Last time around it took me eight months to write down Povi’s birth story. Aidas is currently only 11 weeks, so I’m doing pretty well for a second kid. Who knows, maybe by the time I have a third child, I’ll actually write down the labor & birth story THAT WEEK. (who are we kidding?) As always, consider yourself forewarned that births aren’t exactly lovely little soirées and might actually include some icky parts. If you’re like me and morbidly delight in hearing others’ real-life, bring-on-the-gruesome-deets birth stories, then pave ahead at full steam!
Maternity photographs taken by Viktorija.
I somehow came out from my first birth experience emotionally unscathed. How, considering the crazy labor length and ouch-filled recovery, I’m not exactly sure. But I really didn’t feel any sort of trepidation this time around until I hit the third trimester. Suddenly, I felt very nervous. My first labor was more intense than painful, but would this one be the same? The worst part about Povi’s labor was really how horribly, terribly exhausted I was by the end – would I have to gear myself up for another 37 hour marathon? I felt a bit resentful that my sister got to give birth first this time around, although it was only fair, since I had gotten to go first in the Povi-Lukas pregnancies. Yes, we do time all of our pregnancies together. Kidding. But it’s totally happened twice now and I kind of love it. Once I heard that her new kiddo, Aliksas, gave her a sweet sweet labor (that was helped along with a terrific epidural that she swore by) I began really considering going the epidural route. Mostly because…why not? I had tried the no-meds way once and found it to be a “eh” experience. Why not give the best modern medicine had to offer a go? I decided not to make any sort of real decision, however, until it was game time.
So then I waited. And waited. And waited. Viktorija gave birth four days early with Aliksas. Since we had both gone nine days late with Povi and Lukas, I couldn’t help but hope that maybe we’d both go at the same time this go-round as well. Nope. I was still pregnant four days before my due date. And three days. And two days. And one day. With a good bit of resentment, I decided this must mean I’d have another super late delivery and began scheduling things like crazy to keep my sanity. I bought a piece of furniture to redo. I planned The Big House Cleanup. I got a book from the library. I even agreed (in a moment of sanity) to watch my sisters’ kids for her while the rest of my family painted their new house. And then, ON my due date, I woke up with sharp contractions that practically screamed HELLOOOO WORLD, it’s time for baby to ARRIVE!
After my last labor (which began reeeeally slowly in the morning before progressing to full-blown active labor by late evening without a single nap from me. dumb), I swore I would nap once I was in the early stages this time. Nope. I woke up at 4am with contractions much too strong to ignore. If that wasn’t a green light, then the mucus plug I lost in the bathroom a few minutes later definitely was. I gave my slumbering husband a jealous glance before trudging downstairs. With the TV set to the first episode of Friends, I began timing the contractions and wincing my way through them. They were roughly seven minutes apart at this stage, but really pretty easy to handle. Surprisingly easy. It’s amazing what having a full night’s sleep can do for making labor easier. I also found my contractions to be entirely different when they weren’t radiating through my back.
It felt like bad stomach cramps, but in-between contractions I was totally at ease, watching netflix, texting, and occasionally pacing.
By the time Vincas and Povi woke up, I had popped in and out of the shower a few times just to see if that would slow anything down. Also, hot water felt gloriously wonderful. More and more of my mucus plug came out and I gave my midwives a call just to let them know what was up. Vincas ended up working on house projects with Povi most of the morning, popping his head in occasionally to see how I was doing but mostly leaving me to progress in the quiet house alone. The hours seemed to tick by slowly and when the contractions moved to about four-five minutes apart without becoming any harder to handle, I became a little nervous that I wouldn’t know when to go to the hospital. Last time, everything was an intense blur by the time we left, but I was only 1cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital. I remember that being the biggest letdown, feeling like all that intense work had accomplished nothing. I was determined – determined! not to leave the house too early this time. When I called and asked the midwives, they said to just come in whenever I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore. That would be my cue. So I kept pacing and rocking and watching Friends. Which I decided wasn’t nearly as fun as How I Met Your Mother.
It was about 1:30pm when I felt like things were starting to ramp up. I warned Vincas and he began closing up the house, calling my parents to come get Povi, and – what seemed utterly ridiculous to me – tidying up the living room. I wanted to go, go, GO. We had learned our lesson about overpacking and brought only a small overnight bag with us containing about half of what we brought the first time around. It seemed odd to be leaving for the hospital in the middle of the day. Even though Povi’s labor took 37 hours, we left for the hospital at midnight (while it was snowing, too!) and most of my memories of that labor seem to be a blur of night and darkness and early, early morning. On this drive, I felt exposed in the harsh afternoon light – certain that other drivers were giving me the side-eye for making funny breathing faces and a knuckle clenching dashboard grip. I felt huge and swollen, slightly nauseous and overly-emotional. When we got up to the labor & delivery ward, I was shocked that they didn’t check my progress before admitted me. This, in of itself, made the Durham hospital feel way more nice and swanky than the Chicago hospital I had delivered in previously. When I finally did get checked and was informed that I was at a “stretchy 7cm!” I legit got tears in my eyes. SEVEN CENTIMETERS! That was half the battle done, then!
I tied on the flimsy hospital gown, everything feeling surreal in that it was finally happening.
(part 2 of Aido birth story coming soon!)