After irregular, mild contractions that started around 10pm, I figured I should get back to the computer and try to finish some work. Eventually, I went to sleep and slept through mild contractions throughout the night. The next morning, I debated calling in sick (I was already working from home) -- so I just sent an email saying that I wasn't feeling great and would work as possible. I also debated whether to cancel the cleaning lady that I had arranged (we don't have a regular cleaning lady, but I decided to splurge twice to get the house fully clean before baby arrived). Even with contractions getting stronger, I was still skeptical and didn't want to change my plans. Babies know not to come before you're ready, right? I was semi-convinced that if I wasn't ready, my body wouldn't let me go into labour. Plus, I wasn't feeling the urge to nest. No water breaking (as it had to start my labour with E). None of the other signs that you learn about. Just contractions. OK....maybe that's a big sign. But, maybe it's just Braxton-Hicks.
Still not committing, I asked R to go into work late so that he could take E to daycare. Then, I figured I would just set up the birth pool. If anything, it wouldn't hurt to try it out.
As I was doing that and R was dropping E off at daycare, contractions got stronger. So I figured that maybe it was the real thing. Crap! My house is a mess and I have two projects to finish still. To add a little bit of a stress to the mix, the adapter that I have bought to hook up the hose for the birth pool to the sink wasn't connecting properly. WTF?!? I had tested it earlier in the week and it went on easily. Images of filling buckets up with water were running through my mind. This is not the home birth I had envisioned!!!
The urge to clean everything was in full force since I knew I was too far along to have the house cleaner come in a couple of hours. I debated it, but decided it wouldn't be fair to her to have to listen to me in labour. Gotta say, it's still easier to clean a house in labour than it is to clean a house with a toddler. We got the place in acceptable condition pretty quickly and R finally got the hose hooked up. I was able to relax a bit. Thankfully this coincided with contractions getting increasingly stronger. Among the contractions that still sticks out is one I had on my yoga/labour ball. First and only contraction on there -- man that hurt.
At R's suggestion, we asked the doula to come over. I didn't want to waste her time in early labour. But, R's arms were getting tired from the hip squeezes (I think I told him to "suck it up" a few times). Shortly after my doula arrived, I got into the birth pool. It felt good to be in there. I had a small fan on me, along with a cold cloth on my forehead. I spent pretty much the entire time leaning forward over the edge of the pool.
Unlike last birth, I felt pretty aware of what was going on. I could tell that I wasn't in transition yet. I knew immediately when my water broke. We called the midwife at that point. My doula asked about how I felt about the pain level and I said it was manageable, but not fun. She and R squeezed my hips from alternate sides, which brought the pain level down by a lot.
Shortly after telling my doula that I wasn't in transition, I'm pretty sure transition started. That phase was quick too. I told when her I felt the baby drop lower. My midwife arrived somewhere around that time. About ten minutes later, I felt the urge to push. With E, I was too freaked out to feel the baby's head coming out. But, this time I needed to guide my pushing. The second midwife hadn't arrived yet and my midwife started to get a bit concerned about that. I didn't care. After about 5 minutes of pushing, K was out. It was all kind of surreal. I wasn't even in labour -- why is there a baby in my arms?!
OK -- so I guess I was in labour. It all went really quickly. I'd estimate about 2 hours of active labour. Born at 7 lbs, 6 oz, K was quite a bit smaller than E.
A couple hours after K was born, R picked E up from daycare. Originally, we weren't sure if we would keep her home for the birth. But, it became clear to me that having her there was going to be too difficult. She was being whiny and was starting to get upset with my condition. She came home and was very excited to meet her new little brother. Some of her thoughts were that he was hungry (for chocolate...according to E), that he was going to roll over (because his arms were flailing around)
All in all, a really good experience. Having a baby at home was so much easier than going to the hospital mid-labour. After delivery, I was able to just walk down the hall and sit in my bed while my doula and midwives emptied the pool and cleaned up. Of course, there's always a risk of a hospital transfer. But, research shows that outcomes for home births are comparable to hospital births. I was also really happy with the level of intervention -- no medications, no checking for dilation, no one counting while I pushed, immediate skin-to-skin and continued skin-to-skin for a lengthy period afterwards. I also decided to have my placenta encapsulated (making it into a pill) this time, which I think contributed to avoiding baby blues all together. It seemed a bit "out there" for me first time around, but I figured I'd give it a try. The pills have no taste, no smell, etc.
Fast forward two (and a bit) months later, we're settling into being a family of four. It's all encompassing, but very rewarding to see them grow and thrive. Now, I'm looking forward to watching them interact as K becomes more aware of his surroundings. So far, E has not shown any jealousy and, without any prompting, she is very protective of her baby brother around other kids.