It’s Baby Week at Life Your Way, and I’m sharing my birth stories (with a chance for you to link up with your stories on Friday!) as well as an awesome selection of giveaways. Thanks for joining me as we celebrate the upcoming birth of our fifth baby and first son!
We’ve always called our second daughter our miracle baby. At 6 weeks pregnant, I began bleeding heavily and continued to bleed for more than two weeks. Because my cervix was open for so long, every midwife or doctor we saw called it a “inevitable miscarriage”, and the relief we felt when we first saw her tiny heart beating at our second ultrasound is hard to describe.
After that, her pregnancy was much like her older sister’s, with regular Braxton-Hicks contractions and “modified bedrest” for most of the third trimester but no other complications.
We had moved back east at the beginning of my pregnancy and were living in my parents’ basement while we looked for land and tried to decide where to build, so this time we were seeing a practice of 8 midwives and planning to deliver in a local birth center.
Finally, at 37 weeks, the midwife I saw said I could resume regular activity, and my mom, step-dad, Peyton and I headed to Sam’s Club. I wanted to stock up before the baby’s arrival, and I figured walking would help me dilate some more anyway, which is always a good thing once you reach the full-term mark! I was worn out by the time we got back, got everything put away and put our oldest down for a nap.
That afternoon, I noticed that Peyton’s nose was running. It was clear, but it was running pretty steadily, and I figured she was getting a cold and we were in for a rough night. Unfortunately, I was right, and at 9:30pm she woke up for the first time. I headed to bed around 10:30pm, leaving Peyton with Sean for that first part of the night and planning to take the second half so he could get some sleep.
I could not fall asleep. I think I finally fell asleep around 11:30pm or so, and Sean also got Peyton to sleep about this time.
At 12:45am, I woke up with a sharp pain in my right side, a contraction, and the strong urge to pee. I realized that the pain was my round ligament on that side (I never experienced this the first time, but the second time around it tightened up a few times in the second trimester, and I had to lay still and relax completely for 15-20 minutes to get it to go away!)
I finally managed to get up out of bed and go to the bathroom. As I was gathering my stuff to move out to the couch where I’d be more comfortable, Peyton woke up again! I got her out of her crib and hobbled my way to the couch, with that ligament still hurting very badly. We turned on the Wiggles and cuddled. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was having contractions every three minutes or so. At first I thought it was related to pulling the ligament, but when they kept coming, I went and woke Sean up. (I had some doubt as to whether I should wake him or not because of the hours of regular contractions I’d experienced the first time around).
I told Sean what was happening and that I thought I needed to call the midwife. I went to tell my mom what was happening first, so that the phone ringing in the middle of the night (when the midwife called back) wouldn’t freak her out.
I then called the midwife and waited for her to return my call. During this time, Peyton really wanted me to hold her, but it hurt too bad, so I held her hand and we marched around the pool table – around and around and around chanting, “March. March. March.”
The on-call midwife (who I hadn’t yet met) called back, and I could tell she was a little skeptical because I was talking easily through the contractions and obviously excited, but at this point, I was fairly certain this was it. She kept asking me questions, and I kept emphasizing that I was GBS positive and that my first labor was only 3 hours long and that baby’s head was at a +1 station already. She finally said to meet her at the birthing center at 2am (it was about 1:20am by now), so we started getting everything ready. I also went up and told my mom and gave her the sad news that Peyton was awake. She got up and came downstairs to take care of her, and off Sean and I went.
As we were driving down the highway, I had a 5-minute lull in contractions and started to doubt myself. However, when they returned, I was once again confident that this was it!
We arrived at the birth center at the same time as Joey, the midwife. She took us upstairs and we decided to check my cervix before anything else to be sure that I was actually in labor. Sure enough, I was 5 cm dilated and when I contracted, she said, “Whoa! Are you doing that?” “Doing what?” “Pushing her head down?” “Nope.”
Because I was GBS+, Joey started an IV and my antibiotics (actually, she tried several times to do the IV in my hand and wrist, and it just wasn’t happening, so she ended up putting it in the crook of my arm). All of that poking and prodding actually distracted me from the contractions pretty well!
Through all of this, the ligament pain persisted, and it was definitely the worst part of the pain. Once the antibiotics finished, we turned out the lights and curled up in bed. Sean quickly fell asleep, but I just laid there awake. Between contractions I would marvel that I would be holding my baby so soon! The contractions themselves were intense but manageable.
Over time I realized that the contractions had majorly slowed down. The good news was this allowed me to relax completely, so the ligament pain also went away. When Joey came to check on me, I told her that the contractions seemed to have slowed down, and we started talking about whether to break my water or not. There was no chance of me being sent home at 5 cms dilated, and because my first labor progressed so quickly after my water broke, I was confident that it would get things moving, so I asked her to go ahead and do it.
