my birth story - meet Abe!
Our little boy is here! Meet Abraham Hugo Strauss, born on 6/8/19 in Bend, Oregon!!
“I’m sure he’ll be early,” I told myself every single day of my pregnancy. Second babies are an average of five days earlier than the first, so I thought for sure I’d be giving birth before the 40 week mark. I was wrong.
I had a relatively easy and uncomplicated pregnancy. Chasing around a toddler while pregnant is no joke, and getting sick back-to-back-to-back really sucked. But for the most part, I felt pretty good and am grateful that things went well.
I had it in my head that our baby would arrive May 28. My due date was June 3rd, so I figured he’d be a late May baby. The last 2 weeks of pregnancy I was looking for any sign of labor, hoping it would start. I had been having random contractions every day since late March, but nothing beyond that. Truth be told I actually felt pretty good physically the very last part of pregnancy. Mentally and emotionally I felt like a wreck. I just wanted to meet our little boy, but was also nervous about labor and delivery.
My parents arrived early for the birth of their grandson, which made waiting extra hard. At my 40 week OBGYN appointment I was 1cm dilated...the same as I had been for a few weeks. At that point I was scheduled to be induced at the end of the week.
Now I know SO many women are induced, followed by a healthy labor and delivery, but for some reason I felt like a failure. I thought, “C’mon body, you’ve done this before, what’s going on?” It was amazing to me how difficult those last few days were emotionally thinking about being induced. I know it’s no big deal, I know so many moms who have done it, and I had a healthy pregnancy which makes it all pretty low risk! It made me think about moms who haven’t had a healthy pregnancy, or who know they are getting a c-section, or are high risk, or who think they are having a normal vaginal delivery but end up with a traumatic experience. I realized I was being a baby about it, I just had different expectations. However, even though I was feeling bummed, I trusted my OBGYN 100% to make the best decisions for me.
I didn’t really have a birth plan this time around. I figured I’d try natural birth but likely end up with an epidural. I knew I’d rather have a c-section than forceps or a vacuum. I also knew I wanted my epidural turned down while I pushed so I could have more control. With my first pregnancy, I pushed for over 4 hours and felt like I had no control over my numb paralyzed body.
My contractions started on a Wednesday evening, and truthfully I thought it was gas. I already had Braxton Hicks and contractions that felt like back pain and period cramps. These felt different, which is why I didn’t think I was in labor. However, the next day I had consistent contractions almost all day that were ~8-12min apart...all day. They didn’t get more painful and didn’t get closer together, which made for a long day. I expected things to progress over night and head to the hospital the next morning (which would have been perfect because my OB was working that day!). My contractions mostly disappeared overnight, and by the next morning I felt nothing but disappointment. What was going on? I thought labor was supposed to be WAY faster with the second baby? However, by lunch time my contractions were back and 5min apart. They weren’t very painful yet, so I continued to time them but not have any expectations.
After dinner they became pretty painful and were 2-3min apart. I called the hospital who recommended we come in to get checked, but said we didn’t need to rush in. With my first pregnancy my contractions were always close together, and even when they took my breath away I was only a couple cm dilated. We knew there was a possibility of going to the hospital only to be sent home because I wasn’t far enough along...
When we got to the hospital I was in a lot of pain, and my contractions were close together, but like with my first labor I was only 2cm dilated. However, we didn’t get sent home! They thought my labor would progress much more quickly this time so they checked me into a labor and delivery suite and recommended I go for a walk or take a bath, or just relax as much as possible.
My room had a jacuzzi so I immediately got in. The warm water really does help with contraction pain. The nurse also put some peppermint essential oil in the bathroom, and I can’t believe how calming it was! Especially for my nausea. I wasn’t hooked up to monitors yet, so I was able to relax between contractions and just focus on my breathing. I swear I could feel the baby getting lower every time I took a deep breath in. It was painful. My sweet husband was by my side the whole time, and we were both so sleepy since it was the middle of the night.
By the time I got out of the bath ~45min later, I was 5 cm dilated, and really ready for an epidural. I threw up several times which is a good sign labor is progressing. I had an epidural, and was already 8cm by the time they finished setting me up. I will say, I felt like such a wimp being in so much pain already when I was only 2 cm dilated, but now knowing what it feels like at 8cm dilated (before the epidural kicked in) made me realize my pain is basically the same throughout labor.
The doctor offered to break my water to keep things moving along, but my husband and I decided all we really wanted was a nap. So we tried to sleep for a bit (he did, I couldn’t) until it was time to push the baby out.
Having an epidural helps so much with the pain, but I don’t like how numb it makes my legs, and actually had a really hard time pushing Stella out because I felt nothing. So this time, I had the epidural turned down (from a 10 to an 8, then to a 6) hoping that would allow some feeling and function back to help get baby 2 out!
By the time I was 10cm it was early morning. I felt some pressure, but not really an urge to push. Baby’s heart rate was starting to drop at times too. I started pushing around 6am, and my amazing nurse coached me through everything (I’ve never taken a birthing class, and got all the coaching I needed both times from my nurses and doctors!). Even with the epidural turned down, I couldn’t feel much and it was really hard to push. I used a mirror at the foot my bed to monitor my progress. It was really helpful to see my baby’s head! However, with each push baby’s heart rate was dropping and I had to roll over into positions that made it normalize. I was starting to get nervous and knew we needed to get this baby out.
After ~45min my doctor recommended a vacuum extraction which I was immediately opposed to. I was scared it would not only extract the baby, but also my pelvic floor...and it was one of the few things about my birth plan I had a preference about. However, the baby needed to come out as his heart rate continued to drop, and he was so close to being out that it seemed silly to prefer a c-section at that point. I told my doctor I was a physical therapist and had seen & heard horror stories, but he talked me through the extraction and showed me the vacuum which looks like a little suction cup. I fully trusted him and also knew the most important thing was our baby’s health. It was time to get him out no matter what. If the vacuum didn’t work I would have to get a c-section. Any birth preference goes out the window when the health of your baby is at risk, so it was easy to agree to the vacuum. With one big push from me, and pull from my doctor, baby’s head came out with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. There was already a team in the room ready to help stabilize the baby if needed. The cord was quickly cut, and I pushed him the rest of the way out. It all happened so fast. It was hectic. Our baby boy was out and being evaluated by the team, and he was healthy!
Our first thought was how tiny he looked! But he ended up being 7lb, exactly the same size and length as Stella (our first baby). Remarkably, I didn’t tear and am so glad I had the vacuum extraction. It was really helpful. It was also no big deal. I think there are certain circumstances that are riskier for your pelvic floor to use a vacuum, but this wasn’t one of them thankfully. I wish I had done this the first time around! My doctor did an awesome job, and I will forever be grateful!!
Dan and I spent the next day in the hospital together bonding with our new baby boy “Abe” and each other. We ate takeout and rested, knowing it would be the last quiet day we would have for a long time! Stella came by with the rest of our family to meet her new brother. She loves him, and every time she sees him says “hold dat baby! Hold Abe!”
Our hearts are full.