We knew the holidays would make the last trimester of my pregnancy fly by. And it did, the closer we got to Christmas the more I realized that baby arrival was right around the corner and we weren’t ready at all! There was a lot of scrambling and joking about how the baby could truly come early enough to be a Christmas or New Year’s baby. While that would be special for the birth I wanted Baby Rhino to have his or her own day without having to compete with a holiday. I didn’t want Baby Rhino to compete with Baby Jesus or that chubby New Year’s kid. With Lydia I really didn’t have noticeable Braxton Hicks but they were there this time and occasionally made me worry that it might happen, especially after I took a fall in an empty Christmas wrapping box two days before Christmas.
Officially my due date was January 15th, but originally it was January 12th and that was what I was going by. When Lydia was born I had no idea I was in labor. There was no “I know” moment until shortly before my water broke and she was born about three hours after that. The only reason we were safely at the birth center was because of an early pre pocket leak. This time everyone warned me to pay very close attention to all signs. The concern was that since Lydia, a first time baby, came so fast Baby Rhino might come even faster. Since the birth center is about 30 minutes away, if I didn’t pay attention we might end up with a dramatic side of the road delivery or at the very least a very uncomfortable ride into the birth center. No one was more aware or nervous about this than me.
I woke up the morning of January 7th with some light leaking and stronger tightenings. I suppose I should call them contractions but they were not nearly as intense as a contraction and just felt like the muscles across my belly and back were tensing. Those tightenings were what I felt with Lydia all the way up until she was almost here, so this time I knew they were early contractions. I got all excited because it would have been 39 weeks and 2 days, the same day that Lydia was born. But I didn’t feel like “this is it” I just was being careful to report all the signs.
I called Chrystin, my doula, and told her about the tightening and the other signs. She said it sounded like I might be in early labor. I called Steve and let him know, just in case. He’d left his phone in the car that morning and it gave us both a bit of a jolt because while we knew that Baby Rhino was coming soon this was a real wakeup call that it was really happening.
Tuesday came and went and there were more signs but nothing certainly. I probably would have disregarded what happened if I had not been lectured repeatedly by everyone to pay very close attention to all possible labor warning signs. I wasn’t even worried about delivery at home if things went fast but I was terrified about hitting transition in the car ride, so I listened.
By Wednesday afternoon my cough, which had mostly cleared up, was back with a vengeance. I could barely breathe for all the coughing and was miserable. For the first time ever I called mom and told her she had to come get Lydia so I could lie down because I couldn’t breathe. I was petrified of going in to labor in the condition I was in, I just knew it would be a nightmare.
Thursday morning I had a midwife appointment with Char Lynn. She agreed that I was in no shape to try labor as bad as my cough was. She did a careful check to see if I really was in early labor. I was 60-70% effaced and the baby was “right there.” She didn’t want to check more closely for fear of “stirring things up” and having labor occur while I was struggling to breathe so much. I was sent home with strict orders to get in bed with some pregnancy safe medication and sleep. Walking to the kitchen to cook dinner was “too much activity” and I wasn’t to drive by myself anywhere. Mom took Lydia home with her and I went home and crashed. My goal was to get rid of the cough as much as I could so that the baby could come in a quick, easy delivery.
Thankfully sleep worked wonders on my cough because by Friday afternoon I started feeling more tightenings. This time I timed them. They were coming about every two and a half to three minutes and were a minute in length. I told Steve that he might want to come home soon although they were not very intense. He ditched a work lunch and headed home. When Steve got home he called Char Lynn who said we should come in. I called Chrystin but told her to hold off because we weren’t sure. Family was staying home till we got the news that this was for real because I still wasn’t sure. I was excited to see everything set up for go time but I didn’t really feel it was for sure time, although I wanted it to be.
I was checked and the baby had moved back up, probably from the bed rest and because I felt unready to have the baby. It’s amazing how your body works with you. We were advised to take a nap (which we did) and then Chrystin arrived. We tried to get things to kick into gear so we went for a lot of walks and I rocked on the birth ball while taking some delicious (sense the sarcasm here) tinctures of herbs. My contractions were the right length and space apart but weren’t really sticking if I rested or sat down. So we went home to wait for baby.
I felt like the boy who cried wolf but I was reporting every little thing, even when I wasn’t sure this was it. Lydia’s birth had us all a little jumpy. When we left Friday I felt it was the right call but it scared me to face that possibility of that long drive in labor again. My Nana nicely offered to get us a hotel down there but we decided to go home and get in our own bed. I figured this was more time for my cough to clear even more.
Saturday morning I woke up and said to Steve, “Today is the day, my cough feels better. Let’s have a baby!”
Moments later Lydia walked in our room looking miserable and says, “I is sick.”
Our day became about making her feel better and I was worried I’d go into labor and have to leave her at home when she felt so bad. And that she wouldn’t feel good to greet her new baby brother or sister.
She slept in our bed and in the middle of the night her fever broke.
