I seem to be completely unaware of what is going on with my body. That, combined with the fact that we weren’t trying to get pregnant resulted in my husband realizing I was pregnant before me. I was shocked when the pregnancy test was positive. I certainly couldn’t imagine life with a toddler and a business that totally relied on me. But, none of that mattered anymore, we were having a baby!
I seem bombarded by many stressors during this pregnancy. This time, I experienced “all day sickness.” I have no idea who decided to call in morning sickness, but they’re wrong. Then, we had to break the news to my sister-in-law who was getting married in October. All three of us were supposed to be in the wedding. We were nervous about upsetting her, but she took the news well and changed her wedding date! Then my son was diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease a few weeks before my due date.
My entire pregnancy felt different from the beginning. I felt very sick all day, everyday. My midwife advised me to eat several small meals throughout the day and I felt much better when I did that. But, my days are so unpredictable that it was hard to keep on top of it and then I would feel too sick to eat and feel worse. She also recommended Emergen-C which really helped to boost my energy.
I really looked forward to going back to prenatal yoga. The yoga had given me some good tools for coping with Garrett’s labor. Since the pregnancy was a surprise and parenting a toddler requires constant attention, this time prenatal yoga had the added benefit of giving me some time alone to think about and bond with my baby.
We also took Hypnobirthing and Anne’s Labor Workshop this time. My friend and doula, Amy, had to attend the Labor Workshop with me since Craig had to stay home with Garrett – that was the day he was diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth. HFM is usually just an uncomfortable rash of blisters on the (you guessed it) hands, feet and mouth. While it made Garrett VERY uncomfortable, it is usually no big deal. Except that one of the viruses that causes HFM can cause encephalitis in newborns. And, the disease can be contagious up to 4 weeks. There were a lot of ifs and maybes to all of this, but it was enough to make me worry constantly. I eventually realized it was beyond my control and decided it would be fine. Our doctor recommended that we watch the baby very closely and bring him in at the very first sign of anything unusual.
Since we didn’t know why Garrett was born so early and my midwife said that often does not repeat itself I, again, mentally prepared myself to go to 41 weeks this time. I was totally fine with that until 36 weeks. Once 36 weeks came and went I realized that this birth could (and would) be totally different. Even though I tried not to, every night before I fell asleep I thought “maybe I’ll wake up in labor tonight.” It was quite annoying and I was annoyed with myself for not being able to drop it and get on with life – I could (and did) still have several weeks. Still, I couldn’t believe it as each week passed.
Finally, on Sunday October 12th I noticed that the toning surges seemed more regular and slightly more intense. Plus, they had always been in the evening. I decided to ignore it and go about my morning. Around noon, I went to the bathroom and noticed some blood-tinged mucus. Since, my membranes released first with Garrett, this was new to me, but I knew that it meant that labor was officially beginning. I tried not to get too excited since I knew this was the very beginning. So, we ran some errands and went to lunch. At lunch I decided to tell Craig that I thought I was in early labor. The surges had continued to be regular and increasingly more intense, but obviously not painful. We did some more shopping and running around. We came home and sat on the porch swing while Garrett played with friends. Since my labor with Garrett was so atypical my Candace wanted me to call her as soon as I knew I was in labor. Plus, both of my doulas have young children. I figured that it was pretty official at that point and I decided that I would go ahead and give them the heads up. I enjoyed talking to each of them and it got me very excited about meeting my baby.
I decided that I should try to get some rest. Garrett hadn’t had a nap, so even though it was late I volunteered to lie down with him while Craig cleaned up the house Unfortunately, Garrett wouldn’t lie down and go to sleep. So, we both got up. Note: in hindsight, I should have stayed in bed by myself!
We went out to eat and had terrible service so it took a long time. I was getting very irritated as the surges were getting more intense and I wanted to get out of that booth and back home! When we got home around 9 pm or so, Craig decided to go ahead and blow up the birth pool since he was using and air compressor and he didn’t want to wake the neighbors in the middle of the night. However, we know all of our neighbors really well and I’m sure they knew exactly what was going on. I called my friend, Anne, who was also pregnant and who I had invited to the birth. Unfortunately, her husband was out of town so she wouldn’t be able to come because she also has a 3 year old. She came over for a little while and we chatted. Craig laid down with Garrett and they both fell asleep. I decided to let Craig sleep since I knew we would be up late – I’m always thinking of my husband . I read a little, but just couldn’t find a comfortable position during my surges. I finally decided to take a bath. I relaxed a little, but couldn’t tell a difference in my pain level. All of a sudden, I started crying – I felt all alone and I wanted to go for a walk! So, I decided that I should wake up Craig. I labored on my knees leaning against the birth ball and he started timing my surges. They were 1-1.5 minutes long and only a few minutes apart (the details are fuzzy now, but I remember being really surprised). He continued timing them for a while just to be sure and it seemed pretty consistent. We went into the living room, hoping a change of scenery would help. It didn’t so I called Anne and Amy, our doulas, and our midwife. While still manageable, my surges were feeling much like they did at the end of Garrett’s birth. So, I thought I might be getting close.
