Our precious Penny is already 3 months young, and I’ve finally found a quiet moment to sit down and share the story of her birth! They say that 3rd babies are the game-changers and I’d say this was accurate even on her birthday! This was my longest yet easiest labor–although not by much in both regards. I am beyond grateful to have had Jeff and my wonderful doula friend Ashley there both to support me and to capture these most cherished images!
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that if birth and raw birth photos are not your jam then you need not read more. I am posting this just for me and for my family and for those who might genuinely read without judgement or disgust. Thanks!
So here goes…Way too early on a Tuesday morning in October, a few little contractions woke me up (5amish?). I couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I started the stopwatch on my phone and hit “lap” for each one I felt. They were steady, but wimpy so I wasn’t about to get my hopes up.
By 7:30am we had whisked Graham off to school and were getting Violet ready to head out the door on a play date. The contractions just kept coming and although they were still mild, they hadn’t gone away and so I figured it truly must be the real deal.
9:00am rolls around and I’d showered, tidied up the house, and had both big kids accounted for. I am thinking ” Ok! This baby is coming so let’s get this show on the road, get her out by noon and get on with our day! That way both Graham & Violet could come to the hospital to meet her in the afternoon and Jeff could even take them back home to tuck them in tonight!” It’s so funny how with babies #2 & 3 my biggest fear in labor was that I’d be scrambling to figure out childcare. It’s also funny how the one thing you can count on is that your labor will go exactly how you don’t expect it to go (in other words, this baby would most certainly not be born by noon). You’d think by my 3rd I would have figured out that I just need to roll with it…
So instead of heading to the hospital, I headed to the grocery store so that at least this child would be brought home to a well-stocked fridge. I had it all planned out in my head–if contractions got fierce or if my water broke in the middle of the store I would just ditch my cart and bail. That didn’t happen. I kept having pokey, medium at best contractions every 5 minutes. The biggest excitement of my shopping trip was receiving a text from my 41-weeks pregnant sister-in-law saying “Hi! I’m in labor! Heard you are too. On my way to the hospital. The race is on.” My heart skipped a beat. How fun to have cousins born on the same day!!! And what are the odds!?!
Back home we dilly-dallied. I made scrambled eggs. I found more stuff to clean. We went for a walk all around the neighborhood and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors, which were just beginning to peak. We walked past Graham’s school and spied him playing on the playground at recess. I gulped back tears as I remembered doing this same labor thing 6 years ago and how much my first baby has changed and what a crazy adventure this has all been.
By early afternoon, I felt the contractions were maybe perhaps getting a bit stronger, but still every 5. Remembering that our Violet was practically born in the car, we made the decision to play it safe and head to the hospital before traffic slowed down and/or labor picked up. So we checked into the hospital at 2:30ish and met our wonderful doula, nurse & midwife there. I had no idea, but Jeff and doula Ashley astutely observed that they had put us in the same room where Violet was born. Here we go again, team!
There, I was 6cm and fully effaced in case that means anything to you. I guess it wasn’t all in vain–things were progressing but it still seemed to be at snail’s pace to me! So we walked in the hallways and chit-chatted a bunch…now pausing and needing to focus on breathing during what were becoming more pronounced contractions. At one point I remember joking that I wished I’d brought some Sudoku or something. I was getting bored and so anxious to meet this darling girl!
At 4pmish things were finally getting real. I was done with walking and bouncing on the exercise ball seemed like the only thing that was “working” for me. I was hugging Jeff’s neck hard during each contraction.
Then at 4:30ish my nurse walked back in the room and didn’t leave. Shortly after that, I announced I felt like I needed to push and the midwife was just like “Ok. Awesome. Then just go ahead and push.”
I gave a push or two and got a bit discouraged and chickened out. “Ouch. I hate this. This is the worst. I hate this.” My water still hadn’t broken, so each push just kinda felt like nothing. Like I wasn’t getting anywhere and it hurt. A lot. Obviously.
Not sure however many I-feel-like-I’m-getting-nowhere pushes occurred, but by 4:57 I guess I gave it my biggest and best, because my water broke and that poor sweet baby literally fell out into the bed without giving anyone a chance to catch her! Ack! Birth is so crazy/surreal/intense/insane/beautiful!
I remember telling her “Oh baby girl! I’m so sorry I dropped you!” before the usual hellos and I love yous and snuggles. I think she might have aspirated a bit in that birth bomb madness because it took her a few long scary moments to breathe. Not the finest Apgars at first, but quickly pinked up into her healthy perfect self.
Its so cliche but so amazing and miraculous how you just forget everything that just happened and can go from the lowest low to the highest high in a split second. This sweet lovely girl was so worth it. We named her Penelope Celeste and she was perfectly perfect in every way. So much thick dark hair. Beautiful button nose. Reminded us so much of our baby Graham and a whole pound and a half lighter than her big sis Violet. (Praise.) 7lb 8oz. 21 in. Xoxo.
P.S. In case you were wondering, our sweet nephew won the race. He was born just a few short hours before Pen. (;