Every birth and pregnancy are different, and for sure that's true for us.
Asher's pregnancy was stressful because of moving and a new job and his labor and delivery were fast and intense for a first time. Recovery was rough and breast feeding was basically a disaster.
Elijah's pregnancy was much more relaxed and easy, though his labor and delivery were insane. Recovery wasn't too bad, just a little tricky because there was an older kid in the mix.
Eden's pregnancy was a little hard because three pregnancies in 5 years is a lot for a body to take, or at least my body. Two active little boys, lots of discomfort, I spent a lot of time in bed at the beginning during the morning sickness phase and at the end during the "oh god when will this end?!" phase. Her delivery was just nuts and the recovery was so weird because of her diagnosis. My body shut a lot of stuff down for a time.
So along comes baby #4 and we really just have a general idea of what to expect. It wasn't hard in the beginning, just pretty typical, but the aches and pains were awful. At the end I was getting massages every two weeks just to be able to walk and sleep comfortably for a couple of days. We really thought she'd be early since two out of the previous three had been, so we had the freezer stocked in January and everything ready to go for birth by the beginning of February. And then we waited.
The first time I felt contractions was in the middle of the night on Valentine's Day. We got excited. We got ready. We let certain people know. Then they stopped. Then it happened again on the 16th. And then a few days later. For two weeks. I walked miles around downtown, even in the misty rain. I ate pineapple. I ate slightly spicy foods. I got a pressure point massage. I tried so many things to get her moving. She shifted down a bit but was pretty content to stay where she was. Physical exams didn't show much change in my body, which is always frustrating (even though I know it doesn't really mean anything).
So this past Thursday, the 2nd, at my appointment I was checked and things were actually a little more advanced. She was super low and things were opening but not super fast, so the midwife went ahead and swept my membranes. It's not a super comfortable procedure, but if it gets things going I'm all for it.
We got home around 9.30 and settled in to wait. Around noon, I realized I was having actual contractions that probably needed to be tracked. They were consistently about 10-15 minutes apart, but the previous two weeks had me on guard so I waited until about 3 to start letting people know. I was able to take a short nap through them, so I was a little skeptical they'd keep going. But thank goodness they did.
At school pickup, I told Asher to get dressed after changing out of his school uniform instead of hanging out in his underwear like he usually does since the baby was coming and there'd be people around. He said "Finally! It's been days and days!" A couple hours later I was getting a snack for Eden and Elijah came running into the kitchen and stopped when he saw me and said "Where's the baby?" I told him she was taking a little while and it would probably be after dark when he was in bed when she came out. He grinned and said "Oh yeah. It'll be dark and I'll be in bed and you'll have your baaaaabeeeee!" Then he ran back to his previous activities. Eden just wanted to lay in bed with me and watch tv.
Mom came and checked me around 8 (the midwife had run home to De Leon and was on her way back) and her findings were so different from the midwife's that when she got back in town, we asked her to come check, too. She put me at about a 6 and nearly 85% effaced (I think...its a little hazy). So we still had a couple hours to go, but I was promised a baby by dawn. So we called people and let them know what was up.
My best friend, Kristen, showed up around 9:30 and climbed in bed with me to time contractions and watch The Great British Baking Competition on Netflix for a few hours (until 2am), my sister showed up around midnight and settled into my recliner to try to get some rest since she'd been up since 4:30am, and Austin kind of floated around the house. The kids were crazy because things were changing around the house, so they didn't get to bed until around 10.
At 2 am the contractions were hard enough that I was having trouble thinking coherently during them. So Austin started calling people. And since no one had very far to go, they all showed up seemingly within about 15 minutes. We were all kind of expecting a repeat of before, super fast and intense and back to bed in a couple hours.
Nope. I was checked again and there was improvement but it was still moving slowly.
We all sat around and chatted for hours. Kristen, Cari, Austin and I were so tired we were all fighting sleep. Everyone else had had at least a few hours, though they were sleepy, too. Kristen cleaned my kitchen up for me (sink full of dirty dishes) and then she and Rosetta baked some cookies. We had coffee for those that wanted it.
I was on the bed and everyone else was in chairs around me, so whenever I had a hard contraction people stopped talking and looked at me, like maybe this was it. It was kind of amusing after a bit. Another check showed a little more improvement but still not a ton. Around 4:45 or so I asked about breaking my water. I tried to push during a contraction to break it myself but no go. So the midwife broke it for me while I was standing in the tub. That was a different experience for both of us.
