Has it really been four months since I’ve posted? Why yes, I guess it has. I really have no reason for my absence except for…you know…third trimester, having a baby, buying a new house, moving in to said house, having family in town for several weeks, etc. You know – the usual.
I’m sure I’ll get to all those things in some catch-up posts over the next few weeks. But first, I want to tell you about Ezra’s birth.
Ezra has been surprising in many ways – pretty much all the ways actually. First, my pregnancy was a surprise. I was just recovering from a miscarriage when I found out I was pregnant with him only a couple months later. Strangely, I was much more excited to find out I was pregnant with him than I was when I initially found out about the failed pregnancy. There was something about timing and Harper’s age and…I dunno…it just felt right the second time around. That’s not to say I wasn’t sad about the miscarriage, but things seemed better all around with Ezra.
Next, there was the pregnancy. While it was similar to my first in a lot of ways (months of morning sickness, same symptoms, same weight gain of 50+ pounds), it was surprising that it went 11 days past my estimated due date. YES, you read that correctly: 11 MISERABLE DAYS PAST MY DUE DATE.
I’d always read that second pregnancies are shorter (and second labors easier – but I’ll get to that), so once 37 weeks rolled around, I started thinking every single ache/pain/weird feeling meant labor was imminent. Then 38 weeks rolled around…and 39…and 40…AND 41.
“Okay,” I thought… “I’ll just be pregnant forever.” At 10 days past my EDD, I started getting concerned. I wasn’t feeling as much movement, and nothing was happening. I called my midwife to see if I could drop by just to make sure everything was OK.
She told me to come in right away since another appointment didn’t show, and they listened to the baby’s heart and monitored him for a while. Everything was fine. She explained my options and that they would let me go up to 14 days before looking at more extreme measures for labor induction. I opted to let her check my dilation to decide whether we should do a foley catheter or rupture the membranes.
And guess what. Zero. ZERO! I was not dilated at all. She sent me home to sleep on it and figure out what to do the next day. So, I went home, feverishly prepared my house to be shown to real estate agents (another post, another day), and picked up Harper from preschool. My inlaws and I took her to McDonald’s during the house showings to play in their jungle gym.
Within minutes of arriving at McDonald’s, I started having cramps. These weren’t like what I remembered with Harper. My contractions with her were very calculated – very predictable. The pain began at my pubic bone and circled around my hips. Each time felt the same. I was able to visualize the pain in my head. Not these. These just hurt. They were only 30 seconds long but coming every 3-4 minutes. I didn’t tell anyone what I was experiencing because I really wasn’t sure I was going into labor. I just mentioned I needed to be getting home soon.
Upon arriving at home, I settled into a hot bath to try to figure out what was happening. Sure enough, the pain was getting more intense. Scott got home from work, and he sat in the bathroom with me for a while to decide whether or not to call the midwife. When my humming was getting a little out-of-control, he made the call.
I should note at this point that I hummed my way through almost all of Harper’s birth. There was only a short period during transition that I found it harder to control my breathing and “keep it low.”
I wasn’t paying much attention to Scott’s phone conversation except that I heard him repeat our address a couple times. He told me the midwives were concerned (after hearing my
humming moaning) that they might need to come to our house since I was clearly advancing pretty quickly. The same midwife was on-call who delivered Harper, so she knew I sounded different this time around.
Determined to suffer this one out in the glorious birthing pool at the birth center, I quickly gathered up my stuff and mustered up my strength to get into the car. My husband’s parents followed us there to do musical chairs with all the car seats and to get Harper situated. Scott had them stop and get him some BBQ.
Once I arrived, the midwife checked my dilation. 8.5cm!! In just a couple hours, I had gone from nada to almost complete. I was overjoyed that it sounded like this was going to be a quick, relatively easy labor.
I WAS SO WRONG.
I have no idea what time I arrived at the birth center, but the next 6-8ish hours were absolutely excruciating. The contractions were transition-level in pain/intensity/frequency, but they persisted through the majority of my labor rather than coming to a peak just prior to pushing. With Harper, she was born shortly after I reached the point I didn’t think I could endure any more. With Ezra, I got to that point multiple times with no relief. No urge to push. No progress. I followed the midwives’ instructions to change positions several times in the birthing pool, but nothing was changing.
