It was a Tuesday at my 39+ week appointment when my doctor advised that it might be a good idea to schedule an induction. With Bean’s size expected to be at least 8 pounds, and my amniotic fluid a little low, the doctor though that it might be better for Bean to be born a little sooner rather than a little later.
Oh, and I was already 5 cms dilated and not in labor. Go figure.
As one of my cousins said, “I can’t even believe a woman can be 5 cms dilated and NOT be in labor.” Hey, you and me both.
Especially because at my 39-week appointment with Monkey I was all Fort Knox up there. Not dilated or effaced AT ALL. Not even a little bit. Not even enough to let my doctor strip my membranes. I burst into tears at that appointment.
So it was pretty surprising to be 5 cms dilated and not in labor with Bean.
We scheduled the induction for Friday, February 5, 2010 — one day before my due date — and hoped that she would come on her own.
It was an EXTREMELY weird feeling to have an end date. With Monkey, every day during the last two weeks was spent wondering, “Is today THE day?” To actually know the day was a little unnerving.
I spent the next three days exercising my Type A personality — aka “I know when I’m going to have a baby and I’m going to clean the entire house and do everything I possibly can before she comes.”
If given the opportunity to control a situation, I take it.
I even put over 700 photos in albums. In one night. Yeah, I kind of let that get out of hand. I hadn’t printed photos since Monkey was four months old. WHOOPS!
On February 4, I planned a special day of errands, shopping, and lunch with my good friend A. It was the last day I knew I would have any time at all for myself, much less time out of the house, so I made sure to wear a cute outfit and do my hair and makeup. My friend A remarked, “I can’t believe you’re all dressed up! You look so calm! You’re having a baby tomorrow!”
It was kind of fun to be running very last-minute errands at Babies R Us and Old Navy, having the clerks ask me when I was due and replying, “I’m having the baby tomorrow.” I even played the “I’m having a baby tomorrow” sympathy card and convinced the clerk to honor a coupon that wasn’t valid until the next day. I’m pretty good at convincing people of things. It’s a Type A thing.
Of course I also had to finish folding laundry, fill the car up with gas, shave my legs, put my bag in the car, pack Monkey’s bag, and glance at the labor and delivery info again. I was ready.
That morning we woke up early to find that Monkey had fingerpainted with poop in her bed. Nothin’ like some added stress as you’re rushing around thinking, “OMG I’m going to have a BABY. TODAY!” Ultimately we got off to the hospital on time and made the short drive in mostly nervous anticipation.
My birth experience with Bean was completely different from my experience with Monkey.
With Monkey I went into labor on my own around 2 a.m. and labored at home until 2 p.m. before leaving for the hospital. My contractions slowly gained in intensity and duration over 12 hours. When I was admitted to the hospital I was only 3-4 cms dilated. Monkey was born at 12:30 a.m. the next morning after 1.5 hours of pushing. She was a very average 7 pounds.
Checking into the hospital with Bean, on the other hand, was completely surreal compared to what it was like with Monkey. For one, I wasn’t in labor. I didn’t tell the nurse examining me, “I love you,” after she concluded that I could be admitted.
It was all very polite and punctual, with our suitcase and camera. Like we were tourists checking into a hotel. We strolled up to the labor and delivery floor. No rush, no urgency.
My doctor came in to break my water and then have me walk the halls for three hours. What a waste of time that was. I was sending emails and updating my Facebook status from my Blackberry, telling everyone how surreal it was to be induced.
By the time my three hours was up, I was experiencing infrequent and inconsistent “stop in your tracks and breathe” contractions. I was 6 cms dilated. The nurse hypothesized that she must be in there spread-eagle style. No freaking kidding.
At 12:30 p.m., the nurse administered pitocin. At 12:40 p.m., I was in full-on, angry raging labor and 7 cms dilated. Wowie.
The nurse called for the anesthesiologist right away.
Now here’s the part where I wish I would have done things differently. At the hospital where I delivered Bean, I had the option of receiving a “walking” epidural. I don’t remember the specifics, but apparently the anesthesiologist would administer a first drug that takes some of the edge off but still allows you full use of your legs because they want to encourage you to stay up and moving so that your labor continues to move along.
Well, clearly that was not going to be a problem for me. So the anesthesiologist just administered the full epidural right away. I wish she hadn’t. I wish I would have known how fast it all was going to go. But I didn’t know, and it turned out completely unlike my slow and steady labor with Monkey.
With Monkey, by the time I was ready to push, my epidural was wearing off and I could feel my body telling me exactly what to do. I still had pain relief, but I felt more in control of my body.
With Bean it was not like that at all. Within two hours of receiving the epidural it was time to push. And I couldn’t feel a thing. I wasn’t experiencing what my body wanted me to do. Don’t get me wrong, I had a vague sense to push, but I was pushing all wrong. And I knew it. The whole experience just felt completely out of control. Especially at the point when Bean’s head was out and the doctor was trying to maneuver a shoulder and a nurse jumped up on a stool and starting frantically pushing on my belly to get her out. It was a panic moment for me to be perfectly honest. Thank God they were able to free her shoulder in what probably was seconds, but felt like an eternity. (I’m really sorry if I’m scaring you, my pregnant friends.)
Thank God I only had to push for 15 minutes. I honestly couldn’t have sustained the type of “wrong” pushing I was doing for much longer.
In the end, it turned out there was a good reason Bean got a little stuck. She was 9 lbs 6 ounces. Upon the doctor laying her on my chest, I immediately exclaimed, “Oh my God, SHE’S HUGE.” And that was before I even knew her official weight. I could tell just by looking at her that she was SO BIG. Especially compared to the first time I laid eyes on Monkey — who honestly was a peanut with super skinny legs and arms. But Bean — she was gigantic. She already had big baby rolls on her arms and legs. She looked like a one-month-old.
It was funny, I remember when I held Monkey for the first time I just kept looking at her, thinking that she would look familiar to me. I expected to look at her and think, “I know that face.” But I didn’t feel that at all.
The second time around I thought, “Now this time the baby will look familiar to me because she’ll look like her sister.” But at that moment when I held her for the first time, Bean looked NOTHING like what Monkey looked like as a brand new baby. Again, such a weird feeling to expect to look at this baby and see something familiar, but not. Within just 24 hours though, the girls’ resemblance started to show.
I was much more emotional after Bean’s birth. I wept when the doctor laid her on my chest. My mom was in the room this time. Watching her cry as she watched her brand-new granddaughter look at me for the first time truly was special.
With Monkey, I was elated, but I really didn’t cry. The second time around I think I understood better the significance of the event. I could appreciate the BIRTH of OUR BABY and understand completely the joyous occasion that it was. I knew exactly how our lives were changing for the better.
With Monkey, I had no idea how truly awesome motherhood would be until I was actually experiencing it. It’s one of those things that you can’t fully appreciate, no matter what everyone tells you it will be like, until you’re actually doing it.
My two very best friends were pregnant with me while I was pregnant with Bean — one of them with her first. I teasingly told her that I thought I was more excited than she was. But only in the sense that I already knew the joy that was awaiting her, and I couldn’t wait for her to experience it. It’s just indescribable. There are no words.
If we have another child, I don’t know if I would elect to be induced again. I definitely don’t think I would take the “full” epidural again, given how fast everything went. That aspect of Bean’s birth was honestly quite traumatic for my Husband and me. So much so that shortly after she was born we both looked at each other and said, “I don’t think we’re going to have any more kids.”
Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. But if we have another baby, I know I’ll want to do some things differently.
In the end, it’s all worth it.
364 days ago, it was one day before the birth of my second child. My beloved Bean.