On Monday the 23rd, two days before my due date, I was having some very mild contractions at work. I started timing them, and they were anywhere from 6-15 minutes apart and pretty sporadic. So I didn't think anything of it and they went away that evening. On Wednesday, my due date, I had a midwife appointment in the morning. Carol checked me while I was there and I was a little less than 2 cm dilated and about 50% effaced. So we didn't think that I would go into labor for the next few days at least. After lunch, I was having the contractions again, but they were a little more regular. I again didn't think anything of it and went on with my work. I felt like I should bring everything home though, just in case I went into labor that night.
I got home and made rice bowls for dinner, then after dinner I had indigestion and didn't feel great. No contractions though. Andy went to youth group and I walked on my treadmill for about a mile. Then I wanted to lay down, so I went to bed early. Andy got home around 9pm and we went to sleep.
At 11:04pm I woke up with a contraction that was pretty strong and bordering on painful, and then I had another one a few minutes later. I woke Andy up after a few of those and we both thought it might be false labor. We got up and I sat on my birth ball for a while, and then I tried to go back to bed. Andy went to sleep and I was in and out of bed for a while. At 1:30am I called my mom to ask if she thought it was real and to give her a heads up in case it was. She didn't know, so I said I'd call her an hour later. My contractions were about 5-8 minutes apart, but they weren't really getting stronger or longer, and I didn't feel them in my back at all (one of the signs of true labor), just in my stomach. It mostly felt like bad cramps in my lower abdomen. I was just breathing through them and was able to talk fine during them at this point. I called my mom again at 2:30 and still wasn't sure if labor was real. So I said I'd call back in an hour if things changed.
I tried to go back to bed, but the contractions were really painful laying down. At 3:40 I was having a contraction, and I spread my knees apart a little bit when I felt a pop and a gush... my water broke. I jumped out of bed (and didn't get anything on the bed, thankfully) and patted Andy on the foot on my way to the bathroom saying, "I'm pretty sure my water just broke." He jumped out of bed and got me some new clothes (the ones I was wearing were pretty wet), and then I called my mom and told her it was the real thing for sure. She and my dad jumped in the car and called my sister, and they were all on their way at 4-ish. I also called Carol and gave her a heads up saying I'd call again later when things picked up.
I took a shower, and Andy went into full cleaning mode. We had made a labor to do list so he just started tackling it one at a time, plus some extra things (like cleaning the microwave, mopping, etc.) I think he was a little nervous :) The first thing on our list was to pray together, which was really special. I labored by myself and the contractions were getting closer together and a little tougher. At 5:30am or so I finally told Andy to stop cleaning and be with me. At 6:00 I called Amy, my doula, and told her to come around 8 or 8:30. I also called Carol and she and Julia started heading over.
At 6:20 the contractions really started picking up, so I called Amy again and said to come now. Kristen came and picked up our dogs, and Andy's mom came at some point in there and grabbed a key to the neighbor's house where she was going to stay. I sat on my glider for a while and contractions were much easier while I was in it, but I felt like I wasn't making as much progress. I was able to fall asleep between a few of the contractions.
Amy, Carol and Julia all got here at 7:30am and started setting everything up. Amy was absolutely incredible. She jumped in and massaged, got me rice packs, had Andy go eat breakfast, cleaned, got snacks, etc. It was so nice having her there... she knew just what I needed. Andy was great about helping me relax during contractions and he held my hand for them. I breathed through them during the whole labor and didn't fight them at all. I did have to be moving my hands, though, and that helped. The pain wasn't ever more than I could take, and I never once wanted an epidural or to go to the hospital or anything. I didn't scream, swear or even moan. It was actually not as bad as I thought it would be.
Carol checked my progression at 8-ish. I told Amy, "If I'm at 2cm, I'm going to be upset." Carol said I was at 6-7cm and 100% effaced, so I was very happy. That gave me tons of confidence to get through the rest of labor. They started filling up the birth tub around 8:30 and I labored on my ball and other places until I could get in. At 9:30 my parents and sister got here, and they jumped in and helped too. I was still able to talk and laugh between contractions at this point. I knew there would be breaks between contractions, but I didn't know they would be that long, so it was a nice relief. I got in the tub at 10-ish, and it was a nice relief. The contractions weren't easier, but I felt weightless. I only got out once to use the bathroom. I went through transition and didn't even know it. I started having more cramping between contractions, so there wasn't really a break anymore. I fell asleep between them for a few contractions. Kristen got here sometime in there and started taking pictures.
I started having a contraction at 11:45-ish, and I suddenly had the urge to push during it. I told Amy and she ran to talk to Carol who said to go ahead and start pushing. I pushed pretty gently for a little less than an hour. At one point I asked Amy how much longer I had left, and she told me less than two hours. I felt like I could do that. Soon after that I felt for the baby's head and it was right there. I thought there might be a lip of cervix, but Carol felt and said it was all the baby's head. Crowning was probably the most painful part, and I think it was the only part where I said "ouch." I pushed the baby's head half way out and then waited for another contraction. It was cool feeling the head with lots of hair. Amy leaned over and said, "I promise it will be less than two hours now." I laughed. Another contraction came and I pushed out my little girl. She opened her eyes under the water and I said, "I knew it was a girl!" Andy was holding my right hand and caught our daughter with his other hand, with Julia's help. Amy was holding my other hand. They brought her right up on my chest an she just stared at me for a little bit and then started to cry. It was such a beautiful moment! Most of the people in the room were crying. Andy announced her name and said, "We're going to call her Ruby Elise." She wanted to latch on about 10 minutes later, so we did that. My mom cut the cord when I was feeling cramps for the placenta. I pushed out the placenta in one or two pushes, and then they gave Ruby to Andy to hold while I got out of the tub.
The midwives checked us both over and Andy and I had a bit of time alone with our daughter, and that was really special. We prayed together. I had to get 3 or 4 stitches and they did Ruby's newborn exam. She was 8lbs 11oz and 21.25 inches long. We are absolutely in love with our girl!