I cannot believe I am typing these words but my baby girl is turning ONE YEAR OLD today! The year has absolutely flown by and she has grown up so much, especially in the past month or so, and I find myself reminiscing about that sweet, squishy newborn and how she made her appearance into this world. It was such a different experience than my first birth and I am excited to finally get to share that story with the world!
I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant when I finally started having real contractions. I woke up that morning in a MOOD which should have been my first clue that things were about to happen. My mom, mother in law, and brother in law were in town to watch Lincoln, do some cooking and cleaning for me, help Josh with harvest, and hopefully meet this baby girl if she ever decided to make her appearance. I gave birth to Lincoln at just shy of 39 weeks so this was two weeks more pregnant than I had ever been and I was pretty much over it at that point. Despite truly being grateful to have loved ones come to help, that morning I was super annoyed with everyone and just wanted to hide in my room in silence for the rest of the day. I remember alternating between being super weepy and then super short tempered and grumpy all morning. It was Lincoln’s gymnastics day so the moms and I went to take him there and I spent the whole time having what I soon realized were minor contractions. They definitely didn’t hurt and were not even uncomfortable at that point but by the time we finished gym and were at the butcher getting some beef for dinner, I had decided to start timing them because they hadn’t gone away. The contractions were totally irregular, some were longer than others and the length between them varied. I avoided telling anyone about it for hours because I was so stuck in my overdue pregnant lady mindset of “this baby is NEVER coming and I’m going to be pregnant forever!” and I didn’t want to jinx it if this actually was leading up to the real deal. I did call my midwife that afternoon however, and she reassured me that it sounded like early labor for sure but that I needed to keep timing and look for a much more regular progression before we could talk about when to come in to the birthing center. I remember standing at the kitchen counter preparing dinner while my mother in law vacuumed and my mom read stories to Linky, and it was at that moment that I felt the shift from random contractions that I could reasonably ignore to something that was definitely uncomfortable and required some breathing and focus to get through. I don’t really remember the rest of the evening, probably I spent it just timing contractions and putting Lincoln to bed, but I do remember getting ready for bed and telling Josh that this was it and he better pack a bag and be ready to go sometime that night or the next morning.
As we settled in to sleep, the contractions began to pick up. They were coming at very regular intervals now and required me to concentrate fully on my breath. I was addicted to timing them and waiting for them to get close enough that I could call the midwife so I kept my phone next to me as I dozed on and off between contractions. At some point they became uncomfortable enough that I began vocalizing while breathing through each contraction and though Josh was able to mostly sleep through this, Lincoln must have sensed that something was up because he came into our room and crawled into our bed. I found that pretty distracting but he was really thrown off by my energy and wouldn’t go back to bed so I let him stay and fall asleep between us. My contractions were only a few minutes apart at this point and I was way past the point of sleeping so I decided to go out to the living room to continue laboring and to call my midwife and formulate a plan of action. This was around 3AM. I called the answering service and they tried to put me through to her but she didn’t answer and they said she would give me a call back. I didn’t think anything of this because I had called her via answering service once or twice during my pregnancy and she always returned my call promptly. So I sat myself down on my yoga ball and circled my hips and breathed and moaned and worked my way through contraction after contraction for about an hour. My mom joined me not long after I moved out there and just sat there on the couch near me, blessing me with her presence but not trying to talk or ask me questions at all. I guess she was worried that I was getting too far along to still be at home but she kept her concerns to herself and didn’t give off any anxious vibes and just allowed me to feel supported while doing my thing. I called the answering service again, still no answer from my doctor. They called me back to check in about 20 minutes after that second call, wondering if I had heard anything, and were very surprised to hear that I had not. No one could figure out why we weren’t able to get ahold of her. Strangely, this didn’t bother me at all. I was so completely in the labor zone that I wasn’t even thinking about what would happen if I couldn’t reach her, I just figured it would all work out as long as I could keep breathing and stay on top of these contractions. So that’s what I did. I got tired of the yoga ball and moved to the couch where I lounged on my left side with a pillow to prop up my belly and support my legs. It was coming up on 5 AM now and things were getting intense! I had my mom go wake up Josh and bring him out and then, finally, I got the phone call I had been waiting for. My midwife was super apologetic and said that she had just recently spoken with the people at the answering service about changing the number they had for her and they had been calling the wrong number! I told her my contractions were very strong and about 2 minutes apart now and she said she would meet us at the birth center right away. I managed to get up off the couch to head out the door but now Lincoln was up and he was super upset when I tried to say goodbye to him because it was 5 in the morning and dark and not a thing that happens usually so that was rough. Thankfully, my mom was able to lure him into the guest room with her where they read stories and made shadow puppets with a flashlight. Josh and I grabbed our bags and I waddled my painful way out to the car.
