Disclaimer: This is going to be a super long post. Some of the details are a bit mundane, but I want to remember them, so bear with me. It will also be graphic at times because, ya know, it's about childbirth. If you're not down with TMI sharing, I totally understand. Go check out my recipes and make yourself something delicious instead and come back in a few days when I post something with less graphic details. Mkay, thanks!
The Friday before I gave birth to Tessa, I left work at my normal time and wished my coworkers well while letting them know that I hoped I wouldn't see them on Monday (in the nicest way possible, of course). I was 39 weeks pregnant and extremely uncomfortable. The day before that I had my final Doctor's appointment where I was still holding strong at 2 centimeters dilated, 75% effaced and in a -2 position. Basically, T wasn't going anywhere.
So she stripped my membranes which was just as miserable as I remembered. I had high hopes for going into labor the next day, but that definitely did not happen. Getting myself out of bed each morning was quite the task and I couldn't imagine working another day in my current physical state. But I also didn't want to use any of my precious maternity leave time until my gal was here. So naturally I was praying to go into labor ASAP.
That night after J went to play Volleyball (he plays each Friday night) I began having timeable contractions, but they never made it to the five minute apart time period that my practice requires before you go into the hospital (every five minutes, lasting for one minute for one hour). After several hours, they puttered out and we went to sleep. I was totally bummed.
Saturday morning, we met my parents for a nice, greasy brunch so I could eat my emotions (hello corned beef hash and eggs!). After, my parents hung out with A while J and I drove around in search of a small table for the nursery, the last furniture piece for Tessa's room. We relaxed all afternoon and nothing exciting happened besides me losing my mucus plug (totally gross!). I cut up and ate a pineapple that my mom gave me in hopes of starting labor. I had some contractions at night, but these were even less consistent than the previous night.
On Sunday morning, A slept in until 8am (which was glorious, even though we were still up before her!). We did our usual routine of making and eating breakfast and coloring and playing in the morning. I put some pork chops into the crock pot and
A napped we all napped. In the afternoon, we did a little decorating in T's nursery and J got the idea to head over to Target and pick up some things. He figured a little walking might help move things along.
At this stage in the game I was totally frustrated because my belly was so low that in addition to it sitting on my thighs when I sat or climbed stairs, none of my shirts were long enough and I was constantly pulling down the one I wore and had a bit of a draft on my lower belly. I looked a bit trashy and was kind of embarrassed but I had no other options. I should have known then that I was close.
We ate a good dinner and then we bathed A and got her ready for bed. I started getting some contractions around 7:15pm and J was debating going to sub in for our friend's Volleyball team that night. Since the contractions weren't really consistent, I told him to go and I'd call if things picked up. Then A and I hung out and read some books, jumped on the bed (she did, not me!), watched a little Mickey and eventually I put her down and then took a shower. The contractions started evening out around 9pm and became more consistent and timeable. They were getting a bit closer together at this point, but I still wasn't sure if this was real or not. J texted that he was on his way home and asked if I needed anything. I told him I wanted a donut and he said no problem.
After J got home and showered, we ate our donuts and turned on The Sopranos. I sent my mom a text letting her know that I was contracting but that I wasn't sure if it would continue or stop like Friday night. She said no problem and that they were just watching a movie (she had recently returned from seeing the national tour of the Carole King Musical, Beautiful. She had previously mentioned having me go with her but I was not feeling up to it- another way I should have known it was coming - I never turn down the opportunity to see a one of the tours that comes through).
Around 11pm the contractions got to be around five minutes apart and were getting more and more intense. I was still nervous that they weren't real and the last thing I wanted was to go into the hospital only to be sent home. Usually, J was fast asleep at this point, but I think he knew that these were the real deal before me because he told me that he wasn't going to sleep.
Finally at 12:30pm, I called the Doctor on call (my Doctor was not on call until the following Friday). The on call Doctor told me to come on in. It's probably a good thing I called when I did because literally, the moment I hung up with her, my contractions went to every two minutes and started getting really intense. At this point I got kind of emotional because I started to realize that we were going to have our baby!
