As I had predicted, our nugget waited until I finished teaching my last class, and then decided to start the birth journey. On my drive home, I felt my first mild, but different contraction, which continued every ten minutes or so throughout the evening. After a bath and some final preparations, I went to bed around 1:00 AM, sending a heads-up text to my three doulas just before laying down. As much as I tried to go to sleep, it was difficult to do so since the contractions seemed to be coming a little bit closer and more intensely. I was feeling it a lot in my back--very reminiscent of my last birth. I focused on the energy in my uterus, trying to think of it as a warm intensity. This was working pretty well and I started vocalizing with a quiet, Ooohhhh, so as to not wake Chris. I gave up trying to sleep, but continued relaxing in between them. This was fine until I started thinking about logistics with the kids, who really wanted to be at the birth. About 2:15 I woke up Chris to formulate a game plan. I was too much in my head, and I knew that I couldn't labor well and think at the same time, though I didn't really believe that I was actually in labor--I just was thinking ahead. Our plan was for our kid doula to come to the house and we would go to the hospital to get settled. Then, she would bring them up when were were closer to the time of birth. Once I was up and moving, things picked up a lot. I labored a bit on the toilet, but was having a really hard time sitting down because of my back. Mostly I leaned over the sink or the bed and did big hips circles, saying Oooohhhh, really deeply. I visualized everything opening up and sometimes could even feel my body opening up. As long as I was vocalizing, everything felt fine. It would only get really intense when I took a breath, so I tried to make my Oohhs as long as possible. Chris was getting things ready, but when he was in the bathroom or our bedroom with me, I would lean on him. I didn't want other talking or touching. Ironic that I teach comfort measures and use them as a doula, but didn't want them at all for myself. By about 3:00, I was fully out of denial that I was in labor and that this baby was, in fact, coming. I rethought my plan about the kids, deciding to bring them with and have our doula follow us instead. My oldest daughter, Gianna, was a little confused as I had a contraction leaning over the kitchen counter, as my Oohhs were getting louder and deeper. What are you doing, Mom? she asked, but then realized I was having a contraction. She remembered what she had learned from the birth video we showed them in preparation, pressing her little hand on my back. It was too darn cute, and did actually feel nice. By 3:15, we were in the car. Chris turned on my birth music mix and we headed out in the snowstorm for the much-dreaded trip to the hospital. I alternated between being on all-fours over the back of the seat and on my side to avoid pressure on my back, neither of which helped much. The contractions seemed to space out a little which I was grateful for, as we crept along the snowy road.We were greeted at the hospital by my wonderful midwife and favorite nurse. We made our way up to maternity and I asked if they could start filling the big labor tub, something I had been looking forward to as the only way to alleviate my crazy back pain. She said, We can try, but I don't think there's going to be time. I think you're going to have this baby within the hour. I totally did not believe her at all. The contractions were definitely intense, but didn't seem like they were lasting that long or that close, so I didn't think I could be that far into labor. We got into the room about 4:15. I was able to somehow lay down long enough for her to check me--6-7 cms, 90% effaced and baby was -1 station. I was definitely happy with the progress since I feared I would be 3-4 cms. I was hoping to get in the tub soon, but my midwife wanted to monitor the baby a little. I tried to oblige, but things were just so intense and I could not hold still or lay down. I told her that I needed to at least be in the shower. Chris put the shower head on my back which was the only thing that remotely provided relief at that point. In class, I often tell mamas Just when you can't take it anymore, it's over. I started thinking, I'm almost at the point where I can't take it anymore, but could I possibly be that close to the end? There was seemingly no break from the contractions, and I had to switch up my vocalizations to include I can do this over and over. Chris affirmed You are doing this! (a line I teach labor support in class). This got me over my self-doubt, and I switched to Come on, Baby to encourage the little one out. My water was still intact, and I felt like I needed to do something to make it break, remembering that once it broke with Lucia, she came sailing on out. I squatted (not an easy feat with the excruciating back pain and intense pressure) and it worked! I felt the water release and said, The baby's coming! The midwife ran into the bathroom, urging us to get out of the shower NOW. I climbed up on to the bed on all fours and felt her hand on my perineum. The baby's here and there's meconium, I heard her say. I had a brief moment of panic that it would mean separation and deep suctioning. I felt my first break in contractions, but with the next one, I was full-on pushing and not being quiet at all about it. The midwife wanted me to slow down a bit, but I just needed to get the baby out. I turned back briefly when I heard Gianna crying (pretty sure it was my noise level), and saw Giacomo and Lucia's eyes open wide in amazement. Once the head was out, I was able to calm myself a little, knowing that very soon, the most incredible release one can feel in a lifetime--the birth of the body, and thus meeting of my baby, was about to happen. With the next contraction, and one big push, our little nugget arrived at 4:41 A.M., less than an half an hour after getting into our room. It was crazy! I flipped back over, immediately shocked at the lack of a penis, but thrilled to hear her crying heartily. The midwife suctioned a little with the aspirator, but then I just grabbed her and put her right on my chest. It was so amazing--all that stress of wondering if she was okay, the team on standby (that I never even noticed was there), even the meconium at the end, and everything was just fine. The kids came around to meet her, completely in awe. It had been the plan for them to announce the gender, so Giacomo looked between her legs, saying, It's a vulva! They were all so adorable and excited. They were also amazed with the tour of the placenta the nurse gave them. Shortly after, my two other doulas arrived, completely in shock they had missed the whole thing. Since we had been convinced it was a boy, we really had no girl names picked out. After some debating (and Internet searching) I had Chris write down our options to see what looked best. Once he stated, I think she's Isadora, that was that. Welcome Isadora Abbene, 8 pounds, 10 ounces, 20 ¼ inches, and 100% fabulous!