The Birth Story of our second son:
The "short" (although, still long) version.
A longer version may appear soon...
Two hours after I post my blog entry, I enter into the 39 week mark, and, as though right on cue (I’ve said I want to make it to the 39 week mark before having the baby), I go into labor.
After sleeping for about 1 hour, I awake at 12:30am. I’ve been having labor-like contractions for a few weeks and fairly strongly for the past 2 days, so I’m a bit uncertain if this is “the real thing.” The contractions feel the same as they have been feeling, but I still sense something is different. They are more frequent, more regular. I tell Mike I think this may be the night, but I also tell him, “Eh…I think I’ll go back to bed.” I’m tired and surprisingly relaxed (perhaps having to do with the fact that I’m in denial this is actual labor for quite some time!). But after a few minutes of lying in bed, I decide I really ought to get up, shower, and get ready for the hospital, “just in case.”
Some time after 1am, I tell Mike I think he should start timing the contractions.
“Already downloaded the app!” he smiles.
When he starts timing them, we quickly realize that my contractions are only 2-4 minutes apart. Around 1:30 or so, I say, “Maybe you should call your dad to have him come. Just in case. If I’m not in actual labor, he can just spend the night.” His dad is in NYC about 40-60+ minutes away, and he’ll be staying with our toddler, D, while we’re in the hospital.
Around 2:15am, I finally call my OB. It’s a bit nerve wracking to call my doctor in the middle of the night. My contractions haven’t been lasting a full minute for a whole hour yet, as the typical standard tells you (5 minutes apart, for 1 minute long, for 1 hour). Then again, Dr. T has told me before that my labor will probably be fairly quick, not to stay at home too long, and not to necessarily go by that guideline.
On the phone, I tell him, “I think I’m in labor. My contractions aren’t lasting a whole minute, but they’re about 2 minutes apart—“
“Go to the hospital,” he interrupts. Clear, calm, but firm.
“Go to the hospital,” he repeats.
“Okay. Thanks.” And our conversation ends.
I guess 2 minutes apart is pretty close…hm…
Mike’s dad arrives around 3am (glad we called him when we did!). I am still trying to tidy up the apartment, asking Mike to put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. I pull out fruit to wash and cereal so it is ready for our son in the morning. I have a list of numbers, food choices, general information for Mike’s dad, but I still feel there is more I could do. It’s not as simple to leave the house this time as it was 3 years ago with our first. And I am apparently the type of person to be organizing and preparing when I’m 5cm dilated.
But soon, when my breaks between contractions don’t seem long enough to really accomplish anything anymore, I suddenly realize I need to get to the hospital. Now.
We leave around 3:15am. Familiar. We left around this time of night, also on a Wednesday morning just over 3 years ago to have our first baby.
But history doesn’t entirely repeat itself.
We hit some traffic on the way to the hospital—yes, traffic on 95N, at 3:30am on a weekday.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I say. Hundreds of tractor trailers are merging from 3 lanes into 1 as apparently there is middle-of-the-night construction ahead. I begin to get a little anxious.
Thankfully, our exit is not far and we arrive at the hospital around 3:45am. We are here. When the doctor checks me at 4am, he reveals I’m 5cm dilated, but at least we are here now. It’s been three years, but positive memories come back to me as I enter the familiar building. The doorman immediately tells me “second floor,” without saying another word…We have to ring the bell to find a nurse when we enter the waiting area…The nurses are kind and welcoming, the doctors are nice, there is excitement in the air. This is all familiar…
Of course, I don’t look too excited. I am in a great deal of pain and I don’t have a lot of rest between contractions. I decline an epidural and the resident OB says no one will ask me if I want one again. “You’ll have to ask us if you want one,” he informs me. I like this. They’re not pushy.
My doula arrives soon after we do and exclaims over how in control I seem considering my contractions and that I’m already 5cm dilated. I warn her we are not done yet! But for now, I am breathing through each contraction calmly, and telling Mike about what has been happening in the latest season of Mad Men during my “breaks.” It’s a comical scene. And one that lasts for the first hour or so.
But at 5am, the resident tells me I’m 7cm dilated and that he is going to have my doctor come to the hospital now.