After calling my parents to come over (they watched A while we were at the hospital) J and I packed a few last minute things, changed our sheets and made a list of last minute info about A for my parents. I was moving pretty slowly because the contractions were super intense and still consistently every 2 minutes.
Before we left, I went into A's room where she was sleeping like an angel. I rubbed her head softly and told her that no matter what I loved her forever and that she was always my girl. I definitely had a good cry; I was also sad I couldn't say goodbye to her while she was awake. It wasn't so much me feeling guilty as it was the weight of everything that was making me emotional. I really just wanted to hug my baby.
Once I pulled myself together and headed downstairs, I hugged my parents goodbye and we were on the road by 1:10pm. I think my dad was kind of worried that I was further along in labor than I really was because he had a bigger sense of urgency than J or I.
The drive to the hospital was fine, just full of contractions. We also sent J's parents a text (they were in California). It was pretty cold and drizzly that night. The good thing about going into labor late at night is that there were plenty of parking spots right up front in the parking structure. We walked in and went entirely the wrong way. We finally started heading the right way, directly into a lobby full of people hanging out waiting for whatever they were waiting for. Can I just say, it was so awkward having to stop for a contraction right in the middle of everyone, they were all staring at me.
We finally made it across the building to the correct elevators and realized that we didn't actually remember what floor we were going to. So we ended up stopping at several floors before we reached the right one. This kind of worked out because I had a contraction in the elevator and really couldn't have moved anyway. Eventually we made it to the correct floor but we couldn't seem to find triage. So
we J wandered off to find a nurse and I hung out and contracted some more. Luckily, Justin found a nurse who was kind enough to walk us to triage. As it turns out, we weren't too far from triage, we had just gone up a different elevator than the one we took when we came for A's birth.
Once we got into triage, a super friendly nurse came in and started taking my info. I changed into the gown they gave me and they hooked me up to the machine to monitor T and my contractions. I had to use the restroom, but the nurse thought it might be a good idea to get checked first and make sure I wasn't at the point where I needed to push. Although I was pretty sure I hadn't even hit transition, I agreed with her.
Pretty soon thereafter, the triage Doctor and a med student came in. The med student gave me a quick ultrasound to make sure T was still head down (she was). The poor kid was so nervous, he initially couldn't see anything because he wasn't pressing hard enough. Luckily, it was the triage Doctor who checked me for dilation. At that point I was dilated to four centimeters. She said they wanted to monitor me for 20 minutes and then I could use the restroom.
During that time (the longest 20 minutes ever, by the way- I really had to use the restroom!) we heard another couple come in. Since we were all only separated by curtains in triage, we could hear the med student check her for dilation, and J and I looked at each other and started cracking up. We both agreed that we would NOT have wanted him doing that check on me considering how nervous he had been to do a simple ultrasound over my belly. We spent much of the twenty minutes cracking jokes between contractions and talking amongst ourselves as always.
At one point, I looked at J and told him I really hoped they weren't going to send us home because I couldn't believe how much more intense the contractions were this time around. With A they gradually got more intense. With T they were super intense from the moment early labor turned into active labor (around 12:30am). J looked at me and said they weren't going to be sending me home. He was dead serious, as if there was no other option but I still wasn't completely convinced.
Shortly after that, the triage Doctor came back and said they needed just a few more minutes of monitoring and then another woman came and gave us some forms to sign and gave me a wristband. After she left, J looked and me and said "See? You realize they just checked you in." Then the Triage Doctor returned and checked me. It was 30 minutes from the first time she checked me and she told me I was a five and that we'd be staying. She also said that after I used the restroom, the nurse would escort us to our birthing room. She asked if I wanted an epidural right away and I said hell yes!
