If you’re like me, you love birth stories. I was always planning on sharing the story of giving birth to my second daughter, but it ended up being so much bigger than just a birth story. That’s why I’m dedicating more than one post to welcoming our sweet Rosie.
I kept expecting there to be signs that I was getting closer to giving birth because I experienced sooo many signs with Claire and felt like I was close for several weeks. When I was 37 weeks with Rose, I “knew” I still had a couple weeks to go because my body didn’t feel like it was going into labor soon.
Not a lot of Braxton Hicks. Not a lot of lightning crotch or urgency to pee. I was still pretty comfortable, which was nice!
One Tuesday at 37 weeks along, I got some pretty strong contractions in the middle of the night that kept me awake for several hours. I thought, “Finally I’m getting some Braxton Hicks! They were pretty far apart so I didn’t even consider that I might be in labor.
I went to work the next morning (Wednesday) and had very light contractions all day. Sometimes I wouldn’t have even known I was having a contraction without noticing the tight appearance of my belly.
I went to pick up Claire from my mom’s after work around 4:30, and since Neil was having a guy’s night, I decided to stay and visit for awhile. I was sitting on the couch with my mom and out of nowhere, she said, “Wow, that’s a big contraction, look at your belly!” I assured her that it wasn’t really that big, in fact I could barely feel it.
Claire was being a stinker with an attitude that night, so we only lasted at my mom’s until 8 p.m. I got the diaper bag and stuff into the car and as I was walking back to get Claire, I had a twinge in my crotch area and doubled over for a second. I could tell Rose was sitting really low. Of course my mom was REALLY worried after seeing that, but I had gotten those kind of twinges with Claire all the time and it never meant I was in labor.
It was around 8:30 p.m. when Claire and I got home. I put her to bed right away and planned on being in bed myself by 9 p.m. since the previous night of contractions had left me exhausted. I was starting to have stronger contractions, and I convinced myself that it was because I had had a strenuous day and I was tired.
If I just relaxed, the contractions would go away and I could get some much needed rest. I was lying down with the lights out when Neil came home at 10 p.m. I told him that I was having some contractions and we said a quick goodnight.
I would drift off between contractions but was not able to sleep through them. By 11 p.m. they were strong enough that I would get on all fours and breathe deeply as I had practiced until the contraction ended, then lie back down again. I felt like I was keeping Neil awake and I knew he had work the next morning, so I decided to go try taking a bath to relax.
Did I mention I REALLY just wanted to sleep? I was in total denial that I was in labor.
I sat on the toilet while the tub was filling up, and I realized I was shaking. I think that was the first moment I thought this might actually be labor. The shaking wasn’t from the pain, it felt more like adrenaline. Little did I know I was in transition!
I found a comfortable position for contractions (child’s pose with my knees apart and my head and arms on the edge of the tub). Contractions got really intense… I would count my breaths to get through them. Eight breaths for each one. I knew if I could just count to eight I could do this.
When I would feel my legs start to tense, I would transfer than tension to my arms and force my legs to relax. I imagined that my legs were jelly and I had no power over them.
My Water Broke
At 11:45 p.m. (45 minutes after getting in the tub), I had the strongest contraction yet. In the middle of it, I felt a mini explosion and saw my water break into the tub. This was the real deal! I quietly called Neil’s name, and he came a second later. I told him my water had broken, and started trying to towel off, but I kept leaking and leaking. Finally I just held the towel between my legs and went to the bedroom to find something to wear.
It seemed pointless to try and wear pants. I just grabbed some underwear with a giant pad (also pointless) and the labor gown I’d bought for postpartum. It was all I could do just to slip the gown over my head.
Neil called my parents to watch Claire, who live 30 minutes away. I told him I couldn’t wait that long. So he called one of our awesome neighbors, who showed up at the door just as we were leaving.
I also called my sister, Michelle, as we were driving to the hospital. She was going to be my “person” during the birth. I had been so excited to have her there because she had missed Claire’s birth due to serving a religious mission outside the country. However, Michelle lived two hours away at the time, and Rose didnt want to wait that long. Sorry Michelle.
We arrived in the parking lot right around midnight. As I was walking and holding the towel between my legs, a nice man came out with a wheelchair. I started to zone out a little at that time. I remember once we got inside and in the process of being admitted, they asked me some questions. I couldn’t answer, all I could do was breathe and close my eyes and count to eight in my head.
I do remember they wanted me to move out of the wheelchair. There was no way, at least not till the contraction ended. Even then, did they really want body fluids dripping all the way down the hall? I stayed in the wheelchair until we got to the room. I had one more contraction right as they were asking me to move to the bed. Once again, I just ignored the question and breathed.
Even though I had planned a natural birth with cordless monitoring and no IV fluids, the staff quickly hooked me up to EVERYTHING, and I was not in a state of mind to argue.
The nurse checked my dilation, and I was complete! I was so proud of myself in that moment for making it through transition without even breaking a sweat. I hadn’t even moaned or wailed up to that point.
Right after they finished hooking me up, my body gave me a nice break from contractions. I think it was about 15 minutes with no contractions! I just sat and talked with the staff. It was so bizarre but much appreciated.
Once contractions returned, I tried a few positions to see if I got the urge to push. On my knees, leaning against the headboard… nothing. On all fours… nothing. Standing up… nothing.
I decided to do a low squat on the floor with my arms resting on the bed. Success! I immediately got the urge to push, and it didn’t take much. One tiny push and she was crowning. This was when I started getting a little anxiety. I wasn’t ready for this part, it was too soon. And holy crap, it hurt!!
At the same time, I knew that all she needed was a little push to be the rest of the way out. With a loud yell, I pushed, and my midwife caught her!
Born at 12:47 a.m.
There was a juggle with the umbilical cord as I tried to get back in bed, but we made it work. Soon she was resting in my arms, my perfect baby girl. I was grateful when we were able to cut the cord because it was little short and I couldn’t snuggle her very easily.
The first thing I noticed was that she didn’t cry or move very much. Her cry was a soft, gentle cry. So different from Claire! I was able to get her latched within the first few minutes, although her suck was pretty weak.
As Neil and I held her, we were noticing her slanted, narrow eyes and her chubby neck. “She kind of looks like a Downs baby,” I told him. I didn’t actually think she had Down Syndrome, I just thought she shared some of the features.
Neil responded, “Babies always look like little aliens when they first come out.” (Try not to judge him for this statement!! Haha…)
Everyone kept asking what her name would be. We couldn’t decide between Jane and Rose, but I secretly knew her name was Rose, I was just waiting for Neil to realize it. She just looked like a Rose! A beautiful, sweet Rose. I loved her so much.
Stay tuned for part two!