Tuesday, March 1st - 38 weeks
I woke up at around 3:45am with some cramping pains. They were coming and going, and at first I just thought it was a stomach ache. I got up to go to the bathroom several times, and as I laid down the pains kept coming back. Just as I would start to drift back to sleep, it would hurt again. After probably 30 minutes or so, I realized these were probably contractions. (WHAT?!) They felt like they were coming somewhat regularly, and although they weren’t super painful they hurt enough to wake me up, and eventually I recognized the feeling and knew exactly what it was (although I was in total denial, and beginning to freak out just a bit). I downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone, and started timing them...sure enough they were somewhat regular, every 10 or 15 minutes. I also had to get up and go to the bathroom multiple times, and had diarrhea. I quickly remembered that this is common in early labor, and I freaked out just a little more. I desperately tried to go back to sleep, but the pain kept waking me up. Matt woke up at one point, and I told him I thought I was having contractions. I’m not sure he believed me at first, or fully realized what I said. I remember telling him that I was definitely having contractions, and they were the real deal. He didn’t know what to do, and neither did I, so I told him to go back to sleep and I continued to time them while trying to sleep. Lilly was in our bed, and I remember in the very early hours of the morning laying in bed, snuggling with her, wanting to savor what could be one of the last mornings waking up as a family of 3 (little did I know that would be the very last time!)
Once morning rolled around, I got up and attempted to go about my normal routine, but I was still having contractions, and once I was out of bed and the more I moved around, the more painful they got. I could still talk through them, but they were definitely causing me to pause and breathe every time they hit. I decided to go ahead and work, but would just bring my laptop in and work from bed. I had an appointment with Dr. Carriker that afternoon, so my goal was to make it through the day and to the appointment and take it from there. I honestly hoped that if I took it easy enough and drank lots of water throughout the day, that I could get them to go away and hold labor off for a little bit longer (looking back, it’s quite humorous that I actually thought that). I emailed my team at work to let them know what was going on, and told Matt I would keep him posted as to how I was feeling throughout the day. I did manage to stay in bed for the majority of the day, trying to wrap up everything I could at work. I had several meetings and calls, and for the most part was fine through my contractions and was able to talk without issue. I tried to continue to time them, and found that they were less regular when I rested, but anytime I got up they would get more intense and closer together. About halfway through the day I decided to take a shower, and went ahead and finished packing my hospital bag “just in case” (HA!). During this time they got much more regular (every 2-3 minutes) and much more painful, causing me to stop and breathe through them. I was starting to come to terms with the fact that this was probably actual labor at this point, and focused a little more on preparing things and letting go of the denial. I remember talking to a friend on the phone, and she said “wow, you might just be having this baby tonight!” and I just laughed and thought “no way”. Little did I know!
I made it through my work day, had my hospital bag mostly packed, fielded a steady stream of calls and texts to check on me, and then it was time for my doctor’s appointment. Matt came home early to shower, and went ahead and packed himself a hospital bag too. We brought them in the car with us just in case they sent me straight to the hospital, but I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case. My appointment was at 3:20, and I had my weekly sonogram first to monitor fluid. In the car on the way there, and in the waiting room I was having much more regular contractions, I was trying to time them still and they were around 5-6 minutes apart at this point, lasting closer to a minute. They called me in for my sonogram, and I let the tech know that I had been having contractions all day. As she went through the biophysical profile, she mentioned that she didn’t see much fluid, but otherwise baby looked great. When she was finished, she said “I don’t think I’ll be seeing you again!” (AHH! It got a little more real with that.) We went back to the waiting room, and waited FOREVER. They finally called us back, I told the nurse what was going on, and we waited FOREVER again. Finally Dr. Carriker came in, and apologized profusely for making us wait when I was most likely in labor. She did an exam and found that I was 3cm dilated, and said lucky for me I was already in labor - if I wasn’t, then they would have induced me because of the low fluid once again. She asked how quickly we could get over to the hospital - we said we still needed to go home and pack our bags (just a minor fib…) and that we wanted to go see Lilly before checking into the hospital, which she was fine with. It was around 5 by this time, so she asked us to be back at the hospital by 7. I was slightly bummed that I wasn’t going to get to go home and labor on my own, and she acknowledged that, as she knew my wishes, but she said that with such low fluid they really needed to be able to monitor the baby. We left the hospital, called our parents, and stopped at Planet Sub on the way home to get dinner. I had barely eaten all day, and I knew they wouldn’t let me eat once I checked into the hospital, so I wanted to get a good meal in to build up some energy before labor got more intense. I was very anxious, and not hungry at all, but I ate anyway because I knew I needed to. The contractions were still every 5-6 minutes, and intense enough that I had to breathe through them, but hadn’t changed much in the past couple hours.
