Violet Penelope was born on the 20th of November, but I had been sure that she was coming at least twice before then! I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks before she was born. But on Sunday afternoon the 17th they started getting much stronger and closer together. I was so sure she would be born that night. Rodrigo asked me to stand up in front of the window so he could get a few last minute pictures of me being pregnant. Those are the pictures I posted on the morning of the 18th here. I was having contractions the whole time he was taking pictures. We decided to go ahead and go to bed and try to sleep for a little while, so that I might be at least a little rested before things got too intense. Much to my very great dismay I woke up at 5:30 Monday morning still pregnant. I had slept the entire night through. I was still having contractions but they were much milder. I got out of bed and they started coming a bit closer together and getting stronger again. When Rodrigo woke up for work a little while later I told him I thought he should probably stay home to be with me. He called in and told them that it was time... Fast forward a few hours and the contractions started coming less and less often even though they were still consistently strong. I got frustrated and realized that it was not going to be happening any time soon. So I told Rodrigo that he might as well head to work.
He left and I stayed home and posted pregnant pictures of me at 40 weeks on here, and caught up on laundry. And mostly I tried not to think of it too much, giving birth really makes me nervous. Well, the anticipation of it, and trying not to think of things that could go wrong, but realizing so many things are just not in our control, and what we would need to do if something did happen, but trying not to dwell on it too much. It all just kind of makes me kind of nuts! Once I am really truly in labor I don't think about it much at all, I just try to do what my body wants and what feels best at the moment.
On Monday afternoon I had an appointment with my midwife at the birthing center. When I told her what had been going on she checked me and said that I was already 4 cm dilated and about 75% effaced. So that was good, at least those contractions were doing a little something other than just setting my nerves on edge!
Those strong totally irregular contractions lasted all of Monday and while they did wake me me up during the night mostly I slept through them, and woke on Tuesday morning to the same thing. Rodrigo went to work and my mom came over to keep me company and try to help me keep my mind off of how things were not really progressing.
I woke up very early on Wednesday morning the 20th. I realized that the contractions were actually coming about every 5 minutes apart. Well that was an improvement! After an hour of laying there waiting for them to go away I decided to wake Rodrigo up and tell him that this time I thought it was really time, not like the last time I thought it was really time! So we got up and had breakfast and he called in again to say that he wasn't going to work then either.
As soon as the sun was up on Wednesday morning, Rodrigo and I bundled up and went outside to take a walk. The contractions stayed coming about 4 or 5 minutes apart and kept getting stronger. I had slept well the past few nights so I was feeling great and full of energy. The kids stayed inside playing together and keeping the little ones happily occupied. We walked all over our land. Up and down the hill, down to the road and through the paths in the woods. I contracted and he held my hand. It was getting to the point to where I couldn't talk through them and mostly wanted to stop walking and stand still for a minute when I was having one. After an hour or two we went back inside and I decided to make cookies with the little ones. Claire and Emmett love helping me cook, so they climbed right up on the counter and we made a batch of double chocolate cookies. So good! I tied on Claire's apron over my belly, since I didn't seem to have any of my own clean and put away in the kitchen and really I didn't feel like searching at that point. I probably looked ridiculous, but I really was beyond caring and they certainly didn't care! I had to keep pausing in my work, when I would have a contraction. I explained to Claire that mommy's belly hurt because it was almost time for the baby to be born, and Emmett just understood that mommy had a belly ache and not to touch me for a minute. I made a huge batch of cookies, and we baked half then froze the other half as dough to make later when the mood for fresh hot cookies struck us again. :-)
The big boys made sandwiches for everyone for lunch, but I chose not to eat at that point. I have a history of throwing up during transition if I've eaten too recently. That was something I was really hoping to avoid this time around if possible! After lunch we put the little ones down for a nap and Rodrigo and I headed back outside to walk a bit more. We pulled dead plants out of my raised garden beds, well mostly he pulled I hung onto the branches of a huge crepe myrtle bush/tree next to him and wiggled my hips around during the contractions because that made them hurt less. I found that walking around (especially outside) and at very least being upright during the contractions really helped me deal with the pain. It didn't hurt nearly as bad. Maybe it was just the distraction of being outside and having my mind on something else, but it really did help. Every time I sat down, I felt like the pain was too much and I couldn't stay on top of it somehow. So walking around was the theme of the day! We tied big red velvet bows that I made on every single fence post along the road in front of our house to decorate for Christmas. I collected acorn caps, we petted the dogs, and watched the little ones play when they got up from their naps. I really never sat down for more than just a minute or two all day long. I was just so much more comfortable up and moving.
