It’s been three years(!) since I last wrote a post. I’ve been wanting to get Maggie’s birth story written down since it happened, so I’m going to jump right back in with it.
Margaret Emmelise O’Connor was due, according to me, on April 24th, 2016, and according to my OB on April 21st. With this pregnancy, like my first, I had experienced Braxton Hicks since about 13 weeks on. This time, however, I had been having real contractions since about 36 weeks, and my midwife let me know it was prodromal labor and could occur for several more weeks. The good news was that prodromal labor preps your body for the real thing. The bad news: I was exhausted. It fortunately came in waves, so I sometimes had a few days reprieve.
My main midwife had been really enthusiastic about my plans to have a natural birth after having been induced with my first. At my 38-ish week appointment, things changed. I had my first cervical check, and her face just dropped. She told me my cervix was posterior, which is unfavorable for labor. With a posterior cervix, you can experience strong contractions that don’t result in progress. She said I would likely go past my due date, and might end up getting induced. She assured me we would try all of the natural labor induction methods first, and I went home and chugged my raspberry leaf tea.
The next Monday before my Thursday due date was uncharacteristically beautiful for late-April in Western NY. I was walking in the park near work thinking about how nice it was going to be to have a few weeks at home with Lily before the baby was born. After finding out I qualified for extended medical leave, I had decided the next day would be my last day of work. I really wish I had gone out earlier than 39+ weeks, but I hadn’t known I could use EML. At my appointment on Tuesday, my other midwife agreed I still had a few more weeks to go. That night I had some pretty intense contractions, but ultimately fell asleep.
I spent the next day at the zoo with Lily and my mother-in-law, breathing through inconsistent contractions. My MIL later said she had no idea I was having contractions then and that she couldn’t believe I spent hours walking around the zoo and even carrying my 2 1/2 year old. A big part of me figured I had a few more weeks of feeling like this, and that I needed to carry on like normal. That afternoon while Lily napped I baked and prepped a real dinner, which I hadn’t done in weeks. I started timing my contractions but ended up stopping because they were anywhere from 1-13 minutes apart. After she woke up we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening playing outside. I chatted with my dad on the phone a bit and joked that maybe there’d be a baby that night. It was such a nice day and evening.
That night I started having more contractions around bed time. I again started timing them. I kept having to get out of bed to walk through the contractions, so I ended up going downstairs to sleep on the couch. I was able to sleep in between them until at least 2 or 3 am. I remember after my first birth thinking it was crazy people could fall asleep between contractions spaced less than 5 minutes apart, but here I was doing it. They were again inconsistent and I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain. I was mostly just annoyed that I was going to have to deal with this every night for a few weeks, because again, they were inconsistently spaced. I had a few that were 45 seconds apart, and some that were over 10 minutes apart. Around 4 am I got in our jet tub to see if that would help. It slowed everything down a bit and felt awesome. I decided to call my office, though, because I had been having contractions for such a long time at this point. It was really exciting getting to select the “If you think you’re in labor, please press 3” option! I explained what had been going on and that I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain but wondered if I should get checked. They said yes, and I said I wanted to wait to get to the hospital until about 7am because my MIL needed to come over.
We called my MIL and she got to the house about 6:30am on April 21st, my due date. Lily was still asleep while we got everything in the car. She woke up just a few minutes before we were going to leave, and I carried her downstairs. I remember thinking how little her hands looked. I set her down at the bottom of the stairs and let her walk into the living room while I had a contraction. I could tell my MIL was a little annoyed we had asked her to come over because I didn’t look like I was in labor. We got into the car and I cried about saying goodbye to Lily. It still makes me want to cry thinking of it.
On the way to the hospital my contractions slowed way down. I only had I think 4 during the entire 20 minute drive, and they weren’t strong. I had one on the way from the car to the maternity floor, and we arrived at about 7:05am. I was only 2cm dilated when the nurse checked me and a bit embarrassed. She said that I should walk the halls and if I didn’t progress after four hours, they’d send me home. We asked about walking in the park right outside and they said no which I was bummed about because it was nice out. About 7:55 we started walking the halls, after Ryan did some work in the room and they got me all checked in. We walked past the jam-packed nursery where there were at least 12 babies. A few minutes in, Ryan told me some joke and I started laughing. Suddenly, liquid splattered all over the ground and I said “Either my water just broke, or I peed my pants.” I was SO excited that my water broke! It was just like the movies. A nurse came over and I apologized but she said “You go girl!”