I have to say, driving 25 minutes to the birthing center in very active labor is not on my list of favorite things I’ve ever done. It is extremely uncomfortable to have to sit in an upright, static position while having contractions every two minutes but what choice did I have? I am so thankful for all the years of yoga, specifically yin style yoga, that I have done because I have become really good at leaning into pain and breathing through discomfort and I have no idea how I would have accomplished either of my labors without this tool in my toolbox. We made it to the birth center at around 5:30 AM, just minutes after our midwife arrived. She had the room ready for me and an assistant on the way and asked me how I wanted to proceed. I really loved how laid back she was and how she encouraged me to move through this process in whatever way felt right for me. After spending an hour earlier on the ball, that did not sound appealing to me anymore. Both she and Josh suggested the tub but that didn’t really sound like a great idea either. For a little while what worked for me was standing with Josh and basically hanging off of him and letting him physically support me through the contractions. I think everyone had a better idea of how close I was to having this baby than I did. I felt like it could be hours still and was getting to that point of transition where I convince myself that there is no way I can do this and I just need it to stop (as if that’s an actual option that I have!) but they both encouraged me to move to the bed and get into a more supportive position. I ended up on my hands and knees with a stack of pillows to lean my upper body on and that was perfect. Josh left the room for like 30 seconds to go get our stuff from the car and of course, that’s when my water broke. It was such a weird, distinct popping sensation that I don’t remember from my first birth. And then it went from super intense, I don’t know if I can do this to OH MY GOD THIS HURTS SO MUCH, I NEED HER OUT RIGHT NOW! I was worried about the pushing part because it took me four hours the first time but it really is true that your body remembers what to do because I only pushed for 11 minutes, I think four contractions or so, and she was here, barely an hour from when we arrived at the center! Josh caught her and got to be the very first person to touch her and that was so special and important to us. The only downside to the position I birthed in was that I didn’t get to see that moment but otherwise it was amazing. My midwife helped me flip over and then Josh handed me my baby girl for the first time and the first thing I said was “she doesn’t look just like Lincoln after all!” And then I cried a little because it was just such a perfect moment and I was so happy and in love with my beautiful new baby but also so sad for my first baby because he had to be taken from me right after birth and didn’t get that precious cuddle experience and I can only imagine how scary that was for him. So many emotions: relief, gratitude, sadness, elation, exhaustion. There is really nothing like it.
The next part of the story is kind of the boring part but I feel like it is something that doesn’t get talked about enough and that many women aren’t aware of so I am going to share how my first few hours postpartum went. First of all, soon after delivering Marley, I had to give birth again to her placenta. I feel like everyone has this vague idea that it hurts to push the baby out but then they are out and you’re fine but oh no! Contractions happen, bleeding happens, you have someone literally pressing down on your uterus to encourage contracting and it hurts so insanely bad to a body that’s already been through the ringer! It was seriously the most intense and painful part of this whole experience for me. I got the placenta out just fine but my body (like last time) did not want to stop bleeding. I ended up needing a shot of pitocin (also like last time) and when that didn’t produce quite the results we wanted, I had a shot of something else that luckily did work. But this whole time I was having what they call “afterbirth pains” which to me were like the very worst of my contractions, and I was apparently traumatized by the blood loss I experienced with my first baby so I couldn’t stop asking my midwife if everything was okay and if I was still bleeding and just totally fixating on that. Also my tailbone was in excruciating pain, I think from pushing her out so fast, so I couldn’t really sit up at all to hold Marley and nurse her. I had to lay on my side and to be honest, I couldn’t even really hold her or give her much attention because the things going on in my body were requiring all of my energy. Thankfully she was super happy to cuddle with her Papa for awhile. Eventually things slowed down and I accepted that I was not dying and calmed down and was able to be present with my husband and sweet baby girl. My midwife and her assistant (who had arrived just after the birth) did Marley’s newborn exam and she was so awake and alert, it was crazy! And then they left us alone! And the three of us got to just cuddle and nurse and send out pictures and birth announcement texts for the six hours required by law that we had to stay there before we could go home. It was hard and I definitely needed some help (I will be forever grateful to those two women for so kindly and gently assisting me through such an incredibly vulnerable few hours of my life), but I managed to shower and put myself back together and we really did get to go home when our baby girl was just six hours old! It was so wonderful to come home to a house full of family to recover and introduce my babies to each other! Lincoln was so sweet with his baby sister and so excited to hold her, it was probably one of the best moments of my entire life! He had (with help) made birth day cupcakes while we were gone and we got to celebrate adding a new piece to our family puzzle, one that would fit more perfectly than we even realized.
After such a traumatic experience bringing Linky into the world, it felt like being redeemed by the most peaceful and perfect birth I could have imagined. Miss Marley has been such a blessing to all of us and completely lights up our world with her big smile. I’m still not sure how a year has gone by already, but I will never forget the day we got to meet her for the first time. Happy Birthday my sweet girl!