First of all, the birth pictures were all taken by Sara Corman Photography.
Please check out her blog for more!
39 weeks, 2 days - the morning of the induction
I spent the last several weeks of this pregnancy in a lot of discomfort. It was difficult for me this time to work at the end. My heartburn was really difficult to deal with as time went on. My body was more fatigued than it had been with Isis as well. I just found myself ready to be done with pregnancy earlier than I’d anticipated. As I’d started dilating, I thought that things were progressing and that labor was coming soon, but my body continued to progress and labor continued to wait.
I met with my midwife for my 38 week appointment and I started going in 2 days in a row so she could sweep my membranes and try to move things along. Still nothing. So she told me that since I was at 4-5 cm and since I had a vaginal birth with Isis and progressed to 10 cm on my own, that she was willing to break my water to start labor once I was 39 weeks. After some discussion with Lewis, we decided to do this on Friday, October 12. I would be 39 weeks and 2 days.
They set up the appointment for 5:00am. We got there at 5, did all the check-in paperwork and had lab work done. After about an hour, we were done and had to just wait in our room for my midwife, Melissa. She was coming about 7:30 or 8:00. I took a nap. Melissa arrived at 8:00am and after talking for a few minutes, she broke my water about 8:30am. She said that I should get up and walk around to try to start labor. My options if it didn’t start were to use a breast pump to stimulate contractions or to go on a Pitocin drip for about an hour and then come off to see if my body will do it naturally. I was just praying for labor to start on its own.
For the next 2 hours, we walked the halls, bounced on an exercise ball and walked around the hospital room. Slowly I started having some contractions. By about 10:15am they were actually coming more regularly and were anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes apart, but they didn’t hurt a lot, just felt like lots of pressure.
Around noon, Melissa came to check on me. Contractions were feeling more real at that point and I knew for sure I was in active labor. They were about 2-3 minutes apart and were more consistent. I was alternating between walking around the hallways to bouncing on the exercise ball to standing by the window in my room. Lewis was there with me as well as my best friend Diana who attended my first birth. My friend Sara, who was taking pictures of the birth, was also there this whole time. Diana had to leave soon after lunch because her husband had to work, so she left to watch her kids for a little while with plans to come back once she had a back-up sitter.
I think one of my favorite things about natural labor is the fact that you can control the pace of things to a certain extent. After such a long labor with Isis, I knew what things to look for and what to try to speed things up or slow things down. I walked the halls when I wanted things to get started or speed up. Contractions always became more regular, closer together and stronger when I did this. I would start to get tired or sore after walking & having contractions for a little while, so then I would go back to the room to bounce on the exercise ball. Contractions were still regular when I did this, but they were easier to deal with on the ball when I wasn’t standing up and it gave my legs and feet a rest. When I was ready to start things up again, I would go walk.
When I was for sure labor was really going, I tried to get in the tub. I was lucky enough to again get the only labor room with a tub! I absolutely love the tub and it definitely makes contractions a lot easier to deal with, and with Isis, as my first natural labor, I used the tub a lot and really appreciated it. This time, with a second natural labor that I was less scared of and that I knew I wanted to progress faster, I was disappointed when I found that getting in the tub definitely made things easier, but also slowed things down. Contractions continued to come regularly, but they were slower and further apart. I decided this wasn’t what I wanted, so I got out and went back to walk the halls.
At this point, it was about 2:00pm. My contractions were still about 2-3 minutes apart. I had the nurse check me and she said I was still only at a full 5 cm. This was really frustrating and so I went back to walking the halls. They started to come stronger as I walked the halls and I would have to make a little noise to get through them. This was when I knew things were finally progressing.
For me, labor goes like this: First, contractions are basically just lots of pressure and I’m able to talk and move around through them basically like nothing is going on. Then, contractions are more painful and require me to breathe through them, but I can still stay quiet and I go back to myself and my regular conversations in between them. Then they continue to get more painful and I have to kind of groan or make more noise to get through them, but again in between them I can still maintain conversation and come back to myself. Finally, the last stage is when the contractions are so strong that I am basically loudly groaning or yelling, even could be described as growling and I’m not able to come back to myself in between them. They are closer together at that point and I’m having to focus on breathing in between to keep myself as calm as possible.
So when I started having to make noise to get through them, I felt good about things moving forward. I continued to walk the hall for about an hour. I came back in the room and had contractions for about 30 minutes sitting on the exercise ball. At that point, they were getting stronger and I was moaning to get through them. I started to notice that contractions would slowly build and then at their peak, I would feel almost like a jolt of additional pain and it would catch my breath every time. I was still maintaining an ongoing conversation with Lewis and with Sara, but Lewis told Diana about this point that she needed to come back. In between contractions, we were still laughing and talking like normal.
Right about 3:30, I didn’t notice a huge change in my contractions, but something changed and I could feel it internally and all of a sudden I had a hard time pulling myself back into the normal conversation in between contractions. I had 2 contractions like that and I looked at Lewis and I go, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I said “I’m breaking” and I started to cry a little bit. Another contraction hit really hard and I told Sara to get the nurse as I was in the middle of a contraction and Lewis was helping me. I told the nurse to check me again. I also told her that if she said I was at 6 cm, I was going to be mad. I could feel a very noticeable difference in the contractions and I was really having to make noise to get through them.
