Since Lincoln was born at 38 weeks and 3 days, by the time the end of week 37 rolled around in my second pregnancy, I was getting pretty anxious. Of course, the general population of the world (store clerks, random strangers, friends on Facebook) seemed determined to tell me that their "first baby came two weeks early - but then the second one was almost two weeks late!" Thanks for that. Super encouraging.
I started feeling some cramping off and on during my 37th week and thought it could be a hopeful sign. Several times in the week, the weather was nice and as soon as Andrew got home from work, we went outside on a mission to "walk the baby out." No luck. When Saturday, November 17 rolled around, it was a gorgeous day and I said "this is it - let's get to work."
We probably walked six miles over the course of the day. We walked to the thrift store. Stopped at the hardware store. Considered going to Walgreens or the movie rental store (I nixed this last idea as I hoped to be in labor, not at home watching a movie). While we walked, I would have some pretty encouraging contractions, anywhere from every 3-4 minutes to every 10 minutes. Each time we stopped, though, the contractions mostly stopped too (though the cramping did continue).
We finally gave up walking after it was dark and getting cold outside. I bounced on my exercise ball in the living room for a long time and Lincoln tried to climb on my back to have a ride. It was pretty cute. By around 7pm, the contractions were still happening every 5-6 minutes even though I wasn't walking. I started timing them.
|Last pregnancy photo, Saturday night!|
My midwife told me that I could come in to the birth center to be checked. The center is about a 25-minute drive and we arrived around 9pm. I was dilated to 2. I was disappointed it wasn't more, but still concerned that labor could move quickly. The midwife said she didn't think it would be right away and that I should go home and rest. So we reluctantly left. Andrew was feeling overwhelmed with exhaustion, so it was probably good we weren't in active labor at that point!
When we got home, we went right to bed. Andrew was out immediately. I tossed and turned all night, waking up at least once an hour with cramping or contractions or because Lincoln had made a noise. Since we were unfortunately in the throes of an ongoing toddler bed battle, Lincoln woke up and crawled into bed with us around 6am. He nursed back to sleep and I was awake, so I checked my email on my phone - and I started emailing myself the times of my contractions. I dozed off and on until about 8:20 - the contractions were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart and felt definitely stronger than they had the night before. I decided it was time to get up. Andrew and Lincoln went to play while I took a quick shower. I was in the shower for ten minutes and had six really strong contractions in that time. I yelled for Andrew to call my mom to come stay with Lincoln, because we were going back to the birth center.
We were on the way by about 9:20am. I called my midwife to let her know I was coming back. She said she wasn't at the birth center and that maybe I should labor awhile at home before making the trip. I said I really thought I should be checked. She waited on the line, hoping to hear me breathe through a contraction - naturally I didn't have any during our conversation. Finally she agreed to come back and check me again, but warned that she probably wouldn't keep me. We planned to meet at 10am.
Since we were already on the way, we arrived a little early. I was second-guessing myself at this point, since I had only had a few contractions in the car and they were not as strong. Andrew suggested that we walk the trail near the birth center until the midwife arrived. As soon as we started walking, the contractions started again and were about every five minutes apart and fairly strong.
When my midwife arrived, I was dilated to 3-4. She said she wouldn't send me home, since there had been a change in my dilation, but as I was not yet in active labor, she wanted us to go have breakfast or go walk for an hour and come back to see if I had progressed more. I asked about my GBS+ and she said we could go ahead and start a central IV line, put in the antibiotic, and give me a saline lock so that I would still be able to walk around. It took about 35 minutes to get this accomplished. While waiting, I had been pacing the exam room and the contractions were strong enough that I had to stop to breathe through some of them. They still weren't what I would define as really painful, more just very strong cramps - but manageable. Once the IV lock was in, my midwife checked me again. I was at 6! In 40 minutes, I had dilated 2-3 centimeters. She told us not to go to breakfast and that maybe we should go ahead and put our things in a birthing suite before we went walking. It was almost 11am at this point.
We made one trip to our car and each brought in an armload of stuff. I was getting excited, we were going to have a baby today! We took our bags to the birth room and I had to use the restroom. Before I came out, I had the first contraction that I considered to be really serious - it was painful, it lasted longer than the others had, and I had to really focus to breathe through it. I remember describing it as "not fun." When I left the bathroom, my midwife was standing outside the door. She said "Don't go outside. I think you should just stay and labor in here."
I had brought clothes to labor in, so I changed into those and started bouncing on the birthing ball. I had taken the water birth course offered by my birth center - and while I wasn't planning for a water birth, I had entertained the idea of laboring in water. The idea crossed my mind at this point, but I thought "there's plenty of time left for that." I was wrong.
While Andrew worked on organizing our things and letting a few family members know that we were in labor, I breathed through about three more contractions at the same level as that first nasty one, and asked Andrew to please rub my shoulders while I bounced on the ball. With him there, I worked through three or four more contractions that seemed about the same intensity to me. At this point, my midwife came in and said "are you feeling a lot of pressure? It kind of sounds to me like you need to push."
I was floored. I remembered being in a state of panic when I was in transition in my labor with Lincoln. These contractions were painful, yes, but there had only been a handful of them and there was no way it could be that easy, right? I laughed and told her I didn't know if I needed to push, as I had only ever pushed with an epidural. She asked to check me again during the next contraction and said that I was dilated to 8, but that my cervix was moving out of the way with the contractions - and that I could start pushing.
