The Birth of Our Second Son

This is the birth story of my second son.  I wanted to record our experience for myself and to share with others what I considered a beautiful and amazing event.  This birth was a very healing and empowering experience after a scary and hard delivery with my first son.  I hope that those women who desire to have a gentle, natural birth will read this and be encouraged at they can achieve their birthing goal.

However, if you're at all squeamish, perhaps you should skip this post.

On the morning of April 4, 2013 I woke up at 6:30 AM to discover that I had started to pass my mucus plug.  I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant (well, depending on who you ask, but we'll go with what the midwives were thinking) and I had been praying to the baby gods for weeks to deliver me early.  I had been experiencing signs all that week that made me suspect that the baby was coming very soon.  My breasts/nipples had been stinging, my sense of smell was off the charts sensitive, I had started to shed some hair which I hadn't done at all during the pregnancy and most telling, the baby had gone much quieter.  This last clue even encouraged me to request a NST the previous week which showed that everything was fine....but I just knew baby was getting his rest before the big push.

Waking up that morning, I just knew it was show time.  With my first son, I experienced bloody show and I delivered him the following night.  I hoped that the rumors of a speedier second birth were true and I took a long morning nap to get some extra rest.  Twelve hours later, my contractions started.  They were mild and coming every 10 minutes, but it was enough to convince me that I would be having a baby in the immediate future.  We packed off my first born to his aunt's house.

I was getting stronger contractions by midnight and now they were only 3 minutes apart.  They weren't the staggering painful contractions I remembered from my previous labor, but they made Chris very nervous that I'd be having our baby on the side of the road somewhere.  We decided not to risk it and headed into the hospital.  Unfortunately, I was found to be only 2 cm dilated and they sent us home.  The midwife on call actually dared to suggest that I wasn't in labor and that I should plan on attending my regular office appointment the following morning.  Well, that wasn't to be the case.

At home, Chris and I went to bed and I slept from about 3:30 - 5:30 AM when VERY strong contractions woke me.  I had to moan through them and rock on my knees.  These were the real deal!  I got into the tub to labor in the water while Chris timed the pains.  When they were consistently 5 - 7 minutes apart, we called the midwives and they told us to head to the hospital.  I was elated to hear that my favorite midwife, Mary Beth, was on call and would deliver our baby.  It seemed like everything was working out for the best.

At the hospital, I was checked and monitored and I was so relieved to learn that I was 4+ cm and could be admitted.   It was 9 AM on April 5th.  We were going to have our baby today!
My birth plan was a lot more relaxed than it had been with my first birth.  As a first time mom, I had the disillusion that I would have a lot more control over birth than I actually did.  My desire for a natural birth was shattered by back labor and a very long first stage that exhausted my strength.  In the end, I had an epidural.  Worse than that, however, was the fact that my baby was whisked away from me immediately after delivery to be examined as he had a fever.  

For this birth, I really wanted to try again for a natural birth but I was also willing to accept that once again I might require pain medication or further interventions.  I hoped that my midwife, who was very supportive of my birth wishes, and Chris, who also knew how much I wanted a gentle birth, would both be able to help me have the birth I so wanted.

I labored for about 2 hours when the midwife suggested that she break my waters.  I was leery for her to do this but she encouraged me to let her.  She said that it would speed up my labor and help me go from 7 cm to full dilation much more quickly.  If I wanted to avoid an epidural, she felt that this was the most helpful route for me.  I let her and things got really serious very quickly!
Not long after 12 noon, I was in severe pain and I was moaning and groaning through the contractions.  I went from 7 cm to being fully dilated.  I remember asking how would I know when it was time to push?  Oh, it was time!  

In this transition phase, I was definitely very much inside my body as opposed to my mind.  I was feeling everything and I just needed to be told how to help myself.  I had the midwife, the delivery nurse, Ginny, and Chris helping me to bear down and guiding my pushes. It was the most painful experience of my life, I will not lie.  The baby's head was a burning pain that threatened to tear me in two.  

I did say "I can't do this!!" But, I did.  I pushed for 14 minutes.  Mary Beth tried to get me to stop and wait at one point but I couldn't stop.  I needed this baby out of me.  When his head was clear and I had to give one last push I thought, not overly dramatically, that I might just die if I didn't get him out.  It felt that powerful.  And at the edge of all of that pain, he slid free and I felt the greatest relief!

I hadn't had the experience of that sensation with my first birth.  I had an epidural and I was on IV and oxygen and the room contained a panicked energy to get the baby delivered as he was in some distress.  This time, it just felt joyous!  Chris was able to catch the baby and cut the cord.  I'm so happy that he was able to participate in our birth like that.

They put the baby up on my chest, all gooey and white from birth.  I got only the briefest of touches when it was decided that his color wasn't good.  I learned that the cord had been wrapped around his neck twice.  My little man was really purple in the face from bruising and from his struggle to be born. They took him to the warmer to be examined while I delivered my placenta and got two stitches.  Two more experiences I hadn't felt the first time.  
The pediatric team determined that because of the cord having been around his neck, there was some fluid trapped in his lungs and his breathing was sounding too labored.  He would have to spend a few hours in the nursery being monitored.

Did my second birth follow my birth wishes perfectly?  No way.  Was it a perfect birth just the same  Yes.  I loved our birth and I'm so proud and happy that we were able to do it without pain medication.  I feel like I was so much more present for the birth and that my recovery was a lot easier as a result.  It has given me a special connection  with my son and with all mothers.


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