Breaking the water definitely increases the intensity of the contractions. I'm not sure how long those lasted but it felt like a really long time. The contractions got harder and harder and more fluid came flooding out. I soaked through three towels and an incontinence pad or two. I was sitting on the edge of the bed and Austin climbed behind me so I could lean on him and that helped some but not much. Those were the kind of contractions where I just wanted to leave my body behind and let someone else do it.
A little before 5:15, my body decided to push. I had no strength to move myself, so Austin and the midwife moved me. I was on an old crib mattress we have on all fours and my body was pushing for me. It felt like I was having one long lasting contraction and so I just pushed. And it felt like she was refusing to come out. I asked a few times if it was out yet (her head) because I could feel it bulging and retreating and when I kept getting nos, I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. I don't remember it taking that long once the baby crowned to get any of the others out. Asher took an hour of pushing, but once he crowned, it was over pretty quickly (they ended up having to use a vacuum on him because his heart rate dropped drastically).
Finally her head was out and shortly after her body. I pushed for 9 minutes, though it felt like forever at the time. My arms started to give out so they gave me a birthing ball to hug and that helped tremendously for the last few pushes. My arms still hurt.
Austin caught her at 5:22 am, my brother John got some pictures (I haven't gotten them yet but I'll post some when I do), and Bob valiantly took a video of the birth and then some afterwards. Kristen got an audio I haven't gotten around to listening to yet, and Cari got to cut the cord after it stopped pulsing and the placenta was delivered. It was definitely a group effort.
Rebekah curled up against me and just kind of lay there, stunned. She nursed for a while on both sides, then we got her measurements and she got checked out. Mom and the midwives listened for her VSD and none of them heard anything, so we're intrigued to see what her echo next month shows. Uncle John got to hold her for a bit and she snuggled right in and went to sleep around 6:30 or so. She didn't wake up until 1:30 that afternoon and at that point, she was hungry again.
Bob and Cari generously went out and got everyone breakfast from Grandy's, which was definitely welcome. Other than a snack with Eden around 5 and a piece of toast around 2am, I hadn't eaten much since dinner on Wednesday.
Everyone started clearing out fairly quickly to give us some rest and get a start on their day. Asher got off to school and Eden and Elijah were left to run amok a bit in the house. They all three came in to see their new sister and had mixed reactions. Eden is a little dismayed by the upheaval in the house and spent most of the day crabby and fussy. Asher glanced at her then went back to bed when we got him up at 5:45 to see her, and Elijah excitedly proclaimed his love for her before running off to watch videos on youtube. By 8am, we were alone in the house with our three youngest.
Austin's parents showed up around 10:30 or so and agreed to keep Eden and Elijah out of our hair for a while so we could rest. They did pretty well, though Eden did come in to check on us a couple of times and Austin finally put her down for a nap around 12 or 1 or so because she'd been up since 6:30 and was super tired. Since she went down when BB and Papa took Elijah to Sonic, she missed out on lunch so was starving and crabby again by dinner time.
She nursed around 1:30, then we went back to sleep for a few hours. Finally around 5 we felt like we should probably get up and let her grandparents meet her. Mom, Bob, and Cari arrived about then and shortly after, we ordered dinner from Arrowhead. After dinner, Mom, Bob, and Cari took Eden and Elijah to their house for the night and Beth and Allen cleared out as well. Austin, Asher, and I took showers, then settled down for the night.
Because she nurses for so long, I had nothing for her by about midnight last night. She was nursing for 30 minutes per side and still fussing and rooting, so we pulled out a bottle of ready mixed formula and gave her that. She sucked down half then passed out. She has not given hardly any of it back to us. She's filling diapers regularly and still spitting up some mucous but she's also sleeping well and seems pretty content.
So there you go. Maybe more than you wanted, but this is also a personal family record, so I try to put as many details in as I can while I can remember them. At 8 lbs even, she's my biggest baby. She was born on her due date, which I guess was considerate in a way? but also super annoying. She's 20 1/4 inches long and just generally pretty perfect. She looks at everything with a confused frown, which I suppose makes sense. She hates having clothes pulled over her head, and that's really the only reason she's really cried. She fusses a bit when she's hungry and she grunts and whimpers in her sleep. Even if the kids are pretty nonchalant about her, Austin and I are pleased.