If there is anything I learned from my pregnancy with Vivienne in comparison to Nora’s, it is that it’s true what they say: Every pregnancy is different.
As you all know, I was waiting not-so-patiently for the baby’s arrival. I was uncomfortable, I was tired, and I was just DONE. I was starting to feel like the not knowing whether I was going to be in the office every day was more irritating to my team at work than it would be to actually have me gone (and be a (wo)man down). Would I be able to take that meeting? Would I be able to finish this assignment? Blah. Just get the baby out already, huh?
Anyway, on Thursday, August 1, I was getting ready to take Nora to daycare and go to work when I started feeling some pretty uncomfortable cramping in my lower abdomen. I noted the feeling, but didn’t think too much of it since I had been feeling various levels of discomfort over the past few weeks. I took Nora to daycare and got myself to work, at which time I started feeling uncomfortable enough that it was difficult to concentrate. But still, the feelings weren’t really coming and going in waves. It was more of a constant tightening/cramping feeling…nothing timeable. Still, I let a few coworkers know that this COULD be the beginning of something.
I had a doctor’s appointment (my 39-week check) at 9:50 a.m., so I went to that, feeling encouraged that maybe August 1 would be our day. My doctor confirmed that my uterus was contracting. My belly was also measuring smaller than the week before, indicating that the baby had likely descended further into the pelvis. And upon checking me, she discovered that I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. For good measure, she went ahead and stripped the membranes again, and sent me on my way with instructions to go the hospital when things got more uncomfortable. “Don’t wait too long!” she warned.
I walked out and called Michael from the parking lot. We agreed I would come home from work, because if I was going to progress to full-fledged labor, we both wanted me to be home for it. But during the course of this conversation, I noticed that all of a sudden, I wasn’t as uncomfortable anymore. After 2+ hours, the cramping seemingly stopped just as quickly as it had come on.
I went back to work but still packed up my things. I was still feeling a little “off” and had hope that things would pick back up again. Everyone wished me good luck and sent me on my way. At home that afternoon, Michael and I went for a walk, I did some work, I bounced on our exercise ball, I rested. I had periodic episodes of cramping but nothing ever picked up. By evening, after we put Nora to bed, I was feeling pretty defeated. What a tease all of those cramps had been! I’ll tell you what—I can’t imagine being one of those women who has prodromal labor for weeks. Because constantly getting your hopes up like that? That would SUUUUUCK.
I did a bit more work, tried to relax, and went to bed. Per usual, I was up in the middle of the night to pee and had trouble falling back to sleep. I woke up on Friday, August 2 feeling pretty damn tired. I got into the shower as I normally would, and Michael asked if I was going into the office. I told him that I didn’t think so—I’d probably just get in a few hours of work from home. I noted feeling a little bit of increased pressure in my lower abdomen, but still no cramping or contractions.
Once out of the shower, I started getting ready. Lotion, underwear. Michael finished getting Nora dressed and took her downstairs for breakfast. I was walking around our bedroom in my bra and underwear to pull together an outfit for the day. I had just grabbed a T-shirt out of the drawer when I felt the tiniest “pop” and a small gush.
Um, whoops? I stood there for half a second, then felt another small gush, at which time I waddled quickly into the bathroom to sit on the toilet so I wouldn’t leak water on the floor. I knew what was happening! It was 7:40 a.m.
“MICHAEL!” I yelled from my seat on the toilet. “MICHAEL!” I yelled multiple times, but he wasn’t hearing me from the kitchen downstairs. Nora must’ve been in the playroom because I heard her footsteps go running through the downstairs hallway and into the kitchen, and I heard her little voice say, “Daddy, Mommy calling you!” I heard him come to the bottom of the stairs. “What?” he yelled up.
“My water just broke!” I responded.
