6 weeks ago, my second baby made her debut at 38 weeks. Her entire labor journey was just a preview of how her personality would be out in the real world. Fickle, sassy, and sweet all rolled into one. Miss Nina took her time, but somehow came fast and furious simultaneously - I think my little Sagittarius may be a Gemini at heart. Her story really starts a couple weeks before she was born, but ends in a blink of an eye...
At 36 weeks, I started having sporadic contractions, was dilated 4cm, and was 70% effaced. My son, Mason, was born at 36 weeks and I was DETERMINED for my Nina girl to stay in longer! But, pretty soon, I started experiencing almost every labor sign in the book - pretty much everything other than my water breaking. However, contractions still weren’t regular, which meant she was staying put for awhile. When I hit 37 weeks, I felt a little relieved. At least if she was born at 37 weeks, she would be considered “early term,” which is better than Mason being born pre-term. But 37 weeks came and went (and continued with all those early labor signs...super fun).
Then 38 weeks rolled around and I had major contractions in the middle of the night 2 nights in a row. But my stubborn girl was STILL staying put. My husband’s birthday was on December 6 and we both thought she’d for sure come that day. I had an OB appointment that morning after having contractions all night long, but I was still only dilated 4cm and 70% effaced - aka no progress since my last appointment. As I was driving home from my appointment, I had some big contractions in the car. Maybe I shouldn’t have been driving? Oops.
When I got home, I started timing my contractions and they were consistently about 15 minutes apart. ALL. DAY. LONG. I really couldn’t tell what the hell was going on - was I having a baby today or not?! Well, we called my dad to come down from San Francisco to watch Mason just in case. He flew down that evening and, of course, my contractions stalled. I started going 20, 30, 45 minutes between contractions. Super frustrating. So I decided to get some sleep - I was super sleep deprived during my labor with Mason and I was trying to avoid repeating that experience. Then, in the middle of the night, contractions started getting closer together again - 15 minutes...then 10...then 5. The magic number to get us going to the hospital. Yay!
Around 6am on December 7, we said good bye to Mason, took one last picture as a family of 3, and got ourselves in the car. And I started bawling my eyes out. Not from pain, but because I was super sad that Mason wasn’t going to be our only baby anymore! Hello, hormones.
When we got to the hospital, I was only 5cm dilated. I told you this girl took her time! My contractions were 3-5 minutes apart at this point, so they admitted me. My nurse helped me get situated in my room - we got the diffuser going, dimmed the lights, got me a medicine ball, made sure I had what I needed for when I wanted to get into the shower, and went over some labor techniques/positions with Nick and me. These were my favorite things for pain management when I was in labor with Mason, so I was hoping they’d help again this time. Nick also set up our Bluetooth speaker so I could get my labor playlist going and busted out the giant snack bag I packed. Then I had to get a lovely COVID test shoved up my brain - I think I preferred getting my cervix checked than taking that COVID test!
For the first few hours of being in the hospital, Nick and I were just hanging out and kind of goofing off to be honest! We were laughing a ton between contractions and I was feeling really good. We were eating snacks (Nick was eating a legit meal - he had smoked a brisket for his birthday the day before and brought the leftovers with us to the hospital lol). I had a little dance party in the shower. I did have to take a 2nd COVID test - I guess they didn’t get a good enough swab the first time! The worst. I would’ve rather had 20 contractions, honestly. Other than that, things seemed to be going super well!
But, after getting checked again, I had only dilated another half a centimeter or so. Seriously, I told you this girl was NOT in a rush. We had already been at the hospital for 6 hours - not to mention all the laboring I had already done at home! We decided to have my doctor break my water to see if things would move along a bit. Well...”a bit” was an understatement. Once we did that, I went from 5.5cm to 10cm in about an hour! Contractions were coming fast and furious all of a sudden. Each contraction was practically just melting into the next one, giving me NO breaks. I was 100% caught off guard. I felt like I had labored up to this point like a freakin’ champ, and now I was like what the actual eff?! This was the time hubby helped me the most. The sudden change in labor progression was super hard for me to manage - the pain was WILD. I felt like my brain turned to mush for a little bit and that’s when Nick stepped in to help me try to get my head back in the game and manage the pain. I eventually requested an epidural, and they were able to give it to me as soon as I asked. But, by the time it kicked in, I was 100% effaced and it was time to push already!
Thankfully, my COVID test was negative and the nurses had me take my mask off for pushing. I ended up having to push while laying on my right side because baby girl’s heart rate wasn’t loving the situation. She was doing much better if I was on my right side. It was a weird position to push in, but 35 minutes later a squishy, vernix covered babe was plopped on my chest! We didn’t cut the cord right away - we just laid there getting our bearings after that whirlwind delivery and she nursed for the first time. Doc delivered the placenta, which was not very pleasant, and stitched me up. In contrast to Mason’s delivery, it was a breeze. Mason took 3 full hours of pushing and a 2nd degree tear, while I only had a 1st degree tear with Nina girl. Plus, I felt ALL the stitches with Mason so I was thankful for the epidural this time around!
After a couple hours, we got moved to my recovery room and went to work on trying to name her! We went in with a short list, but I seriously could not commit! It took us a good 24 hours to land on Nina Kehlani, but I think it suits her. Other than that, I felt like a veteran - Nick and I just kind of fell back into the newborn phase like riding a bike. I was far less overwhelmed and felt much more comfortable. Plus, we didn’t have any visitors due to COVID so I felt like we could actually rest and recover before going home!
This may be an unpopular opinion, but both births made me feel so EMPOWERED. It’s pretty crazy that our bodies can do all that and I actually would love to do it again...but I think we’re good with two kids! At least, for now!