The suspicious one-eye look--she gives this to me all the time.
For those of you who don't know the details of my first delivery, let's just say it was forty-five long hours of intense pain management and unsatisfying results. When all was said and done, the only part of my birth plan still intact was my choice of which shots I wanted my baby to have within the first few hours of life. In the end, I learned how quickly the phrase "healthy baby, healthy mama" takes more precedence over any hopes, desires, and wishes for how your delivery will go. My first delivery was neither drug free nor intervention free, and I had very little knowledge of what the birth experience feels like because I only dealt with contractions--forty-two hours into the labor, I could no longer manage the pain or my body. I opted for an epidural and let go of my dream delivery.
I have since concluded it all went so long because my body was fighting the process of birth--it was like my body had a vice grip on the baby and refused to let her out because delivery felt closer to uncontrolled-chaos than natural human experience. Once I relented and asked for an epidural, which led to petocin to "move things along," sure, I felt wonderful (wonderful=I didn't feel any more pain), but I didn't feel anything else. I didn't feel the urge to push; I didn't feel the baby crowning; I didn't feel the afterbirth; I only felt the rush of emotions when baby girl was placed on my chest.
I realize this sounds dismal and pessimistic, but I'm only setting the stage for the euphoria I felt as a result of this second pregnancy going so differently. As I prepared for this birth, I battled a lot of fears because I had been so confident my first delivery would go one way, yet my vision was shattered with reality. I prayed, confessed, and believed for a specific type of delivery, but my hopes were thin--the first birth had been so long and traumatic that I had a hard time believing anything different could happen. Nevertheless, and I believe this is key, I didn't voice any of my fears nor give them more than a moment's notice in my mind. Talking to me before my second delivery you would have not had any idea I was battling any of this. I truly believe in the power of words, so the only confessions I allowed out of my mouth were I was going to have a healthy baby on September 10th, and it would be a short and easy delivery.
September 9th: I had my 39-week appointment in the afternoon. I knew that I would have the baby that weekend no matter how much progress I had made when she checked me. I didn't desire to try any sort of induction method that put me on the hospital's time clock (e.g., if they break your water, you have to deliver within twenty-four hours or they send you to c-section). I knew stripping my membranes was something I could try, but it didn't guarantee much of anything. If it worked, great; if it didn't work, I could still wait it out and let my body begin the process. So, I had my midwife strip my membranes and hoped for the best.
I was a "two and thick." My midwife, Kim, went so far as to ask me what I wanted to do if I went full term (which tells me she didn't think the baby was coming any time soon). I told her, "Well, I'm having this baby tomorrow or Saturday. But I'm willing to wait at least forty-one weeks before we talk induction of any kind." She said okay--knowing I had a big baby in there--and quietly reminded me, "I just don't want this baby to get too big and get stuck." I told her I wasn't afraid of big babies, and it'd all be okay. I even told the receptionist and the nurse, "Hopefully this is the last time I see you for six weeks. I plan on having the baby this weekend." They smiled and nodded politely.
That evening I had contractions that were slightly stronger than what I'd been experiencing since week thirty-two, but since I'd been contracting for so long, I didn't think much of it. That night when I went to bed, they got stronger, and I found I had to breathe through them. But, remembering how long my first labor was, I didn't get my hopes up. I forced myself to get some sleep (biggest regret from first pregnancy--I didn't sleep when contractions were mild). From 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM, every twenty minutes or so a contraction would wake me up, I'd breathe through it, and then I'd fall back asleep again.
September 10th: 1:00 AM I woke up from a contraction and couldn't fall back asleep. I finally got up and tried different techniques to see if they would change the contractions--ate a snack, moved around, sat on my yoga ball, etc., and they did change--they got stronger and more frequent. I started timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Again, not wanting to get my hopes up, I kept myself distracted and breathed through the contractions. I found sitting on the ball made them more bearable, so I'd get up and work on my snack then race to the ball to sit and breathe through a contraction. With each contraction, I visualized myself opening up, and sometimes I even spoke to my body to open up and let the baby out. I was determined to not let my body fight this delivery.
3:00 AM my hubby's alarm went off (he unloads trucks at UPS for his second job); and I told him he should probably call into work. Five minutes later I second-guessed myself and said, "Well, maybe you could go into work, and I'll just call you when they get really strong." I was having a hard time shaking the memory of my first delivery, and I really wanted to labor as much as possible at home and save myself the embarrassment of being sent home for false labor. But the contractions persisted and got stronger. Within a few minutes I came back to the room and said, "Never mind, you need to get up and pack your bag." My hubby jumped into the shower, and I packed the rest of my stuff and the snacks I wanted to bring.
The next two hours were textbook labor--my body started cleaning itself out, I had my bloody show, and contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. The only thing that hadn't happened was my water breaking. I had my hubby draw me up a bath and I labored in there for about half an hour--the warm water made the contractions more bearable, but at some point I found myself moaning (basically lowing like a cow) to get through the worst of the pain. I hoped that I somehow missed my water breaking by being in the bath, and I got out and finished getting ready.
We woke my two year old and got her ready--I tried to keep her far away from me at this point because the moaning was getting pretty loud, and I was on my hands and knees for most of it. Finally, around 5:30 AM, we were all ready and out the door. In the car, I could no longer avoid my daughter seeing me, so when she asked what I was doing, I said, "Mama's acting like a cow. Isn't that the sound a cow makes?" She nodded in agreement, and I begged my hubby to hurry. When we arrived at my in-laws to drop her off, I told her, "Okay, honey, Mama's going to go and open baby."
