The evening of November 29th rolled around and Mr. Lukie and I kind of joked about the next day being my "due date". I didn't give it much thought, really, since I wasn't having any tell tale signs that labor was imminent. For several weeks leading up to that point, a few times per week, I was having legitimate contractions that always fizzled out by the time morning came. Prodromal labor, they call it. I knew my body was preparing, but it really just seemed to be doing only that. Most days, I was totally fine with this, since I was feeling anxious about bringing another baby into our little family and how it would shape things moving forward. Other days, I was just ready to meet this little being and start doing life with him/her.
At 12:15am (on November 30th, my "due date"), I woke up for what I initially thought was no reason at all. I assumed it was probably to use the restroom, considering that I did so every 2 hours or so those last few weeks, but I realized that wasn't why. I laid there for a few minutes and then felt a slight POP! and then the warm gush of fluids. I woke Mr. Lukie up, "Babe!" For being in the line of work where it is expected to be woken from a dead sleep, several times per night, he sure doesn't handle it well at home. All groggy-like, he said, "Huh?" I told him my water had just broken and he just laid there. I said, "Do you think you could get me a towel?" He popped out of bed and went to the linen closet, just outside our bedroom. "What do you want me to get?" "A towel, babe" (seriously?) "Which one?" "Umm ... it really doesn't matter, I'd just like to get cleaned up." It's probably a really good thing I love him (and already know that he doesn't do the whole woken up in the middle of the night thing very well when he's at home).
With Ella, as soon as my water broke, my contractions started. So, I sent a text message to my midwife, Karen, and her student midwife, Christina: "My water just broke, fluids are clear!" Christina sent me a text back almost immediately, "Awesome! Try and get some rest." Mr. Lukie and I laughed at the notion of getting rest. I mean, really? Rest after my water broke and contractions were to start at any time? Ha!
I crawled back in bed around 12:45am, wearing an adult diaper (I kept leaking and was tired of getting out of bed and changing my pajama pants), still laughing at the idea of getting some rest. Sure enough, we both ended up sleeping from about 1am until 7am, when Ella woke up. We told her that her baby was coming today and went about our normal morning routine. Around 7:30am, I felt my first contraction and I decided right then to start timing them. I know I didn't start timing them right away with Ella, but something told me to this time. I sent another text message to Karen and Christina: "Contractions have started. I'm timing them and will let you know where we're at." They are both a little over an hour away from me (Karen is the same midwife we used for Ella's birth, but that is when we were living in Temecula ... and after finding out I was pregnant with Lily, we moved to San Diego ... )
Christina called me around 8am and we chatted for awhile. I know that she wanted to talk to me through a contraction or two, to sort of triage where I was in my birthing time. When we got on the phone, my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds. We chatted for 10 minutes. By the end of our conversation, I was no longer able to talk, let alone concentrate or time my contractions. It was determined that they would leave Temecula around 9am, unless noted otherwise. After I got off the phone with Christina, I told Mr. Lukie that I wanted the tub set up in our bedroom and filled with water, because I felt like I might be ready to get in it soon. I knew this because I had started my morning off in cozy slippers, pajama pants, a tank top, and a sweatshirt ... but by this point, I was in boxer shorts and a sports bra. A good rule of thumb is that the more layers of clothing that come off, the closer you are to having a baby ;)
Karen called me at some point during all of this, to let me know that she was at another birth, about 2.5 hours away from San Diego. She wouldn't make it to my birth, but Christina would be there, and she was sending a back up midwife, Coley, since Christina is a student and wouldn't get credit for attending my birth without a licensed midwife there. (I would have been fine with just Christina, but understood her need to have it documented for her licensure).
During this time, I was laboring by myself, which, I discovered, is not something I am a fan of, because Mr. Lukie was tending to Ella. I don't think he had any idea how quickly things were progressing until I
I heard the nanny arrive and Mr. Lukie give her the quick run down of things. While he was doing that, I called Christina. "I want in the tub. It's being filled with water, then I'm getting in. Contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds." (By this time, I was down to just my sports bra). I could hear the sense of anxiety/excitement in Christina's voice when she said, "The tub? Already? I'm on my way!" I got in the tub a few minutes later.
A bit later, my friend and doula (who isn't really a doula, but she acted as one for me), Alyssa, arrived. Our hot water had run out and the tub was only 1/4 of the way full, so Mr. Lukie had all of our pots filled with water on the stove, boiling it to add to the tub. I was in transition at this point, and back to laboring alone. Alyssa noticed that I needed support and immediately grabbed my hand while I labored on my knees, arms and chest draped over the edge of the birthing tub. She was with me for several contractions until I called for Mr. Lukie. I know many women who swear that they just wanted their mom/sister/girlfriend to be their labor support, but through both of my babies births, all I wanted was my husband. He truly has a gift and I know it isn't something that many men are gifted with.
