I did end up being a July mama after all, but since I posted here so much (and this board seems to be a lot more active than the July board, so I'll probably keep posting here if it's OK with you ;)), thought I'd share some pics and a birth story. Ronan was born July 3rd. You can see pics here:
And here is my birth story :):
The Thunderous Birth of Ronan R. S______
It's fitting that Ronan was born during thunderstorm season. His birth began like any good thunderstorm...with a lot of distant rumbling, dark clouds gathering on the horizon, maybe even an occasional glimpse of far-off lightning. For several weeks, we heard the rumbling. We even went to the birth center one night expecting the storm to arrive any minute. We spent an entire night in the birth center with regular contractions that made some progress, but not too much. As so often happens on these summer days, before morning the storm rolled off in another direction and the sun shone for another 4 days with only an occasional dark cloud passing overhead. At one point I mentioned that with all this pre-labor I suspected the baby would come "thundering out" when the time finally came. And so it was.
On the evening of the fourth day, which was July 2nd and also my due date, as I sat eating a bowl of ice cream, watching a movie and wondering if I would be pregnant for the rest of my life, the first few drops of rain began to fall. I was having regular contractions, but I always did at that time of day and so far, they never led to anything and I'd wake up in the morning and they would be gone. Something was different about these though, and I recognized the sensation from the early stages of Griffin's birth. Knowing this birth was likely to go fast, Brian called the midwife and told her that we were heading to the birth center. She'd meet us there.
As we were loading the car, a thunderstorm (a real one), rolled in all of a sudden and before we even pulled out of the driveway, sheets of rain began to pour from the sky. Thunder and lightning raged outside the truck windows and it rained so hard as we were driving that it made it hard to see our exit as we got off the highway, but somehow I felt safe and calm in the dry quiet of the truck and I knew we would all be just fine. As we drove/hydroplaned down the road, I focused and breathed through the contractions, which were getting stronger.
We arrived at the birth center and our midwife, Laurie, her mascara streaming down her face (I would never have guessed she was the type of person to wear mascara to a middle of the night birth if it hadn't been raining so hard), met us at the truck and let us in the "secret" side door to the birth center (otherwise you have to go in the hospital main entrance). The nurse's shifts were changing and the night nurses were arriving soaking wet, just from the walk in from the parking lot. A drenched nurse showed us to our room and said she was going to dry off and come back. As we settled in, the eye of the storm hit. I had almost no contractions for about an hour. We all braced ourselves for the possibility of another false alarm. Laurie said she suspected it was the fact that the baby was posterior (sunny side up) that was holding up the works and causing the week of distant rumbling I'd been experiencing. So she told me to get on my hands and knees for a while to try and get him to flip over, and she was going to go take a nap. I'm sure she thought she would have a few hours at least. But, like a thunderstorm, a few scattered drops quickly became a deafening rain.
It may have been longer, but in my mind it was no more than 20 minutes or half an hour of being on my hands and knees, with my torso propped on a yoga ball, that it got suddenly, irreversibly intense. After a bit, the nurse came back in and said she was going to go wake up Laurie. Laurie came in and said something about things changing quickly. She talked to me calmly and quietly during contractions while Brian pressed on my hips. I tried to stay positive and focused on the end goal, but it was getting very difficult. At some point I said "this is so horrible" between contractions, and instead of the lecture on staying positive I expected from Laurie, she looked at me sympathetically and said "yeah, this is pretty intense." Somehow that helped me, to have it validated that what I was experiencing was in fact kind of horrible. I kept wondering how much longer I would have to do this, but I didn't say it out loud. It turns out it wasn't going to be much longer at all.
After storming through a few more contractions draped over the yoga ball and clutching it for dear life, my water broke and the baby starting moving fast. It was time to push already. Pushing was a new experience for me, since Griffin worked his way out without me really ever pushing. It turned out to be hard work! I got sweaty. I remember someone putting cold washcloths on my forehead. I felt like I couldn't push very well on my hands and knees, so we switched to the birth stool. I leaned back on Brian and probably came pretty close to breaking his hands squeezing them. The nurse kept trying to listen to the baby's heartbeat with a doppler, but I was not making it easy for her. They did get enough of a listen to know it was dipping during contractions just like Griffin's had. It dipped low enough to worry the midwife, but he was so close to being born she decided to just have me push him out. I got on the bed and pushed with my feet on a pushing bar. Once I realized that the whole point of the bar was for me to push on it with my feet (duh) his head was out. He had the cord once around his neck, and Laurie removed it and then had Brian switch places with her so he could catch! On the next contraction, at 2:21 a.m. on July 3rd, Ronan was born. For some reason it didn't occur to me to look down or open my eyes, but then I heard Laurie and Brian and the nurse saying my name over and over and I looked down in time to see someone passing him up to my chest. His eyes were open and for an instant it seemed like our eyes met. It was an amazing moment. I held him for a while, and soon after, Brian cut the cord. Ronan was now a free agent. The storm was over.
After a while, we started taking guesses at how much he weighed. It was obvious to everyone he was significantly bigger than his brother, who had been a tiny 6 lbs 9 oz. at birth. I knew even while I was pregnant that this baby was bigger, but figured not more than a pound or so. Now I thought maybe he was more like 8 lbs. Brian guessed 8 lbs, 3 oz., and the nurse guessed too but I can't remember what her guess was. As it turns out, he was 8 lbs, 10 oz., a full two pounds bigger than Griffin. No wonder it was so much more work!
From the time I was sitting on the couch eating ice cream until Ronan was born was a total of about 5 hours, with an hour when we first arrived at the birth center when labor virtually stopped. The active labor part, which to me felt like an eternity, was really only about 2 hours. Like a powerful summer thunderstorm that darkens the sky, noisily drops many inches of rain in a few minutes, and then moves on. The clouds roll away, and it's all sunshine and rainbows after that!