Today is my second daughter’s birthday. In honor of her third (!) birthday, I’ve finally taken the time to write down her birth story. Why it took me so long? I do not know. Like I said when I shared my first daughter’s birth story, I think about my birth experiences so often, that I guess I wasn’t worried about documenting them. I am glad to have it documented here though. I hope you enjoy the story!
I knew for our second pregnancy, I would choose midwives as my care providers. My first birth experience had been a positive one, but I didn’t want to repeat any of the not so wonderful parts (the “negotiations”, the threat of pitocin, the threat of an episiotomy, etc.). I delivered in the same hospital as the first time, but with a new practice of midwives, and I was excited to have a more like-minded and supportive team for this birth.
Our good friends were getting married (2 hours away from home!) one week after my due date, and we really wanted to be at the wedding. In retrospect, this sounds pretty silly, but we had reasoned that the only way we’d really be able to go, is if I went into labor 1-2 weeks before my due date, making me at least 2 weeks postpartum for the wedding. As we approached my due date, my daughter changed positions at 38 weeks – from head down and ready for birth to transverse (sideways/horizontal — stay tuned for a post on positioning soon), not an ideal position for vaginal delivery, and one that would mean an automatic C-Section at the hospital I was delivering at. I was devastated. I did everything I could to get her to flip (picture me doing inversions, basically standing on my head, at 38 weeks, willing her to turn around again). One night a few days later, I was sitting at the computer and felt the most massive shift occurring inside me. She had turned again! Now, at nearly 39 weeks, I wanted her out – so she didn’t have a chance to change her position for a third time, and so that we could go to our friends’ wedding (I know, ridiculous).
That Saturday morning, I lost my mucus plug, and had a feeling that labor would start soon. In the morning, I mentioned this to my husband, and we were cautiously optimistic that we’d get the early arrival we’d hoped for. I went out for lunch with my sister-in-law and during the meal, when I mentioned that I was starting to feel some contractions, she suggested we time them. I told her it wasn’t time to do that yet, and she backed off. But as the meal continued, she insisted that we time them, and I was contracting every 3-5 minutes!
Excited and a little nervous, we finished the meal, got back in the car and drove home to make a plan. My contractions were noticeable but not that uncomfortable, so I knew this could last a while. Pretty quickly though, they picked up, and we decided to drive to my parents’ place, where our daughter would be staying when we went to the hospital. By the time we got there, I was getting a little more uncomfortable. I called my friend, a labor and delivery nurse, who planned to come in to be our nurse at the birth, and she suggested she come check me at my parents’ house. I agreed, for fear of arriving at the hospital too early and being sent back home. When she arrived and checked me, I was a little surprised to hear I was only 3cm dilated. My parents made some dinner for my daughter, and the rest of us (my husband, our friend, and I) took a walk outside, stopping for ice cream on the way. By the time we got back from our walk, I was getting more uncomfortable, and decided it was time to go the hospital.
In triage, I was only 3.5cm dilated, and they had me walk for a while and finally admitted me to a room at about 8pm. By the time we got up to the room, I was 6cm dilated and pretty uncomfortable. We wanted to do a quick room switch so that I could use a tub, and by the time we got to the new room, I was asking the nurse and midwife to rupture my membranes in an effort to speed things along. Despite their encouraging me not to (because it is not an evidence based method for speeding up labor), I was feeling desperate to do something. When they ruptured my membranes, they found meconium in the amniotic fluid. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to deliver in the tub now that they’d seen meconium, but I could still labor in the warm water until it was time to push – I immediately knew that I shouldn’t have had them rupture me. Lesson learned.
I asked our friend, the nurse, to get the tub ready for me, because I knew it would provide some relief. After a strong bout of nausea passed, I got into the warm water and breathed a sigh of relief. I knew this was transition, and I’d made it to the end. The contractions were still strong, but like my first labor, the water was incredibly soothing, and made them tolerable. I started to feel like this labor was moving quickly when I suddenly felt the urge to push only 10 minutes and a few contractions after getting in the tub! The midwife didn’t believe me at first, but when she checked me in the tub, she looked up at me and said “You’re complete! You just dilated 4 cm in 10 minutes!”
Everyone helped me get out of the tub and onto the bed. I remember backing off after my first push and feeling afraid of the pain. Someone said something like: ”You have to do this now. You made it to the end, and now you have to push your baby out”. I guess I needed to be reminded that I had no alternative. It seems so silly to say, but at that moment, I felt like, “this hurts too much, I think I’ll just not push”.
I only pushed through 1 contraction and she was born. Because there was meconium in her fluid, they had to assess her breathing a little more than usual, but she was fine, and back on my abdomen within a couple of minutes. I was in shock. She was born at 11:02pm. I’d only started contracting around 1pm, only felt uncomfortable around 5pm, and only was admitted to a room in the hospital at 8pm! It had all gone so fast!
She breastfed almost immediately, and didn’t stop for nearly an hour.
Needless to say, 2 weeks later, we were at our friends’ wedding, toddler and newborn in tow!
Just reliving this through writing it reminds me of how fast and furious it all seemed that night! Reflecting on a fast labor, I think it felt like I could not get my coping mechanisms honed before I moved on to the next stage – that made it hard to manage the pain. Just like my first birth experience, I felt out of control, and everyone around me thought I seemed very in control. All in all though, short is definitely good!