Friday, February 20th started out as a typical day. Adeline’s friend, Evie, came over Friday morning while her mom took her baby brother to the doctor. The girls played with play doh while I bounced on my exercise ball & made ‘snakes’ for them.
After Evie left, Adeline and I went to the BMV to get a new drivers license because I had lost mine a few weeks earlier. Since moving to Cincinnati a little over 2.5yrs ago, I’ve had 3 licenses. (I’m hanging my head in shame). Anyways, the trip to the BMV went smoothly and we headed home for lunch and a nap. I threw dinner in the crock pot after Adeline went down for her nap, and then I crashed on the couch for at least an hour. I had shoveled the snow during naptime twice earlier in the week, so I was ready for a day of just snoozing on the couch It was one week until my due date.
When Adeline woke up, we headed out Crossroads Church to play in their indoor playground to get out of the house on this cold and dreary day. Adeline wasn’t too interested in playing with the other kids, so we did laps around the building and we went up and down many stairs. We headed home around 5p because there was a winter storm headed our way and I was pretty excited about that crock pot dinner (pork roast). Daniel was already home we got back, and I let him and Adeline hang out while I took a bath. I had been really cold and just kind of achy all day (after not being cold this entire winter because pregnancy makes you HOT.) We all enjoyed dinner together and we hung out in Adeline’s bedroom for a while before bedtime. I chose to put Adeline down that night, and the thought crossed my mind that this might be the last time I put her down to bed before the baby arrives. It was a strange thought though, because I still felt really “normal” and I was convinced I would go to at least 40 weeks or even beyond.
After Adeline was down, Daniel ran out to the store to get a part for our diaper sprayer and I watched TV while bouncing on my ball for a while. Around 8pm, I noticed I was having a few contractions. I downloaded a contraction timer app, but I really didn’t think they would lead to anything. They were lasting about 30 seconds, and they were spaced about 5 minutes apart. Daniel got home around 9p and the contractions had picked up a little bit. I didn’t want to tell Daniel yet about the contractions, just in case they didn’t lead to anything. I didn’t need to breathe through them yet, but they definitely felt different than the few Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having over the past 2 or 3 weeks. We played a card game for a while and I bounced on the ball. I was still timing contractions, but I was trying to be discrete about it while we were playing Phase 10. Before we headed to bed at 10, I finally told Daniel that i had been having contractions for the past 2 hours, but that I wasn’t sure that they were leading to anything. I texted my friend (and neighbor) Kaitlyn to let her know that I was starting to have contractions, and to ask if her husband could come over to watch Adeline if this was the real deal. I also texted our Doula, Emily, and she suggested drinking a big glass of water before heading to bed to see if that slowed things down at all.
The contractions continued even after getting into bed, and they even started to pick up a little bit. I was needing to breathe through them a little bit, so I wasn’t really resting. After being in bed for about an hour (and not sleeping a wink), I had to use the restroom. When I got to the bathroom, I noticed that my underwear was a little bit wet. And, sure enough, when I sat down on the toilet, my water broke! Not a huge gush, more like a half cup or less. I put on a gigantic pad, grabbed a towel from the hall closet and told Daniel that my water had broken and that we were definitely having a baby soon! He jumped out of bed and started getting things ready (his hospital bag, snacks for the hospital, etc).
I texted Emily (our doula) to let her know that my water had broken! She told me to keep her updated, and by 11:30p (just a half hour after my water had broken), it was apparent that labor was progressing. I asked her to come on over, and I called my mom (she lives in Louisville) to see if she could come on up to stay with Adeline. Remember, this was the night we were expected to get 5+ inches of snow, so I was worried that the roads might be too bad for her to come up. She left almost immediately and headed up our way. We let Kaitlyn & Ryan know that things were definitely moving in “baby” direction, and that we would keep them posted. We also called my doctor, Dr. Bowen, just to let him know that we would be having a baby soon! He seemed completely un-phased (I mean, the man delivers TONS of babies) and let us know that he would be at the hospital at 9am for a training session or something like that. When I told Emily that, she said “well I hope he can get there sooner, because I don’t think we’ll make it to 9am!”
Emily, got here around midnight, and I had been laboring around the house while I gathered up a few last minute things (camera, clean clothes from the basement, etc). I remember contemplating taking a shower before she arrived, but the contractions were definitely hitting soon after one another, and I was kind of afraid that I wouldn’t want to get out of the shower when we needed to head to the hospital. When Emily got here, we set up camp in the dining room. I was on the exercise ball (with a towel underneath me) and I would lean over and rest my elbows and forehead on the table while I was having a contraction. Rocking my hips on the ball felt the best during a contraction, and I was RELIEVED to not have the awful “leg/thigh contractions” that I had with Adeline. I started to get really cold so Emily piled blankets on my lap and turned on a little heater at my feet. Even with the extra layers and the heater, I was shaking quite a bit (which I guess is common in labor?). More water started leaking out and the contractions intensified. Daniel was making hospital snacks in the kitchen, and I remember almost yelling at him because the sound of him washing the pot he used to hard boil some eggs was incredibly distracting. But, I still had enough presence to ask Emily to close the door between the kitchen and dining room instead of lashing out at my husband.
