Today is my due date. This feels so similar to three years ago when I wrote about Beck barging out of my body and into the world. It’s all the same and all different, all the feelings, none of the sleep or time to process them, big life changes, all of it.
So. Last week. On Wednesday we had our 39 week appointment and the midwife we saw didn’t have a ton to say besides that everything looked fine and she didn’t think she’d see us for our 40 week appointment. She had no reason to say this since there weren’t any actual signs that I’d go into labor and our providers don’t do cervical checks (since dilating or not isn’t an indication of when you’ll actually go into labor), so I was half encouraged/half “you don’t know anything,” which is my preferred feeling around the end of pregnancy. No one knows when it’ll happen or how it’ll go and this makes things very hard for me on an emotional level.
Spoiler alert, Will was born at 39 weeks and one day exactly like his sister, so … I kind of knew what was going on.
We went about our day on Wednesday and Thursday, and Thursday I felt bad. There’s no way to describe it, nothing happened necessarily and I didn’t have a way to describe how I was feeling, it just wasn’t good. I had a ton of pressure on my right side in my organs that went all the way around my ribs into my shoulder. This prompted me to look up late-stage pregnancy injuries, and some people get non-cancerous lesions on their liver at the end of pregnancy and SOME babies kick so hard they break their mother’s ribs, so I was like THIS IS DEFINITELY BOTH OF THOSE THINGS. I couldn’t get comfortable, I felt nauseous, I hurt unless I was lying down in really specific positions, it was miserable.
Overnight on Thursday I had all these dreams about going into labor, stomach pains, the works. I kept waking up thinking THIS IS IT NO IT’S NOT MAYBE POOP? and then going back to sleep, very exciting and glamorous. On Friday morning I felt somewhat better and had a long day of “If I get this done I’ll feel good about the baby being born” tasks and work, so I dropped Beck off with my dad. I had packed some extra food and pajamas and extra diapers for her just in case, and I had more morning contractions than I had been having, but I still tried to not get my hopes up.
Fast forward through Friday, which was basically a long and boring early labor. I knew-but-couldn’t be sure, so Jay did meetings and work and I tried to get some final tasks done. I wasn’t in any pain but having a ton of discomfort and was really emotionally on edge, unable to sit down or focus – that tipped me off more than anything physical that was happening. I told my boss that I felt weird but who knows what that meant, had the dishwasher fixed (v important to have that taken care of before pump parts came back into our lives), and finally around 2pm started timing contractions.
They were 45 seconds long, two minutes apart, exactly like with Beck. They never slowed down except for maybe once all day, and they never got longer. At this point I still didn’t realllly want to believe it, except of course I totally did, so I started doing.the.things. since I assumed we’d be having a baby at some point that day. I alternated trying to watch TV, tidying up the house, washing dishes, getting the mail, emailing some people that I’d been putting off, all of these last minute things that put work/tasks in other people’s inboxes instead of mine.
I started vaguely texting my dad to be sure he’d be willing to keep Beck overnight without getting his hopes up, which probably frustrated and confused him more than anything. I didn’t want anyone to know when I was in labor with both kids because the idea of an audience, even not a present one, waiting on my to push a kid out is something that feels stressful to me, but obviously I had to have my child taken care of. Finally about 5pm we decided that Beck would spend the night with him and either we’d have a kid or come get her early in the morning so he could go back to living his life.
By this point in the day I had decided that while I wasn’t suuuure this would be it, my contractions were regular enough that I’d be surprised if they stopped. I didn’t have any other physical signs though, no mucous or bleeding or water breaking. I knew that those things could happen slowly or right at the very end, but I still wanted some kind of sign to point in the THIS IS IT direction. I did my pre-baby prep ritual of showering/shaving/washing and braiding my hair (I am a crazy person), but did it way earlier in the day with this labor so by the time I was done I still didn’t know if I was really in labor, and THIS is why I like to save things for the last minute, to avoid being bored and going out of my damn mind. Jay stopped working about 5:30 and wanted lots of details about how I was feeling and what the plan was, and I was vague and probably wildly irritating. We decided to go on a walk (?), and high-tailed it for two miles around the neighborhood thinking that either it’d stop the contractions or break my water.
It did neither, of course. The contractions kept up at the exact same very steady, slightly stronger pace as they had for hours at this point, but I still walked at close to our regular pace and was like….what.is.happening. We got home about 7 and watched an episode of Big Little Lies (yes yes yes!), and I decided to call the midwife on call so that if I did give birth that night she’d, you know, be there. She was at the hospital with another mom in labor and I was thrilled that it was someone I liked on call. At that point uncomfortable-to-real was how I described the contractions, but I noticed they were getting more painful faster, so I told the midwife that we’d call her back when they got bad and come in. With Beck, we had about 90 minutes once we got to the birth center before she was born, and we wanted to leave earlier this time.
We did not do that. But! We did leave before I THOUGHT things were as bad, so our hearts were in the right place. Around 8:30 contractions were painful but not unbearable, so Jay called the midwife and told her we were going to head in soon. They made some kind of plan because he told her we weren’t in a huge rush and she was at the hospital (five seconds from the birth center) with another mom who wasn’t progressing very quickly. We made tea (I drink a lot of tea) to have when we got home, let the dogs out, texted my sister to say “hey, if we’re gone awhile please let the dogs out,” and Jay ran around and packed the car while I managed contractions on my own. At that point I much preferred to have him there to push into my hips – the only thing with two labors we’ve ever found to help with the pain at all is this counterpressure – so we were thinking on the way to the birth center that since I COULD still do contractions on my own we probably had plenty of time.
