Caveat: this is a birth story. Feel free to skip it if it's not your thing.
The pregnancy went well, very smoothly. I was still bellydancing, and had tentatively committed to performing in our big fall show a week before the due date. My troupe mates were nervous that I would give birth before the performance, but I figured I would perform. The week of the show we had dance practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of hours each. I joked that all that practicing would send me into labor. It didn't. We had our show on Friday, and I performed in all three of our choreographies. It was great. No sign of labor.
The following Wednesday afternoon, three days before the due date, J and I thought we'd try and start labor. We had some alone time, then took a walk with Doodle to the new Adventure Playground. We played for a while then took a quick walk home. I was having contractions, but they were less than 45 seconds long and sporadic. I texted Melissa to let her know I was contracting, and she said to keep her posted. I talked to Melissa again at 9:30pm and said we'd call if I had more consistent or powerful contractions. Otherwise we'd see her for our prenatal in the morning.
My Mom arrived around 10 that evening after a long day's drive from Spokane. We sat around and chatted for a while, then went to bed around 11:30. I woke up sometime around 1ish to pee. I had one strong contraction soon after laying down again, but was able to fall asleep after it passed. Again at 2ish I woke up to pee, and again had 1 strong contraction before going back to sleep.
I woke up yet again at 3:45am to pee. I laid down and had 1 strong contraction, same as before. But this time, about 9 minutes later, I had another contraction. Then another about 7 minutes after that. I wasn't certain that this was it, but I was sure it was something worth calling Melissa about. So at 4:30, after those three strong contractions, I woke J up. I told him what was going on, that I was going to take a bath and see if that would slow the contractions. I suggested he call Melissa. When he did, she said she'd hop right in her car and be on her way - being two hours away, I think she felt there was no time to dawdle.
J went out to the living room to tell my Mom what was going on. She had heard the bath water running and figured something was happening. J suggested that she could go back to sleep, but at that point I think we all knew there would be no more sleep that night. Meanwhile I continued to have contractions while in the bath. I got out and started leaning on the exercise ball propped on the couch, or on the bathroom counter during contractions, swaying my hips back and forth. My mom was timing contractions using the ContractionMaster website, and J was pushing on my back during contractions. Doodle was still sound asleep in the bedroom.
I was laboring leaning on bathroom counter when I realized that I was shaky and needed to eat. But my stomach was queasy and I had thrown up in labor with Doodle, so I was hesitant to eat anything. Finally I asked my mom to bring me a carrot - the same labor food I'd loved for Doodle's birth. Sweet and crunchy and not too heavy. Carrots were perfect. I kept laboring in our tiny bathroom, pushing down on the counter while J pushed on my back. I didn't need as forceful of counter-pressure this time as I had with Doodle, but I needed Josh there, supporting me. Throughout labor the baby was kicking & moving like crazy, especially during contractions, making each even more intense.
As the contractions became more intense I switched from swaying my hips side-to-side to an up-and-down shallow squat motion. This felt better, but I did think "oh no, I'm doing squats again. I didn't want to do squats this time." My concern was more that I didn't want to do squats for a long time. I shouldn't have worried. The contractions felt very intense, like I was nearly fully dilated and getting there fast. Then I felt a little bit pushy and grunty at the end of a couple really powerful contractions. I wondered if Melissa would be here soon, and thought "well, I'm not really pushing yet. I still have to go through transition, and I haven't even puked yet." I figured I had a little while yet.
Melissa arrived at 6:17am. I heard her car pull up as I grunted and gave a tiny push at the end of a contraction. I had two more contractions like that, with little pushes at the end, and I announced "umm, pushing." I could hear Melissa quickly setting things up in the living room. So much for transition! I gave one full push and my water broke, so I announced "umm, water." By this point Melissa and my mom had set things up in the living room, and they persuaded me to walk down the hall during a break between pushes so I could continue laboring in the much-less-cramped living room. I was not thrilled with having to walk down the hall right then, but figured if I gave birth in the middle of the hallway it was not my fault.
I made it to the living room and resumed labor holding onto the back of a dining chair, standing up. Melissa listened to the baby's heartbeat, then the next contraction hit. That push brought his head down to my perineum. I heard Melissa comment on me "being a pro" when I moved my hand there instinctively for counter pressure. Three quick, small pushes followed by one big, long push and his head was nearly out. I heard J say that his lip was stuck (which surprised me, because we didn't yet know the baby's sex). One more push and he was born into his Papa's waiting hands. A beautiful baby boy, Tyler Jesse D--, born at 6:25am.
Doodle woke up about 20 minutes later and got to meet her new baby brother. It all worked out perfectly.
Thursday October 8th 2009. 7lbs, 20" long. 39 weeks 5 days gestation, just like his big sister.