I’m feeling pretty great, because this birth experience was the exact opposite – minus the induction at 41+ weeks – of the traumatic ordeal of Emmett’s entry. (30+ hour labor, 3+ hrs pushing, forceps, NICU stay.) I’ll sum it up by saying it felt like I’d mentally prepared for a marathon, but ended up just having to run a 5K. More birth story after the jump, for those of you who want to read about dilation and whatnot.
Otherwise, we’re on our way to adjusting to this new normal. This mystery porch greeting was the most lovely thing about our homecoming. (We took her home in the outfit I wore 30 years ago!)
As soon as we crossed the threshold, a toddler tantrum/baby blowout and crazy dog combo had pretty much the entire family boarding the Hot Mess Express. It will get better, I know.
Eileen’s birth story
I’ll preface this story by saying I think of each birth experience as a kind of choose-your-own adventure, with unique challenges and options that you might like or not like presenting themselves at different points, based on where your baby and body are at that time. I worked with the same midwife team and hospital and had wildly different experiences with each baby. I’m so grateful to the staff – and my awesome spouse – for their support in both Emmett and Eileen’s births!
Monday, at 41 weeks 1 day, I went in to see my midwives as scheduled and wound up getting a non-stress test that showed baby was doing great – and that I was having some mild contractions. Still only dialated to 1 cm. and not very effaced, I was going to have an overnight induction. This made me nervous, because my induction experience with Emmett was so intense. I’d planned to go in Tuesday night but after the testing learned I’d be getting started that night instead (!!!) Luckily, I’d spent the morning running errands and baking cookies for the nurses, so I just finished packing up overnight bags/making nachos/hyperventilating. Even though “go time” came late, it still felt like a sudden shift of reality and a new this-is-really-happening mindset.
After dinner, we dropped Emmett off to stay overnight with Joe’s sister’s family and got checked in on time to catch the end of the Cub’s game. I got a dose of a ripening agent every four hours, and each time you spend the first hour on your back and can’t use the bathroom for two, which isn’t super-fun. My body wasn’t making any progress until around 4 a.m. when my contractions really started to keep me awake. At about 6:30 a.m., I sent Joe home for a shower and breakfast and ate a bagel because we both figured it would still be a long day ahead.
When I got checked by the midwife at about 8 a.m., I had dialated to 3-4 c.m. and contractions were intensifying, so I got to hold off on starting Pitocin. I’m grateful my midwife gave me time to see if my water would break on its own. Joe had returned, and I thankfully wasn’t hooked up to an IV, so we could walk the floor. I was working through contractions on the rocking chair and we got about halfway through a “House Hunters” episode when – POP! – it did. I got to labor on a yoga ball, where I worked through some intense contractions and heard my neighbor give birth. She and I were kind of sharing a labor and delivery team, so I think their focus on her helped me have some time for my body to work things out on my own. At this point I still figured I had hours of labor ahead, but we paused the episode for some major pains.
Shortly after, during a trip to the bathroom, I decided maybe things were moving faster than I’d ever imagined and got Joe to call the midwife to our room. It felt like I’d barely made it into bed to be checked (I was dialated about 7-8 c.m.) that I felt like pushing. With Emmett, pushing was this coached, exhausting/exhausted experience, but this time the midwife had to keep telling me to slow down. I felt a little bit like a wild animal compelled by urge and – a few crazy pushes later – baby girl shot right out (10:23 a.m.). Things moved so quickly that I did experience second degree tearing, but there hadn’t been time to even consider pain meds or an epidural. So I just recovered with ibuprofen and a crazy surge of adrenaline and baby snuggles. I’m not going to be one of those people who tries to claim it was pain-free, but I was pretty darn proud of and surprised by the natural birth experience. Still, not doing it again!
Watching Joe watch the Cubs win over the Cardinals with a fresh baby nestled against his chest was a pretty sweet reward for the afternoon.
Growing a human is an amazing experience.