Two words to describe my labor experience with my third child would be fast and furious. This is our second consecutive birth at the Birth Center, and third overall. It was a pregnancy much like the other two. I went around the estimated due date for the first two, so I just assumed the same would happen for this pregnancy as well.

The holidays came and went and at the end of January my husband and I took a much needed mini trip before our lives were going to further change for the third time! During the trip I started having some contractions. I felt confident that as a veteran laborer, this was the real deal, but fought the urge to sound the alarm because it was so nice to get away. We called the Birth Center and talked to Dorinda. She suggested we come home just in case. It was an usually warm day in January. I wanted to at least go to the beach and put my toes in the sand in case it was “Labor Day.” It would make for a great story! I could tell my baby that I started the day with my toes in the sand and ended it with him in my arms!

We made the two-hour trip back home. I counted the contractions home and they were consistent just not as painful as I know they can be. Did I mention that this was about three weeks before my due date? This was sitting in the back of our minds, but I just couldn’t deny the contractions. When we got back into the area, we decided not to go to the Birth Center right away, but to go home and get the house ready! My in-laws had our older children and we took advantage of an empty house to prepare. We needed to pack the bags, set up the bassinet, not to mention sterilize the whole house. I had just gotten over a 3 day stomach virus where I didn’t leave the bathroom and hadn’t eaten for nearly 2 days! We cleaned, packed and decided to take a nap. If this was it, we wanted to be well rested. An hour later we woke up and the contractions were gone. I sheepishly called the Birth Center back and told them I wasn’t coming. We chalked it up to dehydration and stress from the virus and moved on with life as usual.

The next week I was at an evening meeting for a moms support group. I could not seem to refuse the coffee and conversation heart candy. I laughed and joked with friends as I took big gulps of coffee and ate conversation hearts by the fistful, saying, “Watch me go in to labor!” Secretly though I had been feeling some contractions during the meeting that were pretty intense, but I was feeling a bit gun shy from the recent false alarm. I got home at about 10:00 p.m. and told my husband that I was having contractions and that they were about 10 minutes a part. I know he half believed me. I told him to go to bed and I would count them. I laid down and tried to sleep. They seemed to still be coming about every 10 minutes. They hurt just enough that they kept me from falling asleep. I just laid there; at least my body was resting.

At midnight I called my mom, who was to be present at birth but lives about a six-hour-drive away. I warned her that I was having labor-like contractions, but that they were 10 minutes apart for a few hours now and I was nervous to call it the real thing. We agreed that she would stay put but that I would call her again at 3 a.m. with an update. I just laid there trying to fall asleep but every 10 minutes I would get a contraction. At 3:00 a.m. I called her with no change. My contractions were intense, but still every 10 minutes. I told her that I was just going to try to make it through until my 9:30 39-week appointment at the Birth Center. She decided to wait until the sun came up to go into work and get some things, and then she would get on the road just to be sure she was there.

At 4:00 a.m, I just couldn’t deal with the contractions or the nervous energy, so I got up. We had allowed things to become “unorganized” in the week after our false alarm. I had to find the bassinet in a mountain of clothes that had collected on top of it. I repacked our “go bag” and decided to eat a bowl of cereal. I had done that with my first two children’s labors and thought it would be a cute tradition to keep going. At 5:00 a.m. I decided to lay back down. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a painful contraction. This was it! I awoke my husband and called the Birth Center. I couldn’t talk through the contractions at this point. It was time to go. We needed to call my in-laws who were about 45 minutes away to come and stay with our two older children. I wanted to be gone before they got up.

Well I was packed and at the door when my in-laws arrived close to 7:00. My husband on the other hand couldn’t seem to harness his nervous energy. He greeted his parents still in his pj’s holding his cup of coffee. I was trying to get him to hurry without coming undone in front of my in-laws. Now the kids were up. I was getting upset and frustrated and the contractions just kept coming. Finally at about 8:30 we were en route to the Birth Center. We arrived shortly before 9:00. I told Florence that I was in labor but that I had an appointment at 9:30 with Lindsey. Lindsey came to get me. She just immediately checked to see how much I had dilated. I was so discouraged when she said only 2 cm. With the first two, with this much labor behind me I had at least been 5-6 cm dilated! I told her that I had only slept about an hour and was exhausted. She suggested I go home with some “sleepers” and then we would talk later after I had slept to see how things were going. I agreed, but first I had to be put on the fetal monitor so we could make sure the baby was coping through the contractions.

Lindsey set up the monitor in the water birth room where I intended to deliver. After about 35 minutes on the monitor, my contractions had moved closer together, coming about every 5 minutes. The baby was doing well and I thought I was going home. Lindsey decided to check me one more time before we left. She looked at me and said “Serah, I have to admit you! You are 4 cm dilated!” It was almost 11:00 am; two cm in an hour and a half. I was shocked and a bit worried because I was so tired! I was walking around, rocking on the medicine ball and trying to maintain my humor as Lindsey and my husband joked. I hadn’t taken a single belly picture through the whole pregnancy so my husband tried to get a smile out of me while taking some pictures.

At about noon, Dorinda came in to assist with the labor. She asked to check me and I couldn’t imagine that I was any further dilated. When she checked she told me that I was 7 cm! I was again surprised and extremely tired. We decided to fill the bath tub so I could labor some in the tub. I got in and the water was no more than covering my hips when I got an urge to push. I told Dorinda and she said, “Do what your body says.” The water was still pouring in and it was so loud, I couldn’t stand it! I tried to tune it out but it was too hard to focus through my contractions. I needed it absolutely silent. Even a whisper aggravated me. I asked for them to turn off the water.

I wanted to push. Dorinda wanted to listen to the baby. I pushed her hand away because it hurt too much. She told me I had to get out of the tub because it wouldn’t fill with enough water necessary to deliver the baby there. I agreed but asked to make it quick before the next contraction. I got on the bed on all fours. Dorinda told me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping and I had to find another position. I laid on my side. The baby’s heart rate was still dropping, but I was pushing! I felt the familiar feeling of my water breaking. I felt the “ring of fire” and I wanted this baby out! Dorinda’s usual relaxed demeanor turned urgent and concerned. She called for Katie and an IV and oxygen. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I trusted Dorinda. I had the oxygen mask on but refused the IV. Dorinda insisted that I stay calm and just push. The baby was in trouble and we needed to get him out.

Finally, I felt the head then quickly the shoulders and then he was out and screaming. THE SCREAMING!!! I love hearing the screaming! It means that it is all over! At 1:22 p.m. I had delivered our third child. Thirteen hours of labor and 12 minutes of pushing. I went from two cm to pushing in under four hours! This is why I say “fast and furious!” Unfortunately, my mom was still an hour away. When she arrived, everyone was showered, the bed was changed with fresh linens, and all she had to do was sit and meet her seventh grandchild. Big Sister and Big Brother came with my in-laws soon after to meet their baby brother, and we all shared a celebratory dinner together!

Another wonderful, miraculous natural birth at the Birth Center! I can’t express enough how blessed I feel to live so close to the Birth Center and to have such wonderful caring team of women, the midwives, the nurses, and Katie Madden to support me during labor and beyond. And for my husband, who went against his nature and stayed quiet–yet supportive–through the whole labor and delivery.