Speaking. This was one of the many things that was quite different from my labor with Adeline. I COULD NOT answer questions during contractions. I remember thinking about my answers to questions, but for the life of me, I could not put a sentence together until after the wave had subsided. It was pretty strange to know what you want to say but to not be able to put words together. If I did speak during a contraction, it was usually one or two words yelled out. Just a random fact from this birth that I wanted to remember
Anyways, we eventually moved to standing during contractions once my legs stopped shaking from being chilly and by that time, we all sense that we needed to head to the hospital. This was around 1am. Daniel called my mom to see how much further she had, and the snow was definitely slowing down her trip. She had another 30 minutes, and we definitely needed to head to the hospital before then. Daniel then texted Ryan and he came over immediately to stay with (sleeping) Adeline until my mom arrived. I remember that Daniel warmed up the car, and Emily was helping me get to the car with my cup of water and a bowl (because I had wanted to puke a few times, but hadn’t yet). I said a quick hi to Ryan and had a contraction in the garage before getting into the car. It was sleeting outside and I think we left for the hospital around 1:15am. In the car, I was immediately frustrated that I couldn’t recline my seat because the baby’s carseat was behind my chair. I wrapped a blanket around my eyes to block out extra light/sound (and, honestly, so that I wouldn’t worry about driving/weather conditions).
Sitting in the car for the 30 minutes that it took to get to Bethesda North Hospital honestly wasn’t as bad as it was with Adeline’s labor. My contractions slowed down, so I think I only had 4 or 5 contractions in the car. We arrived at the hospital and I shuffled down the hall, having contractions every so often. *Side note: it’s strange how SLOW I was moving. I felt bad for Emily and Daniel because they were moving at a snail’s pace and they had to keep stopping every 20 feet for me to work through the pain.* The contractions started to pick up again once I was out of the car and moving around. I think I had one really big contraction in the hallway on the way to triage and a LOT of water came out with that one. I remember being upset because my pants were now soaked, and there was a random puddle of my fluid in the hallway. I think I was asked 2 or 3 times if I wanted a wheelchair, but that was the LAST thing in the world I wanted- no thank you! During a contraction, I would put my hands on Daniel’s shoulders and he would support and hold me by my elbows and upper arms while I bent my legs and swayed with the pain. I’m incredibly thankful that Emily captured this photo of us laboring at the hospital. Daniel did an amazing job at being my labor partner!! Check out my outfit- Track pants with Toms and a winter coat. #winning
We finally got to Labor & Delivery at Bethesda North around 2am where we had to check in. The nurse kept asking questions, and like I mentioned before, I had a hard time answering them until I had a break in between contractions. I went back to triage alone (Daniel & Emily weren’t allowed to come until it was clear that neither abused me or made me feel uncomfortable). I wanted to puke a few times back in the triage room because I swear it was 1,000 degrees in there. Ugh. I changed into the scratchy gown (THANKFULLY, I left my sports bra on in the midst of changing because there was no way I was going to be swimming in that huge, itchy gown) and the nurse got me hooked up to monitors and got my Hep-Lock in my hand. Thankfully, she waited until I was in between contractions to put in the Hep-Lock and to give me my first internal exam. I asked to NOT be told how far along I was (she could tell Emily and Daniel). I didn’t really want to be discouraged by numbers.
After I was admitted, we walked down the hall to the delivery room and just kept laboring there. We were able to have intermittent monitoring, but man, those monitors are irritating. You’ve got this big ace-bandage like thing wrapped around your belly to hold 2 different monitors in place- one for the baby’s heartbeat, one to measure contractions. I only had to be “on” the monitors for 20min at a time, but those were some annoying chunks of time because the nurses had to keep repositioning the monitors while I was just trying to labor! I ditched that itchy gown and we labored on the exercise ball for a while, but I think I spent most of my time standing, with Daniel across the bed from me, I would squat down and grip onto his hands/forearms while swaying with the contraction. Emily sat on a ball behind me so that I could sit on her lap in between contractions. She rubbed my back while she and Daniel both encouraged me. I may have peed a little bit on her shoes at one point because I didn’t think I could make it to the bathroom between contractions. #TMI
Eventually, we did move into the bathroom (I think we sent Daniel down to the lobby to get something to eat) and I labored on the toilet for a while. It felt really good to sit backwards on the toilet, but I just couldn’t get comfortable because of the huge, cold water pipes that were not so comfortable to rest on between waves. I got into the tub at one point, and using the hand sprayer to aim the water on my belly was really nice, but the rest of my body was freezing. Emily put a towel on my back and we would spray that with the warm water when I had a break between contractions. Emily had set up flameless candles around the tub, and it was so calm and dark in there. I wish I had a photo! I moved on top of the bed to labor on my hands and knees some more. I was actually laboring in more of a “child’s pose” position this time because it made things a bit less intense. I remember noticing that it was light outside, but I didn’t have a concept of time. I kept waiting to feel completely out of control and ridiculous (like many people describe “transition” feeling), but it never came. I was doing lots of low moans during the contractions, and I think I made some pretty strange noises during the whole ordeal. My voice was hoarse for a few days after the birth!
