Abbreviated version (especially for the men):
Contractions began at midnight on the 13th. They picked up for a while around 3am and I thought we were ready to go, but they backed off until about 6:30am. I labored at home until 1pm and then headed to the hospital. Cora was born at 3:02pm. She was 7lbs 12oz, 20 inches long. We rested at the hospital over night and were released just 24 hours after she was born. :)
Rather lengthy and detailed version (only if you want to read about anatomy):
The last two weeks of my pregnancy with Cora were fast and full. Life kept me from being able to prepare for her arrival the way I wanted to until just days before she was due to join us. God of course knows what he is doing though, and 10 days of frantically washing little clothes and rearranging furniture was the perfect way to work out all my nervousness and keep me excited to meet her.
I spent the 12th (Cora’s “due date”) enjoying time with my family and blasting the internet with updates and pregnancy-related tidbits. I knew more about how my body was preparing this time than with Aidan (I didn’t have a single vaginal exam with that pregnancy), but also knew that every pregnancy is different. I knew from my prenatal appointment on the 10th that I was 2-3 cm dilated and about 60% effaced. I had a few mild and not painful contractions throughout the day – always while up on my feet – and lost part of my mucous plug in the afternoon. Just before I went to bed I started feeling crampy, and went to sleep knowing that I was going to see Cora soon.
It turned out to be *very* soon!! I woke up at right about midnight with real contractions. They were spaced 7-10 min apart but regular. I called my doula to let her know things were starting, and she told me to go back to sleep. (THANK YOU!) That really was just what I needed. I was anxious at the thought of another long labor on little sleep. I really think I needed permission to let myself rest b/c I was also feeling pressure internally to keep things going so that the labor wouldn’t last forever. I was able to doze and rest for almost two hours before I felt too awake to lie in bed. I got up and made myself some oatmeal and chamomile tea. Contractions jumped to 3-5 minutes apart almost as soon as I got out of bed, but I ate and drank anyway. I decided to read a little and enjoy the alone time for a little while and just as I was about to hit an hour of consistent contractions (at which point I was going to wake Rob up), things backed way off!
At about 3am I decided to try and go back to sleep. I think I might have had a contraction every 30 minutes or so after that until about 6:30 when we all woke up. I was so thankful for a better night’s rest than I expected and thankful for Rob and Aidan’s sake that I was able to let them sleep! I had raspberry leaf tea with breakfast to try and get things started again, and boy did it! By mid-morning I called my doula to let her know that Cora was definitely coming, and called other family and friends to solicit prayer and help with Aidan.
I think I still had in my mind that this was going to be a marathon. I never had a moment when I felt like things were getting too intense or moving too quickly. Still, it was only 5 hours after we got up that I called my doula to come over. She arrived just as our wonderful friend April left with Aidan. My contractions were painful, but I had nice breaks in between them and was able to talk with Louise and Rob without any difficulty. Having Louise there allowed me to relax and let my body do what it wanted, knowing that someone experienced that I trusted was watching me and would help me through all that was coming. Evidently what my body wanted to do was have a baby! :)
Before Louise had been with us an hour, my contractions intensified to the point that I wasn’t as interested in talking anymore. I wondered out loud a couple of times how I would know when to go to the hospital and told Rob that it was going to suck to sit in the car with contractions like these. When Louise told me we could go whenever I felt ready, I decided that I’d rather have a few hours of labor at the hospital to get prepared than rush around. We left at about 1pm.
The ride to the hospital was probably the worst part of the whole labor. I had 3 or 4 contractions during the 20 minute ride and I did *not* enjoy being limited to the same position. I don’t *think* I cursed out loud, but I certainly did in my mind. :) We’d forgotten to call my doctor until we got in the car, so Rob was on the cell phone with him while driving. I don’t know if he heard me or was just being cautious, but we found out later that he told the nurses to admit me right away b/c I was going to go fast.
