Each Birth Is Different- An Easier Second Birth

It is so fun to be able to share not one but two birth stories from the same mother.  Not long ago I shared this mama's first birth story, a LOOOONNNNNGGGG natural birth.  It was a great story, especially I think because we all imagine an orgasmic 3 hour natural birth in pool or something.  

But- I love this story from the same mother too- and how different it is.  Sometimes we as women get caught up in fear surrounding the birth experience with our first baby and we have a hard time remembering that each birth is different.  This one is NOT the last one. 

Ladies, enjoy this story, and I hope it eases your mind if you have worries about an  upcoming additional child for your family.  Each birth and each baby are an entirely new experience and will be treasured for different reasons.  


Leo’s Birth Story
March 27, 2011 5:52 pm
Saturday, March 26: 40 weeks, 1 day

On Saturday, we lazed around the house and enjoyed the time together. We did some light cleaning and laundry, read lots of books to B, my son, and I took a nice nap. I was having bunches of Braxton-Hicks contractions that felt a little bit “more” than they had, with some funny back pain in my tailbone and pelvis. Having had back labor with B, I was a little paranoid that Little Bee had rotated to a posterior position and I was in for a lot of trouble. Looking back, Saturday was eerily similar to the first day of pre-labor I had with B: lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions with back pain, coming pretty consistently. I mentally prepared myself for several days of this type of pre-labor and tried to save my strength.  
The BH ‘Plus’ contractions, as I called them, were coming so consistently that we decided to give everyone a call just as a precaution. I started timing contractions online and we did that for an hour or so before calling Kate, our midwife. I told her what was going on: having stronger than normal BH contractions that were coming about every 10-15 min and lasting about 1 min; I was going to have half a glass of wine and a nice relaxing bath to see if they stopped. I told her I hadn’t had any other signs of labor: no discharge, no mucus plug, no bloody show and that I was going to rest as much as possible tonight. She said that was fine and to give her a call if anything changed or if we needed her to come.
Sunday, March 27

I had unevenly spaced contractions throughout the night. These contractions I forced myself to relax through and tried to rest as much as I could. I didn’t time them or pay attention to the clock, but I think they spaced out to between 20-30 minutes and I was able to get some nice sleep. Finally, we all got up around 7; J, my husband, took B out to the living room and I went to the bathroom. As soon as I wiped, I knew I had made some progress overnight. Finally: some bloody show and mucus!  

I went out to the living room and said “This is it”. I wanted to wait a little while to make sure we were in a good pattern before calling Kate, so we had a little breakfast and went about our usual activities. I found that the contractions were best managed while on hands and knees. Unfortunately, B decided that whenever Mama was down on the ground was a perfect time to climb on me or to crawl under my belly. I had to gasp at him “Just a minute! No, no!” a few times and felt those contractions were more painful than ones I could focus through.  

I was feeling a lot of pain in my back where the tailbone and pelvis meet. It almost felt as though I had put on a too-hot rice bag and was burning the skin in that area. The pain wrapped around through my hip area but I didn’t feel any menstrual-like cramping or other pain. When I felt a contraction building, I would sway and say to myself “Don’t fight this. Don’t fight it. Just relax. Relax through it.

Contractions were steady at around 1 minute in length and 3-4 minutes apart when we called Kate at 9 am. J told her I was still coping really well and that there was no rush to whenever she wanted to stop by. She said she would go to church with her family and be over sometime between 11:30 and 12. The next several hours were much of the same. Contractions were becoming more intense but still manageable. I added to my mantras “Don’t stop trying. Try. Try to relax. Don’t fight this.” 

Kate stopped by around 11:30. She said she’d like to just hang out and observe for a little while to get an idea of how we were doing. We listened to the baby’s heart and it was exactly the same as it had been throughout the pregnancy. Kate suggested that we call our babysitter and get B ready to go, as she could tell that he was distracting me through contractions and that might be slowing things down.

Our babysitter came by a short while later and J got B ready to leave. B got and his shoes on and before I knew it, he was walking out the door. J called B back inside to give me a hug goodbye and then my firstborn was gone. That was a really hard moment to deal with because I knew how much was going to change before he came back. Watching him be driven away really struck home that this was going to happen and things were going to change forever.

Kate observed me for a little while longer, and then she asked if we wanted a cervical check just to see where we were at. While in the bathroom, I could hear J and Kate putting guesses down to how far along I was. I didn’t hear what J’s guess was, but Kate said “I’m thinking she’s between 3-5 and 80-90% effaced”. (I was hoping for a 4+ report.) I hopped up onto the bed and Kate did the exam. She was in there for what seemed like a LONG time and then she said “You’re a 7- 7 ½!”  I was shocked and stared at her. I was handling contractions pretty easily still, I had no idea that I was almost to transition! It had taken me close to 24 hours to get to this stage with B. 
J and I both wanted some time alone without any distractions, so Kate left for a bit. The pain in my back was millimeters lower than where it had been in the morning. I started exhaling very forcefully during contractions and used just a bit of that force to move the contraction down. I wouldn’t say that I was pushing in any way, but it was a sort-of ‘bear down’ action. During this time I experienced my first double-peak contractions and they were really hard to get through. I was used to having the contraction build, peak, and wane. The double-peak contractions seemed to peak and wane slightly but then built up again almost unbearably.

