9/8/11

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Leading up to my due date, I wondered if there was truly any way I could make it to the 17th. The baby felt SO LOW and sometimes my cervix hurt when I walked, especially in the last couple days I was pregnant. I didn't want to get my hopes up for an early labor, but I couldn't help myself when, on the Friday that Joe picked for the birth pool (Feb 4th), I started having regular, timeable Braxton Hicks contractions. Nothing hurt, but they were exactly 10 minutes apart for a couple hours. Joe and I thought, this is it! At any moment, the real contractions will start! But everything stopped.

I went to Imbolc ritual the next day, Saturday, and everyone basically said, "Oh my god, YOU'RE SO PREGNANT!" Jason told me he had been convinced I was going to go into labor during ritual. I'm sure everyone is glad I did not! I'm so glad I went to ritual. It was truly wonderful to be there.

Sunday, again, Joe and I said, THIS IS IT! All day, I'd been feeling weird and out of it; sick, tired, and feeling waves of exhaustion wash over me. I started having real contractions that came every 30 minutes for 2.5 hours. I thought I should prepare and eat something with protein, so I did, and just like that, contractions stopped.

I felt more waves of exhaustion and just a crappy "my period should start soon" heaviness in my lower abdomen over the next couple days. Joe and I ended up on a weird sleep pattern somehow, especially Joe. He decided to "re-set" his sleep schedule by just staying awake when he woke up on Tuesday morning at 2am and couldn't go back to sleep. He went to work early that same Tuesday (at 8am), and forced himself to stay awake until 10:30pm that night, though he was exhausted. Then he settled in for a good night's sleep. I had been exhausted that Tuesday so had gone back to bed that morning, and slept until one in the afternoon. Which meant that I couldn't go to bed until late, at 12:30am that night. Joe got up at 4am, unable to sleep any longer.

As I'd fallen asleep that night, feeling menstrual-like cramps, I put my hand on my belly and said, "Hi, baby boy. We're ready for you. Car seat, stroller, bags packed and in the car. And we want to meet you! So any time you're ready, just come on out, okay? But if you need to wait, you can do that too. I just want you to know we're ready!" And then I fell into a very light and restless sleep, half-woken again and again by sensations of menstrual-like cramps as I tried to just sleep through them.

Finally, at 4:30am, I woke up and had to pee (standard procedure by this point in pregnancy), and the second I sat up, a bunch of warm fluid rushed right out of me onto the sheets. "OH MY GOD," I said to myself, sudden excitement bringing me to fully awake, with the realization of what just happened. I tried to stand up but more flowed out with every movement I made, so I took off my shirt and stuck it between my legs. As I waddled to the bathroom, I stopped in the hall and waved at Joe, who sat at his computer, wearing headphones. He took them off and said, "What's up?"

"My water just broke!" I said, beaming.

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Tammy asked when we were thinking of going to the hospital. Joe said he was fine with us going any time. I said maybe we should go, because that one had been so strong, it almost felt push-y. So she said, okay, let's go. I already had managed to have most of my clothes on, just needed my skirt. They helped me get into it, and I had to go pee before we left, too. I had a few contractions through that whole process and just paused and hugged Tammy, leaning on her, through those.

Somehow (!), we made our way down the stairs, and I could hear the neighbors excitedly ask Joe what was up, and Joe (who was carrying the giant birth ball) said, "It's time, we're going to the hospital!" And the neighbors said, "Oh wow! Where's mama?" Then they looked up the stairs and saw me, and said, "Oh there she is! There's the mama!" I kind of laughed quietly and nervously, as Tammy and I made our way slowly and carefully down the stairs. Tammy laughed with me, and I said to her softly, "This is kind of why I was hoping I'd go in the middle of the night!" I was in my own world, and was not in the mood to deal with neighbors, or anyone at all, really.

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I got up on my hands and knees and faced the back of the bed. I think I'd had that rock in my hand for hours. Suddenly, the intensity of the contractions changed. My body began pushing! I hadn't known what to expect when I had heard that happens, but it's true, my body pushed on its own, and I... pushed, too. I wish there was a better way to describe it! At that point, I felt the rock slip from my hand, down into the bed, and I knew I couldn't grab it, that the rock holding portion of laboring had ended. (Joe later grabbed it for me so that I wouldn't lose it.)

Now everything was different. When the next contraction hit, I clenched the bed sheets in my fists, smushed my face hard into the bed, and YELLED at the top of my lungs as I pushed for the first time. I screamed the loudest I've ever screamed in my life. I didn't consciously do it, and I was even a little surprised at the sound I made. But in the same way that Joe's counter-pressure helped my back, it was as if my yelling provided counter-intensity to the pushing. I didn't think about any of this, though. Fully in a zone, I just followed my instincts, doing whatever felt right, and that was it - screaming as loud as possible and crushing my forehead and nose into the bed during every push!

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