I'm hoping to start sharing more lifestyle posts here on our blog, so I figured a birth story is a good place to start ;)
People always say second births go quicker than firsts... and this turned out to be very true in our case! I had been dilated to 3 cm for about two weeks before my due date so I was happy my body was already working. I had to be induced with E at 39 weeks so I was really hoping we could avoid induction this time around. I had been trying everything possible to help my body get ready for labor on its own, things like eating pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, walking walking walking etc... but still my due date approached with no progress. Two days after we hit the 40 week mark, I was having cramps but nothing I hadn't already been feeling. It was a Sunday so Michael and I were both just enjoying our family time and spending the day together as we usually would. Later that night, we put E down for bed and started watching The Office on Netflix together when I had my first hard contraction. It felt significantly different than the little ones I had been feeling for weeks so I knew I should start timing them. I had about two or three contractions that were 10 minutes apart, and then they quickly started coming 2-3 minutes apart and getting stronger. It quickly became intense enough to where we felt like we should get our bags ready and in the car just in case. After almost an hour of timing and getting ready for the hospital, I could no longer talk through the contractions and we knew it was definitely time to go.
I was so grateful that I was able to have one last normal bedtime with E before we left and the fact that she was already sleeping (and she would have my mom and family to take good care of her) when we left gave me peace, but I still cried when we left because I knew how much I was going to miss her. For those who don't know, we live with my parents while we save for a house so it was really nice to leave E in a comfortable environment she's used to every day. Michael and I took my sister Bern along with us so she could take photos for us, and the three of us headed out in the pouring rain to the hospital at around 9:15pm.
Thankfully the hospital is only about ten minutes away from our house because I was having strong contractions in the car and couldn't imagine a longer drive. Once we made it inside, they brought Michael and I into a room and made my sister wait in the lobby until we were actually admitted. They hooked me up to the monitors and I saw the doctor on call but I was still only 3cm dilated. Even though my contractions were coming on fast and strong at this point, they told me I would need to wait at least an hour and see if I progress for them to admit us. In my head I knew there was no way I was going home (I told Michael we would just turn around and come right back) I was already in such incredible pain. Michael prayed with me that we would be able to stay, turned on some praise and worship music on my phone and helped me get through each contraction as we waited for the hour to pass. I was having terrible back labor so I couldn't lie down through the contractions and found it hard to find any rest in between. As each one came I would lean forward, sometimes on my hands and knees and have Michael press on my lower back as hard as he could with counter pressure. Toward the end of the hour the contractions were starting to make me feel light headed and I had already telling the nurse I wanted an epidural as soon as possible. The doctor finally came back and checked me again and I was dilated to 4cm (praise God!). I was so relieved that we would be able to stay and finally be reunited with my sweet sister who had been waiting alone.
Once we were finally given our own room, the nurse who had been helping me left and told me my new nurse would be right in... but no one was around for what seemed like an eternity (probably really 20 minutes but with such intense contractions it felt like forever!) At this point I was doing anything possible just to make it through each contraction. They were coming so close together that I was desperate for relief. I knew I still needed to be hooked up to an IV and have blood drawn before they would give me an epidural so I was anxious for anyone to just come in and start moving things along. My pain was so bad that Michael pressing on my back wasn't helping anymore and all I wanted was for him to be close so I could lean into him and hold his hand. I got to a point where the contractions would make me so hot I would sweat while they were happening, and then in between I would become so cold that my body would shiver uncontrollably. I brought a big warm blanket from home so Michael would put it around me in between and take it off as soon as I felt another contraction coming on. He was so loving and strong and encouraging for me the entire time and I honestly don't know how I could have gotten through it without him. It's crazy how going through such an intense experience together really made us feel so in tune with one another and full of a different kind of love for each other.
Finally a nurse came in and tried to start my IV but wasn't able to get the drip going through my hand. I am the type of person that hates needles with all of my being... but I was so deeply focused on my contractions that I didn't even care. A different nurse came in and tried on my other hand and finally had a good drip going. She also took blood from my arm but then when the lab technician came by, it turned out that she forgot a tube and he had to take blood again from my other arm. I thought it was all ridiculous but still didn't have enough energy to care about anything other than dealing with the pain I was in. After the nurses got everything hooked up, the anesthesiologist finally came in and started explaining the epidural to me (everything I already knew but they have to tell you.) I was only half listening when I blurted out to the nurse that I was feeling pressure. It was the kind of pressure I remembered feeling with Everly when I was ready to push. She decided to check my dilation again before the epidural and with a surprised look on her face, she looked at me and told me I was at 10cm. It seems so hilarious now but she asked me if I still wanted the epidural for pushing, and all I could say was "well... I wanted it" but at this point I knew it was pointless. I don't even think it would have worked in time before the birth! So just like that, we decided to forget the epidural. Everything was happening so fast and all I could think was that this baby was coming and someone needed to get ready to catch her. I tried a "practice" push with the nurse and she quickly told me to stop because they needed to call the doctor. They said it would be about 15-20 minutes before my doctor would arrive and I told them that I couldn't wait that long and that I needed to push. I knew how fast this baby was coming and I didn't care who was there or wasn't there... I just needed to get her out. They had the doctor on call come in, and within ten minutes of the most intense pain in my life... our second daughter was born.
From the moment we arrived at the hospital to just five hours later, our baby girl was in our arms. They laid her on my chest and I looked over at Michael... both of us were overwhelmed with emotion over what just happened. We were laughing at the craziness of it all and just so relieved that it was all over.
M was born with a little bit of meconium in her fluid so she needed a little bit of help breathing with a CPAP for about ten minutes when they took her over to the panda warmer. It was definitely a little scary seeing her struggling to breath normally, but Michael was right there with his warm hands on her body praying over her the entire time. My sister went over to pray with Michael too and I prayed until they finally said she was doing fine and could come back to me for skin-to skin time.
And a few iPhone photos from our time in the hospital too because these memories are just so dear to us.
And finally... my favorite photo of the four of us when we were finally all together again at home.
Thank you to my amazing mother for capturing both of these family pictures for us. And a special thank you to my sister for taking such beautiful photos of the birth for us. It was such an amazing experience and we are so in love with our new little family of four.