Stephen's due date was June 4, but as you may have guessed he arrived a few weeks earlier than expected. My last day of work was going to be May 31 and I had a list of one hundred things to do before that day arrived. (And another 100 things to do from June 1 - June 4 to get done at home too!)
On Wednesday, May 18th I went into the office to pick up some work and touch base with a few people. They asked how I was doing and I was honest and said, "I feel done. I'm ready to hold my baby in my arms now." I was referring to the back and hip pain and fatigue I had been feeling throughout the pregnancy, not really trying to rush my baby into my arms at all! (I should mention that I had felt a couple of contractions the night before, but they weren't at all regular or intense.)
While William napped that afternoon, I was hard at work trying to cram in as much as I could. I didn't eat a very filling or healthy lunch and regretted it the moment William woke up; I was so hungry! I had made plans to babysit a friend's daughter so we packed up our stuff and drove to her house. It was a gorgeous/hot day so I took them to the park. On the walk, I noticed that my contractions had become more regular, about 15 minutes apart and were a little more intense. But I was doubting how real they were and figured they were just braxton hicks or something. I had even mentioned to my friend before going to the park that I wasn't sure what was going on.
After our playdate we drove home and I rushed around to get dinner ready. Chris got home in time to give William his bath and put him to bed which I was so grateful for. As we sat down for dinner, I said "These contractions might be real" and Chris started watching the clock while we ate. He was much more excited than I was! I had made the worst dinner: sausage, sauerkraut and baked beans--no girl having contracts wants to eat that! But I did because I was still so hungry and knew I wouldn't be eating food at the hospital for a while.
As we ate, Chris asked me what I wanted to do -- should we wake up William and bring him to the friend who we arranged to watch him? Do we have someone come to the apartment over night? I was so confused, I honestly still thought these contractions weren't real/labor wasn't starting yet. It was too early! But Chis knew. And he acted fast. We made some phone calls. Our good friend Shawna jumped in her car to stay with William at our place while our neighbors came over until she arrived. Chris snuck in William's room to grab some over night things for himself. Thankfully I had started to pack my hospital bag the day before! He pulled up the car and away we went.
We arrived at the hospital a few minutes after 8 p.m. I could walk just fine, I wasn't hunched over or in too much pain (like when I had William). I still felt like this could all be false labor. They took us back to triage and we waited to be checked. Everyone seemed to be taking their sweet time doing their thing, and then they told me that I was 4 cm dilated and I had the option of staying in triage for a couple more hours and they'd check me again or they could clean out a newly vacated delivery room for me. I opted for the delivery room. I didn't want to labor in the triage room and end up being wheeled to delivery in mad chaos again!
The delivery room was nice. I had thought a bath in their spa-quality tub sounded wonderful, but I knew that it wouldn't last long so I skipped it. After signing all the administrative paperwork, I asked if I could move around. Chris was really helpful in getting me to control my breathing during contractions and resting between them. He held my hand and sat by me the whole time or held me while I swayed back and forth (slow dance style). When the contractions got too intense I had to lay back down on my side. I wanted to stay off my back as much as possible. There were two things I really wanted for this delivery: 1) I didn't want to lay on my back at all and 2) I didn't want someone telling me when to push. Neither of these things ended up happening, but I will forgive the staff.
Anyway, another doctor came in to check my progress and I was 8 cm along. He said to let him know when I felt like I needed to push. It must have been two contractions later that my water broke and then the pushing started. I held Chris's hand as I lay on my side and groaned, big loud groans. A few high pitched screams may have left my lips, but I tried to keep them low and use them in my breathing. I had read that this could be more helpful than screaming. They had me roll on to my back to push; the nurse demanding that I push when she said push . . . but when I rolled to my back, my contractions slowed down and I didn't have the urge. I told her I wasn't ready to push, but she just kept on chanting "push, push, push." I pushed a few times then asked me to do "small pushes." The nurse told me to look down and there was Stephen, being born! My first thought was he is too small! He was tiny. They put him right on my chest and took care of the rest of the delivery while I held my son. Chris was able to tell me if it was a boy or girl, but it took several seconds for him to get a clear view . . . I wasn't patient and had to ask!
Stephen was born at 10:23 p.m., 5 pounds, 6.6 ounces and 20 inches long. He was perfect, not a mark on him. As he lay on my chest, I took in his smallness and his features. His face more narrow than his brother, his eyes darker, his hair darker.
The doctors knew of my history with precipitous births and hemorrhaging so they were ready for anything. They were also very thorough in making sure my bleeding stopped. I had no complications! After a few hours they moved us to the postpartum wing. I had anticipated someone coming to check on me every couple of hours, but no one came in the room until 7 a.m.! If I had known that, I might have tried harder to sleep.
Overall, I was very happy with how my delivery went. I am very thankful I didn't have any of the same issues I had after William was born. It really was night-and-day-different. I had energy, felt completely normal, and so far, the baby blues haven't hit nearly as hard (but they are there...).
Because I didn't have any complications, I was able to get up out of bed by myself this time around and attend to Stephen without waking Chris or asking a nurse to help. I was certainly tired, but glad I could jump right in to being "mom." Chris spent the first night with me at the hospital but we decided he would sleep at home with William on the second night.
The second night was little more tiring as Stephen wanted to be fed or held most of the time. I ended up sending him to the nursery for a couple of hours so I could take a longer nap.
The next morning, I visited with the lactation nurse and several other staff came in to do their discharge evaluations. Chris brought William to meet his little brother around 9:30. (You can read about that here.) And our family of four drove home from the hospital all together!