I am still amazed at how Olly’s birth was a correction of everything that happened poorly with Lena’s.
My biggest anxieties all revolved around repeating what happened with Lena- a 40-hour induction, the midwife with something other than her patients on her mind, midwife not communicating procedures, calling me “kiddo”, the feeling of being dismissed as unreasonable because I wanted information and to have some control over any part of the situation, the overwhelming feeling of failure (my body failing to do what it was supposed to). It brought out one of my favorite memories of Jeremy, when I was feeling utterly defeated after yet another intervention (midwife breaking my water and then leaving without saying a word or answering questions about color, etc..), and needed help to go to the bathroom, where he said “I know this isn’t how you wanted to get here.” Midwife leaving with the kiddo comment, and how glad I was she was leaving, despite me switching to the midwife specifically to make sure I knew who would be delivering. Shift change to a wonderful set of nurses and the panicked changing of positions and need to get naked shortly thereafter.
The screaming time, where Jeremy heard me making sounds that I didn’t know I could produce (and I didn’t recognize were coming from me). Going from 2->10 in <30 minutes. An epidural that arrived in minutes and was perfectly placed (to me) slightly lower than normal, so I didn’t feel a damn thing when my 9lb 10oz kid arrived.
Olly’s birth started with a trip to the bathroom at 8:20pm where I couldn’t tell if I had surprise pee or my water broke. Another trip, plus more surprise pee when I stood up made me think that’s what had happened. I confirmed that Jeremy had finished his bourbon and already switched to water and then thing about putting more than socks, a sharpie, birth plan and baby clothes in my hospital bag. I took out the orders for induction that we’d set up for the evening of 26th, packed the new gold glitter eyeliner that I’d purchased after my appointment that day, and ignored the rolling, mild back pain that was starting. I texted my doula, and gave Lena bedtime smooches. By 9:30, I needed to pause at the wall for these back cramps. I decided to watch Mean Girls with Mom while sitting on the yoga ball, but me sitting and these waves weren’t compatible- I needed to stand and lean over. During the movie, I repacked my bag with enough socks for a week, and eventually moved the ball downstairs so I could kneel on the floor and hold on to it every 3.5 minutes. Jeremy took a shower and got dressed, I stood in the shower for a while. It was ok.
After getting out, I took stock of the hospital bag again, added snacks, and needed external support during these contractions. I thought that I did not want to deal with hospital check in if they got much stronger, so we made the decision to head to the hospital, and my doula, Stacey, would meet us there. I had done everything at home that I could. We were out the door around midnight and the roads to the hospital were much bumpier than I ever recalled. Sitting was, again, terrible and I was actively managing them. Jeremy dropped me off at the doors to the er while he parked, and I checked in to the hospital between contractions- Jeremy was able to park and walk in before I’d finished. Jeremy wheeled me the 30 feet over to the hospital elevators entrance to wait on someone from l&d to get me, Stacey arrived during an extra long contraction, followed shortly by the person from l&d with a different wheelchair. On the way up, we stopped a few times for contractions and arrived on the floor at 12:44am. Triage was dirty, so I headed to a room with a nurse to compete check in.
She set up the initial monitors, asked questions to fill out paperwork and, despite me not technically meeting the admissions criteria at initial check, decided to admit me anyway and to call my doctor, who just that day had put my name on a “call if they come in” list. Contractions were starting to pile up, I needed to hold on to the bed rail to ground myself. Where I’d chosen the left rail with Lena, the right rail felt better this time. I asked to move around and the nurse was super excited to try out the new wireless system- she had used it, but not applied it yet, so was reading the directions. Jeremy and Stacey were allowed in around this time, and suddenly the contractions kicked it up a notch. After applying the wireless system, I still had to stay in bed for another 5 minutes to get readings. I’d guess this was somewhere around 1:20? 1:30?
Stacey started applying counter pressure during this (helped tremendously), Jeremy was making sure I drank water between contractions, and I was holding on to Jeremy during them. I loved that he was able to just be there for me, to hold onto his hands and arms. The nurses were quickly having me sign paperwork (“just mark it however, we anyway talked about this, just need a mark on paper”), and placing a saline lock in my hand. How I kept that hand limp and still, I have no idea. I was (and had been since the house) making sounds through all of these contractions, but they were reasonable, managed sounds, with vowel combinations being suggested by Stacey. My world was getting very small, consisting of the bed rail and Jeremy’s hands.
