Molly Janine was born at 10:26am on Friday, August 13th, 2010 and sized up at 7lbs.1oz and 20in long. I had some minor contractions on and off most of the week, but nothing really exciting until Thursday. I began noticing some regularity to the contractions around noon, and they continued regularly between 8-10 minutes apart. They felt like light period cramps and didn’t really seem to intensify, but I could definitely feel them. After getting a little prematurely excited, I had my mom come down and join us around 4pm. I was hopeful because they persisted in regularity, even when taking a shower or leaving familiar environments, but they never really got stronger. Finally around 11pm I accepted that nothing was happening any time soon (they still felt like light period cramps.) I went to bed and fell asleep pretty quickly. The contractions must have been slowly getting stronger throughout the day, or got a lot stronger when I fell asleep, because once I fell asleep I noticed I was waking up every contraction or two. At 1:45am I began to think they might be speeding up, so I laid there watching the clock for a bit and was shocked that I had 3 in 15 minutes! They were definitely stronger and already 5 minutes apart, and some closer, ranging between 2-5 minutes apart! To make sure I wasn’t crazy, I woke up Neil and put him on contraction timing so I wouldn’t stare at the clock in excitement. After 30 minutes we realized they were definitely every 5 minutes, with some smaller gaps. We decided to take a shower and see if they slowed down or stopped, then call the midwife. At 3am we got out of the shower and the hot water had done nothing to slow the contractions, so we called and woke up the midwife on call. It was Ashley, who we had had the most appointments with and really liked! I felt so bad waking her up but it was definitely time to touch base. She listened to me go through a few contractions while talking to me on the phone and decided that I was still pretty lucid between them so we should wait before I came in to the birth center. I was to call her back in an hour if anything sped up or got super intense, or 2 hours if not. An hour later (4am) I finally started getting bloody show and lost what was left of my mucus plug (I had lost part of it 3 weeks before, then it either reformed or I lost more of it earlier in the week.) My water bag was still intact, but I had to grab a pad because I was bleeding pretty consistently now, but no clots or anything bright or gushy/scary. Half an hour later, 4:30am, my contractions settled on being a regular 2-4 minutes apart and “very intense” according to Neil’s notes. This was actually still really not too bad, but a significant increase in intensity from what I had been feeling before. I suddenly realized that this was real, I was in labor, and at some point pretty soon we would have our baby! Somehow I was still just feeling really calm and excited, packing the last few odds and ends for the “hospital” bag (incense, candles, comfy clothes, snacks, etc.) When a contraction would hit the only things that seemed to help were 1) sitting on the toilet 2) grabbing the edge of the breakfast bar and swaying my hips 3) getting on my knees and draping myself over the birth/exercise ball and rolling around, or 4) sitting on the birth ball and bouncing. Neil started putting some pressure on my sacrum when I was in a position to do so. I should have realized at the time, but didn’t, that I was having back labor. Any position that was anything like ‘on my back’ was excrutiating, and I can’t imagine if I had been in a hospital bed at this point. Being stuck in a damn bed and unable to wander around would’ve killed me – the epidural wouldn’t have been able to come fast enough! The baby had shifted a little so her occiput was banging into my sacrum and intensifying the pain. It was seriously manageable with the ability to change positions, though, and as I said I didn’t even know this was the case until after the birth. 4:45am, about an hour and a half after I initially called the midwife, I called her back to let her know that things were speeding up and we should think about meeting up at the birth center. Ashley asked me a few questions and a contraction hit – I had to hand the phone off to Neil because I could no longer talk during one, just breathe and wander around or bounce. I forgot to mention, but they were all consistently between 45sec-1:15min long. When it was over I talked to her again and we decided to meet at the birth center at 6am. I figured that would give us enough time to grab anything else we needed, eat something, and get us there right when I needed to be. (They will check you out beforehand, but you can’t be admitted to a birthing suite until you are dilated to 6cm, so I didn’t want to get there too early. Plus, I didn’t want to be at the birth center forever since I was managing okay at home.) We packed up and got going, and Mom went to a donut shop and Von’s and brought us some croissant sammiches, pastries, and fruit. At 6:15am Ashley checked my cervix (my first cervical check of the pregnancy! 🙂 and found that I was already dilated to 5cm, 90% effaced, with a bulging water sac. Yay! She suggested I go for a walk and eat some food if I could, and plan on checking into the suite in about 45 minutes. Neil and I went out front to watch the sunrise with mom, and I paced back and forth on the porch. By this point the contractions were so intense when they hit that I had to hold on the railing and kind of squat or sway, while Neil beat up my sacrum with his fists. They were now coming every 2-3 minutes pretty consistently, but the spaces in between were heaven. As soon as each one ended, I’d have a bite or sip of something, and we’d chat. Finally we went inside and Ashley gave Neil some tips on sounding with me and helped me get into a good focused breath rhythm. I couldn’t go through a contraction at this point without making noise, so I was doing a lot of ohming and haaaa-ing. I REALLY wanted to OOOWWW each one, but she reminded me how negative and unproductive that sound is, so every time I started to say OW I corrected myself. Neil was a big help, though he kept making goofy faces and I knew he felt stupid making the noises with me. Things started getting really fuzzy for me at this point, and I know I was in ‘Laborland’. We hung out in the classroom for a bit, and got into our suite around 7:30 or 8, and between contractions I went around ‘nesting’ in the suite. I lit some incense and a candle, had Neil set up my iPod with calming music, etc. Ashley was going off-call at 8am, but the next midwife on call was Susan. She’s the clinical director at Best Start and next to Ashley was the midwife I was most comfortable with, so even though I was sad that Ashley had to leave, I was pleased that Susan would be the one attending my birth. Susan came in and I was just about to hop in the shower, and she asked whether I would like to be re-checked now or after my shower. I should have had her check me then, but the thought of laying down to get checked was SO unappealing that I decided to wait until after the shower in hopes that the hot water would help me stay calm and I would dilate more. I only made it through 2-3 contractions in the shower before I had to get out because it wasn’t big enough for me to get into a comfortable position, I felt like I couldn’t stay still. This coupled with feeling overly hot and twitchy should have been a sign that I was entering transition, but nothing made sense anymore. I didn’t even want Neil to touch me, I just paced up and down the hall making crazy noises until Susan came back in to check my cervix. When she got me onto the bed to check me I was hit by the biggest contraction yet, and I started saying that I couldn’t do it, everything hurt, and she found that I was already dilated to 9cm and the baby would be coming soon! It was about 9:40am. Susan immediately started filling the big beautiful birthing tub with water and called her assistant Delilah to let her know that things had gone much faster than expected and that she needed to get up here. When Neil and I got in the water, my bag of waters finally burst! I was nearly fully dilated at this point. It must’ve been really strong. 🙂 I was starting to feel like I should start pushing soon. Susan’s assistant Delilah showed up just in time for me to start pushing. At some point Neil got out of the water but I was completely distracted. The water made the contractions feel SOOO much better!! Later Susan told me that Molly swiveled around in the birth canal when my water bag broke, and it was infinitely better than transition. I felt like I could do this all day. I changed position a few times and finally settled on pushing on all fours in the water. 15 minutes and 4-5 pushes later, Molly slid right out. My little Leo baby gave me very little trouble during labor, leaving me with a tiny 1st degree tear – even though her hand came out next to her face. I’m very grateful for my birth experience and the lack of drugs or pushed interventions that allowed me to be involved and aware the whole time. Less than 12 hours after leaving the house we were back home with Molly!