January 5th, 2014. Three days before our due date, and nearly two weeks after I felt my first false contraction, I woke up at 4:30am (not unusual). But this time was definitely different. How could I have possibly forgotten the feeling of a true contraction?
I got up to use the bathroom and turned on my phone to start timing the contractions. I woke up Nick after 30 minutes of contractions that consistently came just 5 minutes apart. I didn’t want to overreact, but I also suspected (and hoped!) that baby girl would come much faster than Sam did. So I jumped in the shower and, by the time I had finished, Nick had made the bed, packed his bag, took out the trash, started the car, and turned on the Keurig. Daddy was ready!
I called the doctor at 6:30am and said I was pretty certain that today was the day! He said to come right in. So we called our friend to stay with Sam and made the much anticipated calls to our parents and were on our way!
Contractions were bearable, but I was so ready to get out of the car and walk. In fact, I didn’t even want to sit while registering at the hospital, and so I paced while providing my information. Before we knew it, two nurses had arrived with a wheelchair, and we were whisked up to the fifth floor.
I was just 4cm dilated upon arrival, but my doctor did not hesitate to admit me. She said she would prepare the paperwork for my epidural and be back to break my water. Wait! I said. That wasn’t my birth plan. My (very attentive) nurse explained that I wanted to do this naturally — as long as possible. And after the doc left, she apologized on her behalf, and said that was just typical routine. But not for me.
So the nurse hooked me up to an IV and the fetal monitor and said I had to lay in bed for 30 minutes. But as soon as they recorded the necessary readings, we were up and ready to walk the halls!
We walked and walked and walked some more and returned every 30 minutes for 15 minutes of monitoring. Surprisingly, the next two hours passed pretty quickly. Of course, the contractions steadily intensified, and by 10:30am, I had reached 7cm. I was breathing deeply and groaning through the peak of each contraction while Nick rubbed my lower back and listened to my demands for “higher” and “lower” and “harder.” And then my water broke (which it never did naturally with Sam), and I felt some sense of accomplishment.
The nurse reminded me that my window for getting an epidural was quickly closing, and I decided without hesitation that I would get one. I felt I had labored naturally as long as I could and was ready for a bit of relief before meeting our baby girl.
I endured about 15 more minutes of painful contractions before the needle was inserted and began to work its magic. Though, because I was only given one initial “test” dose, I still felt each contraction. But I rolled onto my side and was able to relax and felt grateful to still feel so present in the moment.
Within about 45 minutes, I began to feel the urge to push. It seemed fast, but I called the nurse anyway. Sure enough, baby girl was ready! However, my sister and my parents were still about 15 minutes away, and Laura really wanted to be in the delivery room with me. She’s in her final year of nursing school and had not yet had the opportunity to see a childbirth. I mentioned this to the nurse, and she said we could wait, if we wanted to. Baby girl was fine, and I was comfortable. And so we decided to wait. Which felt very strange. But also very exciting as Nick and I counted down the final minutes before our daughter joined us.
Soon we heard footsteps running down the hallway, and Laura burst into our room, breathless and thankful she had arrived in time! The doctor and nurses were right behind her. The lights dropped from the ceiling. And it was go time!
Unlike Sam, this baby girl was anxious to enter the world! Her head full of dark hair was visible before I even began to push. And after just 5 minutes and 3 really big pushes, we heard the sweet, sweet sound of her cry for the very first time. Welcome, Nora Kathryn!
The nurse placed her slippery, pink, perfect body on my chest while a very proud Nick cut her umbilical cord. She snuggled right up to me, her heartbeat fast and the rhythm of her breath quick and steady. And it was a moment we will never, ever forget.
We were quite surprised by Nora’s hair … and her size! She had slender feet and long fingers like her big brother. But those cheeks! And that belly!
A whopping 8 pounds 5 ounces! Nearly 2 pounds bigger than Sam was at birth. I had felt during my entire pregnancy that I was carrying more baby this time, but I never expected to birth an 8 pounder!
After a quick wipe down, Nora was placed back in my arms, and we spent the next hour staring into her perfectly round face.
It is true that childbirth is no less of a miracle the second time. My heart instantly expanded to make room for her, and I felt the immense joy of becoming a mother all over again.
And Daddy? Well, let’s just say it was love at first sight.
Laura was thrilled to share this special moment with us and declared it was “the coolest thing” she had ever seen. We welcomed my mom back to the delivery room to meet her first granddaughter and witness her first bath.
And then it was back into Momma’s arms. Her body felt so warm and full of life. I studied her face and her features and felt so thankful for another beautiful, healthy child.