* This post contains images some may find graphic.
This post was supposed to go live Wednesday, when I usually do my posts, but I thought Elena’s guest blog post for National Infertility Awareness Week needed to be published first. So two posts in one week to catch up I guess! I had planned on having blogs ready to go and scheduled out for when I had AJ, was recovering, and as I got used to handling 2 under 2. But….that obviously didn’t happen. Especially since AJ came a little over 2 weeks early. I told everyone she was going to come early because SJ was 2 weeks early. Yet, for some reason I still thought I had all the time in the world. It is somewhat odd though because my labor was creepy similar to my labor with SJ. Down to the very minute my water broke!
With SJ, I got out of bed to get ready for a doctor appointment and my water broke at 7:20 AM. With AJ, my water had been leaking all night so I called my office first thing in the morning and they told me to go to the hospital. Luckily, DJ was home because – just like with SJ – I was supposed to have a doctor appointment. So, I got out of bed to go get ready, and at wait for it…7:20 AM my water completely broke with AJ! Yeah, weird. And add another strange factor, SJ was born on June 29th, and AJ was born on March 29th. I also got to watch the Cubs game during both labors. And for the record, they won both times – Go Cubs Go!
Well anyways, my mom started to head over to stay with SJ and we started trying to get everything together. Unlike with SJ though…I was actually having contractions after my water broke. This had me a little freaked out, because the hospital is an hour away and I really didn’t want to deliver in the car. Fast forward, we made it to the hospital. I got out of the car, DJ went to park, and as I was walking to the door my water broke even more and I started having a contraction. So there I am, by myself, gripping the railing, soaking wet pants, bent over, and getting some REALLY strange looks. Some people asked if I was okay and my response, “Yup, I’m just in labor and my water just broke all over, no big deal I’m good.” Thankfully, this super nice lady went and grabbed a wheel chair and waited with me until DJ could get back.
We got up to L&D, got into triage, they checked me and I was only dilated to a 3! This was at around 9:30 that morning. I wanted to avoid Pitocin at all costs. With SJ, they only let me labor on my own for 3 hours until they started it, and it was a horrible experience. It was painful, and long, and I didn’t know that I could have said no and asked what else I could do. Luckily, this time the midwife that was on call from the practice I go to was all about helping me progress labor without meds. And I tried everything! I bounced on an exercise ball, I took a warm and relaxing shower, I did lunges back and forth, I did squats against the cabinet, DJ and I walked laps around the L&D floor, I laid with a peanut ball in the most awkward position, I used the breast pump and I think scarred the med student that walked in while I was pumping (his eyes got huge and I thought he was going to run into the wall he turned around so fast), my midwife stripped my membranes which was completely awful, I felt like we were trying everything. They checked me again around 4:00 and I was still dilated to a 3…so we started Pitocin around 4:30.
Contractions on Pitocin are awful. They are stronger and closer. I also was recovering from, what we now know was, Influenza B. So I had an absolutely horrid cough and chest congestion that just made contractions hurt that much worse. This time though, I was prepared. With SJ I made the mistake of getting back into bed, but I just kept moving this time. I also had a plan to get through contractions: keep my hands relaxed and go to my happy place. I had two happy places that got me through these contractions.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy I went a couple times a week and floated in an epsom salt float tank to help with pelvic and back pain. While I floated, I played a hypnobirthing soundtrack through the bluetooth speakers in the tank. Then, when I was in labor, I played the soundtrack on my phone and every time I had a contraction I would close my eyes and tell myself “go back to the water” and went back to that float tank in my head. I could feel the body temperature water, see the white-blue light in the water, feel the pool noodles supporting my pregnant belly, and just relaxed. My other happy place was cuddling SJ. But, I also would start missing her more and more when I did that. It helped that my awesome birth photographer was rubbing my back and would put pressure on my hips during contractions, she was AMAZING! I also prayed. A lot. I prayed for AJ, I prayed for SJ, I prayed for the pain to go away, I prayed for labor to start progressing, I thanked God for this chance. I just let him surround me and felt a peace like no other. And he answered my prayers.
I also have to give a huge shout out to DJ. Other than running to grab lunch, he was by my side the entire time. He did whatever I needed and he was my strong and quiet rock even though I’m sure he was freaking out inside. I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without him.
After 3 hours, they checked me again. Now by this time the contractions were making me yell (and I scared off another med student who thought it was a good idea to introduce himself while I was having these contractions, he also turned around and walked out when I started having a contraction and yelling…whoops, sorry dude). Guess what I was dilated to at this point…a 4. I thought I was almost complete, and I was only dilated one more centimeter than when I was admitted 10 hours prior. I said something to the nurse after she checked me that included words I don’t use…and then I reluctantly asked for the IV pain medicine. Which doesn’t exactly take away the pain, but it relaxed me enough that I could rest. It was like having a glass or two too much of wine. It kicked in within minutes of getting it, I just sat back, closed my eyes, and said “Alleluia.” It was fantastic.
I figured it was going to be hours before I would be able to start pushing, and I needed rest. So I laid in bed with the peanut ball and closed my eyes. About an hour and a half after getting the medicine I thought to myself “I could sleep between these contractions.” Then about a minute later I was thinking that the medicine was wearing off, and then yelling that I needed to push. The same thing happened with SJ! 10 minutes after saying I needed to push, I had my baby girl in my arms. Auden Jacquelyn was born at 9:16 PM, and she was 7lbs 1 oz, 19 inches long of pure perfection. She was worth every second of the 30 weeks of nausea, the heartburn, the back pain, the anxiety, the 16+ hours of labor, and the immense pain of bringing her into this world. I was looking at her yesterday and thinking that 9 months ago, she was just a little ball of cells, and now she’s this beautiful baby girl. How can someone look at the miracle that is a baby and not believe in an awe-inspiring God? It completely blows my mind how amazing the entire process is. It also blows my mind how much love my heart can hold for my two little girls. Okay, now I want to go cuddle them and not get any more work done!
One of the best decisions I made for this birth was hiring a birth photographer. I don’t have a single photo of me holding SJ right after she was born. Actually, pretty much all I have with her after I had her are selfies in the hospital. I will regret that every single day, and I didn’t want that this time. Brittney was phenomenal not only as a photographer and videographer, but as a support person during labor and delivery. She stayed with me from the time I was in the triage room when I got admitted, until about half an hour after I delivered. She was amazing! You can see her work here!
Then she came the next morning for our Fresh 48 session! Which I was beyond excited for because SJ got to meet her little sister and I finally got to see SJ! That was the longest I have ever been away from her, and that was the first time she had ever been away from both DJ and I. Which was super rough on her. She wouldn’t go to sleep for my mom and then my mom had to wake her up in the morning to get her to the hospital in time for photos. She was a TOTAL crab butt. But, I was still happy to cuddle her and see her look at her little sister and say “Hi Baby.” Made my heart completely melt!
Next week I will share AJ’s newborn photos and talk about how we have been adjusting as a family of four and life with 2 under 2!