February 2019 was spent in pregnant purgatory. I was useless in all endeavors that didn’t involve thinking about birth; a little bit because being pregnant was getting super annoying and I was #overit, but mostly because at 36 weeks pregnant baby’s head was at -1 station - which means she was only 1 cm away from being actively engaged in the birth canal AKA labor. The doctor was impressed and was almost positive this baby would be early. Honestly, I was a bit worried she would come a bit too soon, and was content to bide my time for a few more weeks.
37 weeks 5 days was a Monday and another doctors appointment. Now I was 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced (thinning of the cervix, and an indicator that labor could be soon). “See you Thursday!” My doctor optimistically announced since she would be in the delivery room that day. She was practically giddy telling me how easily I could be sent into labor if needed, “We don’t strip membranes until 38 weeks, but if I could today that baby would be right out!” I wasn’t quite ready for membrane stripping, so I’m glad it wasn’t truly an option, but she sent my excitement into high gear. Roman was 5 days early and they say the second one is often earlier than the first. Armed with that knowledge and having 2 doctors now tell me that this baby would be early I was convinced that labor was mere days (perhaps hours!) away.
Each day that went by my pregnancy discomfort mounted as did my expectation that today would be THE DAY. Thursday came and went. So did Friday… and Saturday… and I found myself at work on the following Monday assuring my coworkers that IT COULD SERIOUSLY HAPPEN ANY MOMENT GUYS, LIKE WHO IS GOING TO DRIVE ME TO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE I MIGHT NOT MAKE IT UNTIL LUNCH. In fact I started working half days because I was so worried that I might go into labor at work. Along with telling me that the baby would be early the doctors were also very positive that the labor would be fast, and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to my preferred hospital in time. Every afternoon I very dramatically told my coworkers goodbye and that it could be months before I see them again, only to walk in the next day still reluctantly pregnant.
So the days dragged on, Monday, then Tuesday… Where was this baby anyway? My excitement should have been only growing because, regardless, I was getting closer to meeting my baby, but in reality every day I didn’t go into labor I felt further away from her. There was also the fact that I was getting very real-feeling contractions at night. I’d wake up eagerly noting the time wondering if this would be the night I woke up Troy to say “This is it!” 10 minutes would go by, often I would have another contraction to fuel my hope, but then another 10 minutes with nothing, 20 minutes, 40 minutes later I’d be trying desperately to fall back asleep knowing that it wasn’t time yet. By my doctors appointment at 39 weeks I felt deflated, dejected, and like I was going to be the first person in history who stayed pregnant forever [I bet you feel me, other mamas!]. At that appointment I learned those contractions weren’t for nothing, at least. I was now 4 cm dilated. My doctor insisted it would be any day, and I was just like “yeah, yeah, yeah see you in a week at the next appointment.” I tried to take comfort in the thought that my body was doing a lot of the work pre-game. And hey, we were now out of Aquarius and into Pisces, so that was some sort of silver lining, right?
At one point I was really hoping for a 2/22 birthday because, come on, how great would that be? That didn’t happen, so ok, how about 2/23? That would be cool because Troy and his sister were both born on 23 days. No? Maybe 2/24? My birthday is on a 24, so that’s a good day. Nope. Perhaps 2/25? I had a text all planned out to my coworker who has this birthday and how I would know exactly how his mom felt that day. Probably a good thing that I couldn’t send it… So there we were, only 3 days left in the month and then all of my expectations of having a February baby would be completely blown out of the water.
At 5:11 in the morning of February 26 I noted another one of those darn contractions. I thought it prudent to mark the time, but really I knew I should just go back to sleep. I heaved my body from the right side to the left (one cannot simply roll over at 39 weeks 6 days pregnant) and in an attempt to ease my stiff back I put my hand on my hip to try and stretch it. I felt a small crack as my bones adjusted and then a gush of fluid. !!! I got up calmly, telling the excited part of my brain that I probably just peed myself [not uncommon these days, sadly]. There were no further gushes, but I was feeling a bit of another contraction. I went to the bathroom, wiped, and saw bright red blood. !!!
My brain: “That’s a thing! I know that’s a thing!! But what kind of thing?! Is this a go back to sleep thing?! What do I do?! Is this a fake thing? A real thing? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?”
The blood continued to be wiped away pretty steadily [it wasn’t gushing guys, don’t freak out, I know a medical emergency when I see one and this wasn’t it], so I figured it was time to take some action. It was only about 5:20 when I whispered to Troy “Hey, Troyyyy, I think it’s time!” His reaction was less dramatic than I was anticipating, but he did get up right away. I called my mom and was like “I think I’m going into labor? Maybe you should come get Roman?” but I really wasn’t sure if she should come right away or if we should wait to drop him off at daycare in a few hours. I had about 3 contractions at this point, a little more than 10 minutes apart, and if my water was broken it was only trickling out, so it seemed like this whole thing could take awhile. She suggested I call the nurses line. I left Troy to make that call so I could get a hot shower - there was no telling when I’d be able to get another one and enjoy it! The nurse was like, “yeah, if you’re bleeding you really need to come in right away, how far away do you live?” We said 10 minutes, but it will take 40 for my mom to get our son. The nurse said, “can she meet you here, we would really like to see you sooner…” That’s when I had an Oh Shit, moment. It was sinking in. This was serious business!
