“It’s gonna be fast.” This is what I heard over and over again while preparing for my second labor. My total labor with Lily was 9 hours, 3 of which were significantly painful and I only pushed 3 times to get her out! That is SUPER fast for a first-time labor. I didn’t get to the hospital with Lily until less than two hours before she was born and I delivered her drug and intervention free in a waterbirth tub. Of course, labor and delivery weren’t easy but I was really fortunate with her. It was painful but overall, I really didn’t think it was that bad. Second labor and deliveries are usually much faster and with my fast labor history, I was assured (and warned) that my chance of
We made it to 40 weeks and 2 days and baby boy wasn’t showing any sign of moving out of hotel mom. I was shocked we made it that long since I had experienced false labor TWICE already and he had dropped weeks ago. Although I was in no rush for Maverick to arrive (I was sleeping well and enjoying my last few days of freedom!) I was starting to feel the pressure. My mom had already arrived in town and only had so many days before she had to get back to work and my dad was coming in town that night (Wednesday) only for the weekend. On top of that, my OBGYN told me at Tuesday’s check-up that he wouldn’t be able to make it to my delivery if it started any time Thursday afternoon until Sunday. So, although I personally wasn’t in a rush, all of the stars were aligning for a Wednesday delivery. I decided to call up the acupuncturist I used during my last pregnancy to see if he could work some points to encourage labor. I definitely didn’t want to do anything to rush my baby out but I felt comfortable with acupuncture because if he wasn’t ready, there was no number of needles that would force him out! I started that morning as I usually do, got Lily ready for the day, went to the gym, took a shower then headed to the acupuncturist and finally the chiropractor. After I got home from the chiropractor I was pretty tired but decided to forgo a nap so I could get a good night’s sleep. Big mistake.
At 6pm on Wednesday, February 6th I was sitting next to Lily talking to her as she ate dinner. I stood up to clear off her high chair and boom…my water broke. I went to the bathroom to confirm that it was indeed my water and not “an accident.” Yep, it was amniotic fluid. It wasn’t a huge gush but it was significant enough that it was clear what happened! My water didn’t break until right before I started pushing with Lily so it was kind of exciting for me! At the same time, I remembered my OBGYN saying “if your water breaks, get to the hospital immediately!” He told me my chance of having a precipitous labor was much higher if my water broke. Andy and I called the OB, my doula and birth photographer and let them know it was time to roll. I got myself together, made sure my mom was all set with Lily and our dog, kissed Lily good-bye and off we went.
When we arrived at the hospital I was all smiles. I had a few contractions coming and going but nothing regular. We checked in and everyone reassured me they would kick in any time. It was SO unusual for me. The last time I had a baby I couldn’t even open my eyes when I entered the L&D floor. I couldn’t help but feel like I was overreacting by going straight to the hospital but of course I didn’t want to get stuck in Atlanta rush hour traffic if my labor ramped up quickly. So, there we were arriving at the hospital along with our crew preparing for things to get wild at any moment. Well, they didn’t. We walked, we talked, I did squats, I lunged back and forth down the hallways more times than I care to remember. I tried different positions, I rolled on the birth ball, I sniffed essential oils, we hit labor inducing pressure points….nothing. I was still having contractions and they were certainly more painful than the Braxton-Hicks I had been having for months but they just would not get into a pattern. By 10pm I was exhausted. I asked everyone to leave so I could lie down. I knew this was going to take a while so I wanted to try to get a little rest. We turned off the lights and I laid down only to be interrupted by the nurses after 25 minutes. Rest was not in the cards for me and that would prove to be a huge problem in the coming hours.
If you’ve been following along on my blog or on Instagram, you know that intervention-free birth is incredibly important to me. Lily was born naturally and that was the same plan I had for my son. After being in the hospital for over 5 hours, my doula and I took a walk in the hallway and she brought up Pitocin to get the labor going. My doula also encourages intervention-free births so she didn’t bring it up lightly. She said they could just turn on the Pit for a little bit, just enough to get thing started. I instantly felt tears well up in my eyes. “No.” I told her. I know that once your water breaks you are put “on the clock” because you have a higher risk of infection once the bag is broken and I started to freak out. Usually OBs won’t let you go more than 24 hours. After all the warnings that my labor would be SO fast, here I was potentially facing needing drugs to have my baby. I told my doula and eventually my OB that drugs were not in the plan and we need to figure this out. My doctor suggested a membrane sweep around 2am and I agreed. I didn’t have my membranes swept with Lily so I had no idea what to expect. Oh. My. God. I could literally feel him touching the baby’s head. You guys, it was so awful I burst in to tears and actually screamed at him to stop! When he was done, he apologized and told me he just wanted to give me the birth I wanted. I know he was looking out for me and that’s why I am SO happy I was careful about the healthcare provider I chose. Trust really is everything in those moments.