When they all arrived I relaxed again. I enjoyed the company of other women. We chatted and I had a contraction every now and then. I felt more pain in my lower back this time. Anne really helped by applying pressure to my lower back during the surges. She also put her hands on my shoulders to remind me to relax the parts of my body that I wasn’t using.
At some point, somebody suggested that we take a photo of my belly. I hadn’t done that yet. The picture turned out beautiful and I’m glad somebody decided it was photo-worthy. I labored more and decided to get into the pool. Garrett woke up while I was laboring in the pool. He was still grogy and confused. He eventually woke up more and had fun helping Craig refill the pool with air since it, apparently, had a slow leak. We got out some special new toys I had bought for him to play with while I was in labor.
I continued laboring in the pool for a while and started feeling frustrated. Apparently, I wasn’t as close and I thought. I had to pee, so I got out and went to the bathroom. I know a lot of women like to labor on the toilet, but the surges seemed more painful anytime I had one on the toilet. I was really tired since I hadn’t taken that nap earlier and I just wanted to sleep! I was feeling a little angry about it at this point and decided to go lie down in bed. Anne propped me up and put a pillow between my legs. Craig and Garrett came and laid down with me, and, of course, they both fell asleep. I think I was so tired that I actually did manage to snooze a bit between surges. I’m not sure how long we laid there, it seemed like it was about an hour or so. Eventually, I got up and went to the bathroom. While on the toilet, I felt a little gush of water. I had Craig go tell Candace that I thought my water had broken. She came and checked the toilet and we saw there was some blood in the toilet. She said it looked like I had been doing some good dilating – what a complement!
Craig and the doulas went to refill the pool and had to boil some hot water since I had, apparently, used it all in my earlier bath and laboring. When it was ready, I walked out in to the living room wearing only my robe which was wide open. By this time, it is light out and it’s time for the school bus. Remember how I said we know our neighbors very well? Well, of course, they all knew what was going on – there were three strange cars parked at our house and the air compressor was going. So, as I walk into the living room, my neighbor, Dee Dee, is waving at me from across the street. I have no idea why the blinds were up. And, remember, that my robe is wide open. I can hear her holler across the street wondering whether we have a baby.
I was revitalized and remembered that I wasn’t going to be in labor forever. I got back into the pool and labored some more. I got back up on my knees and leaned against the edge of the pool. It did seem to create more pressure and soon I was feeling “pushy” along with my surges. This was a new sensation for me as I never felt an “urge to push” with Garrett until his head came out. I put that in quotes because I wouldn’t really call it an urge to push. I didn’t feel like my body was telling me to push. My body was pushing my baby down on its own. It’s just a different sensation than the regular surges. Candace told me to let her know when I felt burning. The Ring of Fire was also new for me. Finally, his head came out. I know I should have been thrilled, but what I really thought was “damn it, I have to push again!” One more push and I was holding my baby. I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I just admired my baby and felt this rush of love for him. A few minutes later, I decided to check out his parts – we didn’t find out the sex at the ultrasound. As you know, he’s another boy.
Craig went and woke up Garrett. He came out to meet his new baby brother. He was tired and hesitant at first, but warmed up quickly. He enjoyed touching his tiny fingers and ears.
Eventually, Candace wanted me to get out of the water because I still hadn’t delivered the placenta. We moved on to the couch and she felt my belly. She told me that it wasn’t attached and that it was probably down at the bottom waiting for me to push it out. Again, I thought “damn it, I have to push again!” I tried to talk her out of it, but she won. I gave a little push and it slid right out.
Shortly after that, the front door opens and in walks my neighbor. Don’t worry, she’s the one that was invited to the birth. She was bummed that she had just missed it. She sat down on the couch with me and we talked about the birth. Her daughter, Annabelle, and Garrett are good friends so they ran off and played which was great for him. We chatted for a while and then they left.
We went back to the bedroom to get cleaned up and do the newborn exam. My neighbor was back again a few minutes later with our dog, who had apparently managed to escape at some point. She also brought another one of our neighbors, Judy. She came in and admired him for a little while and told me she was proud of me. I know my everyone probably thinks I have crazy neighbors, but I love them! It’s great to be surrounded by people who care so much.
We did the newborn exam. Garrett helped Craig cut the cord and he picked out a pink birth certificate for his brother. Amy made my placenta prints and then made some rice and beans for us to have later. Somebody brought me a PB&J. It was a good time. It took a while because Remy didn’t want to leave my body to be weighed and measured and all of the visiting, but there was a really positive spirit in the room.
It was longer and harder than my first birth, but it was more “textbook” labor pattern and I am glad to have experienced it. Now I know how easy Garrett’s birth was. It also taught me to appreciate the uniqueness of each birth. In the words of Marie Mongan, “My body and my baby know just what to do.”