I had started to feel some pressure while I was in the tub and it had only increased as I was on the bed, so we thought it might be a good idea to have an internal check. This was at 9am. It didn’t feel like we had been at the hospital for 7 hours already, time flies when you’re having fun 😉 The nurse checked me and said I was at 7.5cm. The nurse couldn’t quite tell what position the baby was in either. At some point in the past hour or two, after a REALLY hard contraction, Emily had told me that I had arrived at the hospital at a 7 (which was extremely exciting to know that I had gone from 0-7cm at home)!!! So, knowing that I had only progressed MAYBE half of a centimeter in 7 hours was enough for me.
I looked at Daniel and said “Can I get an epidural?” And he said that I could do whatever I wanted to, and that I was doing a great job. I told Daniel, Emiliy and the nurse that I was ready for an epidural. I felt as if I had labored really well and I was ready to rest for the next hunk of time before our little girl came into the world. The contractions before the anesthesiologist arrived were brutal. Not just because I knew “relief” was on the way, but they were intense, but not quite in the same way as the other contractions. Daniel and Emily never skipped a beat- they continued encouraging me and supporting me the whole time! I received 2 bags of fluids and the anesthesiologist came and started his thing. Let me tell you, sitting on the bed, hugging a pillow is NOT the most comfortable position to work through a contraction, but that’s how you have to sit when the epidural is placed. Finally, he was finished and I got positioned in the bed. However, I did NOT feel immediate relief (unlike my experience with an epidural during Adeline’s birth). I had a hard time with the contractions when I was flat on my back. That was NOT the position I wanted to be in, yet that’s how I had to be because of the epidural. After 4 or 5 contractions, the Anesthesiologist gave me a “second dose” or some booster or something like that and FINALLY I started feeling relief. But then my blood pressure dipped, so they had to put something else into my Hep-Lock, but I haven’t a clue as to what that was.
With subsequent contractions, relief flooded my body. We got into that awkward side-lying position so that we could encourage the baby to move down the birth canal while I rested. I think we spent 1 hour on the right and then another hour on the left. Soon enough, the baby monitor showed that it was time to push. This was around 11am. Dr. Bowen came in and gave me an internal check, I was at 10cm, but the baby was face up and kind of looking up towards my right hip. Dr. Bowen reached up and turned the baby so that she was head down. I started pushing (which is really weird to do when you don’t have any sensation), and within 2 contractions, our little girl entered the world. Dr. Bowen had on glasses, and it was really cool to see just enough of my sweet girl being born (without the full-on display of a big mirror). Our little girl came out with a head of dark hair and her left hand on her face (which may have caused her to be “stuck” for so long).
First look at my little girl
I got lots of praise for doing such good pushing (especially with an epidural), so that’s cool. A skill that is totally useless in this world, unless you’re birthing a baby 😉 She was immediately placed on my chest and we spent a long time oohing and awwing over her.
She had a super cheesy, vernix-coated back. She barely made a peep and was just calm on my chest with her eyes wide open. Dr. Bowen delivered my placenta and the nurses put it in a bag so that another local doula, Molly Murray, could come and pick it up to encapsulate it for me.
I didn’t have any tearing with this birth (which has made a WORLD of difference in my recovery!) We just hung out with our daughter for quite a while.
We named her- Josephine Amelia Cooper- and spent some time soaking in this new life. After Josephine nursed for the first time (between not being able to move my legs and forgetting how newborn nursing works- it was pretty awkward), Daniel held his second daughter for the first time.
We were itching to tell our friends and family that we had a baby (a week early!) but I wouldn’t let Daniel send out a text without her stats. Josie was weighed and measured- 6lb 5.5oz and 19.5 inches long. She had her footprints made and she was bundled up and brought back over to us.
Our second daughter entered the world on Saturday, February 21st, 2015 at 11:20am.
Just 12 hours after my water broke. It was a beautiful birth. It was hard, it was lovely, it was taxing and oh-so-rewarding. I am incredibly thankful that I decided to get an epidural, it gave us a bit of time to recharge before welcoming our daughter into this world. I can’t thank Emily enough for her support, guidance, encouragement and presence during the birth. She never took center stage, and she always let Daniel have the chance to be my supporter. Daniel and I both felt supported and encouraged, and I think Daniel appreciated the guidance and suggestions (and the chance to refuel). If we decide to have another baby, we’re absolutely using Emily again as our doula!
We are so thrilled to be a family of four! No one was able to visit on the day that Josie was born because the roads were pretty bad, but it was nice to have a bit of time alone. Adeline came the next day to meet her new baby sister and I met her and my mom in the hospital lobby to bring them upstairs. Adeline thought that the gift shop was my room at first, and she was thrilled at the possibility of having ALL of the things inside. Adeline didn’t quite know what to think about Josephine, but she was a good sport!
It was great seeing Adeline though after not seeing her for an entire day. She managed to leave her mark with a trail of popcorn and crayons scattered all around our room though 😉
We are thrilled to be a family of four, thanks for sticking around to read that novel!