Eleanor’s due date was August 18th. I finished work the week before and planned to finish up some lingering work, pack some boxes (the opposite of nesting – our house closing was to be August 30th) and just generally get ready for baby.
The week leading up to Eleanor’s birth I hadn’t noticed the baby drop or anything different about the pregnancy. A few days before I started noticing mucous when I wiped after going to the bathroom… just little bits here and there. I knew that was the start of things, whether the finish would be hours or days from then.
I admit to being nervous in the weeks before Eleanor’s due date. Since she was my third, I should have been relaxed but I think I was worried that the first two times went so well (relatively speaking), the third time couldn’t possibly go so smoothly. But since I believe in the mind-body connection and didn’t want those thoughts to negatively affect my labor, as soon as those thoughts entered my mind I tried to push them out.
On August 14th I went to bed feeling normal. On August 15th (a Thursday) at about 12:30 am, I woke up and noticed cramps. I laid awake and timed them in the dark using the alarm clock … about 6 minutes apart. They were strong enough that I wasn’t going to sleep so I got up, went to the living room, and turned on the television.
Through the night, I timed contractions. What started out six minutes apart lengthened as morning came … ten minutes apart sometimes … so I was able to nap a bit in between contractions. When Oliver, Emery, and Brian (who still didn’t know I was having contractions) woke up I figured we were repeating Emery’s delivery by having a night of false labor because, by then, the contractions were a good fifteen minutes apart. But while Brian fed the boys breakfast and I was having a shower and getting the boys’ clothes ready for the day, I noticed the contractions were more painful and closer again. As I got dressed I glanced at the clock… three minutes apart?! I told Brian not to panic but that we should drop the boys off at the sitter’s and go to the hospital to get checked out. The boys were quite excited that we would be having a baby that day.
Again, as I was sitting in the car on the way to the hospital the contractions slowed down a lot … I remember having one or two in the whole half hour!
We walked up to labor and delivery and I dismissively said, “I’ve been having contractions and they were close together but now they’re not and I feel silly but maybe you could check me anyway, since we’re here?”. I had told Brian that we could go and do a few things in Woodstock to kill time if things were barely starting but the doctor checked me and was surprised (as we were) that I was 5-6 cms dilated! The nurses and doctor thought that my nonchalance was pretty funny.
So at 8:30 or 9 am, Brian got breakfast and I got in the tub, where I relaxed and read birth stories. The contractions were still very manageable (no worse than period cramps) and still coming quite far apart… seven or eight minutes, sometimes even longer. The nurse kept checking on me and around 10:30 am the doctor said I had dilated to 7-8 cms.
I stayed in the tub but when the doctor checked my cervix an hour or so later, I hadn’t progressed. At about 12 pm, they decided to break my water to get things moving. My mom came upstairs just after that. She was on her lunch hour but she couldn’t stay long, she said, because they needed two RNs on the floor … she had until about 12:30 pm. Brian joked and said, “We’ll do what we can to have the baby before then”.
He didn’t realize he wasn’t joking. I had two contractions after my water broke that were much more painful – I had to stop talking and breathe through them. On the third, I felt the baby move into the birth canal and yelled at mom and Brian that I needed the doctor – I needed to push!
I crawled onto the bed while the nurse and doctor came into the room. For the last several weeks I was seen in the prenatal clinic by a resident doctor named Mari-Lynne Sinnott (a friendly lady from Newfoundland that I really got along with). Dr. Mutri stood by to assist (but didn’t need to). My nurse was Barbie Fullarton (we joked at how Beth Blanchard dared to take vacation so close to my due date, since she helped deliver Oliver and Emery).
They told me to push through the contractions and basically stood back and watched me. It felt so good to push – it helps relieve that uncomfortable pressure of the head coming down the birth canal. The most painful part is always the crowning and the part that gives the most relief is when the head pushes through and the rest of the body slides out. In just three pushes, the baby was out!
I think I still had my head back and my arm over my eyes when they yelled, “It’s a girl!”. They were holding her up in front of me and my initial thought was how much she looked like Oliver. Mom told me later that she was in the bathroom of the next room as I delivered (as close as possible so she could hear); when she heard them say, “It’s a girl”, she was so excited she ran out of the room and toward my room but remembered that I would not be ready for visitors quite yet.
She was placed on my chest with the cord still attached. Brian snipped it a few minutes later. The placenta was delivered easily. It didn’t occur to me right away that she was any smaller than the boys were but she was 6 lbs 3 1/2 oz, which was more than a pound smaller than Emery.
I always enjoy the hours spent in the hospital and took advantage of the two nights they offered me. It is quiet and peaceful and such a nice environment for those first few hours of bonding. The nurses, as always, were great and treated us like we were the most important people they had ever treated!
So overall Eleanor’s birth was such a positive experience and we basked in the glow of the happy hormones for several days. The boys loved her instantly and seemed to adjust quickly to mommy needing a lot of time for her.
And then there were five!