I had a good labor and delivery with my firstborn daughter. She was born at home (by choice), and it was a mostly normal, drama-free birth. It was such a sweet and amazing experience—obviously! I’d been told that most second babies come faster … and this story is a testament to how true that statement is!
One for the books We chose to wait until the birth to find out our baby’s gender. The night before, I went on this crazy cleaning frenzy and cooked up a storm, with no idea what was awaiting me the next day.
On a Monday morning at my 39-week appointment we headed to the clinic for our regular check-up. I thought I was in labor five days before, but it fizzled out with no progress. I laid there on the table in my midwife’s office, and she checked my progress yet again (that is, if there was any). I was just praying for progress of at least 2 centimeters—I needed something as my athletic mentality craves continuous progress toward a goal. My midwife looked up at me with a calm, cheeky expression and said, “Oh, you definitely progressed. You’re at 5 centimeters right now.”
As she continued to check me and sweep my membranes, I progressed to 7 centimeters with very little effort. She said, “This should put you into labor this evening or at least within 24 hours; your body is ready!”
My husband Jeremy and I were both so shocked. I thought: How is that even possible? With my daughter I dilated halfway before I went into active labor (which already wasn’t normal), so I had this threshold in my head I was supposed to reach without it hurting. To be past that at 7 centimeters (which was what I jokingly prayed to God about) seemed way too good to be true. (Sorry ladies, this is NOT a normal labor and delivery story.)
Waiting game We left in awe and giddily picked up our last birth supplies and a few groceries, then headed home to prepare the house or the arrival of our new baby. During the day I felt pressure perhaps, but not real contractions, and it had me second-guessing whether it was really going to happen that day or the next.
At 5 p.m. I texted my aunts asking why nothing was happening; I was still sitting at 7 centimeters. But within the hour my contractions started coming just like the Braxton Hicks I’d had before, but these were more regular. I really didn’t trust what was going on, or I was still somewhat in denial. We were sitting at the dinner table eating while I swayed through a contraction, and my husband suggested I start timing them. So, I did, then texted my midwife, and her response was, “I’m on my way!”
She arrived at 8 p.m., checked me and announced I was at 9 centimeters. I was so shocked! I didn’t even feel like I was really in labor. I was dying with my daughter at that measurement. We hung out in the living room, my two friends arrived, my doula came, and my husband started filling up the birthing pool. I had regular contractions, and they were starting to increase in intensity but still nothing like labor with my daughter. We were chatting and talking and laughing—mostly in disbelief that this was even possible at 9 centimeters.
The real deal At last the tub was ready, and I was able to get in and relax through the contractions as best I could—it takes so much pressure off! Beth (my midwife) checked me again and broke my water because I was sitting at 9.5 centimeters. (I was ready to do it … or get it over with!) This amplified the contractions quickly, and the pain settled in real nice and good. I was officially in the worst part of labor (literally 0-60 in a minute).
The contractions came pretty close together for about 45 minutes. They were definitely more intense than with my previous. And I have to say with how fast everything was going, my body was ready, but mentally I struggled. I couldn’t quite relax myself the way I did with my girl, but I did my best not to tense up with the power of each contraction, though I did wince more.
Then the urge to push came. It started with little pushes toward the end of each contraction, and my husband, who was applying pressure to my lower back, could feel it every time, too. Beth checked me again to make sure I was ready to push, and once I was cleared to go, I pushed for two minutes and he was born, like a crazy unstoppable force. One of my friends actually videotaped the last minute and a half of his birth, and you can see my midwife telling me calmly to slow down or I’ll “blast the baby out!” I managed to take a breath, and he was out!
Thankfully the blast was calmed by the water and worked out just fine—no tearing! Before he even made it to my chest, my husband, who was behind me holding my hands through the pushing, yelled, “It’s a boy!” We both freaked out together and laughed in disbelief that we had a son! Rowen, our daughter, happened to wake up right at the time of pushing, and we got her up to see her baby brother. She was pretty surprised at all the commotion but handled it very well and then happily went back to bed. Also, having my friends there was a godsend, as Rowen knew them and was totally fine with them taking care of her while I was preoccupied. And my mom, who was hoping to make it to the birth, got to Skype in and witness the whole thing. Oh, how we love you, sweet boy! We can’t believe you’re ours!
Meet the Mullaveys Home: Spokane, Washington Charlie now: A 2-year-old soon-to-be big brother with a one-dimple smile, who is goofy, loves to talk and voice his opinions, is snuggly and oh-so charming Favorite activities: Jumping, climbing on everything, going down slides, throwing balls and sled rides (basically anything that gets his adrenaline pumping!) Just for fun: We love to do what we call “coffee and a treat” outings. The kids know our favorite coffee shop, and if we drive by it they chirp up in the back seat asking, “Can we get a coffee and a treat!?” So, we (the parents) grab our coffee, get the kids a treat from the bakery and head out for a walk at the nearby park!
Every mama has a story to tell … Email your birth story and a few photos to email@example.com. We’ll share it at pnmag.com/birthstory and may even print it in an upcoming issue!