WARNING: This post refers to how babies are made, where babies come from, and is just really, really long. Please read if you’re interested. If not, feel free to scroll to the end of the post to check out some newborn photos of George.
George was due April 9th. But because Eleanor had arrived a week before her due date, I started getting antsy in the last week of March. I told everyone I was hoping for an April Fools Baby, but really I was just sick of being pregnant and wanted that baby out of me as soon as possible. Any date before the due date would have been fine by me.
In those last few weeks I did everything I could that was recommended to induce labor naturally. I walked, I did a lot of labor intensive housecleaning, I had a glass of wine, and had lots of sex. But nothing seemed to be doing anything but make me exhausted. About a week before my due date, I started having regular contractions for several hours at a time almost every day, but they never got any stronger and were never closer together than 10 minutes.
I attended my weekly doctor visits, and at the end the doctor would say “Nope, you’re not dilated at all, I’ll see you next week!” I would reply, “Maybe, but my daughter was early so I think this one will be too!” But I always came back. I made it to every appointment up to my last 40 week appointment on April 9th. At that visit my doctor told me that she didn’t like women to go more than a week past their due date, so she had scheduled me to be induced, one week later, April 16th. I really didn’t like the idea of being induced. I wanted to have as natural a childbirth as possible, but by that point I just said, “Great!” I was so over it by that point that I was just happy to know that there was going to be an end date, a day that baby would have to finally come out!
Luckily, just three days later, at 4am on April 12th, I woke to some stronger than usual contractions. I went to the bathroom to pee (for the 3rd time that night, by the way) and saw that I had my bloody show! Whoo hoo! That means labor is coming! Although, according to a quick Google search from the bathroom on my iPhone, it means that labor is coming sometime soon, but not necessarily that day. So I begrudgingly went back to bed, and lay there timing my contractions. At that point they were about seven minutes apart. I lay there for another hour as the contractions grew a little stronger and six minutes apart. At 5am I told Josh that I was getting up and that we might be going to the hospital soon. But after so many days of false contractions, I strongly emphasized the might part. I really expected to get up, walk through some contractions, and have them get weaker and farther apart, just as they had been doing for weeks.
So I got up, put on some tv, opened up my laptop to work on a blog post, but soon found that I couldn’t concentrate on what I was working on with the increasingly uncomfortable contractions. At 6am I went to the bedroom and told Josh that it was time to get up and get ready to go. As he showered I got dressed. I really just put on a bra, shoes and a cardigan on top of my pajamas–I mean, how dressed do I need to be to go to the hospital and get into a hospital gown. Then I woke up Eleanor and told her that she had to get dressed and eat breakfast quickly because she was going to GoGo’s house, because the baby might come out today. She informed me that she didn’t think so, she thought he would probably come in a few more days, but she got dressed and ate her breakfast anyway.
Meanwhile, my contractions were getting stronger and by 7am they were three minutes apart. Josh continued getting ready and packed the last few items into our hospital bag. We left the house a little before 8am, by that time my contractions were getting close to three minutes apart.
We dropped Eleanor at my mom’s house about 20 minutes later. By then she realized that we were serious about the baby coming and was getting pretty excited to meet her brother. Well, she was really excited that she would get to spend the day with GoGo and then have a camp out in our living room with her Uncle Elliott that night, the new brother part was just a bonus.
Josh and I arrived at the hospital and checked in at labor & delivery around 9am. We got our room and I got into my hospital gown and at 9:30am, when my contractions were 3 minutes apart, the doctor came in to check me. Unfortunately, despite the growing strength of the contractions and how close together they were, I was fully effaced but only dilated to 4cm (10cm is baby time for those of you who aren’t in the know). So I had a while to go. Not the news I wanted to hear. I expected to get there and be about ready to go, get that baby out by noon or so and go home the next morning. You can tell by the length of this post, that this is not what happened.
At that point, the doctor said that I could either go home and come back when the contractions were stronger, or stay at the hospital walk through my contractions and she would check me again in two hours. I was not about to go home and come back. The contractions were so close together and were gaining in strength. I really didn’t think that we’d make it back if we left now. So, we walked and walked and walked doing laps around the labor & delivery department. Super boring and uncomfortable as the contractions got stronger and closer together.
I didn’t like the idea of being in pain and making the accompanying pain sounds in front of other people, so after a while we went back to our room, which was pretty spacious by the way, put on some This American Life on the ipod, and I walked in circles around the room for a while. About thirty minutes before I was about to be checked again the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and had grown so strong that I couldn’t walk or talk through them anymore. So, we called the nurse and told her that it was time to check me again. She did, and it turns out that I was only about 7cm now, closer, but it was still not time.
