After I gave birth to my daughter, I got a surge of resilience. I truly felt like I could take on the world. My birth with Baby Girl was easy. Pregnancy with her was easy. Sure, I got a dose of reality but the newborn period wasn’t half bad. People say that the second time around is easier, which is only somewhat true. It’s been so much more humbling and has brought me to my knees. But all of the sweet snuggles, sweet kisses and sweet smiles make everything completely worth it. As all of you boy moms know, there is just something different about your Baby Boy.
I found out I was pregnant with Baby Boy when my daughter was about eight months old. My husband, baby girl and I had spent the weekend at a friend’s beautiful, secluded mountain home and the whole time I had a feeling I might be pregnant. I didn’t say anything about it until the day we returned home. I told my husband we should just take a test and sure enough, PREGNANT. Again we were thrilled (we did the same exact thing as we did with my first pregnancy--jumped up and down together in the bathroom with the test results). We knew we wanted more than one child but the timing was just a bit sooner than we expected.
My pregnancy with Baby Boy was more difficult. I’ll never forget hunching over the toilet, sick as a dog with my nine month old daughter crying in the doorway because seeing mommy sick was so upsetting. While I couldn’t think of anything else besides my baby with my first pregnancy, I legitimately would forget that I was pregnant with my second. Although, I quickly remembered every time I looked down at my belly that made me look about five months pregnant by the time I was just eight weeks along.
I was working full-time from home with my little one and was just plain tired. All I wanted to do was sleep during this second pregnancy. And eat. A LOT of ice cream (which I did). I’ll be the first to admit that I simply didn’t take care of myself as well the second time around and it was pretty apparent, both physically and emotionally. I gained a lot more weight than I needed to, and while I absolutely do not think the number on the scale is a tell-tale sign of a mother’s health, I also don’t think pregnancy should be used as an excuse to let your nutrition go; baby is depending on you. Emotionally, I was so much less patient, so much more tired, so much more irritable.
But through the exhaustion, there was so much happiness that came with the second pregnancy. I knew the burst of love to come. My daughter was able to feel her soon-to-come sibling’s kicks. Rather than have a gender reveal party, my husband and I enjoyed a nice dinner together and opened the envelope in the cozy booth together. Once we found out it was a boy, we were able to call my dad right away and let him know his grandson would share the same name. Looking back, I don’t think I was constantly thinking about being pregnant because I wasn’t anxious about it. I knew what would be happening and I had a sense of calmness about the whole thing.
That is, for most of the pregnancy. At my 36-week checkup, I was told I was measuring too large. My first thought was Oh shit, they know how much ice cream I’ve been eating. The real concern was that my amniotic fluid levels were too high. At the time, I didn’t even know that could be an issue but I was too afraid to ask why that was an issue. I simply took the midwife’s advice and went to get an ultrasound. I went to the obstetrician who performed the ultrasound and shrugged it off--the amniotic fluid levels looked fine. But I was told very sternly that my baby boy was going to be very large and we’d need to keep an eye on him. I suddenly felt myself clamped down by fear that I’d never experienced before. Fear that something could be wrong with my baby and I couldn’t do anything about it. Fear that somehow I had grown a giant child and I wouldn’t be able to birth him. I then became very anxious to get this baby out (still a month away from my expected due date). The last month of my pregnancy was filled with me waiting on pins and needles expecting to go into a treacherous labor at any time. At my 37-week checkup, I asked why too much amniotic fluid is a concern. A nurse I’d never met before gave me a frightening explanation of prolapsed cord and I basically left my checkup making sure I would be able to call 911 at anytime.
And then, so true to the character of my baby boy… he came eight days beyond his due date. Talk about restlessness. I was already worried that I was doomed to have a scary birth. I remember going to the grocery store and the lady at the checkout counter asked me when I was due. “Oh… three days ago.” “Wow, I can tell! Don’t have your baby here at the store!” I wasn’t even physically uncomfortable, just drenched in fear that my body didn’t remember what it was supposed to be doing.
