And Then We Were Four

Sam's birth story: Sam had us on the edge of our seats for weeks.  I was three centimeters dilated and almost completely effaced for three weeks.  My dirty rotten liar of a OB (not really) kept telling me that it would be so unlikely for me to approach my due date with this second baby, and that surely I wouldn't make my next appointment.  But every week I kept showing up.  At my appointment on Tuesday, August 2 (the day after my due date), I was four centimeters, and my doctor asked me my feelings about induction.

I know a lot of women who like the convenience of it and figure, "why not?" but I'm not one of them.  I wanted to wait as long as he'd let me - as long as it was safe for Sam.  I know too many women who've had terribly long labors or unplanned C-sections because their bodies or their babies just weren't ready.  We scheduled an induction for more than a week away, in the event that Sam hadn't come by then.

We didn't have to wait that long.  On Thursday morning, August 4th, some friends of ours came over to visit for an hour or so.  As they were walking out the door, I looked to Dan and said, "Can you wait a minute before heading to the office?  I've had a few contractions, so let's just time them and see what's going on."

This wasn't particularly exciting or promising, as I'd been having contractions sporadically for weeks.

We sat and sipped coffee and tea and timed.  They were consistently 11 minutes apart or less.  After 10 in a row, all the same intensity as the last (or greater), I called my doctor.  The nurse was skeptical, and told me to just keep waiting because 11 minutes is still pretty far apart.

I was upbeat and friendly when I got off the phone- then had a fierce contraction and called back immediately.

I told her (with only a small bit of condescension), "I don't know if this makes a difference, but this is my second child, my first came in six short hours, I'm three days overdue, AND I'm at least 4 cm dilated."

"Um, yes, that makes a difference.  Go ahead to labor and delivery."

"Okay, thank you," I said merrily, feeling validated.

We met a friend at gas station on the way to the hospital to drop off Madeline and her little Elmo suitcase for the night.  As we drove, I oscillated between feeling perfectly normal, hoping I hadn't jumped the gun, and arching my back in my seat, hissing, "THIS BABY IS COMING NOWWWW."

We arrived at the hospital around 1:45 in the afternoon, and I got an awesome, git 'er done, take-no-prisoners type of nurse.  Labor and delivery was swarming that day, and my nurse nabbed the last room just in time, right out from under someone's nose, which saved me from delivering on a stretcher in a triage room.  I was settled in and getting my IV by 2:00, at which point I was already up to 6.5 centimeters.

I asked for my epidural right away, mostly because I knew I was moving fast and would want it by the end.  I wishy-washed back and forth, feeling a little wimpy for asking immediately, but I'm so glad I did.  My nurse hunted down an anesthesiologist who was walking out the door to go home and drug him in for "one last epidural."  Seriously, awesome nurse.  He came right away, but even still I was eight centimeters and trembling all over by the time I got it.  He was great - hit a moving target (my anesthesiologist did the same thing when I gave birth to Madeline.  I'm a shaker.)  Right after the epidural, my doctor came in and broke my water.

And at this point during the process my nurse made a comment that has given me serious bragging rights in this house.  She said, "You'd never know you were dilated this far by looking at you.  You must have a super-high pain tolerance."

Um, can I get that in writing?  Did you hear that Dan?  When I say my back hurts, I MEAN IT.  *ahem* 

The epidural numbed the top half of my belly right away, eliminating some of the muscle pain of the contractions, but I was still feeling incredible, awful, painful pressure with each and every one, which were now right on top of each other.  I whispered to Dan, "I have to cough, but I feel like if I do, he will rip right through me."  That's how end labor felt, like tearing flesh.  (It was a brand new sensation for me, because when I received my epidural with Madeline I was only 5 centimeters along, and it numbed EVERYTHING.  It was amazing.  It was salvation.  It was the best $45 (after insurance) I've EVER spent.)

"It takes about 15 minutes for it to kick in all the way," said my nurse.

15 minutes later I was still doing my breathing exercises and clutching Dan's hand in a vice grip. My nurse asked how I was feeling and between breaths I said, "Like I'm holding him in."

"I'm sure that's because you're about to deliver," she said, "Let me go get the doctor."  She gave me a boost of the epidural, trying to help it catch up to me, and hurried out the door.

Not a minute later the doctor was in the room and I was pushing.  Oddly enough, it felt like relief.  Pushing a baby out feels much more natural than trying to hold one in.  I pushed for five minutes or so - through 3 contractions.

First came his head, and when it was done I laid back on my pillow thinking I was finished.  Madeline was so small that once her head was out the rest of her just slid out behind her.  Not so with a big, overdue boy.  It took me several more pushes to get Sam's shoulders.  Those pushes were the worst, not just because of the pain, but because I was waiting to hear him cry.  My doctor kept telling me to push, to give it everything I had, and all I was thinking was, "Where is his cry?"

But sure enough he came, and he cried, and he was beautiful.

That's the thing about big overdue babies - they look more like babies and less like aliens.  He didn't squint in the light, allowing us to see those giant, beautiful eyes.  His skin wasn't wrinkly, because he had enough sweet baby fat to fill it out.  He didn't have any of that fine hair all over his body, or any of that cheesy-looking white stuff that protects them from all the fluid.  The only newborny thing he had (has) going on was a pretty serious cone head from being wedged down in the birth canal for so long.

And so, at 4:12 in the afternoon, Samuel Robert Conner was born.

He weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 19 inches long.


Madeline is as excited (perhaps more excited) that Sam shares a birthday with President Obama as she is to have a little brother in the first place.  (She is smitten with Michelle Obama, and has informed me the she is planning on becoming the First Lady when she grows up.  I'm encouraging her to pursue it.)

 And then we were four.