"Once you've had one, the rest just speed up!"
"If your baby is less than 7 pounds, you can expect this labor to be faster than your first."
With the best of intentions, this was what I heard from most people, including my own doctor.
Well, Mike said I should sue everyone who told me that. Haha! But seriously. Here's the story of Evie's birth.
Evie was late. My parents and brother were here, my schedule was cleared, and I was so ready for her to make her appearance. So on my due date, we did everything we could to safely induce labor. I bounced on my birthing ball, I walked a lot, did the Miles circuit, ate fresh pineapple, and my mom massaged my pressure points. And at 12:45 the next morning, I woke up to contractions.
I tried to sleep through them because I was sure it wasn't real. But from the beginning, these contractions were pretty intense and irregular. For close to four hours, I labored alone in the dark, quiet house, still uncertain if this meant I'd meet my little girl that day. Finally, I popped a movie on Netflix and tried to relax and rest. The next contraction sent me out of the couch and onto my knees. I grabbed my labor ball and decided I needed to call my doctor. The contractions were coming every 5 minutes, then 7 minutes, then 2 minutes apart, but they were rough.
Because I was having more than 6 contractions per hour for several hours, my doctor wanted me to come into the hospital. I was excited at the thought that maybe this was real, but not certain if he'd just send me home. I was afraid to hope. I woke Mike (who had decided to stay up late finishing his video game, so he hadn't had much sleep... and he had a cold) and we finished packing. My mom knew about the plan and would show up at the hospital once things got moving. I'm so glad they were there to stay with Isabel.
It was still dark out when we left for the hospital. This was so different from when we went when I was in labor with Isabel. At that time, the contractions were on top of each other and Isabel was born less than 2 hours after we arrived. This time I had maybe 2 contractions on the way. And as it was about 5 am, we didn't get stuck behind snowbirds.
We headed to triage and they checked me out. 2 cm. I was only dilated to 2 cm., and hardly effaced. I was so confused- was I in labor or not?
"This is good, if you want an epidural," the nurse told me.
"I don't," I said. "I'd like to try to have a natural birth."
Well that was promising.
They monitored me for a while and encouraged me to walk. Mike and I, in good spirits, walked the delivery ward for hours. We enjoyed eavesdropping on the nurses' conversation. We walked and walked, and walked. It was time to get monitored and checked again, and this time, I was 3 cm. Progress, but it had been hours. So we walked again.
The next time I was checked, I was still at 3 cm. I was so discouraged. At this point, I had been at the hospital, stuck in a triage room, for around 5 hours. Mike had the most uncomfortable chair in the world to sit on, and I continued to have strong contractions, but was making little progress.
"Are you totally against Pitocin?" the nurse asked.
"I would prefer to try other methods before Pitocin, unless Baby is in danger."
Her question, though totally legitimate, discouraged me. How could this labor just not be moving along? This was my second child! The nurses had been supportive of my decision to have a natural birth, and had been talking to my doctor, who also was supportive and encouraging me to walk like crazy to get things moving. I appreciated that. I found out that's why we were still in a triage room: if I were admitted, I'd be more likely to be stuck in the room rather than free to walk the halls.
Mike was very tired, and while I had been able to order meals, he hadn't eaten yet. So I called my mom to have her drop Isabel off at my in-laws' house and then relieve Mike so he could take a nap and eat. I figured this would not only be a longer labor than Isabel's (we were almost at the 12 hour mark at this point), but she might not even be born that day. Mom arrived and Mike left, and Mom and I walked again.
I walked so much that I got a serious case of chub rub, and the nurses kept telling me I should've been wearing a Fit Bit. Something changed on this walk. I'd stop and lean against the hallway railings with each contraction. Now, my coping noises were much louder. The contractions were much more intense.
"That's a good sign," my nurse said after one particularly bad one. She encouraged me that while the progress was really slow, I'd reach a point where the labor would just take off. I'm not sure I believed her, but it was nice to have her in my corner. I told Rachel, my doula, that the contractions were getting pretty intense, so it might be time for her to come.
Time to be monitored and checked again. Rachel was there by the time we got to the triage room. This time, I was 4 cm. and Evie was very low. Progress!! The contractions I had while Rachel was there were ROUGH. I was glad she was there to provide counter-pressure and encouragement. She's a great doula, but also my friend, and her presence was calming.
I told my mom to tell Mike to come back. I didn't think things would happen quickly, but I wanted him there. Things were getting intense, and I needed his presence there. After a particularly bad contraction, I was checked again. I was 5 cm.
"Let's get you into a room and admitted!" I walked down to my labor and delivery room, so glad that things had finally progressed enough for that. I didn't realize it would only be about an hour from that point until I met my daughter.
Not long after I got to the room, my water broke during a contraction. That was a new experience for me... ew. Shortly after that, Mike walked in. I was so relieved, because while there were longer breaks between contractions than what I was used to with Isabel's labor, the contractions were so, so, so much worse. I could not believe the pain I was experiencing. It was THE. WORST. I was doing everything I could to relax into the pain and allow my body to do what it wanted to do. My instinct was to fight the pain and tense up. But I knew and Rachel continued to remind me that this was good, and if I would let it happen, it would happen faster. I was checked and was 6-7 cm.
I remember going to the restroom, and when I came out, I had the worst contraction ever. I grabbed Mike's sweatshirt and just buried my head in his chest, while Rachel helped me manage the pain. Poor guy. I found out I'd grabbed not only sweatshirt and undershirt, but also chest hair! Haha! My mom happened to snap a photo. When I looked back at the photos, I noticed that from that moment until Evie was born was only eight minutes!
I labored sitting on the bed for a bit more, and then was checked again and had progressed to 8-9 cm.
THEN, I had to push. I
I don't remember feeling the "ring of fire" with Isabel, but oh, did I feel it with Evie. I knew she was right there, and I knew she would be coming in a few contractions. I remember feeling like nobody was checking, and nobody was there to help bring Evie into the world. My eyes were closed tight, so I wouldn't know anyway, but that's how it felt. The doctor wasn't there yet, and the nurses weren't responding to my pleas of "I need help!" I'm sure they knew what they were doing, but it did not feel like it! Never have I felt so out of control of both my body and the situation. Good thing God is in control and created my body to just do what it had to do.
I heard everyone cheer when the doctor arrived. In a few minutes and a few contractions, my body pushed Evie into the world. I don't even remember actively pushing. It felt like my body just did it. It was the most relief I've ever felt, that moment when Evie was born.
"My baby girl!" I exclaimed again and again, and finally relaxed, all pain gone. She was beautiful. She had a head of black hair, and looked just like Daddy. The doctor gave it a few minutes to let the cord stop pulsing, and then Mike cut the cord. And like that, she was on my chest.
After 40 + 1 weeks of carrying and 15 hours of labor, I looked into the eyes of my second-born daughter, just as beautiful and just as incredible as my firstborn. What a miracle. What an incredible miracle that God created inside me and sustained.d
While other women have undoubtedly experienced more difficult and painful labors and deliveries, this was personally, the worst pain I've experienced. But I can say without any falsehood or irony that it was worth it. Every contraction, every push brought this sweet, tiny bundle that much closer to my arms.
And now I get to enjoy her- watching her sleep and "smile," having her nurse, watching her stretch instead of feeling her stretch inside me... all these things and more are such a joy.
We are so, so very blessed beyond measure.
Welcome to the world and welcome to our family, Genevieve. You were worth it.