“The second one is so much easier!” they said.
“The second one is so eeeasy, dahling – why, it’ll just be so eeeeeeasy!” they said.
Lies. All lies.
First, I barfed more. A lot more. At one point I thought I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It was the day I couldn’t even keep water down and I was puking yellow stomach acid mixed with a little blood from all prior puking. I didn’t have HG, thankfully. I was prescribed the highest dosage of a certain drug and henceforth only puked one or two times a day instead of all day until finally, around week 20, it went away. Disaster avoided.
Second, I hurt more. My body felt broken and rusted and old. Everything hurt. Perhaps that’s because I was “Advanced Maternal Age.”
Third, I was miserable and had an awful attitude the entire 41 weeks. Actually, that first week or so when I wasn’t sick was pretty cool because I was pregnant and actually wanted to be.
So as my due date approached, armed with the knowledge that second babies just appear out of nowhere, I sat waiting to go into labor while Googling “what to do if you’re pulled over for speeding while on the way to the hospital” because I was infinitely sure that the baby would drop right out of me before we ever arrived this time.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. I had to be induced. Again.
6 p.m. Wednesday
I came in to be induced with Cervidil. I originally thought I was being admitted at 5 p.m. so I ate my last meal, which was very light, at 4 p.m. (Save this vital information for later.)
8 p.m. Wednesday
The nurse inserts the Cervidil. Think of it as a tampon for uncooperative cervixes (cervices?) inserted by a complete stranger. It’s not pleasant. Or maybe my nurse had really long fingernails covered in sandpaper decoupage. Who knows? It was uncomfortable to say the least.
7 a.m. Thursday
After a super fun night of tossing, turning, racing thoughts punctuated by pee breaks, and relatively no sleep, I turned on the lights and made lots of noise so Hubs would wake up and be miserable and exhausted too. Except he slept like a damn baby all night, so he was perky as ever.
8 a.m. Thursday
I was given Pitocin to get my contractions going. I’ll remind you that I had no problems whatsoever being induced with my son four years earlier. They gave me Pitocin, and I was like, “Yeee-haw, let’s have a bay-bayyy!”
12:00 p.m. Thursday
Nothing is happening.
3 p.m. Thursday
I’m starving. I’m fucking starving. I’ve had no food for 24 hours, remember? Unless you count generic jello and broth from a packet served in cheap styrofoam cups.
Meanwhile, Hubs was like:
Have you ever wanted to punch someone in their stupid face?
5 p.m. Thursday
I’m getting worried. The Pitocin is not working. My contractions are mild and inconsistent. Baby’s head will not engage – her head won’t drop down into my pelvis. Every time they come and check my cervix, her stubborn head just floats away. She doesn’t give two poops about coming out, clearly. I’m starting to feel some anxiety.
Please, please, please not a C-section. Please…
Things weren’t looking good.
8 p.m. Thursday
I’d been on Pitocin for 12 hours. My contractions were still small and scattered. Baby’s head was still floating out in la-la womb. Every time they increased the Pitocin, her heart rate showed signs of stress, so they had to dial it back.
Fuck. I’m going to have a C-section. I just know it.
I’d stopped bouncing on the birth ball, stopped dancing, stopped doing squats, stopped all of the things I’d hoped would engage my stubborn baby’s head. Hopelessness crept in. I was exhausted, hungry, depressed, and all-around super fun to be around for Hubs, who had just finished eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes with cheesecake.
9 p.m. Thursday
Doc comes in to check my cervix.
Side note: Having your cervix checked isn’t fun, but I can handle it during routine check-ups – you know, when you only have to have it done maybe once a week. When you’re trying to induce labor, and you’ve been laying there for
fucking ever over 24 hours, your cervix gets checked. A lot. When I had my son, the Pitocin worked like a dream, and I’d had my epidural by the time they started checking my cervix, so I didn’t feel it. This time, not so much. Having my cervix checked a thousand or so times in one day by multiple people was a real treat. And by “treat” I mean I withered into a pitiful state of misery and despair when they put on “the glove.” Even Hubs looked at me with discernible pity in his eyes when they peeled open the sterilized glove packet. In other news, one of my nurses was a fellow alum from my high school. We chatted pleasantly and gave family updates as she shoved her whole hand up in my business. It wasn’t awkward.
Anyways, Doc checked. And nothing.
This is it. He’s going to prep for a C-section. Why me?
He sighed and put his hand to his chin thinking.
“You know what? Let’s just stop. Let’s take a break. We’ll take you off the Pitocin, give you a rest, give Baby a rest, you can eat a little something. We’ll give it about 5 or 6 hours and start the Pitocin again and give you your best shot at this, OK?”
I decide that I love him, right then and there, for not wheeling me into a C-section when I know many doctors would have.
10 p.m. Thursday
I’m inhaling mashed potatoes, green beans, and grilled chicken from KFC.
