My due date came and went. I kept telling people I was still far too comfortable and feeling too good to be nearing labor. This pregnancy was much easier than my first, I was showing less and not feeling at all like I was "done being pregnant." About a week after my due date, I woke up at 2am to my water breaking. I began having very minor contractions immediately afterwards and I thought "this is it!" When I gave birth to my first child, my water broke, contractions began and 12 hours later we had the baby. I assumed this may be the same and we live an hour from the birth center, so we packed up our things and headed out right away. Eric thought it would be a fun adventure to have the baby in the car, but I really didn't see it that way and was eager to get to the birth center.
When we arrived at the birth center, things hadn't progressed much. We laid down to try and sleep a little bit and when I woke up several hours later, I knew that I couldn't be in labor or I never would have slept through the contractions. We went out to breakfast and walked around Lake Harriet. Contractions would begin again when I was walking but stopped as soon as I stopped walking. We went to a movie, did some shopping and by dinnertime, things still hadn't started up and we both wanted to go home and see our toddler, who had been hanging out with grandma all day. We drove the hour home, played with and read to our son and then went to bed early after a long day of waiting around. That night, I woke up again around 2am with contractions. They began getting more intense and closer together so I ate breakfast and read a book and waited to wake Eric up until I thought we should head out. We left the house when the contractions were about 8 minutes apart, at around 5am. By the time we arrived at the birth center, they were 5 minutes apart and getting more intense. As soon as we got to the room, I sat on the birthing ball while Eric dug his thumbs into my back/pelvic region during each contraction. I can't describe how much relief that gave me and how wonderful it felt. My contractions began getting closer together pretty quickly but I also felt like at the end of each contraction my entire body was able to really relax. I could feel the rush of endorphins as the wave of the contraction ended. Sort of like doing a bunch of situps so that you can hardly stand to do one more and then relaxing completely and having that wonderful feeling wash over you.
At around 9am, we filled up the tub with nice warm water and we both got in. The midwive and birth assistant were monitoring and listening from across the hall since I really wanted a lot of peace and quiet and privacy during labor. The midwife said to let them know when I felt like pushing and I remember thinking that I hadn't been in labor that long and I thought that would be a long way off still. But within 10 minutes of getting in the warm water, I could feel my body wanting to push. I couldn't believe it was happening already. With my first baby, I was so exhausted by the time the pushing came that I really pushed hard to try and get the baby out quickly, because I wasn't sure how long I was going to be able to do it. This time, I tried to breath and not push quite as much with each contraction. After a month of intensely hot and humid weather in Minnesota, it began raining and I remember hearing thunder as I was pushing. We had a mix CD playing and while I tuned most of it out, I remember hearing the Counting Crows song, Black and White. There is a line that says "I am ready, I am ready" and I remember hearing this as I was beginning to push and it felt like a confirmation – I WAS ready to do this. This song will forever remind me of the morning I gave birth to our baby. I was in a squatting position in the tub for most of the pushing, but as the baby descended and the pressure built up quite intensely I felt I needed to stand up. I don't know that this relieved much of the pressure but it helped to change positions and gave my legs a break.
As the baby began to crown, the pain and pressure made me panic a little and the midwife reminded me to breathe, which definitely helped. I reached down to feel the baby's head crowning and this inspired me to keep going and reminded me how soon this would be over. The baby's head just stayed in place as I breathed and tried to let things stretch a bit. I had planned to give birth in the water and catch the baby myself, but when I realized I was going to give birth standing up, I told Eric he needed to catch the baby. He cheered me on and told me that the baby was almost here. I finally pushed out the head and then body and Eric caught her in his arms as she slowly slid out and he did a wonderful job of not dropping her in the water. Even though I had given birth before, I really couldn't believe that this baby had just come out of me. I was beyond excited to be done with labor (such an intense experience) and to be able to hold the baby in my arms. Eric and I kissed and we had the midwife check to confirm that it was indeed a girl (I just wasn't trusting that one ultrasound we had.) We got out of the tub to lie on the bed to deliver the placenta.
We had a wonderful, relaxing day of baby checks and an herbal bath, calling family to let them know about Elle, and deciding on a middle name. We napped for a little while and enjoyed cuddling with our new little bundle while it rained outside. The birth center was quiet and we felt like we had the place to ourselves. We ate some food and packed up and headed home to introduce the baby to our son and grandparents. Elle Madeline is just the sweetest little girl and we were so blessed to be able to bring her into this world in such a peaceful way.