Pregnant with my second child, I thought my pregnancy and birth would be just like before. Boy, was I was very wrong. Both the pregnancy and my delivery were completely different than my previous experience with my now three old, Aurora, but both ended up okay.
With Aurora, my pregnancy was not that challenging. I never felt sick. I didn’t show much until I was close to 30 weeks, and even then, I carried her high up and didn’t even have to buy maternity clothes. I wore some loose dresses during the last month but that was about it. I worked out the entire time, even running up until the last few weeks. I was even at a Flywheel spin class on my due date.
With Brooks, I was sick from week 3, which was about when I found out I was pregnant. That nausea continued till around week 12, which wasn’t easy given I was primary caregiver for our toddler. After that, it was a whirlwind. I popped out with a noticeable belly around 20 weeks and that belly kept growing straight out. By 30 weeks, I looked far more pregnant than I ever did with Aurora. I also FELT way more pregnant early on. With the increased belly, I had so many aches and pains. Back hurting, pulled muscles and an end to my intense workout regime. I was able to continue biking and walking and some stretching till the end, but that was a big challenge. I needed maternity clothes from week 20 on and couldn’t get by with ANY pants that I owned.
Aurora’s birth story was a bit traumatic for me. I was induced 2 weeks after her due date and the induction took 4 days, from start to finish. I don’t believe her due date was accurate and I think she was actually more of a late June baby. There were a lot things about her birth that I regret (they didn’t let me eat food for 3 days) and a lot of decisions that felt out of my control (they increased my pitocin every hour for 2 days to the maximum and my delivery was still not progressing). I also had an epidural on the second day of contractions but I am telling you, mine did not work well.
Basically, I went in blind, my body was NOT ready to give birth and the induction was extremely long, utterly exhausting and very, very painful. I can say that with certainty now as after my second birth, I was not in the agony and complete delirium of the first.
This time, my due date of May 29th put a lot of undue pressure on Brooks’ delivery. I had known based on LMP (last menstrual period) and ovulation tests, exactly when my due date SHOULD be (it was June 12th, my daughter’s birthday). But after a 10 week measurement, the doctor decided my due date was May 29th based on Brooks’ fundal length. This was confirmed by another doctor and by an ultrasound specialist. I was happy that it wasn’t my daughter’s birthday but I was very skeptical all along as I didn’t understand how I could have been pregnant 2 weeks earlier when I had taken pregnancy tests, had a period etc.
Leading up to May 29th, I was dilated for 2 weeks at 2 cm, was feeling LOTS of braxton hicks and prodromal labor (basically contractions that escalate then just stop, then do it again the next day) and was feeling so so pregnant. I looked like I was about to give birth any second.
My doctor knew that I was very reluctant to dive into induction again so she said, let’s get to your due date and talk. I did every old wives tales–castor oil is pretty yucky– and acupuncture was relaxing but did nothing. I walked SO much, I was in pain. I ate all the dates. Ultimately, nothing was doing anything but getting my hopes up and dashing them down when by that evening nothing happened and I was one day closer to getting an induction.
I told my doctor I wanted to let the baby come when he was ready and she had me come in every 3 days to check his fluid level to make sure he was safe. She had mentioned that he was “big” and I felt pressured that she was implying I might not be able to deliver him vaginally. I came to the doctor’s office 4 times for non stress tests and fluid checks. My last one was on June 10th, two days before the due date that I knew to be true. The fluid was getting lower (around 7 when anything under 5 was immediate induction) and though he did well on his non stress tests, my doctor said she recommended induction on June 13th. 🙁
Devastated, I spent the next 3 days walking, praying and trying to “relax” so my body would go into spontaneous labor. The weeks leading up to this was an emotional time but these final days were extremely challenging, mentally. It was all I thought about. I had read many positive induction stories, but I also knew my own previous story and was convinced that an induction for me wouldn’t go well.
Sunday, June 13th, my 6 year anniversary, we went into the hospital for induction. I had found a way to accept it and hope for the best. We said goodbye to my daughter, left our very generous friends Brian & Kate with a lot of lists, a quick tour of Rory’s stuff and a lot of gratitude.
We walked into the very quiet hospital to hear a piano player playing Little Mermaid. We set up my very large and lovely room (as far as hospital rooms go) with flowers, candles and music. We had a giant bag of snacks. We were ready.
We started on cervix ripener which helped me to get to 4 cm but after the second dose, and 8 hours later, no more progress. By evening, we had the option of pitocin, another dose or breaking water. I was very disappointed. I had hoped I’d go into spontaneous labor after the cervix ripener but no. We assessed and chose to go on a low dose of pitocin, only 2ml (with Aurora I got up to 20ml). My doctor had gone home for the night and I wasn’t sure I wante dto break my water to put me on the timeclock just then. The pitocin started and nothing much happened. My husband and I ate a dinner from the hospital cafeteria, we watched “Crazy Stupid Love” and we went to bed around 11pm, trying to be hopeful.
By 12:15am the contractions started up. I breathed through them and rested as much as I could, not wanting to wake up Dave until I was sure we were getting to ‘go time.’
