Somehow, I was able to catalogue Charlie’s birth story only a week after he was born. Today, Jack is three weeks old. I guess having two children triples the time it takes to do anything.
If I were to summarize Charlie’s birth in one word, I would say exhausting. For Jack, all I can think is fantastic. I knew so much more this time — what to expect, what I wanted, etc. It was a wonderful experience.
Thursday, Oct. 22
It was the day before my due date, and we had an appointment with my OB. I’d been 2-3 cm, 80% effaced for more than two weeks. At first I was thrilled; I never dilated with Charlie. I took it as a sign not only that my body was actually doing something, but I was convinced I’d go into labor early. And I lost the mucus plug (can we come up with a better name for this, please?) more than a week before.
The OB checked; no change. I deflated.
He raised the idea of induction. This had been on the table since I became pregnant. Charlie was born a chunky 8lb 10oz with a ginormous head that did significant damage on the way out. For the sake of “my future pelvic health,” my doctors said they wouldn’t let me go far past my due date.
I had qualms about being induced with Charlie (even though I went into labor before that could happen), but was more amenable to the idea this time. At 40 weeks, I was still working, and every day was a new, uncomfortable, and often painful experiment in how I could do my job. Then I went home and attempted to care for a 4 1/2 year old, two cats, a husband and our house. I was exhausted and so very done.
A scheduled induction allowed us to better prepare Charlie – who has a rough time with change – for the birth of his brother. We let him know where he would be over the next few days, who would pick him up from school, etc. And I was able to tie up some loose ends at work, which was important to me. For our family, it worked.
We scheduled the induction for the next day.
Thursday, Oct. 23
I don’t know how, but I slept that night, so I was already ahead of the game compared to Charlie’s birth. We woke up early, dropped Charlie off at school, and headed to the hospital.
Jack was born at a different hospital than Charlie, and the experience was night and day. From the moment we arrived, the care we received was stellar. My labor and delivery nurse (Susan) was amazing and supportive, and it turned out she is related to a former coworker of mine. We were destined to be paired!
Thoughts About My OB
After I settled in the delivery suite, my OB came in. I had mixed feelings about this guy over the last nine months. Initially, I chose him because he was located near my work and because his online profile listed pre- and postpartum anxiety/depression (something I struggled with after Charlie was born) as a speciality.
He was fine in the beginning, but then we faced an issue in the second trimester and I felt his handling of it was poor. Every appointment with him after that was a disappointment – he was aloof, scattered, and had little regard for my patient privacy rights. The only reason I didn’t switch was because I LOVED his nurse practitioner, who I saw 90 percent of the time.
And So It Begins…
Anyway, he said hello, gave Charles and I a fist bump (really), and said some dumb remark. He inserted the first cervix-ripening medication at 10 a.m. and left us for the next four hours (the medicine can be given at four-hour intervals). I watched “Scandal” and tried to nap. Charles read. By 2 p.m., nothing had happened.
However, as soon as the second medication went in, contractions started coming eight minutes apart. I texted my bestie, Ashleigh, who was at work. “I’m starting to wrap things up here, so I’ll probably leave around 3,” she replied, “unless you get closer before then.” Ha!, I responded, thinking it was going to be a long night.
By 2:40, the contractions were four minutes apart and getting stronger. I texted Ashleigh. “EEP! Heading your way.”
Sometime around 3 p.m., I started screaming through the contractions and let my nurse know I was getting close to epidural time (my tolerance for pain is ridiculously low). She checked my cervix; I had gone from 2 cm to 6 cm in an hour!
She suggested trying fentanyl, a less-intense pain medicine that can be administered through the IV. It barely made a dent. She made the call to the anesthesiologist.
I was dreading the epidural. At other_hospital, it was horrible, awful, painful, terrifying — the worse part of Charlie’s delivery, including the fourth-degree tear. Call me sexist, but I felt some relief when I saw the anesthesiologist was a woman. For some reason, to me that meant she had her shit together. And she did. I felt a tiny prick for the numbing medicine and a little bit of pressure, and then she said, “OK, I’m done.”
I crumbled. I couldn’t stop crying. I was so relieved. It had been so easy! Why, oh why, was it so awful last time?
Around 3:30, Ashleigh arrived. At 5, I was 8 cm. At 5:30, I was fully dilated/effaced and it was time to push.
Time for a Birthday
OB came back to do the honors, and both Charles and I felt he did a great job with the delivery. He was gentle and supportive, yet assertive. He knew what he was doing and had an air of command about him, in a good way. Though his bedside manner sucks, he was expert at delivery time.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve pushed a previous baby out, or because this epidural actually worked (maybe both?), but I ROCKED at pushing. I felt no pain, but also was in complete control of my body as I worked to deliver Jack. Ash took pictures of the process and showed me as we went along, which was fascinating.
At some point, they gave me an oxygen mask because Jack’s heart rate slowed. That also meant there were some specialists in the delivery room just in case he had trouble breathing, though they didn’t need to touch him.
At 6:19 p.m., after only 4 1/2 hours of labor, Jack was born. I remember someone (maybe Ash) saying “He’s here! He’s here!,” looking down and seeing his body brought toward me. They placed him immediately on my chest, something I didn’t get to experience with Charlie because he was vacuumed out. The care team began rubbing him down, and I began to cry. My boy! He arrived! He’s healthy! He’s so blond!
Jack stayed on my chest, connected to the umbilical cord for several minutes, which felt amazing. After the placenta delivered, the OB told me I had a third-degree tear (what’s with my sons and their HUGE heads?!) and started the repair. The epidural was still going strong, so I didn’t feel a thing.
Jack stayed on my chest for an hour before they did the official weigh-in: 8lbs, 1 oz and 20.5 inches long. At that point, Charles held his second son for the first time. We sent Ashleigh out to get fried chicken, FaceTimed with Charlie so that he could see his baby brother, and settled in for our first night together.