This time around, I was less nervous about the actual labor and delivery (having the knowledge that yes, it was physically possible and that yes, epidurals are truly like little miracles, and that, no you don't get a medal for giving birth without pain relief) and instead more horrified of going through the painful recovery again. With Violet I had a lot of internal and external tearing, ice packs and witch hazel were my best friends, I had to sit on a donut for weeks, and didn't feel completely free of pain and discomfort until literally a year after giving birth. I assumed this time around it would be more of the same, and to be honest some days I was rooting for a breech baby so that I could get a C-section.
I also thought that I would have a better idea this time of when to head to the hospital. Well, let's just say that the second time around things happen a little bit faster. I woke up on Sunday morning and it felt like any other day. Still massively pregnant, still no contractions - I figured this baby was going to be a week overdue like her big sister. I talked to my in-laws that morning on the phone about the fact that the baby's baptism may have to be rescheduled and snuggled on the couch with Violet while we watched some Sunday morning cartoons on the iPad. I was having some mild contractions, but nothing that felt real yet. That started to change around 10:30 AM. The contractions began to get more painful, and I found myself having to really focus and breathe through them. I started to time them and they were about fifteen minutes apart. After realizing that they were coming regularly and intensifying, I told Kevin that this might be it. Then I called my parents and let them know what was going on. My mom said she'd be right over, but I told her to take her time - I wasn't going anywhere any time soon. That was mistake number one.
When the contractions were about ten minutes apart, I called my doctor. She told me that I could continue to labor at home for a bit or come into the hospital - it was my call. I decided to stay home a bit longer (mistake number two), as I remember feeling more uncomfortable laboring in front of strangers at the hospital the last time around. I wanted to stay in the comfort and privacy of my own home with my own little family for as long as possible. Plus my parents weren't there yet to watch Violet. Violet seemed pretty oblivious to what was going on - I had put a movie on for her and she was pretty into it. At one point I sat down during a really painful contraction and got in trouble for sitting on her baby doll :) I apologetically hopped right up...it's amazing what you'll do for your kids - even in the middle of a contraction. I snuggled up with her and stroked her soft curls, and was hit by a wave of emotion. Our whole world was about to change. I couldn't fathom how I was going to split my time and my energy and my heart between two children. I found Kevin and cried in his arms for the life I was leaving behind and for the new life I was about to give birth to.
Before I knew it, the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. I was floored by how quickly they were hitting me and called my mom to see where they were at. Apparently convinced by my "take your time" speech, they had stopped for food on the way to the house. When they finally got there, I was in a lot of pain and ready to get the show on the road, but suddenly Violet seemed to realize something was up and started clinging to my leg begging me not to go. She kept saying, "But I like you Mommy!" Heart breaking to say the least, especially with all of those hormones surging through your body, but the contractions won out and I tore myself away, walked out to the car, and threw all of my things to the ground as another contraction hit me full force. I managed to drag myself into the car, and we were off. I was pretty against anyone talking in the car, but Kev and my mom quietly worked out a plan to drop him and me off while she parked the car. I'm really glad she was along to do that - I don't know if I would have been able to make the walk from the parking lot and I definitely wouldn't have wanted to head up to labor and delivery without Kevin. I also remember telling Kevin to remind me to leave the house earlier "next time" - laboring in a car sitting upright with a seatbelt on is just awful.
When we got to labor and delivery I suddenly remembered the "holding room" from the last time around. They check you to see if you're dilated/progressing and it's pretty much hell on Earth. You have to get changed into a gown, have a bunch of monitoring equipment strapped to your belly, and lie down on the bed while they do an internal. Plus there was another pregnant woman and her entourage in the room and they were watching TV and chatting - sounding so relaxed and sooo not where I was at at that point, and like I said - laboring in front of strangers is completely uncomfortable for me. But I knew it had to be done, so I gritted my teeth and did what I had to do. I made sure to inform the nurse that I wanted an epidural ASAP and pretty much wanted to punch her in the face when she giggled at me. My doctor was busy with another patient, so the nurse did my internal and I was five centimeters dilated. They admitted me and walked me over to the delivery room. I again begged for the epidural and got another giggle and was reminded that they needed to get an IV in me and get blood work before they could administer one. This did not make me happy at all - the contractions were right on top of each other at this point and I was terrified that I wouldn't get the epidural in time.
Luckily they hurried things along. I got the privilege of having my IV inserted by some sort of trainee and being informed that my veins were "valvy" which apparently isn't a good thing - the expression on my face at that point made Kevin think I was really going to start throwing punches. Luckily the (terrified looking) girl with the needle got it in on the first try, valvy veins and all, so her face was spared. I got also got a shot of Stadol, which took the edge off of the pain and made me feel more relaxed and a little loopy - kinda like I had one too many glasses of wine.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the doctor arrived to administer the epidural. At this point I couldn't stop my body from pushing during the contractions and it took every ounce of my focus and strength to keep my body still while he inserted the needle. I was pretty much crushing Kevin's hands with each contraction - I'm surprised they didn't end up broken or at least bruised. Thankfully the epidural started working pretty quickly and a beautiful feeling of relief washed over my body. My sister and mom came in and my sister began to take some photos at my request. I felt so lucky to be able to have her here to share this experience with me, all the way from Australia.
The doctor broke my water at this point and told me to let her know whenever I was ready to push. It was surreal to me that everything had happened so fast. I was going to meet my daughter.
Our Lucy Vivan was born at 4:49 PM and was absolutely perfect in every way. Six pounds, ten ounces, and nineteen inches of sweetness. I can't tell you how amazing it was to be able to keep her after giving birth. I felt my heart swell in those first precious moments with my second born, her skin touching mine, and I recalled a beautiful thought of one of my favorite writers, Melissa, written after the birth of her second child, "the greatness of our love is not divided among our children, but rather multiplied, indefinitely between them". How very right she was. xo, Lauren