in the days before going into labor, i thought a lot about my experience with annabel. after all, what else did i have to compare to? in the end, though, while my 2 babies came out looking very much alike, their journeys out were quite different.
thankfully! because while annabel did beautifully, her delivery was not entirely uncomplicated. with her, i was in labor for 24 hours, likely had premature rupture of membranes (no one believed me!), and ended up with fever and tachycardia. there were scary decels, c-section threats, and 2 episodes where the team came in with an oxygen mask for me. oh, and my epidural catheter fell out! afterwards, annabel had to endure 48 hours of IV antibiotics. clearly, all ended well, but i hadn’t really processed that this was more dramatic than childbirth really needed to be.
this time, i had the same birth plan:
1) get epidural
2) get healthy baby out — preferably vaginally, but most importantly in a safe way.
the details . . .
as i wrote in the 39 6/7 post, februrary 19th was quite an active day. i went on a walk/run after a 5+ week hiatus, and at around 5 pm, annabel and i went on a stroller walk to visit her grandparents (they live about 3 blocks away). we played and had a lovely time, but on the way home miss a. had a meltdown — she wouldn’t hold my hand and was flailing around in the stroller. finally, she looked up at me and said, “carry you?” (her grammar is usually better than that, but it’s what she said 🙂 ). so i did, for 2 blocks. all 30+ pounds, draped right on top of my very large baby bump.
either she knew what was coming or just wanted her baby brother to come out, i think. because after her bedtime, i laid down fairly early — around 8:15 pm. i felt tired, but that was the new normal for me by that point. i was mindlessly scrolling through a few blogs on my phone pre-sleep and then i felt AND heard a very faint . . .
this is going to sound so odd, but the sound/feel instantly reminded me exactly of what it felt like to do a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). i haven’t done one since residency but it was a procedure that for whatever reason i really loved and was good at. and so i thought, hmm . . . .
i stood up and was initially disappointed that no ‘gush’ of fluid followed. but (sorry if TMI) when i went to the bathroom, there it was. water. broken. freely flowing. ahhhh! because i had tested as GBS positive earlier in the pregnancy, the plan was straightforward: time to go check in to L&D.
i instantly regretted not packing a hospital bag for myself or for annabel and called josh in a panic. he was on his way to do an emergency appendectomy and i thought he had already left the house, but as it turns out he was just downstairs. thank god. because i was, by that point, just freaked out. i hadn’t expected things to happen suddenly, since with annabel my labor was a looooooong rampup over the period of an entire night.
luckily, the contractions did not start instantly. i was leaking (ew) but just felt a bit of a calm-before-the-storm sensation. josh and i gathered everything up and called tia rachel (annabel’s aunt) so that we could drop annabel off on the way to the hospital. i was a little crazed but josh was calm and got everything annabel needed. he woke her up, and amazingly she was just so calm and quiet. sleepy but incredibly sweet. we put her in the car seat, i gave her a teary kiss at drop-off, and we were off to the hospital.
i’m guessing that we arrived there at 9:15 pm or so, though i don’t remember exactly. i was starting to feel more frequent contractions and they were increasing rapidly in intensity. i was checked and — lo and behold — had dilated 3-4 cm! this amazed me, since it took a great deal of pain to reach this level of dilation with annabel. at that point, i think i realized that things were likely to go quickly. i asked for an epidural.
time passed. i was told that in order to have my epidural started, i first needed a blood/platelet count and some IV hydration. i started contracting harder and faster and time — for the next 2 hours — seemed to slow down. i contracted every 1-2 minutes for about a minute — i.e., not much break time. like last time, my contractions were quite strong. in annabel’s case this actually caused her distress, but cameron seemed to be tolerating it okay.
at 11:15 pm, i finally (i realize 2 hours isn’t so bad, but it seemed like FOREVERRRR) got my epidural. just like with annabel, it felt like angels began singing and the clouds parted. stopping that kind of pain is just . . . amazing. i instantly started itching (common reaction to the narcotics in the epidural) but didn’t care in the least. the pain was blocked absolutely completely. i was able to relax, smile, and both josh and i started to get excited. cameron was coming on his due date!
the next couple of hours were uneventful. i didn’t have any pain or fever, and c’s heart rate stayed within expected limits. i was checked at around 12 (perhaps?) and was 5-6 cm. and then at around 2, i felt the tiniest pressure. i figured it was nothing, but the nurse had been asking if i felt like i needed to push and i told her that maybe that was it. i was rechecked, and — 10 cm! during the exam, she said she felt an anterior lip but was able to manually move it out of the way easily.
things started happening very quickly. my OB came in and confirmed the exam, and he asked for a ‘test push’ to see how close cameron was. “stop!” was his immediate response. he went to gown up and get everything ready. with annabel, the ‘push’ phase lasted something like an hour and was grueling.
with cameron, i think i pushed 3 — maybe 5? — times. with zero pain. and then HE WAS OUT!!!! it was so sudden, and yet there was a beautiful crying baby placed on top of me — one who looked so much like my first that it was amazing.
and that is how cameron entered the world.
. last time: second degree tear. i’m not sure which is worse but I’m sure both are much easier than c-section recovery.