CUE MOMENTARY PANIC. :) He started yelling up questions to me and Nora didn’t understand what was happening so she started asking him questions and they were talking over each other. I think Michael was worried that if my water broke, baby might be coming like NOW (since that’s what happened after my water broke with Nora!). But I calmly told him that contractions hadn’t started yet so I was confident that we had at least a little bit of time. I told him to go ahead and get Nora some breakfast and that I’d be right down.
I called my mom. She said she was literally just leaving Toronto. I told her to come straight to the hospital. We were hopeful she would make it in time for the birth. I also called my dad so he could hit the road from Virginia, and texted my sister-in-law so she could meet us at the hospital (I had recruited her to take photos for us so we didn’t have to worry about documenting it all).
I packed a few last-minute things in the hospital bag, then got myself dressed and headed down to the breakfast table. Michael had told Nora that my water broke, so Nora promptly said to me, over her cereal, “Mommy, water broke. Doctor will fix it.” LOVE.
I had woken up starving but had suddenly lost most of my appetite. Still, I sat down at the table and had a small bowl of cereal with my girl, who was about to become a big sister.
At 8:30 a.m., we were all ready so we packed up and left the house. On the way to drop Nora off at daycare, I called my OB’s office and told them my water had broken about an hour ago, and that I had started to feel some contractions but they seemed kind of irregular. I also warned them, though, that I have a history of fast labor, so they told me to go ahead to the hospital to get checked out.
We took Nora into daycare and told her that Daddy or Grandma would be back to get her later to bring her to the hospital. Kisses, hugs, and off we went.
Around 9:15 a.m., my sister-in-law (Marie) met us in the parking garage and we walked in together. We got up to Labor & Delivery and I gave the admissions person my name. A nurse came out and made a comment about how there weren’t any beds—in L&D or in triage—and that there wouldn’t be for HOURS. They said they were very busy, lots of babies were being born. They talked about putting me in A WAITING ROOM.
GREAT. Same situation as when I had Nora. Except I did at least get a bed in triage that time!
But then the nurse asked if I had been feeling the baby move as usual. I answered honestly, saying that no, I hadn’t really been feeling movement since my water had broken. Apparently that changed things, because suddenly there was an “overflow room” they were going to put me in. It turned out to be a normal, nice hospital room—but on the high-risk maternity ward instead of L&D. No big deal to me! I was just happy to have a private space of our own where I could move around.
This was already going way better than my experience with the hospital for Nora’s delivery. I wasn’t stuck in triage, and things were just much calmer, since I hadn’t waited until I was 3-4 hours into contractions to get there.
I got changed into a gown, and the nurse hooked me up to monitors. She said my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, which I was surprised about. Marie and I had been starting to track them and we were estimating about 6 minutes apart. As it turned out, I was having more contractions than I was feeling. Baby sounded good, too.
We literally were just hanging out, chatting and watching TV. It was very relaxed. I had to stop and breathe through contractions when I’d get a more intense one, but things were definitely under control. Nothing unbearable.
At around 10:50 a.m., a doctor came in to check on me. They did an exam that confirmed my bag of water had ruptured, and did a cervix check. I was 4 cm but baby was still up pretty high at -2 station. They confirmed I was staying to have a baby (LOL). My nurse started an IV so they’d have quick access if needed. After that, I was disconnected from the monitors and was able to move freely again. I found that I was more comfortable standing, so I just kind of stood, swaying back and forth, watching a little mindless TV and talking to Michael and Marie. We talked about fun things—including looking up our birthdays and children’s birthdays on the Internet to see who we share with. And of course, we looked up August 2. Who would this baby be sharing with? :)
A little after 11:30 a.m., the nurse came in and told us that I was being moved to an actual L&D room. Good news! We gathered all of our stuff and took a stroll to the room in which I would be birthing this baby! There, we said goodbye to Alicia (who had been my nurse over in “overflow”) and met my L&D nurse, Julie. And yay, she was nice! Always reassuring to know you have someone nice to support you.