I wasn’t into this idea at all; the reason we went to the birth center so late last time is that I, as mentioned above, don’t want an audience for labor because ugh, AND I still had this fear of wimping out from the pain way too early and psyching myself out that there was NO WAY I COULD DO THIS because it hurt too much but my cervix wasn’t doing anything, and that wasn’t a mental load I could carry.
Exactly like with Beck we got to the birth center before the midwife, dealt with a few contractions in the parking lot, and got into the same room where we had Beck almost exactly three years ago. We were the only ones there with the midwife and nurse, so it was super quiet. They turned on lights and opened doors and grabbed charts, and I hobbled around. We were settled into the birth center about 9:20pm. The midwife, Sam, was the same one that had done part two of Beck’s birth (she stitched me up and monitored me after birth because Beck was born right at shift change), and needed to check my cervix while the nurse checked the baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure. My water still hadn’t broken at this point so I was nervous that I wasn’t very far along, but I was 8cm which made Jay and me grin and I felt this huge sense of relief. I always remember this feeling of nervousness while in labor, like…you’re busy managing this pain and wondering what is going to happen but somehow also feeling this stage fright that you’re not doing it right? It’s one of the strangest and most pronounced feelings I can remember experiencing in my life.
8cm! Yay. I thought that I had a ton of time still left at this point BUT either Sam got too far up in there or the timing was just right, but my water IMMEDIATELY broke while I was tugging my adult diaper and yoga pants (yep) back on. Very metaphorically with the massive gush of fluid I felt a huge relief like…ok now this is happening and its real and also it’s like I just jumped into a warm pool. I didn’t have a dramatic water break with Beck and was curious about this feeling, and WHOA pressure release. Because I had already been in labor for awhile it felt like my entire stomach was emptying, and I laughed in a very strange rush-of-hormones way.
(Jay is not used to being allowed to take pictures with the big camera. This was a big day for him.)
Almost immediately after that contractions got way worse, way fast, and I started pushing. The way the midwives and the birth center work is … there are no rules unless there need to be, I guess is a good way of saying it. The baby is checked before, during, and after contractions, my blood pressure is monitored, and if we seem to be tolerating things well and nothing else is taking forever or otherwise concerning we just do our thing. I like this method a lot because it works in the middle ground between lots of intervention (it’s there if we need it) and the belief that the kid will in fact come out of the body, which it will, one way or another. With Beck I couldn’t figure out how to push or sit/stand/lie and nothing felt like it was working. With this labor I pushed four times on my hands and knees (I vividly remember saying “I don’t know why I’m doing this but I’m going to kneel down”), and there he was.
It was SUPER cool. And painful. And awful. And awesome. I’ve said it a gazillion times, but I’m so grateful that I have fast labors, because contractions and transition and pushing (not to mention, you know, the birth) are NO JOKE and anyone who says they don’t hurt that badly is a condescending jerk. Between these last contractions I felt super fearful and weepy and regretful of every single life choice leading up to this moment – the hormone rush is so ridiculous. I yelled and swore and needed lots of reassurance from the staff, which they provided. Jay kept pushing on my hips with every contraction, which in hindsight I don’t know how that doesn’t…mash…the baby, but clearly it doesn’t and I don’t know anything about anything. Because we were on the ground this time Jay got a suuuuuper front row look at the miracle of life, right down to the pooping that happened in the middle of all the action, gross but it happens.
The three final pushes were really pronounced – one where I felt Will’s head and mentally was like “nope,” so I didn’t push too hard. One where I pushed his head out, and one where I felt his entire body come out in one sigh-of-relief-this-hurts-so-much whoosh.
And then it was done. He was here! Because I didn’t see him coming out my memories of that time are Jay all kinds of exuberant yelling “Lindsay I see him! I see his face! He’s great!” and just generally being joyful. Last time we were both kind of shell-shocked by the whole process and not as close to the action, and this time we were just IN it. I demanded that someone give him to me, and he was SO cute. Bright blue, screaming, covered in slime, you know, regular cute baby stuff.
He is cuter now to the outside world.
Jay cut the cord and we moved to the bed, Will in Jay’s arms, umbilical cord still attached to me (envision that please). It was determined that I didn’t need any stitches, hallelujah, the placenta came out slightly abrupted aka Will was born right when he should have been – that thing was done keeping him alive. He was perfect, I was fine save for a little extra bleeding from the janky placenta.
He was born at 9:44pm on Friday night and it was just the best. So fast, so painful, so THANK GOODNESS I’M NOT PREGNANT ANYMORE, so glad to have him here. We stayed at the birth center until about 5am, snacking (I brought the breakfast cookies with us, perfect for middle of the night starvation) and dozing and staring at him. He nursed for the first two hours of his life and pretty much hasn’t stopped since. We picked William as the first name in the first few hours and Reeves for his middle name the next day. William Reeves, 6 pounds 9 ounces of squish, a full two inches longer than his sister but an ounce lighter, so lanky and wrinkly and in serious need of some baby fat.
Part 2 coming soon – his first big sister meeting and our first day at home as a family of four.