Well, this post is three months late, but nonetheless, welcome to the world, Thomas Rex!! Our sweet baby boy Rex was born on March 2 at 2:22am, weighing a whopping 10lbs. 11oz. and if I’m being totally honest, I don’t remember exactly how long he was, but I think it was 20.5 inches and thank goodness that sort of important information lives forever on the birth certificate.
I loved being pregnant with Rex (and Georgie too), but since Georgie’s labor + delivery was long, painful and somewhat traumatic for me, I was really nervous to give birth again. Below are the last pictures of me pregnant, taken a few weeks before Rex was born. I was definitely huge but overall felt pretty good!
In an effort to feel more calm and in control about labor during my pregnancy, I did two things that made a huge difference. First, I hired a doula, and second, I used a midwife instead of an OB both during my prenatal appointments, and also to deliver Rex. Using a midwife – and this midwife in particular, who is named Lucy – was the best decision I could have made. I never thought I would go down that path, but I am so happy that I did.
To backtrack a little bit, when we moved to Westchester I started seeing an OB who several friends had raved about. He was lovely and his practice was great, but then I got pregnant and started to think really carefully about who I wanted to deliver my baby. A few small things had happened at prenatal appointments that left me feeling like this practice wasn’t the right place for me and maybe I should start looking for another doctor to deliver my baby. Nothing major, just little things that didn’t sit well with me and left me feeling a little uncomfortable.
Then, I had an appointment with Lucy and I immediately felt at ease and just generally amazing. First of all, she actually sat down as we chatted, which none of the doctors had done. I told her I was nervous about this labor given my experience last time, and she just listened and told me so many helpful things to do to get myself properly prepared. Things like drinking a special tea in the first two trimesters, and then switching to another one the third trimester, and taking steps two by two and bouncing on a yoga ball (she even told me the exact size to get) to get my body ready for labor. I just felt good in her presence, and she had a reputation for being somewhat of a rockstar with delivering babies, so my mind was set.
My doula, Jenny, was also fantastic, and so calming for me throughout the pregnancy. She had the most soothing voice, which is one of the reasons why I picked her. Just hearing her talk made my whole body relax. We had several phone conversations, tons of texts and two home visits, and she was able to totally mellow me out and actually get me to feel excited about labor.
Rex’s due date was February 28th (not a leap year – which is the question everyone asked when I told them the due date), but I had a feeling he would be late, like Georgie. With Georgie, I went into labor at 5am the day after her due date, so I just assumed that would happen again. And sure enough, on March 1st, the day after Rex’s due date, I woke up at 5am with contractions. Right on cue!
My mom was staying with us in order to be able to take care of Georgie while we were in the hospital, and Tom took the day off work, so we spent the morning doing fairly normal things. We had breakfast together, I took a shower, Tom took Georgie to school, and then Tom and I took a walk. Then something weird happened. The contractions totally stopped. We had been tracking them loosely (Jenny advised us not to get too caught up with them, especially in the beginning), and then all of a sudden twenty minutes passed, and then thirty and then forty, and nothing. I had been texting with Jenny all morning and told her the update. She texted me back that this often happens in second labors. The body takes it slowly, then takes a break, then it picks back up. It knows what it’s in for so rests up appropriately. That made sense to me, but I assumed the break would be an hour or two and when we got into the afternoon and contractions didn’t start up again I was confused and felt defeated.
Jenny called me and I burst into tears. I didn’t want to, but I was hugely pregnant and emotional, so really it was just bound to happen. ‘I just want to have a normal labor!’ I wailed to her, and she told me that there is no such thing, and that this labor was progressing exactly how it should. She told me to take my mind off of things by doing something fun after Georgie went to sleep, like going to a movie with Tom, or bowling, or out to dinner. None of those things sounded appealing to me. I just wanted to stay home and relax. I didn’t even have much of an appetite, so made toast with butter and jam for dinner.
Then at around 7pm, after Georgie was in bed, I went into our room and boom – contractions came back. And this time they were no joke. The ones in the morning were fun and exciting, not painful. These started with a bang, lasted for awhile, came quickly and they HURT. I am terrible with pain and the thing everyone hammered into me this pregnancy was to try and labor at home until I was in active labor. The thought of that scared me, but I was up for the challenge. So we called Lucy and Jenny to update them, I put on Friends and Tom hung out with me, rubbed my back, and timed contractions. We were going to put on a movie (Thor to be specific), but then things really started moving. At around 8pm I was having a really hard time, and started saying things like, ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I’m doing a terrible job.’ I was HOT and couldn’t bear the thought of wearing anything but the Gap underwear and Old Navy sports bra I had on. (Note: the temperature outside was about 25 degrees.)
At around 9pm, the extreme pain had turned to agony. The contraction were coming fast and furious and completely ripping through my body. I was bending over on the bed, on the couch in our room, and over the sink in our bathroom. There was no ‘riding the wave’ as they say, which means embrace the way each contraction builds and then slows. I was just trying to survive! I told Tom that Jenny needed to come over now, so she left her house (she lives about an hour north) and headed our way.
The next hour is a blur. I was just in so much pain. It was hard to stand or even breathe! Tom would rub my lower back really hard through the contractions, and that saved my life. It was the only thing that made me feel mildly ok. At around 9:45 I told Tom we had to go to the hospital – I couldn’t want any longer. So we got things together and he called Jenny to see where she was and since she was about 10 minutes away we waited at home for her. Then as soon as she arrived, we said goodbye to my mom and headed out.
