For those who’ve been following our family blog since it began, you may remember Caleb’s peaceful, unmedicated, hallmark-worthy birth story (and if you don’t, you can read it here: http://joyonthejourney.blogspot.com/2010/10/calebs-birth-june-25-2010.html ). This is not that birthstory 😛
It started out very similarly. I went to my 40 week appointment with a few clues labor might be near, but still nothing definitive. I had contractions most of the afternoon after the visit, but around 10pm, they seemed to fizzle out. We decided to get some sleep and hope things would start up again tomorrow. At 11:06 my eyes shot open. That was definitely a real contraction…which meant I *really* needed to sleep as much as possible between them, which I did, eyes popping open every 20 minutes for the next 1.5 hours. After that, contractions were coming closer together, but still very irregular. 12 minutes, 8 minutes, 10 minutes, 14 minutes apart. I wasn’t sure what to think. I woke David up and asked him to time them for me so I could sleep between them more easily. I didn’t want to miss the window of when to go to the hospital since I needed 2 doses of antibiotics due to being Group B Strep positive (meaning a normal bacteria that lives on 1/3 people’s skin was found on mine, unfortunately it can give the baby problems in rare cases if not treated).
Contractions continued that way all night. I was able to sleep between them pretty well until around 4am, when they were so painful I definitely needed to be awake and moving to manage the pain. Still they were irregular and keeping us guessing- 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 7 minutes. We were dancing close to the line where I had transitioned with Caleb and being a second time mom, I wasn’t sure how fast it was going to go once that happened. We decided we’d wait until Caleb woke up for the day, then head on in.
Our early riser did not disappoint. At 6am he joined the party. We had already packed the bags in the car and gathered some breakfast food for him. I called my friend he’d be staying with and the OB’s office and we were off.
Based on my pain level, I was pretty sure there was no way I was already at 8cm this time around, but I’ll admit, I was hoping for a 5 or 6. No such luck. “Stretchy 4cm, cervix still very posterior.” the nurse proclaimed. Would they even admit me that early? I explained how things had gone last time and that I needed the antibiotics. They went ahead and admitted me and started the IV.
Laboring in the hospital was definitely a totally different experience. I had to be in bed, on the monitor 20/60 minutes, and if baby was sleepy, even longer. Plus I had an uncomfortable IV in, which made getting into comfortable laboring positions more challenging. Even if all that hadn’t been the case though, this labor was just different.
Instead of the rolling hill contractions coming at predictable intervals I experienced with Caleb, these contractions continued to come at random times- 5 minutes, 30 seconds, 3 minutes, 1 minute and looked like mountain peaks, slamming into me, peaking quickly, sometimes pretending to let go, but then peaking again before backing down. With Caleb’s contractions I was able to (mostly) manage the pain because I knew when to expect pain and when to expect relief. So even once I was hep locked and able to use the birth ball, walk the halls, etc. it was still a whole different experience.
By 9am, I was pretty miserable. Surely, I must be almost ready to push. I asked to be checked. Actually what I said was, “I want to be checked, but do not tell me if I am less than 6cm.” “Hmmm.” said the nurse, “I’d say a stretchy 6cm, but still very posterior.” Seriously? Why isn’t this baby coming down the birth canal? I thought second labors were supposed to be shorter. Surely not much longer now.
Back in bed and on the monitor the contractions got really intense. We were prepared this time and I asked for a washcloth to bite rather than David’s hand. As soon as I could get off the monitors, I got into the shower (after promising not have the baby in the shower). That helped a lot. It was still intense, but I felt more control than I had the last hour. Suddenly, I felt a ton of pressure. This had to be it! I came out, asked to be checked, sure I must be ready to push and….”Stretchy 8cm, still very posterior.” @_@
At this point, I was worried. What on earth was keeping baby girl so far back? I started crying. “I just need her to come out.” I said. My nurse (who was *amazing* despite the fact I’d been screaming and crying on and off for the last 2 hours- apologizing in between contractions) recommended I let the OB break my water. “I think you are ready to have this baby, and I think it’s going to happen really quickly once your water is broken.” I’d just had my 2nd round of the antibiotic so that was covered, but I was afraid of the pain intensifying once my water was broken as it had with Caleb’s labor. I was already out of control during the contractions…how could I take more? And even a stretchy 8 is a little late to consider medication.
I was feeling pretty desperate to be done though, so I agreed. The OB came in, broke my water and 7 minutes and 2 horrible contractions later, I yelled, “I NEED TO PUSH!!!” needless to say, no one had quite expected it to go that fast. A quick check showed my “highly posterior cervix” had morphed into “we can see the baby, don’t push until the doctor gets in here.” Yeah. Right.
Thankfully, my first pushes were not only involuntary, but also ineffective 😀 The OB made it in, reminded me what I needed to be doing and the next contraction we made big progress. After 3 pushes, the OB said, “Wait. Stop pushing. There’s a hand.” In my mind, I’m thinking, “If there’s a hand, my job is done. Pull her out!” Incorrectly assuming the hand must be preceded by a head and shoulders. Little miss had her hand up by her head. She was coming into the world super-man style. Once it was free, I was cleared to push again.
Did I mention I was so done with labor at this point? I decided she was coming out on the next contraction. I gave it all I had and on the 4th push of that contraction, 7th total, Ember came rocketing into the world at 12:17pm, the exact same minute her brother arrived, almost 6 years before. The moment they put her on my chest was one of the best of my life. Feeling her little warm body, hearing her cry, knowing she was really really here.
The OB looked up at me and said, “Your baby has a true knot in her umbilical cord. It’s very rare. Thankfully it didn’t cause any problems.” To which I replied, “I know. My son was born with one too.” I’ll spare you photos of that, though I have a picture of the knot for both babies, but I will say, it is a sobering sight. I know not all stories end this way, and to have it happen twice…I’m thankful to God for his mercies each day I have with my babies.
After that, I got a couple stitches for a tiny, 1st degree tear, while I tried to nurse Ember for the first time. She was much less interested initially than her big brother had been. Eventually I got curious to know how much she weighed and handed her over. 7lbs, 6oz- just half an ounce smaller than Caleb, but a full 1.5 inches shorter. It sure did make her look chunkier 🙂
Many people have asked us how we chose her name. 3 years ago, right before we knew we were going to start trying to add to our family again, we took a camping trip for our 4th anniversary. While sitting around the fire, the name just came to me. I asked David what he thought of “Ember” for a girl’s name. David and I hardly ever like the same name, so I was surprised when he loved it. From then on, we thought if we had a girl, that would be her name. That said, when we actually found out we were really having a girl, I got cold feet about naming her something so non-traditional. However, no matter how many other names we tried on her, “Ember” was the one that always felt right.
I know “Ember” technically means the dying remains of a fire, but when I think of embers, I think of the heart of the fire, the heat you need to do anything useful with it like cook or get warmth. Strong, warm, useful, a light in dark places- this is what we want our little girl to be. Ember.
Her middle name was even harder. I always assumed it would be “Joy” after my grandmother, mom and myself, but we felt Ember needed a very traditional middle name to balance it out. We both loved Elizabeth- the way it sounded, the way it gives her a typical name to fall back on later in life if she so chooses. I also wanted it to connect to our family in some way. The one Grandparent I never got to meet had the first name “Betty”, which is a common nickname of Elizabeth and David’s mom goes by “Beth”. So I loved that it touched both sides of our family, while still being all her own. Also, Elizabeth means “God is satisfaction” or “Pledged to God” both of which we hope will describe our little girl.