At 3:45pm yesterday (April 27), I felt my first contraction. I didn't think anything of it until a similar one came along less than 10 minutes later. Within half an hour, I had contractions coming less than 5 minutes apart on average. We started cleaning up the house and getting our final things together even though at this point I wasn't positive it was "real" labor. At 4:30 I told my friend I was having contractions and I'd let her know if they went anywhere (since she'd be watching the kids). I told her the contractions had "an element of pain to them". At 4:45 I told her I'd eat my big toe if it wasn't labor. At about 5:20, we dropped the kids off to her, and by 5:30 we were off on our way to the birth center. (My intuition was telling me at this point that I might not make it, but I brushed it aside as silly thinking and told myself I was probably much further than 45-60min from delivery.) This whole time the contractions were getting stronger. We charted them in Excel from about 4:30 to 5:15 and they averaged about 3 minutes apart during this time period. While I was running around cleaning up and packing things up from my list of things to prepare when labor started, I stopped for each contraction to lean on the closest thing that was at about waist height. I found that the weight and pressure with each contraction was more bearable when I kind of scooped my hips or dipped them until it was over. I also tried to concentrate on making sure I was relaxing my belly and my shoulders, which I think I've been pretty tense with in past labors, and I exhaled a bit loudly, kind of like pilates breathing or something.
Once we were in the car, it took me a couple contractions to really get the hang of the best way to relax and cope with each contraction, but it turned out to work best to concentrate on relaxing my whole bottom side, along with my shoulders and arms still, and I eventually stopped the breathing thing naturally because it didn't matter in this stage anymore. Partway through the drive to the birth center I was starting to have those "I don't know how much longer I can do this" transition thoughts, and again, I brushed them aside as silly because I was probably no more than 5 cm or something really depressingly unprogressed for how intense the contractions were. To my surprise (and not), at 6:08 I had a contraction with the urge to push and my water broke and I had to try not to push, but my body was just grunting and trying anyway. All the pressure of the contractions was in my bum now and it was less painful (as pushing contractions always are for me). Peter called our midwife to clarify some directions (she'd given us a rush hour shortcut) and told her my water had broken and I was having the urge to push. She called us right back after that to let me know to blow through the contractions so I wouldn't push. I was only partially successful, but I tried my best. I had no interest in giving birth in the car, as nice a story as it might make.
A few minutes later, after lots of maddening red lights, we arrived at the doors of the birth center. I had a contraction right then that I had to blow through and as soon as it was over I got out of the car and walked into the birth center. I walked straight back into my birthing room where the tub was filling for me and walked over right to the steps of the tub. I stooped over to pull off my pants so I could get in the water and got the urge right then to see where the baby was and push him out. I reached in and felt him not crowning but just inside the birth canal and then squeezed him out from a standing position in one push into my and the midwife's hands. My first thought after that was "I wonder if I can get in the water now?" Then Peter walked into the room with a shocked expression on his face, as he had just taken less than 2 minutes to park the car and grab a couple bags from the trunk. Apparently he heard a baby cry as he hopped out of the car and figured it was his mind playing tricks on him. Nope--that was the birth of your son that you just missed! But it was okay. Even if he'd been in the room he might have missed it. I almost feel like I did, it happened so fast. Littlest Lewis was born Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 6:21pm weighing 6lbs 15.6oz and measuring 20.5in, after 2hrs 36min of labor. (13 3/4 head circumference)
It turns out he was tongue tied, so the midwife clipped his frenulum, but he's still not the greatest nurser. He really doesn't like to open his mouth, or suck. This is nothing new to us (3 for 3), but it's still disappointing and difficult. This time we have a nipple shield already, so we did manage to get one good feeding in with that last night, but that's all we've managed so far, 20hrs after his birth.
All in all, a fast labor, an untraumatic birth (for me), a pretty good postpartum bottom-side (not as good as last time but much better than the first time), and another tricky nurser. Wish us luck that the nursing is figured out even faster this time!