Clara's story actually begins a week before her birth. I started having very intense contractions, each lasting a minute, but they would never evolve into a pattern. Family and friends were on high alert for days and after nothing happened, I started feeling a lot like the boy who cried wolf.
On Friday, the 13th, I saw my doctor. I was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced. She stripped my membranes and said, "See you this weekend". Again, everyone was on high alert (Katy even took Henry to the lake for two days in case I went into labor). Nothing happened all weekend and by the time Monday rolled around, I was hoping that Clara would wait until the next weekend.
On Monday night around 11pm, my contractions evolved into a pattern - every 4 minutes, 1 minute in duration. This was it!! I called Katy and she came to stay the night with Henry. I figured I'd call the hospital and tell them I was coming. But when I talked to the charge nurse, she discouraged us from coming until the contractions were 2 minutes apart (NOT what my doctor had instructed us to do) but we heeded the advice because the last thing I wanted to do was lay around the cold hospital when I could labor on the futon (Katy was in our bed :) ).
I labored all night but the contractions weren't getting closer (again feeling defeated). I called my doctor and she said come in and she'd check my cervix. We left Henry with Mom and headed over to Sylva. When I got there, I was so sure they would send us home, but alas, I was a 5, 80% effaced with a bulging bag of water. My midwife, Betsy, said to head over to the hospital and that she'd come break my water on her lunch break!! YEAH! I'm not crazy - this was true labor!
We checked into Harris at 10AM. At around 10:30, I was dilated to a 7! Mom arrived at 11AM with cookies and trash magazines - I had NO interest in either, I was in "GO" mode ;) Around noon, Betsy came over and broke my water. After this, there was no turning back - we would have a baby, one way or the other, within the next 24 hours. If the baby hasn't been born within 24 hours of your water breaking, they'll take it by c-section because of the risk of infection.
Not long after my water was broken, the contractions got SUPER intense!! I never got to this stage of contractions with Henry - the epidural took all the pain away. Travis and I had decided that this time, we were going to try to have a natural birth - no meds whatsoever. We read Dr. Bradley's "Husband Coached Childbirth" together and were as prepared as we could be for bringing Clara out without any meds. I give props to him for making me do my exercises every night for weeks leading up to the due date and for making a GREAT coach during the actual event!
As I transitioned from a 7 to a 10, I labored on a birthing ball and in the water-tub. When I got into the water, it felt fabulous - all of the pressure was off of my joints and the warm water helped me relax. It was during this time that I began to push, in various positions, but I could never get into a good position. My midwife suggested we move to the commode (I asked if she'd be sure to catch Clara :)). Again, I couldn't push Clara past my pubic bone. The last suggestion worked - moving to the bed. It was there that I could really bare down and get her out. She was "sunny-side up" so Betsy had to hold her neck and twist her in the birth canal. The nurse pushed on my belly and with one last contraction, Clara greeted the world. They placed her on my chest and she was perfect. Black hair and a cute button nose.