Ahh, well, it's taken me long enough to get around to this, don't you think? I want to write it down before I forget it, as seems to happen with birth stories. I'll start with the same disclaimer I wrote with Lane's birth story.
WARNING: This may be graphic in detail. And long.
Monday morning Shannon and I got up and went about our normal, daily routine, getting showers and breakfast and checking our email. Our babysitter showed up at 9:00 to watch Lane while Shannon and I left to go study language at some friends' house. We studied and I had an accountability meeting with my friend. At around 11:00 I told her, "I may be having Braxton-Hicks contractions...I'm not really sure what they're supposed to feel like since I've never had non-Pitocin-induced contractions that I could feel. It feels kind of like Noel is stretching and then relaxing." She was all excited and asked, "Do you think we'll have a baby today?" to which I replied, "No, I think they're just little Braxton-Hicks contractions." (HA!)
We left a little before noon, went to a pharmacy, and then took a minibus home. We thanked and hugged our babysitter and I got lunch ready for all of us. We ate, got the kitchen cleaned up, Shannon headed into his office to get some work done, and I laid down with Lane at about 1:10. I thought to myself, "While I'm laying here, I'll time these contractions and see how long they last." So while I was laying down with Lane (about 15-20 minutes) I had three contractions, each lasting about 30-40 seconds, none of which were painful, per se, but all of which had a definite beginning, peak, and end. I came out of Lane's room, went to the bathroom, and had a couple more while I was in there. I told Shannon that I'd had a few contractions and wasn't sure if I should go out to IKEA with my friend that afternoon. Then I went to hang up some laundry and needed Shannon's help with a sheet (you have to fold them while wet to hang them on the drying rack, and I don't like my wet, clean clothes touching the floors). While he was helping me hang the sheet I had to stop to breathe through a contraction. So at about 1:50 we called my friend to tell her I'd been having a few contractions and didn't think it was a good idea to go all the way out to IKEA with her. Then after I'd finished hanging the laundry I called my doctor and said, "I just wanted to let you know that I've been having contractions for about the last hour. They're not regular at all, but they're fairly painful." She asked me to go to the hospital to get checked.
About three hours after she was born.
So we began calling down our list of people who could watch Lane. One family was at the Emniyet working on their residency permits. Another family wasn't home (as we later learned they had just landed at the airport from their weekend trip to another city). Another friend was out at her son's school, watching his Christmas play. Her husband was at a training. We were starting to get panicky about needing to get to the hospital and not having anyone to come watch Lane when our friend decided to leave his training and come help us out. He arrived at about 2:30. Meanwhile, my contractions had started becoming painful to the point that I was thinking, "Something is wrong. This isn't right. This isn't how early labor is supposed to go. We need to get to the hospital NOW." I don't even remember what I did during that 30 minutes (I think I spent a good amount of time on the potty, as contractions seems to do weird things to your bowels/intestines), but I know that I was stopping frequently to rock on my hands and knees through contractions. Shannon was putting last-minute things in my hospital bag. When our friend showed up to watch Lane I was like, "We need to go, NOW. I don't care about what's left for the hospital bag." Our friend went and got us a taxi while I leaned on Shannon in the street, swaying through another contraction. I told Shannon I needed some water so he ran to buy me some in a store, and I got in the taxi and had another contraction. The cab driver was yelling out his window, "Hurry!" to our friend who had hailed the cab for us. (For those who are wondering, yes, we left Lane in the apartment alone for about five minutes. She was asleep and locked in her room.) Shannon showed up and we made the 5-minute drive to the hospital, our driver honking at everyone and doing a fantastic job of getting there quickly. It's humorous now to think that we had planned on walking to the hospital...
We got to the hospital and as I was getting out of the taxi another contraction hit (funny that I didn't have any on the ride to the hospital), and I put my arms around Shannon's neck and groaned through it. Someone came up behind me with a wheelchair and after the contraction had finished and I sat down, they wheeled me down the hallway, asking me (in Turkish) how many weeks pregnant I was and maybe what time the contractions had started. We got to the examining room and they checked me and announced I was six centimeters dilated. Shannon called my doctor and practically yelled, "She's six centimeters dilated!," the doctor said she was on her way, and I was yelling at Shannon that I needed a trash can because I was going to throw up. I promptly lost all my lunch, the nurses were telling me "sakin, sakin!" which means "peace," or "calm" (basically, "calm down!"), and transferring me to another bed or another wheelchair...I don't remember. I know that I got to the delivery room, got changed into the delivery gown thingamajig, and the nurses were asking me all sorts of crazy questions in Turkish, like how much I weighed, what my height was (like I can convert inches to centimeters when I'm having contractions!), and other questions that I can't remember, but I do remember that I was having a hard time translating stuff in my head, remembering Turkish at all, and answering them.