“I could deliver your baby, but most doctors like to be here for their own patients.”
“No—I want my doctor here, of course. I just mean—I’ve only been here an hour. He needs to come already?”
“Yes, I think you’re going to have your baby soon.”
One hour still feels like a long time when you’re in labor, but…I’m going to have my baby this soon?
From 7cm on, I don’t think I talk about Mad Men anymore…I feel as though they’ve turned up the heat in this room. I’m sweating; I feel shaky. My doula encourages me, “You’re doing great! You are such a rock star!” (This is what doulas say, I’ve learned)
I feel compelled to explain/exclaim, “This may look like I’m having fun, but I am not having fun at all!” I turn to Mike, “I don’t like this…I don’t like this at all…I don’t like feeling this…”
Mike is the only one who can ask me if I want an epidural, and so he does. And while I do want to feel no pain, of course I want to feel no pain, logically, I inform him with a bit of irritation, “There’s no point now.” I’ve made it this far. I’ve done it once before and for a lot longer, so I try to keep breathing. Just try to make it. Picture a warm sunny beach…the water…hearing the waves…
When my doctor arrives by 5:30, he says I’m 9 ½ cm dilated. He asks me if I feel the urge to push, but of course, by now, the pain has increased too much; I don’t feel the urge to do anything at all. I want the pain to end, but I don’t want to do any work to get it to end. I am propping myself up with my hands; I can’t even sit on the bed. I don’t want the doctor to move my feet. All of these feelings should be a clue that my body is ready to push, that the baby is ready to come out, but I insist I don’t “feel” like pushing.
At some point along this way, my breathing transitions into a steady and painful, “AAAHHH!” Mike tells me it doesn’t seem as though I’m screaming out of control, more a controlled yelling. But I feel I can’t help this now. To me, this lasts 20 minutes, but Mike says it’s only a few minutes. My doctor, who has stepped out for a moment (we’re all just waiting around, after all, for me to be “ready” to push), hears this and comes back in, assuming this is indicative of a woman about to have a baby. And he’s right.
I still claim I don’t feel like pushing. If someone were to ask if I logically knew I should be pushing, I think I would say, yes, I should be pushing. But when you don’t want to move a muscle even, how can you feel like doing anything, let alone a really big energy-requiring task?
The nurse suggests I just try to push. I decline this at first, but then the logic in my brain finally takes over and I know, I need to at least try, see what happens, get this over with. “Okay, I’m gonna try to push,” I finally announce.
I start to try to push and then…
Mike tells me he starts to see the head of the baby.
“Get this bar out of here!” My doctor yells (a bar I’ve insisted be placed over the bed so I can use it to help me focus in pushing—even though the staff have all said I won’t need it. They are right. I don’t even want to move close enough to touch it). They break down the bed in a second and while I continue to yell, “AAAHHH,” in less than 60 seconds…
My baby is born.
Just like that. One minute of pushing and my precious little baby boy is placed onto my chest. After a moment, Mike cuts the umbilical cord, there’s a blanket on my baby, and he’s nursing sweetly and soundly. What was just happening 5 minutes ago?
I am astounded. Mike and I stare at our baby. I feel as though I’m in a mild state of shock. The past hour, and especially the past 10 minutes, have been a whirlwind. And now, once again, my life is changed irrevocably.
At 6:17am, I look at the clock. There has been a lot of activity in the last 10 minutes. I see a few people in the room I didn’t even know entered. “Does anyone know what time the baby was born?”
The room is silent. A few laughs.
“Maybe around 6:10?” I propose.
No one responds, but when I look at the birth card later, I see the time of birth is written as 6:10am.
I look down at my precious baby: 7 pounds, 14 oz, 19 ½ inches long, born on a sunny Wednesday June morning. He has a head full of dark hair, beautiful blue eyes and a handsome manly face. It is amazing how nine months of nurturing, caring for, doctor appointments, food monitoring, back aching—how it can all come to an end in just a few short hours.
And now…those few short hours end and I sense the years that lay ahead of me with my boy, the lifetime I will have with my son. We are a family of four now. And it feels good.