J and I had talked a bit about whether I should just get it right away with time and we both agreed that it was a good idea because of how much more intense the contractions were at this point in my labor and because I really wanted to have the strength to push her out on my own. Last time, labor started after we had a good night's sleep. This time it was after a busy day with very little rest. I view the epidural as a tool to allow me to save my strength for pushing my baby out. These contractions had already drained me so much that the decision to get my epidural right away was an easy one (on a side note, I'm all for women having the kind of birth they want- for me personally, an epidural was the very best decision and I'm so glad that it was available!).
After that I used the restroom (I'll spare you the details but let me tell you, my husband is a saint for coming with me to hold my hand while I contracted in there- seriously the contractions were crazy intense and I'm humbled to have a man who can look past the obviously nastier things in life to stand by me offering physical and emotional support and hold my hand when I'm in such pain!).
After I was able to relieve myself, we gathered our things and slowly headed across the wing to our birthing room- this was around 2:15am. When we arrived we were greeted by our nurse, a young woman named Leigh. She was super nice! After going through all the usual questions, she let me know that the anesthesiologist would be along as soon as he finished the patient before me.
I got my epidural at 3:30am (thank God because my contractions were still two minutes apart and so insanely intense, I was ready for relief but still happy to have the time between them to relax for a minute. Last time I waited so long to get my epidural that I was in transition labor when I got it and the whole thing was so much scarier to me because I didn't think I could stay still while they placed it.
This time around I was much less nervous. I was still a tiny bit scared and shed a couple tears, but J held my hands and looked into my eyes and shared his strength with me. It's funny because he will tell you he feels like he barely did anything this time around compared to our last, much more strenuous labor and delivery. He couldn't be more wrong- he was amazing! He held my hand and applying counter pressure to my legs, as the Triage Doctor had taught him during each contraction. For the ones where I was standing, he once again held me and supported all of me until each one was over. I said it before and I'll say it again, I cannot imagine giving birth without him. He really is my rock and my hero.
The anesthesiologist was a Russian Doctor. He had a thick Russian accent and was a super friendly guy; he immediately put me at ease. I think his name was Nicolai, but I can't remember if that was is first or last name (I feel terrible that I can't!). Once the epidural was placed, my contractions grew less and less intense until I was finally feeling no pain, just a sight bit of pressure. It was awesome to finally have some relief!
At this point, we relaxed a little bit until the on call Doctor came in and checked me around 4:30am. I was dilated to a seven at this time and was thrilled that I was progressing so well like my last labor. After that I sent an email to my admin and my boss to let them know I wouldn't be into work that day (prior to that I couldn't focus enough to do anything other than contractions).
From there we laid down and tried to get some rest. I couldn't exactly sleep because I was just so excited to finally be meeting our girl in a few hours. So I spent my time closing my eyes to at least get some rest and praying. I had a pretty great conversation with God and I really had such an immense feeling of joy the entire time (this was pretty much the refrain of the entire night/morning). Additionally, after laboring without meds for so long with A, this labor felt like a breeze in comparison. What a luxury to be in labor and spend a good portion of it laying down trying to sleep! If I had known that my body would progress so well after an epidural, I would have gotten it much earlier the first time.
Around 5:45am, I noticed that I was starting to feel my contractions again a little bit. They weren't yet painful but I was not wanting to feel anything. I called the nurse and she brought the resident Doctor in to check me and make sure it wasn't too late to re-up my epidural. I was dilated to an eight so they called the anesthesiologist and he re-upped me. They also told me that they would soon break my water. At that point T had moved down to a -1 position.
So I rolled over to try and rest a bit more. Shortly thereafter I felt a small gush. I asked J to call the nurse and told him that I think my water is breaking and right as I was saying this, my water fully broke- it was like the flood gates had opened and an insane amount of amniotic fluid came gushing out. Totally disgusting and kind of shocking how much there was (I'm not sure why this was surprising to me , since last time around I was a gushing geyser of amniotic fluid for the majority of the day!). I made Justin look and make sure it was clear (it was!) and then the nurse came in and changed my sheets. Unlike last time, it didn't keep gushing, it was all out in one fell swoop.