She smiled and cheered, "Open baby? YEA!!!" It was the best thing she could've said.
We were at the hospital by 6:00 AM, and I moo-ed into my pillow while my hubby wheeled me to labor and delivery. They started to check me in at the front desk until I started moo-ing again, then they politely and quickly encouraged me to head to my room (yeah, I was that loud).
The contractions were intense, still 2-3 minutes apart, and I had a hard time answering questions in between. All I cared about was if Kim had been notified. When I changed into a gown, they checked me and said, "She's an eight. I'll get a table ready."
I wasn't sure I heard them correctly, "What am I?"
"Praise the Lord!" I exclaimed and almost cried. It was all working--this was going like I had imagined my first pregnancy going.
My midwife arrived in record time. She walked in on a contraction and said, "You little know-it-all. You told me you were going to have this baby this weekend. I think you did this with your first one too." (I did. I went into my 40-week appointment and had not progressed more than a half of a centimeter, and my midwife told me what we'd have to do if we went into week 41, and I told her, "Oh, I'm having the baby this weekend." That night contractions started.)
We commented on how quickly Kim had arrived, and she admitted she had another patient deliver earlier that night and she had arrived two seconds too late. She said she wasn't about to let that happen twice in one night.
6:00-8:00 AM I managed the pain through strong contractions. My hubby was right by my side through it all. I kept myself moving around enough that he didn't have to suggest much, just be there and encourage me. Kim kept suggesting breaking my water. She said I'd feel the contractions more, but it'd make things go faster. At first I didn't want to feel anything more than what I was dealing with; plus I didn't want any interventions if at all possible. Everything had gone according to textbook up until then, I was sure my water would break on its own.
7:50 AM I had only progressed to a nine, and I was starting to tire. I figured getting this baby out was worth weathering stronger contractions, and I'd have to deal with them at one point or another, so I'd rather deal with them at that point than wait until I was even more tired. "Let's get this baby out," I told my midwife, and she prepared to break my water.
Everything after that is a blur. She broke my water, I experienced the longest and most painful contraction yet, and I seriously wondered if I'd be able to make it. Kim checked me again and I was fully dilated and the baby had moved down. The room became a bustle of nurses and supplies, and the second contraction came on strong. At this point, I was on my side and could not move. I had my hubby's hands in mine and was almost face-to-face with him. When that contraction began, the decibel of my moans reached a new level. I was pretty much screaming at this point, even though in my head I was telling myself to keep it low and guttral. I couldn't hear anything people were telling me, and then all of the sudden I felt the urge to push.
I screamed, "I have to push! I have to push!" and when I took a quick breath, I heard them telling me it was okay to push. More screaming (my hubby's eardrums, thankfully, survived) and pushing. When I felt the head crown, yikes! Kim told me, "Okay, good, good, you're crowning now," and I screamed, "I know!" That was the most painful part, but thankfully after a couple of pushes, I felt the body slither out, and I knew it was over.
Kim said, "Okay, Dad, we're going to turn the baby over. What is it?" And I heard my hubby announce,
"It's a girl!"
My first words? "I knew it!"
Hubby later admitted he almost broke down after the announcement--so many emotions, so much going on, ahh, wow. It was 8:16 AM.
Baby girl was put on my chest for a moment. My first thoughts, same as my hubby's, "She looks just like our firstborn." Dark hair, puffy face, darker features. But, as time wore on, we realized she actually looks nothing like our firstborn (she wasted no time establishing her uniqueness). This time, you can actually see a resemblance to me (my first daughter took all of my hubby's good looks).
They took baby girl back, and within a few moments, I delivered the afterbirth (which I had been kind of dreading--I'd heard it hurts and I'd heard it doesn't hurt). For me, it didn't hurt at all, and I was even complimented on how big my placenta was, "Wow, way to grow a placenta." Hehe.
More blur. Baby girl scored a 7-8 on her APGAR. "Eight pounds, ten ounces" was announced, and my hubby asked,
"Did you hear that?" Yikes, I grow big babies, and this time I didn't even care.
One stitch later, and I was waiting in my bed for baby to be returned to me. It was so surreal, and over so fast. My body was shaking from it all, and I just wanted to cry. Wow, we did it. Wow, I made it without drugs. Wow, I have a girl. Wow, I don't know if I'd ever do that again without drugs. Wow, I can't believe it's all over. Wow.
By 3:00 PM, baby girl had a name, Madeline (pronounced with a short i) Rae. It means tower of beauty and wise protection. I've loved it from the first moment we started using it. More than not, she'll go by Maddie at home, but I love Madeline.
Within thirty-six hours, we checked out and were home. Driving in our van my hubby remarked, "Um, I can't believe we had a baby yesterday! And now we're driving around with her in the car." My thoughts exactly, but I felt great. Recovery has been night and day from my first. And it didn't take long for me to decide that I'll go drug free again.
I LOVED feeling everything happen. I love how quickly the recovery is going. And I love knowing my baby didn't have anything foreign pumped into her system within moments of her arrival.
Thanks for all of the congratulations and well wishes. And thank you, especially, to friends and family who have been so helpful since the birth--whether it's a visit, a meal, taking my eldest on a play date, or helping with household chores--I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!
Me and my girls