The nurse said something like “I think things are changing”, checked me during the brief pause between contractions and said, “yup, I thought so” with a knowing look at Stacey, who agreed, and I knew that meant we were ok-go. Things were moving fast and I felt pressure to poop. I knew on my head that it was the head, but all I could say out loud was the need to use the restroom.
I heard everyone telling me not to push, and I was not- this kid was coming no matter what.
Stacey tried to take my glasses, and I’m pretty sure I would have bitten her hand off if it was closer.
I could still talk during contractions to say as much (both that I wasn’t trying to push and don’t touch my glasses). As Dr. Mize walked in, the bed started getting broken down and Stacey told me that many women would say that they couldn’t do it during this next part, but that I totally could do it. I remember feeling shocked that it was already time (I don’t know why), and as I rolled over, I got that brief pause in contractions that I’ve read about. I relaxed for that pause and waited for that next contraction to finish bringing this kid into the world.
Even though I knew what was happening and that it was ok, the only word I could think of was “no”. One push “nooooo no no no no”, two push “no no noooo no no”, Dr. Mize told me that the kid was helping me (I could feel feet pushing out from the inside), a panicked look at Jeremy who told me that I was doing it, a reminder from Stacey to relax my face that I finally heard and remembered which muscles controlled my face, and then I found my game face- three push and there was a head, with a “let’s get this shoulder out” mini push, and the kid slid out. The shoulder was the weirdest feeling- some knobby thing. And then a kid was born, our daughter. And I could not believe it, again, that this thing had been inside me and was now here. And I could not believe that it was only 2am- it felt like an eternity had passed in minutes.
Earlier that day, I’d overheard the doctor scheduling the induction, arguing about doing it so “late” (at 41 weeks) with a predicted large baby and me with “advanced maternal age”. I had declined to hear about estimated weight at the ultrasound visit, preferring to only hear about the “normal head size”. For some reason, I also had it in my head that the kid would arrive early Saturday morning, the 23rd and had discussed that with my doc, as well as my feeling that the kid had finally tipped over into heavier than Lena at birth, though the feet felt smaller. On the phone call, my doc said that she was just scheduling this induction to have an end date, that it probably wouldn’t be kept, “the mom has been right about everything else so far, she’s probably going to be right about this, too.” Looking back, that gave me a ton of confidence in her, in me, and that things would be fine. After she was born, the doc asked if I wanted to know that day’s size prediction- it was 10lb even.
I watched this new alien’s ears unfurl, admired her smoosh face, and then it was time to cut the cord. Jeremy declined, so I did it. We snuggled, the placenta took its time, but was another weird feeling- delivery of a whole temporary organ. Jeremy commented on my glitter eyeliner, which I’d applied when it was clear to me that this was happening, and made a “you did it, kiddo” joke. All through everything, I kept the kid on me while getting stitched up, while the bed was put back together, everything. Dr. Mize left before we checked weight, though we all took guesses. My guess, at 9lb 15oz, was closest to her actual weight of 10lb 3oz, and new weight record holder for the hospital. With normal head size and a chest bigger than her head, just like her sister.
At some point after her birth, I got my l&d hospital bands, and I stayed an extra hour in the l&d room because they had to finish the checking in process and assign me a recovery room.
We saw the placenta like I’d requested- bag attached with the small hole in the side. I thought about other things on my birth plan that didn’t happen, but I didn’t care about them. I realized I’d never gotten out of bed, something on my “fears” list, but hey, I sort of tried out the wireless monitor. If nothing else, I didn’t worry about subscribing the bands or the pokey monitors themselves: my belly got to be iron man. We didn’t even open the hospital bag until afterward, to get out snacks. There was no music, no walking around, no interventions, no time to even think about pain meds, not even a bag of saline until afterward.
With Olly’s speed, my birth plan might have well have been “show up, have a baby”.
It wasn’t what I’d envisioned at 38 minutes from being admitted to baby (from the timestamps on the calls to the doc), but it was a correction of everything that contributed to the negative feelings around Lena’s birth. It also corrected my view on what happened- the screamy time was my body trying to do what it does, fast labor, and the high pitocin levels augmented the sounds, not the speed. Epidural didn’t take anything away from birth and unmedicated didn’t gain me anything. With an overarching goal of a birth story that starts with positive words instead of highlighting the negative, I think we achieved that, and more.