But onward. Birth story ahoy!
I was about 38 and a half weeks pregnant on the morning of August 26th. It was a normal, relaxed morning. Tyson had left for work early, and after spending some time with Everett playing in his room, we went to the kitchen together to get some breakfast. It was there that I experienced my first hard contraction around 9:10am. It was about a minute long and intense enough to make me stop what I was doing and breathe through it. This was a mildly thrilling moment since, due to Everett's unexpectedly early birth, I had been packed and ready to go for weeks and weeks. My first instinct was to text Tyson, "Hey, I've got a painful one over here, let's bounce" but I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I put some morning cartoons on for Everett and we laid in bed together while I breathed through them and timed them out.
For two hours, they were fairly strong and consistently 10-12 minutes apart. I'd heard that a second birth tends to be much faster than the first, so I was hyper aware of the fact that our birthing center was about an hour away. (I'd loved my birth experience so much at this particular birth center with Everett, that even though we'd moved to Winchester, I really wanted to birth there again. ) I was feeling overly cautious, so I called Tyson and told him about the consistency, and then called my midwives. They told me to come in, just in case. Tyson was home in a suspiciously fast amount of time, bursting through the door in his "this is it" fury. He packed his overnight bag, while I got ready and put together Everett's things for his stay at our friend's house. Tyson peeked his head around the closet door while he packed and observed me tying my hair up in the bathroom, commenting on how "together" I seemed. It's all very impressive when your contractions are still 10 minutes apart.
We drove over to drop Everett off, and took him in together to give him a kiss and make sure he felt settled in. I was feeling sheepish, since my contractions were still so far apart, so the whole time we were there, I was walking around like a fully functional person. Yeah I'm in labor. Sure. Totally.
We drove the hour. It wasn't terrible. We walked into the birth center together and up to the woman at the front desk. Hey, what can I do for you today? she said. I think we need to sign in, I said with a half-smile, I'm in labor? We signed in and were ushered back to triage where I put on the blue sheath and sat in bed while they hooked me up to contraction monitors. I stayed on the monitors for an hour or so, while my contractions stayed about the same. I was only dilated to a 3 and 60% effaced, so even though my midwife couldn't admit us yet, she suggested that since we were already there, and the contractions had been consistent, that we take some time to get my body in an active state. Walk, get some food, climb some stairs, curb walk, and come back in an hour. We did all of that and lunges too. Back and forth down a mostly deserted hallway, which for the record, is a terrible moment to catch a reflection of yourself. During this hour, I was really feeling it. I'd have to stop while we were walking and grip the wall rail, breathing through the contractions and crying out a little as they got progressively stronger. It was totally working.
We walked back to triage, feeling hopeful that I would have dilated enough with those contractions to get admitted and JUST DO THIS ALREADY, but as soon as I was in a resting state on the bed again, the contractions tapered off almost completely, and there was no change in dilation. It was wildly frustrating. We left the hospital with the instruction to go home, lay down for the rest of the day, and sleep if I could so that my body wouldn't be triggered into continuing with the false labor. It was a quiet hour during the ride home. We were both pretty bummed after being so ready to meet our baby all day, and I was tired from all the contractions, little sleep, and the most vigorous exercise I'd had in an embarrassing amount of time. We picked Everett up from our friend's house and drove home. As was recommended, I tried to rest on the bed with Everett while Tyson tried to squeeze in some homework in the living room. I'd only been laying there for maybe 45 minutes when my first real, hard, gut punching contraction hit. Another one hit 3 minutes later. And another. I writhed on the bed, trying to maintain control so that I wouldn't alarm Everett. Thinking back, I don't know why I didn't call out to Tyson to be like --- heeeeey, guess whaaaat. I think I was still feeling so frustrated for traveling so much that day, and all for nothing. It had felt like such a waste, and I was feeling bad for inconveniencing our friends (even though they assured us that we hadn't, but you know, mom guilt). I let the contractions go on like that for a little while longer, I can't remember how long, until Everett asked for a drink and I got up to get him one, but ended up on the couch instead, bent over my belly, just yelling. Yelling way too loudly.
