Like most birth stories, this one is long, but I share it because I love birth stories. My first labor was induced because my water broke and contractions didn't start within the time frame the OB/GYN's office allowed (you can read it here).
On Wednesday, January 20, I was feeling frustrated. I was 41 weeks pregnant and facing a biophysical profile (and probably would be asked to choose a date for a scheduled induction) the next day. I didn’t mind being pregnant past my due date, but I started to get antsy once induction was becoming a possibility (especially after those Pitocin contractions of Liam’s birth). Also I kept having a feeling that this baby would come early, and when he didn't, I did feel a little anxious.
At 9:56pm, I had just gotten Liam to sleep. I felt a tiny pop, and when I stood up, I realized my water had broken. I was shocked and trembly, and went to tell Jon. I sat on the exercise ball in our sunroom, praying my contractions would start. I remember I just wanted to feel pain so I would know for sure that this was it—the my body was going into labor on its own and I wouldn’t have a repeat labor of last time.
Pretty soon, I was having contractions every five or ten minutes, and they lasted for about 30-45 seconds. Jon eventually went to bed, and I alternated between sitting on my birth ball and watching Fixer Upper, lying in bed cuddling Liam or reading, and once or twice, showering to take my mind off the pain. But I was thrilled to be having true contractions.
Around 3:15am I called my midwife to check in, and she seemed unworried. So we thought we would stay home as long as we could. The contractions were getting harder to rest through, so I eventually took a shower which woke Liam up around 6:30am. He asked for stories in bed and I told him a few, pausing for contractions. After a little while, I asked if he wanted to get up, and he did. I told him baby was coming, and he said he was excited in a high-pitched voice.
I called Mom and woke up Jon to go get her. It was really icy on our deck, but the roads were mostly okay. I made Liam his croissant and egg breakfast. He got really fussy after a few bites and started screaming. That’s when I realized I could not cope with the contractions and anything else.
Thankfully my mom and Jon arrived soon (after Jon had gotten the ice off the car), and I eventually went to lie down. This part is a bit blurry because the contractions were really intense. They were painful, but they didn’t seem to be increasing in length, which frustrated me.
We decided to go to the hospital around 9:30am. The contractions had been every 5-10 minutes all night lasting for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The gushes of water made me feel generally unpleasant, and I was feeling nauseated. I wanted to be in more serious labor before we went to the hospital, but being at home was equally frustrating. I think I subconsciously feel safer in the hospital because I know there are people to help if things go wrong.
I had texted some friends on the way because I was so discouraged and in so much pain. Their texts and prayers helped tremendously. I knew labor wasn’t intense enough yet according to my books, but I also knew I was reaching a place of doubt (which traditionally doesn’t happen until near the transition phase of labor).
We were all checked into the hospital by 10:30am. We went through triage, and they checked my progress. I was 3cm, which was what I expected (though I secretly hoped to be further). After an hour, they confirmed that my waters had broken (which seemed obvious), and we went to a room. We had the best nurses and contrary to all my fatalistic fears, my midwife decided to let me labor without any IVs and with only 20 minutes every hour spent on the fetal heart rate monitor. I was elated; I was so afraid they would recommend induction to speed things along.
Jon and I had expected to have some early labor chill time in the room, but the contractions were really painful already and took a lot of focus. My timer app mostly shows contractions coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting for 30 seconds to just over a minute until 3:15. Around 1:00, they started being consistently longer than a minute (though there were still some short ones in there). I labored on the ball, in the bed, and in all sorts of weird positions. I prayed just several words over and over at a time, like chanting. It was tough. I didn’t remember it being this tough until the end last time.
Jon held my hand through some and let me hang on to him and rock. Or he would support me as I sat on the ball. It was strange because I didn’t feel like my contractions were close enough or long enough at this point, but each one left me feeling so discouraged and thinking that this was impossible (mainly because I was afraid I had hours and hours ahead of me!).
Around 3:15, I hopped in the shower before my second check and the next hookup to the monitor. I stood under the water for so long and felt like I had to push with each contraction. This was odd because before, I had texted Mom that I just could not do it anymore. I knew this all was a sign of nearing the end, but I couldn’t believe I was actually near the end.
