To fully understand Isaac’s birth story, you should probably know that I had already labored on and off for some 26 hours, but it didn’t work (or wasn’t “real”, but I dare you to come say that to my face).
After that experience on Wednesday May 4, I was somewhat disenchanted by labor signs. I had contractions here and there, but paid them as little mind as I could. On Friday I had a midwife appointment, and after all the time spent laboring, I decided to be ‘checked’. I was between 4 and 5cm and 70% effaced.
…just walking around, halfway dilated like it was no big deal.
My midwife advised that those measurements didn’t mean so much that labor onset would be “soon”, but that when it did start, the combination of being nearly 5cm dilated and it being my second baby in 2 years, things would likely progress quickly.
“You might think of not driving too far away.”
And so I was served with a delicious piece of eagerness pie while I still feeling jaded and trying to keep my emotions in check regarding the first time I went into labor.
Fast forward to Sunday. Add approximately 49 awkward interactions where I had to explain to neighbors, friends, and readers (who are friends I just haven’t met yet) why I still had a baby on the inside. “Wait, weren’t you in labor?” Multiply my disappointment and exhaustion. Throw in a couple hours of tempting, strong but entirely intermittent contractions.
I was pretty much a grumpy, jaded mess. Happy Mother’s Day to me!
Around 9pm DanO and I wrapped up working on installing the hardwood floors (yes, OBoy can sleep through the sound of a nail gun) and came downstairs for the evening. I was having contractions here and there, but when I decided to pay attention to them, I found that they weren’t consistent, and they even disappeared when I ate a piece of mother’s day ice cream cake and took a bath. I cried in the tub when I realized they were gone. I was going to be eternally on the verge of going into labor.
DanO took great care of me, getting me to bed early, doing everything he could to help me relax and cheer up. We got in bed, I laid my head on his lap and we watched a couple episodes of shows online.
WHAM. One very strong contraction.
10 minutes later, WHAM.
8 minutes later, WHAM.
Then WHAM WHAM WHAM without stopping. It was 11:30pm. We turned the shows off (I was already to the stage of wanting everything to stop during a contraction), I rolled into the fetal position and DanO re-packed our hospital bags.
After Cindy, our on-call friend and neighbor, arrived we were on our way to the hospital. It was around 1:00am. We had intended to leave at 12:30 but I have no idea where that time went. Things felt like they were spinning.
(One of these days I’m going to have a baby during the day. I really am. This night time/wee hours of the morning stuff is exhausting.)
The thing I most remember about the next 45 minutes from when we got in the car until we were checked into the hospital was the nausea. We entered the ER doors, I saw a stack of emesis bags on the reception desk and promptly asked to have one. This turned out to be wise because one elevator ride later and I was using the bag. They didn’t even make me fill out the paperwork because I was dry heaving into a bag. They just sent me right in.
It was about 2:00am at this point. I was admitted and had – get this – the same ‘numbers’ as I had on Friday. 5cm, or halfway dilated, which is great and all usually, but was a bit of a bummer to me given the circumstances.
Once the nausea was gone and our sweet labor support Anna had arrived, the labor party started. I got a wave of adrenaline which slowed labor down enough for me to come out of the fog and chat, laugh, and go for a walk. You know, the kind of walk where you stop every 3 minutes and groaning, lean your dead weight against your husband.
I did about 10 contractions on a birth ball, a few dozen walking around, and then I was feeling tired. I wish I could tell you what time these things happened but I have no freaking idea.
Next we filled up the deep bathtub in my room and while I relaxed in the warm water, DanO read to me from the book we’ve been reading lately. I think this is the part where I turned inside and became kind of dead to the world. I remember this from OBoy’s birth, too, where I would just make decisions and do them – how I wanted to sit, what position I wanted to be in, if I needed to drink/pee/sleep – I don’t remember actively thinking about any of these choices, they just kind of flowed from me.
I love that my body has a fantastic autopilot mode. I knew what I was doing despite the fact that I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing. So much instinct going on.
It must have been 5 am by now? I don’t know.
Once I was nice and relaxed but labor and my contractions were continuing on – strong and close together – I wanted to lay down and sleep. So I did. For 2 minutes at a pass, I slept, then moaned my way through a contraction, and slept again. There’s something so weird about the passing of time during labor. Things that are only 2 minutes long feel like an eternity, and things that are over an hour long feel like 20 minutes. I remember saying that my contractions must have slowed down because I was surely sleeping for 10minutes between them. Nope, my labor support assured me, they were mere minutes apart.
**If you’ve read OBoy’s birth story, you are not crazy, this (walk, bath, sleep) is preeeeetty much deja vu. Except the next part. Brace yourself.**
The midwives on call have 12 hour shifts which switch on the 6 o’clocks. It was nearly 6am at this point, so a new midwife came in an introduced herself… and those were about the extent of the words we exchanged. I was, how do you say?
This timing I know. At 6:30am, shortly after the shift change, I went to the bathroom. During a contraction I had on the toilet, my water broke in a GUSH I never experienced with OBoy. (You guys, that is such a strange feeling!)
“Well that was convenient.” I said, realizing what a mess that could have been.
And then the shaking started. And the vomiting. And really intense world-ending contractions. But mostly I remember the shaking coupled with the OMW I HAVE TO PUSH RIGHT NOW SO EVERYONE SHUT UP AND GET OUT OF MY WAY IMMA HAVE A BABY feeling.
Yea, that one. Kind of scary, actually.
(Spoiler alert: it was only 12 more minutes until I had a baby.)
I went back to the bed from the bathroom and my body decided I wanted to be on my knees with my arms leaning on the back of the bed in something of a squat position. My midwife checked to see if I was “complete” – fully dilated – and ready to push.
“You’re almost crowning. I guess we’ll call that complete, huh?”
From the get-go, pushing was different this time than with OBoy. Really different. I remember the very end of pushing OBoy being so intense that it kind of scared me, but that was after I’d been doing it for an hour already. This time we went from lalala-labor to INTENSE URGE to push in a few minutes flat. At this point I was thankful for both my husband and Anna our doula. I needed to have them next to me for those moments.
When I was given the go ahead to push, our nurse held the heart rate monitor on my belly. I pushed through one strong contraction and I could tell he was almost out.
“Allison? I need you to keep pushing, good strong pushes. Your baby’s heart rate is dropping and he’s right here. We need him out. Be strong.”
I don’t really know what I did or what my body did in the next minute or two, but I know that it was 3 minutes from when my midwife checked that I was complete to when OBrother was born.
He was blue.
(Obviously, you know that he’s now healthy and beautiful, which is why I am ok with continuing the rest of the story tomorrow morning. This is a blog post not an epic poem.)