They say every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, and every baby is different. After giving birth to James and then, two years later, to Sadie, I can say that is absolutely, positively true.
On Friday, April 28th, I started having painful, low belly pain around 10pm. Sadie’s due date was the 30th, and if I’m being honest, I’d been anticipating labor for weeks (since James came on his own two weeks early). His labor, in total, was 13 hours, so I expected Sadie’s to be even faster and even earlier (at 37 weeks, I was ready to GO!).
I timed that first contraction with my nifty app and waited. I had another an hour later, and then another an hour after. I decided to try and sleep, since I just knew she’d be with us by morning, and wanted to be well rested.
I contracted all night, once every hour or hour and a half. I got up on the 29th around seven and my contractions sped up to every half hour. This was it. I just knew it. I called my midwife, Jamie, and she told me to come on in (it was a 45 minute drive). So Vince and I packed up James and headed to the hospital to have our baby.
Well, the contractions slowed, and by the time we got there they were less painful and again over an hour apart. They monitored me for a while, and after we learned I hadn’t dilated any since my last prenatal check at 39 weeks, they sent me home. I was so discouraged.
So I headed home, crying (because PREGNANT), and took a nap. The whole time, Vince built me up. Already I’d been in labor (albeit early labor) longer than I’d been in labor in total with James, but he kept reminding me it was all OK. She was fine. I was fine. Everything was OK.
So, tired after being up and down all night with contractions, I napped. After a talk with my friend, Victoria, I did a miles circuit to try and get Sadie in a better position and try to speed up this labor that seemed to be stuck at an hour in between contractions. Contractions didn’t speed up, but man, did they intensify. And they were lasting over two minutes. So I called mom and she drove up, just in case, so someone would be with James in case we had to leave.
After laboring on my side for a while, resting and cuddling James between contractions, momma arrived. She sat with me, witnessed one very hard, very long contraction, and very firmly suggested we call Jamie again. I was hesitant, because they were still 45-60 minutes apart, but I decided to listen to my mommy (for once). Jamie told us to come in, and after Vince put James to bed (and I bawled that I couldn’t do it, and because PREGNANT) we hugged mom goodbye and headed back to Stanford (around 9:30 PM).
We arrived, I got hooked up to check my vitals and Sadie’s, and they checked me again. Still at 1.5 cm. I felt crestfallen. No progress, and each contraction hurt worse and worse. But the nurses at Fort Logan (Chelsea and Alisha) were so great and patient and kind. I labored, with Vince there to hold my hand and whisper encouragement, for a while longer. And when they checked me again near midnight, I had finally progressed to 2-3 cm, and they fully admitted me! If I hadn’t progressed much more by morning, they would start a pitocin drip and we’d explore some other options, but I was told to rest between contractions until then. I got up and walked around some, filled out some paperwork, and rested as well as I could. The nurse said, “We could still have a baby tonight, though!” but I don’t think she believed it. She was just encouraging me, and it made a huge difference.
And it’s midnight. It’s Sadie’s due date. Sweet, stubborn girl that she is, made it to her due date. At 12:13, my contractions grew closer together. Each one after that was a little stronger, a little closer to the last, a little harder to get through. It was like she’d been waiting for her due date. Vince, who was my rock during James’s birth, was my rock again as labor intensified and grew more difficult. (I could not have done it, either time, without him.)
At 4:15 or so, they checked me again. I was almost to 5 cm! Finally! Active labor is usually considered to have started between 4 and 6 cm, so I thought, we’re halfway there! We’re finally in active labor! I was sure, by noon at least, she would be born.
The nurses asked if I wanted to get in the tub (the biggest, nicest, most awesome tub EVER) to work on some pain management and I said I did. I slowly got up, and with Vince’s help in between contractions (which were between 3 and 5 minutes apart) made my way to use the bathroom (where my water broke and I didn’t realize it ’til we talked about it later) and then get in the luxuriously warm, whirlpool tub.
The warm water helped with the pain, and after a couple of contractions, I had a lovely break. Even though I was afraid I’d stalled my labor with that luxuriously long 9 minute break around 4:40, I was so grateful for the cessation. I fell fully asleep, floating in the water, with Vince holding tightly to my hand.
And then, another contraction. It was so much more than all the others. And then another. And another. And another. They were a minute apart (according to my contraction timer than Vince faithfully kept track of) and with the sudden intense, increase in pressure, I knew, somehow, even though they’d just checked me and told me I was barely at 5 cm, I was in transition. With James I sounded like a cow as I labored (low, rumbly sounds). With Sadie, I sounded like a wounded jungle cat, fighting for her life. Or perhaps a dragon. (Ooh, I like that! Yes, a dragon.)
I told (ok, yelled) that Vince go get the nurse. I got out of the tub with Vince’s help and contracted maybe four more times between the tub and the bed (about 15 feet). I laid down, and I was wild. They offered me nitrous, which I took, and then Jamie arrived. (They’d called her when I got in the tub around 4:20-4:30 and it as now 4:55 or so.) I was so relieved, and panicking at the same time. I told her (ok, yelled at her) that I needed to push. My nurses already had all the things ready for delivery, and Jamie, as she was suiting up, leaned her head down, glanced you know where, and said, “Well, go ahead!”
With James, pushing was this immense relief. The pain vanished and all I had to think about was pushing. This time was different. It was harder. It hurt. And after being in some kind of labor for 30 hours, I was exhausted. I told Vince I couldn’t do it. He reassured me that I could. I told Jamie I couldn’t, and she did the same. The nurses were telling me I was doing great, even though I felt unhinged. I felt like I’d lost it. I was a mess. I was vocalizing (my dragon roar) into the nitrous mask, and pushing when I contracted. Jamie told me to reach down and feel Sadie’s head, and I did, and it was amazing. But I had to keep pushing. It felt like hours. And then it suddenly felt like too much, and I gave up. I just roared my dragon roar, I didn’t push, and my encouraging, soft-spoken midwife had to get firm with me. “Lindsey, stop making noise and start pushing!”
So I did. She told me to do a sit up, so I did. I pushed. Vince was holding my hand, helping the nurse hold my leg, and talking to me in his calm, lovely way, encouraging me along.
And suddenly, the pain ceased, and I heard a beautiful, hearty cry. Sadie was here.
They laid her on me, squalling so strongly, and amidst my intense relief, I cried. For Sadie. For myself. For all the reasons and no reason at all. At 5:16 AM (pushing felt like hours, but it was really only around 10 minutes) Sadie Lynn was born, weighing 8 pounds and 5 ounces (20 ounces more than her older brother had) and measuring 20 inches long (1.25 inches shorter than James). My incredible midwife, Jamie, and my awesome nurses, Alisha and Chelsea, took care of both of us while I lay there, holding my baby, my husband by my side. He cut the cord. I made them show me the placenta. We laughed. It was over.
If you ask a text book, I was in active labor for about an hour. One single hour. If you ask me, I labored for 31 hours. Either way, on her due date, Sadie Lynn came screaming into the world, and now, one week later, I can’t imagine my life, or my family, without her.