Well good gracious, I’ve fallen off the face of the blog-o-sphere again! I had high hopes of actually documenting the end of my second pregnancy, but right at 34 weeks (33 and 6, actually), this spunky little lady tried to make her grand entrance and I spent a weekend in the hospital (I should really write about that experience! I’ll sum it up though: Ben is an amazing partner and I am so glad he is the father of my children and, also, I’m SO THANKFUL I did not have a 34 week baby. So thankful!) and after that, I spent the next few weeks laying low and enjoying as much time with my big girl as possible.
The last few weeks of growing this baby were so sweet. I was so painfully aware that this beautiful season of just Lydia and mommy were ending. We had playdates, went for coffee, watched movies and spent many afternoons snuggling together with a much-needed mommy-daughter nap. I tried my very best to revel in our one-on-one time and I loved every second.
Eventually, however, I was ready to be not pregnant anymore. We had two things we wanted to check off before sister came, Frozen on Ice and Halloween, but after that, I was READY. Ben started his FMLA on November 1st and his parents were coming the 10th, so I needed to get this baby out! Plus, it’s really painful to be more pregnant with your second baby than you ever were with your first! I started the last 5 days with “I’ve never been this pregnant before!” (Um…dramatic much??)
The day of my 39 week appointment (at 39 & 4) I spent the morning yelling “GET OUT” to my belly and feeling about 1,000 months pregnant. When my Midwife asked if I wanted to schedule an induction, I said “Yes!” as quickly as possible and we scheduled one for Sunday (40 & 1). When I left the hospital after my pre-term labor, I was 2 cm and 90% effaced, when my MW checked me at this appointment, I was 2.5 cm and 90%. I had been having no contractions and didn’t feel like anything was going to happen anytime soon. The MW “lightly” stripped my membranes and I took myself on a date for a “I’m-still-so-freaking-pregnant” milkshake.
On the way home from my appointment (about 4 pm), I noticed a bit of cramping, but it was not painful and it was pretty far apart. I was encouraged though, that during the 45 minute drive home the cramps continued. I arrived home to a sleeping family at home, so I decided to pump for a bit to see if it would encourage these cramps to progress to something good. I didn’t necessarily have much luck with just pumping, but when Ben woke up, he suggested we skip our small group and opt for a long walk instead (I think my crazy pregnant lady eyes were freaking him out!). About 6:30 pm Lydia, Ben and I bundled up and took a few mile walk. We grabbed dinner and ice cream, where I had my second frozen treat of the day, because: so freaking pregnant.
The cramping had continued on our walk, and they were coming a bit more consistently and by 10 pm I was encouraged that maybe these cramps would progress to actual contractions and not just putter out like I thought they would. Suddenly, I had this weight on me that I needed to hold Lydia. I haven’t held and rocked her to sleep in forever, but tonight, I needed to. So, Ben played video games and I savored my sweet girl as she fell asleep on my lap for the last time as my only little love. I put her into her bed at 11 pm and spent an hour on the exercise ball. At midnight, I noticed I was having to stop what I was doing because my cramps were turning into painful contractions. They were about 30 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. Ben started to take notice at this time, and he decided it was time to pack his bag (mine had been packed for weeks). By 1 am we were both totally packed and all of our stuff was by the door and we were going to try and go to bed.
I was having trouble focusing on much anything other than how uncomfortable the contractions were and found only a little bit of relief if I was rocking on the exercise ball. My sleeping was out of the question. By 2 am, my contractions were averaging just over 3 minutes apart and they were painful. Ben was getting nervous because prior to this point, I didn’t feel super rushed, nor did I seem to think getting Hannah here to watch Lydia was urgent. But, he recognized my more guttural grunts and groans and knew our time was close (his eyes were as wide as saucers when he said “I remember these noises. This is how you sounded last time!”). We made the decision to call Hannah and ask her to come because it did seem as though I was indeed in labor and our girl was coming (in hindsight it’s so crazy that I am so unaware how close I am to actually meeting my babies!). Considering our 45 minute drive to the hospital, my Midwife had instructed us to head to the hospital when my contractions were 3 minutes apart, or definitely by the time I started throwing up.
Ben went to get gas in the truck and I had the super strong urge to call my mama because I knew only she would get what I was going through at that moment. Suddenly, I felt so sad that I was leaving Lydia. Not the actual fact that I was leaving Lydia at our house, but that I was effectively changing her life forever. She went to bed as my only baby, and she had no clue that she’d wake up with another person stealing my attention and my heart. My poor girl! It was nearly 3 am and I woke my mom from sleep, but she encouraged me, in the way only a mom can, and we chatted between contractions until Ben got home. I vaguely remember her being a bit squealy and excited every time I groaned in pain…I was not echoing her exuberance 😉
Right after 3 am Hannah walked in the door, and as I heard her enter, I ran to the bathroom to lose my stomach. I proceeded to throw up three times and I think my husband was as white as a sheet as he practically threw me in the car!
