So... I woke up at 4:30 a.m. AGAIN on the morning of April 11th. I had been waking at 4:30 every third day or so for a while, so I didn't think anything of it. I wondered if maybe I was hungry and had a protein bar to see if it would help me go back to sleep. I thought I was having some contractions, but again, this wasn't surprising, since I had been having contractions on and off for about three weeks. I couldn't believe I might actually finally be in real labor. Around 6:00, I woke my husband and told him I think I better call the midwife, because I thought my contractions might be 5 minutes apart or so and that we might want to set up the Aqua Doula (a.k.a. "Aqua Doodle" in our house). He said OK, and jumped in the shower real quick. I called the midwife and asked her if we should start setting the tub up, and she was like, "Uh, yeah!" She said she would call back in an hour to check on me. I also called my doula (Lori) to let her know I thought I was in labor. She was at a birth (!) but, fortunately, they had just finished.
Around 6:30 we embarked upon the task of assembling the tub. We were not very successful. I think we got about an inch of water in it. My contractions were seemingly coming closer together, but I didn't really pay attention to the clock, because I still wasn't convinced I was in labor, so I didn't want to be a slave to measuring the time between contractions. At 7:00 my midwife called back to see how I was doing, and said she was going to go ahead on come on out. I was reluctant, since I had been in labor for only 2.5 hours, but thought she knew what she was doing, so I said OK. I also called Lori and told her she might want to come sooner, rather than later, since the midwife was on her way.
My midwife arrived around 8 and helped Rob finish filling the tub. I just kept pacing. I could sit briefly on the edge of the bed. But I just kept circling around the house. Andrew woke up late that day, like 7:45, and I had Rob arrange for Sabrina to come take care of him. Lori arrived around 8:15. I don't remember much except for Lori holding me and applying a hot rice sack to my back. At some point I felt like I really had to go to the bathroom, and asked Lori if she minded if I sat on the toilet (hello, no modesty when you're in labor!). (I figure she's seen it all anyways, right? ;)) I had this urge to push, but it felt too early in my labor. Lori reminded me that as long as the pushing feels good I should go for it. I still just figured I had to go to the bathroom. My midwife and Lori kept trying to convince me that I indeed did NOT have to go to the bathroom and to get off the toilet. I didn't want to leave, but my midwife was concerned, I believe, that she was going to have to catch a baby on the toilet. They finally pulled me off the toilet and moved me to a birthing stool. (I am still convinced at this point that I HAVE to go to the bathroom and that I'm not even in real labor, so what are they freaking out about and why can't they just leave me on the toilet?!) I continued to push on the birthing stool, where my water broke around 9:45. At some point I asked, "Maybe we should try the tub?" They moved me into the tub, where I continued to push, Rob holding one hand, Lori holding the other, until I felt the baby's head out of me! The WEIRDEST thing was that its head was out for about two contractions before its body followed, so I could feel the baby twisting its head around in the water. After those two contractions the baby's body followed its head. "What is it?" I wanted to know. The midwife said, "Take a look!" We didn't know what we were having, and although my gut (along with everyone else) kept telling me it was a girl (since I had gone almost two weeks later than I went in my first pregnancy), I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of having a girl (since my first is a boy). I saw the umbilical cord and said, "It's a boy!" thinking I had seen a penis. My midwife said, "Uh, look a little harder." "It's a girl!" I realized.
So, 6 hours of labor and a healthy (9 lb, 3 oz) baby girl! Andrew came in shortly after I pushed her out to meet his baby sister. ("My baby sister!" he said.) I don't really know how I did it. It went so fast there was barely time to take fetal heart tones or my blood pressure. I had read 'Birthing from Within' to prepare for labor this time, and the theme of the book is 'birth instinctively,' which is what I did this time. When I was thirsty, I took a sip of juice. When I felt like I needed to push, I pushed. When I felt like walking, I walked. No cervical checks, no one telling me what to do... I just listened to my body and did. All I cared about was that Lori was there holding one hand and Rob was there holding the other. And then there she was. My beautiful baby girl. Andrew got to be with me every step of the way to hold my hand. In labor, no one fought with me about whether I had to take an IV, or whether or not I could sip on juice. No one told me when it was time to push, or forced me to lay on my back. The night Minnie was born, we all ate real food and slept in real beds. Rob slept right next to me, while Minnie slept on the other side.
Many, many thanks to the women of ICAN of NoVa, who helped me find the courage to do this and provided me with the information I needed to achieve my goal of a vaginal birth. Especially thank you to Lori, my immeasurably supportive doula, and to Sabrina, for all the help she's provided us, before, during, and after Minnie's birth. I want everyone who reads this to know: YOU CAN DO IT, because I DID IT. I did it! Woo hoo!