To start with, for those who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, we had a baby! Ian Ray was born at 10:30am on August 15, at 39 weeks and 1 day. He was (and is) healthy and perfect and beautiful. 8lb9oz, 20 ¾ inches, and 100% wonderful.
As far as the birth story goes, I keep forgetting to write this out, but I need to get on it! He’s already 2 weeks old, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some details by now. (Ha! He’s 8 months now and I’m just now finishing.) So here goes.
I spent almost this entire pregnancy worried about preterm labor. I had moments when I felt horribly guilty for even getting pregnant, because I was so convinced he’d be even earlier than Lily was and have developmental issues because of it and it would all be my fault for choosing to risk getting pregnant even though I knew I’d be high risk. Getting weekly progesterone shots did help with that; the feeling of actually doing something to prevent labor was comforting. (And as a bonus, I’m way less bothered by needles now after so many shots.)
But it was actually a very uneventful pregnancy. I did have to go to the hospital once at 28 weeks because of Braxton hicks (non-labor contractions) that were very close together and wouldn’t stop, but they just confirmed they weren’t productive contractions and ultimately sent me home with orders to take it a little easier. As each milestone passed, viability, almost guaranteed survival, 33 weeks (when Lily was born), etc, I was able to breathe easier. I was SO happy to actually reach full term! I think one of the best things for me was realizing I was finally far enough along that going into labor would be exciting instead of terrifying.
That being said, by the time I hit around 38 weeks I was really starting to feel done. It was hard being huge and uncomfortable while chasing a very active toddler, I was very over waking up constantly at night to pee, and I was just kind of over it. I had honestly expected to go into labor fairly quickly after the last progesterone shot wore off at 37 weeks. I was happy to have made it farther, but I was really ready too. It had started to feel like I was going to just be huge and pregnant forever!
For about two weeks before he was born I was having *very* mildly painful contractions every night when I went to bed. They got the tiniest bit stronger each night, but never enough to make think it was real, and I always fell asleep after a few. The night before he was born wasn’t really any different on that front. They were stronger but nothing that really got my hopes up.
The morning of the 15th I woke up around 7, when Christopher’s alarm went off. As I was trying to go back to sleep I had a contraction that got my attention. It wasn’t super painful, but it definitely felt much more real than I’d had up to that point. After it happened again I decided to start timing them. The first I timed was 8 minutes, but after that they were all around 5. I still wasn’t 100% convinced (I’ve had Braxton hicks that were 2 minutes apart before, so timing isn’t always certain, and they still just weren’t that painful), but when Christopher got out of the shower I told him to delay leaving for work while I took a bath to see if that stopped them. At the very least I expected a much longer labor than I had with Lily. The midwives said that I should have a more typical labor since preterm births tend to be different.
When I was in the bath they got more painful quickly, and I was sure it was the real thing so I told Christopher to call my mom and get her over to our house to watch Lily. I stopped timing the contractions because they were hurting enough I needed to focus on relaxing through them. By the time I got out of the bath I was starting to worry that things were progressing so fast we might not make it to the hospital. Thankfully my mom got to our house super quickly so I didn’t have to worry that we’d wind up having to take Lily with us. I tried to get ready while ordering Christopher around gathering up the few things I wanted that weren’t in the hospital bag. We eventually made it out the door, though by then I was refusing to move during contractions, which were close enough together that it was hard to actually make it to the car.
The drive to the hospital is, unsurprisingly a bit of a blur, though not to the degree that it was with Lily. For one thing, I was actually able to sit up throughout it, instead of having to be on all fours in the back. So I was able to see a little of what was going on. The only clear images I still have are of passing the cemetery on Elm Hill, and the dude who let us run a red light in front of him even though he had a green arrow. (By that time we were pretty close to the hospital so I guess he saw our flashers and assumed it was important. But no matter why he did it, I am forever grateful.) The drive was still immensely unpleasant, because going over bumps just does NOT feel good during a contraction. Nor does holding yourself upright in a car moving faster than it should going around curves and turns and all. But still, it was much easier than it was with Lily. I think that was mostly because I was able to relax somewhat, instead of being totally freaked out like I was with Lily. I got Christopher to talk to me (I have no idea what about; maybe he remembers), and keep me from focusing solely on the pain, and it was just easier somehow. There were still some really bad omg-I’m-going-to-crawl-out-of-my-own-skin contractions, but most were ones I could breathe through and even though they hurt, they weren’t overwhelming.
Thankfully this time we knew where to go, so the actual arrival at the hospital was much less stressful. They have valet parking, so I got out while Christopher grabbed our stuff and pretty much threw the keys at the valet guy. He almost got away without even getting the claim ticket, which would have been interesting later. It was definitely super hard to walk by that point, but I didn’t cuss in front of any small children because the elevator was delayed, like I did last time, so that’s a bonus.
