We welcomed our daughter, Eleanor Desta, to the world on March 7! She sure took her sweet time in arriving but as she is such a sweet little baby, it seems appropriate that she made such a wonderful entrance. Ellie kept us guessing about when she would come right until the end--well, she kept me guessing until the end. Everyone else who was here seemed to know a lot sooner than I did :-)
I started having the contractions that ultimately led to her birth at about 11 a.m. on March 6, while I was waiting for Patrick's Sunday school to end. We got home around 1 p.m. and I told Jason that I was having contractions about 4-5 minutes apart and had been for a couple of hours. "So, just another Sunday?" he asked. "Yep, pretty much," I told him. I'd had contractions like those multiple times in the last few weeks. One of those times they were like that for 22 hours, so I didn't read anything into them.
They started getting the tiniest bit stronger and around 3 p.m. I decided to take a nap. After laying in bed for about 15 minutes, I had one and actually felt downward movement from the baby, so I thought I'd call my midwife and give her a heads-up that something might be happening (this will be a recurring theme). I had a contraction while on the phone and apparently my midwife said to herself "Oh yeah, she's in labor." She called her apprentice to let her know.
I got up since I didn't like being in bed anymore and just hung around downstairs for a couple of hours. My midwife called back around 5:30 to see how I was doing and said she and her apprentice would just come over and see what was going on. They came around 6:15 or so and listened to the baby's heartbeat, asked how I was doing, etc. Around 8 p.m., we'd put the kids to bed and everyone started bringing equipment in from the car. I called my friends who were coming and told them that the baby would probably come that night. Mind you, I didn't believe it but figured that if my midwife was bringing things inside, it was a reasonable thing to do.
My friends got there within the hour and we all sat around waiting for something to happen beyond the contractions. And waiting. And waiting. They were pretty regular and certainly stronger compared to earlier, but I didn't buy it. I did get into the birth tub at one point but my contractions basically stopped after that, so I got back out and went back to what I'd been doing.
I did a lot of laboring like this. Jason was an awesome coach, of course.
Still, we kept on all morning. I spent some more time in the tub, more time laying down, a little more time sitting. I was able to eat and drink as I needed. The kids were awesome--they watched videos on iPads and played upstairs and read some stories. My friends Rachel and Lovisa were fantastically helpful--making coffee, entertaining the kids, helping me with whatever I needed, keeping me entertained between contractions. We talked a lot and it gave Jason the freedom to help me emotionally and physically. He was the one always there wherever I was, to help keep track of how things were going, giving me lots of excellent massages, encouraging me every minute.
Everyone else knew what was happening. I, despite being the one actually in labor, didn't really believe it was going to happen. At 3 p.m., we heard Patrick's bus come by and Jason remarked that Patrick could have gone to school that day. I said "No, the baby will probably come today so I'm glad he stayed home." And immediately, everything picked up. I went into transition and had a couple of contractions that had me sobbing. My midwife checked me because I felt like I wanted to push and said "There's the baby's head."
Me (now sobbing semi-happily): "Oh, I'm so glad. I was afraid you'd check and I'd be like 5 cm." Everyone else laughed but I'd been serious--that's how much in denial I'd been all day. (Mind you, it was the one and only time I was checked.)
Push #1 was at 3:02 and was so intense that I felt there was no way I could do it (I yelled a lot more this time around than I did with Patrick). My water broke with push #2. I could feel the baby's head with push #3--that was when the kids came in and I told them that it was OK if I yelled, it was hard work but I was OK. Push #4 had the baby's head out. Push #5 brought our beautiful baby out into the world at 3:18 p.m., screaming and pink and perfect and chubby.
I asked Patrick whether he had a brother or a sister and he said "Brother." Then someone moved the umbilical cord and asked if he wanted to look again, and he said "It's a girl." We told him her name so that he could share it. Melkamu came over and touched her head, smiling the whole time even though he'd said he wanted a brother. I said that she was so big and thought she was around 8 lb--my midwife said "Maybe 7 1/2 or 8 lb." And I said "She has hair!"