Julie asked me what my plan was for pain management, and I told her how I hoped to go unmedicated again. Since I had done it successfully with Nora, I knew it was possible, which gave me confidence to do it again. However, I did say that it depended how fast things progressed and that I would be open to pain meds or an epidural if I needed it. Julie was totally cool with this. Knowing I was more comfortable standing through contractions, she suggested raising the bed up high so I could put some pillows down and lean over the bed as I worked through them. She also brought me an exercise ball to bounce/sway on if I wanted (which I never even got around to trying!).
My first nurse had inserted my IV into my hand, which I found to be extremely uncomfortable, especially as I was trying to work through contractions. She had joked with me that if my IV was bothering me that much, my contractions weren’t causing enough pain, but still, when we got to my new room with my new nurse, Julie, I asked her if would mind moving my IV down into my forearm. She agreed.
My mom arrived around 12:00 p.m. (hooray, she made it!) and still, we were all very relaxed. Contractions were definitely picking up in both frequency and intensity. I kept leaning over the bed, gripping the pillows and doing the low, guttural groans, swaying my hips through the contractions. I felt pretty good, because although the contractions really hurt, I was still getting breaks in between them. And during those times, we all talked, watched HGTV, and sometimes I even checked Facebook or Instagram.
It was so nice not to be tied to a bed and forced to labor on my back (or side). Julie had to check on the baby’s heart rate every 30 minutes or so, but she did so with me in whatever position I was in—which was usually standing. She’d kneel next to me and hold the monitor up to my belly and find the baby and listen. And if I swayed, she moved with me. It was awesome.
A little after 1:00 p.m., I requested to have my cervix checked again. I was dealing OK with contractions, but I needed to know whether or not I was making progress, and how quickly. Because if I had gone through a few hours of this without change, I told myself that I would have to consider asking for some help with the pain. A doctor came in and did the check, and found that I was 6 cm. The baby was still up pretty high at -2 station, but it was enough progress for me to feel like I could keep going.
Julie asked me if I wanted to try out the tub. She said it would take about 10 minutes to fill, so I said sure. And just like that, she drew me a hot bath.
I climbed into the water at about 1:35 p.m. I was in the middle of a contraction when I got in, and it was nice to roll over to my side and let the jets hit my back. And then… nothing. I looked at my mom and wondered why I wasn’t feeling contractions as close together as I was before I got into the tub. I started to wonder if the water was actually slowing down my labor somehow. But then, contractions returned, and boy, they hurt. The guttural noises no longer seemed to be working, so I switched over to some version of lamaze breathing… hee, hee, hooooo. (Keep in mind I took ONE birth class when I was pregnant with Nora, which was stupid and not helpful. Beyond that, everything I know about dealing with contractions, I learned from TV and the movies. LOL!)
Suddenly, a contraction hit and I felt my body PUSHING. The pressure was there and I could not keep from pushing. I looked at my mom, Michael, and Marie with what I can only imagine was panic in my eyes, and said, “I’m pushing! I can’t help it, I’m pushing!” I told them to GET.THE.NURSE. Marie scrambled to do so while my mom said to me, “Don’t push! Focus on something else. Think about something else.” I looked around me for a distraction, ANY sort of distraction, but my body was doing this all on its own. In that moment, feeling that amount of pain and pressure, I thought to myself, “Oh my God, this [unmedicated childbirth] is so stupid!” But I also knew that I was probably really close to having this be over. I actually thought I might actually end up popping the baby out in the bathtub.
Julie and (apparently) a nurse practitioner showed up in the bathroom and told me I needed to try to get out of the tub ASAP. We were waiting for the current contraction to end, but it seemed to take FOREVER. But finally, a momentary reprieve, so Julie stood me up. I shed my wet gown and got out.
It was 1:55 p.m.
I rushed over into the bed as Julie was throwing towels and a dry gown over me, and the nurse practitioner quickly checked me. She said I was complete and that baby was right there. She noted that I had a bulging bag of water (I guess the leak I’d had since 7:40 a.m. must’ve started with a hole near the top? So as baby descended, it created a bulge in the remaining bag) and actually told my mom to stand back by my head while she popped it. I don’t even remember this part, but Marie told me that when she broke it, it squirted across the room. Awesome.
