Miss Agnes is a whole month old! So I figured since I wrote out the whole saga which was Tommy's birth story, I should write one for Agnes too while it's still fresh in my mind.
My pregnancy with Agnes was pretty uneventful, aside from the usual complaints, and the extra added bonus of sciatica that stuck around pretty much from the beginning. Since Tommy was so late I decided to tell myself over and over that Agnes would be late too, that way I wouldn't be dissapointed to go past my due date. The weekend before my due date was absolutely crazy. Tommy got sick with a random, but harmless childhood illness and had a really high fever for about four days straight, which we spent almost entirely on the couch. He was miserable, barely eating, and not sleeping great so we were all pretty exhausted. On my due date I ran some errands (Pat was awesome and handed me a panera gift card and basically demanded I buy myself a new book on my kindle, go get some coffee and not think about the fact that our baby could come at any time). I got out of the house for a while, ran some errands, and had a few contractions, nowhere near each other and so strange feeling that I didn't really register what it was at first. But it only happened two or three times, and I just ignored it. Tommy had broken out in a rash, so that afternoon I took him to the pediatrician. All in all it was a pretty busy day and I was sufficiently distracted from the fact that there was no baby yet. I even ran into my brother in law at Target and told him that the baby was absolutely not coming today. Pat was gone that night and got home late so I went to bed early-ish, but was having a really hard time sleeping. Sometime maybe around 11 or 12 I started having what I guessed were contractions, but they weren't really time-able or consistent, although I started thinking that maybe something really WAS going to happen pretty soon. Eventually the contractions were bothering me, and I couldn't sleep so I came downstairs where Pat was watching Superman. I sat down and tried to watch a little with him, and then when the contractions kept coming nonchalantly mentioned that I thought I was having contractions, trying not to get too antsy about it in case it was a false alarm. I was so tired though, that Pat suggested I go back to bed, since they didn't seem to be coming at regular intervals. I went and got into bed, and they they started rolling in about 7-8 minutes apart.
This was when things started to get interesting. Pat came up to check on me, and I told him that yes, I was definitely having contractions (although I was still skeptical, and told him that for all I knew it could just be gas pains...). He climbed in bed with me to try to rub my back, and all of the sudden I just started shaking. Whenever a contraction came I would try my best to breathe through it, and in between my whole body was shaking so much that I just could not relax. Laying down was not helping me cope, so I decided to get up and call our family friend Laura, who is a doula and volunteered to be there to help me during the birth. I called her and told her I had been having contractions for a while, and that I was getting nervous because my body was shaking so much. She said it sounded like I was in labor, and that sometimes women can shake during labor due to the hormones, but in the back of my mind I also remembered reading that it can be something that happens when you are in transition. On the phone with her, I had a few more contractions, and she pointed out to me that I obviously wasn't able to talk through them, which meant I was definitely in labor, and that it was probably time for her to head over, so she could help me out before we went to the hospital. I got off the phone with her, and paced around the living room, swaying and holding onto the back of a chair during contractions, and finally settling on leaning over the ottoman on my knees and burying my face into a cushion when each contraction came. Now is the time to note that Tommy was also up ALL night, and Pat was up in Tommy's room during all of this trying to get him to go back to sleep. He either still didn't feel well, or he sensed that something was happening. I know it sounds strange, but I really think he knew that something was going on, because while I was downstairs laboring him I could hear him upstairs in his room asking for me. All of the sudden the contractions went from 7 ish minutes apart, to about two minutes apart. I could tell that they were getting much closer together, but I wasn't timing them at that point because they were so intense. Pat finally came downstairs, and asked me if I had called Laura, and how close the contractions were coming. I had a contractions, and he started timing. Two minutes later when I had another one, he determined that we had better get ourselves in the car and on the way to the hospital NOW. He called Laura and told her to meet us there instead of coming to the house, and quickly started grabbing our bags and loading the car, while calling his mom to come over to watch Tommy. A few minutes later she was here and they did their best to get me ready to go. I was in my pjs, and the contractions were so intense and so close together, that having me slip my feet into a pair of birks, and getting my arms into a jacket was all they could manage. I had to move in between contractions in order to be able to walk at all, so I had one in the hallway, one on the front stoop, and one outside the car door before I could finally get in. Pat drove to the hospital, and when he pulled up at the front entrance I could see Laura through the window, and she came out to give me a hand. Again, I got out of the car, and had a contraction outside, one right inside the door, and one in the lobby before someone offered me a wheelchair, that I declined, because I couldn't fathom being able to sit down at that point. We got to the front desk where I had to give my SS number and sign in, all while squeezing Laura's hand very hard through each contraction. While we were still in the lobby, and then in the elevator, I definitely felt like I had to start pushing, so I was breathing pretty intensely through contractions to keep from letting my body push until we got into the delivery room. I was vocalizing (read: yelling) quite alot, which I really didn't feel like I had control over, and Laura suggested to me to try making my voice lower, which is supposed to facilitate labor by opening you up and helping you to relax. I started doing that and I am amazed to say that it actually worked, so I tried my best to continue doing that, although that didn't last too long, and she had to remind me again a few times. They actually took me to a triage room first to check and see how far dilated I was, which I still think is silly because once they checked me, I was already nine centimeters and they had to wheel me to a delivery room, which after the fact seems like a step we could have skipped. Part of me was shocked to already be that far along, but I wasn't registering much at this point. I think I had my eyes closed from triage all the way until the baby was born, except for a few seconds here and there because the contractions were so intense. They had a bit of trouble moving me onto a new bed in the labor room, but once they did I basically was on my side and couldn't help but start pushing.
