This is Audrey's birth story - born on Friday, April 13, 2012. All times are approximate.
11:20am Tim, the girls, and I drive to the birth center for an appointment. Midwife Kerry checks and I'm 4cm, 85% effaced, baby's head is low. After discussing options, she strips my membranes and we talk about old wives tales for inducing labor naturally since I am 4 days overdue.
Noon-ish We stop at Chipotle for lunch. Tim & I share a burrito (I eat about 1/3 of it and am full). I am having contractions that cause me to mildly catch my breath. A middle-aged man in a cowboy hat looks at me as I have one and half-smiles out of the corner of his mouth. I wonder if he knows.
Early Afternoon We walk around the mall (one of our least favorite places, by the way) on a mission to find Kayla tennis shoes. Without success, we decide to leave. I am still having mild contractions - not exactly painful, just pressure. We drive to Tim's parents house on the way home, "just in case."
3:00pm The girls bound inside the house to play with "Ma." Tim & I walk the property, taking breaks to sip orange juice and water. My contractions are building in intensity now. I lean over the trees and pray during each contraction, snapping branches with the palm of my hand as the pain peaks. Tim begins timing. 4 minutes apart...
3:15pm I start to sing through the contractions. Oddly, "Come Thou Fount" (an old hymn) is in my mind and I sing bits + pieces (I hardly know any of the lyrics, actually...but the tune is comforting).
3:30 pm Tim says the contractions are consistently 90 seconds apart now and is concerned because I am singing. He texts Rhonda (a nurse at the birth center and our friend). I hear him run back-and-forth, taking out car seats and telling his parents and the girls that we are leaving. They scream with delight. I imagine them jumping up and down with eager anticipation.
4:00pm We drive. Tim calls the birth center to let them know we are on-the-way. I hold on to the handle of the door with both hands when the contractions come - and I sing. Mercifully, the contractions seem to slow down slightly in the truck. I wonder if my labor will stop, if this is really "it." (This is funny in hindsight since I was very close to actually having the baby).
4:20pm Pulling up, I have a contraction and sing through it. Midwife Fran greets me, "Do you need a wheelchair?" She must know that I am close, even though I don't. I decline and walk in. A room is ready for me - the one with desert green walls and wooden decor. The lights are low. The water is running in the tub. I feel safe, but scared. I lean against the bed post when the contractions come, singing with all my might.
4:45pm I decide to get in the tub, stripping down to my wine-colored bra and my silver necklace. The contractions come and I lean forward on all fours, gripping the hands of Rhonda and Tim. Singing still, but also crying out words that bring me comfort, "Lord, Help Me!" "I'm so scared!" "Baby, I love you!" Midwife Sandy is in the room, along with Nurse Olivia and Nurse Rhonda. Their presence comforts me, although I can't make out their faces.
At one point, Sandy asks, "Is she wearing lipstick?" Olivia adds, "She looks beautiful." Rhonda says, "She always wears lipstick." In between contractions, I laugh with my eyes closed, "Yes, I always do."
4:55pm The urge to push grips my body. I am terrified, but I let go - knowing deep inside that I can do this, drawing strength from Tim and the room and the Lord. I hear someone humming the tune of "Come Thou Fount." Later, I ask Tim who it was and he says he doesn't remember anyone humming. When I say, "I don't know if I can do this," Tim answers, "You can. You ARE. Our baby will be here soon." I push.
5:10pm Sandy asks me to stand up a little. I do, supported by Tim and Rhonda. With a relieving push, the baby's head slides out. I reach down to catch her and hold her in my arms, mesmerized. I step over the tub and walk to the bed, holding her, the cord still attached and pulsing. Tim & I exchange looks of sheer joy and wonder at the miracle of it all. He cuts the cord. I deliver the placenta. We are wildly happy, delirious, not at all tired.
Five hours later (10:00pm) We walk out to the truck. Baby in arms. I start shaking from the cold as we stand in the parking lot, my teeth chattering...but I warm up with a robe and towel pulled around me when we start driving. We pick up the girls. Kayla is overjoyed, holding Audrey's tiny hand, adoring. Liv is sleeping.
By 1am, we are all in bed. The girls are tucked in their bunkbed. Tim & I stare in awe at the little one on the bed in between us. "I am SO happy," I say for the hundredth time.