My baby girl is nearly six weeks old, and I can hardly believe that much time has passed. The first three weeks after she was born felt like one of the longest days ever, a slow-motion yawn. Now that I’m getting at least four hours of sleep in a row for the past week, I’m back to feeling human and my days are distinct entities again.
At my last OB appointment on March 12th, it was a Monday and two days past my due date. My belly was round and swollen, I was so pregnant I was truly waddling, and completely uncomfortable. At that appointment, I was 4.5 cm dilated but no signs of real labor. Given that my 40th birthday was looming at the end of May, my OB didn’t want me to carry past 40 weeks. He insisted we schedule an induction by Friday of that week, and I reluctantly agreed. My mom was with me and she knew I was bummed. She and my dad had been visiting all weekend, and my mom was planning to stay for two weeks so that she could be with me in the delivery room and then help with both girls afterwards. My dad had come so that he could stay with our 21-month-old while we were at the hospital, but since no baby came over the weekend, he went back home a few hours away. I was hoping for no medical interventions at all for this baby, but it didn’t seem like that was how it was going to go. I hoped that I’d spontaneously start contracting well before the induction Friday morning, even trying a “labor inducing” pizza and other spicy foods each night, with no result.
My dad drove back to our house late Thursday night so he could stay with our oldest while we were at the hospital. This time at least, his trip would be fruitful. I woke up on Friday morning nauseous with anxiety about how the day would go. Would the induction take all day? Would it be longer than that? How would our oldest handle sharing me? How would I handle having two babies under two years old?
My mom and I checked in at the front desk as my husband Mike parked the car. I requested a room with a jacuzzi tub, so we were escorted to a nice big, bright room that opened to a perfect view of the construction on the hospital. My nurse came in and introduced herself, and immediately, she calmed my fears. I was set up with an IV drip, and the contraction and baby heart monitors were strapped around my belly. Surprisingly, I was already contracting before the labor-inducing pitocin was hooked up around 9am. My body was already preparing for labor, which made me relieved we weren’t going to oust this baby before she was ready. Much to the nurses’ surprise, my OB allowed me to order food all day since I hadn’t agreed yet to the epidural. As the pitocin dripped slowly into my system, the clock ticked away, and I paced the same hall back and forth in front of the nurses’station with my mom, Mike, and my IV pole all dutifully by my side. Periodically, the OB would come in and check my progress. Although my contractions were becoming regular, they were not strong. I hadn’t dilated much more by 6pm, but the pitocin and my body had done much work. Mike joked that it would be fun to have a baby on St. Patrick’s Day (the next day), but I sure as heck didn’t want to be in labor that long. I was allowed to order dinner, and at 6:30 my meal tray was placed on the cart next to me. I was rocking in the rocking chair in my room, when the strongest contraction yet hit me. My baby kicked or punched me so hard in retaliation to that contraction, that I felt it in the cushion of the rocking chair and I jumped. A minute later, I felt a POP! and a gush of warm fluid like a dam opening up released from me. My water had broken! As hungry as they were, Mike and my mom were pumped. Not only was my baby going to come soon, they were going to be able to eat my dinner. After my water broke, my contractions exponentially intensified and were coming faster and lasting longer. As I pushed the air out through a contraction, I could barely stand upright, and the pain was causing me to double over. My nurse said, “If you want your epidural, you should get it now.” Given that my epidural didn’t work until my first baby girl literally was coming out of me, I was still on the fence about even asking for an epidural this time. However, my idea of a “natural birth” was pretty much thwarted already by getting induced, so I was not adamantly opposed. Also knowing that an experienced anesthesiologist was going to place it, rather than someone in training (like last time) set my mind at ease and made up my mind. No jacuzzi tub for me. Give me the drugs.
A half hour later, my epidural was placed and I couldn’t believe how easy labor was once the epidural worked. I felt like I was cheating. At 8pm, my nurse checked my progress and had me do a practice push. She realized that I could deliver the baby right then, so she told me that we were done practicing, and let the OB doc know via a page. We all joked that my pediatrician husband might have to deliver our baby if the OB didn’t arrive soon. Nearly an hour later, the doctor strode in and she had me push four times, and that was all it took. At 9:07pm, the doc allowed Mike to bring our baby out into the world, which made his night. This wet, wax-covered chubby baby with thick dark hair was placed on my bare chest. She smelled like a penny and I held her wonderingly as she wriggled wide-eyed and tested out her lungs and vocal cords.
During the downtime that afternoon, we’d all placed our bets how much this baby would weigh. Given that my belly was considerably bigger this time, I knew this baby was going to be heavier than our 7lb 11oz first baby. Sure enough, the scale read 9lb 3.5oz! She was a whopper! So many things were different at this delivery, but in both events, we brought home a healthy, beautiful baby girl. I am a blessed mama indeed.