The next part felt like it lasted a lot longer than it really did. The nurse said I was at 7 cm and needless to say, I was not happy with this. I again looked at Lewis and said that I didn’t know if I could do this. He continued to offer me support and tell me I could do it and he never let me see him break, which I found out later he did for a second. Another major contraction hit and as I was moaning through this one, I felt hands rubbing my legs and I realized that Diana had come back.
As soon as the contraction was over and I saw her, she hugged me and I started crying. With the next contraction, I told the nurse – not quite as nicely as I would’ve in a different situation – that I wanted Melissa and I wanted her now. I saw her quickly leave the room and by the time I was having the next contraction, Melissa was there.
I told Melissa that I didn’t think I could do this and she told me she thought I needed to switch positions and get on my hands and knees with my body leaning over the back of the bed. I got in that position, immediately got really hot and they took off my hospital gown, brought in a fan to blow on my face and put cold wet towels on my back and face. The contractions were coming on top of each other at this point and I think I had maybe 2 before I felt something shift inside me. All of a sudden I knew that Lux had dropped down in the birth canal. I yelled, “I think she’s coming out! I think she’s coming out!” I felt Melissa check and all of a sudden I heard Diana telling me that Melissa was putting on her birth gear, that all the nurses for the baby were in the room and that they were putting down the pads on the bed for birth.
I started feeling an intense urge to bear down and push all the time. I don’t even know if I was having contractions in particular, I was just having the urge to push over and over. My body was in pain and my mind was focused on nothing, but getting her out. I have to say, this is the most raw and primal I have ever been in my life. The noises I was making, the feelings I was having, the intense focus to do nothing but get this baby out all came from a place that I couldn’t even control. My body knew what to do. My mind knew what to do. I couldn’t have stopped pushing even if I wanted to. I could still feel Lewis up by my head and back and because we had been planning throughout the pregnancy for him to catch the baby when she came out, I yelled, “Lewis are you going to catch her??” Because I didn’t think he realized that she was really coming out and fast. I heard them get him gloves and within the next couple of pushes, he was there to catch her.
I felt something strange when I was pushing. With Isis, I remember her head felt smooth and round and then her body felt bumpy as it was coming out. When I was trying to push out Lux’s head, it felt almost bumpy and I couldn’t figure out why. I found out later that her hand was right up by her chin and she was basically stuck in the birth canal. Melissa had to reach up and kind-of guide things and move things a little bit and I pushed harder and Lux came out like Superman with her arm first. I also found out later that because of her position with her arm, that I probably wouldn’t have been able to push her out if I had been on my back pushing, so I’m happy for several reasons that I was on my hands & knees & that I didn’t have an epidural. I felt a lot more in control of my own pushing & obviously it was a better position for pushing a baby who was positioned differently.
Lewis caught her, handed her through my legs up to me and she was out! I find it just crazy that from the first moment I told Lewis that I didn’t think I could do it until the moment I pushed her out was less than 30 minutes. It went by in a blur. I really believe that in natural labor, every mom reaches that point when she thinks she can’t do it, but it is always right at that last point before you enter the final stage. So for any moms looking to go natural, accept that moment and push hard right through it because you’re almost done.
Over the next few minutes, they got me turned over onto my back and put Lux up on my chest. At my hospital, they do what is called kangaroo care, where the babies are placed skin to skin on mom’s chest for at least the first hour after birth. They do the APGAR, the footprints, the first feeding and everything there. So Lux and I started our time together in that position while Melissa finished up everything with me as far as birth and afterbirth goes. Lux had her first feeding a few minutes after she was born. She latched on immediately and fed for about 45 minutes!
Looking back over the whole experience, I am so grateful and so overwhelmed with several different emotions. I am happy to have had a much shorter labor than I had with Isis. I am happy that I was more confident in the process of labor this time. I knew what to do to speed things up or slow things down. I also had incredible support again. Lewis was a rock and was so encouraging and positive. It helped that he knew more about what to expect this time and knew what everything meant and what to say. Diana was also so strong and so helpful. When she came in the end, it was perfect timing and exactly what I needed to get through those last moments. I am extremely grateful for my nurse-midwife. She is one of the most wonderful people that I know and she just happens to also be an incredible midwife. She knew exactly what to do and what to say and she was available as soon as I asked for her. When she came in at the end, her suggestions moved things on so that those last moments were so fast and as comfortable as they could’ve been. Her presence in the delivery room brings such peace and confidence for me.
This picture is Isis giving Lux a kiss through the window the first time she saw her.
My birth experiences with both girls were very different. I am so grateful for both of them and wouldn’t ask for a different way to bring them into the world. I am so happy to know that I was able to have 2 natural labors with no complications. I know that with all the difficulties that can happen, that this is truly a blessing and I am thankful for it. Now I have 2 beautiful girls who are both healthy and doing wonderful! I feel truly blessed!