I went to bed a little bit earlier than normal on the night of the 13th but had a fitful night's sleep. At some point during the night, DS#1 woke up and crawled into bed between DH and I. At about 5:25 am, a contraction instantly woke me up and I thought to myself, "wow, I feel like something inside is going to explode!" and no sooner had I thought that when my water broke. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom and there was no mistaking it. Fluid kept gushing out. DH heard me in the bathroom and quickly figured what had just happened. I changed my clothes and put on a pad but not more than a minute later it was completely soaked through as were my pants. I changed again and this time I stuffed a towel in my pants.
DS#1 woke up and was concerned to find DH and I gathering up our things to go to the hospital. He started to whimper and asked if he could come with us. DS#1 did go to to the hospital with us when DS#2 was born but we did not want to repeat that this time. We popped in a Signing Time dvd of his choice and told him that his Aunt Anna was there and that he did not have to be scared. That seemed to help him relax a little. DH made me a pb&j sandwich and filled up a water bottle full of Gatorade. I tip-toed in and woke up my sister to tell her that my water broke and that we were headed to the hospital. It was wonderful to have her already there so we did not have to disrupt the boys in the wee hours of the morning and it was wonderful to know that it was family taking care of them.
I originally wanted to labor at home for a while before heading to the hospital but since we were still dealing with icy roads and my contractions were already five minutes apart, we did not wait long. As we drove out of the apartment complex and past Mercer University on the icy roads, the light of the moon reflecting off the ice covered snowy field was incredibly beautiful and peaceful. DH and I have made the trip to the hospital for the birth of all three of our children in the wee hours of the morning and each time I've thought about how strange it is that the world is quietly sleeping on while our lives are changing monumentally.
Once we made it out of our icy neighborhood and onto the interstate, the drive was easy. I ate most of the sandwich DH had made me and took a GU (running gel) and drank my hot chocolate on the drive to the hospital. I called the midwife on call to let her know that we were on our way and I also called labor and delivery to give them the heads up as well. While walking into the hospital I had to stop during a big contraction. A woman outside asked me if I needed a wheelchair but I told her I was alright, standing felt better than sitting.
We arrived at the hospital around 6:15 am. Once inside I signed a few papers and they took me back to labor and delivery. They checked with litmus paper to make sure my water had truly broken, which of course it had, and I changed into the hospital gown. When I first got to the labor room I was checked and was at 5 cm. I then had to be monitored for the first 20 minutes, meaning I had monitors strapped to me and I had to lay down in bed. It was twenty minutes of pure torture! Laying down was the worst possible position to deal with the contractions.
DH was beyond awesome! He was my advocate to the medical staff. He told them of my birth desires-- no IV but a Hep lock instead (the nurse attempted to insert it in my hand but after a failed attempt on each hand that has left me with some huge bruises, she finally put it in a random spot on my arm), no epidural or medication of any sort, and that I wanted to be able to move around and change positions, etc. It was great that DH was so involved because I quickly went "inside" myself and gave control over to my body. DH told me afterward that there were times he or the medical staff would ask me questions and even if I was looking at them it was as if I did not even hear them at all. DH took such good care of me and also made sure that I stayed hydrated and had at least 4 oz of Gatorade per hour. I'm not sure Gatorade ever tasted so good before.
After the twenty minutes of monitoring, the midwife said that I could get in the tub and that she would be back in a few hours to check on me. The hot jetted water helped a great deal during the contractions. At first during contractions I found myself focusing on a picture of myself on the Amazon River in Brazil at sunset when I was in the 8th grade and also on my Grandma Lange, neither of which I had planned on doing beforehand. I believe that thinking about the woman who brought my own mother into this world and all the strong women throughout history who have given birth gave me great comfort and courage as I labored to bring the next generation of womanhood into this world.
Not long at all after entering the tub I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. After a contraction DH helped me out of the tub and I sat on the toilet but it was not a bowel movement that was making me feel that way. I quickly got back in the tub. It helped to rub the side of the tub or DH's hand or arm during the contractions. I silently prayed to Heavenly Father for strength. I kept telling DH that I felt like I needed to push. The midwife quickly came back and once my contraction subsided she had me get out of the tub. She helped me breath deeply and slowly during the contractions as I made my way back to the bed. She checked me again and I was already at 8 to 9 cm and a minus one station.
I was laying on my side, clutching onto DH and rubbing his hand and the hospital bed. All I had was a lip left on one side of my cervix, so the nurse suggested that I switch sides and bring my one knee up to my chest to help speed up that last bit. She said that I'd have my baby within the half hour and she was right. My midwife gave me the go ahead to bear down as I pleased. I remember during DS#2's natural birth I was too embarrassed to make any noise but this time I just let go of all that. It felt much better to make noise while bearing down, primal and natural.
I could feel our little girl's head coming down. The nurse asked me to switch from my side to a lying down position to make it easier for the midwife but I told them that I couldn't. The midwife said that was fine and she let me push in a side lying position, which I was so thankful for. My baby girl's head began to crown but she did not come out before the contraction finished. I was so tempted to continue pushing without the contraction because the "ring of fire" was pretty intense. I prayed for another contraction to come quickly so I could finish pushing her out and what a relief it was when it did!
My midwife told me to reach down and I helped lift my beautiful baby girl out and onto my chest. I cannot even begin to describe what that moment was like! She made one little cry and then quietly and peacefully snuggled up on my chest and just stared at me for the longest time. Amazing. After the umbilical cord stopped pulsating, DH cut the cord.
My labor was super fast, my fastest yet! We got to the hospital at 6:15 am and sweet Claire Ruth was born at 7:52 am. It was both a blessing and a curse that the labor progressed so rapidly. It was great because it was over quickly and I was holding my baby girl but that also meant that there was no easy or progressive build up while dealing with the contractions. It was just--BAM-- full force.
Claire was born Friday, January 14, 2011 and she weighed 9lbs 2 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. I was so happy that she had a cute head of dark hair. She had an Apgar of 8/9 and started breastfeeding right away. I did have a second degree tear but my midwife said it looked like it reopened the same tear that I received during either DS#1 or DSD#2's birth but it was nothing that ibuprofen and an ice pack couldn't handle.
After Claire was born DH handed the midwife and nurse who'd helped us the roll of Sweetarts candy with the note that I'd written saying thank you for helping us get our little "sweetheart" here safely. I had such a great and supportive medical team and an amazing husband that truly made Claire's birth the experience that I had hoped and prayed for. I could not be more happy!