Recently, a couple people have pointed out to me that I haven’t blogged in a while. One person (Alex) asked if I had been running recently – he didn’t know, because he hasn’t seen a blog post. Another (Sophie), more aptly said she’d had a hard time internet stalking me lately because I haven’t written anything on the internet. I’m well aware of how infuriating it is when you want to know the intimate details of someone’s life, but they haven’t posted it on any kind of public forum, so it’s time to remedy that with a post containing far more intimate details than anyone could ever want to know about me. Sophie of all people has earned it, as she has been so generously forthcoming with information about her private life, that she literally wrote and illustrated a book about it, which I highly recommend.*
So here you go, Alex** and Sophie, plus all of the other people waiting for me to post that haven’t specifically mentioned my blog to me, a special treat – birth stories! Leading up to my second round of birth, I read a lot of great birth stories from a lot of mommy bloggers, and it’s time to give back to the mommy blogger/birth story community.
A lot of the birth stories I’ve read have been very long and filled with professional photographs. Well… here’s my version of that:
- This baby wasn’t showing any signs of coming on her own, so I scheduled an induction for 41 weeks (babies are technically “due” at 40 weeks, although some people are quick to point out that it’s kind of a ballpark range and babies are all different and you can’t expect them to come right on their due date and blah blah blah). Going to the hospital to be induced is exactly like checking into a hotel, and felt very nice and luxurious.
- It became decidedly less like a hotel once I got settled in and nurses and doctors started sticking things inside me (specifically an IV and a foley bulb), but I still definitely felt like I was getting the VIP treatment.
- I watched a lot of Parenthood while I was in labor (and in the weeks leading up to it, and in my first week postpartum). Better than any parenting class I could have (or did) take.
- My water broke on its own after a few hours of pitocin. This was gratifying because everything else about my labor had to be kickstarted by some kind of external force. It’s also the only time you can completely wet yourself (and the bed, and floor) and feel like it’s a good thing.
- As my contractions ramped up, my nurse would come in and bark instructions on how to breathe through them better, instead of the yelling out I was starting to do. She also positioned Chris’s hands on my lower back to show where to put pressure during each contraction. We put next to no effort into figuring out pain coping mechanisms ahead of time, so this was great.
- I thought I might not need an epidural, but turns out this was totally wrong. I needed an epidural so bad. Immediately after getting the epidural, I asked for a popsicle. To this day, the moment the epidural kicked in and I got to eat my popsicle was one of the best moments of my life.
- Right before it was time to push, I got the shakes really bad. I’ve heard of a lot of women getting the shakes immediately after delivering, but didn’t realize it could happen before pushing. It would stop when I distracted myself by watching more Parenthood. I can’t explain why.
- It took 90 minutes of pushing to get this baby out, which was a great workout. The next day I felt more sore than I ever had in my life, in the most unusual combination of muscles (everything attached to my pelvis, my arms from pulling my thighs towards my body, among others). It’s pretty rare that you get both a great workout and a baby at the same time, so I was really grateful.
- While I was pushing, my midwife, nurse, and resident, all hovered around me, chatting and laughing between pushes. The midwife was especially curious about what color my baby’s hair would be, and would intermittently take a look and shout out things like, “I think she’s blonde!” and then, “no, it’s a brunette!” and “wow, she has a lot of hair!” Nothing to distract you from the exhaustion of labor like someone guessing at the color of the thing about to come out of you.
- When the baby’s head finally started poking out, I was offered a mirror – apparently this is really motivating to some women, as they can see the progress each push is making. No thanks. Then they said I could reach down and feel the top of the baby’s head, which is supposedly also motivating. I went for it, and found out that touching the small bit of exposed squishy baby head covered in slime is not motivating at all, and is actually kind of horrifying.
- The first words spoken when the baby came out were, “Oh my god, she’s BIG!” After being told by multiple doctors that my baby seemed average sized (from belly measurements and external palpations), I finally felt that my loud, ongoing complaints of being completely miserable in the final weeks of pregnancy, were completely justified.
- The days after giving birth, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. It’s really hard taking care of a newborn when you feel like this, and I don’t really understand how this dynamic is what evolution came up with.
- After leaving the hospital, I got hit by the baby blues hard, and would have huge sobbing fits every day at 5PM, and sometimes stay up all night thinking about the various ways my baby could die and strategies to keep this from happening. I guess this is normal to some extent, but it’s kind of stressful.