After eating and packing up the last few things, we headed over to see Lilly at my parents’ house. She had no clue what was going on, so when we got there I said to her “guess what? Mommy & Daddy are going to the hospital after this, and baby brother is coming!” Her face absolutely lit up, and she said “TODAY!? REALLY!?” It was the cutest thing, and I almost burst into tears at that moment. She was so excited...I’m not sure she fully understood what was about to happen, but I was so relieved that she was excited and not sad or nervous. We told her that she was going to stay the night with Grandma & Grandpa, and we’d call them once baby brother was here so they could come visit. I gave her tons of hugs and kisses, and didn’t want to leave, but eventually we had to go so we could head to the hospital and get this party started.
Once again, the drive to the hospital was not quite what I expected. I was actually in labor this time, but we weren’t rushing there like I always envisioned. We arrived around 7, got parked, and went to check in. Apparently there was another woman with a name very similar to mine there for an induction, and at least 2 or 3 times during the process of getting checked in they asked me if I was there to be induced. (NO! I’m already in labor!) We finally got checked in and taken back to a room….low and behold it was the exact same room that I delivered Lilly in! I couldn’t believe it. Our nurse was Reagan, and she had me change and went through the millions of questions to get me checked in. She also checked me, and I was still around 3-3.5cm dilated, so it was just a waiting game at this point, and a matter of getting through the contractions and trying to get things moving. I was having a very hard time with constantly comparing this labor to Lilly’s, which obviously was not a good idea because they were completely different, and frankly I was terrified of having another 2 day labor. Reagan assured me over and over that 2nd babies often come much quicker, and the fact that I wasn’t induced this time should also make a big difference. She had just started her shift at 7, and I remember asking her if she thought I would have my baby before she got off at 7am. She laughed, and said that although she can’t guarantee anything, she was fairly sure the baby would come before that.
After getting all checked in, we decided to start walking the halls to get things going. As we walked, my contractions did get stronger and more painful, but it was nowhere near as intense as I remembered them being with Lilly. Once again I was stuck playing the comparison game, and Matt actually said to me at one point “stop comparing this labor with Lilly’s! This is a completely different experience, so just focus on what is happening now.” I really needed to hear that, because I just could not get out of my head that we were in for a long haul of labor. We continued to walk, stopping back at the room for breaks every now and then, and the contractions continued to get stronger. They weren’t really getting closer together, but they were getting to the point where I had to stop and couldn’t talk through them. I remember thinking it was very strange because in between contractions I felt completely fine, even joking around with Matt as we walked, but once one hit it would stop me in my tracks. After a while, I decided I wanted to try some different positions to get through the pain, as standing wasn’t feeling good. I tried the birth ball, and leaning on Matt and the bed in a few positions but they just weren’t helping. I think it was around 9:30 or 10 by this point, and I decided I wanted to get into the tub to try and relax and see if that would help me through the pain better. Reagan checked me before getting in, and I was at a 4 (I think, maybe a 5 - I know I hadn’t made a whole lot of progress).
