You guys, this is super long. I’m so sorry. Also, I’ll be calling this baby Star on my blog (after the little sister in B is for Betsy, which Ella and I read last year and both loved). Ella’s name is from Ella Enchanted and Ani is from The Goose Girl. And none of these are their real names.
I’ve been saying that both of my older girls were late and induced. And while that’s technically true, it kind of gives the wrong impression about what Ella’s birth was like.
There’s the whole long story here, but the short version is that I went in the day before my induction was scheduled to get a dose of cytotec and then came home a few hours later and my water broke in the middle of the night and she was born the next day. The next two hospitals have both acted shocked that they would send me home post-cytotec because apparently EVERYONE’S water breaks afterward.
Anyway, so even though Ella was technically induced, it didn’t really feel like an induction because I was at home, I had loads of contractions and got to the pushing stage without any pitocin. So. . . I felt like I knew what it was like to go into labor. (And I didn’t like it).
Ani’s birth was a much more straight-forward induction. We showed up at the hospital, I got some pitocin and then an epidural, and less than four hours later, she was born. It was practically painless and my recovery was super speedy. I was DEFINITELY hoping for a repeat of that experience.
Also, with Ella, we’d assumed she’d be early and so it seemed like FOREVER until she was finally born eight days late.
With Ani, we knew late was a possibility, but hoped she’d be born early or on time (nope. Seven days late).
This time, we were pretty sure this baby would be late, and because of our recent move and Bart’s school schedule, we were actually hoping she’d be late.
In fact, we were so certain she’d be late that we scheduled a babysitting swap with some friends on Valentine’s Day (my due date) and invited people over for dinner the day AFTER my due date (with the caveat that we would possibly have to cancel if we had a baby instead). All those plans went through and we were glad not to be sitting around waiting for me to go into labor.
When I went in for my last appointment two days before my due date, I was at a 3 or a 4 and 75% effaced (but I’d been a 4 with Ani for a week, so . . . that didn’t make me think anything was going to happen soon).
They scheduled an induction for the following Thursday morning. After my induction with Ani, I was really hoping for an induction again, since it was so great, and I also was nervous about how fast it might be without an induction because of how fast my induced labor had gone with Ani.
My mom arrived on Wednesday afternoon and after the girls got up from quiet time and naps, we drove to the airport and picked her up at 3:15.
We came home, Ella gave her the grand tour of the house, and we sat around and visited for a few minutes. Bart had been home from school already when we arrived, so we decided to have one last hurrah and all go out for dinner at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles (I’ve been twice, but Bart had never gone).
It was starting to snow outside, but we opted to brave it anyway. The traffic was pretty slow and the roads were a little slick, but we eventually arrived and parked. Ani was getting pretty unhappy about being in the car, so we were all glad to get out.
Except that just as I stepped out of the car, my water broke.
When my water had broken with Ella, I had been fairly sure it was my water breaking, but this time, there was no question. I wasn’t having any painful contractions, but because of how fast things went last time, we reluctantly loaded everyone back in the car (after bribing Ani with my phone) and drove home.
The snow had completely stopped and we made it home in about ten minutes. My mom started getting dinner ready for the girls, Bart and I gathered up our stuff for the hospital, and Bart installed the carseat base in his care. As I was giving my mom last-minute instructions, I had a few contractions, but nothing I couldn’t talk through or that were even particularly painful.
We had a quick family prayer, kissed the girls goodbye, and drove off to the hospital. I knew they’d admit me because my water had broken and I was a four, but I was a little worried they’d give me a hard time because I wasn’t having any real labor that I could tell.
In the car, Bart suggested I time my contractions and they seemed to be every four minutes, although they still weren’t noteworthily painful.
We got to the hospital and Bart dropped the car off with valet while I checked in at the emergency room desk. They said to wait until they sent down a wheelchair from the birthing center and so Bart and I stood around in the lobby for about 10 minutes. I had maybe two fairly strong contractions during that time, but they still weren’t killer.
My wheelchair arrived and we took the elevator up to the birthing center. The lady at the front desk said it was pretty busy, but she’d see if they could find a room for me. I don’t think she thought much was going on with me. While she looked, I went to the bathroom, but quickly realized I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, I just was actually having some pretty good labor pains all of the sudden.
I came out and leaned on the front desk for a few minutes, while Bart rubbed my back, and then I had two really strong contractions and I felt like “Okay, this is for sure it.” Bart chased down the front desk lady who quickly found us a triage room.
When we got in there, I was feeling TERRIBLE. It was hard to believe that only fifteen minutes earlier, I’d felt basically fine. A nurse checked me and said I was complete.
I was pretty sure what that meant, but I asked anyway, “Does that mean I won’t have time for an epidural?”
He said, “We can call the anesthesiologist, but you’re so close, you’ll probably have the baby before you could get an epidural.”
I’d sort of suspected over the last five minutes that this was going to be the case, but I was still not delighted to hear this at all.
