The storms continued well into the evening - with intermittent pauses between thunder claps as the clouds slowly rolled out of town. I began to notice that my contractions were following the thunder. When there was a lull in the storm, the contractions would stop. When the thunder rolled in the distance, I would have another contraction or two. The funny thing is that when I went for my sonogram on Thursday, the last thing the nurse said to me as I left was, "They're calling for thunderstorms - we'll see you soon." I suppose there is something to the matter of barometric pressure and all sorts of health issues. At any rate, the storms had completely drifted away shortly after midnight and so had my contractions. Perhaps Tad was right - another false alarm. I prepared myself mentally to get up in the morning and have just another day.
Around 2:00 am the contractions started again. This time they were strong and regular and, although I was in a half-awake state, I thought they were coming pretty close together. I started to pray the Jesus prayer to get through each contraction - Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me! He was, indeed, merciful to make each contraction perfectly bearable and even somewhat pleasant. Around 4:45 I got up and turned on the computer to track down a contraction timer. That suggested tracking the contractions for an hour but after two contractions, I knew I had to act pretty quickly. They were 5 minutes apart and lasting almost 2 minutes. I bustled about, turned on the light and summoned Tad out of a deep sleep. He didn't seem to know what all the hub bub was about and it took me a few tries to rouse him enough to get him to understand that he was about to be a dad to 10 kids and there wasn't any time to quibble about it.
I didn't even call the midwives until we were en route to the hospital and at that I got some OB I'd never heard of who didn't answer my page so we arrived at the Family Birthplace at our local hospital unannounced, had to do a little jig to get in the door and then had to sit with the registrar for 10 minutes spouting off all the same information I had given them my 4 previous trips there in the past month while I tried to maintain the "appearance of sleep" through contractions growing continually stronger and closer together. Already it looked like my birth plan was out the window.
I had given my birth plan to the midwives about a month beforehand. This had been quite successful with Nathan's birth. By the time I arrived at the hospital, it had been distributed, read and applied by all LDR personnel we encountered, all my wishes had been met and it was truly the birth of which I dreamed. This time around, however, they couldn't even find my file, let alone a birth plan and obviously had no idea I was attempting a drug free delivery using the Bradley Method, the hallmark of which is relaxation, tuning into the body and maintaining the appearance of sleep throughout labor.
So after the registrar got through with me, they put me in a triage room. I groaned both inwardly and outwardly, trying to explain to them that I didn't need to be triaged, I needed to deliver a baby. They tsked me into the triage room anyway, hooked me up to the monitors where baby had a nice, sound heartbeat and contractions were obviously coming close and strong and then they wanted to check me for dilation. Unfortunately, the only available OB personnel was a male OB filling in for our midwives and a male nurse who was attending to me. I've had the nurse before and he is really wonderful but I didn't want either of those sets of hands...well...in there doing that. So they summoned a female nurse who did the duty and found me only dilated to 2 cm. A quick sonogram showed Tali definitely still head down and a look at the clock said that my midwife was not scheduled to arrive for another hour during which they felt they could either send me home or let me hang out in triage until she arrived if I was dead set against a male OB.
Now the Bradley Method is great for me - when some certain conditions are met. Since it depends upon an environment conducive to complete relaxation, I was looking forward to time in a birthing room with our specially chosen music, room to move about as needed and a minimum of poking and prodding to the fundus which would steal my concentration and cause unnecessary pain. Hanging out in a busy triage area on a narrow cot just wasn't cutting it. I was tired and frustrated and I don't think anybody believed I was so close to delivery. I kept telling them the contractions were close and strong but when my body was so relaxed I think it all sounded like nonsense to the folks attending to me who had never seen this body birth before. I was also having a lot of back pain with each contraction which was unusual for me. I didn't understand what could be causing that and hadn't prepared for it mentally and at this point I switched from the Jesus prayer to the trisagion - Holy God! Holy Mighty! Holy Immortal! - and again God was merciful to get me through each powerful sensation coming one right after another.
About 7:15 the contractions were so close, and still no midwife, that I sent Tad out to the nurse's station to tell them things were happening. I guess they didn't believe him and I sent him back out a couple of minutes later to tell them unless they wanted to deliver a baby in the triage, they needed to find me a delivery room. That caused a bit more of a stir and the same female nurse came in to check on dilation and found me at 4-5 cm - not bad progress for someone they were intending to send home an hour before - but still not far enough to seem as urgent as I was making it sound. It was when I tried to walk to the delivery room and had to stop twice for contractions before I even made it around the cot that the nurse dumped me into a wheel chair and summoned a delivery team. By the time he got me to the delivery room, there was flurry of activity that made it finally look as if someone now believed me.