The nurse told me I may feel more pressure since my water had broken, because T would be moving down faster. I really didn't feel any different, so we continued to relax. Shortly before 8am, they checked me again and let me know that I was complete. The new Doctor had started her shift and we also got a new nurse named Jan (we were sad to see Leigh go, but Jan was so awesome too!). Jan and the Doctor got things set up for delivery.
I spoke with the Doctor a bit about how I was really ineffective with pushing last time and I sincerely wanted to be able to push T out on my own and really hoped not to tear this time. She said that it should be much quicker and easier than last time but if it was really necessary, she would use a vacuum. It's funny because every single medical professional we spoke with that night/morning told me the same thing- that second labors and deliveries were usually much quicker and easier. It makes sense but I wish I had know that earlier!
I vaguely remember the Doctor asking J if he was planning to cut the cord. He said last time he couldn't due to A having to go straight to the NICU people due to the meconium that was in my fluid and so he didn't really care if he did this time. The Doctor kind of looked at him and said "Yeah, you'll do it this time." And that was that. I hope that doesn't sound pushy, because it wasn't like that at all. I liked her no-nonsense style, and it wasn't so much pushy as it was just her wanting him to have that experience.
So right after 8am, the Doctor said we would do a few practice pushes (I couldn't feel when to push). I got three good pushes in on that first contraction and during those pushes the Doctor announced that T's head was out. I was floored! I seriously couldn't believe it and actually looked a J like "What??" He was wide eyed and confirmed this to be true.
On the next contraction T was out within the first two pushes! That's right people: four hours of pushing with A, 5 pushing in 7 minutes with T. And just like that the world was a much more beautiful place and our sweet girl was here! Once again, J told me to look down right as was coming T out. She was so beautiful and she cried right away. It was the most glorious sound in the world. Unlike last time, there weren't a ton of people in the room because we didn't have meconium in the fluid like A did so instead of her being whisked over to the NICU people on the other side of the room, they were able to have J cut the cord and hand her right over to me. It was beyond awesome to be able to hold and bond with her right away while they delivered my placenta and stitched me up (only one teeny stitch this time!). Shortly thereafter, we had our first feeding. I couldn't believe how well she fed right away. On both sides. For a while. So awesome!
Through this I was feeling all the feels and crying the happiest of tears. I told Tess how we had been waiting for her and that we loved her so much before she even arrived. I also told her that she completed our family and we couldn't wait to introduce her to her sister.
Once she had fed and been weighed and measured, we Skyped with J's parents. After that we ordered some food, just in the nick of time because breakfast service was just about over. I had a slightly unpleasant run-in with the gal on the other end of the call because she was pretty rude and gave me a hard time about all the food we were ordering (at our hospital , spouses get a free meal but they recently implemented a new policy requiring the spouse to go to the cafeteria and get the voucher, which we had no time to do since they were about to close. She must not have kids, everyone knows not to come between mama and her food after she births a baby).
Eventually they moved us over to the other side of the wing where we would be for the remainder of our stay. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. My parents, Grandma, some friends and my sister all came to visit. We ate and hung out. We sent T to the nursery at night and they were fantastic about bringing her in for feeds. Though I hate that we had to stay a few days (I find the time in the hospital to be kind of isolating and I'm a person who prefers my own bed, no matter where I am) it really was a positive experience all around.
Every single member of the staff at Strong was incredibly kind and generous toward us. They took the absolute best care of us and more importantly, Tess. The only downer was that a week prior to Tessa's birth the hospital implemented a new rule that kids under 14 are not permitted to visit due to a horrible outbreak of the flu which caused some pregnant women to end up in the ICU. While we completely understood and appreciate the care for ours and other patients well being, we missed A terribly.
Still, our overall labor and delivery experience was really great; much easier than my experience with A. Though T is our last baby, it's nice to know that if we did this again, the labor and delivery part would likely be easier. I cannot say the same for my pregnancy, but it was beyond worth it for the happiness and love that Miss T has brought into our life. Our family is complete and I can only look back on Tessa's birth with tremendous joy and feel so grateful for this blessing.
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