Oh There's No Place Like Pregnant For The Holidays
If the final month of my second pregnancy was any indication of how my labor and delivery would go, I was in for a smoother, faster experience than with my first. Sure, I was doubly exhausted from being super pregnant and parenting a toddler, attending holiday parties and events, and wrapping up client work–oh did you think I was going to say wrapping Christmas presents? Those had been wrapped since early November– but symptom-wise, I was in better shape.
Maybe it was because I did not have to endure the oppressive heat of July and August 2020. Maybe it was because it wasn’t my body’s first rodeo. Whatever it was, this time, I did not suffer from lightning crotch–yeah those lovely stabbing pains in my vag at random moments just walking around. Because of this, when I got the daily, hourly texts from well-meaning family and friends asking “if baby was here yet????!” I said no, and it doesn’t feel like anything is happening, either. My due date came and went (~ 3% of babies are born on their due dates.) Three days later, two days before my induction date, it felt like tug-of-war in my abdomen. Sharp, shooting pains left me doubled over in the grocery store (thanks Mom for insisting on driving me to my final appointment and errands after.) The same night, I even started timing contractions! But alas they subsided after 25 minutes.
The day before my induction I gave myself a salon-style blowout. If everything from the neck down was going to be complete chaos, then at least I would have amazing hair. I did a final yoga sesh to refresh my mind of positive thoughts and mantras to think of during labor. No negative spiraling this time! The morning of my induction, Christmas lights packed in my hospital bag, we arrived at the hospital at 6am and filled out paperwork. Around 7am, the team started me on synthetic oxytocin, Pitocin. I was having contractions but they were moderate. At 9am, my doc broke my water. Suddenly, by 10am the contractions were INTENSE. I was no longer sitting in the hospital bed chatting. I was up and around in several standing forward, leaning positions for active labor. The familiar back labor from my first birth came back, and I was officially READY for my epidural.
Being Your Own Advocate
Here is where things were a little different than my first experience. My nurse team was an older nurse who was training another younger nurse. The veteran nurse checked me (this felt painful and uncomfortable) and determined I was 6-7cm. She then asked if she could have the trainee check me as part of her training. Call me a selfish B, I said no, no thank you to more, unnecessary pain. Many people advise, “you have to be your own advocate,” and they’re right, you do.
Beautiful Baby Boy
After the epidural, the severity of the contractions subsided, and by 12noon, I was 10cm. “If you feel the urge to push, don’t,” said the nurse. My doctor arrived. I went through two rounds of pushing. This time, in between contractions, when he asked if I wanted to touch the head, I said yes. I think with my first, having been in back labor for nearly two days, I was just too exhausted to process any additional tasks. Anyway, I felt the head and was incredulous at how close baby was to joining world on the outside. It only took one more push before my husband cried, "it's a BOY!"
"Is he crying, why isn't he crying?!" I begged. "He's fine, he's crying," my doctor reassured. (Whitney, miss personality, came out screaming. Baby #2 barely made a peep!) He finally let out a couple of wails and was placed on my chest. Again, last time, I was too exhausted to even cry until hours after Whitney was born, but this time, as relief flooded through me, I began to cry. I couldn't believe I had a boy! Weighing in at 8lbs 3oz, measuring 21 3/4" long, Oliver (William Oliver Wabiszewski, Jr.), born at 12:41pm, was the belated Christmas present we had all been waiting for.
When you have a baby in less than 6 hours and only have a second-degree tear (as opposed to labor taking several days and getting an episiotomy), sometimes you can go home the following afternoon. This was the case for me. I couldn't wait to get little Ollie home and introduce him to the rest of the family. Our dog Ritz had been on to me for a while, and we had already brought a baby home once before, so I was less anxious about her meeting the baby as I was about big sister.
We had been reading Big Sister books and talking to Whitney about the baby for a while, but I don't think it was possible for her to fully understand until she actually saw him in my arms. Like Mama, she was overwhelmed with emotions. She sucked her thumb and cuddled against him, which was adorable, and then cried "Mama, Mama" when she realized there was now someone else in my arms. The first few days were like this; after about a week I think the realization sunk in for our first born: Mama and Dada aren't going anywhere, they love Whitney, even when they are holding "Ahhjah" (how Whitney says Ollie.).
Having a newborn and toddler in the house has been a wonderful, chaotic, life changing experience. I am so grateful Oliver is a healthy, champion eater and sleeping well. It seems like time has slowed down since he joined our family. I can't wait to watch Whitney and Oliver grow up together, but for now, savoring each moment comes easier than it ever has.