And just when we were starting to think it would never happen...
...Matilda arrived in this world.
Labour started on Tuesday morning, when I woke up with very noticable contractions. At 3.15am, I started counting them, and by 4.15am, I woke Justin up and told him that this was it. We laboured at home, doing all of our relaxation exercises, watching half an episode of Friends, and taking a lovely hot shower, until I started to tell Justin that I didn't think I could do it anymore, (our "self-doubt" phase, for any other Bradley Method lovers!) and we headed to the hospital about 11am.
I was admitted at 8cm dilated, and by about 2.50pm, I was all the way dilated, at +1 station, and ready to push. So, we pushed. And pushed and pushed and pushed. We pushed forwards, backwards, kneeling, lying... every which way you can imagine.
I pushed for two and a half hours, and then the doctor checked how far Matilda had come. She was at +2 station... in other words, not very far at all. My contractions were dying down... becoming less frequent and less strong. It seemed like our plan for a natural birth was slipping away as the doctor said we needed to try some Pitocin, and an epidural, or else a C-section would be likely. It seemed like such a waste... we'd come so far without pain killers or drugs. Justin was a wonderful advocate, and argued for as little intervention as possible... which I definitely couldn't have done by myself at that point!
We finally agreed to take the lowest dose of Pitocin, but no epidural, and within about 10 minutes, I was having the most intense and painful contractions. I screamed through two of them that I simply couldn't do it, but then on the third, I pulled myself together enough to push. It was difficult, and long, but I was so lucky to have Justin there with me... he counted through each push, and encouraged me, and held my leg for hours and hours!
Tilly arrived at 7.23pm, after 17 hours of labour, and 4 and a half hours of pushing. It turned out she was facing upwards, which was why it had been such hard going, and a very big baby at 9.1 lbs and 21 inches long! When she arrived, the doctor put her straight on my chest, just as I'd asked, and immediately everything else was forgotten... it was just an amazing moment to meet her. We were so incredibly happy! And just like everybody says, it doesn't matter how it happens as long as your baby is healthy, but I was so grateful that I was given the strength to get through it without an epidural and have such wonderful, alert first moments with my little girl.
She's so peaceful and calm, and just loves to be swaddled and cuddled. And right below, Matilda is wearing a little gown that my Mum made for me to wear as a newborn! Tilly came home in it on Thursday, just in time to welcome my family who've flown in to be with us, and Justin's family who drove up from San Antonio.
We are so enjoying welcoming her into the world, and teaching her to eat and sleep. Justin is just a wonderful father, and Tilly loves it when he holds her and kisses her head! They're asleep on the sofa together now... it's so sweet!
And this next one is today: Matilda Alice with my dear little sister, Alice, from whom she gets her middle name.
Thank you all so much for the messages and notes and words of love! It means so much to us that you're thinking of us, and we're so grateful to have such wonderful friends and family. Thank you!