2 days after my due date I had been having contractions consistently since 6am every ten minutes. Naps, cleaning, chiropractor appointment, walking, and eating all that day didn't speed things up. I would have bouts where the contractions would be 5 minutes apart but would slow back down any time I rested. I gave my birth team a heads up that this looked just like my other labors and we were going to be in it for the long haul.
Throughout the next night my contractions were way too painful to keep laying on my back. I would either flip over to contract on all fours or get out of bed to lean over against the bed. I really wanted my husband to get some quality sleep because I didn't know how long this labor was going to last. It took so much self-control to labor silently and not ask him for help. I realize in hindsight that it would have been okay to ask him and to even call my doula for more support, but I still thought it was too early for any of that.
Finally, around 5am I couldn't stay in bed anymore. Laying down, flipping around and whatnot was just making me more exhausted and making my hair a ratted bird's nest. At around 7am I called my midwife, Alex, just to give her a heads up that my contractions were every 5 minutes or so apart but that she probably had plenty of time. She promptly disregarded me and said she would be there in 30 minutes. (I'm so glad she did this because it was getting more intense by the minute and without realizing it I needed her and my whole birth team)
She encouraged me to call my doula, Sarah, to come over knowing I should have called her several hours prior. I went ahead and called her and my birth photographer, Lauren. My doula showed up 10 minutes later with my midwife and photographer arriving quickly afterward. They blew up the birth pool and got everything ready as I labored and Alex checked me for the first time. I was 5cm and around 85% effaced. ONLY 5CM!!! After 26 hours, I was a little heartbroken that I wasn't further along.
The next few hours are somewhat a blur. I paced around my living, leaned against my husband, leaned against the couch, got on all fours leaning against the birth ball with counter-pressure from either my husband or my doula, and tried other positions to relieve some pain during the contractions. This labor was different from my first two in that I found tremendous relief getting on all fours and having counter pressure. These contractions were tricky this birth. This baby was flipping constantly in my belly making me have back labor when sunny side up and front labor when AP, in the correct position. No position or counter pressure really alleviated any pain this time around. It was odd and I was desperate.
I kept making my way back to the toilet to labor, not because it was more comfortable but because I felt like I was making the most progress in this position. If I couldn't alleviate the pain I wanted to go away faster, thus, I wanted to dilate and efface as fast as I could. I had Alex check me again around 9:30am and I was 7cm dilated. I was making good progress, but not as fast as I'd hoped.
A couple more hours went by and I had only progressed 1cm. I was sitting at 8cm and FIGHTING the urge to push with everything I had. I was having to blow raspberries each contraction to stop myself. This all only led to more vomiting and dehydration. At one point, Alex was concerned with my extremely lethargic state and what she was hearing on her doppler of the baby's heartbeat. We all decided an IV was best. She and Elyse, her assistant, started an IV and my poor husband had to hold it up high for almost 45 minutes while I napped between contractions and labored.
Finally, once my bag of fluids was emptied, she checked me again. I was still 8cm, but I was 100% effaced. She said I easily stretched to 9 - 9.5cm during a contraction, but I just wasn't dilating over baby's head. She gave me the option to continue to labor or during a contraction she could easily stretch me to a 10. After consulting my husband and doula, we decided to go for it even though I knew it would be painful.
The next contraction she easily stretched me to 10cm before it was over. She exclaimed, "you're complete!" I sat up and we all walked from my bed to the birth pool. I climbed in with my husband right behind me. I pushed the head out and my water broke. One shoulder came out and Alex had me lean back on to my husband. The next contraction the second shoulder and the rest of the baby came out. I reached down to help catch my third baby and my midwife and I slowly transitioned this sweet baby out of the water. She looked straight up with arms spread wide.
As soon as I brought the baby up to my chest I was so relieved to be finished. My husband immediately asked me the gender of the baby to which I immediately responded, "I don't even care!" I was just glad this baby was here.
After about 4-5 minutes I finally decided to look to see whether we had a boy or girl. When I looked and saw we had made a little girl I was in complete disbelief! It was definitely the best surprise of my life! My trajectory of emotions went from shock, surprise, and overwhelming joy leading to so many happy tears.
After 31 hours of labor, we welcomed River Eden. She was born at 1:06pm after 7 minutes of pushing. She weighed 7pounds 7ounces and measured 20inches long.
Check out these wonderfully captured photos by Lauren Hodges with LoPhoto
To read the unabridged version and see all the photos in a slideshow see my personal blog.