We show up at the hospital at 8 PM, 8 days overdue for the induction I was sure I wouldn’t need this time. With Gracie, I never felt like labor was coming; I never even felt any Braxton Hicks contractions. I do this time. I’ve been having them for 16 weeks. I was actually worried about going into labor prematurely, but all those contractions never turned into anything more than false alarms, so here I am for induction number two.
So much is the same as my first birth: induction, foley bulb cervical ripening, disappointment that my body missed the due date memo again. But I’m holding out hope that my second birth will be like the second birth stories of my friends who all had an easier time with number two. None of them had to be induced twice, though.
The foley kick starts labor and those Braxton Hicks contractions turn into real ones within an hour. I’m offered an epidural and say yes before the nurse has even finished asking the question. To avoid a repeat unwanted natural delivery, I lay out in no uncertain terms that I want this epidural for the entire labor and delivery.
The anesthesiologist isn’t very personable, but her work is perfect. I feel nothing. My “don’t be a hero” approach is paying off. I’m completely comfortable and any residual fears from Gracie’s birth fade away. Besides frequent repositioning to keep baby boy happy and his heart rate normal, the rest of the night is comfortable and quiet.
Labor progresses steadily, and by 6:30 AM I’m fully dilated. Instead of jumping right in, the team gives me time to rest while the contractions keep doing their job—moving baby further down the birth canal. As we get closer to go time, I remind my nurse that I want my epidural to stay on.
A little after 8 AM, the delivery team filters into the room to get ready. I notice the time and remark how funny it would be if he was born at 8:45 like Gracie.
When I do the practice push, my OB asks if I’m feeling the contractions. I’m not, but I lie and say I do, terrified that the truth might get my epidural taken away. I feel absolutely nothing, and would very much like it to stay that way.
My first few pushes don’t seem to be doing anything, and tendrils of panic sweep through my mind. What if it takes me as long as last time? What if my doctor decides I can’t push with the epidural and turns it off again? I can’t do another drug-free delivery, I can’t.
Ten minutes later, I still don’t feel the contractions, but my pushing is working and I can tell. I feel the power of my body, and for the first time, all the fear has truly melted away. I’m made for this and I am strong.
After a few more contractions, his head crowns and I start to sob. Mark asks what’s wrong, but they’re happy tears. I know I’m only moments away from meeting my baby—holding him in my arms and seeing his face for the very first time.
So many of the arguments I see for a drug-free birth talk about wanting to feel present and to fully experience the process of bringing a baby into the world. During my one hour and 45 minute drug-free delivery of Gracie I was anything but present. But now, blissfully pain-free, I’m getting that. Without the blinding pain and fear, I am totally in the moment. The seconds stretch out as my OB hands me my brand new baby. He is perfect.
I ask for all the extra people that appeared for the show to be cleared out and I soak in my baby boy. He has a full head of dark brown, almost black hair and the squishiest face I’ve ever seen. There’s a wrinkle across the bridge of his nose from all the chub in his face. He’s clearly big, but the whole room is shocked when they finally weigh him and the scale registers 9 pounds, 1 ounce.
I laugh out loud when they announce it. Gracie was only 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and her delivery felt impossible. In 20 minutes, I birthed a baby a full 2 pounds bigger and it was almost easy.
Logan Avett was born on September 14th, 2017 at 8:46 AM (missing Gracie’s 8:45 birth time by 1 minute). He was 21.5 inches long and weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. His birth washed away all the trauma of my first experience. It was the moment I knew for sure that I wanted to do the whole thing one more time.
Darbie's birth story coming soon.