At my January 3 midwife appointment, I received severely disappointing news. Despite an original due date of January 4, they were moving my due date to the last of three dates. Three different ultrasounds gave estimates of January 4, 6, and 12, and considering we had reached January 3 with no indications of impending labor, it was a “safe” idea to move the due date to January 12 to allow Baby to enter on his own schedule rather than using medical intervention. Birth Center protocol only allows for a baby to be delivered up to two weeks “overdue” and by changing my EDD to January 12, we were protecting my right to a birth center birth without the hassles of hospital protocol. Though I knew and understood the reasoning behind the change, it was still a devastating thing to hear. Even worse, the final cutoff for Marek’s arrival was January 26, the day AFTER we were scheduled to return home from San Diego.
Saturday, after an exciting week of visiting with Grandma Kowalske, I was rapidly giving up hope that Marek would arrive while she was here to help and I was starting to worry I would have to cancel my trip to San Diego. We attended J’s first birthday party in the afternoon out in Sudbury, an hour from our hospital, almost as if I were daring a rapid labor to start. Looking back, I remember feeling a few twinges at the party, but nothing different than the last three weeks that would indicate progress.
We ate dinner and I put Pete and Chester in bed, this time I actually started timing some of those twinges, mild, but lasting 30 seconds and coming approximately every ten minutes. And then… they stopped. I was upset, but this had happened between 7-10pm several times a week for the last three weeks and it wasn’t surprising to me at all.
About 8:15pm, I started feeling a general sense of pressure, and I was having momentary twinges, just a few seconds at a time, and sporadically, a minute, then three minutes, then one minute apart. They didn’t form a pattern and lasted at most three to four seconds. Remembering how quickly Chester’s labor went from “mildly uncomfortable?” to “OMG that’s a baby!” I decided to call the midwife on duty for a chat. She reviewed my history and agreed that I should come in to get checked, if only for peace of mind. I really thought I would be sent home.
When we arrived at the birth center at 9pm, I measured at 3cm and based on my description of the pain we decided it most likely wasn’t labor but she suggested we stay for an hour to confirm there was no progress. Ryan watched the Lions game on NFL.com and I listened to music and tried to solve a crossword puzzle. The “real” contractions returned at 9:30pm, so I was encouraged, and found comfort hanging over a birth ball. By 10:15pm, Reina checked me again and I measured at 6cm. I was officially admitted, she filled the tub and put me on the monitors. Ryan called our friend Sarah who would be photographing the birth, and sadly my friend Meghan was visiting family in Maine and she would miss the birth.
The contractions got stronger, but not significantly closer together and I wondered how this birth would go. Every birth has the potential to be different from the last, and I was a little nervous of my ability to handle the pain if it didn’t end soon. I was in the tub and begged to be checked again, but I couldn’t move to allow her access. I had no concept of passing time, but was able to joke and laugh in between contractions. I focused on the music each time a contraction hit, closing my eyes and envisioning my hips opening, trying to relax through it and open instead of tensing to fight the pain. I hummed and moaned through each contraction and I’m pretty sure I got a little loud. Suddenly I could feel movement, and I thought I might poop. All I could think was that would be very embarrassing with my friend there to watch, even though all the books tell you it happens quite often. I didn’t want to poop, but with the next contraction, I no longer cared and decided to let it happen. That’s when I realized it wasn’t poop, but his head coming. I paused to listen to the music, and heard Il Divo singing Amazing Grace, pushed again and his head was out. Another push and his shoulders emerged. The midwife had me lay back and reached in to guide the baby to the surface as I gave one final push and his body slid out. I looked at this guy and just thought how small he was. He felt small, he looked small, he had been predicted between six and seven pounds just a few days before, but he was actually NINE pounds and two ounces. I guess it’s all relative!
Marek Jacob Kowalske, born 1/7/2012 at 11:44pm. Nine pounds, two ounces and twenty one inches long. Another fast and easy birth to make up for a long and miserable pregnancy.
Big brothers Pete and Chester are in love with their new baby brother. Pete even wanted to bring him home “already” (his favorite word when I tell him he needs to wait or be patient) and Chester brought him cheerios to share. I see many discussions of what babies are and are not allowed to eat in our future!