I cannot believe that I gave birth to Jack one month ago already! The transition from one baby to two has certainly been exhausting but that is for another post 😉 As for today’s post, when I was pregnant with Lily, I loved to read other women’s birth stories to get a sense for what my own birth experience might entail. While my birth with Lily ended up being unique from the other stories I had read, I still found them to be valuable in helping me to understand the various aspects of giving birth that can change so quickly and that I might not have complete control over certain things. So, for those of you who are preparing to give birth and find comfort in reading others experiences or for those who simply love a good birth story, here is my story of how baby Jack came into the world one month ago today.
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions (non-painful contractions that simply felt like my abs were flexing on their own) every 10-15 minutes for about 2 weeks before Jack was born. This was exactly the same thing I experienced with my first born, Lily. On the morning of May 28th, 5 days before my due date, I woke at about 8am with very mild contractions every 15 minutes give or take a minute. These contractions felt like VERY mild cramps and I thought nothing of them because they were so tame. I got up and went to breakfast with Charlie, Lily, and my brother and sister in law who were visiting from West Virginia. After breakfast, as we were heading home, my contractions began to feel like mild period cramps- a little stronger than before but still not really painful. They were about 10 minutes apart at this time so I decided to tell everyone that I was experiencing them. The day progressed and my contractions got stronger and closer together VERY GRADUALLY.
At 1pm it was time for Lily’s nap and I took her up to read to her and sing songs (something we do before every nap and bedtime) and it was at this time that I realized that this might be actual labor and I might be leaving her to bring her brother into the world. I got super emotional thinking of being away from her for a few days- I was worried how she would feel and how she would respond to the new baby and I was also mourning the one on one time I would likely be saying goodbye to. Our relationship had been so focused on one another and I loved spending so much alone time with my girl so the thought of having another child around in that moment was overwhelming. (To all of the mommas about to have baby number two out there- it is completely normal to mourn the loss of the one on one relationship with baby #1 and it is completely normal to worry about being able to love another child like you did your first. The love for your first baby opens your eyes to an overwhelmingly amazing new sort of love and imagining being able to feel that intense emotion for anyone else seems impossible. I’m here to tell you that when baby #2 arrives, that love will be applied to them too and all of the worries about your relationships with your child(ren) will fade away. A mothers love is just that malleable and incredible). Anyway, I started bawling putting Lily to bed and essentially said my “goodbye” to her then just in case I had to go to the hospital before her nap was over. That gesture put me in the mindset that this may be the real labor and that I needed to focus on it a bit.
I went downstairs and breathed through contractions that were now about 8 minutes apart and felt like moderate menstrual cramps. They were now strong enough to make me stop what I was doing and lean on a counter and breath through them, but I still felt really good in between and could do a little talking while they were happening.
At 3:30pm my brother and sister in law ran out and got me some shaved ice (bless them!) and when they got back my contractions were finally strong enough to make me need to stop, lean on my birthing ball and breath. The birthing ball was a LIFESAVER for me- the ONLY position that works for me during contractions is the leaning-over position and being on my knees leaning on the birthing ball is the best bet for me. Charlie also used the Bradley Method technique of applying an intense amount of pressure to my lower back with his fist and rotating it in small fast circles. We didn’t do this with my first labor but I wish I had because it made a HUGE difference for me. The contractions now felt like very strong menstrual cramps at this point and were about 6 minutes apart.
At about 4:30 Charlie and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to help my labor along. It was very hot outside and very muggy (typical Houston) which felt really good on my sore, contracting body. We ran into some neighbors and told them I was in labor and at that moment I knew I’d be going to the hospital soon. When we got back from the walk my contractions were very strong and about 4-5 minutes apart. I called the OB on call to see if I should come to the hospital- I knew that my contractions met the 5-1-1 rule (contractions at least 5 minutes apart, lasting for a minute, for at least one hour) and don’t get me wrong, they were very painful but they just weren’t excruciating like they were with my first labor. Looking back I think it’s because I was more mentally prepared and the counter pressure on my back was a game changer. The OB on call never called me back (SMH) so Charlie and I got some firehouse subs (meatball for me!) delivered, kissed our little girl goodbye, and headed to the hospital at 7:30pm.
In triage at the hospital they asked for a urine sample and while giving it to them I had my B.Show so I knew I’d be staying at the hospital! I was 4cm dilated and admitted. An hour later I was 5cm and decided to get an epidural.
At 9:30pm I had only progressed to 6cm, so my OB asked if she could break my water. I was opposed to this as I didn’t want to do anything to increase my chances of C-Section and I really wanted a hands off approach but little Jack’s heart rate was dropping a lot with each contraction so I decided to go for it. I did decline the Pitocin that the doctor and nurse tried to give me though- I wanted to see if the water breaking was enough of a catalyst without the addition of drugs and I am so glad I did because at hour after my water was broken I was already at 9cm!
At 11pm my nurse told me I was about at 10cm and said the OB would be in at around midnight to have me start pushing. This is so silly but I was hoping Jack would be born that day, the 28th, because Charlie’s birthday is the 28th of the month and both Lily and I are born on the 23rd of the month. So the OB came in at 11:40pm to let me start pushing but reminded me that the pushing phase can take a very long time. I pushed Lily out in exactly two pushes so I was confident I could have him out within 20 minutes. 😉
Well, 80 seconds of pushing later (3 pushes during one contraction, 3 during a second contraction, and two during the final third contraction) and Jack came flying out! During the first contraction I really had to remember how to push but it was like riding a bike and after remembering how to do it i was able to make great progress during that second contraction. On the third pushing contraction he crowned slightly with the first push and then shot completely out with the second (exactly what happened with Lily).
And there he was! Born at 11:45pm 7lb 3oz and 19.25″ long our little man arrived 5 days before his due date.
When he was born he was given to me and we immediately snuggled skin to skin. This particular hospital that I delivered at did a lot of things differently than my hospital in Pittsburgh and I honestly found the after labor care to be very disappointing starting with the fact that right after Jack was born I got to hold him for about a minute and then he was taken to the other side of the room for weight, Apgar, etc. for about 15 minutes. In Pittsburgh, I was able to nurse Lily and snuggle her for a bit before most of the tests and I greatly preferred that so, mamas, speak up if you want to nurse first! I had asked to but then in the heat of things I just let them take him and I was super anxious to get him back. Eventually Charlie noticed my expression and had the nurses bring him back to me.
All in all, this labor was much easier than my first and while I hated the after delivery care I thought my OB and delivery nurses were great. I hope this story helps you mamas out there getting ready to bring babes into the world. You’ve got this! You are rockstars! And I promise you will feel like (a very sore) Wonder Woman when it’s all said and done. ❤️
An after-breakfast stroll.
My bump the morning I went into labor!