Currently: 33 years old and pregnant for the second time. We are 39 weeks and 6 days along. I did not pass the initial glucose challenge but was fine the second time around. Other than that, I have not had any medical complications. We were traveling/moving for almost half of the pregnancy, and the majority of my checkups were virtual with all of the restrictions this year. You can read about all three trimesters here. I planned for a hospital birth this time around as there are no active birth centers on the island. Since my husband is deployed I had my mom in town to stay with my daughter, and hired a doula to accompany me during labor.
We found out with my first delivery, I have precipitous labors. Over the last few weeks of pregnancy, I made it a point to reflect back on how I felt leading up to my daughter’s birth. I even went back and re-read her birth story a couple times. The hope was to try to pinpoint when labor started so that I would hopefully recognize something and know when baby was coming, this time around.
What really stuck out to me was not being able to get comfortable.
This was exactly how I felt around 3:45 the afternoon my son was born. I was a day away from my due date and feeling very antsy so I decided to try to take a nap, in case I went into labor soon. As I tossed and turned it hit me that I might just be in labor again. I had a lot of adrenaline pumping and no other real reason for it.
I got up to refill my water bottle and take a bathroom break, in an attempt to reset.
I called my husband to let him know to stay by the phone. (He was deployed half way around the world, but thankfully "off" for the day.) I also reached out to my doula to update her. She had me start timing the surges I was feeling, in case they were contractions.
I could feel the baby moving around as usual but after a while, it did start to feel like intentional movements. My surges got stronger and I started to have to remind myself to breathe through them. This feeling became familiar and was gradually getting more intense. I couldn’t concentrate on timing the contractions anymore.
It was happening.
Around 4:45 I got up and told my mom it was go time. She got my daughter packed up and we were all on the road about six minutes later.
My OB had given me her cell number a few days earlier so I called and let her know how I was feeling. She confirmed that I should head to the hospital and she agreed to meet me there. I went back through my cycle of updating my doula and husband to let them know I was in fact in labor, and now heading to the hospital. We weren’t able to reach my husband. I asked his mom to start calling him since I would soon be in the hospital speaking to staff there.
At 5:07 I started to cry as we arrived in the hospital’s parking lot. I’m not sure if I was angry that my husband had not answered the phone, or afraid of a pandemic hospital birth, or stressed about my daughter's first night without both of her parents. Probably some combination of all three. Or perhaps my body just needed to release a little something before the action really started? I didn’t really have time to figure it out.
I wiped my face, kissed my little girl, and grabbed my stuff from the car. Staff checked my temperature and got my updated weight on the way into the hospital. The nurses took me directly to the room I would labor in.
I was alone in the room for over an hour outside of nurses coming in to ask background questions.
One sweet nurse came in to escort me outside, so that I could actually say goodbye to Isla (She had spoken with my mother because she noticed how sad I was to just hop out of the car and leave her.) Children are still not allowed in most Labor and Delivery units so she helped me get some shoes on and walk outside between contractions. My mom brought my toddler to the front door, and also had great news: my husband was on the phone.
We all stood there hugging and praying and saying our goodbyes. I could feel myself cheering up just hearing their voices and seeing those smiles.
I headed back to my room ready to take on this delivery.
My doula wasn't allowed in until I agreed to a nasal swab — which was an ordeal in itself. (Hello, who wants anything in their nose while they are in labor?) I was not gracious at all about this.
I got comfortable and set my my iPad up to call my husband via FaceTime so that he wouldn't miss anything.
Labor was a bit more intense this time around. I got the shakes and went back and forth between being at a comfortable temperature and having mini hot flashes. I could feel the baby moving and twisting around trying to get into position. I had the usual big contraction followed by a smaller surge of energy and movement, followed by breaks of feeling nothing unusual at all. I went from five to about seven centimeters dilated during this time.