Things were starting to get really intense and I was feeling all the pressure of the baby’s little body in my lower back. I couldn’t position myself in a way to offer relief, especially in the truck! I had 9+ contractions on the ride to the hospital, and my sweet husband made the 45 minute drive in just under 30 minutes. How he was able to safely drive, I don’t know, but I’m so glad he did. He dropped me off at the entrance to the ER as he parked the truck, and as I walked in, a contraction hit and I couldn’t help but cry out during the whole thing. Talk about making an entrance! I think I said something like “I’m here!” and tried to play it off like I was totally in control, but I most certainly was not! The receptionist called L&D and a few minutes after Ben arrived, the nurse came down to get us settled in a labor room. I bellowed down the hallway as my contractions hit, and they were coming more and more frequently.
As luck would have it, my Midwife was on call that night and when I saw her I gave her stripping skills props for starting this whole process! I got settled into my room and when the MW checked me, I was 6 cm and 90%. I felt like I was doing a whole lot of work for only 6 cm! “We’ll have a baby soon!” my Midwife said and I clung onto the phrase: “Second babies just fly out!” but I felt like I was doing a lot of work for a baby that was supposed to be flying.
The nurse could not get an IV in me, nor could the other 2 that tried (well, one nurse did get one, but then she proceeded to forget to tape the darn thing to my skin and then when I told her it wasn’t secure, she pulled it out as she was assessing it. I wanted to cry!). I was sitting on the exercise ball with Ben in a chair behind me applying pressure to my lower back as they were poking. The contractions were over a minute long and coming with only 30 second breaks in between and I felt like I was being ripped open along my spine. It was absolutely awful! After about an hour (right around 5 am), they checked me and I was only 6.5 cm! I started to get so frustrated! I was in so much pain and that 0.5 cm was such discouraging progress! They decided to bring the on-call anesthesiologist in to try for an IV and I was just hoping for a little relief in the form of a little dose of Fentanyl.
The anesthesiologist got the IV on the first try and while she was working, I asked how long it would take for me to get an epidural and feel relief. She promised me relief in 45 minutes, and when I realized the little dose of Fentanyl I was finally able to get did nothing except make my eyes dizzy, I decided I needed a break from the pain and asked for the epidural.
My midwife entered the room a few minutes later and asked me to get in the bed so she could check me before we proceeded with the epidural. “I just can’t do this anymore” I said to Susan (the MW) as she helped me in the bed and she smiled and said something along the lines of “I know, that’s what I wanted to hear!”(It’s probably so much easier to recognize transition when you’re not actually in transition!)
The doctor wheeled her drug cart into the room as Susan was checking me, but Susan quickly waved her out and said “You can take that away, we don’t need it. You’re 8.5 and complete, let’s have a baby!”
I was in shock! I didn’t feel any different or like I had any progress, but I was just ready to be done! During my appointment earlier, Susan and I had discussed how I wanted to labor and what positions would help me avoid tearing. She was strongly advocating for birthing while on all 4’s on the bed and other positions that would offer less pressure on the perineum. However, at this moment, when I was ready to start pushing, she changed a bit and her business became about getting this baby out. I don’t know why she asked me to push this way, but I can only trust that it was to allow me to safely birth my baby without damage to either of us.
I was having such bad back labor because the baby was posterior. I don’t know for sure, but I THINK I was able to start pushing and subsequently not deliver posteriorly because Susan helped finish off my cervix and helped turn the baby. Her and I never discussed the details of it, but I do know that I would not have had a natural birth without her help!
I was lying on my back in the bed and Susan instructed me to pull my knees up to the sides of my chest and bear down as hard as I could. I felt the baby engage and so much pain took over! I screamed, but Susan’s voice “Don’t yell! You can’t breathe when you yell!” broke through the deafening burning and as another contraction hit, with Ben and the nurse holding my legs, I took a breath and pushed with all of my might. With Lydia, I felt this intense, overwhelming need to push. I didn’t feel that this time. I was pushing with my own strength, without any help from my body. It was very different.
With the next contraction (#3), I had so much pressure and burning on my vagina I was sure I was about to rip in two! I reached down to put counter pressure on my labia when I felt something huge and squishy. In the chaos of my mind, I was horrified that my vagina had exploded or something! “What is that??” I panicked and asked Ben. Just like he was able to with Lydia, his words somehow made their way through my completely overwhelmed brain and he said “Babe, that’s her hair!” Until this point, I didn’t know I was close to delivering. That terrible feeling in my vagina? The ring of fire. What a fitting description!
