I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about labor as the third time around approaches – wondering if it’s going to follow the pattern of the first two (slowwww) and getting stressed out about sort of wanting/wanting to want to do it naturally and then finally getting back to where I was at originally (there’s no trophy for that and epidurals have been great for me and we’ll see what happens). And I figured it would help me to remember an actual labor I went through and better late than never on writing out Zelie’s birth story!
Zelie was due on April 14, which was Good Friday. It made for an interesting Lent for me, because it was a time of preparation in lots of ways. With her birth, I would stop working indefinitely and a couple months later, we would be moving to Indiana. A lot of transition on the horizon.
On Palm Sunday, I went to an event at my parents’ church in the afternoon and I felt kind of “off,” so I wasn’t terribly surprised when contractions started around 9pm that night. I tried to be chill about it and waited like half an hour before telling Chris, and then told him we should try to go to sleep, because who knows how long this would go on. After probably an hour of not sleeping, I gave up, because standing and moving felt better. I called the birth center at some point – maybe to see if they had a bed available? – and they suggested I try taking a shower. That felt great, and contractions sped up, so I called my mom so she could drive over the hill from San Jose. She arrived and I think I told Chris to nap and my mom helped put pressure on my back, and then they switched off and by 5am or so it seemed like we should go in. I think my mom stayed with Evange and then dropped her off at a dear friend’s house at a more reasonable hour (like 6am – thank the Lord for moms being up early!) and joined us at the birth center. (Wow, so much I don’t remember about that night – I really should write my birth stories before two years have passed…)
I was only at 3cm when I arrived at the birth center and I was worried they would send me home, but they did not. PRAISE. Once I was in my own room, it was close to 7am and I hadn’t really slept all night, so Chris and I both tried to sleep. I remember being tired enough that I really did doze off and would just squeeze his hand through the contraction and then fall back asleep until the next one. That went on for maybe an hour or so, and then the midwife came in and checked me – and I was maybe at 6cm – and we talked about laboring for a while longer and then getting an epidural. I was surprised that it was offered so soon – everything felt like it was going so much more quickly compared to Evangeline’s labor. I’d only had one sleepless night so far! The pain wasn’t even that bad yet! I felt like I was wimping out with getting the epidural this early on, but I also knew how I had dilated so quickly after getting it with E, and I didn’t want another 50 hour labor. So, at this point it was morning, I was up and walking around, eating some food, laboring away, and feeling just this pleasant surprise at how quickly and yet peacefully everything was proceeding. As I got the epidural, my mom was chatting up the nurses and the anesthesiologist and I just kept thinking, “Wow, I don’t feel like I’m dying right now. Is this okay?”
The epidural wasn’t as strong, or didn’t work, or something – I wasn’t completely numb like with Evange. But I was happy about that because I still had these nagging worries that I was “cheating” somehow since I hadn’t hit that same low/discouraged/exhausted point like I had before. So I felt half the strength of the contractions, and when it was time to push (not much later), I could feel the pushing this time. And when she came out, I felt the “ring of fire,” and yelled in this way that seemed totally involuntary, like a primordial scream from my gut, totally out of my control, and she was born and it. was. awesome.
It was only 11:30am. The sun was shining, it was about 14 hours from when the first contractions had started, and I had a baby in my arms. She was 6 pounds, 7 ounces and seemed so much smaller than E had been. And she was hairy! Little hairy back and butt. 🙂 So cute. I kept feeling surprised that it had been so chill and peaceful, and was over already.
It was Monday of Holy Week, and I felt well enough, and we had family in town, that I was able to do Triduum stuff with her and Chris – and it felt like no big deal taking a newborn out! Crazy how much I’d learned and how expectations had shifted in those 19 months since E.
Now I’m anticipating meeting this next baby girl in less than two weeks! Gonna try to type out her story (maybe one-handed) this summer while it’s still fresh in my mind.