It has taken me a few weeks to write this down. It honestly feels like a blur now so I am hoping I am remembering everything correctly. Let's start a few days before Eleanor was born...
I took Wednesday off from work to just have a day to relax. I felt like I had spent the past few months going and going and prepping and just needed a day that was kid and chore-free. I spent the day watching The Handmaid's Tale, laying in bed, and napping. I felt a bit strange and had a little bit of cramping but I had every intention of going into work the following day.
At midnight that night, I awoke to pain. It wasn't terrible but it was definitely a contraction. I woke Rich up and told him we were having this baby soon but told him to get some sleep. I tried to go back to sleep but I was having contractions consistently enough that it wasn't happening. I went into the bathroom at one point and had a gush of fluid with a contraction. I was convinced my water had broken but Rich was not. My labor with Olivia was a total of 56 hours so it just seemed to early to me and not enough fluid.
I was freaking out a little bit though because I was afraid if we didn't call his parents to come over for Olivia we wouldn't have enough time when we actually needed them and I would end up having the baby on the bedroom floor with our toddler freaked out of her mind. (It is funny the things that go through your head in the middle of the night when you are in pain, isn't it?)
So we called his parents and headed to the hospital around 2 am. I remember mentioning in the car that if this is it, this labor is WAY shorter and less painful than with Olivia. And when we got to the hospital, they were even having a slow night and took me in right away. They tested for amniotic fluid and, well, my water had not broken and I was not dilated enough for them to admit me. I felt a bit silly - this WAS my second child - but it was better to be safe than sorry.
When we got home, I was able to sleep a bit in between contractions and around 7 am on Thursday morning, Olivia hung out in bed a bit before she went to school. She was so sweet. She watched me go through a few contractions (which were not that bad yet) and would give me a hug after each one. She also kept asking me, "Are you otay, mama?" It is amazing how much more I could control my pain with her there.
I did a few things differently this time to manage pain and, although this labor was definitely not pain free, I felt like I was stronger and a bit more in control. The first thing is that I MOVED. I tried laboring by sitting on a ball which I hated. I tried laying over the ball - also hated that. I had a few contractions in bed but I realized that standing up and doing squats or bending in over the bed and doing calf raises got me through my contractions much better. Yes, I kind of worked out while I was in labor. Yes, I am a weirdo.
Also, I made sure to eat so I would have enough physical strength and to stay hydrated since I was severely dehydrated when I was admitted to the hospital with Olivia. I had actually made myself a "labor-aid" the day before (on my day off) which was really helpful. I didn't always want to drink water (it had actually grossed me out with Olivia too) so I switched between that and water.
Rich also employed counter pressure on my back during contractions when I wanted it. I gave him a hard time about not "assisting" as much as I would have liked with Olivia and he was ON IT this time. I guess it helped that he knew what he was doing this time around.
I felt pretty decent throughout the day. I was able to distract myself with the TV (I weirdly watched a lot of ESPN which I never watch) and downloaded Solitaire to my phone. But around 4 pm, I was in a lot of pain. I got in our shower and let the jets hit me in the back for a while which felt really good during contractions. I also was able to squat and put my hands on the wall above my head which also felt good. I specifically remembering channeling a "Females are strong as hell" GIF my friend, Kathy, had sent me earlier that day while I was in the shower. In between contractions I remember singing the tune from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Around 7 pm, I was physically and emotionally drained. I mean, at that point, it had been fifteen hours since my first contraction. Olivia was upset that she couldn't really see me which made me upset and I couldn't believe I was STILL in labor. All I could think is that I was gearing up for another 56-hour labor like I had with Olivia. So, I lost it. I started crying and saying I couldn't do it anymore. It was a drastic change from how strong I had felt a few hours before. My step-mom suggested a drive (since it was way too hot and humid to go outside for a walk) so Rich and I got in the car.
About two minutes into our ride, I had another gush of fluid. I turned to Rich and said, "My water just broke!" Then I commented how I wish we were home so I could have taken a shower but I insisted we still go to the hospital. I was so done and was ready to meet this baby.
When we arrived at the hospital, they skipped the triage room and took me straight to a labor and delivery room. I don't know if it is because they knew I was there that morning or that I had been in labor for sixteen hours at that point but everything moved so fast.
But, guess what? My water hadn't actually broke in the car! The midwife went to check me and it broke all over her. Oops. Even with the long labor, I was still only three centimeters dilated.
I asked for an epidural and although it numbed the contractions, I wasn't able to sleep much at night because of very uncomfortable pressure down there. I kept calling the nurse in and she finally checked me surprised I had dilated to seven centimeters as quick as I did. Not too much longer after that, it was time to push.
I actually don't know how long I pushed for. And it only felt like I pushed three or four times. But, at that point, my contractions were still really far apart - I think I was getting at least five minutes of rest in between. And then, all of a sudden, at 1:56 am on Friday morning, she was here.
With Olivia, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid so they quickly showed me to her and had to take her for tests. But with Ellie, they immediately handed her to me and I almost didn't know what to do with her. Having her laying on my chest was the most amazing feeling. I remember laying there saying "hello" and "we have been waiting for you" over and over again. She was so beautiful and I knew in that moment that our family was complete.
The next few days were spent in the hospital. We had a few visitors. And we had a few jaundice issues. But besides that, it just felt so calm and peaceful. The day Ellie was born feels so far away now. It is hard to remember our family without her.