People looked at me so strangely with both of these labors when I walked into the ER – I don’t think they are used to seeing women in active labor (which makes me sad). They did get me in right away and offered a wheelchair, which I refused for the first stretch b/c in my mind I still wanted to make sure labor didn’t stall. I relented later when it was obvious to me that this labor was most certainly *not* slowing down and walking was difficult. The next hour is a bit of a blur. I remember everything that went on, but I’m not sure of the chronology of it all.
When they examined me in triage they discovered that I was fully effaced and at 7cm!! I was honestly a little surprised that it was going so quickly. In our labor room, my nurse was kind and very positive about my birth plan. She was also pretty firm (which was super annoying though she was just doing what she’d been told to do) about getting a 20 minute reading on Cora before I was allowed to labor freely. In the meantime the techs had a hard time getting an IV (just a heparin lock – not the tubing) connected and told me they thought I was dehydrated. I don’t see how that is possible considering the amount of water I’d been guzzling. I think they were nervous that I was so far along and were panicking. My nurse started to fill the birthing jacuzzi tub (they had been very considerate and put me in the room the midwives usually use).
This whole time my doctor was en route from another hospital and they were telling me I couldn’t push even though I had the urge to. There was another doctor (a resident maybe) there and I asked her why she couldn’t catch the baby at one point and she laughed and held up her hands and said she wanted to wait for my doctor. I really would have been content catching Cora myself at that point. It became apparent that the tub was not going to be filled by the time I was ready to deliver, and someone (a nurse? Louise?) asked me how long it had been since I emptied my bladder and encouraged me to try to go to the bathroom. I laughed at that, knowing that me walking across that room and sitting on the toilet was going to be all it took to finish transitioning. I had a contraction on the way there, and then another on the toilet. My water broke with that second contraction and someone asked if I had gone to the bathroom to which I replied, “nope, that’s not pee!” :) Then it was all “get her back in here!” lol!!!
Despite all of the disruptions, I really enjoyed laboring so much better this time, I kept telling Louise and Rob how much better I felt and how much energy I had. I was thankful that things were happening so fast and that I was alert enough to be annoyed at all of the people rushing around me. I asked for the squat bar when my doctor arrived (I didn’t actually hold of on pushing until then, but only pushed gently and didn’t tell them – shh!), and got up on my knees and draped my body over the top of it. I wanted to get in an actual squatting position, but resting my upper body felt so good that I just stayed there.
Pushing was such a relief this time just like last time. My doctor came around behind me and Rob and Louise held my hands and encouraged me from the end of the bed. Louise reminded me to relax my shoulders as I pushed, which helped a lot, and reassured me that my body knew what it was doing. I didn’t push long at all before I felt that she was ready to come out. Burning and then soft warmth and then we had our little one. I kissed Rob and breathed out long and slow and waited for the doctor to pass her around to me. She went right to my chest and I noticed right away that she was smaller than Aidan and had beautiful, feminine eyes, but was otherwise a carbon copy of her brother.
I settled back to give the doctor a better view and to rest and Cora went to nursing straight away like she’d been doing in in utero all along. I felt SO GOOD compared to last time. So peaceful, instantly rested, and content. I did tear this time, though not as bad as last time, and I was bleeding quite a bit. My doctor was on guard knowing my history and told me to make sure we were skin to skin. When that didn’t stop the bleeding he encouraged me to keep nursing. He still wasn’t comfortable with the bleeding so he asked the nurses to start pitocin while he worked on my stitches. That did the trick and I didn’t end up with any significant blood loss. (yay!)
Cora Ruth Barr was born at 3:02pm and was 7lbs 12oz and 21 inches.
I love that I was able to chat with my doctor and Rob and Louise right away and felt fantastic with tons of energy. We were taken to the recovery room pretty quickly after my tear was repaired and while I was in the restroom, Louise and Rob discovered a computer in the room. I was able to update the blog at 5:17pm – just two hours after Cora was born!! We were discharged at almost exactly 24 hours. Our stay was so short that we didn’t even get to finish calling the family and friends on our list – sorry if you heard through the grapevine!! So thankful for a wonderful experience and a healthy, gorgeous little girl! :)