Now, I had planned to go for a natural childbirth this time. I wasn’t crazy about the epidural that I had when Eleanor was born finding it uncomfortable to have no use of my lower body, so I wanted to attempt to skip it this time around. But when the contractions were coming strong and fast and I had very little break to calm and relax myself between each one, and was then told that I wasn’t close enough to start pushing any time soon, I decided that it was time for some pain relief, so I asked for the epidural.
The nurse anesthetist arrived about 30 minutes later and began prepping me for the epidural. Josh was sent to the waiting room because too many husbands have fainted watching their wife get a needle in her spine. She explained to me that I would need to hold very still as the needle was stuck in. And I thought “no problem, she’ll just get it in between contractions. That gives her almost two minutes to get it done, how long can it take?” Well, it can take a while. For some reason, she had a terrible time finding the epidural space. She kept going in and out and in again and was just not getting it right. Meanwhile, I was trying to hold still through seriously strong and painful contractions. Although, I liked her when she came in, I was getting so angry and frustrated with her. I wanted to yell at her to get out. After what seemed like a dozen attempts, the Anesthesiologist was called in. He had a little better luck, but it still took him several attempts to get it in.
It was such a relief when the meds started working and I could finally relax. It was about noon now, and the nurse continued to check on me throughout the afternoon. I stayed dilated at about 8 cm for most of the day. My water finally broke late afternoon, and I assumed that after that I would get to 10 cm quickly and it would be time to push. But no such luck. I spent the day relaxing in bed, listening to podcasts, and just waiting.
Around 6pm I started to go through transition. Similar to when I had Eleanor, I started to feel nauseated, was feeling faint and having chills. Shortly thereafter, when I was still about 8cm, they started to give me Pitocin, hoping that stronger contractions would help me to dilate, but no such luck. After a while they stopped the Pitocin and, now at around 9cm, they decided to have me push lying on my side, hoping that the baby’s head would help to get rid of that last lip of cervix that was left. And thank goodness it worked!
They let me continue contracting and told me to let them know when I felt a strong urge to push and we would start pushing. I waited a little while, but got impatient. I told them, I’m not feeling a strong urge, but I’d like to push now. I was just ready to get to work and get that baby out! I had also stopped pushing my epidural medication button a while ago, so I was starting to feel the contractions more and more and was ready to put those contractions to some use.
I started pushing around 7:30pm and after less than 45 minutes of pushing to the count of ten two or three times per contraction, George Emmett Keegan Gross arrived at 8:11pm crying and covered in gook. Aside from having a lot less hair, he looked just like his sister. The midwife who had arrived for the pushing portion of the labor had Josh cut the cord and then insisted on showing us the placenta and all of it’s parts. Which was just a little bizarre as I was clearly more interested in the new baby lying on my chest than the bloody mass that had just come out of me.
The nurse took him from me, cleaned him off, measured and weighed him, and handed him back to me. He was 7lbs 4 oz, the exact same weight as Eleanor, and 19 3/4 inches, 1 3/4 inches shorter than Eleanor. He started nursing right away, which was such a relief, since Eleanor had trouble latching for the first few days after she was born.
I felt surprisingly well, which was another welcome difference from Eleanor’s birth. Her labor was 26 1/2 hours long, so by the time she was born I had been awake for at least 36 hours. After her delivery I was completely delirious and couldn’t stay awake to enjoy my little girl. This time I actually felt energized and I wasn’t in as much pain, because I didn’t have any tearing like I did last time. I was actually able to enjoy my new little boy for a while and get some cute sleepy shots of him that night and the next morning.
We ended up having to stay in the hospital a second night, because, although it was normal before and after, George showed a high temperature at one of his checks that first night. And it is hospital policy for a newborn to be observed for 48 hours if they show a high temp. But Eleanor still came to meet her brother the next day.
She was excited to meet him, but did get upset that she couldn’t hold him more, and had a little meltdown when she found out that we wouldn’t all be going home together that night. She and Josh went home while I stayed in the hospital alone with George. I obviously wanted to go home, but didn’t mind staying alone so that Eleanor could have a pizza and movie night with Daddy. Josh says they both slept about 10 hours that night. It was his last night of good sleep for what will be a few years. About four weeks of sleeplessness now, and I’m completely jealous. I haven’t had a good nights sleep since some time early in my pregnancy.
I really miss sleep. But George is worth it. Mostly.
More on George’s first month with us coming soon!
You can check out George’s formal Newborn Portraits over at Maggie Keegan Gross Photography, and I’ll have our first portraits, shot by my talented friend Becca Rillo, as a family of four to share with you soon!