I decided to start getting the stuff for the hospital together and by the door... as well as the things for Noe and Aleni. It had been a prayer of mine that baby come during the day, to make it easier for getting Noe and Aleni looked after.
Around 5:30, I woke Rey up. Contractions had continued to come about every 10 minutes, but the doctor had warned me that since it was my third and I was already so dilated, the labor could be fast once it started. I definitely didn't want to wait too long!
We let our friend Julie (who was going to be taking care of the kids) know that it looked like today was the day and woke the kids up. I think we headed to the hospital around 6, and Julie met us there to take the kids to her house for the day.
I walked up to the maternity ward alone while Rey waited to meet Julie in the lobby. I felt like a displaced person, waddling slowly and painfully down the long, empty white halls with my overnight bag in hand. I first had to go into an office and check myself in. It felt weird to be talking insurance cards and ID between contractions. I then was admitted to the main receiving desk. As I was talking to those nurses, Rey buzzed at the door. They asked who he was there to see, and I said, "Oh, he's with me!" There was a bit of confusion as the nurses thought I said, "He's not with me!" I think they thought, "Is he a stalker? Does she have a restraining order on him??" Ha.
We were taken to our room, and I changed into the gown (the glorious, oh-so-flattering gown). Vitals were taken, IV was hooked up, heartbeat monitor strapped on. Then, I was allowed to get down to the business of labor!
I had brought an exercise ball for labor, and ended up using it a lot. I found out that in early labor, I had to keep moving/walking around to keep the contractions coming. So, usually I would walk around or stand and rock back and forth, and then when a contraction hit, I would kneel on a mat and put my forearms on the ball. Or, I would sit on the ball and rock back and forth.
My favorite part about my labor? Having Rey there! I am SO thankful Rey's job arrived just weeks before baby's entrance to the world, because Rey was able to really be "there" and that meant the world to me!
"Don't let anyone fool ya. Labor's not that exciting." ;)
We actually spent the first couple hours just having fun together. The contractions were probably 4-8 minutes apart and weren't too horrible. We kept making jokes between them, and maybe the laughing helped keep things rolling. Rey joked about missing "casual Friday" at work "for this!". :)
I loved the music I had for labor... I already had some songs I liked on my phone, and I downloaded tracks from this album also. (Specifically, tracks 1, 2, 9 & 16) It was only 4 tracks, but they never got old and really helped me to focus and keep calm.
At one point, a love song that Rey sang to me when we were dating came on during a contraction. I was laughing until I was crying as I told him, "I'm sure this" (me on my knees, leaning on an exercise ball, with wires and tubes attached to me, bleary eyes and a gross hospital gown) "Was what you had in mind when you sang that to me eight years ago!! Sooo romantic!" :)
I think I must've been contracting for several weeks, so I'd started ignoring smaller contractions... Because at one point, the nurse came in and asked, "So, how did those last few contractions feel?" I said I hadn't had any for more than 5 minutes, and she said, "No, actually you had several..." and showed me on the charts. Ok, then!
But, labor isn't all fun and games, and it did--of course--heat up! Probably around 10:30, I got a lot less chatty. By 11, I had moved to the bed. The back of the bed was up (like a chair), so to stay more upright (and keep things moving), I knelt, facing the back of the bed--my arms resting on the back of the bed for support. Now, when the nurse would come to check in on me, there was no smiles or small talk. It was all focus and and breathing! I told her I felt like the baby was moving down, and she checked. She said she thought I still had a ways to go.
My doctor had a surgery to do at 12:30, so the nurse said to plan to push around 1 pm. By about 11:45, I had that "oh-no-this-is-it" transition pain happening. My body began shaking all over and the pain was unbearable. It also meant all kind of crazy sounds were coming out of me... so everyone in the area knew I was having a baby! :) The nurse came in, checked, and then called the doctor and told her she needed to come now, before her surgery.
From this point on--until Gabriella was delivered--I never opened my eyes. I had to focus! I also must confess that as the nurse was out arranging things, I did push a few times--the pain couldn't be denied!
I heard the doctor come in, and comment on how she heard me out in the hallway. They helped me turn around on the bed and position for pushing. The doctor checked one more time and said, "Oh, yeah. The head is right there." She then said, "Ok, are you ready? You're going to change gears and start pushing!" I nodded, and they had me push on the next contraction. At this point, the heart-monitor which was belted tightly around my lower belly was driving me crazy. I would pull it up during a contraction, and they would pull it back down.
With my other two, when it was time to push, I had been instructed to push once as hard and long as I could with the contraction, and then rest until the next one. Here, they instructed me to push again and again and again--back-to-back--as long as the contraction lasted. This made me very light-headed and exhausted (of course)... but... it was probably 3 contractions and 7 pushes... and-- at 12:27pm... Gabriella Elise joined us!
It took me a few moments before I could open my eyes and see the bundle of love lying on my chest! She was here!! Ah! There's no feeling like it!
All cleaned up and hanging out with momma before getting taken to the nursery.
Wow, my hands were so swollen!
The nurses were all very complimentary--"We have a lot of women come in saying they want to go natural...but very few actually do." I was just glad to be done! We even got to order food to the room. I had to order SODA (no more heartburn!!)..! Pasta! So good.
Rey went and brought Noe and Aleni to see their new sister late that afternoon. SO, so fun to let them meet her!
People have asked me how this birth compared to my other two--since the other two were at home. I am so happy with how great the hospital staff was in respecting my wishes to do the birth naturally. They really just left Rey and I alone to labor and would just check in from time to time. They asked once or twice if I was sure about not getting an epidural, but were not at all pushy.
It, of course, did require a bit more planning--since I needed to pack for myself and the kids, and try to time our departure... but that was no big deal. It was, on the one hand, a bit less comfortable... since I didn't have ready access to my food/clothing/bathroom. On the other hand, it was like a mini vacation: My own room! A TV! Nursery service! It wasn't that fun having the needles poked in me and the monitoring tests done throughout the day and night, but I knew it was "for my good", so--again--no big deal. There was some confusion when it came time for us to go home too, which was annoying... but, we ended the day with a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby... and that's all that matters! :) :)