After playing in the snow for a while, Sam suggested we go for a walk at the mall (can't really go for a walk anywhere else in this weather). So, out we went. I turned on my Strava app while we walked around, and by the end we had walked about 9/10 of a mile, so it was a pretty good walk. After walking, we went to the Gap and took advantage of their semi-annual sale (60% off clearance!!) to get a few clothes for the kids, then we had lunch at Chick-fil-A.
About this time, my stomach started hurting, and I was thinking that exerting myself with all that walking and eating a bunch of chicken and french fries might not have been the best idea, but the stomachache sort of came and went (it didn't bother me much, but then a wave would hit me that made me feel really sick for a minute, and then it would go away for a while...it didn't occur to me at the time that it could've been related to labor).
We went home and put Rosalind down for her nap, and I finished coloring my picture. While we were sitting there, I noticed that every now and then I would have one of those uncomfortable contractions like I'd felt while watching them play in the snow earlier, and thought perhaps they might be worth timing, just to see if anything worth noting was happening. I told Sam I was going to go lie down for a while, but didn't tell him I suspected anything was going on, because I didn't want anybody to get excited.
I started timing contractions some time between 1:15 and 1:30. When I started, they were about 10 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. Over the course of the hour I timed them, they went to about 4 minutes apart and lasted about a minute. In case you didn't know, four minutes apart and lasting one minute is past when they tell you you're in active labor. The thing was, though, it totally didn't feel like the real thing. The contractions required my concentration and I had to breathe through them, but after the peak, they didn't really feel like a big deal, and between them, everything was totally normal and I felt just fine.
Finally, I went in and told Sam what was happening, opening with the caveat "Don't get excited because it's probably nothing" and then told him I was going to take a shower, mostly to distract myself. I figured if the baby did come that night or the next morning, it might be easier to have Rosalind out of the way in advance, so I told Sam's parents to come get her. I then texted my mom and asked her to be on alert, but that it was probably not the real deal. I didn't call the midwife yet, even.
Sam's parents came while I was taking a shower, and finally Sam came in and said it was probably best to keep the midwife appraised, just in case. I agreed, so he called, but she was in clinic, so she had to call back later. In the mean time, we ran out of hot water (I wasn't even in there that long, we just have a stupid water heater), but I didn't want to get out because I didn't know if I should dress for the birth center or not, so I was standing there almost cold wondering why the midwife didn't hurry up and call back, when finally she did, and told us to come in. Actually, I was a little disappointed, because I was certain I was only dilated maybe 3 centimeters max, and I didn't want to have a false alarm and ruin everybody's day by going in too early.
So, Sam called my mom and gave her the head's up, and we got ourselves into the car and made our way down to the birth center. I had a contraction in the parking lot on our way walking to the door, so Sam hugged me until it finished. His coat was really cold, I remember for some reason, and I think at that point I started to get a little excited about the prospect of FINALLY having a baby! I still didn't let him get our bag out of the car though, just in case.
Anyway, we went inside, and my mom was waiting there. They were already filling the tub, which I thought was silly since I wasn't even really in labor (so I thought), but I didn't say anything. Honestly, I think part of the reason things didn't feel "real" was because I was expecting to handle it rather like I did last time (I was very, er...vocal), but I think partly because I knew what to expect since I'd done it before, and partly because my voice was raw from getting over a cold, it was a lot easier to just breathe through the contractions without vocalizing at all.
The first thing they did was ask if I wanted a cervical check, and I said yes, since I didn't want to wait around for no reason if we could just be leaving in a few minutes. They checked me and announced I was at 6 centimeters. Everybody smiled and laughed excitedly, but I was actually a little disappointed because with Ros I was already past transition and trying not to push on our way up to the birth center (although I was much further along than I expected!). I asked, "So do we get to stay, or do we go home?" They laughed and said we could stay, of course.
I tested positive for Group B Strep this time around, but because we expected labor would be quick, I had to prepare for the fact that there might not be time for antibiotics. I had been taking an extra probiotic for the last month, and once we knew I was really in labor, I had to wash with chlorhexidine (aka Hibiclens). After we did that, they let me get into the tub.
Honestly, I do not like to be wet. But I knew warm water would feel nice, so I considered the tub. I also knew in advance that some research shows that babies born in water to moms with GBS have a much lower risk of infection, so I wanted it for that reason too.
