The fascinating thing about birth stories is that they are all different – from one woman to another, and from one baby to another. Mira’s story is so different from her brother’s. From the beginning, everyone told me that the 2nd baby arrives quicker. I heard everything about 30-minute labors to mentions of hoping I make it to the birth center in time. I had visions of a short labor and made my husband read the “imminent birth” sheet our midwives provided us multiple times in fear of giving birth in the back of the car off highway 7. Welp…turns out, I was one of the smaller percentage of women who’s second labor lasted longer than the first.
Mira decided to join the world after spending just a little over 37 weeks in the womb. I had a feeling she was arriving early and had mentioned this to my hubby a few months earlier. He probably didn’t fully believe me but just smiled and nodded anyway. As we approached March, I started feeling more and more uncomfortable. Turns out, baby girl’s head was hanging out pretty low in my pelvis and that explained a lot about the pressure I was feeling. At this point, I just wanted baby out. But, I also knew that my mom was in California for the last two weeks in February and I certainly didn’t want baby girl to arrive before she had a chance to get back to the east coast. Realizing it would be smart to have a back-up plan, hubby and I chatted with neighbors and friends to see if they’d be able to take care of Dean Burrito should I go into labor before my mom was able to come over. Luckily, everyone we asked was on board and we had a solid list of people to call – just in case. Though…hubby was dreading having to make a middle-of-the-night call to anyone so he kept pointing to my belly and saying “You! Stay in there!” Meanwhile, I was whispering…”get out!”
On Monday, February 26th, I started losing my mucus plug. It’s one of those “signs” that doesn’t mean much. It could mean labor is starting later that day or in three weeks. I started feeling more and more tired, but still no clear signs of labor. Knowing that my mom was flying from California on Wednesday, February 28th, I joked that baby girl was just waiting for her Ba to land in Raleigh. And that’s exactly what happened. My mom’s flight landed around midnight and I officially knew I was in labor around 6:30am on Thursday, March 1st. Once I had timed a set of contractions, I let hubby know and immediately texted my parents before calling the midwives at BirthCare in Alexandria, VA.
The plan of action was for me to check back in with our certified nurse midwife, Marsha, an hour later and then come into the birth center once morning traffic had died down. Hubby got Deansie ready, and made peanut butter toast with sliced bananas for breakfast. Kiddo knew something was going on as he saw me pause and breathe every time I felt a contraction coming on while eating breakfast. At first, he complained that nobody was reading his book to him. But he quickly caught on that something was happening. Hubby explained that baby sister was on her way, that Ba and Dada (my parents) would pick him up later and hurried him off to school. My parents would drive up from NC and pick him up later in the afternoon – phew! I knew one baby was taken care of and I could now concentrate on bringing the other one into the world.
I labored at home on my own until hubby got back from dropping Dean off at school. Slowly gathering last minute items to take to the birth center and pausing to breathe as contractions came and went. I mostly stayed standing, held onto a railing, table, or counter top and swayed back and forth. Once hubby got back, we decided to relax for a little while and watched a couple of episodes of Parks and Rec. My contractions slowed down.
We then decided to go for a walk to get things going again. It was drizzling but the temps were in the 50s, so hubby grabbed the umbrella and we headed out. Fresh air and movement felt so good. My contractions picked up but felt shorter. I would stop and lean on Richard each time – slowly swaying back and forth. We talked and joked. I knew contractions were happening but I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that this was it. Once we got home, we called the birth center and our birthing assistant, Mary Beth, to let them know we were headed in – our ETA would be around noon.
The car ride to the birth center was a little bumpy and having contractions in the car where I couldn’t move wasn’t comfortable, but I managed. It was better to get through the ride when traffic wasn’t terrible and before contractions got even stronger. Once we arrived at the birth center, we made our way up to the birthing area and met Marsha. She asked me how things were going and performed a vaginal exam – I was 4cm dilated at this point so she announced that it was time to “gather the troops.” Again, I heard the words and felt the contractions, but still didn’t quite believe that we were going to meet our baby soon.
Hubby retrieved all the supplies from the car – the food (for us and the birthing team), the drinks, the massage tools, basically all the “what if” things I had packed in the car about a week in advance. We settled in and then decided to go for another walk. Marsha and Mary Beth approved and we were on our way. It was so nice to be set up at a birthing center where we had the freedom to be out and about, but still had the counsel of an experienced birthing team to guide us along the way and make suggestions. The plan was to alternate periods of activity (to get baby in the optimal position and help with dilation) with periods of rest (to conserve energy). There was a plan! And we were following it! This felt good – but also a little weird – there was no time to think the first time around.