I had heard many people say that having their water broken was painful, so I was a bit nervous at this point. However, I didn’t feel it at all, just gushes and gushes of water. This surprised me as I figured since her head was so low nothing would come out. Boy was I wrong!
I decided to lay in bed for a little while longer since I expected things to pick up soon. Sure enough, the contractions started right back up and as they began coming regularly again, I decided to walk some. My ultimate plan was to get in the shower because it made such a huge difference while I was in labor the first time, but I didn’t want to get in too soon.
So I walked and walked and walked, up and down the steps and around the birth center. Sean, Joey and I were the only people there at that point, so it was very peaceful. Every time I had a contraction, I would think, “Wow, that’s really intense” and remind myself to relax. Then the contraction would end, and I would feel fine, no different than any other day! Two minutes later, the contraction would be back, and I’d have to stop and focus.
In the midst of all of this, I was able to chat with the midwife and ask her some of my questions. She kept reminding me that the shower was an option, and I finally decided in the middle of a contraction that I should go ahead and get in. The problem was that I felt so good between the contractions that it seemed too early, but deciding while I was having one gave me the right perspective.
So I got in the shower and would let the hot water hit my back during contractions. Wow, what a difference that made. I could hear Joey and Sean talking in the room, but I couldn’t understand them, so it was kinda like the “waah-waah-waah” in Charlie Brown. This helped a ton because I could focus on the sound of their voices without worrying about what they were saying or trying to get involved in the conversation.
It was during this time that I realized I really do labor best alone. When I was in labor with Peyton, Sean was right with me, trying to help, and I wanted him to make it better, i.e. make the pain go away. In the end, this made the pain worse because I wasn’t focused on relaxing. This time, however, he slept a lot of the time, or I was walking around the birthing center or in the shower. While I appreciated his support, it just seemed like I coped better on my own.
Finally, at 6am, I got out of the shower to have my second round of IV antibiotics. I sat on a birthing ball, and immediately noticed that the contractions were a little harder to deal with without the water. I had asked Sean to put a CD on, something I never thought I’d want, so I hadn’t come prepared. He got his CDs out of the car, and the only one that appealed to me was Tim McGraw, so that’s what we listened too.
It only took a minute for the second round of antibiotics to be administered, and then I asked Joey to please take the whole IV out. They made me have a hep-lock (even though I didn’t ever need an IV) while in labor with Peyton, and I hated having that needle in the whole time, so I was thankful when she removed it this time.
During contractions, I would put my head on the bed and rock on the birthing ball. That helped some, but I had to constantly remind myself that it would end soon and that I’d be holding Dylan! I could feel panic trying to rise up in the middle of those last few contractions, but I just concentrated really hard on relaxing and not giving into it. That was empowering because I was able to stay very calm and to joke and laugh between contractions, even.
I was a little anxious at this point because the pushing stage had been so hard for me with Peyton, but Joey suggested I try a birthing stool, which is a small stool that sits about 6 inches off the ground and has a half circle cut out of the front of it. It seemed a little weird to me, but I was willing to try anything.
I started feeling like I had to push, but I wasn’t really sure, which was one thing I was worried about, and Joey moved us all into position. Sean sat on the bed and I sat on the stool in front of him, leaning back into him.
She had me do a practice push, and then with the next contraction, she had me push for real. One push, two pushes – “Her head’s right there.” “Really there?” “Yes, push.” I pushed a third time, and felt the ring of fire which everyone describes and then her head was out – talk about a relief. I then pushed slightly and out her shoulders came. At this point, I felt like Joey, the nurse and Sean were all shouting at me (although they probably weren’t), “Reach down and get her!” So I hooked my hands under her arms and “caught” her and lifted her to my chest! Another amazing moment that made it all worth it!
She was covered in vernix, but absolutely beautiful, and she cried just enough for us to know she could before settling right down!
I don’t even remember birthing the placenta, just that it was no big deal as I cuddled my baby!
All in all, I was in labor for less than 6 hours. She was born about an hour and a half after they broke my water and after just four minutes of pushing. I felt wonderful. I was up and walking within an hour or so of her birth, and the adrenalin was absolutely amazing!
I was disappointed that I had to stay for 12 hours due to being GBS positive, but I was able to take a nap, cuddle my baby, call many people and rest before heading home. I convinced them to let me go home at 11.5 hours so that Peyton could come back with Sean (who had gone home to take a shower and a nap) to pick me up, and I could be there for her bedtime! That was one of my biggest wishes, and we were able to pull it off!
Although it was a dream labor and birth, I tore along my episiotomy scar and ended up with a hematoma (blood blister) along the tear, which made recovery excruciatingly painful and led to some lingering pain for more than a year after her birth. The rest of my recovery wasn’t hard, but I could have done without that part!
After this dreamy second birth experience, I was really looking forward to a repeat performance with our third daughter, but little did I know how it would actually turn out. Come back tomorrow to read that story!