When our first son was born, the labor got off to a pretty rough start, but ended better than I could have imagined (see that post here). So this time, being such an old pro, I figured I could cut out all the guess work, and jump right into the good stuff – easy peasy…
But I was thrown a little bit of a curve the last week and a half of pregnancy, in the form of prodromal labor. It isn’t false. But it doesn’t progress. Every evening, I would feel the pain of timeable contractions (anywhere from 6-4 minutes apart), that would eventually fizzle out after 6-8 hours. It. Was. Exhausting. Emotionally, and physically, it drained me.
The Monday before Ethan was born, we went into L&D, only to be sent home, without a baby, still pregnant, after 3 hours. I cried a lot that week, frustrated, and wondering how I would ever be able to tell when labor was really, actually kicking in.
Sunday, April 30
That night, after another round of “this HAS to be it…” contractions, that (again) stopped, I lay in bed and asked God to ease my anxiety, and give me the strength to continue this ritual, til HE was ready to bring our baby to us. Our baby was healthy and my struggles in that moment were tiny, compared to so many others’. I asked for peace. And God is faithful.
Monday, May 1
At 4:00am, I popped awake. And then I felt them… the rolling wave of a contraction starting in my back, working its way to my front. These felt different – familiar. I got up, and moved around the house, a spoon full of peanut butter in my hand. There it was again. Again. And again!
In my reading, I have learned a lot about prodromal, or pre labor. Its pain tends to focus mainly on the pelvis (it is thought that one of its purposes is to move baby into a better position for birth), rather than the pain most women feel that begins in their back, and lower abdomen, in true, progressing labor. Prodromal labor also will lessen when you change positions…
This wasn’t going away, no matter what I did. And there was a little blood. So. Yup, labor.
I woke up Cory, and told him we had to head to the hospital. He groggily got himself moving, while I gathered our bags and did a last-minute check over everything. We carried Connor to the car, and drove him to grandma’s house. He gave Cory and I a big hug and kiss, but cried hard as we left. He wanted to go with us, and it broke my heart a little to leave him, knowing things were about to change for him, forever.
We arrived at St Elizabeth’s. I had called ahead and requested room #454. Is it snobby to ask for the biggest, best corner room on the labor ward? Maybe. But that is where they stuck me for my false alarm, so I decided it was only right that we get it for the big show. Cory and I went down to the cafeteria for breakfast while they tidied up the room. I tapped my fingers on the table, and hummed thru contractions.
After receiving the call that they were ready for us, we settled in, and my midwife (who happened to already be on the floor) came to check me. This was it. I was SURE I was in labor this time, but I dreaded being told I was still only at 1cm – fearing another release.
I started to cry from relief and muttered “I was so afraid we were going to be sent home again!”
“Oh honey”, my midwife said, “you’re in labor!”
So here was the plan: we were going to walk the halls until the contractions became (almost) too intense to bear, or until I reached 7cm. Then I would get a half-power epidural. Natural labor. Drugged birth. I wanted to experience the pain, to a point, but end with the kind of painless control that I had so enjoyed about my last birth. I had a very narrow window to shoot for, and had no clue if it was going to work.
As we walked, we laughed and talked. Cory commented on how goofy labor made me. Back and forth, til I would pause, say “contraction”, and find a position on the wall railing that I liked. They were coming hard, and fast, varying from 2-3 minutes apart. But every 30 minutes, we had to return to the room so the nurse could listen to the baby thru a contraction, and the second I entered that room, they spaced out. Way out. At one point we took a break and I rested in the bed for about an hour, and they were only hitting every 9-10 minutes. That room was TOO relaxing!
So back to the halls!
After a few more rounds in the hallway, contractions were so intense that I actually considered banging my head against the wall. I didn’t. But I knew it was time to be checked again… 5cm. Hmm.
We decided to go ahead and get the epidural going. The anesthesiologist entered the room and asked “Are you the one I have heard wants the half-powered epi?” I was famous. He tried to convince me that going half-strength would mean I would never be content with the pain I’d still feel, and we’d never catch up to it in time for the epidural to be worth it. But I knew what I wanted. I knew it worked last time. NO all-over body numbness (it sent me into a near panic attack last time). Nope. No. If it meant I’d still have pain, so be it. So he set it up.
My midwife was back to see how I was doing. She checked me … “She’s ready”. Over the course of 3 hours, with the help of the epidural, and a tiny dose of Pitocin, I had reached 10cm. And reached it QUICKLY!! Suddenly the room became very exciting.
My toes and legs were tingly, but I could still lift, wiggle, and FEEL them. One change, though, (from last time) was that I couldn’t feel the pushes I gave. I was told to just visualize it, and sure enough, I guess it worked, because with every deep breath and bearing down, I brought baby closer. The nurses and the midwife would let out disappointed, amused exchanges after every push … “Oh! I thought that would be it…. ok. Next time…”
Between every push, I’d grin up at my handsome husband. Cory had been the best partner all day, and seeing the emotion and excitement on his face in those last minutes …it’s forever etched in my mind.
5 minutes of pushing, and I reached down and brought our boy to my chest. He was all cheeks and big eyes. They really had to rub him to get that first cry out, and from that moment on, he was quiet and content to examine his new world. The most beautiful baby. Born right on his due date, as God alone could plan.
It wasn’t a short labor (15 hours, maybe, from my first felt contraction, to birth), but it was exactly what I had hoped for, down to the smallest details. And I loved it. I really, really did.
After a couple hours, and a stop at the nursery (where nurses were amazed I was up and walking … “half-power epidural”, I’d tell them), we arrived at our recovery room. Another large corner room, #445. Secluded. Quiet. I was so grateful. Our time at St E’s was wonderful. We rested, celebrated with family visitors, and took part in the fabulous dessert cart that rolled around every day at 1pm (cheeeeesecaake!).
Ethan weighed exactly a pound more than his big brother had, and very well might outgrow Connor by his first birthday, since he seems to think cluster feeding began the moment he left the womb. His pediatrician was even impressed by his weight (re)gain, at his 3-day old appointment.
He is calm, and sweet. Cooing at me all day (and night) long, watching me with those big beautiful eyes.
So here we are. I am outnumbered, clearly, by the most handsome of men, in my household. Connor loves his baby brother and is being extremely understanding about mommy having to share her time. That may (will?) change. He held him, by request, for the first time last night, and the pride on his face was enough to make my heart burst into a bajillion pieces.
I am …exhausted. I have (already) been spit-up on more times than I can count, and felt the warm trickle of urine running down my side during enough feedings, that I am convinced that newborn diapers are absolutely useless. No one around here seems to think that the night is for sleeping. My meals and coffee are always cold.
There really aren’t the words. I am just blissfully happy.