The next day was Dustin's birthday so we woke up to enjoy a hearty birthday breakfast and some family time before seeing Dustin off for the day. We did briefly consider having him call into work and stay home in case labor started back up again, but I hadn't had a single contraction since the previous night's teaser, so he left and we went about our day as usual. I continued having mild contractions throughout the day every hour or two but they didn't escalate in pain from one to the next. I brushed them off and we continued through the day working on schoolwork, chores, and keeping warm on a chilly March day. That night I decided to go to bed right after getting the kids in their own beds since we had been up most of the previous night and I figured it would be wise to get a little rest if contractions woke me up again.
After trying and failing to fall asleep I got out of bed at 9:30. I went downstairs to see Dustin, who was still up doing some work in the living room, and realized contractions were now coming pretty frequently. We began tracking them and found them to be only 3-5 minutes apart and progressively getting stronger. Dustin began to get the water in the birth tub warm again since it had cooled off all that day. He ended up needing to drain off at least half of the water and refill it with all of the hot water from our water heater along with multiple stock pots filled with boiling water from the stove to get it up to the 97 degree temp we needed. Needless to say, this busied his time pretty well for the next hour and a half. In the meantime I decided I didn't feel like leaving our bedroom where the tub was set up and proceeded to find a comfortable spot to settle into while I labored.
At about 10:30 we decided to call our midwife to let her know that we were indeed in labor and that it started about an hour earlier. I was still able to talk quite easily on the phone and wasn't in much pain yet so I told her she didn't need to rush to come over. She knew we preferred to labor alone for a while and that we'd done this before, so she told us she'd be over in a couple hours unless things picked up sooner, then to give her call. Our midwife, Jeanne, has delivered both of our boys and lives only five minutes away so she could get to us quickly if needed.
Because I have had extremely painful back labor for each of my previous births I knew I needed a spot where I could comfortably work through contractions and do some counter pressure while Dustin was busy warming the tub, so I settled for a spot between my bed and dresser. I dug my back into my dresser while leaning over my bed and a stack of pillows during a contraction and then standing up to sway in between. After a couple contractions I realized this wasn't working as well as I'd hoped and pain was beginning to intensify so I got on all fours and leaned into a pile of pillows and a rocking chair situated in the corner of our bedroom. Between contractions Dustin and I talked a bit, both of us getting excited that we'd be meeting our little girl soon. It was quiet, the lights were off besides the bathroom light streaming through the hall, and I began to focus mostly in silence as things started to progress. During this time the kids slept soundly in their bedrooms which are right next to ours.
It was now 11:30, contractions were coming evert 2-3 minutes and lasting about a minute long. Dustin was doing his best to get the temperature of the tub to where it needed to be, while also putting a hot pack on my back and doing as much counter pressure as he could. Peppermint oil applied directly to my low back ended up being extremely helpful during these moments along with extreme heat from the hot pack. During the next 30 minutes things continued to intensify and it was at that point I knew I hit transition because I felt like vomiting and then had the uncontrollable urge to moan during every contraction. My eyes were closed tight in concentration and I began tuning out all surroundings. One wave at a time, breathing through the pain, and letting my body do this job.
Within 15 minutes I knew that familiar pressure and urge to push that told me to get in the birthing tub (which was finally to the temperature we needed it at!). Dustin helped me in, I leaned back in the warmth. I was sweaty, shaky, but feeling more in control and in less pain than I remember feeling at this stage with previous births. With the next contraction I began to push.
At about 12:30, after pushing 2-3 times, I heard our midwife Jeanne come in the front door. She came up to our room and quietly greeted Dustin, quickly and silently checked me, listened for fetal heart sounds, then set up her most needed equipment before coming to my side during the next contraction. Words of encouragement followed as I pushed two more times, my eyes shut tight, and then I could feel that sweet little newborn head. She was almost here!
Finally, one last push and her wriggly little body followed. My eyes finally opened and Dustin and I slowly lifted that tiny, squishy, perfectly pink little baby out of the water and into my arms. I said "That was so easy!" and truly felt that this birth was the easiest of all four of mine. She cried within minutes of being in my arms and I held her for the next moments kissing her sweet face with overwhelming happiness, relief, adrenaline, and love. Our baby, our little Astrid Evangeline!
Born on March 19, at 12:46 am, 8 pounds 6 ounces and 19.5" long.
One of the sweetest memories of that first day came after everything was cleaned up, our midwives had made sure all was well and had left us for the time being, and all three of us were cozily tucked into our bed. It was about 5am now, still dark and quiet, Dustin was asleep, and Astrid was laying beside me nursing sweetly. Then I heard Emery's door open and she shuffled to the bathroom. Since our bedroom is in view directly after walking out of the bathroom she came out, stopped, and stared bleary-eyed into our room, which had previously contained an oversized birthing tub that had since been packed up and taken down mere hours earlier. I could see her trying to make sense of what she was seeing, wondering why the tub was no longer there. Then from the doorway it hit her and she exclaimed in a whisper, "Mom, is she here?! Did you have the baby?!" I nodded and whispered back "Yes, she's right here! Come and see her!" She squealed and came running over, the most excited little girl I've ever seen, and began gushing, kissing, and loving her new little sister. She stayed for a few more minutes asking all the questions and loving every minute of this special greeting before I sent her back to bed in attempt for all of us to get a little more sleep before the sun came up. That moment was pure joy for her and I love that she got a little sneak peek before her brothers woke up. Of course, they were equally thrilled to meet her in the morning. It was a good day.