I didn’t mean to give up blogging completely during my cuarentena (literally, quarantine, and also the 40 day postpartum period). I know most of my readers have been introduced to Archie through my social media, but I had to write a birth story.
I loved going back to read Xavi’s birth story as those moments got lost in the day to day of raising an infant who transformed into a busy toddler. I also enjoyed hearing from other moms about how their experiences differed from their first child to second, third, etc. So, I had to record my own experience.
Six weeks ago, Archibald Kevin was born. We checked in to the hospital around 2. Archie arrived at 5:13 pm. He was smallish at 6 pounds, 5 ounces, 19 inches long. Just like his big brother, he had a full head of hair.
Now, for the unabridged version.
I woke up on Monday, August 29th with contractions. It was about 5:30 am, a bit earlier than I typically wake up. The contractions weren’t too painful just yet. In fact, if I wasn’t 5 days past my due date, I’d think it was false labort. I tried to sleep through them, but was unsuccessful.
When Sean woke up, I told him I was having mild contractions. We went through the normal routine of breakfast and taking Xavi to daycare. Instead of going in to work, Sean returned to stay with me. Throughout the morning we timed the contractions, did a few loads of laundry, packed my hospital bag and watched a few episodes of Fresh Off the Boat. By late morning there was still no discernible pattern to the contractions and the pain was still mild.
I had a 12:30 midwife appointment. Since I was pretty sure I was in early labor, I called ahead and asked if I should keep it or just go to the hospital once contractions got closer. The nurse said I should go in to the clinic as they’d be able to tell me about how much longer I should labor at home before going to the hospital.
When I went in, the midwife confirmed that I was in early labor and 5-6 cm dilated and almost fully effaced. This surprised me given that I wasn’t in that much pain yet and the contractions weren’t even following a pattern.
“Do you have plans afterward?” she asked.
We were a little confused by the question.
“No, we have my hospital bag in the car,” I told her.
She suggested we make our way to the hospital and not delay too much given that this was my second child and I could progress quickly. She called the hospital and told them we’d be checking in shortly.
We went home, ate a little and called our parents to update them. Sean and I arrived at the hospital shortly before 2 pm.
I tried to go through the check-in desk quickly and was led over to a labor and delivery room.
Once checked in, the midwife on duty and student midwife shadowing her came to check on me. They confirmed that I was at 7 cm and worked out a plan. I’d get the epidural, then they would break my water and hopefully things would advance fine from there.
By this point the contractions were definitely painful. I asked our nurse for an exercise ball to labor on while I waited for pain management. Sean put on some music (Mexrrissey and Juan Gabriel) to take my mind off the pain.
The anesthesiologist came in shortly after. While he did his work, he made small talk that fell flat.
“Where are you from?”
“Huh, what do you mean?”
“Yeah, are you from Ithaca?”
“No, I moved here from California last year.”
“Ah, California. The cereal state.”
“Yeah, it’s full of fruits, flakes, and nuts.”
I was a bit confused and annoyed, but it was probably because he was about to take a giant needle and stick it in my spinal column. I knew the whole procedure would be very uncomfortable even if worth the pain relief. I didn’t need him making dumb jokes.
I asked Sean to turn off the music, because I couldn’t focus on what the anesthesiologist was saying with “El Noa Noa” in the background.
I wish I could say the epidural worked like magic as it had with Xavi. Nope, there was no way I’d be able to nap or read a magazine this time.
Technically, the epidural did work and my legs felt tingly. But, I still felt a lot of pain from the contractions. It also didn’t help that I was required to be in the worst position for laboring and managing pain, on my back and then my side so I would continue to progress.
Sean told the nurse that I was still in pain, it didn’t seem like the epidural was effective. After confirming that it was working, the anesthesiologist said he didn’t want to make it stronger as it might interfere with effectively pushing. I wanted to argue and say that I couldn’t feel anything with Xavi and was able to push him just fine, but the idea of sitting still for him to redo it seemed even more painful. He and the nurse suggested pushing the button to get a boost of the medicine every 15 minutes and that helped manage the pain.
Soon, the midwife and student midwife were back. I was a bit nervous when I was told that with my consent, the student midwife would break my water. I know medical professionals need to learn but wasn’t excited about being part of someone’s teachable moment. Luckily, with her teacher guiding her she did fine and I continued to progress. They told me that soon I’d feel the need to push and should let the nurse know so they could come back for delivery.
I was a little nervous I wouldn’t feel the pressure and need to push. With Xavi, I never felt this urge. My midwife just informed me that it was time after I awoke from a nap. Despite my fear, I had no need to worry. Less than half an hour after the midwives left, I was calling them back. They confirmed that it was time and prepped the room/bed.
Sean stood by my side. It was all happening much quicker and soon we would be meeting our child.
I did as instructed and pushed. They offered words of encouragement and told me I was doing well as they could see the baby coming. I pushed for six minutes and the baby was out.
They put a quiet baby on my chest, there were no immediate wails. Nor was there an announcement from the midwives announcing the baby’s sex as you see in the movies. I quickly checked as the baby was handed to me.
A boy! Sean’s intuition was right all along.
I cuddled him and was overcome with emotion and love. I felt a rush of adrenaline and accomplishment. I did it. He was here.
I felt like Xavi’s birth happened in a dream, but with Archie I was fully present. I felt everything despite the epidural. I felt more supported and encouraged by the midwives and nurses attending to me. I relied on Sean more too, especially as the pain got more difficult and I needed to hold his hands or for him to advocate for me.
A few hours after Archie was born and we announced to our immediate families, Sean went to pick up Xavi. They returned and a very excited Xavi came in to meet his little brother. I’d never seen him smile like this.
It was wonderful and I’m so glad Sean caught the moment on video.
All photos by Sean.