My labor and delivery with Peter were super straight forward – and solidified my love for my OB and the nurses at the hospital where I deliver. It was the weeks and days preceding his arrival that were a little rough!
At 37 weeks I started having false labor contractions similar to those I experienced the week before Nell arrived – consistently about 5 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds to a minute. They started about 5pm and stopped around midnight and just never increased in intensity, so I knew they weren’t the real deal. But, I assumed at my 38 week appointment (which was actually at 38.5 weeks since my due date was a Friday and my OB takes Fridays off) that I’d be told this baby was coming soon – because I had one week of false labor with Nell and then she arrived on her due date. So I assumed #3 would follow the same pattern. But, at my 38 week appointment, I was dilated to a 1 and there was no sign that false labor had done anything. BAnd let me clarify – I’m a big proponent of keeping babies IN as long as they need to be in. But the nightly anticipation of whether or not this would continue and become real was putting me over the edge. For the next 4 days, I just ignored my contractions the best I could. I knew they were false labor, and didn’t want to put myself through another week of “Is it real or not?”. On Friday, February 28th I was 39 weeks and I told B I was having a baby that weekend. Not that I thought the baby was coming, but that I was officially 39 weeks so I was willing to try all the old wives tales to have the baby that weekend. I took Nell for a long walk after naps and had to stop every few minutes due to contractions. Got home and they stopped. On Saturday we woke up to frigid temperatures and snow, so we went to Costco just to walk the aisles. No progress outside of the typical, consistent but not increasing in intensity contractions.
Saturday after naps, our neighbors took Tom and Nell while B and I went out for one last date night before baby. We just did early bird special happy hour appetizers at a cute restaurant in a small town nearby, and were home by 6:30. We walked into our neighbors’ house to find them cleaning Nell up since she had just thrown up about 5 minutes earlier. Ugh. We were hopeful it was the Costco hotdog she’d inhaled earlier, but by 8:30 she’d had three baths and we’d changed the crib sheets 4 times and we knew it was a bug. I laid down with her in our bed at 8:30 and B woke me up at 9:30 to tell me he had to go into work to help with an issue that had come up, but to call him if Nell got worse. And as soon as B left our room, I started having intense contractions reminiscent of my labor with Nell. And I remember thinking…”I wanted a baby this weekend, but now we need to hold off and get Nell healthy.” B got called off on coming in about 30 minutes later, so he came home and as soon as he was in bed, I got out of bed and started walking downstairs. My contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting about 90 seconds, and getting increasingly harder to breathe through, so I was absolutely certain we’d be heading to the hospital in the morning if not sooner. We handled a few more puke episodes from Nell, and finally I fell asleep between contractions. I woke up on and off, but knew they had tapered off as soon as I’d laid down (normal for me).
Sunday, Nell was no worse for wear but B and I were exhausted. We walked Target, got things done around the house, and I went to book club after the kids were in bed. I continued to have regular contractions, though not the same intensity as the night before. So, Monday morning, I went into my 39 week appointment (at 39 weeks 3 days) with absolutely no expectations. But I was dilated to a 3 (further than when I got to Labor and Delivery with Nell!) and my OB thought the baby would come for sure that week. I knew that she was off every Friday, and since she’d been on call the weekend before, I also knew that chances of her delivering #3 were slim if we got to my due date – Friday – with no baby in our arms yet. I had intended to ask her to induce me at 40 weeks 3 days (after a successful VBAC with Nell my OB agreed to induce me with low dose pitocin instead of scheduling a repeat C-Section if necessary) at this appointment if the baby wasn’t here yet by then – I was anxious, done with false labor, and felt better about asking her to induce me after my due date than before.