- A lot of people think second babies are more likely to come early, or at least earlier than the first, but my psychic mama powers said that this one wouldn’t come before 41 weeks either, and I wasn’t going to wait longer than that to see how big of a baby I can grow. So I scheduled an induction for 41 weeks again (June 5th), and I was right – baby didn’t show up before then. I was actually relieved that I had made it that far, because Baby #1’s birthday was June 3rd, and with Baby #2’s due date of May 29, I had been worried that they would end up sharing a birthday.
- This time my body was more prepared to go into labor, so I got to skip the foley bulb and go straight to pitocin!
- My mom told me that for her second birth (with me!!) she had gone in to be induced and given birth (to me!!) three hours later, so that’s what I was ready for. But several hours in, there was no baby, and my water hadn’t even broken. I was feeling impatient, but at least my friend Amanda had just been induced for the second time, and told me it took her almost as long as the first time, so I was kind of prepared for that possibility. I had just been hopeful it would be faster.
- Finally, my midwife came in, announced we’d been patient enough, and got out her knitting needle and broke my waters herself.
- I bounced around on my birthing ball for a couple hours, while Chris, my sister, and mom all hung out with me. I noticed that most mommy bloggers conveniently have best friends or family members who are professional photographers, so I thought my sister, who knows how to push a button, would fill that role nicely. She did.
- This time when contractions got too intense, I didn’t waste any time with fentanyl (or nitrous, which had not been an option for birth #1, but now was), and requested my epidural as my first and only form of pain management. By the time the nurse anesthetist arrived, my contractions had been pretty unbearable for a while. He eased my pain while he worked by talking about his mother, and telling me that I have mild scoliosis.
- After my epidural kicked in, we looked for a movie from the hospital programming, and picked out Tammy, starring Melissa McCarthy. It only got 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, but we decided to try it out anyway. 24% was probably generous.
- Towards the end of Tammy, I started feeling a lot of pressure, and after the midwife did a quick check, she announced that it was almost time to push – but warned me not to do anything yet. All of a sudden the room filled with about six more people, who surrounded me and pulled over a cart of instruments and set up these weird stools on either side of my bed (apparently they’re to stand on to get a good angle for pulling out large babies, which I was at risk to have again). Once again, I had extreme shakes during this time.
- They instructed me in how to start pushing (pull your thighs toward your chest, tuck your head and neck, and bear down like you’re pooping), and on the second contraction, announced that the head was out all the way to the baby’s ear. On the next contraction, she was out! This blew my mind, because last time it took a solid hour and a half. I asked how long I was pushing, and they said two minutes.
- They dabbed some goo off the baby, and stuck her on my chest. Knowing what to expect this time, I felt a bit more of a surge of emotions than last time, and less of a startled feeling that I experienced with Baby #1.
- My nurse soon very politely let me know that I was bleeding more than she would like, and that she’d have to give me some medicine to make it stop. She then very politely apologized for the way the medicine would have to be administered. I figured it was better to have medicine politely administered in a rude place than to rudely be administered medicine in a polite place, and gave my consent. Things seemed to go fine from there.
- After an hour they weighed the baby, and I was happy to learn that my wish of having a <10lb baby came true. Baby #2 was a dainty 9lb 15 oz, three whole ounces less than Baby #1.
- Recovery was much better after this birth – Baby #1 had paved the way, and Baby #2 had far less bulldozing to do to get out, which was nice in the aftermath. Baby #1 is now a toddler and has kept me from having time to sit around and cry or think about terrible things that might happen to my baby, so my mental state has been much better this time around too, which I’m very grateful for.
And there you have it – a general play-by-play of both my births. To wrap it up, here are the most common questions people are asking me now, and are surely what you would ask me if we were having polite small talk:
- How do you feel? Fine.
- How are you sleeping? Please don’t make me answer this question. I get so bored talking about our sleep schedule that sometimes when I start I can’t even bring myself to finish the sentence.
- Are you running yet? No, and I’m holding off for a while. After giving birth to Baby #1, I found out that if you run too soon after giving birth, you might start peeing yourself. This time I’m going to go see a pelvic floor physical therapist and make sure things are totally ready before I start back up.
- Are you going to have another baby? I don’t know, but I will definitely keep you informed via my blog! If I don’t have one in the next ten years, the answer is no.
- What else is new in your life? Absolutely nothing.
*I thought I would enjoy this book because I went to college with Sophie and it would be cool to read about some people that I know firsthand or vicariously, but it was actually really illuminating to me – specifically on the topic of the nature of friendship and the role it plays in your personal relationship ecosystem.
**I guess I should note that Alex didn’t actually say he wished I was blogging, just pointed out that I haven’t lately. Not to say that he doesn’t wish I was blogging, just that he didn’t say so. I assume he did wish I was blogging.