So we made it to the hospital around 6:40. I was stoked that my normal OBGYN was actually on duty for another hour, so he’s the one that checked me out and got me admitted. I was about 6 cm dilated and the contractions were coming more regularly. I was feeling really good. I had a full nights sleep, this happened before Troy had to be at work, and Roman was a total angel getting ready and going to the hospital, this day was going great!
By 8 am we were settled into our labor and delivery room and Roman was safely in the custody of his grandma. We had been introduced to our doctor, midwife, and nurses, I had ordered a bagel and some fruit and my contractions continued to get closer together. It turned out that my water had NOT broken yet, the gushes of fluid and blood were from my mucus plug leaving my cervix (birth is so beautiful, right?), and the doctors said they could break it for me at my convenience but I should probably get the epidural first if that’s what I wanted to do. In a perfect world I would be one of those bad asses that handle the pain of childbirth naturally like the history of womankind before me. Such beasts. I kind of wanted that merit badge. But I did I want it that bad? Troy very helpfully talked me through this dilemma (he promised that I still earned my stripes even with pain management), and we ordered the epidural.
The anesthesiologist and his assistant came in and got started. They were making small talk while they prepared to stick all kinds of foreign objects and chemicals into my spine and “what do you do for a living?” came up. So I told them - a property appraiser for Multnomah County Assessor’s Office. Turns out, we are the guys that raised the property taxes on the anesthesiologists house by $3000…. I winced, and not because of the needle in the spine [although, I briefly wondered if we should be having this conversation AFTER the drugs are safely administered] because that is a pretty big tax increase and he’s a little fired up about it. So I explained to him as best I can - between contractions - about Oregon tax law, measures 5 and 50, and what it means to have an exception event. He told me that he was grateful for the explanation, and I told him I’m grateful for the drugs, and out he went.
The time was 9:10 am when the epidural was fully in place and my right side was totally numb but my left wasn’t and I could still feel some of those pesky contractions. The doctor and midwife decided it was time to break my water and there was a ton of positive energy and excitement in the air. Baby would be here so soon! I asked the nurse what that meant (“soon” is very different to labor doctors than it is to labor mothers) she said probably around lunch time. Wow, only a few hours away! We all chatted happily as they stuck a giant crochet hook into my vag and broke the water. They checked my dilation again, and I was a little disappointed to hear it receded from 7 cm back to 6 cm as the bulging bag of waters had superficially dilated me more. The doctors left and the nurse got me all settled in for some rest. My left side still wasn’t numb so she helped me flip over to make use of gravitational pull.
She was literally leaving the room, it had been 10 minutes since the crochet hook, and I felt pressure. Then the pressure built like nothing I had felt before, not even my first birth. I called out to her and let her know. She told me to hold tight and ran to get the doctors and the midwife. I do hold tight, but resisting the urge to push was intense. It’s like every cell in my body was geared up for that one action. The doctor, nurses, and midwife all took their places as the midwife enthusiastically announced that I was fully dilated and it was go time!
There were 5 or 6 medical professionals in the room all cheering me on saying things like “INHALE” and “HOLD IT, HOLD IT, HOLD IT” and “YOU’RE DOING GREAT JUST A BIT MORE” and “GO, GO, GO” and “PUSH, PUSH, PUSH” and “THAT WAS GREAT MOVEMENT, DO IT AGAIN” it was all a bit overwhelming. So I focused on Troy. His voice is the one that kept me steady and gave me the most motivation [except that one part where he told me my veins were really bulgy]. I tried not to think about how long this was going to take (I pushed Roman for 2 hours) or how quickly my energy seemed to be draining. I concentrated only on hunkering down at the peak of the pressure wave and following Troy’s voice. So I was almost in disbelief when after only a few contractions she was crowning! They had me rotate my body just a bit and with one last heave I watched as 2 (!) doctors helped pull our daughter into this plane of existence.
Maeve Eleanora Wheeler was born at 9:54 am. 7 lbs 14 oz. 21 3/4 inches long.
Not only was she well before lunch time, but she was also born with both shoulders exiting at the same time (hence why it took two people to help pull her out) and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (which caused a weird complexion for a few minutes but nothing more). It was a whirlwind of a entrance, after all those days of waiting the whole experience only took 4 hours and 43 minutes from the first contraction to when we were holding our babe.
She has been a delightful baby this first month. She has nursed easily from the beginning and sleeps long and often. Even her brother is enamored. She’s like a dream, but we are so happy she exists.
Hey Strangers, if you want to compare this day to the day Roman was born, check out his birth story HERE