Kate and Connie (midwife’s apprentice) came back not much later and busied themselves setting up all the necessary equipment and supplies. Finally, I had a really hard contraction on the toilet and J asked me if I’d like to lie down. I nodded and he led me to the bed. I thought that lying down would make the contractions hellishly unbearable, but I was so tired. I lay on my left side and tried to relax. I only had two relatively easy contractions during the 20 minutes I was lying down. After the second contraction, I asked J how long I’d been there. When he replied, I said “Well, this is not going to get the baby out” and climbed out of bed. I felt remarkably clear-headed. The contractions picked up a little bit but didn’t feel any different. I was trying to bear down a bit with each one and that felt ok. Still, I wasn’t having the overwhelming urge to push that I remembered from last time. 
Kate checked me again and felt a lip of cervix that completely disappeared during the contraction. I don’t know how long I went before the contractions became more ‘pushy’. I pushed squatting for a while, although the pushes were hit-or-miss. Sometimes I got into a groove and made good progress, other times I just didn’t feel it. I moved to a side-lying position on the bed and Kate asked if she could help direct my pushing. I felt like I was pushing blindly and fruitlessly. So with the next contraction Kate helped me to feel where I should be pushing and that was both better and worse: better because I was making progress again, but worse because it made the pushing so much more painful.

I became really wimpy at this point and started saying “It hurts, it hurts” and “It’s never coming out”. Everyone reassured me that, yes the baby was going to come out. The heart tones were checked more frequently and it was reassuring to feel the doppler moving farther and farther down my belly as the baby descended.  

During one contraction, there was a big burst as my water broke all over the bed and everyone on it. I asked if it was clear, and was told yes. I got to a really hopeless point where I felt the baby was not progressing. Kate said that I was trying to move the baby past my pubic bone; it was rocking back and forth with each contraction, sliding back a little less each time. They announced they could see the baby’s hair, which was pretty cool. At one point, I was pushing and the baby punched me in the birth canal. Kate said “Well that’s not very nice to your mama, baby!

Finally, after what felt like millions of fruitless pushes, I had one that transitioned from PUSH to OMG BURNING. I thought it was really interesting that my mind seemed to be in two places at once: one part of me was squarely in the birth and thinking “OMG this HURTS while another part was clear headed and thinking how neat it was that I naturally changed my breathing to panting to ease the baby’s head out. I could feel myself stretching, stretching, stretching... then a pause where I held the head in place and panted... then a little push again and I could feel more of the head come out. I asked “Is it out, yet?” and Kate said “We have an ear” and just then, the rest of the head came out! What a relief. I bore down and shrieked: and the baby was out!  

Baby was lifted up and onto my belly; I can remember seeing the little feet and the cord. I was so happy that it was OVER and the pain was DONE. I kept saying “Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes!” and “Welcome baby, welcome. Hi, baby.” Kate announced the time: 5:52 pm. I had been in ‘real’ labor for a little less than 12 hours! Kate climbed up on the bed beside me and was busy inspecting the cord. She asked me to give a little push for the placenta, and I tried. Nothing happened. Only on the second or third push the placenta came, along with a gush of blood. Kate massaged my uterus and more blood gushed out. It was kind of alarming how much there was coming out all at once. I was given some herbal tinctures for blood loss. 
I asked J if he wanted to check for the sex, and they lifted up the bottom of the towel. Kate said “It’s a... butt!” and then J said “It’s a boy!” He was delighted. We had our little Leo! Soon afterward, we decided to try to have Leo latch on, which he did really well. I was so happy to have a baby latch and suck right away and relieved that we would have a smoother breastfeeding initiation. 

The newborn exam was done and Leo came in at 8 lbs 6 ounces and 22 inches long with a 13 ¼ inch head! Kate inspected my perineum and, other than a slight skid mark over my tear from last time and a varicose vein, everything was perfect!  Kate and Connie went over the immediate postpartum instructions with us, and we took a look at the placenta. The veins on the inside making ‘The Tree of Life’ were gorgeous and prominent.

Soon afterward, B was brought home. J brought B into the bedroom and Kate took photos of B meeting his little brother. B was so excited to meet the new baby. He laughed and wanted to touch the baby’s head. It was just the response I had hoped for.  

Leo’s birth was healing for me in many ways. I was a little traumatized by the marathon that we endured for B and had hoped throughout the pregnancy to avoid a 30-hour labor. I was vigilant about performing positioning techniques to ensure that Leo was anterior. I forced myself to relax as much as possible during early labor and not to get too excited, wasting precious energy. J was an awesome partner, knowing just when I needed to rely on him and how to support me through contractions and pushing. He knew just the right things to say: “You’re doing great. You’re so close. The baby’s almost here”. Leo fit into our family easily and has been a joy to watch grow!


Mama said…
Wonderful and inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. I had a long and hard birth with my first, but look forward to doing it all again (and yet differently) when number two comes along... Thanks again. :)
Alisha Stamper said…
I've never heard it called the tree of life before. I love that!
Such an amazing story! I had a high intervention 31 hour hospital birth with my son (named Leopold, but called Leo :D) and am hoping for a shorter, easier home birth with my next baby. Good job mama! So inspiring :)