Awhile later (I lost track of time at this point), Christina arrived. Since I choose not to do internal checks, we didn't know where I was, exactly, but it was evident by my contractions, being in the tub, and my physical state, that it was go-time. I told Christina that I was feeling pushy and she asked me to give a practice push. That practice push brought Lily's head into view. Christina told me she saw a ton of dark hair. Just then, Coley rushed in.
Without so much as saying a word, with the next contraction, my body pushed. I really didn't do much work when it came to pushing Lily out, because my body just took over. With Ella's birth, I had to do a lot of physical work to push her out, but I felt like this time, my body was just doing it all on its own. Christina announced, "Head is out!" I remember saying, "Huh?" And Christina reiterated, "The baby's head is out!" I couldn't believe it - I didn't feel the burning ring of fire that everyone talks about (I didn't feel it with Ella, either, but probably because she was so tiny) - and I was in total shock. Christina then said, "Hold off on pushing again until I tell you so that the baby has time to rotate." Craziest thing ever - I could feel Lily rotating inside of me and I knew that it was okay to let my body push again before Christina even told me. "Shoulders are out! With the next push, your baby will be here!"
11:19am, I pushed my baby out into the birthing tub, where Christina caught her and handed her up to me through my legs. I opened my eyes (I labored this time, again, with my eyes closed, as I did with Ella), looked down at my baby and said, "What?!? A GIRL?!" and remember laughing and saying "A girl?! Another girl?!" over and over again with Mr. Lukie. In fact, Alyssa captured the whole birth on video and then edited the following clip to be suitable for others to view ;)
Ella and her nanny arrived home from the market in perfect time. It truly couldn't have been planned any better! We had just gotten Lily to cry and she and I were still in the tub, when I saw the two of them walking down the hallway toward my bedroom. I said to Ella, "Guess what? You have a baby SISTER!" and Ella's face lit up and she came running over to the tub to check things out.
Although Lily's birth was not considered to be precipitous by textbook definition (3 hours or less, start to finish), it was still very fast (3 hours, 45 minutes, start to finish), both she and I were in a physical state of shock. With fast births, sometimes Mom and Baby will experience a state of physical shock, and it takes both of them a few hours to recover from that. Because of this, two things happened that most likely would not have happened, had my birthing time been longer:
One - Lily didn't scream/cry right away and her APGAR in the first minute was a 6. We were rubbing her and talking to her and trying to get her to let out a good wail, but she wasn't having it. So, Coley grabbed an oxygen mask and placed it over Lily's mouth and nose, which helped to encourage her to start taking some big, deep breaths, which in turn, produced one very loud cry about 9 minutes post birth. In the moment, I wasn't worried that something was truly wrong, or that she wasn't going to be okay, but I was also in that labor time warp, where it only felt like she had the mask on for 2 minutes. While recounting the birth later, with Christina, she informed me that it was 9 minutes and that was the first time that I felt any anxiety about the situation.
Two - I did hemorrhage slightly, so I was given a shot of an herbal tincture that Coley made up for me. Coley and Christina weren't feeling super comfortable with the amount of blood I was continuing to lose after the tincture, so Coley gave me a shot of pitocin. Within minutes, the bleeding stopped and the placenta was delivered and all was well. I never felt dizzy or lightheaded or not well, because I didn't lose that much blood, but it was obviously enough for both of them to be a bit concerned.
Lily's birth was incredibly healing for me, from Ella's birth. While I have only shared how traumatic and depressing Ella's birth was with few people close to me, I never went into that on the blog here. It took me awhile to realize and understand that I was sad by having her birth go the way that it did. There was nothing majorly traumatizing or terrible about her birth to the outside viewer, but there certainly was for me. It's unexplainable, I think, unless you've been there yourself.
All that to say, Lily's birth was amazing, awesome, sacred, and beautiful. I couldn't have planned or envisioned a more beautiful birth. I'm pretty sure that our family is complete, but if we decided, one day down the road, that it wasn't? I would absolutely go the home birth route all over again. There is something so magical about pushing your baby out of your body, where it has been growing for the past 10 months and then climbing into your bed, with your husband and other child(ren) and snuggling down to get acquainted with one another.
The Cliff's Notes version:
12:15am - water broke
7:36am - first contraction
11:19am - Lily is born!
Lily Faith, 7lbs15oz, 19.75" long