We welcomed baby Max at 8 a.m. on January 5. He was 8 pounds 1 ounce and 20.5 inches long. I wanted to share his birth story because it turned out so differently than what I had pictured and planned for. Despite the fact that I had been feeling like I was going to give birth for about 2 weeks, he had to be coaxed out in the end. I guess he just really likes to be cozy. We have not stopped snuggling him since he was born!
If you’re squeamish you might want to skip this part, but I feel like it’s important to include everything. So, at my 39-week appointment my doctor said that everything looked great and I was basically ready to have the baby. I had been feeling a lot of contractions and I suspected I would go into labor any time. So when she offered to strip my membranes to get things going, I said yes. The next day I lost my mucus plug, so I figured that would be the start of labor. Nope! Not only did it not work, my contractions pretty much completely stopped.
I should mention that this whole time my main concern was having a too-fast labor and not being able to get to the hospital in time. I feel like everyone I talked to with a second baby mentioned the speed. I was supposed to have 2 doses of antibiotics during labor for a positive strep B test, so I thought I might not be able to do that. My reference point was Harper’s birth, since everything happened so fast after my water broke.
Past 40 weeks and feeling like I was out of room!
So when I went to my 40 week appointment at 40 weeks and 5 days with no signs of labor, I suspected that my doctor was going to suggest induction. With my age, gestational diabetes diagnosis and the strep B thing, I knew I would be pushing it to go past 41 weeks. So I thought, maybe by Friday. But she said she recommended induction by Wednesday. And not only that, but she was working at the hospital that night (Monday), so we could actually go in that night for the induction. And that would be the only way to guarantee that I would have her as my doctor. Mike and I talked it over, and even though we were kind of freaked out to go that soon, we felt it was time. I didn’t think 2 days would make much of a difference. So we went home, had a nice dinner, and then headed back to the hospital at 8 p.m.
The nurse they gave me was really wacky — interesting in sort of a Bay Area middle-aged hippie way. But very awkward. She was nice, but she took forever to do all the paperwork and then missed getting my IV in twice. So by the time they gave me the Miso pill it was like 9:45. Side note: I couldn’t believe how tiny this pill was that was going to make me have a baby, and they cut it in half!
Realized later that this bruise was from the missed IVs.
Anyway, we hung out and waited for things to get going, which they did, probably around 1 a.m. By then I had a different nurse, who was super nice and supportive of our intention to avoid pain meds. But I was getting so annoyed at being hooked up to all the monitors, plus the IV for strep B antibiotics. It seemed like every time I moved a little, one of them slipped and someone would come in to fix it. If the baby’s heart rate dipped at all they wanted me to also wear oxygen and it just made me paranoid that they would end up pushing me to get a C-section or something. That part made me really long for laboring at home naturally.
By 2 a.m. they said my contractions were regular enough that I could forego another dose of Miso, so I just kept laboring. I used the birth ball a lot — it was awesome. By early morning the contractions were incredibly strong and close together and I was having a really hard time getting through them. I couldn’t even sit on the ball anymore, I had to stand up and lean on Mike. I was so ready to give up, I thought I must be going through transition. But my water hadn’t broken. With Harper, that was the thing that made everything change in a hurry, so I was desperate for that. I knew I had orders for pain medication at the ready and I was seriously starting to think I would need them, but Mike was very encouraging about the fact that I had done this before and I was going to get through it. I just did not experience that intensity level with Harper’s birth. Hers was WAY longer, but I was able to handle it better.
When my doctor came in at 7 a.m. to tell me she had to leave because her shift was over, I was bummed. But honestly I didn’t care who delivered the baby as long as he came out ASAP! She said I was only 5 cm dilated but seemed to be transitioning. She offered to break my water and I said definitely, yes. She said, I think you’ll have a baby by 10 a.m. At first I thought she had said 8:10 and we all laughed about that. But actually I knew it would be sooner than 10. Pretty much as soon as my doctor left, the contractions were just unbearably strong and I was a total mess. Lots of tears and saying “I can’t do this” and that sort of thing. Thankfully the crazier things got, the more calm Mike got. And the nurse helping me at the time had been there for 37 years, so she was cool as a cucumber. I did not think I could get through it, but before long my body was basically pushing the baby out. It didn’t take long at all before he was crowning and they were rushing in the next doctor. She barely got her gloves on before Max came out at 8 a.m. Maybe in 2-3 pushes. I can’t tell you the relief at that moment.
When Harper was born they took her to be checked, weighed and cleaned right away. But with Max they left him on my chest for a good long time. I really appreciated that.
I think our nurse had a little bit of photojournalist in her – I don’t even remember her taking these pictures.
Grammie meeting Max for the first time.
On reflection, I think my body reacted very strongly to the Miso and gave me contractions that were much more powerful and closer together than with natural labor. I’m not sure it was totally worth it to have no pain meds with that kind of pain. But at least it was over quickly. I still think the best way to labor with a healthy pregnancy is probably home birth. No monitors, no pressure to have interventions that pile up. Just trust in the process. But I’m at peace with this birth. We had a healthy boy in just a few hours.
The other great thing has been how much easier the last few days have been this time around. We were able to leave the hospital a day early, and they hardly bothered us at all while we were recovering. With Harper’s hospital stay, they were constantly interrupting us and we got no rest. Max did cry pretty much all night that first night in the hospital, but that’s how we learned he is a baby that LOVES to be held.
It felt like a miracle when he latched on to nurse pretty much right away. I have some of the same struggles with breastfeeding him as I did with Harper, but for the most part he’s eating great and gaining weight. He didn’t have jaundice and have to be under the lights like Harper. He seems to be a little more chill, but I think his personality is still a big question mark. He sure is a cutie pie, though. I just keep marveling at how tiny and soft he is. I know these moments will be gone so soon, so I am really trying to soak them up.
I was pretty worried about how Harper would react to Max, but she has been such a great big sister. As I suspected, she really wants to help when we are changing his diaper or putting him in his rocker. Sometimes 3-year-old help is not the most helpful, but we indulge her.
Of course my hormones are raging, but it’s very emotional seeing these two together. Our family does feel a lot more complete and it’s just nice to feel like so many of the things I wanted in life have come to fruition. Welcome, Max!