Anyway, the nurse practitioner was suiting up and told me that when I next felt the urge to push, I should go ahead and do it.
And I did. Push. Push. Push.
The doctor on call from my OB’s office squeaked into the room at some point and began assisting as well. Between pushes, the nurse practitioner told me that there was meconium in the baby’s fluid, so they were calling the NICU team. She said that if the baby came out screaming, that all would be fine and the baby wouldn’t have to be checked out. But if the baby didn’t cry right away, it would have to be taken to the warming bed for assessment immediately.
I estimate it only took about five pushes before I was being told to open my eyes and look down because my baby was being born. The time of birth was announced to us as 2:02 p.m.
2:02 p.m., people. Let me remind you: I had gotten out of the tub at 1:55 p.m. And I had gotten INTO the tub at 1:35 p.m. And I had been checked and declared 6 cm at just 1:15-1:20 p.m. Crazy. Thank goodness for the timestamp on our photos and text messages because otherwise I would’ve never known how insanely fast this all happened.
The doctor and nurses knew that we didn’t know the sex. They asked Michael ahead of time if he wanted to be the one to announce it to the room, and he agreed. So when the baby came out and was lying at the bottom of the bed, the doctor said, “It’s a…” and left it hanging as a fill-in-the-blank. I’m not sure if Michael was just stunned or couldn’t see, but I peeked down at my baby and immediately saw the appropriate parts, and found myself blurting, “IT’S A GIRL!”
We were all really surprised. Both my mom and Marie were pretty strongly convinced it was going to be a boy, and I guess Michael and I were thinking more “boy” thoughts as well. I couldn’t believe it was another little girl, but I also couldn’t have been happier in that moment.
And baby girl cried loudly right off the bat so they put her right up on my chest—where she got to stay for the next hour before ever being moved from me. By comparison, Nora got to stay up on my chest for just a minute or so before they whisked her over to the warming bed and I didn’t get her back for like 1/2 an hour. To be fair, she came out with the cord wrapped around her neck and had some issues with fast breathing so I think there were underlying concerns with Nora—although they thankfully turned out to be nothing. But this time, I got some really wonderful bonding time in, right off the bat.
I required only a few stitches, and the doctor and nurse practitioner joked that when it comes to having babies, “Don’t ever let anyone NOT listen to you!” (During labor, I had told them that I was likely to go quickly, but I guess they didn’t truly believe me? I don’t know. Marie said that when the doctor came into the room and saw that the baby was crowning, he had a shocked look on his face!)
Oh, and guess what? No broken tailbone this time. THANK GOODNESS.
Everyone immediately started asking us what her name is, and I had to say, “I don’t know!” As I mentioned in my 39-week pregnancy post, we were not 100% decided on a choice for a girl’s name. After debating for weeks, I had finally decided to stop stressing out about it, since we weren’t even sure we would need a girl’s name anyway! I figured we would cross that bridge if we came to it. And, well, we came upon that bridge. :)
Michael and I debated between our top 2 choices while my mom and Marie kept quiet. They were very good about not inserting opinions and trying to sway us one way or another. I was impressed. :) Anyway, we ultimately landed on Vivienne, which is what we had been leaning more strongly toward the entire time. But then we had to decide how we wanted to spell it, which was another source of debate. Vivian or Vivienne? Although I argued that Vivian is the “standard” spelling and was the one people would most likely assume when hearing the name, I couldn’t get past the fact that I just like Vivienne better. I think it looks pretty and feminine and I guess “softer” in a way. Michael agreed he liked it better so once we started truly following our hearts instead of trying to be too practical about it all, the decision was easy.
So our girl became Vivienne May. (We pre-determined May as the middle name, so that was easy.)