My midwife, Jasmine, appeared shortly thereafter. Her shift technically started at 8:00 am but she had hurried in and made it there by 7:30. She bustled in around the nurses, took a good look at my face, did another check and found me at 9 cm with a very bulging bag of waters and asked if she had time to change her clothes. "Nope," I said, "not if you want to be the one to deliver this baby." She had just enough time to get her gown on when I had one big contraction and I had to push. My water broke and Tali's head came in sight. It all happened so quickly and I couldn't figure out why I was already having pain in the birth canal until Jasmine calmly said, "Because the baby is coming out there." That was followed immediately by another contraction and one more big push and then a huge WHOOSH as Tali's entire body rode a wave of amniotic fluid completely out of the birth canal, flew air born for a moment over the bed and landed in the very surprised but capable hands of Jasmine. Talitha Hope had Tally Ho'ed her way into the world. It happened so quickly that the only one who noticed her coming out face up was the one wearing the catcher's mitt. This now explained the back pain. Time of birth was recorded as 7:50 am.
She was placed immediately on my belly for some skin to skin contact and we realized at that point that the cord was very short - probably a blessing after all the flipping and turning she'd done God knew to keep her on a short leash. I got to watch Tad cut the cord - not something I'd ever seen before and then got to bond with my new little squirmy bundle. She did everything right after that. She started with sucking her thumb and then she went immediately to the breast and nursed like a pro. She had her first Daddy-daughter moment. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 13 oz. ( a peanut by our standards - who ever heard of a baby under 8 1/2 lbs?!). She got warmed up under the warmer and made all the appropriate faces and squiggly motions, she got her first tubby and loudly objected to having her armpits wiped down,she had her first poop and then she fell asleep with anyone and everyone who would hold her and cuddle.Tali and her daddy and I then had the rest of the day to get acquainted and rest, confident that the household was in Adora's capable hands. Pani Chris was our first visitor to the hospital. She can now claim all-time bragging rights to that effect. Tad went home for supper and then brought the siblings to the hospital for her first out-of-womb experience of her family. It was fun to watch each of the children with her. They each had different thoughts and ideas about her and a different way of relating to her that reflects their own personalities. Ben was first - he didn't even take the time to sit down. He immediately gathered her in his arms and gave her a big, brotherly snuggle. Betsy was next. I think she's experimenting with the big sister to a sister role. Eventually she and Tali will share a room and Betsy will get to educate her in the fine art of girlhood. Ruth was itchin' for a chance to hold her but wasn't too sure where to put her own arms or hands. She enjoyed a couple of awkward minutes and then was ready to give her back but she still watched very closely. Philip was equally as awkward but he's been through this a few more times than Ruth. He was genuinely enamored with his little bundle and enjoyed getting his picture taken with her. John Michael was beside himself. He couldn't get to her fast enough and looked like he just wanted to eat her up. David was just as enthusiastic but a bit more rough. He liked to talk about her and asked lots of questions. Miriam tried her hand at the matronly approach. She's held a few babies in her day, too and her technique is improving a bit. She was very much the big sister of the crowd. JT didn't want to hold her. He's still pouting about her being a girl. I told him, though, that obviously Tali was out to impress her older brothers with her rather acrobatic entrance into the world and he should consider all her efforts to prove herself to him. That got him hooked long enough to hold her but he still didn't want the camera around. I know he's interested - he'll be snuggling her before long - until she gets old enough to really tell him off like a girl then she'll get boxed into the same category as her sisters - Icky Girls. Adora was thrilled to have her little princess enter the world. She's been talking of nothing but playing dress up since the boxes of clothes arrived in the mail. Nehemiah was predictably rough but completely fascinated. He wanted to touch every part of her and giggled and shouted "baby!" Nathan was a bit put off at first. He warmed up to her, though, as he saw the others vying for her attention and finally was able to hold her nicely.
Once Tad took the kids home to bed, Fr. Greg arrived and offered the traditional prayers for Mother and Baby. The prayers for me were basically prayers for healing for which I was very appreciative. After he left, Tali and I hung out in our matching outfits which Betsy picked out as a Mother's Day gift and I introduced her to Food Network. JM will be so pleased if we make a foodie out of his new little sister too. After a long, sleepless night we were able to make a hasty exit from the hospital. Here's Tali all bundled up and ready to go home in her carseat. Once we got home Nathan was all about Mommy. He climbed into my lap and sat there for long periods of time - a luxury I rarely get from him as he's usually rarin' to go. Muffy and Granddad came for a visit and Muff just sat and sat with her newest little granddaughter - she's definitely the girlie grandma. Granddad held her just long enough to take the obligatory picture. He'll get back to her in a couple of years once they can roughhouse and relate in close to full sentences. Last night she alternated between being nursed and sleeping on the sofa with Daddy. She didn't seem to spend much time in her own bed. Today the milk supply came in, she discovered the sensation of a full belly and has spent the better part of today nestled into her bassinet.
Welcome home Tali! Your adventure has begun!