Ezra's pregnancy was definitely my most difficult. I'd say I wasn't quite a sick as I was with cora, but everything was magnified by the fact that I had two (not just one) other children to care for day in and day out. Prescription compression stockings, which I loathe, had to make their return at 14 weeks this time, instead of the 20 weeks I started wearing them with Cora. And I think, just overall, my body was way more exhausted.
It was at 32 weeks, without warning that I started regularly contracting for the first time. Braxton Hicks, I thought, no problem. I've felt them so very many times before... but these were indeed different. at 3-5 minutes apart, my midwife sent me in to be monitored. Indeed, they were a combination of braxton hicks and labor contractions. None strong enough to cause change to my cervix, but definitely too strong to get a good night's rest through. So home I went with a drug called Visteral - basically a muscle relaxant - to keep my "irritated uterus" from being so... irritated, I guess. Visteral is not fun. It makes you sleeeeeepy, as though I wasn't sleepy enough. But I took it faithfully until I reached 37 weeks.
For whatever reason those contractions didn't return once I stopped taking the drugs. My midwife wonders if the reason my uterus became irritated was baby's positioning, or maybe baby's growth spurting. Anyway, I was a little irritated that the end was not necessarily as in-sight as I thought it could be. Nonetheless, I was happy my baby would have a little more time to bake. The longer he's in there, I thought, the more mature he'll be, and the better he'll be able to adapt to life outside the womb.
So time crawled. No, seriously. It crawled
And then came Thursday, May 22nd. I was contracting regularly again, and this time there was a strong bite to the contractions. Knowing I would likely have a reasonably quick Delivery (cora's was only 5 hours after all) and also knowing I needed IV antibiotics for a positive group B strep culture, I didn't want to linger at home. So, in we went. And would you believe that the moment my feet set foot on the hospital's premises, those contractions quit? I was incensed. After all, We'd woken up poor Rachael from a perfectly good night's sleep to come watch our sleeping children. Surely, I was offended by my body's inability to make up its mind. And so I made up mine not to have any more false alarms. No sirree. not me.
Sunday morning I sent the kids and Jonathan to church without me. I wasn't going to be seen pregnant by everyone again. I felt HUGE, and awfull. And I didn't want any reminders of how very pregnant I was. Add to that the fact that my actual due date wasn't for another 6 days, and, well. I wanted to spend the next week hiding. So, I stayed home and cleaned. There's always cleaning to do.
The kids and Jonathan returned from church, we ate lunch, and then put the kids down for nap. I layed down too, as I usually do. And then I woke up. At three. In labor.
Suuure. I thought. another false alarm. I'm not buying it. So I continued on downstairs where Jonathan was and hung out with he and Levi who were watching something on TV. He watched me through a few (now relatively strong) contractions and muttered "don't you think we should be making some phone calls?" No, I assured him, this isn't it. I'm not jumping the gun. Instead I called my friend and doula Joyce, and asked her to come over and help me determine if and when to head in - because I felt incompetent to do so.
About 30 minutes later, around 4, Joyce walked in. She untied one of her shoes, at which point I started another (quite strong) contraction. She looked at Jonathan, who rolled his eyes. She looked at me and asked "are they all like this?" through breaths I managed to mutter a yes. Joyce retied her shoe.
I called rachael and informed her that Joyce (not me, mind you) said she should come over now and get the kids.I called my midwife who said she would be on her way shortly. I ran around the house throwing stuff into bags for ourselves and our children. I contracted in every which room of the house.I was still convinced it was really no big deal. We left for the hospital.
At 5:15pm we were admitted. Soon they had my IV in and I went on a lap of the L&D floor, trying desperately to find a comfortable way to manage my contractions. Nothing felt right. After one lap of the floor I got back into the room and tried a few more positions. I was hanging (essentially) from Jonathan's neck when my water broke. And by broke, really I mean exploded. everything about that word is true. it was like something out of a movie. Mind you, to this point I was still in my clothes from home. No one had so much as done a cervical check on me. So now everything was absolutely soaked. Shoes and all. Drat.
I'm told that just before that happened my labor sounds changed - an indication that I was entering transition. I don't recall specifically, but I'm sure they're right. I do vaguely remember the nurse calling the front desk and informing them that she was with a woman who was about to deliver and there was no midwife in the room yet. her premonition was correct, as just after my water broke the freight train which is the urge to push came barreling toward me.
Now, if you've ever experienced a natural delivery, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's totally unavoidable. It's almost involuntary. You can't not push. so when I felt that urge I knew there was no turning back. Despite this reality I still managed to belt out a hearty "I don't want to do this!". It was at that moment that another midwife from my practice walked in the room. I was still standing up, and in an effort to spare my pelvic floor and parinium, she encouraged me to get up on the bed on my hands and knees. I don't think I had much of a part in getting myself up there, as I was crowning at that point, but with many helping hands, I made it.
Moments later (seconds?) Ezra made his lively appearance at 6:36pm. He came out crying, unlike his sister, which was encouraging. he was awake and alert, and nursed immediately. The whole thing was painful, and beautiful.
I just sat there and nursed him while the third stage of labor finished - and the stitching, which I'll spare you from (although it was only a first degree, my smallest yet!). Then, at my request, the let me take a bath with him in the big Jacuzzi tub. What a treat. Lord knows we both needed a bath by then!
We spent that first night together in the hospital and were discharged the following evening, just as my mom arrived at our home. Couldn't have been better timing. Ezra's labor and delivery were fast and furious, but probably my most peaceful.
And now, two and a half weeks (almost three!) later, I am a mother of three earth-side children. I'm exhausted, which is to be expected. my mom and step dad have gone home, and Jonathan has returned to work. My body feels (and looks?) like a squishy lump of clay, but I have to remember to give it credit for the 10 months it just endured. For the third time. Most of all I am blessed by the Father to be on the other side of labor and delivery with a healthy son.