As my pregnancy came down to the finish line, I had accepted the fact that my baby girl would probably go past her October 10th due date. All three of my mom’s babies came late. Melissa was born at 39.4 weeks due to an emergency induction, but I’m sure she would have stayed in past her due date if given the chance.
In the last weeks of this pregnancy, I tried not to over-analyze every ache I was feeling because I didn’t want any false hope or false alarms. I just decided to let her come when she wanted. Don’t get me wrong – I was ready to be done with the backaches, waddling and fatigue. I was also getting tired of accidentally knocking Melissa over whenever she stood too close to me when I’d turn around quickly. I’m sure she was too.
My mom decided to fly out to Charleston on September 29th when I’d be 38 weeks. It was such a relief knowing that she would get here in plenty of time for the baby to come, and Melissa had someone to watch her when the time came. Our ward is amazing and lots of friends offered to watch Melissa if I were to go into labor before my mom came. I still worried just a little because I didn’t want to put anyone out if they had to watch Melissa for us. She’s a crazy little kid!
On September 28th, Lila wasn’t moving much in my belly. My whole pregnancy she’d been a really light kicker, but on that day her tranquility was particularly noticeable. In addition to that, I physically felt great. My lower back wasn’t hurting like it usually was, I felt less pressure in my hips and all other aches were gone. I was even feeling very energetic. I remember thinking in passing, “maybe this is the calm before the storm”. But since I had a couple weeks left, I didn’t entertain the idea further.
I woke up at 5 am on September 29th really concerned about her lack of movement. It wasn’t normal for her to be this motionless. I downed some juice and went back to bed to do kick counts. Within an hour, her movements came. With her movements also came contractions – actual contractions, not the Braxton-Hicks contractions. My stomach hardened and cramped. Then another one came five or six minutes later, then another.
They weren’t very painful, as I fell asleep until Melissa woke up at around 8. The contractions were still coming. I continued my day as normal: breakfast with Melissa, cleaned up around the house, played with Melissa. . .all while tracking my contractions with a contraction timing app on my phone. They were on average six minutes apart, about 40 seconds and pretty mild. I wasn’t getting any pains that stopped me in my tracks, but they were bringing me some cramping similar to period cramps.
They continued until around 11 am and then they got further apart. That’s when I decided to straighten my hair and put on some makeup.
Hey, just in case this was really happening, right?
At around two, I took Melissa for a walk. If –if— I was in labor, I kiiiinda wanted to keep things moving along. The thought of being in labor just sounded so ridiculous though. Labor couldn’t be starting today. It was still September! Plus, my mom was flying in today. The thought of that coincidence was just too much. But if it was labor, I didn’t know how to tell if it was the real deal. I didn’t have the going-into-labor experience with Melissa. And before this day, I had no real signs that the baby was coming soon, but Lila’s lack of movement made me wonder if labor was coming. Maybe she was saving energy for the big arrival?
When I returned from the walk, I discovered my bloody show had happened. (Ew, gross. Sorry.) That got my attention. At 4 it was time to pick up my mom from the airport. That’s when things changed.
As I drove to the airport, the contractions came back, and they were three minutes apart and more intense – like I was doing Lamaze while looping around the terminal. When my mom got in the car, I awkwardly told her how I believed I was in labor. Again, it sounded ridiculous. (It also felt like a weird way to greet my mom. “Hey, how’s it going? I missed you! I’m having contractions!”) But my mom, having been in labor herself a few times, took it more seriously than I did. I tried to drive us home, but we ended up having to switch because the contractions were too distracting to navigate through the rush hour traffic.
My mom was very insistent that I go to labor and delivery to get checked out. Thank goodness Rory was already home when we got home. He didn’t believe it. That was understandable because I didn’t believe it at first either, but the ever increasing pain in my uterus was getting pretty convincing for me.
We grabbed our bags, kissed Melissa good-bye and headed for the hospital. Rory made me drink a few sips of Dr. Pepper to get my energy up. I kept timing my contractions on the way. They were still three minutes apart and about 45 seconds long.
We got to the hospital at 5:45 pm and were shown a room where I had to get dressed in a gown and hooked up to monitors. I thought we were going to go home when my nurse informed me I was 2 centimeters dilated. Sheesh, I must have been completely closed up yesterday. Contractions since 6 am and this was all I have to show for it? Embarrassing.
She said they’d give me a couple of hours and if I wasn’t dilated to a 4, I’d go home. We walked the halls a bit and I bounced on a yoga ball. When I was checked again, I was 3 ½, but since my contractions were staying consistent at 2-3 minutes apart, I was officially admitted at around 8:20 pm.
It still didn’t feel real to Rory. He didn’t know whether he should call family and let them know or not. It felt very real to me when they started sticking me with IV needles. I got stuck once, twice, thrice and again. It wouldn’t have been so irritating if they hadn’t told me what great veins I had while one vein after the other blew. So every time they were fishing for a vein I was laying there thinking, “Obviously you guys are the problem here.” Oh and what they say about contractions distracting you from the IV – lies. All lies.
At this point, Rory was pretty hungry. I sent him to go get himself something since it would probably be awhile before anything exciting happened. I was jealous since all I’d had all day was some eggs, half a bagel and an apple. I was so dang hungry, but I was only allowed ice chips and popsicles. (Question: why do they allow you ice chips, but not water? What’s the difference?)
While Rory was out, I walked around some more and bounced on the yoga ball. It was so nice to be able to get up and move during this labor. I was confined to the bed while I labored with Melissa.
