Natural Child Birth, Baby #2
Having your second child is usually different from the first. My first labor and birth story was a long one, as it spanned approximately 32 hours from those first tight pangs of contractions until I pushed her bright red body out the next day.
My second child’s birth was markedly shorter, and better for me as an experience in a lot of ways. First of all, I got smart about where to have the baby be born. Having a baby in a hospital wasn’t all I had hoped for in that I felt like I was fighting with the staff in order to be able to give birth without medication. So, the second time around, I found a birth center instead.
The only drawback to this place was that it takes about 45 minutes to get there from where we live. But I figured that if my first labor took 32 hours, surely a 45 minute drive should not but much of an issue.
This time around, my due date was May 5. At that time in my life, I was working full time and planning to work up until my due date. D kept having premonitions that this baby would arrive early though I had no reason to expect that and did not feel that way myself.
The pregnancy was a healthy one and the pre-natal care I received at the birth center was fabulous. I swam 15 to 20 laps about 4 times per week on average throughout my pregnancy; there was an olympic sized swimming pool across the street from my office which was a wonderful benefit. I felt strong, healthy, and even gained what seemed to be a modest amount of weight.
May 5th (a monday), however, came and went. True to my plans, I stopped working once my due date rolled around, but I kept swimming, at least a little. I recall a woman at pool asking me when I was due, and I grinned when I told her, “yesterday.” I was somewhat torn by my desire to keep up my exercise routine and by knowing that I should be well rested.
By the end of the week, I was feeling worried and discouraged. I did not want to be induced. I wanted a natural labor and delivery; I wanted to avoid the hospital! My midwives reassured me that all was well. Friday night, I began having contractions that were quite mild, but the midwife suggested that we come into the birth center just in case.
We stayed the night at the birth center, though by 1 AM we could tell that there was nothing much going on as far as labor. It was sort of like a dress rehearsal. We’d packed our food (lots!) and music (John Lennon’s Imagine) and clothes for us and the baby, but labor was the one thing that was not with us Friday night at the birth center. Early saturday morning we headed home, stopped and had breakfast at IHOP, and called everyone to say, sorry false alarm!
Saturday passed slowly. Still as pregnant as could be… but at least the car was packed thanks to our false alarm. At dinner I felt less than hungry and picked at my food. I was having contractions but didn’t want to get too excited about them. I didn’t want another false alarm.
After dinner, though, while my mom and in-laws (all of whom were over our house hanging out, apparently waiting for a new baby to fall out of me) were having dessert, I sank quietly into a comfy armchair and became rather introspective. Someone noticed and asked how I was doing. I smiled weakly and said I was alright, but really I was having some fairly interesting contractions.
By about 9 PM, Saturday night, they were regular and pretty convincing. We called our midwife who asked me if I could talk through the contractions. We explained how I’d been able to sing, joke, talk and make a lot of noise during nearly all of my previous labor. But these contractions were starting to hurt, so in spite of my ability to chat, we headed back to the birth center.
My mom was staying with us, so we left our sleeping toddler (C.) at home with her.
Getting into the car, I told D. that he should stay calm and drive safely and sensibly. Labor took forever last time, so there’s no need to rush, I told him. 10 minutes later, however, I was singing a different tune.
HIT THE GAS!!! RUN THAT LIGHT! The contractions were kicking my butt; they were long, and kept on coming every minute. That 45 minute drive seemed to take an hour. In fact, it did take an hour. The main road we take to the birth center was detoured due to construction, and D. was frantically trying to figure out an alternate route while I keep yelling at the top of my lungs. We had the windows of the car open; anyone curious enough to look into the car as we drove along would know exactly why the enormous lady in the passenger seat with her feet on the dash was bellowing so.
We did in fact make it to the birth center, meeting our midwife Denise and a nurse, Marie, to assist her. Once we were cozy in our birthing suite, Denise checked my cervix and let me know I’d already reached 7 cm dilation.
A little while later, after some pretty strong contractions, I asked if we could fill up the hot tub. Denise told me that by the time she got that big old tub filled, I’d already have had the baby. Sorry, no hot tub this time.
By midnight, I’d reached 10 cms and it was time to push. “You can go ahead and try a little push whenever you feel like it, ” Denise told me. What an incredible contrast to the huge pressure I’d had when pushing during my first labor! I could push when I felt like it.
After about 10 minutes of pushing, Denise told me that she could see the amniotic sac bulging out. It was clear to her that because my water had not broken, it was making it a lot harder to push the baby out. So, she broke the sac using a tool that looked a lot like a pair of scissors. This freaked D. out some because he thought she was going to cut an episiotomy — maybe he had not heard what she’d said. I was not worried though, I knew what she was up to.
Once my water was broken, it was indeed easier to push and along came the baby’s head. 22 minutes into sunday, Mother’s Day, I gave birth to my second daughter. She was born with the sac still around her. She had a fair amount of very dark hair, and was breathing very rapidly. It turned out she had some amniotic fluid in her lungs, and Marie very competently did percussive therapy on my newborn which helped her clear her lungs.
Once A. was breathing steadily, I was then able to hold her and nurse her. She was a precious little package, and healthy too.
The three of us, D, A, and I went to sleep after eating a light meal; some cereal and strawberries. Denise went home, and Marie stayed in the next room in case we needed anything, while she filled out all the new baby paperwork. I slept very little but laid comfortably in the queen sized bed where I’d given birth, staring at my tiny new daughter and marveling at her.
The next day, we received some visitors (my mom, my toddler, my in laws) in the morning, and then we left the birthing center by the afternoon. It was Mother’s Day and everyone else was going out to eat, except for D and me and the new baby. We went home instead and slept in, resting comfortably at home, less than 12 hours after the birth of our second daughter.
I am writing up these thoughts belatedly; A is now almost 4 years old. She breastfed for about 3 and a half years, weaning herself without any fuss and over a period of about 2 months. I will always think fondly back to her birth. I’d like to think her peaceful entry into this world was a factor in molding her personality, for she’s a very mellow and easy going person. Amiable, we often say.
Here she is at age 2 years, 4 months, nursing…