Well... the flurry of birthday activities got me offtrack with my blogging. Parties are drawing to a close; preparations are done. Today is not party day, but the baby's 'pure day' as my mom calls it. The almost 4 year old is a little confused as to why we have party days, actual birthdays, and school birthdays. With 4/5 of our birthdays occuring within 5 weeks of each other, I must admit that I'm a little confused, too. Baby's pure day begins in a couple of hours, so of course, I am reflecting on the events that were happening a year ago, tonight. I remember it as a day that started and ended with me going about my day caring for the older brothers as usual. I remember feeling a little more relaxed than my usually uptight self, even though I was contracting about 3-6 times an hour (oxytocin, anyone?). Strong contractions, but able to press through them without anyone noticing. The more I relaxed, the stronger they became. When I started to tense up over something, they pittered out. An after-lunch teacher conference went well, as did my dad bringing supper. Then, I curled up with the boys and watched a movie. Once they were tucked in for the night, I decided to relax in the bath. Within 5 minutes of stepping in, I began going into active labor. After 5-6 strong contractions, I finally realized that I was in true labor and somehow managed to climb out of the tub. After another hour of debating whether we should call in childcare reinforcements or not, we got into the car to head to the hospital. The contractions were very strong and regularly occurring every 3 minutes. By the time we arrived at the hospital 45 min later, I remember thinking that 'surely I've dilated at least 3-5cm'. After stopping for several pauses, we made it to the labor-delivery floor and I was elated to find that I was 8-9cm. Having been induced with the other boys, hubby and I were surprised that I could even go into labor on my own, much less, at 37 weeks! We had considered natural childbirth due to some issues with my 2nd epidural that I didn't want to repeat. Little did we know that the decision wouldn't be ours to make. Less than an hour after arriving at the hospital, my body went into a strong contraction that basically, did not relent for 10 minutes. During those last few minutes, my body began pushing the baby out in a way that was out of my control. Those last few minutes were excruciating, but everything leading up to them was definitely bearable. The fact that my water didn't break until the very end probably was that cushion that kept the pain in check. The experience took me to a place where I was able to control my own pain, but move forward in the progression of labor and intensity just by relaxing. When I started thinking too much about the process, I would start to lose control and the pain was horrible. If I just rode that wave of pain and focused on breathing until the wave let me up for air, everything was easier. Looking back, I probably would have been more comfortable lying down in the car; but sitting straight up probably caused me to progress faster. We stumbled upon natural childbirth, but I would never electively go through labor any other way. The feeling of accomplishment afterwards is huge, and the recovery time is so much quicker. So that's the beginning of the story of this sweet, loving, snugglebug with the bluest eyes and the constant smile. Many more, my baby. Many more!