Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. This is Bianca’s account of her unmedicated water birth and the whirlwind delivery of her second child. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
I’m Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, the mama of two feisty and beautiful daughters. Today I’m sharing my second birth story: how Ruby was born. Earlier I shared Penny’s birth story, her older sister who is now almost 4 years old. Ruby and Penny are 2 years and a week apart, so you can imagine my curiosity in whether my two daughters would be sharing a birthday!
As I prepared for my first pregnancy I learned all about natural birthy-ness. My first birth was in the water, unmedicated and wonderful. I fiercely wanted the same for my second. My first birth was fresh in my mind as my two daughters are 24 months 1 week apart. I had higher expectations for my second birth than I had for my first. With my first birth I didn’t know what to expect at all so I kept it low key (and it all went the way that I wanted to!). This time, the standard was high for me and even though I had seen countless examples of where births are never the same for siblings, I hoped and prayed for a birth like Penny’s.
Well, that didn’t happen. To this day, I believe that a child’s birth tells very much about how their personality will be. Penny’s birth was 8 hours and 40 minutes, peaceful and precise. Very much how she is. Ruby’s was much anticipated and came in a whirlwind. Just like Ruby is. The girl can be easily described as feisty, a pistol in a tornado, and things go how Ruby wants them to.
My wait for Ruby began at the end of 38 weeks. Penny was born at 39 weeks and even though I had thought I would be late with Penny, I was sure I would have Ruby in my 39th week.
In the weekend leading up to her birth I had contractions regularly in the evenings. They lasted several hours but would peter out. My membranes were swept three times starting at 37 weeks. My estimated due date of March 4th (the day after her sister’s 2nd birthday) passed and I started to despair. No baby.
5 days passed and we visited our local aquatic center. My 6 year old niece put me through the works of following her around, through the lazy river and around the pool. “C’mon Auntie, you can do this!” You might guess that her mom is a labor and delivery nurse, so my niece has the genes of becoming a great labor coach and advocate. But that young lady pushed me hard. That night I had another good round of contractions, lasting up to a minute and being 4-7 minutes apart. Alas, the following morning a very grumpy Bianca emerged from the bedroom for breakfast with her family. False labor – you are a cruel bitch.
I was 40 weeks and 6 days.
My parents were in town for the weekend, also on baby watch and our first choice in childcare for Penny while I labored. My mom was in the birthing room for my first delivery, but this time around we opted to have it just be myself, my husband and our birth team. It gave me great relief to know that my daughter, who was not accustomed to ever being without her mama, was most comfortable around my mom. Sunday afternoon approached and I began to get anxious because I knew that I’d probably go into labor as soon as my parents left. My mom and I chatted during the afternoon and she started to notice that my mind was elsewhere. My contractions started at 1:00 – this caught my attention because for the last week they had always started in the evening. I made a request for spicy Thai and a whole pineapple and waited to see if these contractions were here to stay.
We notified the midwife and she asked us to meet her at the birth center around 4:15. When we arrived, my husband quietly found a Pandora station for me and my midwives checked me out. One cool note – I had a mother and daughter midwife team! I was 4cm but not fully effaced. But everyone agreed that these contractions were real. She gave us three options – go home and wait, go for a walk or we can break my waters now. I opted to walk because I definitely was not going home.
We walked up and down the streets around our birth center. The rule was that I had to walk through all of my contractions; no matter how hard. Just keep shufflin’, they told me. And shuffle I did. And cry. I lamented over what I must have looked like. A clearly very pregnant woman, in her sweats, bawling her eyes out and clinging to her husband. To add a cherry on top, we walked by the local convention center as a home and garden show emptied out. I am sure that I am “a story” to someone.
After an hour we returned and they checked me. Sorry honey, no progression and your baby is also sunny-side up. They gave me the 3 options again, and this time I opted for breaking my waters. I was 6 days past my due date and clearly in labor. Something was holding baby back, but it wasn’t entirely clear (at the time) what it was.
Within a minute of breaking my waters I went into hard transition. In comparison to my first birth, this was a whirlwind cannon ball tornado. In an attempt to help turn the baby, the team had me do lunges using the side of the birthing tub. Lunges through five contractions on each side. Umph. I got through a round of five on one side and I crumbled. Please, just let me get into the water.
Just like my first birth the warm water was a great relief. But my contractions were still very fast and hard. I tried to “check out” between contractions (as I had in my first birth) to rest, but that was not possible this time. The urge to push came clear as a bell and much sooner than I expected, and I pushed for several rounds on my knees and hanging my upper body over the rim of the tub.
Quickly and quietly, my midwives told me that the baby’s heart rate as dropping and I needed to push with all my might. I didn’t want an episiotomy so I pushed with every cell of my being and brought my baby girl, Ruby, earthside.
With tears in our eyes we spoke to Ruby for the first time, I remember admonishing her for making me wait so long and then coming in such a hurry. But truth be told – that is Ruby to this day.
My labor was just under an hour long. She weighed in at a pound heavier and 3″ longer than her older sister had.
Her quick birth did produce an “interesting” (as my midwives put it) tear that has left a lasting mark on me. We believe that the reason why I was having start and stop labor for such a long time was because the cord was wrapped around her neck when she was born, so they believe that the cord was pulling her back and during the actual labor was the cause for the drop in heart rate.
This labor goes to show just how different each birth and child are!
Now that you’ve read Bianca’s birth stories, join in on the rest of the journey at The Pierogie Mama. She writes about the benefits of cloth diapering and other reusable choices, shares easy from-scratch recipes, shares remodeling and DIY tips and parenting advice. You can also find Bianca on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.