A week ago we were overjoyed to welcome our daughter, Brynna Abigail, into this world! I love hearing birth stories as much as the next woman, so I thought I’d share mine.
For those who don’t know, here’s a quick synopsis of my first one: 5 weeks early, out of town, water broke, snowstorm, 3 hour drive, made it to the hospital, 7 hours from start to pushing, 3 hours pushing, perfect baby boy, 5 days NICU. We were unprepared, overwhelmed, exhausted, and felt like we were drowning when we brought home our sweet little Conlan Russell.
This time was totally different. I went full-term (she was born at 39 weeks exactly), we were ready, and knew more of what to expect. I didn’t have the all-consuming fear of labor that plagued me my entire first pregnancy. I was ready to have this baby. Anytime. The only problem was that it didn’t seem that she was in any hurry to come. I felt no sense that labor was imminent, and at my 38 week check I hadn’t progressed at all from the week before. Disappointment.
Christmas drew closer and all I wanted was to have a baby and be home for Christmas. Then Christmas drew even closer and I realized I didn’t want to be in the hospital on Christmas day, so it would be great if she could wait until after Christmas morning. I wanted to watch Conlan wake up excited and open his gifts and delight in the magic of Christmas. Still, I didn’t feel I was anywhere close to having a baby so I told Rusty I really felt like I was going to go past my due date. More disappointment.
Christmas came and we spent it quietly at home as a family of three. It was wonderful. Then, as it came to an end, I told Rusty that I would spend the night on the couch. I had a nasty, lingering cough from a cold, had recently developed a very sexy late-pregnancy snore, and had to pee every 20 minutes, so I knew I would be up a lot through the night. I opted to sleep on the couch so I could get up and get water/go to the bathroom/whatever without disturbing my husband. I went to sleep around midnight.
At 1:50 am I woke up in a coughing spasm and with terribly bad gas cramps. I knew they weren’t contractions because they didn’t feel anything like the textbook contractions I had with Conlan. They seemed to come and go pretty regularly though, so just for “fun” I decided to time them. For about 40 minutes they were 2 1/2 – 3 minutes apart. Again, just for “fun” I called the labor & delivery nurse. I told her I thought I had gas cramps but wanted to check in with her. Because they didn’t feel like my previous contractions, and because I wasn’t having any tightness with them, we agreed they weren’t contractions. She told me to lay down, drink water, monitor them, and call back if I thought I needed to come in. Then I had 2 more cramps 2 minutes apart. I started to get a little worried because I was chilled & shaky (just as I remembered I was in transition with Conlan) and I didn’t trust that contractions had to be “unbearable” for them to be real. I got an epidural at 9 cm with my son and I never felt the pain was unmanageable. Four minutes after I hung up with the nurse, I called her back and said I was coming in “just in case.” I told her I’d be there in an hour.
I woke up Rusty and told him we needed to go. I cautioned him that we would probably be sent home because I was just having gas cramps, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. He called his parents, got stuff packed in the car, and I told him to stop rushing because there really wasn’t any hurry. He didn’t listen. I was the last one in the car. By this time it was about 2:50 am.
On the drive to his parents’ house I started to get the sense that maybe, just maybe, this was actual labor. I was still in denial because my contractions did not build gradually, peak , and subside like they did with Conlan, but were quick, painful, sharp abdominal attacks that lasted about a minute but ended as quickly as they came. We pulled up to my in-laws’ house, quickly dropped off our little boy and our dog, and headed to the hospital.
Just as we were about to get on the freeway I got slammed with a monster contraction, felt my water break, and felt a literal “thump” in my pelvis. Then I felt my body start to push. This was the point when I realized that I was actually in labor. “Rusty, I am NOT having this baby in the car!” We were 15-20 minutes away from the hospital and it seemed like an eternity. I prayed harder than I ever have that this baby would wait. I used the brief moments between contractions to calm my anxieties, and used the moments during contractions to squeeze my husband’s hand, bite the seatbelt, anything to distract myself from pushing. Somewhere in this story my husband put on the four-way flashers, hit the gas, and started running red lights. Praise God it was the middle of the night.
When we were just a few minutes away I felt like I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to do something to make sure they were ready for me. I called the labor & delivery nurse again and said “I’ll be there in 5 minutes. I need someone to meet me at the front door with a wheelchair, I am having this baby in the car!” By the grace of God we made it to the hospital. But, because it was the middle of the night, the doors were locked. Any reasonable person would read the instructions on how to access the maternity center after-hours but I was in a bit of panic mode so I didn’t calm down enough to figure it out and just started banging on the door. Here came a tech with my wheelchair. We made it! It was 3:30 am.
They took us straight into our room and my labor nurse arrived at the same time. Turns out she saw us coming since she was at one of the red lights we ran. She tried her best to distract me from pushing while the staff doctor arrived – clearly, there was no way the doctor from my practice was going to make it. Finally they let me push. After 4 or 5 pushes, our perfect Brynna Abigail arrived. It was 3:50 am, exactly 2 hours since I had woken up with “gas pains.” The doctor put her on my chest right away, and I held her and nursed her and kissed her and couldn’t believe that she was here. It was over, and we did it!
We are delighted with our new little family of four. While the first time around we thought that we were drowning, this time seems immeasurably easier. We are calm, we are rested, we are happy, we are blessed. God has been faithful to our family and we look forward to what adventures are next. If our first adventure with Brynna is any indication, we may be in for a wild ride!