30 minutes later, I woke him up. It was getting intense. I used the techniques I had learned from watching a lot of Youtube videos by Positive Birthing Company & Built to Birth and felt that I had a handle on how to get through them.
From 1am to 4am the contractions increased steadily- and seriously. It was my intention to attempt an epidural free birth but I was well aware that Pitocin-induced contractions are a differnet level of pain and 90% of women get an epidural to handle them. I went as far as I could, 7.5cm and I hit my limit. It wasn’t even a question. I had no doubt in my mind that I needed an epidural to make it to 10cm. I also knew I wanted to have energy left to push. I didn’t want to survive to 10cm and then not be able to push my baby out.
The anesthesiologist came in at 4am and I was able to start the epidural by 430am. I remember he kept asking me questions and I was like “OMG just give me the epidural now.” My poor nurse got a good squeeze as he inserted it. I am not great with needles and this was definitely a challenge for me. Thank GOODNESS I got it. Those last 4 contractions before he was able to administer it, I will not soon forget. They were blindingly painful–pure agony.
This time the epidural WORKED. I felt a flood of relief. I could feel the contractions but they were so manageable. WAS THIS WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE!? I truly didn’t feel anything like this from the last time. I still felt SO much pain till Aurora came out, that I thought all epidurals were overrated. Or at least, maybe they didn’t work for me. This time around, I realize that they are not overrated and I’m very happy that I chose to get one.
The calmness continued from 4:30am to 6:30am. We rested (half awake/half asleep). And by 6:30am I was nearly at 10cm. I hadn’t really felt much at all. It was so strange to have endured so much to get to 7cm and then 7 to 10cm, it was like nothing even happened. I chatted with Dave, dozed and basically felt okay.
My nurse was surprised at the progress and she had me do some practice pushes. By 7:30am, she said “I think we need to change the bed,” which means convert it for delivery. She grabbed some other nurses and I could tell by the urgency in her voice, we were at GO TIME.
Despite being hooked up to an IV and epidural, I was still able to use a birthing bar and even put weight on my feet. We tried several different ways of pushing and to my great joy, they were effective. It was really working. My pushing with Aurora lasted many hours and wasn’t nearly as effective and I remember getting so discouraged.
With the direction of the nurse, the positivity of my husband and my personal determination to make each push “effective,” we were able to push this little boy out in around 45 minutes. That may sound long but I focused on each set of 3 pushes during each contraction and once they said his head was there, I knew we were at the finish line. We got the shoulders through and voila, there was our baby.
My OBGYN held up the baby, still attached to the placenta and yelled at me to “grab your baby.” I was so shocked, I didn’t realize that I would be able to do that. I thought someone would hand it to me and after all the exhausting pushing, I was just stunned. She yelled it again and I scooped up this beautiful, wriggling boy, and held him to my chest.
It was over. He was here.
I couldn’t believe that I was able to hold him seconds after he was born. My doctor left right away, saying it was actually her birthday and she had plans (lol). All the nurses knew I wanted a golden hour but I think they had so many other births that morning that they forgot about me. I stayed holding Brooks, skin to skin for 3 hours! Dave cut the umbilical cord, a little hesitantly but he did it nonetheless. And the nurse left so it was just our family.
Brooks Beverly Lee was born at 9:22am on Monday, June 14th 2021. He weighed 9lbs 6oz at birth and was 21 inches long. He scored a 9 on all his APGAR tests and he let out a good cry just after birth, announcing his arrival into the world.
Looking back I realize that the worst part of my entire delivery and end of pregnancy was the emotional stress around the due date and induction. My disappointment and fear about having a second induction was all consuming from about 38 weeks to 42 weeks. Do I think Brooks could have come out on his own a few days later? Of course. Could he have waited another week? Yes definitely. But I realize that we made the decision to induce on the 13th because the fluid was getting so low and I didn’t want to risk any other complications related to that, even if it meant forgoing a “natural” birth and being induced.
Ultimately, my wishes to have a birth a certain way did not go as hoped, but surrendering to another option and realizing that choice wasn’t so bad after all, was an eye-opening experience for me. I can’t control everything but that doesn’t mean the outcome will be bad.
I was wrong about inductions. They aren’t all terrible, long or traumatic. I was wrong about epidurals. They can work well and did work for me. I was wrong about wanting to have a natural birth only because this was very natural for me. Many times natural births are longer, more traumatic and can be less positive than this induced birth. We had a very well planned goodbye for our daughter. We had a very calm trip to the hospital and set up the hospital room with flowers, candles (battery operated), snacks and music. The entire experience was actually very low stress. We made educated choices as they came and were confident in each one.
Though the induction itself ended up being out of my control, everything else within that induction felt very much within my control. Even the pushing was very mindful and with purpose. I remember it all clearly and felt so present in the process.
All births are natural and it doesn’t matter how our children are born, as long as they get here safely. I feel so much more empowered by this second birth. Even though it wasn’t what I had hoped, it went well. We got a healthy baby boy and I was able to handle bringing him into the world.