It wasn't a huge gush, but enough to wake me up. And I knew as soon as it happened: my water had broken. I looked at my phone: it was 2:44am.
After I got up and changed into dry clothes, I laid back down in bed for a bit. I immediately reflected on my last thought the previous night before I went to sleep: "I really hope Hudson isn't born this week. I have way too much stuff to do, and the house is a mess!"
You see, I had felt like for a while that baby Hudson would come before his "due" date (which was April 10th). Call it mama intuition or whatever you want, but I knew that boy wasn't staying inside of me for much longer. His back was rammed up against my ribs and my ribs were digging into his back, and I knew that neither of us could wait much longer. This was in complete contrast to Esther, with whom, even a week past her "due" date, my mama intuition was telling me she was not ready to come (and indeed she didn't come until close to 42 weeks, and even then only with some prompting).
But Hudson was ready. Contractions didn't start right away, and I started to think through my day, wondering when I would go into labor. Would I have time to run errands and stop by a friend's house like I planned to? What if labor never started on its own and I had to be induced? But after about 15 minutes, I had to wonder no longer: I had a contraction, and then another and then another. At some point I noticed that Alex was awake and mentioned to him that my water had broken and I was in labor.
Knowing that I would just be thinking about everything and not actually sleeping, I decided to get out of bed and do a couple things around the house that were most urgent on my mind if this baby was coming today: I did a load of laundry because it had some of the clothes I planned to take to the hospital. I baked a double batch of sourdough crackers (the dough of which I had started soaking the previous day), followed by a batch of granola (which I had also started soaking the previous day). I swept the kitchen floor (because dirty floors really bug me and I knew it would be impossible to ignore after we came home from the hospital). I like doing a few mindless things like these around the house during the first part of labor, as it fulfills my nesting instinct, and gives me something to focus on besides how intense labor is about to become.
After a couple hours, I went upstairs to pack a hospital bag. I hadn't packed it yet, and ironically it was even on my to do list for that day (written before I went into labor). I found out when I got up there that Alex had never gone back to sleep (I guess I had given him some major news or something). About that time, the contractions were becoming harder and I felt the need to lie down for a bit.
After a while, I decided to take a shower to help with the pain, and stayed in for a good half hour or so. When I got out, it became clear that we needed to start moving towards getting to the hospital. We contacted two of my friends who were to serve as doulas as well as my midwife to let her know that we would be heading to the hospital soon. I laid down for a bit longer, partially because I didn't have the energy to get up and leave, and partially because I wanted to be as far along as possible before getting there.
By that point, contractions were very strong, lasting about 50 seconds and coming every 4 minutes or so. With Esther, at that point in labor I only ended up being 3 cm dilated when we got to the hospital, which is part of the reason I was delaying. But then I felt a contraction that felt like I had hit transition and was almost ready to push. That motivated me to get up and get out to the car! I remembered having to fight against all of the pushing contractions with Esther, waiting for my midwife to get to the hospital, which was easily the hardest part of labor with her. I didn't want to repeat that experience.
Once again, we left for the hospital at the peak of traffic hour, 8am (with Esther we left at 5pm on a weekday to drive 30 miles in Southern California traffic to the hospital). However, Bloomington is not Southern California (traffic-wise), and we live only a mile from the hospital, so we got there in no time. The lady at the front desk must have seen how serious I looked because she offered to wheel me up to labor and delivery, which I was thankful for. As soon as we got to my room I was pleasantly surprised by how nice and homey feeling the atmosphere was.
The nurse came in and began to do intake. Within a couple minutes, one of my friends had arrived. The nurse was being super casual and slow with all of her seemingly (to me) non-important questions, so I told her that it was starting to feel like I needed to push, so that she would hopefully check my dilation. She wanted to start fetal monitoring first, but I must have convinced her because she finally checked and announced that I was 9 cm dilated. In the next few minutes contractions were getting more intense and my other friend serving as doula arrived. I asked the nurse if she knew how long until my midwife would be there, and she told me most likely within 20 minutes. I looked at the clock: it was 8:30. By that time it was pretty clear that I could've started pushing if she was there, but I told myself I could wait 20 minutes.
The wait ended up being 30 minutes (I tried not to look at the clock too often!). As with my previous labor, this was the hardest part: with each contraction, everything in my body was pushing the baby down, but I had to do my best to resist the urge to push and relax with every fiber of my being. Relaxing is actually really hard work when you are having a pushing contraction!
But three things really made a difference this time over labor with Esther: the biggest was having my two doula-friends there. Between the two of them and Alex, I was having my back massaged, a cool washcloth on my face, comforting/loving words spoken all around, pillows and sips of water being offered and so much more. With all of this loving comfort, it was much easier to relax while my body pushed. A second thing that really helped was mental imagery: instead of being overcome by the intensity of the contractions, I put great effort into thinking about the contractions as a workout. When I work out, the longest sets that I do are about 60 seconds long, and by the end my muscles are really burning. I pictured the contractions as a really intense workout for my uterus (which is acutally a pretty accurate description) and it made everything much more manageable. The third thing that helped this time was making sure to make low vocalizations through the contractions, a technique that I had been reminded of as I prepared for Hudson's arrival. The vocalizations (pretty much groaning) allowed me to focus my energy somewhere and feel more in control.
Praise God for his sweet blessings!