It took me 11 months to write about my second birth. Despite all the ways in which it was exactly what I wanted, I walked away feeling confused and a bit traumatized. It took me 11 months to really find the beauty in it enough to express it in writing.
Now I am 4 days past my third birth and all I want to do is write down every detail before I forget it. Not because it was “picture perfect” or even felt the tiniest bit beautiful, but because I know now that the traumas of my second birth became confidences in my third. Am I making any sense? Let’s dive in.
My first birth was rough; 52 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, an epidural, a NICU stay. It was just ROUGH. My second birth was different, completely and utterly different; maybe 8 hours of labor, 4 minutes of pushing, delivered on all fours with no epidural, baby never had to leave my room. Approaching my third birth, all anyone could say was “the third is a wild card!” The theory is that second babies tend to come quicker than first, but thirds sometimes don’t continue that trend. Helpful, thanks.
It didn’t help that my first came early (38 + 5) and my second came late (40 + 1), which is the opposite of what’s “supposed to” happen. I tried so hard to keep an open mind during this pregnancy, so as not to get my hopes up for an early baby. But let’s me honest, when my 38-week appointment came and went, I was disappointed. I was so done being pregnant.
I was officially 39 weeks over the weekend, so my 39 week appointment with my midwives was scheduled for Monday, 6/6. On Friday, 6/3, I asked my husband to talk to his work about potentially starting PTO on Monday to cover him until the baby came because I just could not handle our other two kids on my own anymore. Despite my efforts (raspberry leaf tea, Miles Circuit, birth ball, sex, walks, etc.), we were prepared to hunker down for another week or so of pregnancy.
On Saturday, 6/4, I felt sort of “off;” lots of pelvic pain/pressure all day and increased frequency of Braxton hicks contractions. My husband and I joked all along that there was no way I would go into labor during the day since I was too distracted by the kids, so when “real contractions” started around 8pm, right after we put the kids to sleep, I don’t think either of us were entirely surprised.
For the next few hours, my husband and I finished packing our hospital bag “just in case” while I timed my contractions. By 11:30pm, I decided to call my midwives just to check in and get another opinion on what was happening. Of course the midwife on call was my favorite—a fellow redhead who also had the pleasure of delivering our second baby—but also the very person who doubted I was really in labor with my second. After a brief chuckle over “you would be the one on call tonight,” I told her my contractions had been 2-4 minutes apart since 8pm, but I was able to talk through them and they were only lasting 30-45 seconds. We agreed that I should take a warm bath and see if that had any effect on the contractions, knowing that if it were really go time nothing would slow down in the water.
At midnight, I got in the bath while my husband lay down to go to sleep. I told him I would wake him if I felt like I needed anything or decided I was in full blown labor. While in the bath, I continued to time contractions, but they were fairly inconsistent (4-8 minutes apart) and still not even lasting a full minute. At 1am I stopped timing contractions and lay down in bed to try to get some rest. By 2:30am, I had not slept and could no longer deal with contractions while laying down, so I got in the shower with my phone and my birth ball and let the warm water help me through while I timed contractions once again.
For the next hour, I bounced and breathed and timed contractions, all the while just feeling a bit uncertain. Some were coming quick (1-2 minutes apart) but then I’d get a 3 minute break, and most contractions were still barely hitting 45 seconds to a minute. I was so nervous to be wrong about where I was in labor, and to end up spending hours in triage like I did with my last 2 births. I could not stop second guessing myself and my body.
By 3:30am, however, I decided it was time to go. I called my husband—because getting out of the shower to wake him was not going to happen—and told him to get my sister over so she could watch the big kids. My sister got here within 10 minutes, but it took us a bit to manage to get ourselves into the car. At this point I was at a full stop and breathe for every contraction, and they were so close together now that there wasn’t much time to accomplish anything between them. At 4:04am, we got in the car and headed to the hospital.