During that hour with her up on my chest, we all got to just marvel over this new little life, and how she had entered the world. The final half hour of labor and delivery was such a whirlwind that we had to compare notes! We also talked about how tiny she is, how she resembles Nora, and more. And of course, we started to send out the first announcements of her birth via text message. I called my dad to find out he was about an hour away. I told him “We have a baby!” and he said, “OK, don’t tell me! I’ll wait until I get there.” I thought that was cute that he wanted to prolong the suspense until he was there to hear the news and see the baby in person.
I was able to nurse Vivienne during this time, too, which was great—she didn’t even have a diaper on yet! Such a cool experience, because it’s so amazing how they just know to latch right on and do what they’re supposed to do.
Finally it was time to get her stats and get her cleaned up so we would be ready to be moved to a post-partum room when it was time. We had been trying to figure out if she was bigger or smaller than Nora was. Everyone thought she was really tiny, but then again, our perspective is skewed since we all have “big kids” now, not tiny newborns! The moment of truth revealed…
…6 lbs., 11 oz.! We laughed, because she is basically the EXACT size that Nora was (she was 6 lbs., 10 oz.). I guess this is the size my body likes to grow babies! :)
Another funny little part of this story is that my mom had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at 3:00 p.m. When she first arrived at the hospital around noon, she had jokingly said that I had to get the baby out so she could make it to her appointment. She had called to try to reschedule but the next earliest appointment they had was weeks away, and at a time that my mom was unsure she would even be able to go. She has a messed up knee that needs surgery, so she was reluctant to put it off. But of course, she wasn’t going to miss the birth of her grandchild to go! She actually called to cancel the appointment around 1:30, and sure enough, things picked up right after that and Vivienne was born at 2:02 p.m., with plenty of time for my mom to make it to her appointment at 3:00. After the birth, she had to scramble to call them back to see if she could have her appointment back! In the end, it all worked out and she was able to get there. I told her she’s lucky my babies are so accommodating to her schedule! :)
After Vivienne had been thoroughly checked out and declared to be perfect, it was finally Daddy’s turn to get to hold his newest girl for the first time.
Everyone always assumes that Michael (and guys in general) are dying to have boys. But I’ll tell you right now—this daddy is absolutely thrilled to have another girl. It was immediate love! Some daddies are just made to have girls, I think, and Michael is one of them.
Overall, the experience of Vivienne’s birth was better than Nora’s. The end result was obviously the same both times—I got amazing little girls out of the deal—but in the end, Vivienne’s birth was everything that Nora’s was not. Obviously, with Nora being my first, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I had all the time in the world to get to the hospital, so when I actually got there and realized that I had waited longer than I should have—I felt so completely out of control. Drugs and/or an epidural weren’t even an option because it was too late, and when I started to feel the pain and pressure of transition, I was telling the nurses and doctors that I thought I was going to die. Or begging them to put me out of my misery. Either way. :) After Nora’s birth, I felt like I had just been put through the ringer.
This time around, I knew not to wait to go to the hospital. I knew that I was likely to go from 5-10 cm (or in this case, 6-10 cm) VERY quickly. And I knew that because it was going to be quick, I could handle the pain again. I knew that I wasn’t going to die. Going med-free was my CHOICE, and because of that, Vivienne’s birth made me feel even more empowered. (Although I definitely had the “I am woman, hear me ROAR!” feelings both times. Because hi, regardless of how I did it, I just brought a human into the world.)
Even now, four days later, I still can’t even really believe what I experienced on Friday. It was an ideal birth in my eyes. My dream birth, if you will. I’m still on cloud nine.
So completes the story of how we came to meet Vivienne. There is more to this day—first bath, meeting big sister Nora, and other details—which I hope to share soon. I’m just happy to have finally finished the birth story while it is still fresh in my mind. It is a day I want to remember forever! We are so completely thrilled to have Vivienne here with us, and to be a new family of four.
(For a closer look at how my first delivery compared to my second, check out Nora’s birth story, too.)
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 32 and have been married to Michael for six years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
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