I’m officially a mama to three! Baby Declan joined us on June 4, weighing in at 9 lbs 12 oz and measuring 22 inches long. Here’s our birth story!
Given that my last baby (Eleanor) was 10 days “late,” I had mentally been preparing for a repeat this pregnancy. By my June 3 due date, I’d been having random mild (as in not the least painful but noticeable) contractions for several days, although nothing at all regular. On the afternoon of the 3rd, Jesse and I took the kids to a book signing about 30 minutes down the road. Apparently I was looking pretty pregnant as the bookshop staff insisted that we move to the front of the line! On the way home (around 5) I was definitely feeling that I was having semi-regular contractions – still nothing the least painful; just a “hey, my uterus is doing something” feeling. Although didn’t want to get too hopeful as I’d had spells of that with Eleanor off and on for over a week.
Ordered some delicious white clam pizza for dinner – kinda regretted that one later! And got the kids ready for bed. By 8 or so I was starting to feel that maybe this was the real deal. I was having noticeable (although still not painful) contractions every 2-3 minutes (all 3 of my labors started with close contractions) that seemed to be ramping up a bit. Jesse and I debated when we should call in our child care crew – one of my co-workers and her husband graciously volunteered to be on call to watch Callum and Eleanor. We decided to err on the safe side and they came over around 9:30 or so; by then it was pretty clear this was the “real deal” – turns out Declan wanted to be pretty punctual!
Since I was not positive for group B strep this time, there wasn’t really any need to be at the hospital early (side note, we have moved to New Haven, CT since my last birth. Since the nearest birth center was over an hour away, I opted to go with a hospital based midwifery practice.). Plus we only had a 5 minute drive this time. So it seemed really silly to jump the gun. But by 10:30 it seemed like things were moving pretty quickly – I was getting to the stage where you have to stop what you are doing to focus through the contraction and didn’t want to still be home when I got to the “make a lot of noise to get through the contraction” stage. So off we went.
As it turned out, the timing was quite good! Between home and the hospital I got to the “can’t walk through these contractions” phase – which was fun because we had a bit of trouble actually getting into the hospital (which gets locked down at night). We apparently parked in the wrong parking deck and couldn’t find a way out of it that led into the hospital; finally sorted that out although the security guard that let us in seemed a bit alarmed that I might have a baby in the hallway (wasn’t even close!). I think we arrived at L&D sometime around 11 and met Melanie, the midwife on call that evening. We delivered at the smaller hospital in town – things were very quiet which was nice. Baby looked good on a quick check on the monitor and it turned out that I was already at 6 cm, -3 station, with a bulging bag of waters (Hadn’t had an internal at all to this point so no clue where I started. Was also impressed that I was never checked again during labor.).
Labored on the ball a bit and then decided to try the squat bar on the bed (which is actually a nifty set up). Hit the puke stage but fortunately it passed much more quickly this time than in previous labors. Switched to hands and knees for a while but went quickly back to the bar. I was torn between thinking “wow, feels like I’m getting close” and “no way have I been laboring long enough to have this baby!” I realized that Melanie was staying in the room at this point – just chilling in the corner. Honestly, aside from occasionally checking baby’s heart rate, I’m pretty sure no one really said anything to us at all. And the first hour or so we were pretty much left alone – so really great job on the part of the L&D crew as far as supporting intervention-free/physiologic birth.
I do lots of squats and did so during pregnancy. And I have pretty strong legs. But squatting is hard work! What worked well was to squat up on the bar during a contraction; Jesse would sort of sit behind me to offer support. And then I could sit back on the bed between contractions. And don’t laugh but for some reason I kept thinking “open flower” during contraction – I’m going to blame my recent reading of an Ina May Gaskin book for that one! Not sure how long this went on for (couldn’t have been that long) – I kept watching for Melanie to glove up or otherwise indicate that things might be getting close. Leave it to me to overanalyze such a situation! Was feeling more and more pressure during contractions so knew baby was moving down. Suddenly there was a “pop” – my water broke and was pretty full of meconium (which it also was with Callum although it broke early in labor with him). At which point I said “oh shit!” and noted Melanie was finally gloving up…and that the baby was crowning!
Oddly I stopped feeling contractions at that point so not sure if I wasn’t contracting or just wasn’t feeling them. Got the head out quickly, kinda sat on the edge of the bed (still leaning back on Jesse) and delivered the shoulders. I’m told it was 2 minutes between my water breaking and baby being out. And about 2 hours of “labor really hurts” labor – by far my shortest.
Because of the meconium, they cut the cord pretty immediately and popped him in the warmer for a quick check. But he was back on my chest in about a minute. My first thought was that he was not as big as Eleanor (he was a few ounces shy) and my second was that I was actually really done having this baby! The placenta delivered fairly quickly and we were left to rest and snuggle. And no stitches needed – whew! After poking around a bit, Declan latched on and nursed like a champ about an hour after birth. A bit later we were wheeled down the hall to our postpartum room and tucked in for the night.
Things got a bit interesting the next day as Declan had a post-birth NICU adventure not so unlike his sister’s (he’s fine now)…but that’s a story for another day. We are all home now. Big brother and big sister are pretty impressed with their “adorable” little brother and mama and daddy are slowly catching up on some sleep 🙂