having that strong contraction where she had moved the cervix out of the way and I had started to push, the contractions came back, stronger and closer together than ever. She had the birthing stool set up on the floor at the foot of our bed, and everyone (Jared, Sherri, Eva, and Sherri's apprentice Felicia) helped me quickly transfer over to the birthing stool. Immediately as I was sitting down on the stool, another contraction came, and I felt like my whole body was shaking and I could feel the contraction through my entire body, from my toes all the way to my head. Almost like electricity running through my body. I remember saying "What do I do, what do I do??" as I sat down, because I felt so unprepared for the intensity of the contraction and I had never sat in a squatting position through a contraction before - I felt so unstable and out of control. In response, everyone quickly stabilized me and put pressure on my knees and hips through the contraction. Sherri encouraged me to push again - still having no urge to push - so I had to find it in me to somehow push despite my fear of what that would mean. I think with my last two births I developed a fear of pushing because I know it means a huge amount of pain. Even though the pushing phase is usually pretty short, it is so insanely intense for me that I had to really force myself to push - especially with the lack of any urge to do so. So I pushed, and felt that lovely ring of fire... :) I finally felt some slight urge to push when she was crowning, and when the next contraction quickly came, I became very determined to make this phase end SOON and pushed with all the effort I could muster up. And finally she slipped out, and all the pain and out-of-control feelings vanished and I held her to my belly (she had a short cord) -- and met little baby Olivia for the first time.
So, 8 days past her due date, after about 9.5 hours of labor, 2-3 hours of that being stalled labor, and a sudden and very intense pushing phase at the end, she was finally born. 7 lbs 6 oz, 19 inches. And just as cute as can be. She has been a great eater, a great sleeper (especially during the day - haha), and such a sweet blessing to our family. We are now a family of six! It's hard to believe that a little over 5 years ago we were wondering whether we would ever be able to have our own children. We are so grateful for our 4 little miracles. Life has been quite the adventure over the last 5 years, but we are loving it. I know they grow up so fast, and we will be missing the days when these little hands were holding ours before we know it. But we also look forward to seeing them grow up and become mothers and fathers of their own little families. Just not too soon... time can slow down a bit and I wouldn't mind. :)