Daddy's so proud!
At this point I remember that I was on my side, laying in the bed, and holding onto the rail on the side, and my contractions were so painful that I was moaning/groaning/screaming/screeching through them. I was to the point where in between contractions my body was shaking uncontrollably. I couldn't "sakin" to save my life. The nurses asked me if I wanted an epidural, to which I replied "maybe," all the while thinking, "Uh, yeah! Stick that needle in my back and relieve me of this awful, HORRENDOUS pain!" But my doctor wasn't there yet. I really did want a natural birth. And at that point the main reason I wanted one was that I couldn't calm down between contractions and was remembering pushing for an hour with Lane and thinking that there's no way I could do that at the point where I was.
At about 3:10ish (30 minutes after arriving at the hospital), my doctor arrived. She checked me and I was eight centimeters dilated. She went and changed into her scrubs. I don't remember too much, just that she asked me if I wanted an epidural and I think I said, "I don't know." She said that the anesthesiologist would have to come down and check me and see if I was too far dilated. I asked her how long she thought it would be before we had a baby and she said she thought we'd be seeing her within an hour. I knew from getting my epidural with Lane that it takes at least 20-30 minutes before the anesthesiologist could get there, clean your back, get the needle in, and the medicine take effect. So I said no, I could do it without. So she asked me if I wanted her to break my water. I asked if it would make it go faster, to which she said yes, and that it wouldn't make things any more painful than they already were. "Yes, break my water!"
I don't remember much about the following 10-15 minutes. I remember that I wouldn't let Shannon hold my hand, because I was gripping the side of the bed so hard that I was afraid I'd break his hand. I remember my doctor asking me if I'd gone to the bathroom and if my bladder was empty. I told her that yes, I'd gone, but that I could probably go again. I asked if there was a bathroom I could use, and of course there was, but she didn't want me to use it because she said there was too much of a danger of me wanting to push while going to the bathroom, so I could just pee if I needed to. Well, I was thinking, "I don't know if I can just pee on myself!" and I had that thought for maybe one contraction, and with the next one I was thinking, "Hey, I might be able to push." So I started asking if I could push, since she hadn't said anything like, "I can see the baby's head crowning," or "you're at ten centimeters and can push whenever you're ready." So my doctor said, "Yes, you can push whenever you want to!" And with the next contraction I pushed with everything I had, screaming, "Get this baby out of me!!!!" (Yes, I was that woman.) Her head came out with that push and my doctor actually told me to stop pushing. And with the next contraction I pushed and her little body came out. It was 3:40, a mere hour after we had arrived at the hospital.
They placed her on my belly and we spent a couple of minutes just looking at her, getting photos, and marveling that it was all over. Her umbilical cord was really short so she stayed down on my belly until my doctor cut her cord after it had stopped pulsing. My placenta didn't deliver right away, so the nurses tried to latch Noel on to nurse (to encourage contractions), but at some point they had put an IV in my arm, right where it bends, so I couldn't hold her very well. We held her, got some photos, and just marveled at the miracle that had just taken place. After a few minutes the nurses whisked her away to weigh her, clean her up, and so on. I, on the other hand, had to stay in the delivery room for about 45 more minutes since the stubborn placenta wouldn't budge.
The look of relief after a 2.5 hour labor with no pain medication!
Eventually it did budge and I got to go up to my room. We spent awhile marveling over our new daughter, trying to decide if we preferred this kind of labor and delivery or being induced, and trying to get the internet to work so that we could call our families, since none of them even knew that we had gone to the hospital. At around 7:00 we got the internet working and started calling our families, who were completely shocked! Our friends brought Lane by at around 8:00 and we all visited for a bit before they took Lane home to get some sleep. Shannon stayed at the hospital with me and our friends stayed at our place with Lane.
Of course I didn't get any sleep (does anyone actually sleep the night after they have a baby?), and the next morning we started the discharge procedures at around 10:00 a.m. Shannon came home around noon to help get Lane down for her nap and Noel and I came home around 3:00 (they wanted me to stay a full 24 hours).
I do have to say that this birth experience was much better than with Lane. I'm not sure if it's because a) I didn't have any drugs pumped into me, b) it was so fast, or c) it's a second birth so my body knew what to do. I've healed much quicker this time around (no tearing!) and other than feeling like my body had been run over by a cement truck last Wednesday and Thursday, I've felt great. I'm back in my regular jeans already, Noel is nursing like a champ (when she can stay awake long enough), and we're all getting at least some sleep. I'm so glad that she came before Christmas...this has been a great time of year to have Shannon home (he took vacation through this week) and to be able to spend lots of time with my family.
And that's that! I still can't believe that I have two kids. Two!
First family photo.