I also had back labor with Ezra – probably because he turned during labor to a sunny-side-up position (his spine was lying against mine). After several hours of practically screaming my way through the pain, I asked the midwives to break my water. I thought things would speed up. I thought I’d be done.
After having my water broken, the contractions slowed down. (I know, right?!) For what seemed like several hours (but was only 20 minutes or so according to Scott), I fell in and out of sleep – moaning my way through the contractions then passing out immediately in-between. I got a little rest (this part is super foggy), but the midwives quickly had me back up and working – cycling through various positions to try to get Ezra to get into a better position.
I sat on the birthing stool. I cried. I got on all fours. I cried. I rocked my hips. I cried again. I tried to get on my back to be checked. More crying. Actually, I’d really call it screaming at this point. I no longer had the familiar feeling of the water to comfort me, and I was getting no relief between contractions.
Strangely, I wasn’t scared, and I didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital. All I could think about was pushing this baby out.
SO YEAH FINALLY…
I got the urge to push. Ezra had rotated a bit, but I still had a cervical “lip” preventing him from coming out. So there I was on the bed…lying on my side with one foot firmly lodged into a midwife’s shoulder…another (student) midwife applying counter pressure to my lower back as hard as she could…and another midwife…well, I’m honestly not sure what she was doing. Very blurry at this point. All I know is I couldn’t take the pain any longer. I was going to push this baby out right now or die. I was that determined.
And that I did. Because I’d pushed out a baby before, I knew what I was doing this time around. I put aside that aversion to pushing like pooping, and I just gave it all I had. Ahhh, the burning. THE GLORIOUS FREAKING BURNING. It’s that pain that hurts so good because you know it means your baby is SO. CLOSE.
And there he was. After about 20 minutes (it seemed like just a few pushes), he was OUT. He was so different than Harper – long and skinny with wrinkly, flaky skin. His cord was long and skinny, too, so he easily came up to my chest to hang out. He had hair, but not as much as Harper…and it was much lighter. A blonde, perhaps?
And oh, that little face. That handsome little face. The cliche thing to say is that laying my eyes on him made the pain of labor totally worth it. Ahem, yeah, it did. But shit y’all. This labor was so much worse than Harper’s. It really goes to show that position and other variables have SO much more to do with the pain/intensity/difficulty of labor than size. Ezra was 4 ounces lighter than Harper and 1.5″ longer – so, much skinnier. But so much harder to bring into the world.
So, the details…
Ezra Carnegie Dahl: born at 41 weeks, 4 days (11 days overdue) at 7 lbs 4oz, 21.5″ long. He shares a birthday (July 3) with his twin cousins, Natalie and Caleb. He was born at 2:29am after about 10 hours of labor. In the grand scheme of things, not very long. It was shorter than my first labor. But definitely not easier.
After the birth, we spent about three hours at the birth center getting checked out and cleaned up. We were home by 5:30am. Harper and my mother-in-law woke up to greet us and meet the new little one. Harper was in love with him from the moment she saw him. She gently touched him (mostly) and wanted to hold him. It was the sweetest moment I’ve experienced as a parent so far.
Within an hour or so, I settled into bed with Ezra for that lovely first long nap. I didn’t sleep very much because I was too busy gazing at him. But, it was nice to be home in my bed with my little family.
To be honest, the whole labor experience made me quite weepy for a few days after his birth. The love I have for Harper and Ezra makes me want more children – but the experience of bringing Ezra into the world makes me doubt my ability to have another natural/unmedicated birth. I am terrified to go through it again.
Perhaps the intensity was more a result of psyching myself up for an easier labor (and not getting it). And perhaps my next birth could be easy and fast.
Then there’s this other part of me that thinks time will help me to forget, and I’ll be ready to do it all over again in a few years. I guess we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll talk about this more in future posts.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these early days of Ezra as much as I can. Things seemed so much more difficult with Harper (because I was new at it), and I wished away too much of her little baby time. When people tell you “babies don’t keep,” it’s hard to believe until you wake up and have a two-year-old one day. Ezra is already over a month old, but it seems like I had him just last week.
As I type this, he’s sleeping away on my chest. Aren’t tiny babies just the best?