My Birth Story: Insert Labor Day Pun Here

So yesterday was my due date, but I already have a bouncing baby boy who is over 3 weeks old!

Since I shared my first birth story here, I wanted to share this one as well. Did I really write a FOUR POST series the first time around? Geeze. (See here, here, here, and here)

This will just be the one post. Spoiler alert: this time around went MUCH quicker.

So rewind to September 3rd, the day before labor day and the day of my baby shower. We cut it close, to say the least.

It had been an eventful weekend, as we’d also just moved into a new house. After spending the day at my parents house, we came home to box land to go to bed on a mattress on the floor. Junior was having trouble sleeping in our new house, so dada was showing him cat videos on his phone while I showered. And in the shower, I started having contractions. Not the usual ones, either, these ones hurt. In fact, I thought to myself about how water was called “the midwife’s epidural” and how that must be some crap because I wasn’t even in labor and the water was doing nothing for me (ha. ha. I never think I’m in labor when I’m in labor).

I got out of the shower and immediately started timing the contractions. Right off the bat they were 30 seconds long and two minutes apart.  I was miserable. I wanted to call the doctor right then, but again, I thought there was no way this was labor. I’d give it an hour to stop. Well, that was one of the longest hours of my life, and by the end of it the contractions were still consistent and I was beginning to think this was indeed labor.

So it happened that the moment my husband laid our son down to sleep, I opened the door and told him sorry, but we gotta go.

He insisted on packing a bag and even had the audacity to ask if I wanted to put some pants on. NO. NO I DID NOT. DAMN IT.

We arrived at the hospital just after midnight. It was officially Labor Day.

Exactly like last time, I didn’t think I had hit transition yet. This time, however, every nurse I encountered tried to tell me I was. But I’d only been in labor for an hour and a half, and it seemed like there was a long road ahead. Spoiler alert: there wasn’t.

I demanded an epidural PRONTO. I thought I’d get in a nap and be refreshed and ready when time to push rolled around. But while they set the epidural, my water broke and the nurse said call the doctor, it’s time to push.

All the while I’m still quite certain we have a ways to go. When I arrived, I was only at 4 centimeters! It had only been 30 minutes! Well bam, they measured again and in half an hour I’d gone from 4 to 10. No wonder I was in so much pain! Dang!

So I was totally bewildered. At this point we were just waiting on the doctor. It was pretty easy to resist the urge to push thanks to the epidural, but I also had a cold, and I could not resist the urge to cough. Every time I did, the whole room jumped. “WHOA, whoa, eeeasy!” One nurse said he didn’t know what would happen if I sneezed.

My doctor wasn’t on call (of course). When the on call doctor arrived, lo and behold, it was the same doctor who had delivered Junior! I guess they have her working all the holidays.

I pushed for one contraction. Everyone exchanged looks and the nurse said “ok, we might need you to do a half-push next time. Just listen really carefully, we might ask.” and I’m like “ok…I don’t know how to do a half push…” and one of the guys shook his head and smiled. “She’s going to have this baby without pushing.”

And I don’t even know what to tell you. At 3:08 am on Labor Day morning, my baby just arrived of his own accord. Most of my laboring was in my coughing, which sounds like I’m kidding but it’s true. I looked down and saw a baby. He wasn’t crying because this labor wasn’t weird enough already. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck, but it was very loose. The NICU people looked him over, suctioned him, weighed him, still no crying. He didn’t even cry when he got his vitamin K shot. I just kept asking “is something wrong? Is he ok? Why isn’t he crying?” the doctors just said they’d checked him over, he was healthy, seems happy… he must just be a very chill baby.

I guess so. He’s healthy as a baby horse. He just didn’t cry for the first 24 hours of his life. I guess because he didn’t feel like it. Or he enjoyed freaking me out.

So TA DA. That’s the end of the story. I just had a baby all of a sudden. Obviously, very different from my first son. He had a special yellow hat at the hospital to signify that he was late preterm, so that nurses would know to watch him extra close. He was tiny to us – 7 lbs 4 oz. But whenever we marvel out loud about how small he is, everyone is quick to say “he’s actually kinda regular size, even big for a preterm baby.”

We always joked with Junior that we “never had a newborn.” He was so big and strong. He was chubby, had hair, he didn’t look like a newborn or flop around. This time, we had a newborn. A preterm newborn even! Honestly it really scares me sometimes how small he is. He doesn’t have a lot of baby fat (he’s got a lot of baby fur though!) and you can feel how small and fragile his little bones are. For the first week of his life, we were at the doctor every day to monitor his weight gain. He had a lip tie and a tongue tie, breastfeeding got off to a really rocky start, and he was slightly jaundiced so he was a hard sleeper. So hard that it was often difficult to get him to eat, he was just so sleepy!

But we had his tongue and lip ties corrected early on. He got better at eating, his jaundice went away, and he passed his birth weight. He really is quite strong – he was lifting his head from day one! Sometimes I think he could roll over if he really put his mind to it. And I knew when he was still in the womb what a strong kicker he is – he used to wake me up with it! But to me, he still seems really, really, REALLY small. I love it as much as it worries me.

So that’s the story of Finny, named for the character in A Separate Peace. He already seems as precocious, innocent, and spontaneous as his namesake.

I’ll try to write more soon. As of now, I’m very sleep deprived, I’m still unpacking and getting settled in our new house, and I’m already feeling some endometriosis and IBS and anxiety things sneaking up on me. This is easily the craziest time of my life so far, and my husband said it’s honestly a good bet that this will be the craziest time of our lives ever – having a toddler and a newborn, moving, and did I mention my husband just switched careers too?

