They say that every labor is unique. In many ways, that's true. The one constant in my three births has been me. I, at least, always labor in the same spirit -- one of quiet, concentrated, peace. I don't speak. I don't like being spoken to. The words "Baby's coming," are usually the first I speak in more than an hour there at the end, and that always takes me and those around me by surprise. My midwife is lucky to get her gloves on, for I speak the words at the beginning of a contraction, and by the end of that contraction my baby is born and in my arms.
That said, Alina's birth was bizarre by my standards. I've never begun labor with anything dramatic -- no water breaking, no bloody show. I just have regular, increasingly frequent labor contractions. When they get to be about 9 minutes apart, I think: this is it. I'm having a baby today. Then they keep increasing in frequency over the next hours, and before I know it they're right on top of each other and a baby is born. Not so with Alina.
Her labor never announced itself. Contractions were random and stayed that way until probably 2 hours before she was born. I'd have mild contractions that I could barely feel, followed by intense contractions that required me to be still, relax, open up, and think welcoming thoughts in order to stay sane. I'd feel them at 8 minutes apart, followed by the next one at 20 minutes, and the next one at 3. Really, the only reason my midwife even came was because I followed her advice and called her the moment "anything changes." I'd been having contractions about 30 minutes apart for more than a week before The Big Day. I could get them closer together by doing things -- going for a walk, grocery shopping, bending over, standing up. But as soon as I sat down, they'd fall back into being 30 minutes apart. Well, the morning of July 14th, that something changed.
The contractions became random, and alternatively intense and mild. So I called her. Later that day, she came out "just to check on me," and decided to stay. I said, "I sure hope this is labor. I'd hate for you to be here, getting ready for birth, only to have these random contractions peter out."
"Oh, this is labor. Baby's coming today. I have a feeling," she smiled.
Good thing she stayed, because not long later, Alina came out of me and into the world.
My biggest disappointment in this birth (there's always something, isn't there?) was how long I had to wait for my pool of water. With Samuel, I asked for the water, and within 15 minutes the pool was filled and I was in it, laboring in comparative bliss. With Alina, I asked for the water, and an hour and a half later it was barely full. Apparently, my little apartment hot water heater is not very well maintained. They used more than half the water just trying to get it clear of calcium deposits, so they had to fill the pool BY HAND, filling pots of water and bringing them to a boil on the stove. That hour and a half was very intense -- perhaps my most intense labor of any of my three.
At some point, I'll write a real birth story. In the meantime, feel free to admire the beauty that is my new little girl.