What I remembered was the Pitocin contractions of my first labor. Those induced contractions consistently got harder and longer, sometimes with no breaks. These contractions were very painful, but they still did not seem consistent enough.
When I finally came out of the shower and was checked, I was 6cm. This was discouraging in some ways. I told the nurse, Kelly, that I couldn’t do it. She was pleased though and said when people say that, it is near the end. She left at 4:15, and I texted Mom my progress. I thought I still probably had a ways to go because last time, I progressed so steadily through each centimeter.
When Kelly came back in the room minutes later, I told her about the urge to push and she taught me how to breathe in a way that would keep me from pushing. Then all of a sudden, things took off. They were rushing my midwife and saying I was super close and bringing in all the gear for the delivery. I was shocked, thinking they were just trying to encourage me.
When I was checked again (probably less than twenty minutes later), they said I was almost fully dilated, and Katie (my midwife), said I could go ahead and try pushing. The next hour was so intense, much more intense than what I remembered with Liam. I pushed and groaned and screamed. I felt much more in control of the pushing than I had with Liam, but this was kind of scary too because I had to decide when to push (I guess the Pitocin the first time made it impossible not to push, and I was so out of it after those intense Pitocin contractions all day).
With every contraction, the baby made progress, but I so expected him to be born quickly. We went through several of “I can see his eyebrows… almost done!” but after each one, I would say, “I can’t do it!” They all were so encouraging, and Jon was awesome at encouraging me. They all were so excited when we could see and feel his head.
At 5:29 after another push, Walter was born and they put him on me immediately. I felt his umbilical cord pulse with his heartbeat, and helped wipe him off. He was so beautiful and loud, and I was fully present suddenly. Nothing was a blur. I was laughing while my midwife stitched a tiny tear. It was so much more peaceful than with Liam. With Liam, I was elated but also a little bit out of it. This time I felt really, really good.
We were shocked that he was 10lbs, 5oz. Everyone in the room laughed, especially considering how big he looked lying on me now.
After a while, Mom and Liam came. I teared up as my little boy toddled in wearing his penguin sleeper, all quiet and happy to see his brother. People told me he might look so huge and old, but really he just looked like my sweet little Liam. We let Liam give Baby his book Honk, Honk, Beep Beep and Baby gave Liam The Ultimate Book of Construction Site Vehicles. Liam came over to pat Walt’s head and see him. Liam sat with Jon for a while, and eventually when they took Baby Walt to the nursery, Liam sat with me. I was still in the delivery unit and hooked up to Pitocin (to prevent hemorrhaging). Eventually, Mom and Liam left and we waited to be wheeled into our room.
Before they left, Liam said, “Roo might need you, Mama” so bravely and he teared up. It was so hard to realize this was his first night without me, but I kept reassuring him that he would be fine. He seemed so little and sweet.
Getting up for the first time was not nearly as bad as when I had Liam. Then we finally arrived to our room around 10. We couldn’t wait for them to bring Baby Walt, and it wasn’t long. We had a relatively peaceful night (though little sleep). During the birth itself, I would never have said it was easier than my induction with Liam. I still don’t. Birth is just hard.
But I do think recovery was better and the moments after delivery were much better without induction. The pushing was also better in the sense that I was in control and didn’t tear badly at all. Though the contractions were just as painful as the Pitocin ones and not nearly as predictable, the resting in between made it bearable. The ability to shower was huge in getting me to the very end. And the quick progress in the last hour of labor shocked me after my more consistent progress on Pitocin.
We were thankful for an uneventful birth, and I'm so glad I could compare induced vs. non-induced birth. I'm also so thankful for the hospitals and their staff--we have had awesome, confidence-boosting care both times. It's also funny that my water broke both times the day before my biophysical profile was scheduled.
We went home twenty-four hours after Walter was born and loved getting cozy in front of the fire while it snowed outside (perks of a January baby!).
P.S. This post overviews what I did to prepare for labor the second time around.