(Most bloggers break up their birth stories into two or more posts, but I'm not most bloggers. I barely blog at all. So here is your warning that this is a long post. Godspeed.)
Biology is amazing...
My last blog post was about how I was over being pregnant at 30 weeks. “Over. It,” I said.
Nine months after her birth I’ll just have to take my word for it. I don’t “remember” any of that pregnancy discomfort. I’m nostalgic for baby kicks and my baby bump. (We’re still not sleeping at night [or during the day… or at all] though so don’t expect Baby #3 anytime soon.)
Adjusting to life as a family of four took time. Lots of time. Still adjusting. But that’s a post for another day.
Today I want to share Little Sister’s birth story. (9 months late… sorry, second kid)
** Additional Note: This is a REAL birth story. Like ALL the nitty gritty. We’re gonna talk about poop and vaginas and all things TMI. Read at your own risk ;) **
Big sister was born at 39 weeks 2 days. So when 39 and 2 came and went with Little Sister. I. Was. Done. My belly was itchy, I got a Harry Potter-like stretch mark on the right side of my belly button, and the ability to sleep left me months earlier.
It wasn’t unusual to wake up at 4am, go downstairs to grab something to eat, and then watch TV until I could finally fall asleep again. (Usually about a half hour to an hour before Big Sister woke up.) And this day (39 and 3) was not any different… except I kept getting a shooting pain in my pubic bone every 15 minutes or so.
I refused to believe it was labor because 1) I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be pregnant forever and she was never coming out and 2) it felt so different than the first time. I started to nod off while watching Don John (I’m only admitting to that because one day I know I’ll forget and I want to remember the little things), but every 15-20 minutes I would wake up in pain for about 30ish seconds and then go back to sleep again.
At one point I fell asleep for a full hour so when my husband came downstairs to make his breakfast and get ready to head to work I decided not to say anything. I figured whatever it was had passed and it was time to go about our day. I was definitely hiding contractions while helping everyone get ready, but if I could hide them then nothing was happening anytime soon, right?
My husband left for work and Big Sister and I ate breakfast and hung out downstairs, but I started to get really uncomfortable even though things were still erratic. I sent a text to my doula to give her a heads up that it might be the day.
Then I sent a message to the friend we were supposed to meet up with later in the day to say I didn’t think we’d make it for our All Fired Up playdate. (Pro tip: when you’re ready for baby to come, make plans! They love to ruin plans.)
Around 8:30am, my husband jokingly said if the baby was going to come could she let it be known before his 9 o’clock meeting and since the contractions were actually bringing me to my knees and I was the only one home with a toddler I figured it was probably a good time to let him know what was up. Things were still erratic though and I was afraid to call him home so soon. He decided to come home, but while he was on his way I pooped aaaaannnd I didn’t have another contraction again until after he got home. (Do you know how horrible this was going to be for me if he went back to work the next day and had to be like, “Nope. No baby… just a poop.”?)
It was a cool and cloudy day, but the three of us bundled up for a walk to try to keep things moving. A few contractions came and went, but nothing major and the walk was otherwise uneventful. Big Sister did NOT want to come back inside, but I’m sure we bribed her with the promise of Frozen. (My husband later confessed that Love Is An Open Door was on repeat in his head during Little Sister's birth.)
Contractions continued to be inconsistent for most of the morning (about 10-12 minutes apart with a few that were 7ish), but I managed to take a nap. (Early labor naps are beautiful. If you can, I highly recommend getting the rest while you can.)
Eventually things started to pick up. Contractions were getting longer in length and I could tell she was moving down because I had to pee after every one, but they still didn’t feel like I remembered them feeling the first time. Instead of feeling contractions in my belly I kept feeling them in my pubic bone and back. We suspected she might be posterior so my doula recommended some position changes for me to encourage baby girl to make the turn. (PSA: Get yourself a doula!)
About a half hour later I thought I moved her into a better position, but then things slowed down again. (Labor is a marathon, folks.) I ate a tunafish sandwich (wtf, why?!) and tried to nap again, but within the hour things picked up even more. Though they were still irregular, some contractions were coming as soon as every 2 minutes and some as long as 12, I started to feel nauseated and was shaking a bit. We called my wonderful, amazing sister-in-law who came to take Big Sister for some extra-special girl time. I was frustrated, but still coping with contractions well enough that I figured I wasn’t dilated much. I joked (kinda) that I was ready to just go to the hospital and get my epidural and watch Netflix for a while.
After Big Sister left, I wanted to go upstairs to lie in bed and try the side-lying hip release. While I was in early labor with Big Sister a nurse used this move with me and after she did I went into full blown active labor within minutes. I guess my babies just love that move because shortly after we did both sides I was full on shaking through contractions and they FINALLY became stronger and more regular. (Of course now I’m upstairs and have to get back downstairs in order to go anywhere.) I still didn’t feel like I was that far along, but my husband insisted it was time to call the hospital. (Smart man.) I found the number to call and I think the conversation went something like this:
Me: I’m in labor.
