Our daughter, Leah Caroline, was born this past Friday! She arrived at 37 weeks 5 days gestation weighing 8lbs 7ozs and measuring 20 inches long. Her birth story couldn’t be more different from Caelan’s. There was no sleeping through transition this time! We are so happy to finally be home with both of our kids. Leah’s birth story…It’s really long, fair warning!
I woke up at 2:30am on Friday August 2nd to mild/moderate contractions. I timed the contractions for a couple hours and they were 3 minutes apart. I got up and logged into work to tie up something and send an email to let them know I wouldn’t be in that day. Around 5am Bill got up to get ready for work and I told him about the contractions. I wasn’t sure what to do because the contractions would kind of fizzle out if I got up to walk which isn’t normally the case for real labor contractions. Bill encouraged me to call my doctor, so I did and they told me to come to the hospital if the contractions stayed the same for the next half hour. We got Caelan in the car and we met my mom and sister (who happened to be in town visiting) in the hospital parking lot. They took Caelan home and we headed in.
They checked me in triage and I was at 1cm and 50% effaced. After some juice, a popcicle, and a long walk around the L&D unit the contractions were getting stronger but were still about 3 minutes apart. They checked me again and I was up to 3cm and 70% effaced, but when I laid down the contractions spaced out to 5-6 minutes apart. Dr. Richards came in and she said there was no reason that I needed to stay here and that I could go home. We were told to come back when my contractions got back to 3 minutes apart or if my water broke.
I was really disappointed but we headed over to my parents’ house so we could see Caelan and be closer to the hospital if/when we needed to go back. We got there around 10am. I tried to stay on my feet and keep walking, but I was so exhausted. When I walked around the contractions picked up to 3 minutes apart again, but as soon as I sat down, they spaced out to 7-10 minutes apart. I was ready to give up and take a nap. Around 1:30pm, I sat down and the contractions were around 7 minutes apart and started getting pretty painful. I called my doctor’s office when they got to be 5 minutes apart and they told me to come into the office to be checked.
We left my parents’ house at 2:23pm. Bill took note of the time because he was timing the contractions. Spoiler: Leah would be born almost exactly 2 hours later.
The contractions were irregular, coming anywhere from 1-7 minutes apart, but they were excruciating. I was sobbing and forgetting to breathe. Bill was trying to keep me focused on breathing. I kept thinking and saying “Why aren’t we at the hospital??” At the doctor’s office, I was 4-5cm and we got the go-ahead to go back to the hospital.
We arrived at the L&D unit at the hospital at about 3:30pm and it was packed (though it had seemed empty that morning). We had to sit in the hallway and wait for a room to get cleaned for me. At this point, the contractions were out of control and right on top of each other and I realized I was pushing (involuntarily) with each one of them. My nurse went to help clean the room herself so I could get in there ASAP. Finally, she pushed me down the hall in a desk chair and into the delivery room. Dr. Richards was there to check me and I was at 8cm. Transition. This is where I never wanted to be without an epidural. I begged for one and they said they’d try but I needed to have a bag of fluids in first. They started an IV and did everything they could to get the fluids in but I realized there wasn’t going to be time. I was screaming and pushing with every contraction even though they told me not to. Dr. Richards kept saying that this was the worst part and that pushing would actually be a relief so I tried to focus on that. Of course Bill was still there next to me, telling me how great I was doing and encouraging me the whole time. I overheard a nurse say “…my patient in room 12 is about to deliver…” and I thought…Me? I’m about to deliver?? I’m that close? About 15 minutes after the first check, Dr. Richards checked me again and I was at 10cm. She looked at me like she was wondering how I would respond to this news. “Let’s just go, let’s do it,” I said. I didn’t care about the epidural anymore. I wasn’t scared to have to deliver her med-free, despite the fact that I never EVER even considered a med-free birth. I just wanted her OUT as quickly as possible.
I pushed for maybe 10 minutes. It was not a relief. She was right there but her shoulder was stuck. Bill and the nurses were all around me helping me push and the nurses were trying to reposition the baby’s shoulders so she could be born. I have never screamed so loud in my life and I’m sure the whole floor could hear me. It was the longest 10 minutes but then she was out at 4:22pm. The pain was gone immediately. They placed her on my chest for a second and I reached for her but she looked really blue and didn’t cry. Someone cut the cord and whisked her away saying “We just need to check him out for a minute.” The nursery nurses worked on her and she cried within a minute and pinked up. I asked “Did they say HIM? Isn’t it a GIRL?” They checked, and laughed, and said she definitely was a girl and in the hurry they just didn’t get a close look. Her APGARS were 7 and 8 and a NICU doctor checked her out to make sure that there wasn’t any damage to her shoulders or any issues with her delayed breathing, which there wasn’t.
I was so far beyond exhausted at this point that I just laid there and watched them work on Leah across the room. I was hoping they *wouldn’t* bring her over to me because I did not have the energy to even lift my arms, let alone hold a baby. I have never been so physically exhausted in my life. Bill was still beside me where he had been the whole time, still telling me I did so great and that I was a rockstar.
Finally they wrapped Leah up and brought her to me to hold. She was a big girl at 8lbs 7oz and just over 2 weeks early. She was exactly 1lb bigger than Caelan, but the same length. Bill and I laughed when we saw her make a pouty face that reminded us so much of Caelan. Already, just minutes later, the birth seemed blurry. I kept saying I couldn’t believe that just happened. Those super fast 2nd births you hear about? That really happened to me! 5cm to the birth in 1.5 hours – insane. I didn’t cry when she was born. I was so relieved that the labor and delivery was over and I could finally just rest. Her birth was so much more chaotic than Caelan’s birth was. We stayed in the hospital the standard 2 nights and came home on Sunday August 4th.
EDIT: I want to include this part here, even though it’s not technically part of her birth story. Though we did get discharged from the hospital on Sunday August 4th, Leah was readmitted to the pediatric ER on Tuesday August 5th around 2am. We had taken her to the pediatrician on Monday and after a thoroughly traumatic attempt to draw blood from her heel and a STAT check on her bilirubin level, we got a call at 9pm that we should take her back to the hospital because her level had risen. I was in tears. We had just spent all day trying to leave the hospital and now we had to go back?! Bill’s parents met us at the hospital and took Caelan home with them. I felt extra guilty that we kept shipping him off. In the ER, it took 2 nurses forever to get an IV into Leah’s arm for yet another blood draw. When they finally moved us to a room and got Leah in her isolette and under the bili lights, it was 2am and there was only room for one parent to stay. Leah seemed to be nice and warm and peaceful sleeping under the lights, so maybe this whole experience was much harder on me than it was on her. Finally, by the next evening her level had dropped enough that we could take her home. She had no further problems after that.