In double time, Tyson ran around the house, gathering our things up for the second time and loading them in the car, all while Everett bent down around my hunched over body so that he could see my face while he rubbed my back. I wished the pain away just so I could take the worry off his little scrunched up face. I could hardly speak. This wasn't how I'd hoped to leave him. Tyson scooped him up and walked out to the car to buckle him in. "Mama's going to have a baby today. Isla Loie is coming to meet you!" We sped over to our friend's house again, with Tyson calling ahead of time, so that they could run out, grab Everett from the car and make it a quick drop-off. My eyes were clenched when we pulled in the drive-way, just trying to get through the next minute, so I didn't even see him as we drove away. But we were reassured through text a little while later that he was whisked in and got right to playing, happy as a clam.
During the hour drive, my contractions started to come on top of each other, only a minute and a half apart. I was gripping my armrest and the door handle, deep in the hell that is being strapped to a seat for an hour while in active labor, every bump and jostle intensified. I yelled, barely aware of Tyson praying out loud for us to make it in time. He narrated to me along with the navigator. 10 minutes left! You can do it, you're doing so great! 8 minutes til we get there, we're almost there, you're gonna make it. 5 minutes, the exit is coming up right here babe. Hang in there 3 more minutes.
He was probably half talking to himself, poor guy. ;)
When I stood up to get out of the car, I was immediately dizzy from expelling and taking in so much air during the drive. I flung my arm around Tyson's shoulders and we made it into the packed waiting room in time for another contraction to hit. With my mascara streaked cheeks, frazzled hair and hugely pregnant body, I put my hands on my knees and I yelled-breathed through it, while they retrieved a wheelchair. They whisked us back through the doors, past triage where we had been just a few hours before, and straight to our delivery room.
I WANTED THE DRUGS. Oh man I wanted them. I remembered the last time I was here, doing this exact thing, and how I'd felt out of my mind with pain then too. I climbed up on the bed and Tyson answered questions for the nurse while I yelled over them. "Breathe", she coached. "Don't feel self conscious about the yelling ... yell all you want ... breathe ... good. We've paged the anesthesiologist." My midwife came in then and checked me. Shockingly, depressingly, I was still at a 3. But only ten minutes later, I was a 7. I mean BOOM. That's a second baby right there.
I never even saw the anesthesiologist's face, since my eyes were closed, trying to get through each contraction, but after he came in 40 years later, we got to work. They swung my legs over the side of the bed, with him at my back, and Tyson and a pretty, kind, nurse at my front. They held my hands while I accidentally spit on them a little. These are just the rules of travailing, laborious breathing I suppose. There's going to be a little bit of spit flying around and stuff. I took three contractions while bent over. The cool, wonderful, mind-restoring peace swept over one half of my body, while the other half still scorched and surged every minute. It was weird. So they did it again. Another three contractions while bent over, and it was done. I could laugh again. I could drink. It was a total party. The nurse got some tissues and gently cleaned my tear streaked face up, and then everyone cleared the room, with instructions to let them know once I started to feel pressure. It was late then, so we dimmed the lights and tried to sleep a little. About an hour later, I felt it. Her little body was ready.
Tyson notified the nurses and midwife in the hallway, and they came in to check me. "Oh yep, there's her head!" The lights flipped on, I moved into a comfortable pushing position, and Tyson and I looked at each other in anticipation. Finally! We were going to meet our little girl! Everything else faded away for me. I don't even remember where Tyson was standing. It felt good to push. I bore down hard during one contraction and then rested. I bore down hard again during the second contraction and there she was. My Isla Loie. Pink and blue, her lungs blazing. Tyson was emotional as he placed her on my chest. She was just the most beautiful little person. We'd waited so long for her. I tipped my head back on the pillow and full out laughed. It felt so good to breathe! To have my body emptied and lightened! The room cleared of people immediately, and everything around us seemed to blur out. There was only Tyson's arms around me while we observed her happy little sucks.
The next 24 hours were so full of peace. We kept our recovery room dimmed and had a spa-like soundtrack playing on repeat. It was our little baby bubble. I drank my weight in sparkling cranberry juice, never once changed a dirty diaper, basked in newborn smell, and even got a complimentary full body massage. It was truly the best after-birth experience I could have asked for.
We got an early check-out so that we could go home to Everett and get settled as a family of four as soon as possible. I'll have to write about when they met a little bit later. (It is so sweet getting to be the mom of these little siblings! Oh my gosh. Magic!)
For now, a few more pictures!