We headed back to the room and they tested the fluid and said it wasn’t my water. I was pretty convinced, so when I felt another gush in the bathroom and also lost my mucus plug and had my bloody show all at once, I had them test it again and it was positive. Suddenly, I had my first real contraction. This was at about 8:55am. I now know that I was in transition. After another 2 of those I was yelling at Ryan to get off the phone and that I didn’t care he was finishing up work. The nurse checked me and I was 7cm dilated. They shuffled me to the delivery room and onto the bed where I promptly curled into the fetal position. They couldn’t convince me to move so I stayed there a bit. Another nurse who had read my birth plan which included my desire to labor in a tub came in, took one look at me, and said “Oh, you’re not getting in the tub!”
In line with my birth plan they dimmed the lights and kept it quiet. I wouldn’t open my eyes, and told Ryan I didn’t think I could do it without an epidural. They said there wasn’t any time, and somehow got me to roll onto my left side. My midwife–not the one I usually had, but I was ultimately very happy with her–came in and said “Are you kidding?!” She was so surprised to see me in labor. She wanted to do a cervical check but I refused–the last one had been so painful. My body was bearing down on it’s own and every time I was convinced I was going to puke but I didn’t. They made me get on my back, which I was terrified to do because I was in so much pain. Then all of a sudden I was out of transition and ready to push! Just like in the movies again, I felt awesome between each push and was carrying on a conversation with this student. My midwife applied a warm compress like I had requested, and I attribute this to not tearing and having very limited swelling. The experience of pushing was so different this time, and strangely I didn’t feel like I was doing as great of a job. I pushed for about 20 minutes total. I remember thinking my entire body was going to rip open, and saying this in wonder after one push. I was excited about going through the experience of each stage of labor. And then suddenly she was here! They put Maggie on my chest and I said “She’s so tiny!” She was longer and a little skinnier than Lily so looked so scrawny. Margaret Emmelise O’Connor was born 9:53am, 21 inches and 8lbs 3oz. She just lay on me for the longest time, just like I had requested. The cord was wrapped around her neck but they still asked if I wanted to wait to clamp it, according to my birth plan (“No!”). We had extra skin-to-skin time before she was washed up because there weren’t any rooms available. Eventually they brought us to our room and Maggie to the nursery for her shots. I took a shower and was amazed at how much better I felt after Maggie’s birth than Lily’s. I also wasn’t starving. Ryan texted our family while we were still in the labor room and they were all shocked to see pics of the baby. My mom actually said to her friends at work “Who’s baby is this?” because it had gone so quickly. I was in active labor for under three hours!
My delivery could not have gone any better. I think the only thing that was harder this time was them pushing on my stomach afterwards. That was worse than the entire birthing process, and my contractions were bad for the days following. I had some retained placenta as well and actually had to get an ultrasound after passing some tissue. I was, and still am, so excited to think about her birth. It was incredible to be able to recognize each stage as I was in it.
To this day, Maggie is such a chill baby. It was like she didn’t want to impose on us with her birth. We convinced them to let us go home the next afternoon instead of staying another night. We had already spent several nights in the hospital just over a month earlier when Lily had RSV, and we were ready to go home. We didn’t even go straight home though–we went to my in-laws where everyone got to see her again and we got to pick Lily up. I felt so dramatically better this time around that we really launched right back into our lives. We even went out to a bakery for cookies the next day and people were amazed at how new she was. Even in the hospital, I felt like myself so much more quickly than I had with Lily. It’s been a whirlwind since Maggie was born, and so difficult dividing my time between my two girls. She is the sweetest thing though, and I can’t wait to watch her grow into a little girl.
Itty-bitty week-old Maggie Moo.