TL;DR version: Under 4 hours from start of obvious labor to baby. No meds or IV. 2-5 pushes. Healthy baby and mama. DONE!

Grab your favorite snack and settle in for this one:

I had my last pregnancy check-up on Thursday, July 28 (39w 5d), and my doctor told me that I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced (up from 2 cm and 60% from the previous week). She did a light membrane sweep to try and help get labor started. I felt fine the rest of the day and even went on a mile-long walk with a friend (K) (a slow walk/waddle, but doable) with strong Braxton Hicks much of the time. I started experiencing what I thought were fairly regular Braxton Hicks contractions as I was falling asleep that night. They didn’t turn into anything, and I woke the next morning and felt fairly normal.

Friday morning, July 29, I dropped my son off at school and then hung out with a friend (S) who was in the process of waiting through her own glucose tolerance test at the lab. We went to Starbucks after, and while we were there, I had a couple stronger than usual Braxton Hicks contractions. I was going to try to go to Costco after Starbucks to get the popsicles everyone in the August birth group was raving about, but decided it sounded better to go home and nap! Nap it was.

I talked to my sister on FaceTime around 4p, and every once in awhile, I again had a stronger than usual Braxton Hicks contraction. My sister was the one to point out that it seemed like I was having that experience every 7 minutes or so. Uh….. Could this actually be the real thing? They weren’t that painful, but every 7 minutes was fairly close together already. I was chatting with her for about 45 min. After we hung up, I started gathering last-minute items for our hospital bags just in case. Good thing we had already packed most things weeks earlier! I alerted my doula and husband in case this was the real thing.

I will say that it was challenging not to compare this labor to that of my first. For him, contractions started around 30 min. apart and increased in intensity and decreased in spacing for 8 hours before I went to the hospital! This is why I wasn’t panicking or believing I wasn’t in true labor yet. I just didn’t want to get turned away from the hospital.

Anyway, around 4:30p, a friend (another S) happened to text and let me know she would be in the area soon. She wanted to drop off my favorite cookies – yes, please! So she stopped by around 5:15p. I answered the door and told her that I might be in labor. Just in the short time she was at the house, she noticed that I was contracting every 4 minutes or so. She said that they seemed like actual contractions and that I should really consider heading to the hospital as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I was waiting for my husband to pick up our son from school. They usually arrive home around 5:40p. They got home, and my friend who brought the cookies walked our son to our other friend’s house (K) since that’s where we planned for him to stay once I went into labor. My husband dropped the dog off at doggy daycare.

As soon as my husband returned home – around 6:10p, he loaded the car with all of our hospital gear (I always over pack no matter what I do to avoid it!). Just as we were leaving the house, I felt a little trickle like I either peed myself or my water started leaking. We took off for the hospital, and I sat on a towel in the car. The ride wasn’t terrible as the contractions weren’t that bad. Maybe a 5 on a pain scale of 1-10. We had to look a little for parking, and then when I got out of the car, I felt a gush. YUP, water broke! We walked (and waddled) as fast as we could into the building and took the elevator up to Labor & Delivery. My hospital allows us to pre-register, so there wasn’t much paperwork to do when we got there. By 6:38p, they got me into a room right away and checked me: 6 cm and 90% effaced! They asked me to change and to try peeing and then they wrapped a monitor around the bump for the baby. Luckily I was GBS-, and since I knew I didn’t want an epidural, I declined an IV. I realized right away that I had an amazing Labor and Delivery nurse, and the doctor that I met before the 7p shift change was nice. A different nurse asked us questions once I was settled in bed – mostly about birth preferences and medical history, but this part was a blur for me.

My doula arrived at some point during this time, and by 6:56p, they checked me again, and I was at 8 cm. My husband, doula, and nurse helped me get through the next contractions, which were a combination of manageable and painful. After one of the contractions, the rest of my water came gushing out! I realized that the most comfortable position was simply in bed on my back, and I closed my eyes and tried to be as Zen as possible through the contractions. My doula suggested a TENS unit on my back for pain management, so she asked me to sit up and move to the side of the bed. Once it was on, it felt terrible, so I had to ask her to take it off. She said that even that minute of sitting up may have helped baby descend further.

At one point, my fingers started tingling, and the nurse and doula told me to hold my hands over my nose and mouth and breathe between contractions. During some of the more painful contractions, I felt like I was losing my cool, and the more you tense up during contractions, the more painful they are. My guess is that this was “transition,” as the pain increased significantly. My doula held up a finger and told me to blow on it like I am blowing out a candle – the imagery helped me regain a more Zen and less out-of-control feeling. She also kept spraying lavender around me, and that helped me calm down and picture myself in a spa and not in the middle of labor.

Around 7p, my new doctor introduced herself to me. I could tell immediately how amazing she was. She was kind, believed in me and my body, and let me do what I needed to do to get the baby out. Before too long, the nurse checked me again and was at 9 cm. Not too many contractions later, and I was at 9.5 cm. The last .5 cm seemed to take an eternity. The nurse said there was a bit of cervical lip over baby’s head. I kept feeling the urge to push, and she told me not to. Stopping that feeling was so challenging! So to help me along instead, for the next several painful contractions, the nurse kept her hand on the cervix opening and tried to help move the lip away so that I’d be at 10 cm and able to push. Obviously this wasn’t comfortable, but actually it was a bit better than just being told to hold back from pushing when all I wanted to do was push.

FINALLY, at about 7:40p, the dr asked if I’d like to push. I didn’t have to think twice about it. YES, yes, I wanted to push. Two (dr’s version) to five (my version) huge pushes later and a pause after her head, and baby girl came flying into the world. My husband cut the cord.

My first words were, “IS SHE STILL A GIRL??” followed by “Does she have all of her fingers and toes??”

Since they had seen meconium in the fluid, a NICU team had already set up a station to check baby girl and make sure everything was ok. Luckily, everything was great. Her Apgar scores were 8 and 9.

The hardest part for me was when the team was examining her and the dr still had to deliver the placenta and stitch up two minor tears. The nurse also gave me a shot of Pitocin to help the uterus contract and limit bleeding, and it felt like an eternity before I got to hold baby girl. I thought it was hilarious when the nurse apologized that the shot might hurt. I mean, really? After an unmedicated birth?!

Besides being thrilled with an ideal labor and delivery experience, my other highlights included watching my husband see and hold our daughter for the first time. He’s already wrapped around her littlest finger. I also loved when my 4 yo son visited us in the hospital and met baby girl for the first time. He was in awe. Now that we’re home, he has been a great big brother.

Baby Girl M:
7/29/2016, 7:46 p.m.
7 lbs 14 oz, 20” long

I generally don’t post pics or share names of the kids online, but here are some adorable newborn fingers for those who made it to the end!