Thank you to my readers for having it!
At long last I'm sharing Grayson's birth story . . .
(I shared a truncated version of my birth story soon after giving birth with my acupuncturist, and I'm so thankful that I have an email record of it when everything was so fresh and it's what I referred to when writing this post.)
Grayson's due date was June 16, 2014, but I was prepared for it to come and go just like the first time around, and sure enough it did. My 5th wedding anniversary was June 26, 2014 and earlier that day I attended a blogging event in the city. Everyone was stunned that I was still waddling around, but I figured the activity would be good to get labor going. It was also Nia's last day of school so I made it back to Jersey City in time to pick her up and head home. The activity must've worked because I lost my mucus plug and started contracting strong enough to call Uka at work to tell him he might want to come home soon. This was around 5p.m. and as a precaution we let our awesome neighbors know Nia might be coming over that night so they were on standby. I also called my midwives who advised me not to use my arsenal of products to jump start labor and instead soak in the tub and let things progress naturally.
After dinner Nia went to the neighbors and we got settled in bed then around 10p.m. contractions started coming 7 minutes apart. Because we were about 30 minutes from the hospital our midwife warned us not to wait too long to start heading to the hospital, especially because of how quickly labor tends to go with subsequent pregnancies. However, I really wanted to labor as long as possible at home.
Now a quick pause to talk about the support of midwives . . .
The first go around I didn't have the option of a midwife, and while yes, a healthy baby is the obvious outcome most mothers want for their birth experience, this time around I also wanted to experience an unmedicated birth. I was genuinely curious about what my body was capable of on its own and based on my experience of a medicated birth the first time around, I honestly wanted to know the difference as well as have the ability to ambulate, which I hardly did when I had Nia. I believe having midwives would be the best way to achieve this desired outcome.
So I was laboring at home as long as possible and we finally made our way to the car close to 11:30p.m. Side note: while we had considered using Uber, we had only purchased a car a couple weeks before Grayson was born and I'm so glad we did! Unlike my first birth which was just a public transit ride to the hospital during which I wasn't in labor, this time in the car, the 30 minute ride seemed to double and I every bump and application of the brakes seemed amplified. It was such a welcome relief to get into the hospital doors, but I had to keep stopping during the walk to registration due to contractions.
When my midwife checked I was already 6 cm dilated! I was so excited and thankful that I didn't have to experience the wretched contractions that Pitocin caused during my first labor. I had read natural contractions weren't nearly as strong as those caused by Pitocin, and I found that to be absolutely true.
In addition to being able to ambulate, I wanted to have time in the birthing tub. I wasn't aiming for a water birth, but I knew for some women it provided a soothing experience. Not for me! I got into the birthing pool around 1a.m. and I was quite uncomfortable and became more of a "collapser" laboring in the water. Maybe I just needed to do more strength training, but similar to the first time around I had what felt like sea legs made of jelly. I remember my midwife telling me I could stand up and I adamantly told her I could not. Thankfully Uka was there to support me. I was also overheating during the time in the birthing tub and the cold compresses he applied to my forehead made me want to kiss him. I vividly remember thinking, "This is the best thing in life. EVER!" (The compresses, NOT labor!)
Once back in the bed we got to a bit of a stand still when I stopped progressing at 9 cm due to my "persistent cervix." I was also losing steam so my midwife gave me a mild sedative so I could rest. She later told me it was the equivalent of a child's dose of Tylenol PM or something, but it completely wiped me out! When I woke up I felt so refreshed and looked around the room asking how much time had past thinking it was only 20 or 30 minutes when it was more like 2 hours. They were so surprised that it had that effect on me!
I had no sense of time but before I knew it I was pushing under the guidance of my midwife who knew I had a 4th degree tear the first time around. The fear of tearing was holding me back and I was so thankful for not having to be on a clock - my body was able to progress naturally and my midwife even helped manually with my persistent cervix which made me writhe in pain, but I much preferred that to tearing. So much of labor is mental and I remember telling myself that I shouldn't let my fear keep me from meeting Grayson. I pushed with all my might (I have no idea how many times!), and at 5:51a.m. on June 27 he was born (this is also my BFF's birthday, and he came all the way from Manhattan to meet Grayson!).
I was still a bit groggy from the sleep aid, but I remember when he was lifted up I couldn't get over how brown he was already! Nia took a while for her melanin to kick in, but Grayson had a reddish-brown tone and a full head of hair. Uka cut the cord and I was able to have skin-to-skin contact for over an hour, just like I had with Nia. Grayson took right to nursing and Uka and I joked that he looked like a little marsupial!
P.S. Getting my pictures off the CD the midwives provided took me a while so thank you again readers for bearing with me! None of our laptops have a CD drive so I finally ordered an external one and transferred the pics to my MacBook.