I figured it was time to let everyone know how the birth went, so here goes...
Around 5 on Christmas morning, I felt a weird pain in my belly. I wasn't sure if it was a contraction or not, but when it came again a few minutes later, I was pretty sure it was. Sure enough, they started coming pretty regularly - maybe every 7 minutes or so. Grant was still asleep, and I didn't want to wake him up, because I knew this would be happening for a while. So, I just went about my business. I ate a bowl of cereal, because I knew if this was real labor, I wouldn't really be eating anything the rest of the day. My mom, who was staying at my neighbor's house, came over around 5:30 or 6, and I told her I thought the baby would be coming later that day. Needless to say, she got really excited. She went back to the neighbor's house to start getting ready.
Around 6:45, Grant kind of started waking up, so I told him, "I think you're going to get your Christmas baby today." Ever since I passed my due date, he predicted that she would come on Christmas day. So like my mom, he got really excited, too! He got up, and we both started getting ready - we took showers, packed our bags, etc.
The contractions started getting closer together, and we called the hospital around 9. They said that we could come in any time. We decided to hold off on going in for a little longer - I didn't like the idea of being at the hospital any longer than I had to be. Maybe around 9:30 or so, I threw up the little bowl of cereal that I had (alot of good that did), and Grant decided that it was time to go to the hospital. It was probably around 10 that we actually got in the car to go.
We got to the hospital around 10:15, and we made our way to labor and delivery. We were happy to discover that we were the only ones on the floor - as funny as this sounds, that was something that I had prayed about.
On a bit of a side note, we were planning on having a natural childbirth. We took some classes teaching us about the Bradley Method of childbirth (which is also called Husband Coached Childbirth). The base hospital only has 1 midwife, and she told us that she wouldn't be available on the 24th or 25th. When we got to the hospital, they asked if we had already called the midwife. We said we hadn't, and that we thought she was unavailable. They said they would call her anyway, and a little bit later, she was on her way! We were very happy about this!
So, I'm going through these contractions, and we realized very quickly that I liked it quiet in the room, especially during the contractions. Grant was great - if anyone was talking too loudly, or taking too many pictures, I never had to say anything - he took care of it for me. I tried different positions during some of the contractions - I would stand up, go for a walk, or sit on the birthing ball - no matter what I did, though, I would always squeeze the life out of Grant's hand. Poor guy.
Around 1 or so, I started feeling the urge to push. Apparently, I'm a noisy pusher, because every time I pushed, I let out this terrible wail. I remember thinking how embarrassing this was, but I couldn't control it.
Things were progressing really well. Around 2:45 or 3, I was sitting in the bathroom pushing, and the midwife had a portable heart rate monitor. She wasn't getting a good reading on the baby's heart rate, so she had me go back into the room, and get hooked up to the regular monitor. According to that, the baby's heart rate had dropped pretty significantly - down to the 60's - so she had to come out ASAP. The midwife had me try some different positions on the bed to try to get her out right away - on my sides, on all fours - but nothing was working. The baby wasn't far enough down the birth canal to come out quickly enough, and her heart rate wasn't coming up, so the midwife decided to call in the doctor. The doctor came in, and they decided that the best way to get her out would be to use the vacuum, and if that didn't work, they'd have to do a c-section.
So, out came the vacuum. The midwife gave me a warning that it would "hurt like hell," and she was right. The wails that I had done before were nothing in comparison to this! My dad said he could hear me all the way down the hall. The doctor said they'd give me 3 tries to push her out with the vacuum. The 1st and 2nd tried came and went with no luck. On the 3rd try, she just reiterated that if it didn't work, it would be a c-section. I pushed with everything I had, and out she came!
It's like they always say, once the baby is out, you forget about the pain. As soon as I saw her, everything was suddenly fine. My baby was out, she was healthy, and I was happy.
The downside is, because they had to use the vacuum, I had 3rd degree tearing (there's only 4 degrees, so this was pretty bad). The doctor spent an hour and a half stitching me up. So, I won't be jumping back into exercising as soon as I had hoped - I can only walk for exercise for about 4-6 weeks.
But I got my natural childbirth, just like I wanted, and am so happy I did!
Grant was a fantastic coach! During the whole vacuum episode, he stayed so calm, even though he told me later that he was really worried. It went from a very calm environment (it was just me, Grant, the midwife, and nurse in the room), to all the sudden being a very chaotic situation, with a doctor, several nurses, and some technicians in the room. He stayed positive the whole time, kept encouraging me, and telling me how good I was doing. Because of him, I never even realized how scary it was.