Anyway…we walked around a few blocks near the birth center. Stopping to sway back and forth as contractions came and went. At this point, hubby and I were still talking and joking. Both signs that this was still pretty early labor. When we made it back to the birth center, we decided it was a good time to rest. I could already feel some tension in my hips. Mary Beth made some suggestions and we decided to give them a shot. I laid on my side with my right leg propped up on a peanut-shaped ball – this helped some, but I was anxious to move into a different position for each contraction – movement just felt so much better than trying to remain still. Mary Beth massaged and stretched my hips a few different ways and did a belly/hip shaking thing with a blanket that felt magical. All of this was to help baby move into the right position. Now that this period of rest was over, it was time to get moving again.
Since it was nearing 2pm and everyone was getting hungry for lunch, we decided to order from Sweetgreen. After taking a quick look at the map and seeing that it was less than 1/2 a mile walk, the birthing team said it was safe for me to walk there and back – they didn’t think I was far enough along to accidentally give birth on the sidewalk. We ordered using the app and hubby and I were off to pick up lunch. We walked down King Street and stopped to sway and breathe with every contraction. At this point, I was humming/moaning a bit with each contraction as well. It was a nice slow walk, but contractions were picking up again. Originally, I didn’t feel hungry enough for lunch, but after walking a couple blocks, my stomach was calling for food. We picked up our order and then stood in line to get a Schroomami bowl for me. I managed to have two contractions while waiting in line at Sweetgreen. The two younger women at the counter seemed pretty concerned – they offered water and asked if I wanted to sit down. I exchanged a quick look with one of the older women prepping salad dressings and could tell she knew exactly what was happening. We paid for our salads and started the walk back to the birth center. Again, stopping to sway and breathe through each contraction – which was happening about 1-2 times per block at this point.
Back at the birth center, we all sat down to eat our lunch in the kitchen. I worked through a few contractions while seated at the table and chatted with Marsha. There was a calendar on the wall, and I noticed that there was a birthing meeting at the birth center happening that evening for babies that were due in April. That meant there would be a bunch of couples downstairs from 7pm-9pm. We may have an audience! I made my way through about 1/3 of my lunch before deciding I was done. Our birth team suggested that I keep things going by moving – as long as I didn’t feel like I needed to rest.
Mary Beth showed me how to do belly lifts during contractions. The goal was to do at least 10. Basically, with each contraction, I would link my hands together under my belly and lift about 2 inches up and push 2 inches in. This was again, to help baby get into the right position. Hubby and I walked up and down the hall and made it up and down the stairs – two at a time, sideways…like a side lunge. We kept on going – stopping to breathe through contractions and doing a belly lift each time. My moaning was getting a bit louder each time and my mood was starting to shift toward a more serious “get to work” side.
After doing belly lifts for some time, Chris, a nurse midwifery student who was also on our birth team asked if I wanted to see how dilated I was. Since it had been a while, I decided it would be good to know how things were progressing. At this point, I was at about 7-8 cm dilated. It felt good to know that things were moving along, but my hips were really starting to get tired. It was time for some more rest. Chris suggested that this would be a good time to get in the jacuzzi and I was pretty excited about that idea! It would take about 20 minutes to fill the tub, so hubby and I rested a bit on the bed while we waited.
Sitting in the jacuzzi felt really nice, but it also slowed down my contractions again. After letting me enjoy the water and the rest for a little while, Mary Beth gave us some suggestions for getting things to speed up again. We tried them and managed to stay in the tub for probably another 30-45 minutes before I decided I wanted to get out. After toweling off, we started walking up and down the hallway again – doing belly lifts with each contraction. At this point, hubby was trying to joke around, but I was pretty done and just didn’t find any of it amusing anymore. Even though I was a bit grumpy, I knew this was a sign that we were nearing “transition” and getting closer and closer to pushing.
After doing a bit of walking, I decided I really wanted to lay down again. I was getting tired. We dimmed the lights in the room and switched on the battery-powered candles, then hubby and I laid down on the bed to close our eyes. I stayed on my left side with my right leg propped up on a yoga bolster and a heating pad on my right hip. My contractions felt much stronger and I had about 3 of them before my water broke. Since my water never broke with Dean (the doctor broke them for me), this really surprised me. I felt a pop and then just a gush of liquid. I yelled out that my water had broken and before I knew it, the whole birthing team was there. I was a bit shaken up and just started bawling – I think it had finally hit me that this was REALLY happening. We were going to meet our baby soon, but first, there was some hard work to be done.
