Our daughter Elena Clare was born on December 30th at 12:20 am. But our story begins on Christmas day, because Chris and I had originally decided not to do anything for the holidays but stay home.

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Then a few days before Christmas we decided to travel up to my brother's place in Appleton just for Christmas day. Once there, we were tempted to stay the night, but decided we better go home to be close to our hospital and doctor (I was due Jan. 7, but had a feeling she might come a little early). This turned out to be a very good idea, since we got home at about 11 pm and at 2 am I started having strong contractions. I woke up, went to the bathroom and then returned to our bedroom, where I felt a splash of water on my legs. I started getting really excited and nervous and thought "This is it...

my waters just broke. " I was also excited because it was my birthday and I thought it would be cool to have my baby on my birthday. I remembered that Coral said to get a lot of rest in early labor since I would need the energy, so I got back into bed trying not to wake Chris. Then I started worrying about the whole 24 hours thing. I really didn't want to be induced, and I was having strong contractions about seven minutes apart at first, but then they started dying down.

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    I needed my birth coach to help me think through things, so I woke up Chris.
    He asked me like four times if I was sure my waters had broken, and I just told him what I had experienced and "What else would it be?
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    " He agreed that if my waters had broken we better get labor going a little more, so I started going up and down our stairs from our second story apartment to the basement and back.
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    This definitely caused more contractions, but it didn't seem like it was doing enough.
    By about 5 am, we decided to drive to the grocery store and try to buy some castor oil since we had none in the house. WE pulled into the parking lot to discover that the store that I had thought was 24 hours actually opened at 6 am.
    We went back home, and I think I did the stairs a few more times. I was feeling anxious. Chris thought I should call the doctor but I was really scared that he would tell me to come to the hospital and I wouldn't get to labor at all at home and I would end up being induced.
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    I told Chris I would feel better calling Coral. To avoid being a total nuisance, I waited until 6 am since I thought that was a fairly reasonable time (I found out later Coral was in Arizona at the time so I still woke her up at 4 am I think).
    I told her what had happened. She asked me how much water I had lost over the past four hours, and when I told her it was basically just that splash, she said there was no way my waters had actually broken if that was all the water there was.
    She thought that perhaps that had just been the mucous plug. Feeling rather foolish, I thanked her for her advice and her suggestion of "Go back to bed.

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    " Thank God I didn't take the castor oil! The next several days were fairly uneventful.
    Every here and there I had a few strong contractions, but my sisters were throwing me a shower on the 28th and I wanted to be sure to get through that first.
    On the 29th I went to work, and during lunch I had one contraction that almost knocked me off my feet (let's just say I was glad I was already in a chair:) I didn't think too much of it.
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    That evening, we were supposed to go out with a group of friends who were celebrating us and were giving us a little "shower" at dinner.
    I got home at around 5:15 and lay down to get some rest before the dinner at 6:30 pm. By 5:30 or 5:45, I was having very strong contractions about six minutes apart.
    When Chris got home at six, they were more like three minutes apart. The contractions were so strong that I was throwing up after every other contraction.