With the next contraction, Susan told me to do a half push, and then, with a scream I could’t hold in, I heard “reach down and pull up your baby!” and I lifted my perfect little baby to my chest. OMG. Hallelujah! She was here! Her wails filled the room and I struggled to comprehend what had just happened. 15 minutes earlier I was going to get an epidural, and here, 4 contractions later, I was holding my baby!
Her cord was short so I couldn’t lift her higher than my belly, and as the chaos started to still, things were still sinking in with me. Everyone in the room was quietly working and I still had her on my belly. “What are we doing?” I asked Susan, because I really was totally unaware of what was going on, to which she told me they were letting the cord stop pulsing like I had wanted. It had been about 2 minutes, she said, so I said “Let’s cut it! I want to hold my baby!” and quick as anything, Ben had scissors in his hand and I was able to bring my sweet second daughter to my chest.
She gave us some beautifully strong cries, and then quietly settled onto my chest and began to nurse. She had a shallow latch, but seemed to know exactly what she was doing, and as the Midwife and her assistant stitched me up (I had another 2nd degree tear, which seems to have been a bit bigger than the first) I let myself soak in the beauty of that moment. I JUST HAD MY BABY!
There is truly nothing more awe-inspiring than that fact settling in. Both of my experiences of birth were so incredible, but during the actual birth, I am so unaware of any semblance of detail and fact. I’m just trapped in this whirlwind of chaos and pain and there is no establishing order. And then, with my baby on my chest, I can finally catch my breath and finally process the beautiful, incredible, amazing thing that just happened! It’s like the adrenaline settles and find myself in exhausted bliss. What an amazing experience!
After about an hour in the delivery room, they weighed and cleaned Evelyn and loaded us up and moved us to our room on Mother-Baby. After changing into my tank top and robe, I wrapped Evelyn (who was not yet named!) in a swaddle and laid down for a nap. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this baby yet…I think I was just too exhausted to really process any real emotions or comprehend the fact that this tiny human was indeed mine, just the same way her sister was. I really just needed a bit of sleep. Despite that, I wasn’t ready to stop touching this baby, so I swaddled her up and laid her in my bed and finally fell asleep with my head on her still little body.
After a short while, the pediatrician came in to do his assessment of my new baby. He politely asked if he could examine her, and as I handed my sweet babe to him and her placed her in the bassinet (that was RIGHT NEXT TO my bed), I had this overwhelming feeling of love! All of a sudden, I knew that I NEEDED her and that she was so completely mine!! I felt like I couldn’t breathe and it took all of my mind to remain composed as he did his quick assessment. The second he shut the door after leaving, I scooped her back up into my arms and the enormity of love and gratitude filled me up and I savored her sweet body against mine.
Ben slept for a bit longer and I texted family and friends. Ben eventually woke up and we began the process of narrowing our 12 (yes 12!!) names down to 3. Lydia was coming shortly to meet her sister and we knew she needed to know her name!
As much as Lydia had been a part of experiencing my pregnancy with me, I really didn’t how she’d act when she met her baby sister for the first time. When Hannah texted saying she had arrived, I put Evelyn in the bassinet and made sure the photo we had brought of Lydia was taped against the side so Lydia would see it when she arrived. Ben met the girls in the hallway and waiting for them to get to the room was the longest moments of my life! I was anxious and excited and nervous! I did think Lydia would want to see me right away, but no, my tutu-clad girl pushed the door open and said “Where is the baby?” as her eyes began frantically darting around the room. She spotted the bassinet and ran over to look at the baby. She didn’t want to hold or touch her, and she really didn’t want anything to do with me, either. I proceeded to scoop her up anyways, but she quickly retreated to the couch in the room with her iPad and cookie I had saved for her. Ben and I visited with Hannah as Lydia took a little time to observe and process in her own way.
We were able to engage her a bit when we started talking names and she enjoyed being a part of the process. Although she wasn’t crazy about our choices (and she was less than impressed that we weren’t going to choose Anna – and change her to Elsa…a request she made multiple times!), she did eventually concede when we decided on Evelyn Margaret. We didn’t tell her that Margaret was after Ben’s grandmother and NOT Daniel Tiger’s little sister 😉
Evelyn means “wished for child” and she most certainly was. Oh, how I wish and prayed for her, and as He always does, God was so faithful! Our perfect and precious Evelyn was such an answer to so many prayers.
The girls visited for a while, and then Ben took them to dinner at Chik-fil-A in order to spend a little fun time with Lydia and to get me a milkshake (I was on a roll!). I ordered my own dinner and cleaned myself up a bit and then just sat on the bed and enjoyed the stillness with my newest baby. My sweet, perfect, completely wanted and absolutely prayed for, Evelyn Margaret.