Sunday morning, the twelfth, I woke up and again said to Steve, “Well it’s good we didn’t have the baby yesterday but everyone is better today. My cough feels even better. Today is the day. Let’s have a baby!”
Moments later I got a text that my stepfather was being sent to the ER for high blood pressure and because of his cough. My mom said to try not to have the baby while they were unable to be there.
For some reason it felt like there was no more putting Baby Rhino off.
We went for one fairly short walk around the block, but otherwise did nothing to encourage things. I got the ornaments taken down from the Christmas tree, but not put away, before deciding to rest. Spent the evening snuggling Lydia before we headed to bed.
I was feeling some pressure so I decided to take a bath around midnight, Steve was not concerned as this had become pretty regular in the last month. Since I noticed the tightenings were there I timed them. A minute in length and two and a half minutes apart. I did notice they were a bit stronger but I figured they’d go away while I took a bath. They slowed a bit but didn’t stop. It seemed they were getting a bit stronger. I went out and did some of the yoga poses to move baby to a better position since we were getting posterior signs on Friday, still no stopping. I figured if I laid down they were either going to stop or I’d get a little rest in before it was time for the big show. Steve woke up as I lay down and he agreed to the plan. I think he thought it was another false alarm.
At two thirty two I woke Steve up and told him it was for sure this time, we needed to go.
They weren’t painful or particularly strong but they were still there and definitely stronger than when I laid down. Plus there was a feeling of “this is it.” We packed up, called Chrystin and the midwife and headed in.
My friend was going to stay with Lydia in case we had a middle of the night birth center run but this was the only night she couldn’t do it. So we had to call mom. I was kinda bummed because I wanted mom at the birth this time but it was our only option. She said she’d pack Lydia up around seven and they’d head down there.
When we arrived around 3 30 Char Lynn checked me and said the baby was once more “right there” but I wasn’t as progressed as she’d expect. That didn’t concern me much since I went from 4cm to pushing in 20 minutes with Lydia. She said she knew this was it because I had the hormonal shakes. Her suggestion was to lie in bed and take a nap but I didn’t want to do anything to slow things down. So I went and got settled on the birth ball. I stole Steve’s warm shirt and at first we were talking and joking between and through some contractions. After a bit they got so that I had to focus.
It was probably an hour or so later that I had to focus and didn’t want Steve to leave me. He was trying to make coffee between contractions and when Char Lynn came in to check on us he joked that he knew the contractions were less than a minute apart because he couldn’t get away to get caffeinated.
Steve kept rubbing my back or holding my hand during contractions. He would give me breathing patterns to help keep me focused. Chrystin offered suggestions on changing positions or kept reminding me to drink my water while she snapped some pictures. They both reminded me to relax when they saw a muscle tense.
Around five or five thirty I started focusing on wanting my mom and Lydia there. I asked Steve the time and worried that it was too early to wake up Lydia. Steve asked me if I wanted them to head down and I said it would be nice but it was too early. He knew me well enough to know that I really did so he called mom to suggest she get started down.
Right after that I was ready for something different and asked if I could get in the shower. From last time I knew the tub was supposed to be saved for last. When we headed to the bathroom I felt like I had to use the bathroom, and I did, thankfully (every woman is afraid of the whole going while she’s pushing thing).
It was taking me a few minutes to get up and get into the shower. Mostly because I was concerned that I still needed to use the toilet. Apparently everyone thought my contractions were intense enough that I couldn’t really get up and move to the shower. So that was their indicator that it was nearly time. They were right, it was nearly time, but it’s funny to me now that their “sign” wasn’t what they thought it was.
Char Lynn asked if I wanted to have the baby in the shower or the tub. I laughed because that was a no brainer and said the tub. She said than we should probably head that way. That got me excited because I didn’t know I was that close.
The hot water felt so good. I was so excited to be in the tub both for the relief it offered and because it meant we were almost there. With Lydia’s birth I got in the tub and sat on my knees and it felt “right”… not good necessarily but productive and as comfortable as it would get. This time it didn’t feel right and I bounced back and forth trying different positions. Finally, I looked at Chystin and laughed and said, “I guess there is no point in trying to get comfortable is there?”
I had a few more contractions but mentally I was waiting for transition. Kept analyzing how I felt to see if I was there. Suddenly I felt a pop and a gush, even though I was in water I knew my water had broken and I said so. Steve must have noticed the water rippling because he said he could tell as well. So odd to feel it breaking even thought I was in water. Char Lynn checked me and said I was there but still a little posterior.
Nausea rushed over me and I asked for a bowl. I got sick, no fun. Char Lynn was listening to Baby Rhino’s heartbeat, Chrystin had her hand on my shoulder to remove the bowl, and Steve was rubbing my back. Everyone was doing something nice for me and I suddenly wanted everyone to go away. Too many people were too close and in my head I wanted to scream “Go Away!” As soon as I thought that I laughed because I realized I’d just hit transition. As soon as I realized it the feeling went away and I was excited because I knew it was go time.