From this point, things started happening really fast. Much of it is a blur. I vaguely remember Richard going to the bathroom at some point and me having a contraction while he was in there. Once he got back, I hung onto him pretty tightly to make sure he didn’t go anywhere again. Each contraction was incredibly powerful. Marsha coached me through them and told me to push if I felt the urge. She also reminded me to slow down my breathing and focus on getting oxygen to my baby. With each contraction, I held on tight to my hubby and definitely screamed at points – the pressure I felt in my pelvis was really strong. At some point, I had a strong urge to poop but kept fighting it – I let my birthing team know and Mary Beth told me to just let it go – that they would just get rid of the chucks pad underneath me and move along. So…I let go. It felt like the biggest poop of my life (maybe that’s what I get for eating all that kale at lunch!). I asked hubby to confirm, but he let me know that I had him in a headlock the whole time, so he really didn’t see much of anything. Soon after, Marsha told me that if I reached down, I could feel the baby’s head. I remember telling her that I didn’t need to touch it because I knew it was there. Haha. Then, I remember feeling a surge of movement and in my crazed state I said something along the lines of “did she go back in?!” That obviously wasn’t the case. Baby girl’s head was out and it was time for me to push the rest of her out. Before I knew it, she was placed on my stomach and I couldn’t believe our baby girl was finally here.
Marsha wiped baby down and helped her get on my breast right away. We waited until the cord stopped pulsing before they clamped it and Richard could cut it. He didn’t get to with Dean, so I was excited for him to have this chance. Marsha asked if I had heard her stomp her feet on the floor when baby was born – I hadn’t noticed! She had told the couples in their birthing meeting downstairs that there was a birth happening upstairs and that she would stomp her feet to let them know when baby was born. Apparently, we received a round of applause!
After some time had passed, Chris informed me that we needed to push the placenta out. I gave a couple more pushes and got it out. She showed us the placenta and the sac where our baby had lived for the past 9-ish months. So cool! Our birthing team also let us know that baby girl had the cord wrapped around her neck with her hand right under her chin. This kept her from tucking her chin and evenly putting pressure on the cervix – that’s why it had taken so long!
The next hour was spent snuggling with our baby while Chris stitched up a really minor 1st degree tear. Hubby had a chance to do a bit of skin-to-skin with our little girl as well. Once Chris was done stitching me up, she did a full newborn exam, gave baby girl a vitamin K shot, and placed antibiotic ointment on her eyes. Baby girl weighed in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces – a little peanut! Chris also got her footprints for us (though it took 3 tries because baby girl kept moving her feet!). Richard then put on baby girl’s first diaper and a cozy outfit (which, even at “newborn” size, was really big) for her to go home in. Mary Beth heated up some of the chili we had brought from home and got me a granola bar to eat – both to refuel, but also so I would have something in my stomach before taking ibuprofen. While we relaxed and ate, we took some time to let family know that baby girl had arrived – everyone was really excited (and a bit surprised since she was almost 3 weeks early). At this point, we still hadn’t decided on a name – it was either going to be Dylan Mira or Mira Dylan and we just couldn’t settle on one.
Once we had eaten and had a little time to rest, Mary Beth helped me get to the bathroom so I could pee and take a shower. And once I was dressed, she gave us instructions for postpartum healing and baby caring. By midnight, we were packing up the car and loading baby girl in the carseat. While we were gathering our things, Marsha asked Richard what he thought of the birth and his response was “it was a little boring actually.” Ha! Hubby brought the car around (it was raining) and we were on our way home.
Little did we know, that we would wake up to a power outage due to a nor’easter and have to spend the first 3 days with our newborn without electricity or heat. I told hubby that that’s what he gets for calling Mira’s entrance into this world “boring.” 😉
- Hospital birth
- OB + Doula + Hospital nurses
- 40 weeks + 3 days
- 29lb gained
- Baby’s weight: 6lb 13oz
- 19 inches long
- 10-11 hour labor (2 hours of pushing)
- Labored 9 hours at home
- Labor started in the middle of the night
- Born in the morning
- 2nd degree tear
- Birth Center
- CNM + birthing assistant + CNM student
- 37 weeks + 2 days
- 26lb gained
- Baby’s weight: 5lb 8oz
- 18.75 inches long
- 13-14 hour labor (45 minutes of pushing)
- Labored about 3-4 hours at home
- Labor started in the morning
- Born in the evening
- Tiny 1st degree tear