by Julie, TucsonMama editor. (If you would like to share your birth story with the TucsonMama community, please email me at julie at tucsonmama dot com)
Because of my age and history of infertility/miscarriage, we felt that if we were hoping to have another child, we shouldn’t wait too long after Lincoln’s birth to work toward that end. Happily, when our son was almost a year and a half, I was viably pregnant again. Phew! And whoa. The first trimester is challenging in the best of circumstances, but with a toddler? Again, whoa. I kept a pillow and blanket at work and slept in my office during breaks.
Other than that, and some freaky itching that nearly drove me insane, the pregnancy went well. I’d been considered “advanced maternal age” when pregnant with Lincoln (I was 38 when he was born), so being 39/40 the second time around didn’t bring many surprises in terms of prenatal care. With Lincoln, we had standard first trimester screening, and had an amniocentesis appointment at Obstetrix, but his position was such that it would have been a little tricky to insert the needle, and in the end we didn’t do it. The first tri screening was reassuring enough for us. For our second child, we both wanted more definite answers, and waiting for an amnio was too anxiety-provoking, so we had CVS testing, which was mildly unpleasant but mostly okay and very reassuring. We didn’t find out Lincoln’s sex until birth, but this time we opted to know ahead of time. It felt too weird to think that the whole XX/XY thing would be in my chart and I wouldn’t know.
On May 5, 2008, I got a call saying that I was carrying a chromosomally normal baby girl. I remember answering the phone shaking because I was so nervous. I was on the west side of the UA campus, under the olive trees by Park Avenue. I called S right away and we met at the cactus garden on campus and I told him that she was fine, and that she was a she.
The pregnancies were similar. I had the same relentless
craving need for ice that I had when pregnant with Lincoln (yay for Sonic’s 5 lb bags of ice pellets! They’d last me a week!! ). My OB did refer me for biweekly non-stress tests in the TMC antepartum clinic once I hit 34 weeks, just to make sure all was going okay in ute-land. They also did ultrasounds to measure the amount of amniotic fluid. It was kind of fun, after a while, hanging out before work (7:30 am!) drinking cold water and getting to know the awesome nurses and feeling Clem wriggle obligingly for the monitor.
I’d been having painless Braxton Hicks contractions the whole pregnancy, but around 37 weeks they became painful and semi-regular, and I wondered if I was gearing up to go into labor. My first internal exam was that week, and while my cervix was soft, it was long and closed. At 38 weeks the contractions were less painful and infrequent, and my cervix was the same. At the 39 week mark, things hadn’t changed, though when my mom arrived in town she said I looked like I had dropped some, and several people said I just seemed “ready”, including my friend Patty, a massage therapist, who planned to be at the birth. My pelvis felt very loose and unhinged–like a snake’s jaw–the last couple weeks.
Despite having had a c-section with Lincoln, I hoped to deliver this baby vaginally. My OB practice was supportive but cautious, and I kept my expectations in check. I knew that it was very possible I’d have another c-section, but wanted to avoid it if possible, because taking care of a toddler after surgery sounded really hard. I was still carrying Lincoln a lot at that point (um, I still am…), and the idea of having to stop holding him made me so sad. (A wonderful book on being pregnant with a second kid is Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman–she captures so well the feelings of guilt and betrayal I felt! And her son Ben reminds me SO MUCH of Linc–he’s introspective and intense and articulate and sensitive and hilarious.) My OB practice was awesome. I really liked all of the docs there, but was particularly fond of two in particular. One was my “official” OB for my first baby, and the second was the doc who ended up delivering him, Dr. Valenzuela. (She was also the doc that did my last OB appointment before I went into labor, and told me that she was on call that Sunday. I remembering hoping that if my labor didn’t fall on my main doc’s call date, it would be on Dr.V’s.) Despite the rollercoaster, Linc’s birth went very well and the c-section healed perfectly, and I just really like Dr. V, so she was my “official” OB for round two.
She was supportive of my decision to try for a VBAC, and was incredibly patient with my endless questions and what-ifs. I knew that her top priority was a safe delivery for both the baby and me, and I felt very comfortable with the “trial of labor” approach. I knew she didn’t want me to be disappointed if I had another c-section, and I appreciated that she took the time to talk about that part of it with me.
As my due date got closer, I was became surprisingly fearful and ambivalent about starting labor. The weather turned cold when I was 38 weeks, and each night I’d hope I wouldn’t go into labor until the next day because I couldn’t imagine getting into the car and going to the hospital in the cold and the dark. (When I started labor with Lincoln, it was warm out, so even though we went at midnight, it was flipflop/tank top temperature, which was soothing to me.) At some point in my 38th week I remember wondering why I was trying for a VBAC, why not just schedule a C section…The idea of waiting for labor to begin freaked me out, and the idea of trying for a VBAC and ending up with an unplanned C freaked me out, and labor pain freaked me out, and I was just feeling cold and tired tired tired. I talked about these feelings a lot, especially with friend/doula Patty, who was so nurturing and reassuring. I think I needed to just feel all those fears and let myself freak out a little. I felt better/strong by week 39, though still worried about cold/dark.
My mom was planning to arrive on Weds 11/13, 4 days before my due date, but starting at 37 weeks she got increasingly anxious about being there too late, and I got worried about our backup plans for Lincoln’s care if I went into labor before she arrived. We talked on the phone at least once a day, and she kept moving her arrival date back, and finally decided she was going to come on Monday 11/10. It was a relief to have her here, ready to care for Linc. He was elated to see her, and Tuesday was a holiday, so she cared for Linc while S and I went to a movie–such a treat, a movie date. (We went to a movie the day I went into labor with Lincoln, interestingly enough.) Once she was here, I felt like things would be okay, though I also felt a little concerned that I’d go past my due date and have to have a C section (they wouldn’t induce me, b/c of my previous C, and I had a backup C section date of 11/20).
…to be continued.
The TucsonMama Birth Story series is sponsored by Tucson Medical Center as part of their commitment to maternal and family health, and in an effort to build and maintain a strong and supportive community. Not all the births featured in this series take place at TMC, or even in a hospital.