I was 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant when I finally went into labor, and I was just starting to panic that this baby would never come on her own! I felt like my body was a labor failure and that I would be the first woman who was pregnant forever.
On the afternoon before my labor began, I took a nap and about an hour into my nap I felt increasingly uncomfortable cramps. I headed downstairs at 3:30pm to sit on my birth ball (which I had been sitting on for the past 6 weeks) and realized that the contractions could be timed. My husband started timing them at and they were about 60 seconds long and 6 minutes apart. They weren't really that painful and I doubted that I was in labor. They felt like really bad menstrual cramps that would ramp up and wrap around my belly and back before fizzling out. They were sort of hard to time because they felt like a wave and didn't have a clear beginning and end. An hour later they continued and my mom decided to call my dad and tell him that this was it, and the baby was coming within the next day or so. He got dinner and got in the car to drive 8 hours from Pennsylvania to my home in North Carolina. I however was still doubting the fact that this was real labor. It didn't feel that painful and I could handle the contractions with the relaxation techniques I had practiced.
I called the midwives at 7pm and told them I was having 60 second contractions 5 minutes apart and had for the past few hours and they recommended eating and sleeping in order to prepare for a night of labor. I was able to eat dinner and my mom and husband ate as well. We were all happily chatting while I was contracting and they still weren't that painful despite getting stronger than before so it was going really well. After dinner I decided to make coffee cake for the midwives and nurses to have as a thank you for after the baby was born (this also gave me something to do during labor). I made the cake, I walked around our condo complex and then decided to try and sleep for a bit to see if I could rest.
At about 11pm I laid down on the couch and tried to sleep, but I couldn't sleep anymore, and 2 hours later I was definitely in way more pain and doubting if I could handle this whole labor thing. My husband came back down and we sat together on the birth ball before I said I needed to try something else and got into the bath to see if the water would help. The water took the edge off of the pain between contractions, but they were still intense. My husband was great and kept telling me how proud he was of me and helping me ride out the contractions. At about 4am I got out of the tub in an immense amount of pain and started to feel overwhelmed by the contractions. We called the midwives and said we'd head over to the birth center sometime within the next hour, but after 30 minutes I couldn't take it anymore and really felt like I needed help. I was starting to break down mentally and I was physically tired as well so the combination of both felt overwhelming.
We got to the birth center at 5am and I tried to relax after receiving some antiemetics as I was vomiting and feeling nauseated. I laid down and kept having contractions and through every one I would just keep saying my mantra "It's almost done…It's almost done…" until the contraction stopped. This became my mantra for the rest of labor and meant different things at different times. I continued sleeping between contractions, but still able to quietly deal with them because I had my mantra for the next 3.5 hours.
At 8:30am I was feeling restless again wanted to move around or try something different. I sat on the birth ball and sat in the bathroom and contracted there for a while. At some point later in the morning I asked to get into the birth tub. I was shaking pretty bad and I knew the water had helped earlier so it might help again. The water took the edge off enough that I could quietly cope with my contractions again. I kept saying "It's almost done…It's almost done…" this time meaning each contraction would have an end and then I knew I would get a break.
At about 11am I felt the urge to push with the contractions, and it felt better to push than to not push with each contraction so I lightly pushed until the midwife came back to check me. Once she was here she said there was just a tiny lip of cervix left and had me push while she moved it out of the way. I then pushed in the tub for two contractions when she had me get out and go pee and try to push in the bathroom. Pushing hurt a lot, but I knew there was no way back and at this point the mantra of "It's almost done…It's almost done…" meant that the more I pushed the closer I was to labor being over. I pushed 3 times with each contraction not directed by anyone but myself. I pushed for 40 minutes and then my water broke. Once my water broke it was 3 contractions and her head was out along with a hand and without me consciously pushing the rest of her body came out.
Immediately the pain was gone and I was flooded with relief and love for this new creature on my belly. Her cord was quite short and she didn't quite make it up to my chest until the placenta was delivered and my husband cut the cord. All I could think of was how in love I was with this tiny creature on my belly! The first thing I remember seeing of her was a red birthmark on her leg. She was just so perfect.
I ended up bleeding a bit and I had a small tear that they stitched up and while they were working on me my husband had some skin to skin with our sweet girl. Josie was still covered in some vernix and despite being almost 42 weeks she had no signs of being "post date". We guessed her weight by looking at her to be about 8.5-9lbs, but she ended up being 9lbs and 12oz and 21 inches long! We breastfed right away and she was a champion latcher. My parents got my husband and I food and we all sat around and ate lunch before my mom held her and let my husband and I nap. When I woke up she fed again and we all just stared at how beautiful she was. At 4pm we felt ready to go and got her all dressed up and headed home. Josie's birth was so empowering, it was truly a life changing experience and I'll always remember the day that she made me a mother.