Sitting here and trying to think how to start this isn’t easy. Putting this experience into words makes it so final. My pregnancy is over. I no longer get to feel our baby move inside my belly. It’s strange how you countdown the days to the end of your pregnancy, but then when it’s come and gone you miss it. I actually find myself wanting to rewind the clock. We prepared for months for the day we would get to meet our little girl. I take that back, I’ve been preparing and hoping for this beautiful story since my experience with our first daughter. You can read about that here if you missed it before, or just want a refresher. We’ve been looking forward to the labor and birth of our second daughter since we found out we were pregnant again. Choosing our midwife, and then building a real relationship with her isn’t something I feel prepared to give up. Reading book after book, and preparing our birth plan. We were ready this time. Ready to bring our daughter into our lives the way WE wanted. I just didn’t realize how much I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself for the after.
I’m proud, excited, and honestly a bit sad to share this with you. Writing this out is the hard truth that Elanor is no longer just my experience, she is becoming part of everyone’s story. She now decides and writes her own path. This, friends, is the start of Elanors life story…
We were nearing the end of November and I was feeling like labor would never get here. I wasn’t due until December 11th, but with Sarah coming a week early I figured we would have the same experience this time, if not a little sooner. At my 36 week appointment my midwife, Jenny, checked to see where we stood. I was, quite unexpectedly, 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. We were shocked. She told us to make sure our bags were packed and ready and that because this was baby #2, and we lived about 40 minutes from the hospital, to watch for early signs of labor and not wait it out too long bc we didn’t want to have a baby on the side of the interstate.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were excited. Could the time really be this close? It was 1 week before thanksgiving and we were both hoping she’d come before December. Before December, but after Thanksgiving, to be honest. Ya, I know, we were hoping for a 1week window. Talk about crazy hopes. So we are 36 weeks along and my hopes for a pre-December birth just skyrocketed.
Five days later I had another appointment. We were at the weekly-appointments point now and because it was the week of Thanksgiving (and I was a tad bit too curious) I asked Jenny to check if I had progressed any. I was quite disappointed to find out we were at the same point as the week before. All that walking and nothing had changed. I suppose this should have been good news. Stephen had a wedding rehearsal on Friday and was performing the ceremony on Saturday. Plus, all of my family was going to be out of town for the holiday weekend. They were our Sarah-watchers while we would be at the hospital. All these things combined made for a very inconvenient week/weekend to have a baby. Thanksgiving came and no change. I hadn’t even had any Braxton Hicks contractions. Actually, according to Jenny I must have been having some bc I was 3cm, but it wasn’t anything that I had felt. I had back labor with Sarah, never a single contraction until the day I went into labor. I had no idea what braxton hicks, or regular contractions, even felt like. Back labor is a completely different experience than the other, and Jenny told me not to expect back labor this go around because it isn’t common.
Friday came and we went with our friends Brandon and Nicole to get our Christmas tree. When we got back to their place to decorate I was feeling a little crampy. I texted my friend Sara and asked her if that was normal. She gave me some tips and tidbits about what contractions feel like. Jenny explained it by pushing against my forehead with my fingers. If my stomach is as hard as a rock, or my forehead, than I’m having a contraction. These weren’t painful, but my stomach was rock hard. I asked Stephen to push on my belly and tell me if these were real and he confirmed my suspicions. Hooray, I’m finally contracting! Could this be the day? Was I going into early labor?! I helped Nicole decorate the tree and tried not to get excited. Don’t over think this Cassie. Women have contractions for weeks, even months, without going into labor. As the day continued so did the contractions. They got more frequent and a little more uncomfortable. We were headed home where Stephen was dropping Sarah and myself off while he went to the wedding rehearsal. On the way there Stephen asked what I was thinking. Should we go to the hospital? A few friends offered to come stay with me and Sarah while Stephen was gone. We decided I would stay home with Sarah and let her play outside while I walked around. If the contractions picked up I’d call him and we’d head to the hospital. Stephen left and less than an hour later the contractions were gone. Looks like we had our first false alarm. Thankfully we didn’t go to the hospital to find that out. We also discovered that Stephen had zero cell reception at the wedding location, so going into labor really wouldn’t have been good. The weekend went by and still no baby. Looks like Week37 wasn’t going to be the one.
The next Tuesday came and I went to my next appointment. I told Jenny about our false alarm and she told me she would have been there ready for me because she delivered 2 babies that Friday. She followed it by apologizing to me. She knew she had gotten our hopes up and we had all expected a baby by now. This just reaffirmed our decision to use her as our midwife. She wasn’t just the woman that was going to deliver our baby, she was a real person, and treated me like one too. I had decided I didn’t want to get checked. No point in giving ourselves false hope again. Plus, lets be honest, getting checked isn’t exactly comfortable. We went over our birth plan, she gave me some extra exercise tips. If I really wanted to get things moving it looked like I’d be doing some squats for the next few weeks. Just before leaving Jenny told us that Wednesday night was a full moon, so maybe that would bring us our baby. I appreciated her optimism.
I spent Wednesday at my parents house playing with Sarah. Like the previous few days I had some contractions on and off, but nothing painful, just that funny feeling of having a rock hard stomach. I had decided to take this time and truly enjoy my time with Sarah. It would never be just her and I again. We were fixing to bring a new family member into our home, and Sarah and my time would be different. No more uninterrupted naps on the [very rare] days Sarah would pass out next to me. Not with a hungry and breastfed baby on the way. We played outside that entire day. Sarah LOVES to play chase, so I happily obliged. Her giddy and contagious laugh makes it worth the crazy exhaustion her crazy mamma usually feels soon after, but not today. I had an extra burst of energy that day. I think it was accepting the notion that my time was now limited. After her baby sister arrived I wouldn’t even be allowed to pick up our sweet Sarah for a few weeks. I wanted to soak up every second I could, and she very excitedly obliged me :)
Stephen came to pick me up so we could head home for the evening. My parents were letting Sarah stay the night since I was coming back in the morning. No more staying at home by ourselves, you know “just in case” something happens. That was a mid-wife order. Stephen dropped me off at home and headed to church for the Wednesday service while I settled in on the couch to watch a Christmas Movie. Stephen got home a few hours later and we headed to bed. I remember sleeping really well that night. I didn’t wake up once until 5am. That’s a huge improvement compared to my usual 3-4 times a night. Stephen and I woke up and while in the shower I started to feel that same tightening in my stomach. Stephen had become my ‘contraction tester’ because sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between contraction and Elanor adjusting and pressing against my stomach. While getting ready they continued and were about 5 minutes apart, just like that Friday before, only this time I was also feeling pressure in my back. We left the house and were headed into town when Stephen decided we’d go up to the hospital just to see if these were anything more. It would be an easy thing to check before he dropped me off at my parents for the day. We called to let my folks know we’d be a bit longer. I didn’t know it at the time, but that long and precious night of rest would soon prove to be very useful.