Her Birth Story


If you are not a birth story junkie, look away, but it's been a little over a month since the Little Miss's entry in the world, ergo it's time to tell the tale.  

I have been blessed with beautiful births for both of my children.  I walked away from both feeling empowered and basically like a rock star.  That being said, the second time really was so much easier--partly because we were at home, partly because Little Miss came a lot faster, and partly (I think at least) because I knew generally what to expect and was less afraid.  As I say, both were absolutely beautiful, but this time was definitely less complicated in my head.  

In any event....

December 2nd, I was in the kitchen making dinner with Sweet Husband, when he leaned over and spoke to the belly, "You need to come out, come out...but not tomorrow because I have one last job I have to do at work."

I laughed, "Good thing that never really works for us."  Har-har.

December 3rd, 2:30 a.m.  I woke up to what felt like a contraction, but I'd been having Braxton-Hicks for a month so I was more pissed to be awake (again) than I was excited.  I had a few more contractions, about once an hour, as the night went on, but I was convinced it was not the real deal.  This was to be the theme of the day.

Morning came, the boys went downstairs to have breakfast, and as I stood up to get out of bed a contraction hit that made me have to sit back down.  I had two more in the space of a long shower, so I told Sweet Husband that perhaps he'd better come with me to take the Kid to school.  Then he could go to work, finish up his task, and we'd see how things were going after that.  We also had our new housekeepers coming from 9 to 11, and I wanted to let them get the house clean, come what may.  (See, if you at all can, that is how you nest my dears!)

So I rode along in the car, and Sweet Husband walked the Kid into school.  A fresh contraction hit just as Sweet Husband got back into the car, and he eyed me wryly, "I'm not going to work today, am I?"

Still in denial, I insisted that he could, but I'd love it if we could just drive through Starbucks first.  I got an eggnog latte (supremely bad choice, for the record), and suggested that maybe we should just go for a little walk to give the house cleaners another hour.  Then he could really go to work and I could go home and rest.  


[Labor selfie at the lake!]

By this time, Sweet Husband was like, "I think we should call my mom [our childcare for the Kid] and Lovely Midwife".  But I really didn't want to call in the cavalry for a false alarm, and I was still insisting that I was not truly in labor yet.

We drove out to the lake and headed down the paved path.  I was timing contractions at 6 or 7 minutes apart, and having to stop as each one hit.  We made it down to my favorite tree before I decided that perhaps we shouldn't go any further.  

When we got back to the car I finally agreed that "maybe we are having a baby today" and consented to giving our crew a tentative heads-up.  Nice Mother-In-Law took charge of the Kid, and Lovely Midwife told us she would pack up her car and we should call when the contractions were just a little closer.  

We stopped in at the grocery store for some food (contractions in the tomato aisle) and then headed home.

At about noon I had some "bloody show" (*jazz hands*), so Lovely Midwife and her birth assistant headed over.  By happy coincidence, she'd been having lunch with the same nurse who had been with us just after the Kid's birth.  I picture them having the conversation, "You wanna go do a birth today?" like some of us would ask our bestie to go for a mani/pedi.

By the time the pros had arrived, I was having hard enough contractions that I wanted to lay down through them, but I still thought we had a very long way to go.  With the Kid I had a good 24 hours of not-fun, so I was expecting at least some of the same for this go-round.  It just wasn't that painful yet, so I figured we had to have hours and hours left. 


[Sweet Husband covers the Kid's bed with a tarp.]

Everyone assembled in our bedroom, as I tried to make small talk between waves. I felt a little on display, and I think I must have cracked a joke to that effect because the midwives decided to go downstairs to make coffee--mostly to give me a little space, I think.  Meanwhile, Sweet Husband started setting up the birth tub in the Kid's bedroom.

I think that was close to two, but after that the timing starts to get fuzzy.  I remember throwing up the latte, which was just as gross as it sounds.  And I remember getting in the birth tub, and laughing that they were actually boiling water to keep it warm.  Doesn't that sound just like something you'd be doing at a homebirth?

The water felt good, but I just couldn't get into a good position in the tub.  This is going to sound quite hippy-dippy, but I needed the earth underneath me.  The water just wasn't supporting me enough; I needed to ground out.

At about five--someone had to tell me that later--Lovely Midwife asked if I wanted her to check and see how dilated my cervix was.  I agreed, but then almost cried when she said it was only 5 centimeters.  She suggested I get out of the tub and try to move a little.  Moving was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, but I knew it was for my own good so I tried.

I had a few contractions kneeling by the Kid's bed, and a few in the bathroom.  Then I insisted that I had to lay down again for a few minutes.  Lovely Midwife suggested walking up and down the stairs, and Sweet Husband was encouraging me to try it.  Again, I knew they had my best interests at heart, but I couldn't wrap my head around standing up, let alone managing the stairs.  