The tub felt AMAZING. I was able to relax sooooo much in between contractions, to the point I was almost falling asleep. The pain was still getting more intense during each contraction, but being in the water helped me to relax and breathe through them. I would say I was in the tub for around 30 minutes, and I decided to get out, feeling like I needed to be able to move around a little more. As I was stepping out of the tub, another contraction hit that almost dropped me to the ground, if it weren’t for Matt being right there to hold me up. Looking back, we think my water may have broken either in the tub or during this contraction. After that contraction, everything got incredibly intense. I sat on the toilet after that contraction to pee, and felt a slight urge to poop, that I mostly ignored (Reagan had told me previously to tell her if I felt that urge at all, which I really should have done right away). I could barely get myself to the bed, but felt like I could do nothing but lay on my left side. The contractions were insanely intense at this point, I was screaming and moaning through them. I had started shaking, and once I finally did mention that urge to poop from earlier to Reagan she said she needed to check me right away. I was likely in transition at this point. She checked and I was at a 6 - she told Matt to call the birth photographer ASAP, and she also called the on-call doctor who had left the hospital but headed back then. I don’t remember much after this point, but I know everything moved very very fast. I continued to moan and scream through every contraction, they were so overwhelmingly painful and intense. I also continued to shake, and started to dry heave. Reagan knew the baby was coming soon, and was getting everything ready - I remember seeing her turn on the “baby warmer” and I looked at Matt and said something along the lines of Holy Crap! She’s turning on the baby warmer, he’s coming soon! A few more contractions later, and I was pushing without even trying. I yelled to Reagan that I had to push, and she calmed me down, tried to get me not to push yet (as there was no doctor!), but that was a joke. I pushed through one contraction, and his head came out, with Reagan there to hold it. The hospital staff doctor came rushing in at that point, and with the next contraction I pushed again and out he came. My sweet Dylan Matthew was born at 11:17pm. At that point, though, we had not decided on his name yet, so he was still “baby brother”. He was placed on my chest, and Matt and I were both completely overwhelmed and crying tears of joy. He was screaming and crying, and the nurses said this was a good thing, but after a few minutes they weren’t happy with how he was breathing, and wanted to take him over to check him out. The cord was cut, and they took him over to the warmer and gave him just a few seconds of oxygen, while the Doctor finally showed up to deliver my placenta. This was honestly the worst part of my whole labor, and was SO painful. It took a long time for my placenta to move down, and I had to push through a few pitocin-induced contractions to get it out. I suppose it was a good distraction from what was going on with Dylan, but my oh my was it painful. After they cleaned me up, the other nurses were happy with Dylan’s breathing and they brought him back over to me for more skin-to-skin. We started breastfeeding as well, and he latched on immediately! He was so tiny, at 6lbs 3oz, but he was perfect and amazing and I could not believe that once again I made it through a natural labor and birth with Matt by my side.
This time, there wasn’t a whole slew of family and friends waiting in the waiting room for us, so we got to enjoy the first hours of Dylan’s life together just the 3 of us. I was really missing Lilly at that point, but she was set to come bright and early the next morning to meet him, and I couldn’t wait. We got transferred up to our room, and took turns snuggling Dylan, and I also continued to nurse with him latching on great but falling asleep within minutes every time. He was such a sleepy little guy, but we loved every second of snuggles we got with him during that time. Matt fell asleep on the couch, and I tried to sleep but it was probably 3am at this point and I was still on an adrenaline high, so I didn’t get much sleep that night. Around 7am the next morning, my parents came and brought Lilly to meet her baby brother, and it was just some of the sweetest moments of my life. She was so in love with him, and so sweet to both of us. The nurse gave her a special “big sister” hospital bracelet, and she just beamed with pride at this new role. It was completely overwhelming and amazing to see both of our children together, and to be a complete family. My recovery was so much better this time, and I felt great the day after giving birth. Overall the experience was completely different from Lilly’s birth, and was really the natural birth I had always hoped for. I am so thankful that I got to experience going into labor on my own, and feeling my body take me through the whole process. Overall, I was only in labor for around 20 hours total this time, but from the time I got to the hospital it was only a little over 4 hours until he was born. I still can’t believe how quickly everything went, but I am thankful that it wasn’t a repeat of the last labor, and I am even more thankful that I had Matt by my side once again. Between him and my fabulous nurse, I had a wonderful support team, allowing me to have an amazing, empowering birth experience, that brought my sweet little man into this world in a beautiful way.
And, your reward if you made it through all of that: this beautiful slideshow by our amazing birth photographer, Sarah Maxey. Make sure you watch allll the way to the end.