From the moment last April when I shocked the crap out of myself with a positive pregnancy test, everything about my second pregnancy was different from my first. This fact was especially apparent during the last few weeks of the pregnancy. I had given birth to my first at 37 weeks, 6 days and expected to have #2 similarly early. By the time I hit 37 weeks, I finished all my major tasks for work, nested and re-nested at home, sent out all my thank-you notes, got one last pedicure and then ANOTHER last pedicure… And sat around tapping my foot. And grunting and groaning to anyone within earshot about how uncomfortable and DONE I was.
37 weeks, 6 days came and went. My due date and Christmas came and went. On December 26th, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew returned to Arizona without meeting their new niece/cousin. On December 27th, resigned to being pregnant forever and looking for some distraction, we had lunch in New Haven with my parents and then popped by Ikea to stock up on meatballs and sweets.
Later that evening as I lounged on the couch, I found myself shifting uncomfortably against a wave of strong Braxton Hicks contractions. I honestly didn’t think much of it. I’d had probably six or eight episodes of “maybe this is it!” over the previous weeks, to the point where my attitude was, “yeah this probably isn’t it.” But as the minutes passed, I became aware that these contractions were getting stronger and not letting up. Panicking slightly, I went about the evening routine and put my daughter in the tub. By the time she was ready to get out, I was in too much pain to lift her.
I texted my parents to have them start the hour drive to our house, and I finally broke down and told my husband what was happening. Even through I was three days past my due date, his face looked just as shocked (and slightly terrified) as the day I went into labor with our first. Given my history of precipitous labor, I called the midwife right away. My biggest fear was having a shorter labor than my previous 2.5 hour chaotic mess of a birth, so I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to wait around.
The midwife didn’t seem to agree with me. “Your contractions JUST started at 7:00 and they’re ALREADY a minute long and three minutes apart?”
Two to three minutes apart, but who’s counting. “Yes, that’s right.” We had been over my birth history countless times!
She sighed audibly. “Well tell me when you’re having another one.”
I told her.
“Well THAT wasn’t a minute.” Um, okay? Long pause. “I can meet you at the hospital in… an hour?”
An HOUR?! That would put me arriving at the hospital about an hour and a half after labor started… I feared we’d be cutting it close, but I agreed. For the next forty minutes or so, I paced circles around the first floor of the house and huffed and puffed through contractions as my husband put our daughter down for bed.
My parents arrived with duffel bags and huge grins on their faces, and there was some brief conversation about my mom joining us at the hospital as I hightailed it to the car. The ride to the hospital had been one of the worst parts of my first labor – I had my feet on the dashboard and screamed through every contraction, which only added to the chaos and didn’t help the pain one bit. This time, I laid on my side, hugged my pillow and put all my thoughts into breathing. My contractions were strong and close together, but I was somehow calm.
We arrived at the hospital a little after 9:00 pm. The midwife met us at the hospital entrance and walked us in. I was definitely in a bit of a zone, but apparently I seemed a little TOO serene as I waddled to the elevators.
“Have you stopped having contractions?” the midwife asked.
“I’m having one right now,” I said through clenched teeth – I’m not sure if that was out loud or not.
We made our way up to the birth center. I undressed, and the midwife checked me. She then quickly got on the phone as I continued to manage my pain. Breathing wasn’t cutting it anymore. I found myself vocalizing now, long and low – this wasn’t anything that I was ever taught, but it felt like all I could do to keep from flat-out screaming. I heard the midwife say something into the phone about her patient being “fully,” and she requested a nurse right away.
The midwife kept the atmosphere so calm. At a few points she gave me brief instructions – relax my legs, chin to my chest, direct my breath a little differently. It was just enough to reassure me that she was in control and had done this a million times before but not so much that I couldn’t let my body do what it needed to do. Once the nurse arrived, the midwife told that I could start pushing when I felt the urge. A few contractions later, my body completely took over. I pushed through maybe ten contractions, felt my water break with one big gush, screamed once, and then the midwife told me to reach down and grab my baby.
Baby Girl Gonzalez #2 was born on 12/27/15 at 9:52 pm, a solid 8 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long!
I was so relieved she was out that I didn’t even look at her right away. I just clutched her to my chest and felt her slippery warmth. My baby. She announced her presence with an absolutely piercing, endless scream. The midwife suggested that I sing to her – something I had sung to her while I was pregnant. I felt what was perhaps my first twinge of mother-of-two guilt. I had sung to my first daughter in utero a lot. I played piano for her, talked to her, even kept a journal for her. But this child was only exposed to her sister singing the ABC song about a million times. So that’s what I did – I sang the ABCs.
This was my second unmedicated labor. My second labor lasting under three hours. My second dark-haired, squealing baby girl. But this birth was night-and-day different from my first. I credit luck in large part for granting me an uncomplicated birth. But I also have to give myself some of the credit. I went really above and beyond my first pregnancy in terms of seeking and organizing my resources, and they gave me a lot of help – from the midwives who monitored my pregnancy and delivered my baby, to the doula who planned a personalized birth class for us, to the many YouTube videos and blogs I stalked to learn about managing my type of labor, to the many friends and family members who supported (and tolerated) me in those final difficult weeks. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone! It was truly all I had ever hoped for in a birth.
And now – meet my beautiful baby girl!
And my adorable (messy and tired but adorable) family of four.