I’m sure like most second time moms, I prepared for the second birth based on the experience with my first birth. With August’s birth, we did the HypnoBirthing preparation, and visualized a lot of how we wanted the birth to go, down to the timeline and even the date. Somehow, it worked and we had an amazing birth experience exactly as we hoped, and on the date we wanted (2/2/13). So this time around, Tony and I thought, could we possibly do it again? Early on, we chose 10/15/15 as the date (because it sounded nice and was three days before the due date, same as August). We talked a lot about how it would happen — labor would start overnight or early in the morning… we would bring August to daycare on our way to the birth center… have the baby around midday and get home in time for dinner, maybe even picking up August on the way home! Well, 10/15/15 came and went… no baby. I tried to hide my disappointment, not just because we missed the date, but I was just ready. With each well-wishing inquiry into the baby’s arrival, I became increasingly frustrated. My two main objectives with this birth (aside from the date) were to birth naturally again at the birth center, and to have a libra. If I went too late, I could lose out on both of those. So I began doing everything I could to stimulate my mind and body to go into labor — long walks, stair climbing, spicy food, evening primrose oil, chiropractor appointment, prenatal yoga, acupuncture. Nothing. The due date came and went on Sunday, still no baby.
By Tuesday the 20th, I was done going into work and took a half day from home. I felt a cold coming on, so now I almost hoped labor would delay a few more days so I could get ahead of the virus. Baby had other plans. Tuesday afternoon while trying to nap, I felt a few strong cramps, definitely not Braxton hicks anymore. They went away, so I didn’t get too excited (I wasn’t getting too excited about anything anymore). Then after dinner Tuesday evening, I felt more of the cramping. It was mild, but definitely there and definitely had a subtle rhythm. We got August to bed, and sat down to time them — sporadic and ranging from 10-15 minutes apart. We gave the doula a heads up, reminded ourselves of how we wanted it to go (our “plan”) and went to bed. I tried really hard to relax, but between the steady, but mild contractions and the head congestion, it was tough. At about 1am, I desperately searched online for drugs to take for a cold while pregnant, and sent Tony to find some sudafed so I could get some relief. I was able to doze pretty good until 5am, then started timing the contractions again — now we were around 8 minutes apart. Progress! I was finally sure this was happening, no more false hopes.
We all got up around 6am to get ready, just like a normal day. I called the midwife on call, who agreed I was on track, and said to check back in an hour when we were bringing August to daycare. By 7am when we left the house, I was steadily at 6 minutes apart, which was the marker for second time moms to come into the birth center. Yay! We called back and Brigette (the midwife on call) told us to head in. I hugged and kissed August goodbye at daycare, and told him when we saw him later, he would get to meet his baby brother. I think he understood! The rest of the drive to the Minnesota Birth Center was unpleasant… Tony had to pull over every time I had a contraction, so it took a while to get there.
When we arrived, Brigette went through the initial assessment and offered to check me if I wanted… I knew it didn’t really mean anything, since you can progress rapidly or slowly, regardless of the numbers. But I was curious and confident it wouldn’t mess with my head. Sure enough, I was a solid 4 cm and “very thinned.” Bridgette was a little worried about our heart rates, until she learned I had taken some sudafed, so we had to keep an eye on that but otherwise everything looked good. She sent us on a walk around the neighborhood to keep things moving. As soon as we rounded the corner outside, I felt the contractions start to intensify. All of a sudden, they were coming at 2-3 minute intervals, so walking around Chicago/Park Avenue seemed to take forever. It was a most gorgeous fall morning, though, so I tried to soak it up and really enjoy the scenery. The bright oranges, reds and yellows on the trees around the American Swedish Institute were stunning. Twice on the walk, we had strangers stop and comment how I must be in labor… was it so obvious?? Probably!
We got back to the birth center around 10:30, and Angela, our doula, arrived shortly thereafter. At this point, I started feeling the imminence of birth and along with it, some fear. While August’s birth went really well, I had a really hard time coping with the transition stage — it happened while we were still home, and the intensity and force of it scared the hell out of me. The “urge to push” didn’t feel at all like I thought it would, it felt like something had taken hold and possessed me to expel this baby out of my body. I wanted to fight it, not push with it. So this time around, I did a lot of mental preparation to surrender into it and not be afraid. I talked with Tony and Angela about that, too, so they could help support me through it.
Angela helped find some positions to relax while I listened to my HypnoBirthing tracks — it felt amazing to sit on a ball, wide-legged, with my arms and head surrendered into some pillows on the bed. When I was ready to change positions, she encouraged me to do some stairs. If it wasn’t for her insistence, I would NOT have done that — stairs sounded awful! But she coaxed me to get moving and we did two flights up/down. In between, we stepped out onto the 2nd floor balcony of the birth center, where I swayed over the railing and commented how strange it was, that I was about to have a baby and the rest of the world just kept going like normal. The cool, fall air and stunning colors kept me grounded as I was pretty sure I was nearing the end. I knew it was around noon at this point, and if I was going to make it home in time for dinner, things better hurry up.
We headed back downstairs, where I asked Brigette to check me — I was at a 7! I thought maybe closer to 10, but I know how it can go from 7 to 10 really fast, so I wasn’t worried. At this point, I felt I was far enough along to ask for the gas (nitrous oxide)…I had hesitated asking for it sooner, though I really wanted to, because I didn’t want them to think I was a baby. Haha! They asked if I wanted to get into the water, which I did, but was worried it might slow things down. I very much wanted another water birth, but feared if I got in too soon, I would end up needing to come out. Brigette firmly assured me I was DEFINITELY ok to get in the tub now (which I took as meaning I was close… yay!). I turned on my Bon Iver/Asgeir playlist, and hopped in around 1pm. It was ahhhhhmazing. I relaxed a bit, huffing away on my gas mask, as I felt the pushing start to take over. I remember saying several times that I don’t want to do it… I know I can, but I don’t want to. Tony and Angela were great at supporting me through those fears, and I stayed strong (as strong as I could).
Time completely stood still now — it could have been 15 minutes or two hours that I was in the tub, I had no idea. I guided the pushes slowly downward, channeling as much courage as I could. I was scared to do it, but ready to be done! Just when I felt like I fully accepted the intensity and surrendered into my body’s lead, something happened……… I felt a huge pop and gush. My water finally broke! And then OH MY GOD. It was like a tornado came out of nowhere and ripped through my body. I felt a HUGE push take over and screamed out some obscenities (I distinctly remember apologizing for the obscenities as soon as they came out, true Minnesota Nice!). I could sense the midwife/nurses moving a lot faster and heard Brigette say that he’s coming now. With that one push, his head was out. Then an eternity passed before the next contraction (probably 30 seconds) when I pushed out the rest of him. WOW. I think it surprised us all, how fast he came out. I instantly felt the fog lift and my eyes opened wide as I looked at my baby — he was here!!! The clarity that comes in those first moments is so amazing. All these months of waiting, wondering what he’ll look like, and the first thing I thought was that he looked EXACTLY like he was supposed to. I rested in the tub while the cord stopped pulsing, and was completely mesmerized by this wee one. He was perfect.
Alfred Ming, we’ll call him “Alfie,” arrived at 2:39pm on the 21st, a few days late, but almost exactly according to plan. We rested in bed for a few hours while the midwife/nurses cleaned up, and assessed/monitored me and Alfie. We were doing really well, so we got to head home after the minimum four hours. We didn’t make it home for dinner, but we did make it just in time to introduce August to his baby brother and tucked him into bed.
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