Nurse: Yup. Sounds like you should come in. We’ll get a room ready for you.
**Me In My Head: Oh whatever it's not even close to time**
I sent a text to my doula to let her know we were heading in, but since I was still convinced that I was only 2cm the actual text said, “I’m a wimp and can’t hang at home anymore.” (Timestamp 3:51pm.)
So now things are happening, but -- like I said -- I’m upstairs. Crap. I have another contraction and my whole lower body is shaking (because shaking feels good during those contractions… just let them happen, mamas!) and my husband it running around trying to gather all our things to get ready to go. I start to head downstairs, but then realize I didn’t take a picture the same way I did before we left for the hospital with Big Sister so of course I had to go back up the stairs, undress, and take the exact same picture that I took two years before *eye roll* and THEN head back downstairs again. (I’m basically crawling downstairs through contractions btw… it’s all very glamorous at this point.)
I had another contraction right before getting into the car and then again about halfway there. (We only lived 5 minutes door to door from St. Mary’s Hospital.) Since a contraction had just passed, I convinced my husband to just park in the parking garage across the street from the hospital rather than using the valet. (Again… I wasn’t even convinced I was supposed to be there yet.) We parked and started walking and there are probably four contractions and six people asking if I need a wheelchair between the car and the elevator. I stubbornly refused… still convinced I was only 2cm.
We got up to Labor & Delivery and I sent my husband ahead to let them know we were here and I was coming. (Very slowly… shuffling down the hallway. I stopped against the wall for a contraction and heard a mother groaning/yelling in the room next to me and I was like, “I hear ya girlfriend. I hear ya.” *Hunger Games sign*)
When I got to the nurses station I realized my nurse was one of my prenatal yoga students! She was great about getting us checked in and respecting my birth preferences, which I had sent ahead of time. (Text to doula to let her know we were in room 5… Timestamp 4:26pm)
Generally speaking, the fewer internal checks providers perform the better. It lowers the risk of infection and it can be incredibly uncomfortable. But I wanted to know how long of a night this was going to be (since I was only 2cm) so I asked my nurse to check. Aaaaannd I was 6cm and completely effaced. Oh. OK I got this.
I love my husband. He is an excellent partner in all things and has always made me feel supported in birth, but when my doula arrived I finally had someone who knew how to hands-on support me and make labor more manageable. I swear the techniques she used made my contractions practically painless. She encouraged and reminded me to keep drinking water and to empty my bladder. And even though hands and knees had been the most comfortable position for me throughout the day, she had me try other ways to help bring baby down.
Soon (much sooner than I even thought possible) I was starting to feel the urge to push. Like... was freaking out a little bit because I thought this baby was going to try to come through only 6cm not the 10 its supposed to. A nurse asked if my water broke and I said no. To which my doula was like, “Uhhhh not so sure about that.” Sure enough there were fluids in the portable toilet I was laboring on (The thing is basically like a birth stool and can really help you relax your pelvic floor muscles the way you would while using the bathroom normally) though it was more of a trickle than the gush that happened with my first. A contraction or two later and there was the gush I had been waiting for.
The urge to bear down was unstoppable so it’s a good thing no one tried to tell me not to. The nurses called Dr. Tate (the same doctor who attended Big Sister’s birth too) and we got to the beginning of the end.
With Big Sister it felt like the pushing stage went so quickly, but we really had no idea because we didn’t think to look. This time my husband made sure to look at the clock. Twenty minutes (and several hemorrhoids jokes by me later) Little Sister made her way into the world just after 6:30 in the evening.
My husband always felt weird about the idea of cutting the umbilical cord so after the delayed clamping I cut the cord (both births actually). I’m not really sure why, but that sometimes feels even more empowering to me than the whole birthing an entire baby through my vagina part. Like, I grew, nourished, and birthed you AND I cut the tie too!
* Cause I am a womaaann… W-O-M-A-N*
And then suddenly -- as quickly as there are a bunch of people in the room during delivery -- everyone leaves and you’re left alone for that magic hour to bond with your new person. We sent some messages to let everyone know she arrived and we were doing well. We wondered what Big Sister was up to and hoped she was OK. We stared at the super blonde little one in front of us and wondered who she looked like and what she would be like.
I’ve thought about her birth story a lot over the months, but never wrote it down. In a way, it seemed uneventful. Easy. (Or as uneventful and easy as giving birth can be at least.) Writing it down does make it feel magical again though. Remembering what the body is capable of and the emotions that come with these stories.
If you haven’t written your little one’s birth story down I encourage you to do it. If not for yourself, for your little ones to read when they're bigger. Or send it to me! I LOVE birth stories! Even if you didn’t have the most positive birth experience… sometimes writing can help you process and move past any negative feelings.
** P.S. If you’re pregnant and would like me to be a part of your birth story as a doula message me soon. My spring calendar is already filling up! **