In all honesty, the reason why I haven’t gotten around to writing up this birth story till now is because every time I sat down to do it I ended up wasting my time reconsidering whether I should just skip it. Why you ask? Because compared to my labor with Sophia this was pretty boring and uneventful.
Well, obviously it wasn’t boring and it was definitely an event worth remembering. Which is why I am sitting down to document it anyway!
Also, we wanted to try putting together a video of the day she was born. But needless to say, we were a bit preoccupied and forgot to film half the time. But we will treasure forever these few clips that we did manage to get!
So, it was Monday morning two weeks ago and I was one day past my due date. I was very done being pregnant but was worried that I still had some time to go because I hadn’t had very strong Braxton Hicks, and still only when I was sitting or lying down. That’s why I knew something was up when in the shower I suddenly felt a subtle contraction. Too scared to jinx it by telling Marcus, I waited a few minutes hoping for another one to follow. Sure enough, another one came… then another… and then another… and another again. (Yay!) I got out of the shower and told Marcus to open his contraction timer app. He got pretty excited – I’d only asked for this once before.
7-8 minutes apart. I felt a twinge of disappointment. Last time my labor had started at 6 minutes apart and that was still a good 6 hours before I even went to the hospital. But Marcus jumped right into business mode and served us all a big breakfast. He made sure we kept eating till we were good and full – don’t even know how many Parks and Rec episodes we got through — but I now know that nothing distracts you from contractions like Andy Dwyer!
After breakfast I called the hospital and a friendly midwife told me I was welcome to come in if I wanted or to stay at home if I felt comfortable enough (NOT the answer I got last time I was in labor!). Being given the option I felt more confident and happily told her I’d stay home for a bit longer then. She instructed me to give her a call back when we wanted to come in and to sort our babysitting arrangements for Sophia. So Marcus hurried and jumped in a cab with Sophia to take her to a friend’s house, and I waited for what felt like 30 seconds for him to come back – incredible how time flies when all that’s going through your head is contraction–break–contraction–break.
By the time Marcus got back I was starting to get tired. I hadn’t allowed myself to sit or lie down for a while because I was worried it would make my contractions irregular – which happened last time. But I decided to chance it and got comfortable on the couch. It took a while before I realized I was almost a bit too comfortable. Sure enough, my contractions were now about 15 minutes apart. I jumped up and kicked myself back in motion – I was not interested in prolonging this labor just for a few extra minutes of rest.
It took almost an hour, but by 3 o’clock my contractions had stabilized and were about 5 minutes apart. Marcus grabbed my bag and I made a quick call to the hospital to let them know we were coming in.
The walk down to the street was slow but I was surprised how alert, happy and relatively okay I felt between contractions. I could only assume it was a sign that this baby wasn’t coming for several hours. When we got in the cab the driver chuckled and jokingly said, “I assume I’m taking you to the airport?”. (I owe a lot of the ease and pleasantness of that day to the ever-friendly Irish people who crossed our path!)
We arrived at the hospital at 4, and although “checking in” and getting settled in the delivery room took almost an hour I was able to keep a smile on my face and enjoy that special time alone with Marcus. (A quick shout-out here to my awesome husband who was so great that day at taking care of me, keeping the mood cheerful and keeping his calm when I couldn’t!)
By 5 we were in the delivery room with the midwife, I was 4 cm dilated and feeling extra calm now that I was in good safe hands. I was registered with the Domino Midwife scheme, which aspires for natural labors with no unnecessary intervention. I labored in the delivery room for about two hours and it was really such a peaceful experience. The Domino Midwives encourage mothers to stay mobile during labor as opposed to lying flat on your back, so the room was equipped so that I had several different options to position myself during labor: a yoga matt, birthing stool, exercise ball, a bar to grip on the wall, there even was a shower. My midwife even had lotion ready and put Marcus to use showing him how to rub my back and support me. It was such a big help to be encouraged to move around and to have the freedom to do it however I pleased.
I would highly recommend the Domino Midwives to anyone planning on giving birth in Dublin!
I had read online beforehand that second labors often seem more intense than the first because the physical shock of enduring labor the first time can have sort of a mental numbing effect. I can definitely say that this was my experience. I don’t think I pushed for more than 10 minutes but during that short time I was so overwhelmed with pain that all that was going through my head was serious doubt that I was going to be able to push her out, as well as hopelessly wanting the pain to end.
I suspect that it was because of this intense pain that I couldn’t seem to relax my body even after it was all over. I got up on the bed but was unable to keep my body from shaking and it took another hour for the pain to dull down enough for me to steady my breathing properly.
But we had our little girl. She came out healthy and crying at the top of her lungs. My immediate thought when I saw her was how different I thought she looked from Sophia but ironically she has seemed to transform into Sophia’s younger twin over the past two weeks.
We wanted badly to just go home that night but we were informed that another woman had given birth to 32-week-old twins and so I had to stay overnight with Emma so the pediatrician could see us the next morning instead. Marcus wasn’t allowed to stay and I felt really discouraged at the prospect of having to go through baby’s first night all alone in a shared room. I seriously felt like I used the very last of my energy to manage not to cry until after Marcus had left and the curtains around my bed were drawn.
But miraculously little Emma slept for a few hours at a time and was perfectly happy snuggling up on my chest all night. I slept a little too but mostly I spent the night admiring her perfect little face and stroking her soft skin. When Marcus came the next morning I felt like I had just been given a magical opportunity to bond with my new little daughter.
We took her home around noon and soon after Sophia came to meet her baby sister. It was such a special moment. When she entered the room I was sitting on the couch holding Emma. Sophia hesitated at the door but slowly approached us despite her obvious confusion. When she came she couldn’t help but put her hand on Emma’s head and soon asked to hold her.
We all gathered on the couch while Sophia held her sister and just like that our little family of four felt like the most natural thing in the world.