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Tova’s Birth

I woke up at 4 in the morning on Saturday the 28th of March. For the first time my uterine squeezings had a start, a peak and an end. I laid in bed and breathed through them until around 4:30, when I decided to get up and download the Labor Mate app. for my iPod to time contractions. I don’t think I would have focused on them that early, but I was trying to give Drew an idea of whether or not he could go to the Home Show. 45 minutes later, I got up and had a bagel with cream cheese. All this time I was peeing frequently.

At 7:47 I noted how interesting it was that I could feel the tightenings go a short distance down the front and inside of my thighs. After my 8 o’clock trip to the bathroom I noticed bloody show and got excited! I also noticed how strange it was to feel my belly tighten down at the beginning of each contraction, before the discomfort started.

At 10:00 we got out the Bradley class workbook to look at the big chart to try to decide where we might be in this process (obviously early first stage). Bloody show continued, and when I was up moving around the contractions were very different: sharper and lower.

We decided to go walk around to keep things moving. It was cold and misty, starting to sleet, so we couldn’t walk outside. We went to Home Depot and bought a new handle for the sliding glass door (the old one had broken) and some mounting hardware for our new DVD racks. Then we stopped at Hen House to get some bendy straws before heading to the mall to walk. I got my normal mango smoothie and we both got pretzels from Auntie Annie’s. We walked and walked and walked. We were sure to take the stairs and I always took them two at a time. [insert Summer comment here…Doing this helps to open the pelvis and rock the baby down further into the birth canal, hastening labor] We stopped at Build a Bear to look at a unicorn in the display. Andrew said how cute it would be to make that if we knew we were having a girl. The lady at Build a Bear asked when I was due, I replied “Soon”. She told me to be sure and take the stairs.

When we left the mall it was starting to get icy and my contractions slowed WAY down because of the stress of driving on the ice. They picked back up when I got home. Around 1, I called Fran for the first time while Andrew fixed the handle on the back door. I did squats and lunges to encourage labor. At 3:45, after many hours of focusing solely on the next contraction, I was feeling like this wasn’t really it. I talked to Fran and she reminded me not to pay any more attention to labor than I had to. So, we started watching Friends and ate some cheese and crackers and grapes.

By 6:30 we were still watching Friends and the contractions were stronger and longer. I ate a bagel and cream cheese and soon we moved to the bed, and continued to watch Friends. Andrew fell asleep around 9:30 and I shut off the TV at 10:40 to try and get some sleep. By 11:30 I was emptying my bowels and the contractions were quite painful. I coped with some of them by leaning over the couch or birth ball, but it felt best to stay in the bathroom. So I spent most of my contractions on my knees with my head on the rim of the bathtub. It felt cool on my forehead.

At 1:10 a.m. Sunday my water broke, although at the time I wasn’t sure if I had just peed or not. I continued to have loose BMs and bloody show and I started to feel chills. I was starting to feel a little out of control, so I had Andrew page Fran. I was still in the bathroom on my knees when Fran arrived. I took note of her socks and that she was there, but kept doing what I was doing. She rubbed my back and told me I was doing a good job, and continually reminded me to breathe down deep to my baby.

Soon I was more comfortable laboring on the toilet, leaning as far back as I could due to the pain in my thighs. Fran gave me some ointment to rub on them, but at that point I was deep enough in labor land not to know if it helped or not. Andrew was filling the tub, going back and forth down the hallway to the hot water heater. Fran came in and asked me if I wanted to get in the tub, I grunted “Uh huh” and crawled down the hallway to the dining room.

I splashed into the tub, very ungracefully. After Andrew added a few pots of boiling water, I began to feel the relief from the tub. I started out on my knees with my head on the side of the tub on a towel, my arms draped over in front of me. Fran needed me to flip to my back to check something, and flipping back over did not sound good. So, I labored on my side for a bit. She told me just inside I could feel my baby’s head. I felt the warm taut head and hair, it made me smile and I remember looking at Andrew and feeling lots of love for him and our baby.

I felt sort of out of control on my side, so at Fran’s suggestion I flipped back to my knees. Fran wanted the baby out more quickly and felt I could push more effectively in that position. That really made me feel like it was getting close. I couldn’t not push and it almost felt like my body was throwing up, but downward. I had my head in Andrew’s lap. It was good to know he was there working with me. As a contraction came on I would clutch the towel as hard as I could, and give several pushes with each one. When she started to crown it was immensely painful, definitely the most painful part of the whole labor. I felt like I was splitting open in every direction. Fran said to breathe to where it hurt and Andrew kept telling me I was doing a great job pushing and breathing.

Just after the baby’s head was out, Fran had me stand up. I felt the baby rotate and Fran caught the baby in mid-air, as it slipped from my body at 4:59 a.m. Andrew helped me continue to stand, while Fran handed the baby to me between my legs. Then I sat back in the tub and held the baby on my chest. I thought I had seen that it was a girl, but I have heard of many parents being mistaken at first glance… so I wasn’t sure. I held the baby on my chest and rubbed vernix into its back, while Fran covered us with a towel. Andrew came around the tub and gave me kisses and looked at the baby. After a few minutes, Fran bundled the baby and laid it on the couch. That way she and Andrew could focus on helping me deliver the placenta. I had to get out of the tub and sit on a chair, and it slid out. They helped me to bed and Fran brought me the baby. We put it on my chest and it latched on. We talked for a minute and I said that I thought it was a girl, Fran said I was right. We had our little Tova.