Hm... where do I begin?
Well, first of all, here are Story One, Story Two, and Story Three.
Now that you've read those, you know that Julia was 2 weeks and 2 days early, and Esther was 10 days early (and 9lbs at that!). My midwife and I both suspected that I would go early; my body just makes babies a little faster than the typical 40 weeks. Of course we had no way of knowing when baby would arrive, but looking back I feel like I had a good idea of what my body was doing.
The week before baby arrived, we managed to get through a bit of extra schoolwork and wrapped things up nicely. We finished our read aloud story and worked ahead in a few subjects. I rested on the couch most afternoons, but was feeling well. The week before that had been spent running errands and finishing my big grocery shopping trips. Everything was nested and ready; I was trying my best to be patient.
Ross' birthday is March 3rd. He suggested having the baby that day, but baby must not have heard him. We had family over for cake on Sunday afternoon, March 4th. My wonderful mother in law brought all of the food and did all of the clean-up, we just hosted the party at our house so that I wouldn't have to go anywhere. By the end of the day I was having quite a few Braxtons (pre-labor contractions, not painful), more than normal. I laid on the couch much of the evening and had a little crying fit to Ross about how the waiting was getting to me.
Sunday night I had some painful sporadic contractions that kept me up from 1am - 4:30am. I had to drive 40 minutes away Monday morning for my midwife appointment and wasn't sure if I should go. My mother in law watched the girls for me and I set out. I took two beach towels along, one in case my water broke, and the second to wrap the baby up in if I ended up giving birth in the car! Along the way I had two or three sharp contractions. I remember thinking that these were not the Braxtons that I was used to, and wondering what my body might be up to.
Yolanda (my midwife) didn't seem to think much of the contractions. She said that if I had been up the night before, I was probably just tired and feeling the normal Braxtons more than usual. We chatted about when to call her and what labor might be like. She had mentioned that if I had a boy, labor could be very different than it was with my girls. Everything was great at my appointment. We made another appointment for next week Thursday, but I told her I was not coming to that one! (Meaning I knew I would have the baby before then.) As I walked out of the office, I half-jokingly told her that I would call her that night.
I walked down to Ross' office and told him I was still having contractions, but that Yolanda didn't think anything of it. I told him to stay alert in case I called him later that day. I continued to have strong contractions the rest of the day, about two an hour. I tried to drink plenty of water and napped on the couch, but they were consistent. It felt like my body had started something and wasn't going to stop. At this point I was happy for the progress. Even if the contractions had stopped, I knew they were pushing my body closer to labor.
We had a friend who was in town over for dinner that evening. He was going to be here until Saturday. As he left, I told him to come back later that week for a photo with the new baby. (Keep in mind, this is only March 5th and my due date was really the 23rd.) Around 10:30 pm, we lay down for the night. I had a few contractions 12 minutes apart and then had quite a bit of bloody show. I told Ross that he wasn't going to sleep and that we were going to have a baby. I called Yolanda just to let her know what was going on before it got too late. She said to call her in the morning unless I needed her before then. Eventually I sent Ross to bed and tried to lay down too. The contractions came every 10 minutes and were strong enough that I could not sleep through them. Laying down actually made them hurt worse, so I sat on the exercise ball and tried to distract myself by checking email and Facebook.
I posted "boy? or girl?" on Facebook, with most people responding "boy". We suspected I was having a boy, but had not had an ultrasound at all. At the same time, I had already had three girls, so another girl would not have surprised me either. I saw a discount code to OldNavy.com, so I window shopped and picked out boy clothes that I liked, just in case. I tried to rest a few times, but each time it felt better to be sitting up. The contractions were strong, but I wanted Ross to rest and didn't think Yolanda needed to come yet. Around 3am they crept closer to 7 minutes apart. At 4:30am they were still 7 minutes apart, so I woke Ross and called Yolanda to come. She had said at my appointment that day, contractions 4-7 minutes apart for two hours meant to call her, but that I should call a bit sooner given my fast labors.
Ross woke and started filling the tub for me. I was afraid to get in until I knew Yolanda was almost here. I didn't want to relax too much and have the baby come too fast. Eventually I did get in the tub for a while. Yolanda arrived around 5:30am. I got back out of the tub and spent time walking around, leaning on the exercise ball, and leaning over the couch during contractions. Yolanda was great with helping suggest positions to try and pressing on my back for pain relief. I was really tired by this point and just wanted things to be done.
Yolanda checked and told me I was about 8 centimeters. My water had not broken yet, and I kept wishing it would and thinking things would move along faster if it did. At one point I saw light coming in the bathroom window and realized it was morning. That gave me hope that baby would arrive soon. I worked through several more contractions and things began to speed up. I was saying "I don't want to do this!" and thinking in my head that I sure hoped this was transition and that I could be done soon. The girls were sleeping through all of this, and finally we decided to call Ross' mom and have her come over to be here when they woke up. She arrived at about 7:30am. Ross, Yolanda, and I had moved into the bedroom and I had started to push. Yolanda said that the cord might be around the baby's neck and that I was really going to have to push hard to get him out.
It took me a while to figure out how best to push. My legs were sore from all of the contractions and when I pushed it tensed them up more and hurt soo much. I kept saying that I couldn't push! At the time it felt like the hardest thing in the world. As I was pushing, my water finally broke. I switched positions a couple of times and ended up on my knees, leaning over a stack of pillows. I pushed for about 45 minutes total. When the head came out, Yolanda had me reach down and feel it. She had me push slowly and she carefully checked for the cord. Ross caught the body as it came out. Isaac Ross was born at 8:10am on March 6th.
I quickly asked "Is it okay? Is it a boy or a girl?" almost without a pause between the two sentences. Even though they told me it was a boy, I think I asked a few more times because it just wasn't sinking in. He was purplish, but Yolanda said he was fine. She decided that the cord had not been around his neck, but strapped over his shoulder, holding him back a bit. After a few minutes, Ross cut the cord, the placenta was delivered, and I tried to nurse a bit. He weighed 7lbs 9oz and was 19 1/2 inches long.
Grandma and the three big sisters came in to visit. They had been in the living room coloring pictures for the baby. The girls were still in a bit of shock, having woken up to find Grandma here and all that was going on. Everyone took turns holding Isaac. We actually hadn't decided on his name yet at that point. The girls left with Grandpa and Grandma to spend the day at their house and go shopping for boy clothes. We called them later on that morning to tell them the baby's name.
Isaac is almost two weeks old already! We've spent lots of time just snuggling and nursing. The days following his birth have been sunny and warm, prefect for sitting in the rocking chair by the window. I've had lots of help and been able to rest quite a bit. Isaac is nursing well, and is already back to his birth weight. We are all thrilled to have a baby brother in the house!