It seemed like Rory had been gone for ages even though there was a McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A right across the street. The contractions were really picking up in pain. It was getting harder to get through each one without my birthing coach with me. I needed Rory to lean on so badly.
He returned to a different woman than the one he had left.
When he walked back through the door, I said, “Where have you been?” in probably a less than welcoming tone. He was outstanding with my first labor, and I needed that same support for this one if I was going to commit to natural birth. No pressure to Rory or anything. Turns out he drove all the way to Burger King because he had a coupon he wanted to use and he went to three different places in search of a milkshake and he got stuck in one long McDonald’s line.
He quickly ate his dinner, and by 10 pm I was in full-force agony. I couldn’t walk through the contractions anymore so I sat on the yoga ball collapsed in his arms. I labored quietly with Melissa. I did not care this time about being tough and quiet. I ohm-ed and groaned my way through contractions and didn’t care if I sounded freaky. It helped to be vocal.
My poor nurse. She told me I was the first natural birth she got to assist, and I was probably scaring her.
I thought going into labor on my own would be far less painful than an induced birth, but let’s be honest – it all hurts. The better part about this labor was having a little more time in between contractions to rest. My induced labor had contractions coming a lot faster.
It wasn’t long before I felt the urge to push, and it was intense. I tried to hold back and that just amplified the pain.
My doctor came in and checked me. 9 centimeters. I didn’t care about making it to the tenth, I was so ready.
He assured me it was best to wait, and then he popped my water for me to help me get to a 10 faster. So I had gone from 3.5 cm to 9 cm in about three hours. That explained a lot of the pain. It was a relief to know I had come so far in a short amount of time. When my cervix gets going, man, I’ll tell you. Nothing stops it.
I kept saying outloud to myself, “we’re having a baby soon. We’re really doing it. She’s almost here.” That helped me get through that last hurdle. Resisting the urge to push is brutal.
I was able to continue laboring in Rory’s arms for maybe ten more minutes before I started getting ugly. I just started pushing, I couldn’t hold back anymore. I hollered to my nurse, “Please get the doctor because I am pushing and I CAN’T HELP IT!”
I was too short for the squat bar, so they helped me back on the bed, and I went to town on the pushing. No one counted to ten for me, no one told me when to push – I was just doing it. At one point I felt kind of awkward having several nurses staring at me and not saying a word. My doctor said, “Slow down warrior woman, you’re pushing in between contractions!” I couldn’t help it. It felt so relieving and empowering to finally be pushing. It honestly wasn’t even painful. It was a piece of cake compared to sitting through those contractions unable to push.
She was already crowning. I felt the burning and I pushed through it until my legs shook. I looked down and saw my baby’s head and shoulders and I just stopped right there and celebrated, thinking I was done. The pain was gone, so why not? They told me to keep going until she was all the way out at 11:45 pm.
She was so tiny and so beautiful! She looked just like Melissa. I only had to push for thirteen minutes and now she was on my chest. She didn’t get to stay there long because her crying was weak, so they took her to the incubator to help her out. They said her lungs were “wet” from the water breaking, but she was going to be just fine. They announced that she was 6 pounds, 15 oz and 20 inches long. And
I laid back enjoying my adrenaline rush. Then my doctor brought me back to reality. He commented on my heavy bleeding.
I looked at him thinking, “Isn’t everyone a heavy bleeder at this point?” He answered me by sticking his entire hand up inside of me. He explained that he was manually scraping clots out of my uterus with his hand, which was about as painful as it sounds. It hurt more than pushing the baby out. The pain and frustration from feeling pain during my precious post-birth afterglow had me wailing. I’m sure everyone on the L&D floor heard me.
After that little experience, he told me I received one tear so small he didn’t need to stitch it, and we were back to being buddies. I think not tearing is a reflection of a skilled doctor. (But I’d like to think all those squats and kegals I did ended up being worth it too.) That was great news – no stitches.
They brought Lila back to me and she started nursing right away. It was amazing! We spent a couple hours in the delivery room until it was time to be moved.
The next day Lila was diagnosed with jaundice so she had to be put on a billiblanket for the remainder of our two-day hospital stay. I found out that my being RH negative puts my babies at a higher risk of jaundice. Sorry children. Melissa got to meet Lila that day. She gave her a few kisses and head rubs, but she wasn’t too interested in her baby sister. I, on the other hand, was enjoying everything about having a newborn again. I missed the cuddles and snuggles so much!
They told me to get rest that night. Then they woke me up at 4 am to draw blood, and blow three more of my veins to get a sample. Hospital logic.
Luckily we were discharged early the next afternoon. Lila came home with a billiblanket, but she only had to be on it for less than two days.
Lila is such a sweet addition to our family. Tomorrow she will be three weeks old. She sleeps really well, even at night. She is easily comforted when she cries and she is a total mama’s girl. Melissa is doing so great with the change too. She isn’t acting out (more than normal) and she likes to snuggle and kiss Lila. We love our little family!
PS As you may know, Melissa was named after the song, “Melissa” by the Allman Brothers. I thought it would be nice for all of our daughters to have a song with their name in it. Finding Lila’s name was more difficult because we couldn’t think of any songs we liked that included a name we liked. Then while I was giving Melissa a bath one night, I remembered the song “Lilah” by Don Henley. The more I researched the name, the more I fell in love with it. It’s Arabic for night, or dark beauty. And the song is pretty too! Soft and gentle, just like our sweet girl.