The first contraction I wrote down was at 4:55pm on Tuesday. I had had a few before that, and realized that they were fairly consistent and stronger than Braxton Hicks, so figured I should start keeping track. When they had been coming about 10 minutes apart for an hour, I texted my midwife and a few friends to let them know tonight would probably be the night! I told my husband and my mom and we started getting prepared.
All through dinner and the kids' bedtime contractions continued. There was a little pain to them, but nothing unmanageable. I would sometimes stop and breathe a bit, but could generally still talk through them. They were ever so gradually getting closer together.
After the kids were in bed, all we had to do was wait! JM started filling up the pool in my birth room. I FaceTimed my sister for a while, sitting on a yoga ball, breathing through contractions, but otherwise enjoying my night. My mom was in the dining room creating a baby wreath for the front door. JM came and massaged my shoulders between contractions to help me release tension.
Around 11pm we started discussing whether it was time to call the midwife to come over. I was still cheerful between contractions, but definitely having to focus and breathe and sway through them. They were coming 4-6 minutes apart. I still wasn't sure how close we were to the end, since I was still talkative, but fortunately JM hijacked my phone and notified our midwife that it was time to come over. I got in the water at that point, and OH HEAVENLY WONDERFULNESS. I love water so much during labor. It makes everything so much better.
The midwife showed up around midnight, and my contractions had slowed to 9 minutes apart, which is fairly normal when you first get in the water. I just enjoyed the break, rested, laughed, chatted with everyone in the room. I shifted positions in the water a couple times until I found one that allowed me to rest my arms and face on the side of the pool. Contractions began to get more intense more quickly, and closer together, and it was time to really concentrate. I wasn't laughing in between anymore.
The rest happened so quickly, it was fantastic. I vocalized (a pretty loud moan) through a couple contractions, and then felt like, bless the Lord, this little baby was ready to come out already! I could possibly have pushed her out within a minute, but my midwife coached me (as we had discussed before) to slow down, breathe, and let my body do the work to avoid tearing. I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.
Before I knew it, her head was out! The amazing thing about birthing in the water, which I've never done before, is that I was in position to catch her myself. I reached my hand down and felt her tiny head and waited for the next contraction, when her body slipped out (That one caused some tearing. Blast!) and I reached down and brought her out of the water and onto my chest. And that was it! It was over! I had my baby girl in my arms, born at 1:03am on Wednesday, February 10, 2016. The relief and joy and magic of that moment I will never be able to express, but I hope I will always remember.
It was a really good birth experience. There was so much peace in being at home with the people I love, so much comfort in being in the water, so much hope as I kept reminding myself that the pain was for a moment and I would be holding my baby soon. Birth is no walk in the park, that's for sure. It's the most powerful thing that a woman's body will ever do. But it can be a good experience and a precious memory, full of joy and hope. I feel so bonded with my Ivory Lane already, and I think part of it is due to having such a peaceful and joyful birth.
I really wanted to share my story to encourage all you ladies who have yet to enter motherhood that birth doesn't have to be the traumatic experience that television and our culture have made it out to be. You can do it, and it can be beautiful. I truly hope you find it so!