My mom and Sam sat on a little sofa bench thing next to the tub, and we laughed and chatted for a bit, pausing for contractions every now and then, while the midwives bustled around getting things ready. After a few minutes (or I guess a little longer, since I had already had a couple of contractions in the tub), one of them came in and asked if I wanted the antibiotics. I asked her how long it took to administer, and she guessed probably about half an hour if they could do it quickly, and I asked to talk it over with Sam and my mom for a second, and she left. We talked about it briefly, decided that unless things progressed more within a little bit longer, we would do them (at least I think that was the conclusion; as you'll see, we didn't end up having time), and then started laughing about how we should have brought a deck of cards. Sam asked if I wanted some music to pass the time, and started looking for planetarium music as a joke, when all of a sudden I had a major pushing contraction that totally caught me off guard. I almost squeezed the life out of Sam's hand, I'm sure.
I asked to be checked again, since I didn't want to push if I wasn't fully dilated yet, since it had only been maybe 20 minutes or so since I was last checked (maybe longer-- it's hard to gauge time). Someone (the reason all this is so vague is because we had a midwife, an apprentice midwife, an intern midwife, and a birth assistant there; thank you "teaching birth center") checked me and she said "You're between a 9 and a 10. Like it's mostly a 10, but you have just a little bit of lip left. So just listen to your body, and do whatever you like." That was pretty surprising to hear, to say the least.
I think I had one more really strong pushing contraction during which my water broke (which I did not feel at all, it's just what everybody was saying had happened), and on the next one, all of a sudden, I could feel his head, and it seemed like people were just standing there watching me (there really were a lot of midwives there...) so I kind of just yelled, "His head is right there! Somebody do something!" (actually, I was worried about tearing, so by "do something" I kind of meant "support my perineum," but it's kind of hard to be specific in that sort of situation). On the next push, his head came out, and I remembered that Sam had said he really wanted to catch the baby this time, since Ros being born en caul and with a nuchal cord sort of made that hard last time, but there was no way I could wait for him to get to the other side of the tub or get into a different position (I was on my hands and knees with my head towards Sam), so I just pushed again and grabbed Remy myself. I pulled him out of the water and held him face down so he could spit out any fluid better, and a few seconds later he took a breath and cried. Success! Somebody mentioned it was 4:27pm.
We sat in the tub for a few minutes, and I just felt so relieved. Sure, labor and delivery were a bit easier this time than with Ros (at the very least, less dramatic), and being in the water basically took all the burning from pushing away, but labor is still hard, you guys. Personally, I am very relieved to be "done." I also have to say that I really feel like labor being calmer this time was a huge blessing for me. Last time was quick, and I was pretty prepared from classes and reading, which helped, but it was so quick it scared me pretty bad after the fact, and I was worried about things being stressful this time around-- either in length, difficulty, or anything else. I feel so lucky that I was able to handle things so well this time. Anyway, we sat there for a while waiting for the placenta to deliver, but that took me a while again, like with Ros. Finally, I was able to deliver the placenta, and Sam cut the cord. Somebody took the baby, and I got up out of my blood bath and made my way to the bed to have some skin-to-skin time, and eventually get cleaned up and checked out.
For that first hour, we just cuddled and Remy nursed basically the whole time. He had an amazing latch (a huge deal, especially compared to Rosalind's difficulties) and was content just to suck away the entire hour. Eventually, after I was still having a ton of cramping, they needed to check me, so I gave up the baby for our exams. Much to my relief, I only had 3 tiny tears, none of which warranted needing stitches, so I made out like a bandit in that way. However, I did have a majorly swollen bruise that I will spare you the details on. I had also retained more stuff like last time, so they gave me a little something for the bleeding again.
During the first hour, Remy had two major poops. I'm only mentioning this because he didn't get weighed until after that, and so I feel like he deserves a little more credit than the 8 pounds 10 ounces at which he weighed in! In any case, they checked all his reflexes, etc, and everything was fantastic. I do remember though that while I was in the bathroom they talked about "wanting to listen to his heart again" or something, which kind of piqued my interest a bit. After I got him back and we were having skin time again, there was apparently a small conference of the midwives in the other room, and they came back in and said they heard something a little unusual with his heart. They said it probably wasn't anything to worry about, since newborns often are still working out their cardiovascular system in the first few hours (things work differently in versus out of the womb), but they'd check him every so often until we left.
