In the last few weeks of my pregnancy with Lucy, I started to feel really uncomfortable. In the last few months, if I’m being completely honest, but those final weeks were especially rough. Strong kicks under my ribs, sharp pushes on my bladder, cramping, and the constant feeling that I was trying to hold a bowling ball between my legs…it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that I was ready to get this baby out. Somehow I became convinced that she was going to come early. She just felt so big and strong in there, that I couldn’t imagine carrying her for much longer.
Expecting Lucy to come early was a mistake, however, because that made the waiting seem even longer. By 36 weeks, I was all ready to go. Bags packed, clothes washed, rock and play and swing set up with fresh new batteries. And yet, a month later, she had yet to arrive. My due date came and went, and I couldn’t believe that I was still pregnant. I went to my prenatal appointment 3 days later, (one I was sure I wouldn’t be keeping at the time that I had booked it), and we talked about options. My midwife Laurie suggested I take a special cocktail, their own recipe, that was almost sure to get things rolling, and asked if I wanted to take it the following morning. Funny, even though I had been dying to go into labor every day for weeks, I still got butterflies in my stomach at the thought of knowing I would probably be going into labor the next day.
Still, I took home the ingredients (castor oil, champagne, and nectarine juice among other things), and found myself forcing it down the following morning with a mix of eagerness and trepidation. I had been told it usually took between 3 and 6 hours to start working, yet when lunch time rolled around, then Penny’s nap time, and still nothing, I started to worry that it wasn’t going to happen. I decided to lay down and rest. Around 2:30pm, almost 6 hours after drinking the cocktail, I began to feel what I thought might be a contraction. Sure enough, 4 minutes later there was another, and another just 3 minutes after that. They weren’t very strong yet, but because my labor with Penny had been relatively short (8 hours in total), the midwives wanted me to come in as soon as labor started just to be safe. Kevin called my dad and brother in law Brandon, who would be coming to take care of Penny while we were at the birth center, and I called my midwife to let her know we were on our way. A half hour later, my contractions were getting stronger to the point where I was anxious to get going, and Brandon pulled into our driveway just in time. I knelt down to embrace Penny and kiss her goodbye, struck by the thought that this was our last moment together as a family of three. As we drove away, Penny waving to us from the front door, I thought about how in just a matter of hours, she would be meeting her little sister, and her life would never be the same.
The 25 minute drive to the center went quickly. While I had not prepared much for labor in the months leading up to this day (unlike last time, when I had spent countless hours listening to hypnobirthing cds and reading books), I had told myself that when the contractions became intense, I would try to relax as much as possible and just let them come instead of tensing up and fighting them like I remembered doing last time. As each wave came, I tried to embrace them (as much as one can, anyhow), and think of them as bringing me one step closer to having my baby. It actually really helped, and I felt surprisingly good as we walked into the center at 3:30pm. I was checked to see how much progress I had made, and Laurie was pleased to report that I was already 7 cm dilated. I was hooked up to a machine to monitor the baby, and continued to stay relaxed and breathe through contractions. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I started to feel desperate to be unattached from the machine and free to walk around. Finally, I was told the tub was ready and I could get in.
I stepped into the room that I would be laboring in, the very same one that Penny had been born in, and took in the dim lighting, candles, and calming music playing in the background. I had decided a few days before that I wanted to listen to the Norah Jones Pandora station, and it was the perfect choice. My mom and sister greeted me with supportive smiles, and I eagerly got into the tub. Almost instantly, memories of having Penny came flooding back, and for a second I panicked and let feelings of doubt creep in, thinking there was no way I could do this again. Still, I pushed those feelings aside in an effort to stay positive, and told myself that this labor was bound to be quicker and easier than the last. I had no idea how true that statement would be.
Moments later a contraction came, and I felt a strong pop and an intense amount of pressure that made me gasp for breath. It took me a minute to realize that my water had broke, and I felt the baby drop extremely low. My midwife checked me and confirmed that the baby was ready to come out and I could begin pushing. I was shocked and relieved to hear this, because as strong and painful as my contractions suddenly felt, I knew that it was only a matter of time before it would all be over. Kevin lowered himself into the tub, and I leaned against him, bracing myself. With the next contraction, I began pushing with all of my might, determined to get her out quickly.
Four pushes later and Lucy came sliding out at 4:34pm, and was immediately placed on my stomach by Laurie, the same midwife who had caught Penny only 21 months before. She had dark hair and similar features to her sister, but what I noticed first were the sweet little whimpering sounds she made as she tried to catch her breath for the first time. She was so unlike Penny, who had come out wailing at the top of her lungs, and I was utterly overwhelmed by the feeling that this was an entirely new little person that I would get to know, with quirks and tendencies all her own.
Soon we were out of the tub, and after Lucy was cleaned up a bit, we took turns snuggling, bonding, and just taking everything in. It all felt so surreal- the fact that my labor had lasted only two hours from start to finish, that we were finally holding our sweet daughter, that we were now parents to two beautiful little girls. I honestly don’t think I could have asked for a better birthing experience; we were both giddy and couldn’t believe our luck that everything had gone so smoothly and we had such a perfect little baby to show for it. It wasn’t until later that my nurse Ashton asked me if I realized what song had been playing the moment Lucy was born and placed into our arms for the first time. I honestly had no idea, having been a bit preoccupied at the time, and she told me it was “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg. As I looked down at tiny Lucy, her velvety smooth cheek resting on my chest, I played back the chorus in my head:
I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you
Yes there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you.
All of the while, I never knew
All of the while, all of the while,
it was you.
and I thought, how appropriate. In the days since that memorable afternoon on March 31st, 2015, I have only fallen harder and harder for her, the girl who made me wait patiently for her arrival, but zoomed out as quickly and painlessly as possible once given the nudge. We are so beyond happy to finally have you here with us, Lucy Pearl!