This is the story I wanted, for Avery, for Eleanor, for myself. Avery's birth story was nothing like this. I feel like I was given a second chance this time around, for which I am eternally grateful.
I also don't want to freak out people who have yet to go through labor, or who are made squeamish by labor and birth, so this is the abridged version. The full-length version is written elsewhere for me to remember.
First, the timeline. I remember most of this, but some of the smaller details and times were filled in from the birth notes made by our doula.
6:00 am, Thursday, September 8 - I woke up with semi-painful contractions, which made me take notice simply because I tended to have contractions in the afternoon only. I asked Luke to be extra attentive to his phone. I hopped in the shower, determined not to look like death-warmed-over this time. I wanted to be pretty and smiley at the end of labor.
I spent the next hour praying and reading and resting, trying to relax, not get too excited, and push away the anxiety.
The morning wore on, Avery and I played and ate breakfast, and the contractions spread out so much that I gave up thinking today was the day. Avery and I went on a 45 minute walk after lunch, hoping to bring the contractions back around. We pushed her doll stroller all over, stopped to talk to a couple doggies, and I ended up wearing her out so much that she made me carry her doll stroller home.
1:30 pm - we both went down for a nap. She slept on; I woke up 3 times with painful contractions.
4:30 pm - gave my sister a call, asking her to be on alert, since contractions were picking up again. I also texted Sara, our doula, just to let her know what was going on. She promised to call every couple of hours to check on me.
5:15 pm - Luke came home so he could be in charge of Avery and dinner, since I was having to stop for each contraction. I'm starting to think that these won't go away at this point, that this could actually be labor. Still tried not to get too excited.
9:08 pm - I asked Sara to head over, as well as my sister. Michelle planned to spend the night with Avery while we were at the hospital.
9:45 pm - Sara arrives, and Michelle shortly after. I'm rocking and breathing through contractions, but we switched this up and got me walking between them and swaying through them. I'm feeling confident and powerful at this point.
10:20 - 11:15 pm - timed contractions; they made it to 4 minutes apart, lasting a minute each
11:20 pm - called the midwife, who suggested a warm bath, a nap, and then head to the hospital in an hour. We pushed this timing a little longer since I was still feeling good. I was working hard, but I wasn't feeling like delivery was imminent anytime soon.
A little after midnight - we timed the contractions for another 30 minutes, where they increased in frequency to about 3 minutes apart and the moaning begins. Serious work now. Luke loads the car up.
12:40ish pm - my water broke during a contraction. I noticed a pop at the peak of the contraction; such an odd feeling! This was exciting for me, because they had to break my water with Avery.
12:55 or so - we head to the car, where I had to stop and hug Sara through a contraction while Luke locked up and got the car started. I also hit transition in the car on the way to the hospital, where it continued all the way up to the check-in desk in L&D. I probably startled a few people on the way in with my crazy moaning and hip waggling. The urge to push hit the second I stepped out of the car and got worse and worse all the way to our room.
We are ushered quickly to our room, where everyone is flying about trying to get me out of my clothes, into a gown, into the bed, paperwork signed between contractions, and a saline lock inserted into my arm in case I needed an IV. I kept having to wave people away from me so I could contract.
1:40 am - The doctor checked my cervix and found me at 9 cm and the baby at zero station (victory in and of itself, because Avery never made it past a -1 station)! One contraction got me through to just a lip of the cervix, and the next one found me at 10 cm and ready to push. The contractions were so intense at this point that I felt like I would claw the ceiling tiles - Sara had to keep physically pushing me back on the bed while Luke tried to calm me on the other side. Finally, the contractions spread out a tiny bit as I reached the pushing stage, and this felt like such a huge relief. It took roughly 25 minutes, and then...
2:14 am - Eleanor Hope Presley was born, one hour after arriving at the hospital. 7 lbs, 6 oz, 20.5 inches long. I was able to have an hour of skin-to-skin time, I nursed her within the first 30 minutes, and we had a quiet time just marveling over the birth of our second child.