I know some women really really want a natural birth, but I have never, for one second, had any interest in giving birth without an epidural. I’d done enough laboring with Ella before I got an epidural to remember clearly how dark and small the world seemed when I was in labor and how quickly I felt like myself again and back in control once I had an epidural. I had zero interest in repeating any of that, let alone actually delivering a baby.
The nurse went out to get the doctor and we could hear voices in the hallway saying things like “she’s too close. There’s no way there’s time for an epidural.” I looked at Bart and said miserably, “I think they’re talking about me.”
Bart gave me a quick blessing, and then the doctor and three nurses came in.
The doctor said, “Okay, you can start pushing whenever you’re ready.”
Once I could push during my contractions, it didn’t seem nearly so bad. I even told Bart, “This is way less terrible than I expected.” It wasn’t fun, but at least if I was going to have to do it naturally, it was mainly only pushing and delivery, not hours and hours of unmedicated labor.
Since we were still in a triage room, it was a small room and with five people in there, it got really hot. Bart started feeling super light-headed and knelt down next to the bed and I could tell he was really struggling. The nurses brought him an ice pack and had him lie down on the floor so that he wouldn’t pass out. Happily, this gave me something to think about besides the fact that I was having a baby.
I’d been hoping for another three push baby, but this one was taking a little longer than Ani had.
After about 25 minutes of pushing, the doctor told me she thought this baby could be born on the next contraction. I pushed as much as I could and I really thought I was going to just die from all the pain. I cannot even imagine doing this without medication on purpose (and I’d only been in labor for all of 45 minutes, so I wasn’t exhausted or totally worn out from hours and hours of laboring).
I pushed and kept pushing as much as I could. Because I was on a triage bed, rather than a regular labor and delivery bed, it wasn’t really set up for delivery and they slid me partially off the side so that the table would stop blocking the baby’s head. It was all a crazy blur.
One of the nurses, who was holding my hand, said “It’s okay!” and I apparently shouted back at her, “This is NOT okay.” I could feel when her head came out and then Bart said, “You need to keep pushing!” and a few seconds later she was completely out (he told me later that the cord had been around her neck and she had been starting to turn fairly purple between the time her head came out and her body came out because they couldn’t get to the cord until her body was all out).
She was born at 7:31 p.m., almost two hours to the minute from when my water broke.
With Ani, I’d felt a huge rush of euphoria when she was born, but this time I just was overwhelmed by how intense the whole thing had been and I just wanted to lie there.
Because of how fast it all was and also because we were in a triage room, there was blood EVERYWHERE. The doctor said, “Just throw everything away. There’s nothing worth saving here.” (This was the moment I was really glad that I didn’t have a baby at home where this would be all MY belongings).
The nurses cleaned up (one of them had to go change her scrubs because they were so covered in blood), and Bart and I took turns holding the baby. The nurse came back from getting changed, picked up Star and she went to the bathroom all over her. So. . . .time for another scrub change.
I was shaking a lot (which I don’t remember happening with the other two girls, although they assured me it was totally normal), and I was also starving. When one of the nurses brought in a back of snacks, I scarfed down some bags of Teddy Grahams, some Oreos, and a big glass of water.
We were all putting in our guesses for weight (I guessed right around nine pounds), but I was pretty impressed when they set her on the scale and the number came back 10 lbs, 1 oz. Bart said, “You just delivered a ten pound baby without an epidural.”
The only upside of no epidural was I didn’t have to get an IV or a catheter. I had a little monitor taped to my finger and that was it. They took that off, brought in the wheelchair and wheeled us down to the post-partum wing. The nurse pointed out that some of the rooms were labeled sleep rooms because the weather was getting so bad that many of the doctors and nurses were staying at the hospital overnight instead of braving the icy roads. I was glad we had nowhere to go and that my other girls were safe at home with my mom.
Dinner service had already finished up, so we ordered some sandwiches from Jimmy Johns (I didn’t think I was still that hungry, but I ate the whole thing in about ten minutes). We texted my mom and other family and friends to let them know she’d arrived, and then we all went to bed.
We stayed in the hospital for about 36 hours and came home on Friday morning. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for the girls, but overall, everyone has done really well. Lots of people have said recovery without an epidural is way better, but my recovery with Ani was super fast, and this one has been similar so far. I’m inclined to think it has more to do with how long labor and delivery is rather than whether or not you get an epidural.
And oh my heavens, am I in love with this new baby girl. Pregnancy feels so impersonal to me – I never feel like I really bond with my babies before they are born, but once they are here, I just love love love them.
I keep telling Bart, “It’s SO nice to have a baby in the house again.”
And of course, it’s really nice to have my mom here to entertain my other girls and make dinner. And then, the day after she leaves, Bart finishes up classes and begins two weeks of spring break, so I have a nice long time before I really have to do the real-life thing again.
I plan to spend the next three weeks basically snuggling this baby non-stop.