Yeah spacing that stuff out would have been good. But! Here we are. So if you don’t hear from me for a bit, you know why. But the blog is not done.

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Birth Story Pt. 2: What #!%?ing Stage is This?!

You can find Part 1 here.

With contractions four minutes apart and impossible to ignore, we hurried out to our car and started dialing for the midwife.

The night before last, we’d called her in the middle of the night as well, but I didn’t feel bad doing it again because this was the real deal. The first time we called, contractions were 6 minutes apart and I was still able to chat about them cheerily on the phone. Now they were four minutes and terrible, and I was going to make sure I sounded as terrible as I felt. I have spent a lot of my life living with chronic pain and perfecting the art of not sounding how I feel, so this was a little tricky.

I did my best, but she said exactly the same thing she’d said two nights ago: take some Tylenol PM and go to sleep. What?! The birth center was 45 minutes away and I felt like I was dying. But hey, I figured labor would be more painful than I could guess, maybe I was still in early labor. So on New Years Day at 2 or 3 in the morning, I sent my husband running into Walmart to get Tylenol PM.

I waited in the car and started to overheat, even though it was off and we’d never turned on the heater. I opened the door and let myself hang out in the dead of night dead of winter air. During contractions I closed the door so I could scream and hopefully not draw attention to myself.

Husband came back to find me hanging out of the car. He looked at the ground as he ran up, thinking maybe I’d thrown up, but I told him no, I was just too hot.

Driving home, he encouraged me to be vocal in hopes that it would help with the pain. He did not expect the volume on my next contraction.

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At home, I took the Tylenol PM and climbed into a warm bath. It was amazing how much better I felt. Exponentially less pain, contractions spread out, warm, happy feelings…

For all of ten minutes.

Back to screaming and four minutes apart.

But here’s the thing.

1.) Our midwife, classes, and books told us that if you could slow the contractions at all, it wasn’t real labor.

2.) Even if it was real labor, the rule was not to go in until you could no longer walk or talk during a contraction.

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Therefore, we reasoned, this either wasn’t real labor or if it was, it was still very early.

I tried really hard to go to sleep. But I just couldn’t lay down. I’d get in bed and it was just impossible to stay there. I jumped back up, I had to keep moving, keep walking around. Husband was starting to get very upset that I wouldn’t let him coach me. He told me to try to sleep and I did, I swear, but it looked like I was intentionally going against everything he said. I just couldn’t follow instructions.

That’s a sign of transition.

So is losing modesty, and boy, was mine gone. I was too hot. I threw all my clothes off. I kept going into the bathroom and sitting down, only to hop right back up off the toilet and keep walking. Everything was happening so fast, why shut the door? Occasionally I stopped at the sink to lean over and see if maybe I’d throw up. Nope! No time. Must walk, must keep walking, into and out of bathroom.

Husband accepted that I wasn’t going to sleep, so he tried to help me through contractions. He wanted to hold me and I wanted him to hold me but as soon as I touched him he was so insufferably hot I’d shove him away, glaring and yelling incoherently. I wasn’t actually mad at him for being hot, but all my actions said that yes I was, in fact, I HATED HIM FOR IT.

Contractions were down to three minutes apart. I was getting tired, so instead of walking in circles from bathroom to bedroom, I turned to crawling.

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Around this time, I started earnestly telling husband that I could not do this. I had to go to the hospital – not the birth center, the hospital. I needed medication right now. RIGHT NOW!

And I was crying, because everyone everywhere was right. I couldn’t do it naturally. As soon as I felt labor pains, I’d cry for drugs. I wasn’t even in transition yet and the pain was already far more than I could bear.

(Spoiler alert: I was in transition. But our midwife said I wasn’t, and we believed her. She knew better than us! We were dumb first time parents, what did we know? Plus, it’s not like she was our unbending, out-of-date, over-medical doctor. She knew natural birth. She had to be right – in our minds there was no question. If I’d figured out that yes, this was transition, would I have pushed through it?

Every labor really is different!)

Husband stood his ground. He knew we both really wanted a natural birth. At this point, somehow, I still felt like maybe the baby wasn’t coming at all yet. In my mind, I needed to get to a hospital and get an epidural so I could sleep. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours at this point. Because New Years.

We fought. He tried being sweet, tough love, commanding, begging, encouragement, peaceful imagery, but I was just beyond talking to. I was screaming, crying, and occasionally choking out a plead to be taken to the hospital.

We called the midwife again. Again, she said not yet.

I pulled myself together enough to try to have a conversation about our options. I insisted that the pain was too intense and reiterated that since I wasn’t even in transition, it would only get worse. I asked if my husband didn’t want to go to the hospital because of our doctor. Husband thought that if we could go and have an uneventful natural birth, it would prove him wrong and lead him to research more and be supportive of his future patients who want a natural birth. Yes, part of our agenda was “saving” our doctor.

He assured me he was past that. But now we couldn’t trust that hospital, period. Even if we got a different doctor, our doctor was head of the department. It was likely we’d go though all the routine medical interventions no matter who we got.

This level-headed discussion was cut short when I lost it again and went back to yelling and walking in circles, stopping between contractions to curl myself around the box fan.

Two minutes apart now.

Husband called the midwife and said “either we’re coming to you or we’re going to the ER, but we’re going somewhere now.” She told us to head on over.

Husband had to work pretty hard to convince me I couldn’t go naked.

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LEAVE ME.

Is this baby coming in the car? That was a legitimate concern. Tune in next time to see if we make it…