It is hard to believe that my newborn son Van is already seven weeks old and that I am now the mother of two handsome boys. While it is still fresh in my mind, let’s flash back to seven weeks ago to the triumphant birth of baby Van…
I was told repeatedly that second babies come early, so at just about 41 weeks I felt as if this pregnancy was never going to end. The Friday before I finally went into labor was spent relaxing on the beach in my home town for the first and last time this summer before the baby was due to come. After a lovely day and during a nice dinner I began to feel the first “real” contractions… every 20 minutes… by the time I went to bed that night they had stopped and I was regrettably still very pregnant.
Sound familiar? Well with the inaccuracy of the “due date” most women will deliver later than expected and the due date should really be more like a due month.
It wasn’t until the following Saturday night that the same contractions returned every 20 minutes. By Sunday morning I had fully expected them to stop and had no expectations of ever being relieved of my “condition.” We went about our business; a trip to the playground for my toddler, Sunday brunch and a BBQ.
My contractions became consistently inconsistent. By using my nifty IPhone contraction timer app, I was able to watch them; 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 6 minutes, 2 minutes, 12 minutes, AAaaaaarrrrrrG. Since my contractions were about as reliable as a drug addict with an appointment, I assumed they would stop and I would go about my life as the first woman to remain pregnant forever. But then I began to make progress, I lost my mucus plug and later came the bloody show.
Some of you may be saying “ewwwwww” at this point and some may know exactly what I’m referring to. The mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix from invading bacteria and as your cervix dilates the mucus plug loosens and passes. It looks like a giant wad of snot in your toilet so keep an eye out. The bloody show is the passing of blood tinged mucus and also signals imminent labor. However, don’t forget every pregnancy and labor is different so there is no absolute signal it’s go time.
After something like 12 hours of irregular contractions and frequent communication with Jessica my midwife, I called her for what I thought was the last time that night. My plans were to watch True Blood and to try to get some rest. I explained how my contractions were still rollercoastering and that I had been in back labor the ENTIRE time. “Please God, grant me some sage like advice.” Jessica explained that it sounded like back labor and that the baby was most likely trying to turn into position. She advised me to do forward leaning postures on hands and knees in order to help facilitate his turning.
One contraction on hands and knees and BOOM, contractions every 3 to 5 minutes consistently. It was time to get into the tub.
Water is such a relief. What was not a relief was the water from the tub pooling in my kitched ceiling and dripping from the light fixture.
It was time for Jessica to make her appearance, at this point with my toddler attended to, I had been laboring with my husbands support and it was him and I against the world.
Side note: After having a horrific experience delivering my first son I knew I did not want to have a repeat of that kind of an experience. I also knew I did not want to be cut open again, so I fought to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), to be explained for another post. In order to make this happen I set up a situation where I had a midwife attending to my pre and post-natal care and since New Jersey law makes it illegal for a doctor or midwife to attend a homebirth VBAC, my midwife came to my house and the idea was we would go to the hospital at 7cm’s dilated so the doctor could catch the baby.
It was around 11pm when Jessica got to our house and at this point we had moved into the master bedroom and I continued to labor while standing and holding onto my husbands shoulders. A wave of anxiety went over me as Jessica prepared to check my progress.
“If you tell me I’m only 3… I may punch someone…”
To which she announced: “Okay, you’re 8 some may say 9 and your bag is bulging. If you don’t want to have the baby right here right now we better get moving.”
I threw on some clothes and in-between contractions ran for dear life down the stairs and out to the car. With a towel to cover the back seat away we went to the hospital which was 30 minutes away. We arrived right around midnight and were brought right into a water birth room. Everyone thought the baby would be coming any minute…
While the staff prepared me a few things came up: 1. at 9cm’s dilated I still had to refuse the epidural. 2. I had to fight with the nurse over having an IV put in.
Believing in my body and the process of birth I felt very strongly in being able to move freely and un-medicated. When creating a birth plan Jessica and I discussed having a hep-lock put in as opposed to an IV so that I would not be tied to the bed in any way. The nurse, Olga, had other ideas and continually repeated the words “but your a VBAC.” Olga was indeed not ready for the birth she about to experience.
Since my water bag was still in tact I agreed to allow the doctor to break it and at this point I was 9cms and at a -2 station. We were no longer timing the contractions but they felt like they were now coming one on top of each other and the pain was something I don’t think anyone can describe. If I had to try to describe it, it might be something akin to what a whale feels when being harpooned only it’s happening over and over again. But hey, this baby was ready to be born any minute now…
An hour later… 9cm’s and a 0 station
Two hours later… 9cms and a 0 station
Three hours later… dear God just give me the epidural, this hurts SO bad, I can’t do it… Hello breaking point!
It was time to get back in the tub.
I had originally planned to labor in the tub and deliver in the bed, since you are not allowed to VBAC in the water, restrictions, restrictions… But since I was going to deliver any minute the tub was an after thought but I needed relief and I needed it immediately.
Jessica filled the tub and the nurses quickly changed the monitors. As soon as the tub and I were ready I jumped in and one contraction later I was ready to push. The doctor became aware of this as I started hollering and pushing like crazy. To every ones surprise his head was there.
16 long hard hours of labor and even more hours without sleep but I suddenly had a burst of energy and leaped from the tub to the bed with zero regard for the water/slippery floor combo. It was time and I was grateful for something to do finally.
With four or five very hard pushes to the excellent coaching of the very skilled nurses his head was out. This is the point where you would expect one more good push and the baby comes right out, right? This was not the case. One more big push and the shoulders were out but the baby was still stranded in limbo half in and half out. Another contraction and his hips and the rest of him was finally delivered at 3:50am Monday. He was hoisted up onto my chest and all the pain stopped.
After a few post delivery pics he began nursing and the doctor began putting me back together again but again that is a story for another time.