For weeks I had been walking our 6-year-old mini dachshund, Frankie, around the development trying to stay in shape and hoping to start some labor. 🙂 Tuesday I was so determined that I was just going to “walk this baby out” that I went for the LONGEST walk, over a mile! Wednesday I walked about another mile to and from my brother’s house, then I washed the car…. still no labor! Thursday morning I woke up at 5am to use the bathroom (not out of the ordinary at 39 weeks!) and felt really crampy. I dismissed it, thinking maybe I shouldn’t have washed the car 🙂 My Mom and Sister (who were regularly checking in on me at this point) both texted me to see how I was doing that morning…I told them both the same thing, as I cried (emotions gone wild… oh, hormones), I was feeling “really crampy and unhappy” and that I didn’t know what “contractions are supposed to feel like” because “I’m not a freaking doctor.” (Looking back, that was funny… at the time I was sooo serious!) But it wasn’t that bad so I went on with my day. My husband, Doug, was working from home that day and was cooped up in our office hard at work. I just sat on the porch and read for most of the day and then around 2pm I decided to take Frankie for our daily walk… he was ecstatic! We cut the walk short and only went around the block because I was feeling cramps again. When we got home I realized that this was the real thing (the “cramps” were much more regular and intense than in the morning) and decided to tell Doug. It was around 3pm when I let him know that I thought that these cramps were “the real thing” and that I was going to start timing them. His face showed concern, terror, excitement, and confusion! I wish I had gotten a picture! 🙂 I told him to keep working (he was done at 4) and that we would just go to our scheduled appointment at The Birth Center at 7pm and talk to them when we got there.

Well, 5pm came around and my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I knew I had to start getting ready for our appointment because everything was taking longer to do since I had started these contractions. I made Doug call The Birth Center (TBC) to see if we should still just come for our appointment or if things were going to change since contractions had started. Katie said to come in as scheduled, so I headed to the shower. We had been timing the contractions on my iPhone (with a contraction counter app) and so I made Doug sit in the bathroom while I showered and continue to time for me. I would say start when the contraction started and stop when it ended… and then I would tell him to repeat whatever it was he was trying to tell me during the contraction because I hadn’t been paying attention. 🙂

We got to TBC for our appointment with Katie and she checked me out, my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds. I was 1.5cm dilated. She instructed us to go home, rest, and eat. She was the midwife on call that night and so she told us to call anytime and let her know what was going on. Then Peggy and Tyler set me up on the monitor to see how little Penny Jean was dealing with my contractions. It was kind of cool to see my contractions on paper (it almost felt like it validated what I was feeling) and my little girl’s heartbeat right next to them. She was a champ!

We stopped at Boston Market on the way home and ate and worked through more contractions, though it was hard for me to rest in between since they were so close together. It was nice to be home and comfortable while dealing with them, I could move around freely, and work through each contraction in a way that worked for me. I spend a lot of time in the bathroom on the toilet because that sitting position felt good while contracting as well as rolling and bouncing on my birth ball. Doug was great with counter-pressure (I was having lots of pain in my lower back during contractions) and helping me breath.

Finally, my water broke at 1:48am and my contractions were about 60 second each and about a minute apart! Doug called TBC again around 2:45am and when Katie called back we decided to meet at 3:20am.  We immediately started leaving; it took forever to just get to the car.  I literally could only walk for about a minute at a time since that was how long I had between contractions.  I would walk for one minute, then start a contraction and have to stop and work through it.  By the time we got to TBC (which is roughly 15 minutes from our home) it was 3:30am.  Then we had to get from the car, up the stairs, and to the Yellow Room (our birth room).  By the time we accomplished that it was about 4am. 🙂

We got settled in and Katie took a look and I was now 3cm dilated.  I was hoping for more, but Penelope had different plans.  Doug and Katie were amazing with counter-pressure, back massages, and helping me breathe during my contractions as they became more and more intense.  Soon, my body was telling me to push. I felt like every contraction I just had to push.  Katie coached me in breathing a certain way every time I felt the need to push, and I tried to follow her instructions but I just couldn’t, I HAD to push! So we decided to check my dilation again and at 5:15am I was fully dilated!! Penny was ready to make her appearance!

I began pushing with each contraction just about the time the nurse, Peggy, got there.  Boy was she surprised to see how far we had come so quickly! She was amazing; her calming voice helped me through some pretty intense pushing! With Peggy on one side and Doug on the other, I worked so hard and pushed, pushed, pushed!  I’m not going to lie to you, it hurt! It hurt badly!! But I knew I would get an amazing reward at the end.  I was exhausted, my back hurt, my muscles were spazzing, my whole body was shaking…I was grunting, groaning, and I sounded like a wookie…but I pushed my little girl out and I heard her first cry and got to hold her in my arms.  Everything was worth it.  I had told Katie and Peggy during labor that “I CAN’T DO THIS” but I did it just like they reassured me that I could.

At 6:33am my beautiful baby girl, Penelope Jean, came into this world with one quick cry, drug free and super alert. Katie placed her on my abdomen and she routed around for a minute and went straight to eating.  How cool it was to watch her find her first meal!  She was slimy and bloody and “cheesy” and gross, but she was mine and she was PERFECT.  Daddy (formerly known as Doug) cut the cord, Mommy (me) got all fixed up, Penelope got a wipe down, weighed, measured, foot printed, and all that good stuff and then we ate!!

Giving birth was truly the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done, but it is also the most amazing thing I have ever done.

7 pounds 1 ounce 20 inches of amazing.