So here it is. If you haven’t read my previous Labor & Delivery Story, I would suggest you do to get a perspective of where this is all coming from.
EVERYONE was telling me to expect that:
- Labor the 2nd time around would be much faster and much easier (ie movement from 0-10cm dilation would go by so quickly that, while painful, would be bearable. There may not even be time for an epidural!)
- With second pregnancies, you may not even make it to your due date.
- The baby may be bigger than your first, but not by a whole lot.
Here’s what I’ve learned: NEVER BELIEVE IT! (Am I making this phrase popular or what.) Okay so maybe that’s an exaggeration. You be the judge.
A much faster, easier labor?
At my March 11 check-up, I had already progressed to 2cm. Given that I went from 0-9cm with Sam in a span of 9 hours, I figured, hey I’m having a baby tonight! And, while I could feel the contractions, I wasn’t in an unbearable state of pain. So it was looking up.
You may not even make it to your due date!
March 16, Wednesday. Three days overdue, I went back for another check-up. But oh! The good news, said Meg, was that I had progressed to 3cm since Friday! (uhhhhhmmmmm….). This was frustrating. Why was it so slow?
In any case, Meg decided to strip my membranes and try and speed up my labor. So again, anytime between tonight and Sunday. Come in if your contractions are steadily 5 minutes apart for an hour, were the last things she said to my husband.
True enough, the contractions did progress. They were regularly 7 minutes apart. By Thursday at 2AM, they were 5 minutes apart, for an hour. I woke up my husband asking if we should go to the hospital as Meg advised. We debated this for a while because I was still fairly lucid, albeit uncomfortable. We remembered what the midwives said about being in real labor before, so we were wondering if we really should go in already or just wait. They might just send us home, and I really really didn’t want that!
Against both our better judgment, we did go in to get checked. “You’re still at 3cm“, Susan said with a sympathetic smile. WHAT?!
They didn’t send us home, but we opted to leave anyway because given how slow everything was moving, it could still take days. More than that, we were anxious about Sam, since she woke up as we were leaving and started to cry when she saw me going out the door.
For the rest of Thursday, I wasn’t in any pain I couldn’t handle, however it was highly uncomfortable to do much. We tried all sorts of distractions and finally at 10PM, just as it was Michael Douglas’ turn to entertain us with Wall Street, the pain intensified.
At 2AM Friday, March 18 — I was huffing and puffing through it, and even Stephanie the midwife on the phone heard the difference in my voice. Let’s go have a baby! She said. Hurray, finally. My husband was trying to be nice during the car ride saying possibly that I was 6 or 7cm already, given I was huffing and puffing this way when I hit 9cm before with Sam.
Again I am checked and Stephanie looks bewildered. The contractions are regular and more intense versus yesterday, but (wait for it) – I had only progressed to 4cm! We were all surprised, but nonetheless, Stephanie requests for my epidural and I am happily distracted by my Ben Affleck look-alike sound-alike anesthesiologist.
After two tries, they get the epidural in, but I can still feel some pain on my left side. I’ve heard of this happening as well with a couple of friends, and the epidural is again adjusted, however in my case, they were worried about my scoliosis and wanted to try other methods first. The pain anyway wasn’t unbearable, I just couldn’t sleep through it.
Three hours later with little progress since Ben, Stephanie orders Pitocin, again to speed up labor. The shifts change and another set of nurses take over. Jenny is now the midwife on-call.
After an hour of Pitocin the pain on the left gets quite unbearable that I need ice chips and the already bruised arm of my husband by my side. Jenny checks — we’re almost 10cm and it looks like this baby will come any minute. FINALLY! But with us this close, would I still want my epidural adjusted, they ask. Doing so will prolong the process. We decide against it — I am at that point when I just really want my baby in my arms.
The 2nd baby may be bigger than your first, but not by a whole lot.
At 1030AM, Jenny comes back in and asks me to start pushing. I can still feel something, which she says is good so I know that I need to push through it. In twenty minutes and after a terrible surge of pain that actually causes me to scream involuntarily (like they sometimes do in the movies — apparently it is not so much an exaggeration), Jamie is finally FINALLY out. Apparently she had her hand up by her face too, so it was harder to get her out in one push.
She weighed 8 lbs, 3 ounces. That’s at least 2lbs heavier than Sam. It makes sense, Jenny says later, bigger baby takes longer. But because you could still feel it, you did get her out in record time.
Each baby is different, and apparently so is each labor and delivery story. For one reason or the other, I am always one of those cases that are against the standard what-to-expect pattern. Now why is that?
There were no jokes about pain tolerance this time around. My husband went home as well with more scratches and bruises because I had forgotten to cut my nails. Oops.
I was completely sore for about 3 days, but started to function quite normally after that. Unlike my last recovery, where they prescribed Ibuprofen for about a week after I gave birth, they had stopped all my medications right before I left the hospital. Again I wanted to protest, but now in hindsight it did speed up my recovery. And while the pain of those last 5 minutes is still fresh in my head, somehow the memory of it is also slowly fading away into something that doesn’t seem so terrible (it might also be a case of sleep deprivation).
So, thank you Midwives, for turning me into a tougher cookie in the course of three years and two babies. And you are right, no one is pregnant forever.