September 7, 2015, Labor Day, I woke up at 4:15 with contractions and knew my little boy was on his way. But before we get there, let’s back up a week.
Monday, August 31 I had what I hoped to be my final prenatal appointment with my German OB. She confirmed that our little boy was indeed ready to go and that my Braxton Hicks contractions had progressed me to 2cm. She stripped my membranes, hoping to bring on contractions soon, and sent me home.
On the way home, the contractions started. For the next ten hours, I had contractions that would get closer together, then slow just a bit, just to speed up again. I wasn’t completely sure what I was feeling, since they really weren’t following a pattern, and they weren’t really too strong. We called in the reserves anyway, and my stepmom caught the last train from Paris, ready to step in on Harry duty when it was time to head to the hospital. I went to bed that night, thinking we’d be headed to the hospital before morning. Then I woke up at 2am with nothing. No contractions. Nada.
I was disappointed. I think I may have cried while I spent about an hour lunging around the house, trying to bring contractions back. I finally gave in and went back to bed, thinking at least we were moving forward and surely it’ll be soon.
Tuesday morning, I woke up and went for a long walk, hoping to get things started again. Later that morning, the contractions started again, this time a bit stronger and consistently 11 minutes apart. Jon worked from home and we were sure it was almost time. Again, we prepped and got ready to leave that night (our bags and my pillow were already in the car from the previous). Later that evening, the contractions slowed significantly, and stopped completely when I went to bed. Disappointed is an understatement.
Thus started the week of false and/or stalled labor. I spent a week, my 39th week, walking around at 2cm dilated, having contractions on and off, wondering when this little boy was going to make his arrival. I’d be lying if I said I was serene about the whole thing, waiting for him to come. There were a lot of tears. Every night, I would go to bed willing it to happen, but trying so hard not to get my hopes up. I’d think, “surely tonight” only to be disappointed when I woke up. Every ache, every pain, every contraction brought hope that I’d finally get to meet our little boy, and unfortunately then disappointment when things did not start progressing.
I tried so hard to be present, to be in the moment, to enjoy these last few days with Harry as my only boy, but it was hard. Every night I’d cry to Jon, telling him I just didn’t think I could do it anymore. Sunday night was the worst. My dad got in earlier that day, meaning my stepmom had given up a full week in Paris to come watch me be pregnant. I felt guilty. I felt tired. I felt done. Jon held my hand and listened as I let it all out. I told him I really felt like he was never going to come, as impossible as that was.
And then I woke up with contractions. 4:15am on Labor Day, September 7. I went to the bathroom and then decided to go back to sleep. These were definitely strong contractions, but I was so over the false labor, I decided to get some rest. Did I know they were different this time? I think so. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up yet again. I didn’t want to wake my husband up for another false alarm. So I went back to sleep.
At 5am, I woke up to a stronger contraction, and another. Jon felt me moving around on the bed beside him and asked me how I was feeling. I told him I thought I was in labor, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. A few minutes later, I told him his window of opportunity for a shower was shutting. He hopped in the shower while I got dressed and brushed my teeth. By 6am, as Jon was midway through emptying the dishwasher, I knew it was time to go. We dropped off Harry’s monitor downstairs, left the dishes, and headed for the hospital. My contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes.
The car ride to the hospital was very different from last time. My contractions slowed again and I worried that this was just more false labor. I was able to sit in my seat, somewhat comfortable, and take in the drive. By the time we got to the hospital, I was pretty worried that my contractions had slowed too much. The second I stood up and started walking in, however, I realized they were strong. And fast.
I labored through a few contractions on the way up to L&D, slow dancing with Jon to get through them. They buzzed us into the unit right away (apparently at 6:15am, you don’t have to tell them why you rang the door, they just assume you need to get in) and we walked up to the front desk.
“Sprechen Sie Englisch?” Jon asked, and the two women behind the desk looked at each other with slight panic in their faces.
“I’m in labor. I’m having contractions.” I breathed, through one of the said contractions. One of the women got up and started moving, ushering me into the room I’d been having my non-stress tests for the last ten weeks. I expected this, but I was slightly disappointed. I was worried that laying down while they monitored my baby’s heart rate would slow the contractions. And I was right.
I laid there hooked up to the monitors for almost an hour. We had to wake the baby up, because he was having a major snooze fest in there, so I drank and I drank and I drank water while simultaneously sniffing lemon essential oil. I moved to my other side. All the while, my contractions started dwindling. In the hour I was hooked up to the machine, I had gone from contractions every 90 seconds, to an eternity in between them, only having about 4-5 total. I was frustrated. I didn’t want to be strapped to a bed. I wanted to be moving. And I sure as heck didn’t want to be strapped in and laying down when I DID have those contractions. I cried that I could not be laying through them. Poor Jon rubbed my back and looked so helpless. There wasn’t much either of us could do, in that room by ourselves.
After they had monitored the baby’s heart rate sufficiently, a nurse came in to draw my blood. She left and said she’d be back to take an ultrasound after tending to another patient. Another midwife came in, checked my progress (4cm) and sent me to the bathroom. The walk to the bathroom (all the way out of the unit in the waiting room) seemed to throw things right back into action. My contractions were 60-90 seconds apart and painful. It took me a very long time to make it to the bathroom and back, and on my way back in, I stopped. I couldn’t walk through the contractions. He was coming fast.
We were ushered into a laboring room and left alone. They tried to send Jon to the recovery unit to sign in, and we absolutely and loudly refused that. I made it a few steps into the room, and leaned on the bed, contractions coming strong. That was 7:40am. I had forgotten about the tub I so badly wanted to try, I didn’t want the stool like I thought I would, the yoga ball sat untouched in the corner, all I could do was stand next to the bed, rocking back and forth, and leaning on the mattress.
The pain was just like I remembered. After a very short time laboring on our own, two midwives rushed in, I’m sure after hearing me in the hallway. I wanted to push. I needed to push. I refused to get onto the bed, and instead they brought a plush mat and helped me lift each leg up so I could stand on it. I stood there, next to the bed, swaying back and forth through the contractions. And I pushed. I pushed when they asked me to and I tried to stop when they said stop. About 15 minutes after they had entered the room, I felt him moving down. I knew this was it. Hunched over, shaking from the effort, simultaneously squatting and standing up on my toes, I watched as I pushed my son into the world. Oscar Paul took his first breaths at 8:11am.
It was amazing. They handed Oscar to me and I held my sweet boy for the very first time. He hardly cried, just a little squeak to let us know he was okay. He snuggled right into my chest as Jon and I both cried and I thanked my midwives profusely. I couldn’t take my eyes off my second born, my sweet little Oscar. He looked nothing like Harry in that moment, he was all his own person. Perfect in every way. I took in his long fingers and his short black hair, his giant cheeks and his ears – my ears. And then I nursed him.
In that moment, I looked at Jon and thanked him. Thanked him for giving me this perfect little boy. Thanked him for walking through this pregnancy with me, which I’m sure wasn’t easy. Thanked him for being my rock, helping me bring this sweet life into the world. Thanked him for loving me. I couldn’t have done any of it without him.
We have two amazing, perfect little boys now. We recuperated in the German hospital just a few hours and then went home that evening to see our Harry and introduce him to his tiny little brother. When we walked in the door I heard him shout “Is my baby brother here?!” and burst into tears. He wanted nothing more than to kiss his brothers head and hold him. My heart felt so full, so happy, that it could burst, seeing my three boys, my heart, my life, all together and so, so elated.