The drive was a blur for me. It was dark and raining. I kept my window down and eyes closed as much as I possibly could. I know we had the first Harry Potter audiobook playing, but I could barely hear it. I continued to time contractions really only for the sake of the app I use, which gives you a breathing meditation during each contraction. With my second birth, I was able to keep my breathing pretty steady and really felt like the app really helped me through labor. This time, however, I was barely able to breathe with the app and felt increasingly like I simply needed to crawl out of my body. With every contraction I doubted myself more, I wondered why this was so hard, why I felt so out of control. We finally pulled into the hospital parking lot at 4:53am.
At some point during the drive I had a moment of just like why, why would I choose to feel this? Why wouldn’t I just go to the hospital and get an epidural? This is silly, this is painful, I don’t want this. By the time we got to the hospital, I was 100% set on an epidural. As we were walking in I told my husband, “I refuse to go to triage and be checked, I want to go to a room and get an epidural immediately.” He was hesitant but agreed, though I’m sure he was thinking “yea right, like there will be time for an epidural.”
The hospital was undergoing renovations, so rather than enter through Labor & Delivery like we had with my previous births, we had to go through the Emergency Room entrance and then down a series of hallways. As we walked in, I had to stop and have my husband help me through a contraction. When it passed and we were able to continue walking, a Security Guard popped his head out an office and asked if we were alright or needed a wheelchair—apparently I had stopped to work through the contraction right in front of the Security Office window.
We continued down the hall and into an elevator and then finally into this little empty room with a sign that said L&D Waiting Area. There was a phone on a table with instructions to call a number and a nurse would be with you shortly to check you in. My husband called and spoke with the nurse while I swayed back and forth holding onto a chair just trying to breathe. At this point I could not discern when one contraction stopped and the next began. I can sort of remember the nurse walking into the room and speaking with my husband, but I wasn’t able to focus on anything anymore. I do recall her asking how far apart my contractions were and when my husband answered “1-2 minutes” I called out in protest “there is no break!”
I was asked if I wanted a wheelchair but I declined, having no idea how I would sit down in that moment. We stepped out into the hallway and the nurse told us to go to the right; “we are going to take you straight to L&D, no need for triage at this point.” We had taken maybe 1 step to the right when I had to stop for a contraction and started to feel the urge to push. The nurse immediately rerouted us to the left and towards the nearest room. Someone helped me kneel onto a wheelchair and I was whisked down the hall whilst pushing.
At 5:07am I managed to climb onto a bed on all fours and someone turned on a monitor (which is the only reason we know the timing). I haven’t the faintest idea who was in the room at this point but I felt like no one was listening to me, or maybe I wasn’t speaking. I vaguely heard discussion of trying to get me to flip over onto my back, but my sweet husband countered “she delivered our last one on all fours, she isn’t moving.” Good man, that one.
At one point I heard someone say “let me know when there’s a break so I can check you” and I’m sure if I had been coherent enough I would have laughed out loud. I frantically asked my husband to take my pants off when it became clear no one else was going to, and I believe someone must have reached down to check me as I said “I feel his head” because someone responded with “oh yea there’s a head!”
By 5:10am, baby boy was out. I don’t know how many times I pushed, but he came out in an almighty gush, finally breaking through his sack as he was born. I am not even 100% sure who technically delivered him—my husband says he was almost prepared to catch him himself as everyone in the room was so frantic—but a nurse who was present told me later, “he was just looking up at me, his face in that sack, like please catch me!” According to someone’s notes, the on call OB only managed to get 1 glove on by the time he was coming out and simply pulled her gown sleeve down over her other hand.
I was still on all fours as I heard my husband ask to delay cord clamping, to which someone responded “I already clamped it, we need to cut.” Someone else spoke to me directly and said they needed to take baby away since he wasn’t breathing well. At some point during these moments my midwife got there, because I remember her showing up by my side. I told my husband to go with the baby as my midwife, Jenny, helped me flip over onto my back. By the time I was laying down, baby was in the next room and out of my sight.
My husband went with baby boy to the NICU where they stayed until 8am when I was finally able to meet my baby. I have a lot of feelings about those 3 hours, about how I was treated, what I felt. But I’m not ready to commit that to paper.
5:10am on June 5, 2022
6lbs 6oz, 19in