Now that M&M is six months old I feel a tug of guilt daily that I haven’t written down her birth story. I know the details are not as crisp as they would have been once, but I’m claiming “better late than never” and cutting my losses. Besides, this really is a fabulous story; one of the most overwhelmingly happy moments and memories of my life.
My firstborn’s birth was less than ideal and, in many ways, disappointing. I can list reasons and point fingers for that, but ultimately it is what it is. I took the experience of Dot’s birth and let it shape how I/we handled “New Baby’s” birth.
There were many differences in my birth’s before labor even began. Perhaps the biggest of all being that Sweet M was a surprise! We decided not to find out the sex, a decision that added so much anticipation (and a heavy dose of unknown) to both my pregnancy and the subsequent birth. With the help of Dot we nicknamed our burgeoning surprise “New Baby.”
Other differences during pregnancy included:
- weight gain: about 90lbs(!) with Dot and a more manageable 30-35lbs. this time.
- exercise: with Dot I tried to be active but it was in the form of 30-40 minutes walking on the treadmill a few times a week. With New Baby I did tons of yoga, rode my bike until 6-7 months along, and walked the hills in our neighborhood for 45+ minutes almost up until the end.
- food intake: I ate much, much healthier and more regular through my second pregnancy. Chalk that up to an overall lifestyle change.
I went in to birth in much better shape (physically, emotionally, mentally) than the first time. Instead of seeing an ob-gyn we opted for a clinic of midwives from the beginning. We were still having a hospital birth, partially because that is just where they delivered, but mostly because (having had an epidural previously) I was not confidant I could birth without one. Whenever I was asked about my birth plan I would respond I’d going to stay home as long as possible. After that I’m not going to have a plan.
I’m sure that is not the right attitude for some, or even many, people. But in this situation it was perfect for me. I struggled so much with my strong desire to have a natural birth with D (being hellbent leading to guilt for “succumbing”), and ultimately had a good (or at least better) experience getting an epidural; I was just unwilling to pigeonhole my expectations in either direction.
My due date was a Saturday in early December. From the very beginning (i.e. the ultrasound to determine due date at 6 weeks or whenever) I thought it was later than my calculations. Not by much, but in the misery of early pregnancy 3-4 days matter, dammit. All along I was convinced, or at least hopeful, I would be going early.
The fact that I had class until the week after my due date was a good deterrent to getting too gung-ho with the going early plans. Same was true for my mom and littlest sister being out of the country (visiting my other sister who was studying abroad is Costa Rica) until a few days after Thanksgiving. For the last month of pregnancy I had this little hope that I would remain pregnant until Black Friday (one of my favorite days of the year; I’ve been going out with my mom since I was 9 or 10) and that all the excitement and pavement pounding would put me into labor that night.
Very pregnant on Thanksgiving.
Black Friday came and went. I knew a week early was probably a bit overly-hopeful anyway. Especially with D being four days late. On Sunday I insisted we go get a Christmas tree. The Baby is waiting for a tree, I said. So we did.
Throughout the pregnancy I’d had a lot more “action” than I ever did with Dotter. Braxton-Hicks galore if I pushed myself too hard and tons of contracting during the last month. I was dilated to 1.5-2 by 38 weeks and “lost” my mucous plug about 38.5 weeks.
The Monday after our Christmas tree adventure I had a feeling something was up. I thought of calling my mom to give her the heads up that she may need to take Dot that night but didn’t. Then, she called in the afternoon to check-up. I told her I thought tonight might be it but there was no exact reason why. I was losing a lot of mucous (some blood-tinged) but was actually contracting less than normal. Around 4pm Dot and I went for a brief walk around the block. About 5pm I began contracting. And it was quite clear to me this was the real thing.