When we got up to the OB triage area, they started having us fill out some paperwork, but I was already feeling like I was needing to push some. They seemed a little skeptical at first, but once they confirmed that this was not my first labor (and we may have mentioned that my first was crazy fast), they rushed me back to get things checked. I was about 9cm dilated already, so I was right to feel like it was getting close! (At this point it had been around 2 hours since I woke up, so even I was shocked I was so far along.)
They got me into a delivery room, but like last time there wasn’t really any chance of changing clothes. They just got the pants off and left the shirt. Which on the one hand, I intentionally wore a Star Wars shirt, so both my kids were delivered in Star Wars shirts. But I had a couple of pretty hospital gowns I got thinking labor would be long enough I’d need them. Still, they wound up being really useful for the couple days I was in the hospital, so they were a good purchase.
Anyway, they got things all situated and the bed all broken down weird (I had no idea the whole end of the bed just came off), by which time it was pretty much go time. Things get *really* blurry at that point, but I clearly remember just being super impatient and ready to be done. I was pushing between contractions at one point (don’t do that, it’s unproductive and wastes your energy), and I let her break my water (that feels weird btw) which I had planned on not doing. In retrospect it seems ridiculous that I was that impatient after such a short labor, but dude that 0 to 60 in no time thing is just really intense! And I do not like pushing. Some people are relieved to finally be able to do something after having to just wait for their body to get moving, but waiting between contractions once the baby is part way out is unbelievably not cool. Just get out already! That was the one major pro to Lily being early. Ian wasn’t huge, but tiny little 5.5lb Lily came out much easier. Though again, it was WAY faster than most. According to the monitors they had hooked up, it was 18 minutes from the time we got in the delivery room until he was born. Not crazy or overwhelming at all, for sure. I’m just really spectacularly glad Christopher didn’t have to deliver him on the side of the road. Though it would have made for a fun story.
Fun note, Christopher almost passed out during the delivery. He was helping hold one of my legs, and inadvertently got a bit more of a full view of the proceedings than he’d intended. He’s not normally bothered by blood or anything, but for some reason this really got him. He did a great job not letting me know anything was wrong (I had no idea anything happened at all until he told me after), but as soon as Ian was out, he turned to the nurse and told her he needed to sit down. She took one look at his face and made him lay down. I think at one point he had more nurses focused on him than on me or the baby. He never actually passed out, but even once he was better enough to come over to me he looked paler than I’ve ever seen him (and I’ve seen him with a stomach virus so that’s saying something).
But back to me now. Like I said, pushing is no fun. But it was quick, and he was delivered with no complications. From what I can remember, he had the same apgar scores as Lily, 8/8, but in his case it was because he was a bit cold, not because of his color or breathing like her. They laid him on my bare stomach before the cord was cut, and I remember my very first thought was how shockingly warm he was. I guess I’d gotten a little cold (probably from sweat evaporation), so it was just weird how warm he was. Like Lily, he was relatively ungross, presumably because my waters didn’t break till later so he had the amniotic sac still protecting him from most of the ickiness of birth.
This is where I have the fewest clear memories, interestingly. I know I had to have stitches, but it was nothing major. They gave me a shot of pitocin because there was more bleeding than there should be, but it was minor and I had bleeding with Lily so apparently that’s just what my body does. I got to cuddle Ian and hold him and didn’t have to let them take him for a long time. That was wonderful after getting to see Lily for maybe a minute before having her whisked off to the NICU. I let him try nursing pretty quickly, and he latched on happily. I eventually let Christopher hold him, but it took awhile for him to get me to let him. At some point (after they took him to weigh him, I think?) my mom brought Lily so she could come meet her new brother. She wore her big sister shirt and at one point hit her head so she had a cupcake bandaid on her forehead for every picture for the entire day. It seemed very appropriately weirdly Lily. She was really excited even though she was clearly too young to understand just how big of a deal it was. But she enjoyed loving on him.
There’s really not much else to it. I had to stay in the hospital for two days because I was supposed to have gotten IV antibiotics during labor but there wasn’t enough time. So they had to monitor him and make sure he didn’t have any issues as a result. I was very ready to go home after, but it wasn’t bad. Vanderbilt is pretty amazing, so I really have no complaints about having to stay longer.
I had a different midwife this time, and I was very pleased with her. I’m not sure if I got lucky and got the best possible personalities for each of my births, or if they’re just good at their jobs and know how to tailor their approaches to what is needed. The first time the midwife was mostly just very reassuring. She stayed right in my face and did everything to keep me calm. This time the midwife was older and more stern. I was getting frustrated and impatient and she just had a “nope, you’re gonna do what I tell you because I know you can do this” attitude. Which sounds kind of bad but it was what I needed right then. Christopher liked them both too.
But anyway, I’m not sure how to wrap this up, so I’ll leave it with some pictures like I usually do. Here’s my perfect boy!