While Jake was born relatively quickly for a first baby (or so I'm told), and my midwife had been telling me that this second one could come very fast, I must admit I didn't quite believe her. I didn't want to get my hopes up for a quick labour, and I knew women who had multiple births with the later ones being similar to their first. Well in this case - my midwife was right!
We were planning a natural birth at home, just as we had with Jake. I went into labour with Jake exactly 14 days after his due date, and so we thought there was a good chance this baby would be late too. So when I woke up Thursday night (two days before she was due) with cramps, I figured it was just that - I took some Gravol and expected to fall back asleep. I didn't, and when I got up to go to the bathroom I found that an hour had already past - and I was still crampy. Weird. I continued to lie in bed and over the next hour the constant cramping changed to obvious contractions with rest periods in between. I started to think I might be in labour. But it wasn't very bad, and I knew pre-labour could start days before actual labour, so I wasn't convinced this was the real deal. This inner dialogue went on for the next three hours or so until Andrew woke up around 4am. By then the contractions had gotten difficult, where I was having to focus on relaxing and breathing through them. Andrew, figuring he was going to go to the bathroom and head back to bed, realized things had changed when I quietly asked "Are you awake?...I think I'm in labour..."!
After this things become a bit of a blur. Contractions had definitely gotten more intense and, thinking I was in for the long haul, I wanted to have a shower to feel nice and fresh for the day! We decided Andrew would shower first (to get the bathroom nice and warm!). I got through the next few contractions but by the time Andrew came back I thought we should call the midwives. We called the pager number and were told our midwives would call us back within 15 minutes. I had been feeling like pushing for a little while now, but didn't think it was possible I was ready to be pushing our baby out, so I didn't think too much about that. I got to the bathroom, with my plan to have a shower - but contractions were pretty intense now and I wasn't sure if maybe I was having trouble making decisions. "Maybe we should just fill up the bathtub? Or start filling up the birth pool? Or should I just get in the shower?" Andrew was doing an amazing job of supporting me through contractions while also getting the bed ready with some layers of plastic and old sheets, and also calling my parents to have them come pick up our toddler.
Ten minutes later (it seemed like forever), the midwives called back. I was quite worried they weren't going to feel it was time to come yet, as I didn't feel like I had any really strong signs the baby would be here anytime soon. They asked a few questions, including whether my water had broke. It hadn't - and up until now I had totally forgotten about that. I was devastated! I figured I couldn't be having this baby soon if my water hadn't broke. With Jake, the midwives ended up breaking it, and it was still 4 hours later until he was born. I ended our phone call with a plea: "I just want you to be here", and our midwives, who I found out later were frantically getting dressed and ready to head over here, were planning to do just that!
I started leaking clear fluid, but I had expected a gush and so I wasn't sure this was my water. With my next contraction, I couldn't help but push, and I could tell I was pushing something! I eventually figured my water was breaking, and I think just around that time the midwives arrived. They took a quick look at me, one of them told Andrew the baby would likely be here in a few minutes, and they headed to the bedroom to try and get ready! I got myself to the bed, threw myself down, and they got a heartrate for the baby, who was very low. With my next contraction I pushed again and everyone exclaimed "I see the head!". I couldn't have asked to hear sweeter words! I asked something like "Will she be out soon?" and our midwife replied with a hearty "Oh yes!".
It was probably 4 or 5 more pushes, with me getting a little frustrated because the head was moving out, and then receding back in - which Andrew was encouraging me was a good thing, slowly stretching things out. He says then on one push he saw the head again and then all of a sudden it popped out! With the next contraction out slid one shoulder, and was quickly followed by the whole body! Our midwife caught her one second, and the next second exclaimed "Oh no! Andrew wanted to catch the baby!". In the chaos we'd all forgotten about that, and joked that with things happening this fast, Andrew might HAVE to catch our next child! :) Our daughter was born 9 minutes after the midwives arrived!
From there, if you've had a baby, you know the drill. I was blessed to have her put right on my chest, snuggling her close to keep her warm. I birthed the placenta, got a few stitches, and marveled at the fact that I had done it. This living person came out of me.
My parents, who had arrived shortly after the midwives to pick up Jake, were told in the commotion that there was no time and to wait in the living room. My mom says she heard one big push groan from me and then the sound of the baby crying! Jake slept through the whole thing. He woke up probably about an hour later and Andrew brought him to the bedroom. He was tentative of all the people at first, but was quickly interested and excited to see the new addition to our family. In the past week he has developed an obvious love for his sister - inquiring first thing when he wakes up "Baby? Baby?", patting her gently when she's crying, asking to hold her on his lap, and loving to give her his little finger to hold in her even littler hand.
|Sydney Ellen Photography|
Considering the two, this was a totally different experience from my birth with Jake, and yet they were both wonderful. Elisabeth's birth went from four hours of nothing notable, and super quickly transitioned into very intense this-baby-is-being-born-right-now contractions. With Jake I spent the day working myself slowly up to the fact that I was going to be delivering him eventually. However, I got to have the home birth I planned this time, and it really was so wonderful. To be snuggled right into my own bed with my whole family and not have to get up and go anywhere was so special. But most of all, we thank God for our healthy girl.