The membrane sweep worked. Within an hour the contractions started to become regular. The final step into full-blown labor was me doing squats up and down on the toilet. Every time I stood up I would get another one. By the time I was having real, painful, time-able contractions I was EXHAUSTED. I can’t stress to you all enough how physically and mentally tired I was. I think that was the single most important thing that made this labor so different than Lily’s. I started the tough contractions laying down on my side and eventually moved into the shower. I laid down in the tub but didn’t fill it up because of the risk of infection with my water broken. I let the shower water run down onto my belly as I uncomfortably sat in the tub. I couldn’t find a position that felt right. I was all over the place with my emotions and my pain. I had to moan to get through the contractions and by the time one was over it was all I could do to catch my breath before another one started. After what felt like forever I had my cervix checked and was at an 8. I was starting to feel pressure at the end of every contraction. I remembered that feeling vividly from my first birth. My doula knows to trust my intuition so it was time to call the doctor in. By the time he arrived I had been in real, painful labor for about 3 hours.
When the pressure became more frequent and I could start to feel his head lowering I got out of the tub and went back to the bed. I know from all of my birth education classes that squatting is the best, most efficient position to give birth so we raised the squat bar on the bed and I put one leg up and kept the other on the bed. I started to push but felt like there was no way he could get out that way. My doula suggested putting my knees on the bed with my arms leaning over the top (with the headrest raised up). This was the exact same position I gave birth to Lily in when I was in the birthing tub. I could feel immediately when I was there that this was the right spot for me. Even in all my pain, though, I was conscious of the view everyone (including my dad who came right from the airport) would have with my butt in their faces! To be honest, though, even with the thought lingering in your mind, you’re in way too much pain to care what happens or to voice your concerns. My only job at that point was to get the baby out! Pushing took way longer than I had anticipated. Like I said, with
Once I had sat down and had my son put on my chest, all I could say was “Now I totally understand why women want drugs!!” I never even thought about using any pain meds with Lily but this time I said to my doula and my husband that I might need them if it went on much longer. I don’t know if I actually would have gone through with it but I am VERY grateful that I didn’t labor any longer than I did. I truly felt like I was about to die I was in so much pain. I just wanted so badly for it to be over and no one could tell me how much longer it was going to be. When I was in pain with regular contractions I was still only 4cm dilated which was exactly the same place I was when I got to the hospital. My doula always says “don’t do labor math” which I totally get because things can change SO quickly. I went from 6 to 10cm with Lily in an hour. But I just felt like the pain was getting so bad and there was no end in sight. When I said I was starting to feel pressure I was at 8 and I just remember thinking I need this to happen NOW or I am going to pass out. Thankfully he was born less than an hour after that!
After the birth I honestly felt traumatized. I actually said to Andy I didn’t think I could ever do this again. But after thinking about it more, this birth in all honesty was not at all traumatic. Yes, it was longer than I wanted, yes, I was very tired and yes, it was painful BUT I didn’t need any medical interventions, I delivered him naturally just like I wanted, I was well-supported during the entire thing and I now have a very healthy little boy. I think sometimes it’s good to take a step back and put things into perspective. You don’t need to minimize your struggle or the way you feel, you’re entitled to think something sucked but realizing how lucky I was compared to other mothers made me appreciate how blessed I have been to have two relatively fast, uncomplicated deliveries. So, will I have another baby? Probably. Am I still slightly traumatized? Yes, but much less so than I was.
We were all trying to figure out what happened and why this took so much longer than Lily’s. We debated a mental block but it didn’t make sense. I was definitely ready, motivated and all of the people and things I needed were there. Then we wondered about
If I could give all mamas a piece of advice after this labor it would be this: REST. If you do go to the hospital early or if your labor is slow, take the time to take a nap. Let your labor ramp up on its own or after you feel rested enough. There is nothing more important during labor than being rested, hydrated, satiated and educated! If I had a full night’s sleep under my belt or even a nap I think I would have nailed it. Coulda, shoulda woulda! But, at the end of the day we got through it and my little boy is all I could ever hope for. If you’re about to have your first baby please don’t have any expectations. Have a plan and know that things may not always go the way you want and PLEASE get as much sleep as you can!
I hope you enjoyed reading our long-winded birth story! I wrote Lily’s a long time ago and I’ll share that with you soon as well so you can compare the two! Lily’s was a lot more exciting, ha! Please always feel free to ask any questions, I’m always happy to share and to help other mamas!