The drive to the hospital was a doozy. It was the first of three March Nor’easters that we had in New York, and it was raining torrentially. The hospital is about 15 – 20 minutes away, and most of that is highway driving, which is a good thing because I had angrily instructed Tom to not stop at any red lights. Being in a car when you are in active labor is basically the worst. Each contraction rocked my entire body. No way I could put on my seatbelt. No way I could sit in my seat. I was sort of kneeling sideways, I don’t even know.
We arrived at the hospital around 11pm, and had to go through the ER entrance since it was after hours. Jenny came in with me and Tom parked the car, and as soon as we got through the ER doors Lucy was there too. Seeing her was like seeing an angel from heaven. I grabbed her hand and she started walking us to the elevator to go up to labor and delivery. As soon as we got off the elevator and through the L&D doors, I asked if I could take off my shoes. I was hot and bothered and just wanted them off. Sadly I had to keep them on until I got into the room, but luckily it took about 50 seconds to get there. And once we got there, Lucy stayed with me the entire time. She didn’t leave my side for one minute. Another huge amazing perk of a midwife over an OB.
At that stage, I was in total and complete agony and begging for an epidural. I was really struggling through each contraction – Lucy would hold my hands and try to get me to breathe through them, but all that meant was that I was crushing her hands and shouting expletives. She checked me and I was 7cm. Wow. Never did I ever think I would be able to make it to 7cm without drugs. Then, I had to wait what seemed like one million years to get admitted, which is a necessary step before you can get the epidural. By the time the anesthesiologist came in, I was 8cm and basically couldn’t even see straight. I was SO excited for the epidural, but worried I wouldn’t even be able to sit still while it was administered. Somehow, I was, and in about 10 minutes it started to kick in and I was able to lie down and relax for an hour or so. It was wonderfully blissful. Jenny gave me sips of apple juice and had me suck honey through a straw for energy. Tom was getting ice cold wash cloths for my forehead and neck. I was feeling really good. Thank you, modern medicine!!
Then, I started to feel a lot of pressure. Lucy checked me and I was just about fully dilated. While most OB’s would have had me start pushing, Lucy has her patients ‘labor down’ which essentially means letting the baby come down the last part of the birth canal naturally. This is supposed to make the pushing phase faster, and also reduce trauma to mom as the baby comes out. So Lucy had me get onto my side as she poured all sorts of oils on and somehow guided the baby down. It was pretty amazing, but also so incredibly uncomfortable. Because Rex was so big (almost 11 pounds!) the weight of him moving through my body felt like a giant rock stuck in there. It didn’t feel good and I wanted him out. I kept asking if everything was ok and if I was doing ok and Lucy was so positive and encouraging. The laboring down felt like it went on forever, but in reality it was probably 30 minutes. Then it was time to push!!! I stayed on my side, and found pushing to be as weird and difficult as I did with Georgie. It’s just not a natural thing to do, and it’s also hard to figure out the right way to do it. I know that sounds strange, but anyone who has had a baby will likely know what I mean.
There was a huge TV on the wall directly in front of the bed, and I could see everything that was happening and asked if someone could cover it up because I did not need to see what was happening down there! Tom grabbed a blanket and threw it over the TV. Problem solved. About 20 minutes into pushing Rex was on his way out, until one of his shoulder got stuck. Shoulder dystocia. I had seen it happen on my favorite show ever that I devoured during my pregnancy, One Born Every Minute, and hoped that it wouldn’t happen to me. And there it was, happening to me. (It was actually the one thing that I really thought about and really hoped wouldn’t happen, just like with back labor and Georgie. I should have known better, since back labor was exactly what I got with her!) It was really, really scary for about five seconds, and then Lucy worked her magic, safely got Rex’s other shoulder out, and the rest of him quickly followed at 2:22am on Saturday, March 2nd. I felt such immediate relief that he was out, he was safe, and that I did it. I was also pretty proud of myself for making it to 8cm without an epidural, something I never thought I was capable of doing, and something I never would have done had labor not come on so quickly.
After Rex made his debut, everyone in the room immediately gasped at how big he was (ahhh, that’s why the laboring down was so incredibly uncomfortable) and then REALLY gasped after they weighed him. ‘4585! 4585!’ I had no idea what everyone was shouting, but apparently babies are first weighed in grams, and that was Rex’s weight in grams. In pounds, he was 10 lbs. 11 oz. TEN POUNDS ELEVEN OUNCES!! Even though it was the middle of the night, the mood in the room was so joyful and energetic. No one could believe how big Rex was, and he was just perfect. He had the chubbiest cheeks and the softest skin, just like Georgie did when she was born. He had a ton of blonde hair and a furrowed brow. I felt elated and full of love and adored him from the second I saw him. He stole my heart.
We stayed in the L&D room for about two hours. The first hour was for the delivery of the placenta, stitching me up (I had an episiotomy again – apparently the tearing would have been really bad otherwise, due to scar tissue), checking my vitals etc. The second hour was more vital checking and waiting for paperwork to go through. Then at around 5am we got into our room and of course I was exhausted, but I was also just so happy and content. Rex – you have been so, so adored since the moment you were born and we love you so much!