I did my best to roll back and forth on our bed, at least, but all of a sudden the pains were coming right on top of each other, and all of a sudden it felt like the baby was getting traction.  Lovely Midwife had gone back downstairs for a minute, and she said she heard my tell tale, baby-is-imminent "roar" all the way down in the kitchen.  Everyone came back upstairs pretty quickly, and someone said something about the baby crowning.

So calmly that it was like it was another person, a voice in my head said curiously, "Wait, what?  Crowning?  We're almost done?  No way!"  My water hadn't even broken yet, so I didn't understand how the baby could be coming out.  Nonetheless, that very encouraging news was all I needed to get through the little bit of pushing more that was required to bring our little girl into the world.  She was on my chest before I even had a chance to mentally catch up.


[Lovely Midwife measuring Little Miss.]

My water never broke, actually.  Little Miss came out in her caul.  I wasn't watching, but Sweet Husband said it was really cool--it just fell away as Lovely Midwife passed a hand over her face.  She was born at 6:06.  Lovely Midwife said later that she was probably turned a bit funny, and once my movement got her into just the right place my cervix popped open very quickly.

It was, all told, pretty darned amazing and, as far as giving birth goes, even easy.


[First meetings.]

Other than that one complication (a yucky bit of infection) a few weeks after--which was scary for a couple days, but ended up just making me extra tired in the grand scheme--we've had the most cozy month of nesting-in with her.  She's sleeping reasonably, eating well...just a dreamy little darling.  Even the Kid keeps saying, "She's so cute."

Like her brother before, I do believe we'll keep her.

Four Things I Wish I'd Thought About Before Baby Two

I was so not fussed about baby gear before Little Miss came along.  "We kept the Kid alive," I told a friend when discussing it some time 'round pregnancy month seven, "And besides, it's not like there won't be stores around after the baby is born."

While that was all true, there have been a few things--material, physical, and spiritual--that did not even occur to me that I wish I had put more thought into, or, perhaps, at least had a heads up on.  

In no particular order, here's one thing I wish I'd thought about for every week our Little Miss has been with us.


[Little Miss, circa 5 days old, giving me a facepalm.]

Getting cold weather gear for the baby.  

As a mid-February baby, cold weather gear wasn't such a worry with the Kid.  By the time I was ready to get out with him, the weather was at least lukewarm.  And then, too, we just stayed inside on cold days.  If we really needed to go somewhere, like the grocery store, we'd plop him in his bucket car seat and pile on the blankets.  

That hasn't worked with Little Miss.  Because the Kiddo--my little Montessori raised darling--is used to being outside every day, and that means we have to go with him.  It's that whole "there's no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes" thing.  So Little Miss had to get some appropriate clothes via expedited shipping last week.

Teaching the older sibling life skills.  

We spent lots of time before Little Miss was born talking with the Kid about things like where babies come from and how it's a long time before they can play trains.  What we should have done was teach him how to pour his own milk, operate the DVD player, button his own pants, and stir ice cubes into his own mac and cheese.  For reals--we wasted time on warm-and-fuzzy feelings when we should have been working on survival skills.

My hips don't lie.  

Once things settled in after Little Miss's birth, I decided to step on the scale to get an idea which of my wide range of jean sizes might fit.  I wasn't terribly displeased with the number that popped up, and I was excited to think that I had non-maternity jeans in my closet that I could wear.

Except, not.

I went to pull on a loose pair, but as I got them up to my hips they just stopped.  Turns out, my hips are about 3 inches wider than they were before.  Through my whole pregnancy, I felt like my hips were tearing in half, but I assumed that the Kid had already stretched things as far as they were going to stretch.

Again, not so much.

On the one hand, it's completely amazing that my body can do that.  On the other, it's making my plans to ceremoniously torch my maternity jeans--which I am so bloody sick of--troublesome.  


[Little Miss's first outing in her snowsuit.]

We are different parents.  

I heard a psychologist testify once that all kids have different parents, even if they're full biological siblings.  What she was trying to get at was the idea that our parenting evolves and is influenced by completely unrelated events that just so happen to coincide with one child but not the other.

Little Miss is getting the good end of the deal on this one so far.  For the first few weeks of her life, Sweet Husband and I kept looking at each other and saying, "How is this so much easier this time?"

The answer is not that the Kid was an awful baby and Little Miss is a doll.  It's that we're 100 times more chill and we're used to living on less sleep.  

Also, while we've never been terrible at being a team, we're a lot better at it this time.  Like baseball players who've played together for years, we can pretty much automatically anticipate when the other is going to need an assist and react accordingly.  Even when I'm tired, I can tell when Sweet Husband is more so, just by the sound his body makes as he sinks back into bed in the middle of the night.  Conversely, he has almost a better sense than I do of when I really need to tap out for more sleep or a half an hour of the peace and the quiet.

I could probably keep going--soothies, buy ALL of the soothies--but those are the big lessons thus far, I do believe.  I'd tell you to take them to heart, any soon-to-be-moms reading this, but undoubtedly your little ones will have unique lessons for you that are all their own.