here she is...
Very proudly introducing Isla Catherine, born at home today at 1:30pm. Amazingly, she weighed in at 8lbs 11 1/2 oz. Who knew I was growing such a big bird in there?! No wonder I was having problems walking anywhere in the last weeks. Stretched out abs combined with a heavy baby means walking like a cowboy. Anyway, she's here. She's absolutely beautiful. And I'm so happy.
I told Paul to get the pool as close to ready as possible. I knew this wasn't going to fizzle out and that I would give birth today. I ate some toast and cheese with Jack, had some tea, and more toast with jam a little later. It was all I could stomach, but I knew I had to have something in my belly or else it would be like running a marathon after a fast.
Jane arrived at around 9:30 this morning, when contractions were every 3 minutes or so but still manageable. The pain was very low (mostly around the area of the pelvis at the front where you'd feel SPD pain) but would sometimes shift to my lower back...which of course had me worried because of the back labour fear. I asked Jane if it was normal to feel contractions in the back even if the baby isn't posterior, and she reassured me that it was. Oh how lovely to have her there; she held my lavender wheat pack thingy to my back during contractions, gently stroked my back, and told me how brilliantly I was doing. And you know, I did do brilliantly. I'm so proud at how well I coped this time. No screaming, no hysteria, and far, far less pain felt. Even Mr. TENS became my good friend and actually worked. Maybe it was because I avoided back labour and maybe it was because labour build up gradually, but I coped. I made low, primal noises through the strongest contractions and breathed my way through the weaker ones. I think towards the end I did something resembling Inuit throat singing (but done very badly and only singing about four notes over and over), but it got me through. In between contractions (yes! I had breaks!!), I was perfectly lucid and felt absolutely fine. I cannot be anywhere near giving birth, I thought. I feel far too good. But then my pelvis felt very heavy during contractions and I was starting to get the urge to push. Already? Nah!
I wasn't desperate to get into the pool this time, I just felt it was time. To my surprise, I pushed through the next contraction and felt a very small pop - for the first time, I felt my waters break. It was like a small bubble breaking, probably because I was in the water (how tidy!) Jane told me that I had meconium in my waters, which meant it would be best if I birthed on dry land. She said the baby's heart rate was absolutely fine and stable, but I was worried. I knew that meconium was bad, and I worried that if I couldn't get this baby out fast enough, it would mean a hospital transfer. I was nervous about birthing out of the pool; I love the privacy and comfort of the warm water. I stood at first, leaning on the side of the pool for the next contraction then leaning on the sofa for the one following. I stood in a squatting position, and it was really not comfy. I pushed and pushed, and by this point, I did scream a little because I was afraid. I looked down and saw more meconium had come out, and I cried "My baby...please...be okay, baby". Jane suggested that I get on my knees and rest my upper body on the sofa, and that was better. I was still panicked and just wanted to get the baby out safely, so in between grunting and growling in frustration, I shouted "COME ON, BABY!!"
Not that shocking when you know her weight, but at the time I was taken aback at how difficult it was to push her out and how much it was hurting. I do think the panic made it worse though. Jane told me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing, and let them do the work of getting her head out - which worked like a charm. She pressed a warm flannel against my perineum as Isla's head crowned, and it felt fantastic. The next contraction, her body started to come out...and that's when Jane noticed that the cord was around her neck. She got her untangled, and I pushed her out with the next contraction. Isla cried right away and scored a 9 on her first Apgar, so she passed with flying colours. Jane told me to go back on my heels and she passed Isla to me through my knees. "It's a girl!" I said in a slight state of shock. We'd been so sure she would be a boy. "Hello beautiful girl. My beautiful girl!" I said over and over.
I sat with her for a while, coaxed her to feed (which she did, brilliantly), and had a lovely cuddle. Paul asked what I wanted to eat, and I requested two runny poached eggs on toast. Beeyootiful. I had a shower, but really didn't feel as great as I did after I had Mia. I hurt. Quite a lot, and still do. My stomach feels like I've done 1,000 crunches, my back is a little sore, I'm still walking like a cowboy, and I'm exhausted. The afterpains are much stronger (which is apparently common with each birth), so when I feed Isla I feel like I'm in early labour again. Even when I'm not feeding her, I'm getting strong period pains every now and then.
But having said that, and having gone through my notes to see how quickly everything went, I'm really pleased. Exhausted, but pleased. And on that note, my little girl is calling and so is my bed.