By Claire C. McKiernan
Three kids in four years? It was about to happen to me. I was more than ready to meet this baby, partly given the fact that one of my organs (or maybe the baby’s foot) had been rammed up against my rib for the entire last month of pregnancy causing incredible discomfort.
My third labor began after a homemade meal at my mom’s house on February 21, 2007. Around 5pm I began having cramping sensations that came, got stronger, and then faded. I didn’t immediately recognize it as a contraction since my first two labors had not begun that way, and my first two babies had been a few days past their due dates (this was a few days before my due date). However, as cramps were coming every 15 minutes, I realized: THIS IS IT. Between 6-7pm the contractions were 7-8 minutes apart and lasting up to a minute.
As I sat on my parents’ couch timing contractions, I remember my husband having an unhurried conversation with my Dad. Mike had taken to heart what one of the midwives had told us: the first baby often takes the longest, the second is the fastest, and the third baby somewhere between the two. Babies, of course, don’t know this rule.
By 7pm my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and I had convinced Mike to run back home to grab our last minute items, and take care of important things like moving the homemade cheesecake from the freezer to the fridge so we could celebrate the birth when we eventually returned home.
Meanwhile, my mother raced to get things ready for my 4-year-old and 16-month-old so they could settle down with my Dad for the evening. My mom had been with me for the first two labors, and I wanted her for the third. Mike returned with our bags and stock supply of food and drinks, and helped me into the car. We got to the WBWC by about 8:15pm, and I was in the tub soon after. In the space of an hour I went from 6 cm to 9 cm dilated.
I had requested and received the same room where my first two children were born. I found it comforting to be in the same tub where I had given birth some 16 months earlier. My midwife was Heather, and I was lucky enough to have two nurses, Amy and Jill. My husband rubbed my back through my hard contractions as best he could while I was sitting or sideways in the tub. Then, as I discovered in the past, once the pushing stage was upon me, there was no holding back. I had a very fast, though quite uncomfortable, pushing stage.
At 10:45pm, I was so relieved to have that baby placed on my chest, that I deliberately waited a minute or two before we looked to see whether we had another girl or another boy. I remember just soaking in that moment, holding my newborn, not knowing the gender, and just being so in love and so grateful to finally have this child in my arms. My husband cut the cord, and then we looked together to delightfully discover that we had another son!
I was told that I labored beautifully, and Jill told me it was the first water birth she had seen, and she would always remember it. I was grateful for the kind words, as, from my point of view, it was definitely a harder (if speedier) labor than my second one, and that had come as quite a surprise! In addition, the placenta took a full half hour to come out which caused a slight stir (by this time Maureen had stopped by to check on me, in addition to the other three women being there) and some painful pushing on my abdomen. This was by far the worst part of the labor. It seemed like an unbearable nuisance that I had done all my work and just wanted to relax with my husband and son, and instead I was being poked and prodded to encourage the placenta to come out. Thankfully, the placenta finally came out with a little tugging and a lot of my pushing – just when I thought my pushing stage was over!
Shortly thereafter, Mike and I were resting blissfully with Peter on the same bed where we had rested those first hours with our first two children. Peter Gregory weighed an even 10 lbs, just one ounce larger than his big brother had been. He was 22.5 inches long, had lovely round cheeks, and was as red as a lobster (the redness went away within a week or so). I alternately nursed, cuddled, rested, and made phone calls.
In the morning, my mother helped me to shower. This is something she had to coax me to do with the first two births, but I looked forward to it for the third. There is nothing like that first shower after giving birth. Sure, you are sore and tired and you just want to go home, but for me, that shower (with help from someone standing outside the curtain) has the power to cleanse, refresh, soothe, and revitalize. It not only helped prepare me physically for the hour-long ride home, but also gave me a bit of a mental boost.
At 10am, with a deep breath that contained a mixture of satisfaction, excitement, and nervousness, we headed home to face life as parents outnumbered by children!