She beat us to it though. She offered to strip my membranes (I agreed) and told me she thought that with my progress over the week, that would start labor. Then she said she thought we should come in Wednesday morning to be induced if it didn’t do anything since she was on call Wednesday night and gone for the weekend and she wanted to be there for my VBAC. We talked about it briefly, knowing we could change our minds, and agreed to the plan because we also felt strongly about having my OB on hand – since I’d had a successful VBAC with Nell we weren’t too worried, but the chances of things going wrong with a VBAC had both B and I convinced that we wanted my doctor at the delivery. And then I went home, my mom, the kids and I went for a long walk – I was definitely having more intense contractions than my normal false labor – not on the scale of Saturday night, but increasing, and I thought we were making progress. And at 4pm on Monday, I threw up. At first, I was hopeful it was the start of real labor since I’d been nauseous before heading to the hospital with Nell and had consistent contractions for the last couple hours, but instead, it was the exact same quick, but mean, stomach bug that Nell had. Throwing up all night did nothing but exacerbate the contractions. B took Tuesday morning off to handle school drop-off, and my mom came up mid-morning to get Nell, Casco and Thomas – knowing that we were possibly heading to the hospital on Wednesday anyway, and giving me a chance to rest.
After another day of regular contractions, and finally feeling up for eating real food Tuesday night, B and I figured we should just go ahead with the scheduled induction. I didn’t love the idea of being induced, but at this point, I was done with the 3 week long guessing game. We went to bed at 8:30 on Tuesday, and woke up Wednesday morning ready to go. We got to the hospital at 7:30, they started pitocin at 9 after checking me. I was a 4 – 5 and at that point admittable regardless of being induced or not. Low dose pitocin didn’t do anything for me – I was having regular contractions but they weren’t unbearable at all, and it didn’t help that baby kept slipping off the monitors when I was walking – and being a VBAC, I needed to be monitored. A little after noon my OB came in to break my water and mentioned that if this was how my last 3 weeks had been with consistent but not intense contractions, she couldn’t believe I hadn’t come into labor and delivery weeks ago. So anyway, my doctor broke my water and then…whoa. I immediately was having excruciating contractions. I had every intention of having an epidural again this go around, but didn’t want one until I needed one. And within a minute of having my water broken, we were paging the anesthesiologist. At this point, I noticed that B was not himself. The anesthesiologist came in to give my the epidural and B turned gray during the process. I would love to say that he was just getting jittery, but I knew that look and knew he was getting what Nell and I had. As soon as the nurses were out of the room, I told B to do what he had to do – if he needed to go sleep in the car, go home, go throw up – whatever it took. I remembered how miserable I was and knew he couldn’t power through it. I also knew that he would be devastated if he missed the delivery. He left the room a couple times to regroup, but was a trooper. And luckily, after my water broke, things went fast. My epidural never really took, and they couldn’t tell if it was the administration or how quickly I was progressing. Within 20 minutes I’d gone from a 4 to a 7. Nurses were in changing my position to keep the baby on the monitor, and were worried that baby’s heart rate was dropping a bit more than they were comfortable with. Turns out, Peter was just booking it to get to the world and was dropping faster than expected. At two, they checked me and I was complete. They called my doctor, turned off the epidural that had just started working about 30 minutes earlier and waited for my doctor and all the nurses to arrive. My doctor came in, B tried to rise to the occasion and I started pushing sometime around 2:30. At some point, B had to go sit down, and my OB commented that he didn’t look good. At 2:53, baby was out and my OB announced that we had a boy. B stood up – feebly – to come cut the cord and then ran back to his chair in the corner.
Peter wasn’t named yet, but he was on my chest immediately and he started nursing within about 10 minutes. My recovery from my c-section with Thomas wasn’t really that bad – I’ve heard horror stories about people not being able to go upstairs for weeks or months, but I was back to my old antics the day we got home from the hospital. But the hardest part of that c-section for me was what felt like an excruciating amount of time between Thomas being born and getting to hold him and feed him. After Nell’s VBAC, a lot of people asked me if I’d do it again. And recovery wise, I didn’t feel that there was one superior delivery method for me, but I would choose a VBAC every single day just to get to hold my baby immediately and nurse as soon as the babe is ready. So when Peter was placed on my chest, I relished that moment, knowing it was likely the last time, and knowing how lucky we were that we had a team that supported me in my desire for VBACs after a complicated first delivery.
It took us about 45 minutes to officially settle on Peter – which was our front runner of a few different boy names going into the hospital but we wanted to be sure before we committed – but that’s another story.