At about 8:00pm, we started getting ready to go. They did a final exam on everybody (well, the baby and me), but kept coming back to check Remy's temperature with different thermometers. They also listened to his heart a couple more times. Eventually, Hannah, the main midwife, said that Remy's temperature was consistently low, like just above the threshold of normal, and with his heart and the fact that I'd tested positive for GBS, she was going to call the pediatrician at the hospital just down the street. I'll admit, I was a little worried at that point. They brought us lots of warm towels and we got skin-to-skin again, and we sat there on the bed waiting to hear the results of the phone call. I asked Sam if he was worried, and he said he was. I then suggested he give Remy a blessing, and he did so. Even though we were both a little worried, that was a very sweet moment for us, and, I felt, a nice way to welcome Remy to the world (although, yeah, I wish it hadn't been necessary). Hannah came back in and said that after talking everything over with the Pediatrician, it wouldn't be necessary to take him to the hospital. We were, however, instructed to check his temperature every few hours through the night and take him to our pediatrician first thing in the morning. So we got dressed again, packed up, and went home.
My mom met us at home, and Sam went to get us dinner from Cafe Rio (because Cafe Rio, you guys). I filled my mom in, and she didn't seem worried, which made me feel a little better. Also, I knew we had good care, and no one would have let us go home if there had been a real reason to worry. So, we checked his temp every few hours through the night, as instructed, texting the results to Hannah as we got them. Fortunately, his temp went up and was normal some time in the middle of the night, much to everyone's relief.
The next morning we went in to see the pediatrician. We brought him up to date, and he checked weight, temperature, and listened to Remy's heart. Weight and temperature were fantastic, and when he listened to Remy's heart, it took him a while to pick up on the weird beat issue. This was good, because it meant the problem was healing itself. He said everything looked just fine, and said that if, for some reason, he could still hear the thing with his heart at the 2 week visit, he'd send us to the hospital for an ECG, but hopefully it wouldn't be necessary. We went home collectively relieved.
The day after that, the midwife came by for our 2-day visit. When she listened to Remy's heart, she couldn't hear the issue at all, so we think at this point it looks like his heart is healed. Hooray! Also, he only lost like 1 or 2 ounces of weight, which is pretty stellar. She checked my swelling and that was considerably reduced as well, so when the visit was over, everybody was pleased as punch.
It's been a week, yesterday, since Remy's birth, and I think over all things are going fairly well-- at least, enormously better than I expected. Rosalind is having a bit of a hard time, but she's a little better every day. It didn't help that she's been recovering from a stomach bug the past few days, so she's been pretty short-tempered anyway. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with the way I feel-- the PPD hit immediately with Rosalind, so I'm still not sure if it's just a delayed start this time or if I'll be lucky enough that it won't be so bad this time (I mean, I don't feel amazing and chipper, but there is a marked difference between this time and last time, so far). Remy's perfect latch deteriorated and got stupid and painful after the first couple of days, but I've started pumping milk already, so it's easier for me to deal with his cluster feeding even with nursing feeling like Satan's Teeth. I don't know how long I'll be able to nurse this time, so I just make little goals for myself ("let's see if I can make it to Wednesday without using a nipple shield" etc), and I'm pumping whenever I can so that there will be milk on hand.
Another thing we're doing differently this time is Sam is taking extra time off of work. It'll suck next paycheck since he's still hourly, but it's a sacrifice we are all willing to make so that we can get through the first couple of weeks together. Having two kids instead of one is a major adjustment, but it's not as big of a shock as having your first, so we are not totally surprised by everything that happens, it's just a matter of getting through it, this time totally together. We are open with each other about how we are feeling about everything (dads can get PPD too, you know!), and because Remy is so dang squirmy and hates having his clothes/diaper changed, those are a group effort in the middle of the night, and I really do feel like we're balancing the work as evenly as possible. Sam is a terrific husband and father, and really makes me feel good this time around about being a "co-parent"-- he's not a "help," he doesn't "babysit"-- he's a father. And I love that.