With Lydia the pushing came on fast and my body did it on its own, out of my control, so I was waiting for that. Char Lynn suggested I lay on my side, which I did and I remembered that was the position I was in when the pushing started with Lydia. Sure enough no sooner did I lay on my side then the pushing took over my body. There was no urge about it; my body was doing this with or without my help. However, I had wanted to sit up and be in a different position to push. That was not to be since from the first push baby’s head was so “right there” that I couldn’t really change positions very well.
With Lydia I felt like I was pushing through and everything felt productive. Perhaps because my cervix was still a bit posterior or the position I was in or that baby would turn out to be bigger but it felt like I was pushing a different way, like pushing to use the bathroom rather than pushing a baby out. But I pushed. Char Lynn gave direction. Chrystin had such a calm encouraging voice as she told me I had this. Steve held me and gave me encouragement. Physically I needed him there, like an anchor. With both births his physical presence was simply so much help and he was so great about reminding me to breathe and to focus in a gentle way. He was firm with what he was asking of me without irritating me by being bossy.
With Lydia it was just a few pushes for her head and then she “shot out like a torpedo”. This time I pushed for the baby’s head and got frustrated because I didn’t feel as productive. Char Lynn was giving me directions on how to breathe or push but they weren’t making sense to me. I rolled over from my side into Steve’s arms so I was sitting back against the tub after the baby’s head was born to push the rest of the way. It felt to me like this part took longer than I would have expected. Char Lynn wanted me to lift my legs up to push but that felt like wasted energy when I needed to concentrate on pushing so I ignored that request. She did tell me something I responded to with “yes ma’am” but I don’t remember what it was.
I sensed people arriving and wondered if it was my mom, but it turns out it was the birth assistants. I hated waiting for a contraction but it came and I pushed and there was baby. This time I could see the baby as she was born which was wonderful and different for me. I helped lift her up and put her on my chest.
She was so cheesy and covered in vernix and seemed bigger than Lydia had (turns out she was). She had this beautiful round face, moon like. Steve and I laughed and I hugged her to me. We both were touching her and checking her out. After a few moments I remembered to check. For a second her cord, which was lying between her legs, looked like we might have a boy but it only took a moment to realize we had another beautiful little girl. She only cried a moment, yawned and then settled in. While everyone was doing clean up and moving around we realized she’d fallen asleep in my arms! I couldn’t believe it!
There was concern in Steve’s voice when he said I was bleeding quite a bit. Char Lynn came over and I heard her call for a Pitocin shot. She checked me out and said they’d watch, thankfully everything sorted out. That was the only scary moment as I imagined having to go to a hospital or have a shot.
I held our little girl who was born at 6:24 am. Shortly after her birth my mom and Lydia arrived. They would have made it for the big show but Lydia was grumpy getting up and mom had to promise her chocolate milk. She stood by the tub and looked thoroughly confused about why mommy was in a bathtub holding a baby. She was quiet and unsure as I told her that this was Baby Rhino who had come out of mommy’s belly. She just nodded and said “yeah” as she sipped her chocolate milk.
Steve took her to get her set up in the other room as the placenta was delivered (side note, I actually wanted to check it out this time after hearing the hype but didn’t really get to) and Steve came back to cut the cord. He whisked baby away while the ladies helped me get cleaned up and into bed.
Clinton and Nana arrived around that time. From pictures it seems Lydia was more interested in baby once she woke up a bit more.
We weren’t sure on names so she had to be Baby Rhino for a bit longer while we decided between Penelope and Vivian, with me still campaigning for Sadira/Sadie.
She was a little talker and was quite happy to suck her thumb. Breastfeeding was no problem for her and we got lots of cuddles as I got to speak to Mark at the hospital and Dad on facetime.
I did have to have some stitches, the least fun part of the whole experience. I think it was from her position more than anything else.
Once we got her home we looked for signs that she should be a Penelope or a Vivian. I think we were both leaning towards Vivian initially but she just looked so round and happy and relaxed we both kept almost calling her Penny. Steve made the final observation that settled her name. Lydia got the name “Rhino” from the movie Bolt… the little girl in the movie is named Penny. Even though no one would ever know by choosing the name Penny we were honoring Baby Rhino as well, so that settled it.
Penelope Ivey Derry turned out to be 8 pounds 8.5 ounces and 22 and a half inches long. The midwife paperwork says my water broke at 6:15 and she was born at 6:24 but Chrystin said she thought my water breaking was around 6. Either way, thankfully, she made a quick appearance at the birth center. I know that pushing was just around 6 minutes or so. Overall time wise both girls took about three hours of noticeable labor to arrive.
Two random side notes- Char Lynn said Penny was probably the cheesiest baby she’d ever seen and there was no way she was a day “past due”… she actually looked early.
Since I only gained five pounds and I’d been told baby measured small but Penny was bigger than Lydia who was 7 pounds five ounces and 22 inches.
The births were actually pretty similar when I think about it and now we have two wonderful little girls. Again, I truly loved our experience at the birth center.
Now we are a family of four!
Our wonderful midwife and doula 🙂