Birth stories are something I’m extremely passionate about. I didn’t know it until I was expecting with our first, but it’s such an important moment. Our birth story this time around looks a little different and is just another reason why you should consider a birth photographer at your second, third, or fourth (or whatever number!) birth whether it be in a hospital, birth center, or at your home.
I’ve said it a million times, and Isaac is definitely over it, but this pregnancy experience has been very different than with James. The pregnancy itself seemed more rough, but the birth and post-partum recovery has been so much “easier.”
My expectations were that everything was going to be similar with a few minor differences. I was dead-wrong. Morning sickness was more severe, I ended up hospitalized for a severe migraine and dehydration, I had bleeding at only eight weeks (turned out to be a very small subchorionic hematoma), and all of my “first trimester” symptoms lasted about four weeks longer.
Towards the end of the pregnancy two more major differences presented themselves.
- Heartburn! I had a little acid reflux with James but nothing comparable to the amount that Thomas put me through. It got so bad I couldn’t sleep most nights. Some nights I felt like I was going to puke… not because of the pain. The pain was annoying, but not unbearable. I never knew that acid reflux could make you so physically ill. On a positive note, I guess what they say about acid reflux meaning your baby is going to have a head full of hair is true! Thomas was born with some beautiful dark locks, just as I had hoped.
- Braxton Hicks. I had never experienced the false labor or pointless trips to the hospital with James. Unfortunately, the Sunday before baby time, I had the “pleasure” of that experience for the first time. I can’t recall what time it was, but I was having consistent contractions. They were about 30-60 seconds every five or so minutes. I was so positive that I would be staying at the hospital and going home with a baby. Much to my disappointment, when they checked my cervix, I was only dilated to a four. They gave me two options. First, I could stay another hour under observation and get rechecked for any progress. Second, go home and continue laboring there. We chose the first. After the cervix check showed no progression, we left for home.
When we got home, I went into full nesting mode. Since we had just moved, there was still a lot of prep I wanted to finish before Thomas came home. That afternoon, we finished painting his nursery, organizing his closet, and waited for labor to progress. We waited five more days until active labor kicked in.
Another Hospital Birth
It was friday. Friday the thirteenth.
All around me, darkness.
Everyone was sleeping.
Okay, okay… I was going to try and play the blog off as a horror story since everyone hates Friday the thirteenth, but I’m not a very creative story writer. I’m much better at facts and telling stories as they are.
Anyways! We went to bed like every other night that week, knowing Thomas could make his arrival at any time. Isaac fell fast asleep (as usual, *insert eye roll) and I struggled to get any rest whatsoever. Nothing was comfortable. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom more frequently, but it was different than when my labor started with James. I also noticed a few contractions. When I timed them, they lasted 30-60 seconds but only came every 15-20 minutes. It was a huge set-back from Sunday’s false alarm, so I thought that there was no way this was baby time.
Again, I was wrong. I waited until about one in the morning or so before waking Isaac. All I said to him was, “Isaac, I think it might be about time to call your mom.” (Nancy was on call for James duty.) He shot straight up and about had a heart attack! I laughed at him and told him to calm down. I wasn’t sure if I was in labor or not and really just wanted his help tracking contractions. Concentration was becoming a lot harder, so I needed him to time and watch how much space there was between the waves.
Eventually, I said screw it, let’s head to the hospital. I wasn’t very positive that we’d stay. In fact, I fully expected them to tell me I was still at four centimeters. Thankfully, that was not the case. When they took me to traige and checked my cervix, I was already dilated to a seven or eight. It was baby time!
What does a contraction feel like?
In my first birth and pregnancy, all anyone ever explained to me was that it would compare to menstrual cramps. Well, some women don’t experience that (myself included). After having experienced them the first time, and again with Thomas, I have a much better idea of what to expect in the third pregnancy.
In my experience, contractions are like waves. Literal waves of the ocean. They come and they go. As they roll into the sandy shore they intensify, and as they retreat back into the main body of the ocean, the pain is lifted. I wish that’s how it was explained to me when I was expecting for the first time.
It also helps to think of them as waves when you’re experiencing them! Thinking about the waves helps (me, anyways) with focusing on my breathing which is so important, especially in an unmedicated birth.
Our nurse took us back to a birthing room, and then the excitement set in. I was so ready to meet our little one! Originally, I thought I’d try to take a nap considering I hadn’t slept at all, but I was wide awake now. The anticipation was killing me.
At this point, it was about 3:30 am.
Opting to skip the nap, I asked Isaac to draw me a bath. You are not allowed to deliver in the tubs at the hospital, but I was hoping I would still get some relief from the warm water. Isaac says he immediately noticed a difference in my laboring when I got into the tub.
For me, time is kind of blurry after this. I am not really sure how long I was in the tub, but after a while, I was ready to change positions. Isaac hopped in his swim trunks and sat on the little bench they had for the tub. There, he took the shower head and moved it around my back, shoulders, and neck which helped relieve some of the tension I was feeling.
My contractions started being a lot more intense. I was still waiting for my water to break, so when I started to feel an urge to push, I didn’t think much of it.
Turns out… my water may have been slowly leaking after we got to the hospital because I never had the gush like when it broke during labor with James. When I started to complain about the pain to my midwife, it had been about three hours or so. She suggested doing another cervix check to see how far I was and to check my water bag.
At that point, I was stuck on the toilet. I felt like I had to push out a giant turd if I am being honest. Well, the cervix check confirmed that I was! I still had about a half of a centimeter to go before full dilation, but my water was gone, and my body was telling me it was time.
7:05 am A few pushes later, about five minutes total, and Thomas was here.
Thomas John Paul
8 lbs 11.2 oz
Being Our Own Birth Story Photographer
At James’ birth, our good friend was able to make it and captured some of the most amazing and intimate images that I will cherish forever. This time, we packed my gear and became our own photographers (and had a little help from one of the nurses).
I’ve read the stories about women photographers who have captured their own birth, so I figured I would give it a go. The idea was for Isaac to take some photos along the way as well. However, when it came down to it, I didn’t touch the camera once until after labor and delivery and I only let Isaac take a few photos during the process.
While I will cherish these photos as well, I highly recommend hiring someone who can photograph the experience from an outside perspective. That isn’t to say you can’t take your own photos, but having a professional there will allow you to have images of the moment your family grows by one heartbeat. Here are some other reasons why you should hire a birth photographer!
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Birth Story | Fresh 48 | Maternity