You know the old saying that no two snowflakes are ever really alike? The same is true of children. From the very first, my two pregnancies were quite different. From the things that made me feel most ill (pesto with the first, garlic with the second) to the way my tummy grew, there were a great many divergences between them. All that being true, why did it take me by surprise that the second delivery was so very different from the first?
My first baby came in a very controlled sort of way. I had no contractions of any kind (that I could feel) then, when I went in for my 38 week check, the doctor sent me to be induced due to low fluid levels. I went to the hospital, got a fat drip of pitocin, and then spent seven hours with ever increasing contractions. When I was finally more than half way dilated, I got my epidural, and it did a perfect job of stopping the pain for the rest of the delivery. The hardest part in all this was the three hours of pushing at the end. All in all it was a very low key (if exhausting) experience. Funny thing is that our first daughter is an easy-going child who likes her routines. It feels as if the birth was a preview of her personality.
Well then what does that say about the future personality of Younger Daughter? Her pregnancy was FULL of Braxton Hicks contractions, so much so, that the doctor advised me to stay off my feet during weeks 36 and 37 for fear that she would come too early. Then, by 39 weeks, I started to have contractions again. Just a few here and there, but it got to be more and more consistent until one night I really started to wonder if this could be "it." Luckily my mom was already over for dinner, so she stayed the night to see what would happen. By 10pm, the contractions were still coming, but they were not consistent enough to make up the required pattern.
Leaving the sleeping toddler with Grandma, we headed out for a walk to see if things would ramp up or go away. Looping through our neighborhood, M was keeping track of the minutes between and the duration of the contractions. Soon it became cool and clear and we could see the moon and stars above the houses. It's so quiet in our area at night that we could hear every little sound. Soon M found an app on his phone which allowed him to keep better track, and our new routine was born (har!) We would walk and talk about other things until one would start, he would hit the timer, and then I would narrate the physical sensations (luckily M is a very patient man) ad nauseam. Unfortunately, even after two miles of walking, the pattern was still not regular enough, so we all went to bed.
By 2am, I was awake again. This time the contractions were much more regular, and M called the hospital. They said to come right in, so we kissed our little toddler, grabbed the tote bag, and headed off. We arrived at the hospital around 3:30am, and went into the triage area of the maternity ward. They checked my progress, and said I should (gah!) walk some more! Another mile to see if I would progress or be sent home. Round and round and round we went from the delivery side (no screamers thank goodness) to the recovery side (one grumpy nurse) and back again. My fetching outfit consisted of a hospital gown, a robe, and tennis shoes (hey those floors are hard AND cold!). After what seemed like endless walking, I went back to triage, and heard that I would be "allowed" to stay.
Settling into our room, they quickly offered an epidural, and I was happy to accept. Given my experience with the first time around, why not? Only this anesthesiologist was somehow not as skilled because it HURT LIKE HELL. Poor M may have lost some range of movement in his hands after that one. I've always hear that you should not try to use hospital services on the weekend because you get the worst or the newest staff, and I think that may be true here. That being said, all of my nurses were lovely. Anyway, the epidural started to take effect, and I was feeling much better about things. I settled in for things to take their natural course as they had the time before.
And then I stopped. That's right, I simply did not produce any more significant contractions. There was still some low level activity, but nothing that would help me progress. And it stayed that way even after I was given pitocin to restart the process. For some reason my body was just not impressed. The hours started to drag on, and the pitocin dose went up and up. At one point the nurse tried a certain sitting up posture that made for HUGE contractions, but still I did not dilate. Who knows why. So it was one fat waiting game. That's when my epidural stopped working. Who knows why on this either, but I started to be able to feel more and more until those big unhelpful contractions were feeling a lot like red hot pokers in my tum. I can now have that conversation about natural vs. medicated labor from first-hand experience on either side! (Drugs are awesome in case you were wondering)
Somewhere in all that pain, the doctor came and broke my water. She'd tried to do that hours before, but one of the nurses told her "no" due to the baby being too high. This time she just did it, and what do you know? My body got right to work. In what felt like about 15 minutes, everything was in motion. There was a lot of frantic racing around as I got ready to deliver sooner than everyone expected. Remember it took three hours of pushing the first time? This round it took three PUSHES and the baby was out. That was so much less work than I had expected and braced for, that I was in complete shock. There was a baby! There was our baby so suddenly on the outside I hardly had time to react.
In the next instant, the mac truck of love took over. She is, of course, absolutely lovely just like her sister. Instead of blond fuzz, this girl has a little cap of dark brown hair. She is neither bruised nor squashed, so her little heart-shaped face is all the more perfect. People say she looks like her sister, but I don't know yet what to think. Delphinium didn't look particularly like her daddy to start out, but now she is a little female copy. I think I will just stare and stare at this new baby until I work it out. Oh those tiny hand and feet! Oh that perfect little head! There can't be anything sweeter than a new baby! Nothing at all went according to plan, but somehow everything is just fine indeed.