Guest Post: Ready or Not, He’s Here
I’m married to one of the most badass women out there. While she doesn’t blog much anymore she wrote up her recent experience with having baby number two to share on my blog. Thank you, Abigail. I love you so much.
So here’s the thing. When your first child is 10 days late, you kind of expect that’s how long your body gestates. I remember saying to Joel, “I have a friend whose first was 41+3 like Wesley and her second was only 40+3 so we better be ready a little early.”
A day after I got to 37 weeks pregnant I rolled over in my sleep and it felt like I’d popped a water balloon between my legs. I gasped and woke Joel up by saying, “I think my water broke.” I was in immediate denial and for the first time in my life hoped I was just peeing the bed. As water continued to pour out of me like someone had turned on a faucet I said the super sexy, “maybe I just peed. Can you smell it?” Because we like to keep the romance alive.
We quickly established there was no way it was pee so I started making all the phone calls to family, midwife and birth photographer and Joel started frantically gathering things for our not even remotely packed hospital bags. Oh yeah, did I mention it was 4:30am? The midwife advised me to try to get some sleep since I wasn’t feeling contractions at all yet. I told my support team to standby and then the wait began.
Around 6:00am I got super sad. I told Joel to get Wesley and bring him into our bed for cuddles. I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to not be pregnant anymore. I wasn’t ready to have Wesley not be an only child. Just not ready. When Wesley woke up I told him that the baby was coming. He got SO excited. He even sang the happy birthday song repeatedly while he ate breakfast. About 7:30am my sister got to my house to pick up Wesley.
And then the long, boring wait began.
We napped a little. I bounced on an exercise ball. We answered “anything yet?” half a zillion times. We went on a walk. I updated the midwife a few times. And then we stared blankly at each other practically willing my uterus to do something.
At around 6:30pm I spoke to my midwife one last time. She said I should try to go to bed and if nothing happened we’d meet at the hospital at the 24 hour mark. So after FaceTiming Wesley we called it a night. Of course I was too wound up to sleep.
After lying in bed awhile I finally felt some contractions. They were super mild, short and irregular though. I kept timing them while listening to Joel snore. I was waiting for that magical 5-1-1 (5 minutes apart, 1 minute long for 1 hour). They never got there. However, at around 1am I was uncomfortable enough that my noises woke up Joel. I told him I didn’t think it was time yet but apparently the noises I was making were enough for him to insist I call the midwife and she told me to go ahead and come in.
We got to the hospital at 2:15am. I got in the bed to get monitored for the required 30 minutes. Baby looked great and everything checked out on my end. The midwife came in to check me. I was so relieved to hear I was at a 5. It was the first check of the pregnancy so I was pretty nervous I’d hear I wasn’t dilated at all or something.
She then asked me what my birth plan was. My only answer was, “get the baby out safely whatever that takes.” They kind of chuckled and said that was their plan too. But seriously, it’s so nice to have care providers that you totally trust to only do what’s necessary. I never felt the need to make out a list of do’s and don’t’s.
When the monitoring was done I got out of bed and sat on the ball for awhile and then walked around the room. My birth photographer and then my mom got there and we chatted and laughed between contractions.
There were several comments about how short my contractions were which made me think I had a long day ahead of me. Joel and I had such a great rhythm for contractions though. I leaned on whatever was close or him and he would lightly rub my lower back which helped me focus on where I needed to relax. We were just such a natural team. And since the contractions were so short they didn’t really wear me out even though they were pretty close together.
Eventually the midwife came in and asked if I wanted to get in the tub. I was lucky enough to be at a hospital that was doing a research study on hydrotherapy for labor and water birth. I’d never really found the idea of a water birth that appealing but my love for science made being part of a research study irresistible. I double checked that it was okay for Joel to get in the tub with me. She said yes, as long as he wore swim trunks. And then I almost died laughing at the thought of Joel parading around the hospital room naked. He’s one of the most modest people I know. He actually asked me if he had to take his shirt off. So yes, he definitely had trunks.
We got in the tub and almost right away my contractions got more intense. This surprised me a lot because I thought the tub was supposed to make things easier. After not too long the midwife told the nurses to get the on call OB (having an OB on the premises was one of the requirements of the water birth study.) This surprised me a bit because despite the extra intensity my contractions were still just as short and I was still able to chat and laugh between them. But apparently everyone in the room agreed I was making “the sounds.”
The OB on call was not impressed with “the sounds” as the reason he was called in. He wanted to know exactly how dilated I was but my midwife didn’t want to check me since my water had been broken for so long. The funniest part was that this argument was all happening via the nurses on the phone because the OB didn’t want to come in. I heard the midwife say to the nurse “Her membranes have been ruptured for more than 24 hours. I’m not checking her unnecessarily. I’ll tell him that myself.” and she stomped off like a badass. She obviously convinced him because a little while later he stuck his head in the door and grumpily said, “I’m here.” and then left. That’s the one and only time I saw him. I couldn’t pick him out of a line up if my life depended on it.
Very shortly after that things got super real. The contractions hurt a lot. They hurt so much more than I remembered or expected. I had a grunty, pushy contraction and was like oh hell no, I don’t want to do this, undo, everyone pack up and go home. I definitely lost the nice, relaxed zen I’d had the whole labor thus far. I’d always read these water birth stories where the authors made it seem like the baby slid out on a fluffy cloud of rainbows and sparkles. Um, no. That shit hurt. A lot.
I pushed once and oh my god I could feel the baby moving down and it did not feel good. Not at all. It sucked. I sort of panicked at that point and was all, nope, not doing it. I even tried to cross my legs and they had to talk me into opening them again.
Logic doesn’t exist when you’re in labor.
I pushed again and was actually pretty pissed that there was no baby yet. Like, what the heck? This was my second baby and a water birth. He was supposed to just come flying out. I pushed a couple more times and then started to feel the burn which means baby is close. Except no logic, remember? So instead of being encouraged by the burn when I felt him start to crown I again fought it. And the fighting it made him feel like he went completely all the way back inside my uterus when the contraction was over.
And then I really panicked. I remember saying something like oh my god he’s never coming out!
So on the next contraction I was getting that baby out. I pushed through the awful crowning feeling, felt his head pop out and since I didn’t want him to hang out under water I pushed even harder and bam! He was born.
And it was amazing.
She put him on my chest. It took him long enough for me to ask if he was okay before he started screaming loud and hard. I looked down at that tiny baby and my first feeling was that I knew him. And oh did I love him. I looked back at Joel and he was bawling. It was the most beautiful moment. That’s where all the rainbows and sparkles were.
We hung out in the tub long enough for Joel to cut the cord and then we moved to the bed so I could get checked out and stitched up. Yeah, I tore. Another supposed water birth benefit that didn’t work out for me. Oh well.
I’m so glad I did it though. It really was an overall quick and easy labor. From when contractions got painful it was only about 4 hours until he was there. And as much as I’m still processing how early he came he’s perfectly healthy and was kind of huge for his gestation. At 7lbs 10oz at 37 weeks 2 days I shudder to think how huge he would have been if he’d have hung out in my uterus for 4 more weeks.
So welcome Theodore James. This kid certainly already knows how to make an entrance.
All professional photos on this post were taken by Hera’s Gift. She did a wonderful job capturing our child’s birth experience in visual form.