Once my doula was cleared to join me she got right to work turning down lights, setting music, and applying essential oils. She helped me calm my nerves as well as the nausea that was suddenly creeping up.
I went back and forth between walking and sitting on a birthing ball. Every so often a staff member also came in and made me sit in the bed so they could check on me or baby.
My OB stopped by and checked me one last time as I was unsuccessfully trying to eat a granola bar. She said I was closer to eight centimeters dilated and that baby would likely be coming very soon. I continued breathing and trying to distract myself by chatting with my doula. She had recently gotten married so we discussed the venue and colors and all that fun stuff until I felt like I needed to poo. Once I made that attractive announcement, everyone kicked into gear.
Four people came in and joined us in the labor room. They broke my bed down and had me climb on and scoot down to the edge of it, stirrups-style. My doctor got down low on a stool to see and I had my doula hold my hand as a nurse made sure my husband could see from the iPad.
I must have felt things right on time because as soon as the room was set up, the doctor and nurses started coaching me.
I closed my eyes and told them that I was scared this time.
I think knowing what to expect left me feeling uneasy and anxious. Or it could just be that I really don’t like hospitals and didn’t feel safe there “without” my husband.
I am still not entirely sure what my instructions were, as I had a lot of trouble following them. I was to hold my breath and release a certain way, without making any noise…? Something like that. Whatever the directions were, they did not help me. It actually felt like labor was stalling. I tried to follow the coaching for four or five pushes before I started to give up and feel weak.
I had been screaming at the top of my lungs and just felt pain and pressure, no actual progression.
I could feel that the baby was very close but it also felt like whatever I was doing was somehow holding baby in. I stopped. I took a few long deep breaths and tuned all the noise out, while I tried to remember how I delivered my daughter. I groaned low and deep just like I had the first time.
“Oh, look at all that hair!”
My eyes were still shut so I could hear everything said loud and clear. I knew my baby was close and was struck with just enough motivation to keep trying.
I could still feel a lot of heat but baby was moving. In about three more true pushes I heard those beautiful words: You did it.
…And it's a boy!
Wishing for my oldest to be a boy, I was stunned to finally get to hear that our new baby was a boy. I think after having a girl my brain just decided that all our babies would also be girls. I was so excited and shocked that the news didn't hit me for some time, even though I could plainly see it for myself. Paul-Airrion was placed on my chest right away as the doctors and nurses got to work. They cleaned up the room, and the baby, and me and cleared out of there. I didn't much notice anyone besides my husband and new son through all of the shuffling.
I could smell the baby’s head and hear my husbands voice. I held our boy tight and snuggled him as he cozied up to me and calmed himself.
I won't go into detail about the next few hours, since it was pretty similar to most everyone's experience giving birth in a hospital. If you want to read about my first birth you can find out the gist of what happened there.
Related Post: How I Had My First Baby At Home (Unplanned)
Paul-Airrion was born at 7:20 pm | 6 lbs. 15 oz. and 19.5” long
My husband and I took a full day to name our baby boy. (I struggle with names because they are so permanent and definite.) Once we finally agreed on one it took us a few more hours to decide whether to hyphenate his first name or not, such a struggle. Luckily, this was during the time that I was still stuck in the hospital. So, outside of diaper changes and feedings I was really able to completely focus.
Just as natural as my first delivery, this delivery was louder, messier, and more painful than Isla’s. There were a lot of things I did not want to happen during this pregnancy or the delivery. Most women probably wouldn't choose to give birth during a pandemic, especially without their partner. (And my personal preference is still to choose a home delivery over any other locale.) Some obstacles just cannot be avoided, though. And all said and done... I am now grateful more than anything else.
This experience has only taught me more and made me that much stronger. One day soon I will get to watch my husband meet his little boy and see their eyes light up for each other. I'll get to tell my daughter these stories years from now, and be a source of real woman strength for her.
In the end, happy and healthy is really all we needed.
Excited for this new chapter,
Photography: Mahogany Moon