I had tried many things to get labor going (spicy food, lots of squatting, a membrane sweep, etc.) and still no sign of baby. My dad owned his own big rig at the time, and I asked him to come pick me up in his truck--I was a nervous wreck and I figured the bumpy ride would get things moving. The ride may not have helped, but what my dad had to say sure did. He told me that there was still something that baby needed to develop and the best thing to do was to just breathe and enjoy what little pregnancy I had left, which I fully had NOT been enjoying for quite some time. I went home that night with much more peace and patience. I had another checkup the next day where another membrane sweep was performed and sure enough, I went into labor that night.
I had a couple of strong contractions and went to bed, certainly not expecting to have a baby that night. I laid down and all of a sudden heard a loud pop through my body. Sure enough, my water had broken. It started pretty lightly but just continued gushing. It really was a lot of amniotic fluid! I’ll never forget when my mom came to pick up my daughter, I stood by the front door saying goodbye and chatting quickly, not realizing I was standing in a puddle.
Contractions were coming hard and close, so we drove to the birthing center at about 11PM (same time as we arrived with my daughter’s birth). I figured I’d have a baby within a few hours. But oh, this guy had other plans. His labor was tough. Just like my previous labor, I vomited all night and had to be hooked up to an IV. I was still able to walk around and make things move along but I was so exhausted. The midwife was very adamant that I eat, hydrate, and rest as she could plainly see how this exhaustion was affecting my labor.
Later in the middle of the night, the midwives on duty switched. I was now under the care of a midwife I’d only met once before and she was not at all what I expected. The woman who delivered my daughter was soft and patient. This woman was outspoken and her presence was very strong. Of course my husband thought she was great because that’s exactly how he is, but I was turned off by it. I just wanted to be left alone and hope that my baby would eventually make his way out. As labor got harder, she turned out to be exactly the person I needed. At about six o’clock in the morning I was ready to give up. I started crying and told her I couldn’t do it anymore. She wasn’t having it. She grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and told me, “Yes, you can. And you are.” For whatever reason, that completely changed my mind and I was ready to do this thing. Meanwhile, my husband was fulfilling his duty as a back-rubber and as a hand to crush when contractions got tough.
I was certain I wouldn’t want to lay down to have this baby, but I ended up on the bed laying on my side. My husband was down with the midwife cheering me on, and a nurse stood next to me. After what felt like an eternity, baby finally came. The nurse next to me seemed just as relieved as I was; her eyes welled with tears, she kissed my forehead and said “Oh my God, he’s finally here!”
I didn’t realize it, but his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The midwife was able to quickly pop the cord around his head but I know it’s still something that is stuck in my husband’s mind. Baby Boy also had a tough time catching his first breath, but the nurse sucked some fluid out of his airway and BAM, we heard that first scream of life. I brought baby right to my chest with the most amazing sense of relief and achievement. One of the first things I said was “I’m never giving birth again” (which is odd because now I’m itching to have another).
After the placenta was delivered, I was hemorrhaging and losing a lot of blood. I was a little out of it, but I could see the fear on my husband’s face as he went pale. I then realized what was going on when two more midwives rushed into the room to help give me a shot of Pitocin and clamp my uterus to stop the bleeding. All the while, I couldn’t help but notice how calm and collected they were during the whole thing (they do deal with this all the time, after all). When the time came to weigh Baby Boy, the midwife and my husband were placing bets. He weighed in at 9lbs 8.5oz and measured 21 inches long.
My 16-month old daughter was the first member of the family to meet her brother. Suddenly my sweet little baby girl seemed to have grown up so much. Snuggling with my newly-expanded family in the big cozy bed was pure bliss. The rest of the family came to meet our sweet guy and we were able to head home about four hours after baby was born. Of course, we had to stop and get me a vanilla malt on the way home.
We decided to be with just baby boy that night to bond with him individually. This was a calm night of rest, swooning over these new little feet and re-learning what a newborn baby does. Baby Boy unexpectedly slept a lot that first night, as I think he knew what he had put mama through the night before.
Just as he took his time coming into the world, my Baby Boy takes his time in everything he does. He’s curious and strong, but not easily persuaded to move at anyone else’s pace. Being his mother so far has taught me that you can’t always force things to happen. Instead it can be better to just take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.