I still felt a bit hopeless, but I prayed and prayed and prayed all day for this to happen vaginally. It’s not every day you use the term “vaginal” when praying to God Almighty. I’m sure he’s heard worse. I had one more chance.
Tummy full, I finally fell asleep.
2:30 a.m. Friday
They start the Pitocin again sometime in the wee hours. I barely notice. I’m exhausted and go back to sleep.
6 a.m. Friday
I wake up with cramps. I’m feeling some contractions. I look over and the Pitocin is still on a very low dose.
Holy crap. This might be working.
7:30 a.m. Friday.
Oh yeah. It’s working all right.
8 a.m. Friday
Holy shiitake mushrooms, Batman. This is kind of starting to hurt a little.
Holy fuck balls, Batman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to die! WHERE is my MOMMY???
Ok so here’s the deal. First, all kidding aside (even though he did eat like a raging hog for a majority of our stay), Hubs was amazing. He was so calm and supportive. He held my barf bag(s), held my essential oils under my nose, encouraged me, and tried to help me through the pain and loved me the whole time. (Love ya, babe. You earned that meatloaf. But just so we’re clear, I earned 20 meatloafs. Cuz, I had our baby, sooo…yeah.)
Second, I made a birth plan this time. I had a great experience last time without one, but I’ve learned a few things since then and wanted to advocate for myself a little and make my specific wishes known. I was pretty proud of my little birth plan. It was tidy, brief, and to the point. You see, when I was in labor with my son, after the first two or three contractions I was like, “Ouchy boo-boo! Can I have my epidural now?” But this time I wanted to experience labor and really work through it, so I included the following bullet point in my birth plan [ehem]:
“I would like to wait as long as possible before having an epidural administered, or when the pain is unmanageable to me, whichever is first.”
Do you want to know what it’s like to “experience” labor while on Pitocin? It’s like having the worst cramps of your life, then all of a sudden the walls explode into dust as the Incredible Hulk erupts into your hospital room in the midst of smoke and debris and screams “HULK SMASH!!!” as he takes his massive green hands and shoves them up into your lady biz, grabs your uterus and just squeezes the shit out if it while you sob, and all manner of “breathing through it” while visualizing a beach with palm trees goes flying out the window he just busted.
Meanwhile, during one particularly lively contraction, I felt a pop followed by a gush of what I can only describe as hot vomit exploding from between my legs while half standing, half sitting on the bed trying to endure another sadistic contraction.
That’s right, friends. My water broke au natural. It went everywhere, including all over the nurse’s shoes, mingling with the flow of my tears as I howled, “Oh my God, this is the worst day of my li-hi-hife! This is so gro-ho-ho-sssss! Ewwww!” There may have been some F-bombs sprinkled into my despair and other choice words becoming of a lady. For that, I’m sorry. My poor nurse. My poor poor nurse. I’m a million percent sure I scared her a little.
Oh! But you guys, I only puked once this time. Well, twice, but the first time was the night before so I’m only counting one.
8:45 a.m. Friday
The anesthesiologist flies in from Abu Dhabi or the Antarctic or wherever the hell he must have been that took for-effing-ever for him to arrive. I wanted to punch his stupid face.
Then he administered this fun shot that made me feel woozy and relaxed.
Then he gave me my epidural.
Then I wanted to marry his stupid face.
9:15 a.m. Friday
My mom arrives. I’m laying in bed, in and out of sleep, reveling in my newfound numbness below the waist.
10:00 a.m. Friday
I feel nothing. I’m sleeping half the time. My mom makes some comment like, “You don’t feel that?” while looking at the monitor that shows my contractions. “You’re having some big contractions,” she said.
“Huh.” I went back to sleep.
10:30 a.m. Friday
Doc comes in. They’ve readied the room for delivery while I was in
my stupor the zone. Doc mentions something about practice pushes while he gowns up. I tell my friend who’s come to watch that it’ll probably be a couple hours and mention that someone should tell my dad he can go home for a while if he wants to. It took nearly two hours to push out my son, after all. Just as my mom is about to tell my dad he can leave, Hubs double-checks with the doc.
“How long do you think it’ll be?”
“Oh, you’ll have a baby in fifteen minutes.”
10:31 a.m. Friday
Suddenly, I’m wide awake.
10: 35 a.m. Friday
We decide to try a few “practice” pushes.
“Can you tell me when to push? I can’t feel anything, not even the contractions.”
“Yep!” Nurse says. I like this nurse. She has good energy.
They tell me to push.
They tell me to push.
We wait for a third contraction. Seems to be taking a while. Finally…
They tell me to push.
This is so eeeasy! I had no idea it would be this eeeasy!
I push again.
10:45 a.m. Friday, July 15th
For the second time, the most beautiful love of my life emerges into the world.
They place her naked, beet-red body upon my chest. It’s hot and sticky and lovely. I hold her close and cry and all of my anxiety splits into a million butterflies.
We’ve been together ever since.