BIRTH

My Second Birth Story

April 20, 2021

I’m Claire.
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My life wasn’t ready for another baby. It was a stunning and beautiful surprise in every way – and each moment of their life has been so, so good – but if I’m being honest, I didn’t know if I would be able to be what they’d need me to be.

My own mama had been gone 8 months when that little line turned pink. When they made their presence known. I’d had a quiet inkling for a couple weeks that they could be there, that perhaps my body was quietly creating another miracle. And then there they were.

Quiet and unassuming, as all little pink lines appear to be – but also irrevocably life changing.

My pregnancy with this baby was a blur. I’d imagine most are when the mama is chasing another tiny toddler around. I was also deep in the throes of fresh grief, of putting a life back together that had been blown apart when I lost my own mama. It’s why I didn’t know if I could give this baby what they needed – because I just wasn’t sure I had anything to give.

But I grew and I grew, exactly as a I should, a beautiful testament to the things a mama can do when their baby needs them too. My body showed up for me, showed up for this baby, even while my mind and my heart wrestled with the grief that my mama’s death had left behind.

And I heard it then, quiet whispers as nine months went by. You are capable mama. This is intended mama. They are exactly what you need mama. You – and your body – are beautifully resilient mama.

I marveled at my body’s ability to do what needed to be done. To give when I thought there was nothing there. To grow a baby, to plant hope, in a season in which I thought hope was long gone.

But that was this baby. That’s who they are. The toughest, feistiest little thing. 100% intended – always. A joy sparker, a hope fulfiller – even from their very first day.

AND LABOR BEGINS…

I was 39 3/7 weeks pregnant when I went into labor. I’d gone to bed annoyed, because we wanted this baby to come in August (it was the night of the 30th) and my first had come at 39 2/7 weeks. My grumpy full-term brain couldn’t fathom why my body hadn’t again done the same, why my body wasn’t giving me what I wanted. And while this pregnancy had felt similar in most ways, and the baby was another gender surprise, my body ached in a way it hadn’t my first time. I was just ready, as we all are.

As a labor and delivery nurse and 2nd time mama, I knew full well that this second labor could go fast. My first labor had been quick and efficient, so I was nervous about making it to the hospital in time.

I woke out of my sleep at 0122, needing to go pee. This is what had happened the first time too, so I sat there wondering if it was a contraction that had actually woken me up. It was. I had another one, about 5 minutes later. It put me on alert instantly – this time around I wasn’t willing to give my body too much time to prove it; I was too worried about getting care for my sleeping toddler and making it to the hospital. So I sat in our extra bathroom and breathed through 3 more contractions, 5 minutes, 5 minutes, 5 minutes.

That was it for me.

I wasn’t going to mess around with this contraction pattern. I wasn’t willing to take any chances. I remembered the emotional signposts of labor – and I knew I was already fast approaching transition – and birth. I woke my husband up and essentially said – “let’s move.” I called a dear friend, another L + D nurse, and asked her to come. She was 30 minutes away – a nerve wracking 30 minutes as I labored efficiently at home – but she made it quickly.

I don’t remember the car ride. It was a blur of pain, of quiet highways and darkness, consistent contractions, of quiet prayers that my water wouldn’t break in the car (the only thing that was keeping my first baby in). My husband counted down the miles and minutes as he had the first time – “Good job babe, 17 minutes to go. Good job babe, 11 minutes to go.”

The triage nurse met us at the ER entrance, a friend, a prior coworker. I can’t forget the way she looked at me – the empathy and understanding and trust of a woman who had done this 4 times herself. From that first moment, she never questioned my judgment. She didn’t put me in triage. She didn’t check my cervix. She trusted me, my body, her own professional skill. She recognized me for what I was – a woman near birth – and she let me and my baby do our jobs.

It was about 0330 when we got admitted. I don’t know what my cervical dilation was – it was never checked (prenatally or in labor). We decided against an IV, did a quick 20 minutes of fetal monitoring, and then she let Kelvin and I do what we knew how to do.

4 minutes, 3 minutes – my body took little time to creep into transition. I remembered this place of uncertainty, pain, fear, though this time it was laced with a quiet assurance that I was going to be okay.

I cried as I laid my head on Kelvin’s shoulder – “It hurts do bad. I don’t want to do this.”

But I was. My body was. My baby was. Resilient. Unstoppable.

I was hands and knees on the floor when my water broke with a quiet pop. A warm flood, that foreign and largely unexplainable sensation – and again, meconium in the water. I looked up at Kelvin and quickly told him to call out for the RN and midwife. I knew, as I had with my first, that the baby was coming – NOW.

I jumped into the bed and laid on my back. It’s how I’ve always wanted to deliver – so I listened to my body again. The midwife and my RN were back at the bedside, quietly doing what they needed to do. The delivery RN showed up for the baby, the NNP trailing behind because of the meconium. Kelvin gloved up, ready to catch our little surprise.

The fullness as the baby descended – there is nothing like that feeling. And again, that fervent reminder in my own head – “the only way out of this is through it Laura.” I pushed baby out to half a crown on the next contraction. AND IN THAT STUNNING WAY THAT BODIES MIGHT DO THIS, I FELT NO PAIN, NO RING OF FIRE. An eerie calm sat in that space. I panted, Kelvin’s hands waited. I asked my midwife if I needed to wait for another contraction to push, if I could go ahead and get that head out. She smiled, told me I didn’t have to wait, that I could listen to my body.

I pushed again and delivered the head. Another push for the shoulders. I don’t know if I contracted again or not – but I do know that my body and mind seemed to be in perfect communication with each other. And then our little spark was out, straight into Daddy’s waiting hands.

Kelvin looked up at me, tears in his eyes – “It’s another girl.”

I looked at her and it felt right; I had thought this baby was a girl, back in some semi-certain corner of my heart. He placed her on my chest – my daughter, our surprise, the hope we needed in a season of grief. And to me, a gift straight from my mama, a reminder that in some way, she was still near.

The time was 0526. The day, August 31st.

Welcome Quinn Eloise. It was always supposed to be you for us.

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