I remember looking at Andrew, just shocked at how fast everything was moving! I asked him to get out the camera so that we could get some photos once the baby arrived! It took me a couple of contractions to really figure out how to effectively push (something I probably never achieved with Lincoln, thus the vacuum delivery). My water broke around this time. Once I knew what to do, I pushed through about three more contractions until she entered the world!
I was definitely better prepared for this labor than I had been the first time around - but I won't lie and say that made the final moments much easier. In hindsight, it all went by so quickly, but those last few pushes took everything I had. Almost two weeks later...I really can't remember the actual pain of delivery. I just feel a sense of amazement that I was able to do it!
|Just after she was born!|
Adelaide Rose was born at 11:52am on November 18, 2012. Yes - less than two hours after we arrived at the birth center. I am pretty glad that I listened to my mommy instinct; I don't think Andrew would have been pleased if he had to deliver our daughter on the side of a major highway.
I got to hold her immediately, and did not put her down for well over two hours. I had a minor tear that needed attention, as well as some excessive bleeding that my midwife and nurse hurried to get under control. Being able to have Addie lying on my chest throughout all of this made it much, much easier! Once I was able to move a little bit, we were able to try breastfeeding and she latched on immediately like a little champion. After having 8 weeks of traumatic breastfeeding when Lincoln was a newborn, this made me happy enough to want to cry.
Eventually they took all of her vitals and we found that she weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long - just one ounce bigger than Lincoln! She was born at 38 weeks and 2 days - one day earlier than Lincoln. I can now brag that I grow pretty consistent babies.
The rest of our day did not go entirely as planned. With a birth center birth, the expectation was that we would go home 4-8 hours after her birth. At first, that seemed possible - but it took awhile to remedy my bleeding and I was having a lot of after-birth shaking and shivering. The shaking is usually normal, but mine went on for several hours and I was really upset that I couldn't regain control. It was also discovered that I had some very irregular swelling that was causing a lot of pain and pressure. I was unable to roll or sit up easily, and I wasn't even allowed to try standing up yet. A second midwife was called in to consult, and after her evaluation, a partner OB from a nearby hospital was called as well. I was really grateful that the OB agreed to come directly to the birth center, rather than making me transfer to the hospital. It was a huge relief!
I was moved to an exam room when the OB arrived, and while I was on some meds for relaxation, I learned that we were dealing with a blood clot situation. Apparently a blood vessel had been damaged during delivery, allowing an extreme amount of blood to be released into the surrounding tissue. I don't care to go into further detail, but the clots had to be removed and I received a fair number of stitches as a result.
Edited to add - after doing research a few weeks after she was born, I learned that my clot situation was actually what is known as a vaginal hematoma. Six weeks post-birth, I still have some remaining swelling that is taking
As awful as this was - as soon as the procedure was over, I immediately felt much better - more like I had expected to feel immediately after the birth! It was about 7pm by the time I got back to my room - over 7 hours had passed since Addie's arrival. We were finally able to contact family members and friends to let them know what was going on. We had hoped to have Lincoln and our parents come up to visit a few hours after she arrived and had also had a photographer scheduled to be there for part of the day. Neither of these things had happened, of course, with all of the craziness going on.
My parents brought Lincoln up to meet Adelaide around 9pm. Andrew's mom was on call at work, so they were unable to come at all that night. Lincoln was really tired by the time they arrived - and he really didn't have any interest in Addie at all. He did, however, try to pull out my IV several times. I was reminded that it was a great choice to be at the birth center so we did not have to contend with him traipsing around a hospital room and its many cords, carts, and other things!
After my parents and Lincoln had gone home, we were at the birth center for a few more hours. Between trying to get a little bit of rest, a shift change, eating Addie's birth day cake (baked for me in the birth center kitchen) and filing paperwork, we ended up leaving around 2am. It was not really ideal, but we were ready to go home and try to sleep.
Overall, even though my birth experience did not go entirely according to plan, I was so glad that I had chosen a birth center for Adelaide's delivery. The labor and birth process were so much more relaxed and even through all of the difficult recovery issues, my midwives and nurses were incredibly supportive and loving. Addie was never out of my sight. It was a wonderful experience in spite of the unexpected problems.
It also turned out to be a blessing in disguise that I had the central IV line for the GBS+ treatment. While the antibiotics were not in my system long enough to be effective, I was given pitocin via IV almost immediately after the birth to help with the bleeding. I also ended up needing medication while the clot situation was remedied, and I was given a strong antibiotic once everything was done, just as a precaution. The GBS+ thankfully did not cause any problems for Addie - it was definitely helpful that my water did not break until I was pushing, so she had very little time for exposure.
Almost two weeks after the birth, I am still in recovery mode. It's been hard for me because I felt great within about two days of Lincoln's birth. I find it really hard when simple things like taking a shower or walking downstairs cause me to feel weak. I know it will get better, so I am just trying to enjoy all the baby snuggles and take it easy! The couch is my permanent station, well-stocked with diapers, wipes, Boppy, and water.
We are all in love with our sweet Adelaide Rose! Her dramatic entrance to the world will definitely be a story to share for many years to come.