Be warned : This post is long and while I avoided the details that are too gross, it's hard to describe childbirth without some ick factor.
Around 3:15 a.m., I had a few contractions but was able to get back to sleep. They were much stronger than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had a few weeks earlier but I didn't want to get my hopes up. I woke up again sometime in the 4:00 hour with a couple more, but again was able to get back to sleep. Same thing in the 5:00 hour, and I began to get hopeful that this might actually be labor starting. I was able to get another half hour or so of rest before they started coming more frequently. At 5:48 they were coming close enough that I began timing them. I know the exact time because I was using an app on my iPhone called "Contraction" that timed the duration and frequency of the contractions. I highly recommend that app for any pregnant mamas out there! When you're in that much pain, fumbling with a stopwatch or focusing on the clock is not easy, but just tapping a phone is doable.
Despite the pain (lots and lots of pain!), I was able to keep my whole body relaxed during contractions and right at 9:00 I was feeling some pressure and an urge to push. They checked me and I was 10 cm dilated so was given the go-ahead to push with the contractions. At this point, the tears started again, as I knew it would be a matter of minutes before I would be holding my new daughter. My water has never broken on its own, so Dr. Andres went ahead and broke it at that point. I tried to breathe through the first contractions while I was pushing, thinking that keeping as relaxed as possible through that would speed things along. But breathing through them proved to be quite difficult and rather ineffective. Dr. Andres said that holding my breath and bearing down would be much more effective and have her here sooner.
Between contractions Jared was getting the video camera set up and ready to go. We have all three of the girls' births on video, with no intention of ever showing it to anyone, but I knew that at some point I'd want to be able to look back on them. A lot of doctors and hospitals are very leery of having births on video for insurance reasons, but I'm grateful that Dr. Andres and McDyer (who delivered Naomi) did not mind at all and were even encouraging Jared to make sure he had it in a spot to get a good view of all that was going on. But have no fear- if we ever invite you over to watch home movies, these will not be shown! They're locked away in a vault!
It seemed like an eternity of pushing and if it weren't for Jared there by my side, encouraging me and kissing my forehead, I would have been one of those screaming maniacs you see in movies. He kept me calm and focused and couldn't have been any better during the whole process. After a couple strong contractions without Heidi seeming to have moved down at all, Dr. Andres put in a catheter to make sure my bladder was empty so that wouldn't be blocking her. As I had peed twice since being there, that wasn't the problem. I started to get a little worried, but within another contraction or two, she started moving down and put my fears at ease. And thankfully the catheter didn't have to stay in for more than a minute! In those moments, though, I remember praying quickly and fervently for God's grace, knowing I would have His strength in my weakness. My friend, Andrea, shared some verses with me that she focused on and had read to her during her delivery with her second born, and I was able to pray through some of those between contractions.
Jared asked Dr. Andres if he could help catch Heidi and it wasn't long before he was putting on his gloves. As Heidi was crowing and about to "pop out", Dr. Andres told me to try to relax for just a minute. Only a woman who has felt the pressure of needing to push with all her might knows the nearly impossible feat this task is. It wasn't that the pain was unbearable, but fighting the urge of pushing with all that pressure made my legs shake uncontrollably. And though I was trying with all my might to refrain from pushing, her head seemed to pop out all on its own. Dr. Andres told Jared where to put his hands and he helped pull her out as I gave one last push and Heidi Lynn was born!
The rest was all the standard procedure of the cord clamping, cutting, pushing out the placenta, but my eyes only focused on the sweet baby girl in my arms. She had a beautiful cry and began exercising her lungs right away. And her bowels. She pooped on me within mere minutes of being born. And like all babies, it wouldn't be the last time that happened. Such is the life of a mom :)
Dr. Andres showed Jared the placenta when it came out, explaining everything he was checking for: only one tear where the water was broken, everything else intact, etc. They were able to clean Heidi while in my arms and I tried nursing right away. She weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and was 19.5".