Though almost all of our other kids have been a few days late (and we were uncertain on due date for the one that was a few days early since I never got a period in between her and her older brother), I sort of had a feeling for the last couple months that baby S would maybe be a couple days early. It turns out she arrived exactly two days before her due date! Here’s a little recap of her birth, with about a million pictures to go along with it.
Dan had been sticking really close to me for a few days just in case I went into labor since I tend to have very fast ones. On Friday morning, we walked together to drop the kids off at school. His mom walked home with M after dropoff, while Dan and I stayed on campus for a PTA meeting. Dan’s mom had just arrived the day before on a last-minute flight from Philadelphia after my mom, who was supposed to come watch our other kids, got sick. One leg of Dan’s mom’s flight was actually cancelled, but she happened to arrive really early and because she was the first one there, they were able to reroute her through a different city. Whew!!
Though only I needed to attend the meeting (and though the school is only about a 10 minute walk away), Dan stayed on campus on the “off” chance I did go into labor, and he jokingly offered me a ride in the bike trailer on the walk home. I told him I was fine walking and it was finally okay for me to go into labor if I needed to, lolz. I also mentioned that I’d slept incredibly poorly the night before – a huge rarity for me, even while pregnant – because I kept waking up feeling anxious about giving birth and wondering if each adrenaline rush was a contraction.
We got home and I fried a couple of eggs to eat since I’d only grabbed a couple pieces of cheese on the way out the door. I sat down to eat them at the table with M and Grandma and was chatting with them. I’d finished one of my two eggs when all of a sudden, I felt what I was almost certain was a contraction (around 10:35). After a couple days of feeling anxious and an adrenaline rush anytime I thought about a contraction (and wondering if the adrenaline rush was, in fact, a contraction), I was a bit thrown. I wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t just another adrenaline rush, especially since it wasn’t a strong one.
Still, with my history of fast labors, I called Dan right away, who was on a call in the other room. He immediately got off his call and came running into the kitchen – he was definitely feeling way more pressed than I was. (I knew it could be quick, but the contraction was also slight enough that I was confident I wouldn’t be having a baby within the next few minutes.) We snapped a quick selfie with M (before she was no longer the baby!) and Dan took a picture of my full-grown belly for the final time, and we hopped in the car. I kind of wanted to wait until I at least felt one more contraction, but Dan felt we should get going and we could always wait in the hospital parking lot if needed.
So we started the 7-minute drive over, and I had a second mild contraction on the way, which gave me confidence to get admitted. Dan dropped me off in front and parked, then we walked in together up to Labor & Delivery. When we got there, we checked in (Dan rather insistent about telling them I have fast deliveries). I had another contraction while standing at the check in desk, but at this point, they were still about 12 minutes apart.
They took me over to a triage room, I got gowned up, and they checked my cervix to find that I was 5cm dilated with the baby fairly low. I was glad to know I was dilated enough for them to not try to send me home! After checking me, they decided to move me into a delivery room, probably around 11:30 or so.
At this point, my contractions timer tells me I was having them between every 8-10 minutes or so and they were starting to get a bit more intense, but definitely still manageable. When we got into the delivery room, our birth photographer was there waiting. I’d never had one for any previous deliveries and was really hoping the timing would work out this time – I was so happy it did! We chatted with her for a bit and the nurses came in and out. They placed my IV but closed it off so I didn’t have to be attached to the machine (which I was very glad for, especially since I was fairly confident I wouldn’t be getting an epidural).
A little after noon, I was all set up and at this point, my contractions did start to get a bit more intense. Still, I felt like I could definitely manage them, and I somehow never felt like they got to the point of being completely unmanageable/where I had to have pain medication until the very end, which was a bit different from at least my previous delivery. After about half an hour, as they started getting more intense, I started squeezing Dan’s hand and also the side of the bed while he applied counter pressure on my back. We’d never done that before, actually, but it really helped manage the pain this time! I was also super exhausted since I’d slept so terribly the night before, and could barely keep my eyes open. Dan tells me I actually nodded off in between contractions a couple times!
Finally, around 1pm or so, I the first contraction where I felt like I was in enormous pain and couldn’t help but scream, at which point the nurses came running in without me calling them. I suspect they knew it was time – and sure enough, I felt baby S crowning at the end of this contraction. They checked me, saw her right there, and had me push on the next contraction.
I actually felt pretty weak from being so tired and could barely lift my legs, so they physically lifted them for me to get in a better position to push. Once they lifted my knee (I just couldn’t lift one of my legs, so they did it for me), I had my next contraction and though excruciating as always, baby S came out in 2 intense pushes and Dan caught her in his hands, watched over by the OB and nurses, then cut the cord after a couple minutes. It was overwhelming and painful and that feeling of her sliding out and being put on my chest was such a relief. I was still uncomfortable as the placenta was a bit tricky to get out, but was a relief when it did and i could settle into holding and snuggling her.
They gave us about an hour of skin-to-skin time (while they gave me some extra Pitocin, especially with her being a 6th baby) before weighing her; she came in at 6lbs 12 oz and 19.5″. Our weightiest baby by 3 ounces! She started enthusiastically nursing soon after and we spent the rest of the day resting and recovering.
Mostly, we’re just so thrilled to have her here and a part of our family. It feels magical to soak in these sweet moments with our brand new little S.