Everyone thought I would go early this time around. I was huge (really I was appropriately big for a second baby…still, my mom thought for sure I was having twins). Charlotte showed up on her due date, and when my due date came and went, I was getting a bit antsy. I kept adding things to my to do list that already included the go to suggestions for inducing labor. I cleaned the house and had to clean it again. I got groceries and had to get groceries again. It felt like forever, but it was only four days past my due date when I woke up with some contractions that started to feel more like the real thing. I encouraged them along with a little nipple stimulation as I considered whether or not to have James stay home from work. It was 7:30, and the contractions were mild, short, and 6-7 minutes apart. James was tired anyways, so I told him that he should stay home to see if this develops into anything. An hour later as contractions continued consistently, I called my midwife as I had promised her I would do as soon as I knew I was in labor. With all the stories of short second labors, James was not interested in the possibility of catching a baby, and the fact that morning rush hour traffic was in between us and our midwife terrified him. I was not concerned. My contractions were still short and mild, though they were closer to 5-6 minutes apart. They felt a lot different than they did with Charlotte, so I was a little worried still that labor was going to fizzle out and wait for another day. Another hour later and not much had changed. I was moving around, cleaning up, chasing after Charlotte, and preparing some food for the day. My good friend Stephanie (who just so happens to be a doula) texted to see what Charlotte and I were up to since her daughter said she wanted to see Charlotte today rather than go to her school. I let her know that I thought I was in labor, but that they were welcome to come over and hang. I thought it would be a nice distraction and give Charlotte a way to use up some of the nervous energy she had. I checked in with my midwife to let her know to hang tight as nothing had changed. It was great to have Stephanie and her daughter there. We went outside and chatted, the girls played midwife and doula and checked on me and the baby, and Stephanie was able to take charge when I needed to focus more inward. I had been timing my contractions all along. I find it a nerdy and exciting way to stay present and prepared. It’s a manageable task that passes the time and gives me a sense of control over the process. The contractions started to lengthen to closer to a minute, and were anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart. They still weren’t intense, but I noticed myself starting to get fuzzy as we set about getting the girls some lunch. I knew it was time to let Debbie know to make her way to our place. James left to get some stuff from the store, the girls started doing some stamping and coloring, and I just sort of bounced on a ball with my contraction timer app and worked on the mobile I was making for the baby. I told Stephanie that they were welcome to stay the whole day, but they were not obligated to stay. Thankfully, they decided to hang out. Charlotte was clinging on to Stephanie for a lot of emotional support. Her energy was all over the place. Soon, Debbie arrived and got everything set up. Then James’ mom arrived and Ashley and Lacey (the apprentices). We all sort of sat around the living room doing crafts, chatting, and listening to music. I loved how casual and comfortable it seemed. Charlotte showed Debbie some videos on my phone (including a favorite inspirational video made by my students of them singing the “push it” song). At the point of losing my phone to Charlotte, I stopped charting contractions. There had been a few long ones and a few intense ones. Probably an hour after the birth team arrived, Debbie checked me, and I was 10 cm. I was hoping to be at least at 7 cm, so I was really excited…although I had waited too long again to get the pool filled. James and the girls started filling the pool, my sister-in-law came, and everyone made their way upstairs. I knew I was in transition when all I could do was stand and sway as I watched the water fill the pool. I was thinking about how wonderful it was how the day unfolded. Perfect really. I was surrounded by people and toddler entertainment and hardly had to think about being in labor the whole time. I felt the first pushy contraction before the pool was filled, and I went to the bathroom to try and safely give into the push a little bit without pooping my pants. This ended up being a good move as my water broke when I was on the toilet. Ashley noticed I was pushing on the toilet and was like, “uh…Debbie…” I was able to move into the pool, and by this time my body was in control, making the decisions for me. I got on my knees, and leaned over the edge of the pool to push. Labor I don’t mind. Pushing, not so much. I think I only pushed for about 15 minutes this time, though. At one point, Debbie asked if I wanted to catch my baby, and although I would have loved to, I didn’t feel like I had the capacity to figure out how I could in the position that I was in, and I didn’t feel like I could change positions at the moment. I’ll save that one for next time. When the head came out, I involuntarily cocked my leg to the side so I was half in, half out of the water. I couldn’t figure out how to get my body back into the water, so someone ended up supporting my leg as I finished birthing the head and then the shoulders and finally the legs out of the water. I feel like the body took several pushes to get out. The cord was short and wrapped around her little leg, so it took me a minute to figure out if we had another daughter or a son. We were super surprised and excited to have another daughter. The water was not very warm, so we moved pretty quickly to the bed. Winnie started nursing like a champ, and I started bleeding pretty heavily. I bled a lot with Charlotte, so bleeding was a concern of mine. I drank lots of red raspberry leaf tea and ate tons of dates leading up to the birth. I had even practiced visualizing my uterus contracting and releasing my placenta. But I still bled, even more this time. I am ever so thankful for competent and experienced midwives who come with the knowledge and medicine to be able to handle this scenario. Some massaging and a shot of pitocin helped. I pushed out my placenta, and the bleeding stopped. Charlotte helped make sure I was getting enough fluids. We had pizza and some champagne, and we decided to name her Winifred “Winnie” Maureen after James’ mother and sister (their middle names are both Maureen). She weighed in at 7 lbs 7 oz and was 20 in long. It’s officially been a month somehow since she was born. I had an easy pregnancy and birth the first time around, but it was even better this time. I didn’t have any tears and the physical recovery was so fast…too fast. There’s definitely a part of me that wants to be stuck in my bed still with my little newborn with nothing to do except play with her tiny fingers and toes.
Photo credits: Stephanie took a lot of the photos throughout the day, and then as labor and delivery happened, I think the camera got passed around a bit. I’m so thankful for the images that were collectively captured.