I haven't always written out our birth stories, but you can read about Second Daughter's birth compared to First Daughter's birth here.
I woke on Second Son's due date around 5:30 am and felt a little weird. I wasn't having strong contractions or anything; I just felt light-headed and queasy. I dozed on the chair in the living room until 7:00 am, then asked Kansas Dad to get up right when his alarm went off so he could drive me to the doctor's office when it opened. I had an appointment scheduled for the afternoon, but they said I could see another doctor that morning. We gave the kids a little snack and headed into town. Not wanting to believe it was anything, we brought along the grocery bags and list.
By the time we left, I was having contractions about every six or eight minutes. When we arrived after the thirty minute drive, they were closer, maybe every five to six minutes. I'd been fooled by contractions before, though, so I was glad to see the doctor first. They were wonderful at the office, sending me in right away. I was so glad when the doctor said I was definitely in labor and dilated to five! I had been afraid it was another false alarm.
He called the birth center to let them know I was coming in. We met Grammy to hand off the kids and made it to the center around 10:30 am. I was having contractions about every four to five minutes, but they were very manageable. If I hadn't felt so off that morning I would probably not have gone in so early. In fact, the nurses couldn't even tell I was having the contractions until they had the monitor on.
I labored easily until noon when the contractions got stronger. Even then, I think I did pretty well breathing through them until 1:00 pm. Then it got rough. I was still feeling light-headed (though my nurse, Betsy, helped a lot with suggestions on my breathing). I would have two or three strong contractions right on top of one another and then a longer gap in between when I think I may have even fallen asleep. The resident kept coming in to check me, but she wasn't seeing much of a difference. Hearing that every time made me feel like I wasn't going to make it to the end, but my nurse was amazingly supportive. She kept repeating, "The numbers don't matter. Every contraction is bringing you closer to your baby. You're doing great." (Kansas Dad was saying the same thing, but it's always easier to believe a nurse, isn't it?)
Looking back, it's hard to believe how long that hour seemed. I definitely felt like I wasn't in control of myself and wasn't handling the pain well, despite what Kansas Dad and the nurse were saying. It seemed to be getting tougher. I'm not sure what I thought would happen, but it really seemed like I wasn't going to have the strength to get through it. Apparently the resident and nurse could tell I was getting closer because they both called my doctor. He arrived around 1:45 pm.
This was the first birth my doctor attended since the girls were born on weekends and when he was on vacation. I could tell the resident disagreed with his decision, but he told me I could start pushing whenever I wanted. (I'd felt ready, but looking back I think some of that was just that I wanted to end the labor and get the baby out.) He also didn't ask me to move or rearrange anything, which I appreciated later when I realized they hadn't set everything up as they usually do. I certainly wasn't in the mood to be accommodating to other people! It's a definite possibility that I wasn't fully dilated when I started to push. My doctor didn't check and I didn't care.
I only had to push a few times with the girls, but Second Son took a bit more effort. I don't know if that's because he was still pretty high up or just because of his size, but I think I had to push continuously for about ten minutes, stopping only to breathe. It was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done and I yelled a lot.
I was exhausted when he was born at 2:02 pm, but I still managed to make a joke about how we kept our 2 pm appointment with the doctor. A boy! My doctor said, "I take it this wasn't your easiest birth." I'll say. We could tell he was big, but no one thought he'd be bigger than First Daughter (who was 9 pounds, 10 ounces at birth). I held him and nursed him for about an hour and a half before they took him to get him cleaned up, weighed and diapered.
That's when I realized I still wasn't feeling too well, still lightheaded and queasy. I nearly fainted the first time I was up and out of bed. (I would have fainted if my nurse didn't drop everything and respond immediately when I called out to her. She helped me back to the bed quickly enough.) For the next couple of hours, I had to have at least one nurse with me each time I got up. It was unnerving, but eventually I felt more like myself.
I have a confession. I did not feel like I'd been as strong or controlled as I should have been the final hour of labor and just before Second Son was born. Looking back, of course, I can see I was holding myself to some outrageous standard. After all, most of my labor was in the last hour so it was bound to be intense, and I gave birth to a baby that weighed over ten pounds. I don't know if they would have given me an epidural if I'd asked (probably not, as they anticipated a quick birth based on the girls' births), but I do think it's likely I would have had a lot of trouble pushing for the delivery if I'd had one. Second Daughter's birth was a piece of cake compared to this one.
I'll say this, too; it's a little frightening to think about how big Fifth Baby might be, if we have a Fifth Baby.