Funny story. When Tommy was born I had to be induced, and ultimately ended up having to get an epidural. I remember towards the beginning of my labor with him when things were just getting started, there was a woman laboring in another woman who was screaming and yelling at the top of her lungs. The nurse in our room just laughed and said "Oh, don't worry. You aren't going to have to go through that, because you will probably be getting an epidural!" With Agnes, that yelling, screaming woman was ME. It was like someone else totally took over my body and I had no choice but to just keep yelling. Later I told Pat I was embarrassed by this, but after thinking about it, I'm really not. I just did what I had to do.
Because I was already starting to push on my own when we got into the delivery room, they gave me a hep lock to begin giving me an IV, but there was literally no time for an IV, or a monitor, or really anything because my body decided it was going to have a baby right! now! I was still wearing my clothes that I wore into the hospital. Once I started pushing, the doctor realized that my water hadn't broken yet, because I started to push it out. I know the doctor broke my water at that point, but I don't remember it happening. At that point they helped me flip over onto my back so that I could deliver the baby. I felt what everyone calls "the ring of fire" but it only lasted a few seconds, and then they told me she was crowning. All of the sudden there she was! All in all, my entire labor was less than four hours from start to finish, and we were only at the hospital for about 15 minutes before she actually came. I actually had a nurse ask me if we had stayed at home so long on purpose so that we could ensure a natural birth. I told he that I DID want a natural birth, but that if I had known how fast she was going to come, we would have high tailed it to the hospital a LOT sooner. I held her right away, and once the doctor started to stitch me up (I had two second degree tears...ouch) I was able to nurse her for the first time. She was born at 4:17 on the morning of December 12. She weighed 8 lbs 8 oz, and was 20 inches long. One ounce heavier, and one inch shorter than her brother. Praise God, she was perfectly healthy and nursing well, and we were able to go home after only a 30 hour hospital stay.
It's amazing to think back on her birth now, because it was exactly the opposite of my labor with Tommy, in pretty much every way. I'm shocked that I gave birth to her naturally, and I know that if I had been in labor longer than four hours, it may have been a much different outcome. It was the birth I thought I wanted, but in the end I didn't have a choice because she just decided to come so quickly. We joked (although it really COULD have happened) that it was a good thing she wasn't born in the car or on the side of the road. One thing I will say is that although I had a lot of pain for quite a while while my tears healed, my recovery from Agnes' birth was a lot easier to deal with, especially in the hospital. Not having an IV meant I didn't swell as much, and not having any drugs meant that other than the pain of actually birthing her, I felt pretty normal afterwards.
Now, she's a month old and she's doing really great. I feel back to normal physically too, which took about two and a half weeks. It's almost too much when I consider that God has given us the gift of two healthy babies. I plan on writing soon about the transition, because I really want to remember everything about the past few weeks. It has been hard, I will be honest. SO much harder that I thought it would be, or was prepared for. But I know that each day that passes, things will get easier as we all continue to adapt to one another. Yesterday Agnes was baptized, and it was such a beautiful day.
Thank God for our little Agnes!