Since Sarah had been having regular contractions for many days, it's difficult to say when labor officially started. Last Friday at the end of a bridal shower she had organized, after hours on her feet, her contractions sped up to be 4 minutes apart. The women there were really excited and thought it might be the night. By the time we got home they slowed down to be 20+ minutes apart. The same was true Saturday morning at a baby shower she helped organize. Sunday morning we went to Church, came home, and had a visit from our neighbor, after which she had such a deep sleep that I had to leave the room because of her snoring. When she woke up at 6:30pm we over to our friend's house for ice cream and pie. Everyone was taking bets on whether Sarah would make it to the due date (May 8th) or not. The walk home that should have taken 4 minutes ended up taking 25 as Sarah had three serious contractions. When we got home they slowed down to be 20 minutes apart (which they had been for at least 9 days), but they were intense enough that I sensed something had changed. I wore my running stopwatch and started writing down info about each contraction, such as the time, strength and how long since the start of the previous. There was no regularity, but the trend was clear that they were getting closer together. We wanted my mom to be here for the birth and so we called her to give her the updates. She felt that this might not necessarily be the real thing, but that she should move up her flight from Saturday (6 days away) to Monday (the next day). That seemed sudden to us, and since I had final exams on Monday and Tuesday and Sarah had some things going on, we suggested she didn't have to get here until Wednesday.
As the contractions got closer together, Sarah and I started nesting intensely. She insisted that we COULD NOT bring a baby home with dirty fans, and that if I didn't do it then (12:30am) then I would have to run home from the hospital to do it. During that time I cleaned the tub (so she could bathe during labor), toilet, mirrors, tv stand and swept. It was wierd, but it felt good and I was more confident about being ready. Of course, we had to take breaks every 8-12 minutes for Sarah to get on her hands and knees and me to kneel behind her, rocking her as I put pressure on her lower back. Every now and again there would be a dramatic jump in which she'd have a short contraction 3 or 4 minutes apart. They got strong enough around 1:30 or 2am that I started writing emails to get out of all my obligations for the beginning of the week, including 2 final exams! We talked to mom who decided to move up her flight so she'd arrive monday at 4pm. We thought that would surely be enough time, but it was clear this was probably the real deal. We talked to the midwife around 2am who suggested we rest as much as we can, and that if we want to come in we could but that we didn't have to yet. Around 3am we went for a walk, but after just a few minutes and a serious contraction bending over a bench I called my mom to ask if it might be time to go in. When I told her I had to go because Sarah was throwing up and yet another contraction was starting, she suggested we call the midwife again because it might be time.
When the midwife gave us the green light we kicked up into gear and got ready to go. Luckily Sarah had organized us so well that everything was already packed and it was easy to get the last few things together. I waited until she had a contraction, then knowing I only had 4.5 minutes until the next one I ran to get the car. When I got back she was exactly where left her, kneeling on her hands and knees in the bathroom, waiting for me to help dress her. She had another contraction before we got in the car and I felt anxious to try to get to the hospital before the next contraction. We had timed the trip to be around 4 minutes, so I knew it was possible. Of course the only stoplight on our trip was red just as Sarah was having a tough contractions. Given the circumstances, time of day, and the fact that the light was closing to changing, I drove right through to the front of the hospital. The valet guys weren't there and the security guards at the front desk were kinda freaked out, but they took our info and key and told me to get her upstairs and they'd take care of it. We got upstairs and they put us through triage. Apparently we were the only people on the floor at the time, so we got very personal attention. The midwife checked Sarah and found her to be 4cm dilated and at -1. Not much more than two hours later Sarah was fully dilated and pushing Olivia out.
At around 6:10am the midwife and our nurses helped Sarah start pushing. I won't lie, it was pretty freaking intense, but it was wonderful. This is a picture of Deb, the midwife who helped us, and the three of us about 45 minutes after birth. Sarah spent the whole time laboring on her hands and knees on this bed. With the headboard up, she was grabbing the top of the bed as hard as she could and pushing back against me. To counter the pressure she was feeling in her pevlis she wanted me pushing against her lower back. So I spent the entire 10 hours of the intense part of labor on my knees pushing against Sarah. By the time Sarah was actively pushing, her back was so sweaty I had to put a blanket against her to keep my hands from slipping. I was so relieved when the baby came, because I didn't know how much longer my arms and wrist could handle it. Before long I could see the baby's head and the midwife had Sarah reach down and feel the top of her head. "That's my baby?!" Sarah responded with a mix of relief, joy and bewilderment. Just a few pushes later at 6:37am Olivia was born. It was incredible.
My mom called around 6:50 to get the update, but before I could tell her the good news she heard Olivia crying in the background. As you can see from the earlier photo, she weighed in at 6 lbs 14 oz and was measured at 21.25 inches long (about 51cm).
These last few pictures were all taken in the room we were transferred to from L&D and where we spent the night.
Here we are coming home around 12:30pm on Tuesday afternoon. I couldn't believe then, and I still can't believe now, that she is really our baby and always will be.