I started having frequent contractions Wednesday evening, August 26. I had them for three nights in a row, then nothing, then another night, and I remembered that with Shea they had started six days before he was born. So I figured she probably wasn’t going to go long past her due date. I was NOT in a good mood that week. I wasn’t sleeping well (from heartburn, insomnia and contractions). I was finding it difficult to concentrate or enjoy anything during the four hours of contractions I had most days, and I was overall just feeling crappy and uncomfortable. I think, psychologically too, I was stressed out about the birth. So unlike with Shea when I was happy to go long past my due date (10 days), this time I wanted to get it overwith ASAP.
Contractions began again at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3—my due date! Once again, I didn’t know if they were going to last or stop, but I started timing them and they were about seven minutes apart and more regular than before. So at 3 p.m. I texted my doula to let her know that I’d keep her updated. Around five she checked in and I told her they were continuing at about the same rate. By then I was pretty sure I was in labor, but she told me to just wait and see if they increased in intensity and/or grew closer together. Martin’s mom was here watching Shea for a few hours because I was exhausted, and I warned her that she may have to spend the night. During dinner while she and Shea ate, I emptied the dishwasher because moving around distracted me from my contractions. It was different from when I went into labor with Shea because, having drunk castor oil, things progressed much more quickly the last time. This time the hours passed and not a whole lot changed, but the contractions continued and slowly (too slowly for me) grew stronger. By 9 p.m. I could no longer sit through them and would get up and walk around through each one. By ten I called my doula to come over and got into the tub just afters she arrived (Shea and Martin’s mom were in bed by then, which worked out perfectly). Unlike before when things were so intense in the tub that I wouldn’t get out, this time after an hour or so not much had changed, so I got out and walked around. By 2 or 3 a.m. I was very sleepy and would lie down between contractions and jump up each time one hit and bend over the piano. By then they were very consistently five minutes apart. My water didn’t break, but I had the bloody show and passed the mucus plug and asked my doula when we should leave for the hospital. My bags had been mostly packed for a week, and I had put them by the door earlier that afternoon.
After eating a quesadilla, I left for the hospital at 3:30 and checked in at 3:45. My contractions weren’t as strong as they were with Shea when I arrived, but by the time I was up in triage getting examined, I was in a lot of pain. I remember people smiling and saying, “Hi” to me as I arrived and me just staring blankly back, unable to even attempt a smile or a hello.
Once in my room, the nurse put the monitor on me, which I was NOT happy about. I wanted to go in the shower like last time, and she said first she had to monitor the baby for 20 minutes. After what seemed like hours, I asked how much longer I had to stand in one place, and she said 13 more minutes. SEVEN minutes had passed! At 15 I told her to take it off and when she insisted I wait for the full 20 minutes for the sake of my baby, I said, “NO, TAKE IT OFF.” I couldn’t stand there for one more minute, I was in such a tremendous amount of pain. So I went into the shower and did what I did before, which must have looked absolutely ridiculous to anyone watching. Each time a contraction hit (and of course, I was naked at that point), I would mash my fact into the corner of the shower (because the cold tiles felt good on my skin) and moan. Last time I swayed my hips, but this time I just squeezed the bars on the shower as hard as I could and dug the toes of one of my feet into the other foot. Somehow it all seemed worse than last time. And whereas before I suddenly had a clear urge to push, this time I felt a change but wasn’t sure what it was, so when my doula said the doctor could break my water if I wanted and that would hurry things along, I said, “Yes, I can’t do this anymore.” And during those face-mash contractions, which seemed to last an hour but probably were closer to half an hour, all I could think was “WHY WHY WHY didn’t I get an epidural this time? Why am I putting myself through this? WHY WHY WHY?” Once I got out of the shower, I went to the bed and had a horrible contraction (bent over bed) and my controlled moans (which were intentional, to get through the pain) turned into real ones. The instant I lay down on the bed, I panicked and yelled, “I wanna push I wanna push I wanna push!” It was such a terrifying feeling because it came on so fast and I wasn’t even in the position to push yet. My water broke then, before the doctor could do it, and when I started pushing I screamed. (I never screamed the last time.) After two or three pushes like that, the doctor told me I was going to get a sore throat (and I’m thinking, a sore THROAT?) and that I should hold my breath when I push, and then I remembered, yes, that’s how you push! I’d completely forgotten. So I tried again like that and after about four pushes, out she came, only just her head and the rest was still inside, and I was in so much pain, I screamed, “take her out! take her out!” and then with another push her body came out. Then of course, the fun of getting stitches while they were laying her on my chest. (I had a second-degree tear. Not as bad as last time). It’s hard to enjoy your baby when your private parts are getting stuck with needles (first a local anesthetic and then the needle, which I could still feel). Oona wasn’t crying enough, so they wouldn’t let me breastfeed her and, after giving her a bath, took her to the nursery to give her a couple of shots to get her to cry and clear her throat, which worked. They brought her back a half hour later, and she was fine.
Another detail that I forgot is that when I arrived they asked me if I was Group B Strep positive or negative and I said negative and told them the paper was in my bag. They looked at it and said the paper said I was positive. I know my OB told me I was negative, so they called the lab and eventually found that I was indeed positive, which meant I needed antibiotics. I had already refused both the IV and the hep lock, which pissed the doctor on call off (I did not like her any more than the doctor I had last time), so now, while PUSHING, they had to get me set up with an IV. They did it pretty quickly, but since the pushing went so fast (my doula said it was 8 minutes, although it felt more like 30), I didn’t get much antibiotic. It had to go into me before the baby was born to protect her from getting the bacteria from me as she came out. Of course, she came out so quickly she didn’t have time to catch anything from me!
I was thrilled when Oona came out to see that she had all her fingers and toes (and so thin and dainty compared to Shea’s fast paws!) and that she was healthy. She even had a fair amount of dark brown hair. Shea was so bald for so long, but he also had light hair, so it barely showed. Oona was big when she was born—8 lbs 11 oz—even bigger than Shea—and her eyes barely opened. As big as she is, though, she seems SO tiny. She is just this cute (and funny looking) little ball of jelly. As exhausted as I’m sure we’ll be over the coming weeks and months, it’s so fun to have a newborn again. Toddlers are super awesome because they walk and talk and learn new things every day, but babies are adorable, too, for the very reason that they don’t do much of anything at all other than drink a lot of milk and fall asleep with one cheek mashed against your chest and a little milk drooling out one corner of their mouths. SO CUTE.