*warning for those who may be uncomfortable hearing about some of the intimate details of childbirth, if you think that may bother you, you probably want to skip this post.
As some of you already know, I had a very difficult pregnancy. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum the first trimester and was extremely sick and nauseous the entire 9 months. It felt like it was never ending, sometimes I would just cry to Travis, telling him I couldn't even remember what it felt like to not be sick. So, even though I knew it would be hard, I was really looking forward to labor so I could finally feel normal again. One of the things I learned from such a difficult pregnancy was that I wasn't in control and I couldn't plan everything out, which was a hard lesson for a control freak like me. I had preconceived ideas of how I wanted my pregnancy to go and they pretty much all went by the wayside by 7 weeks in. So, when it came to our birth plan I was a little more open-minded. I had preferences but if things didn't go a certain way I was ok with that. In my own type A way, I had become laidback about the situation.
I knew I wanted a natural birth and since my mom had given birth to all 3 of her kids at home I was more comfortable with the idea of a birth center or home birth than I was with a hospital environment. I did some research and found an amazing birth center near us. When I toured it and met the midwives I immediately knew this was where I wanted to be. The environment was very calming, and they had the most amazing birthing tubs I had ever seen (at the time this seemed super important to me). It also gave me peace of mind that they were only 2 blocks from the hospital, so if anything did happen I could literally just walk myself over and check myself in. But, what I loved most was the team of midwives. I often felt during my pregnancy, that I wouldn’t have survived without their guidance and support. I cried when I had my last appointment with them after Ingrid's birth, and not just because I was super hormonal! I was really going to miss our weekly check-ups.
Leading up to my due date on April 21st, I was feeling crummy as always and I was hoping that she would come early or on schedule because, not only did I have nausea but I was having terrible back pain, cervical twinges and occasional Braxton hicks contractions, which are basically practice contractions. All in all it wasn't fun! But, my due date passed, and the next day, and the next day- no baby! I ate spicy food, I bounced on a yoga ball, I walked as much as possible I even had some, ahem, intimate time. Anything and everything anyone recommended to jump start labor, I tried it. But she wasn't budging. The whole pregnancy seemed to take forever but that last week felt like it would never end.
Monday finally rolled around and I was a full week over due. I had a check-up with my midwives that morning and later in the day I had antepartum testing at the hospital. Since I was a week past due they wanted to monitor that everything was going ok and the baby wasn't in distress. When I went in for the testing around 3pm and they hooked me up to the monitors the nurse told me I was having some small contractions. I was in a little discomfort but I didn't get too excited because some women can have small contractions for weeks or even have Braxton hicks for months leading up to labor. The nurse didn't seem concerned and after verifying that everything else was good and the baby was healthy they sent me on my merry way. About 2 hours later though, I started to notice the discomfort getting worse and more regular. I told Travis that maybe I should start timing the contractions. So we kept track for about an hour. The contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes but they were only 20-30 seconds long, which really confused me because the birth class we had taken had said when contractions started they would be farther apart, more like 8-10 minutes apart and would get closer together as I progressed (I should have known by this point that nothing ever goes according to the plan!).
At around 6:30pm I called my midwives and told them what was going on. They said I should keep monitoring it and let them know when the contractions were a minute long. An hour later they had reached a minute in length, but even though I was in a lot of discomfort they were still manageable. So we decided to monitor for another hour and then check back in with the midwives. At about 9pm I called them and they said if I wanted to come in and have them check my progress I could. We got to the birth center at 9:30 and when they checked me I was only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. I was pretty disappointed because by this point I was starting to be in a lot of pain and my contractions were still consistently 2 minutes apart which wasn't giving me much time to recover between each one. I really didn't want to go back home, but at 2 centimeters we were all fairly certain I still had a long haul ahead of me. The midwives said I could stay however, and they would check with me again in an hour. During that hour things started to get a lot harder and I couldn't get comfortable, but, when they checked me again at 11pm I had only progressed to 3 centimeters dilated.
At this point we called my parents who had rented an airbnb nearby. When we called, Travis told them that I was in labor but it looked like it was still going to be quite awhile so they should get some sleep and we would have them come over early the next morning. We were assuming I would still be in labor at that point and they would be able to be there when she was born. But as soon as he hung up things really jumped into high- gear.
I was in so much pain and the contractions were right on top of each other. As soon as I was coming down from one the next one would start. I started to worry that I wasn't going to be able to handle the pain. Nothing seemed to give me any relief, even that beautiful tub I had so looked forward to using. Travis and the midwives had to keep reassuring me that I would be able to do it. They say that you forget the pain of labor as soon as it's over- I don’t know if it’s quite that quickly, but it is amazing how fast you start to forget something that in the moment seems so intense and shatteringly painful.
The midwives must have known that I was advancing quickly because they wanted to check me again at 1:30am. I was nervous because I knew if they told me I hadn't progressed much further I was going to feel really discouraged. But surprisingly they informed me I was already 8cm dilated! This gave me the little push I needed, and reassured me I wasn't too far from the finish line. They asked if I was feeling like I needed to push and I wasn't, so I decided I would get back in the tub at this point. But, as soon as I got into the water I felt my water break. As soon as the water broke, my feelings immediately changed and I had an intense need to push. I also no longer wanted to be in the water. So, they got me out, which seemed like an impossible feat at the time with the extreme pain and feelings of needing to push. The idea of moving an inch sounded terrible, but with their help I got to the bed and started pushing. I don't know if it's because my contractions were so close together but once I started pushing I felt like I couldn't stop, our baby had decided she was coming and she wanted to come now! The midwives tried to encourage me to take little breaks between pushing but it felt almost impossible. After just 15 minutes of pushing at 2:07 in the morning our little bundle of joy came barreling out into Travis' waiting hands.
As soon as she arrived I just started sobbing. From joy, love, excitement, pain, and exhaustion, it felt like every emotion I could ever feel had to be released all at once. And I looked down and I had this brand new little being laying on my chest. She immediately nuzzled into me and pushed herself as close to my face as she could get. I had never been so in love in my life and instantly it was all worth it. All the nausea, pain and waiting was so worth it, it was such an amazing feeling.
In the end after waiting an extra week, when she finally decided to come, she came fast and furious. Some people think that how you come into the world is a predictor of how you'll live in the world. I don't know if that's true but if it is I hope it means that although Ingrid might take her time and be slow and deliberate in her choices, once she decides to do something she will attack it head-on and without hesitation.
The last 13 weeks have had their ups and downs. I ended up with a uterine infection that made recovery a little longer than expected. And of course, we’re still getting used to the inconsistent sleep schedule. But, Ingrid has brought such indescribable joy to our lives. I can't help but stare at her and think she is the most perfect being in the whole world. I love to watch her little personality emerge as she starts to smile and giggle and babble more and more. I can't wait to see who she becomes as she slowly develops into her own person.