Around 4:00 in the afternoon Rodrigo suggested that we could go feed the chickens, emus, goat, pig and rabbits since I probably would not feel up to it later. Haha, such a funny guy that man of mine! So I got the little bucket of scraps for the pig from the kitchen and we headed down the driveway very slowly to go feed the animals. The contractions were very very strong by now, but still only coming about every 4 minutes and lasting about one minute. So I figured it would probably be at least another 2 or 3 hours before she was born. I was still laughing and talking and feeling fine in between, but I wanted to have him right next to me so I could hold onto his shoulders during the contractions. We fed everything and collected the eggs and headed back up towards the house. It's only about 100 yards from our back door to the barn and pasture gate, but it took us at least 5 minutes to get back up the hill to the house.
When we came inside the kids where all downstairs watching a movie, so I told him I was going to go wash my hands and go to the bathroom. I was standing in the bathroom washing my hands when my water suddenly broke. My first thought was "I am so glad I took my boots off at the door, that would have been a real mess to clean up!" I called to Rodrigo and told him that my water had just broken and could he please come clean it up. The floor seemed very, very far away at that point, and if I had bent down there I wasn't sure I'd make it back up! He came in and was mopping up the fluid from the floor when one of those "oh-my-gosh-this-is-going-to-rip-me-in-half-welcome-to-transition" type contractions hit me like a freight train. I leaned forward onto the sink and groaned. I think I said something but I can't remember what and I'm not 100% sure I'd want to write it here for all of posterity to remember anyway. But it hurt like a son of a gun!
Almost immediately I had another contraction just as strong and long as that one. As soon as it was over I had him help me to the bedroom. We had made the bed up earlier with a plastic sheet covering our good sheets and some very old sheets over top of that, and old pillowcases on all of the pillows. So the bed was fully protected. I asked for my big ball and he put it on the bed in front of me so I could be on my knees leaning forward on it for support. No sooner was I on the bed with the ball and I had another giant contraction. I was moaning. I had felt great all day, but this was so much harder, faster and stronger than they had been before!
No sooner had that contraction ended than I realized that Rodrigo had his hands on my back and on my belly and was praying for me. He prayed for peace, and protection for the baby and for me. That we would have an easy birth and that we would rest fully in God's hands the whole time, he thanked him for giving us this new life. I felt peace and suddenly the transitional contractions stopped and my body just started pushing. I only had to push a few times and she was born. About 20 minutes after we came in from feeding the pig! :-)
The baby came out screaming, which is always a wonderful thing! Rodrigo grabbed her up from the bed and wrapped her in a clean towel and quickly wiped her face clean and suctioned her mouth and nose to make sure that her airway was as clear of fluid as possible. She didn't like that one bit! He handed her to me and helped me to lean back onto the pillows after a minute. I started contracting again almost immediately and the placenta was out just a few minutes later. We clamped her cord off after that and cut it after it had stopped pulsing.
Once we were sure that she was OK, and I was OK, Rodrigo called downstairs for the kids to come up and meet their new sister. They were shocked that she was here already! (So was I to be honest!) I had planned on telling them when she was about to be born so they could come see her as soon as she came out, but everything happened so quickly that I didn't have a chance to tell them what was going on.
We didn't decide on a name for her until about half an hour after she was born. I've always wanted a Violet, With Logan, Matthew, and Ethan, each of them was going to be Violet until we found out that they were boys. And somehow when Claire was born she just looked like a Claire Rose, not a Violet, even though that name did make it to our short list. And Emmett, well, obviously he wasn't a Violet either. But really while Violet was on our short list of names again, while I was pregnant I didn't think she was going to be a Violet either. But the more we talked about what we should call her during those few minutes after she made her grand appearance in the world, the more she really did seem like a perfectly perfect Violet. Violet Penelope to be sure! As soon as we had settled on a name I texted a picture of her to several family members and friends letting them know that she was here and safe and sound. I hadn't wanted to tell them before until we knew her name!
Then, finally, I laid back on the pillows and rested! My parents came by a little while later and brought dinner for us, which was great because since breakfast I had eaten one double chocolate cookie and one tangerine all day! And I felt like I was starving now, but hadn't realized it until I had a plate of hot food in my hands.
I am so very thankful that everything went so well. It was actually a very easy labor and birth. I felt such peace after Rodrigo prayed for us. Tomorrow Violet will be one week old. She only lost one ounce below her birth weight, and has already gained it back. I am feeling so much better already, the recovery so far has been pretty easy. I have been careful to really rest and take it easy. I had to leave the house for a little while today, but mostly I haven't left my bed or the sofa in the living room.
I've been content just to sit and cuddle with my beautiful new baby girl and read millions of books to the little ones, who need lots of reassurance right now that everything is just as it should be. Ah, adjustments, not the easiest when you are two years old and were perfectly happy being the baby of the family! But Emmett really does adore his new baby. He climbs up to kiss her about 50 times a day! So do all of the other kids. Everyone is completely smitten with little Violet 'Nelope! (That's what Emmett calls her!) She is a joy to our world!