Sometimes You Get What You Need: My Second Baby Story

This week we’re sharing our (baby) stories here on Modern Mrs Darcy. This week is devoted to childbirth, but like so much I talk about here, it’s not just about childbirth: it’s about our hopes and our dreams, our beliefs and our fears. It’s about focusing on what’s truly important. I’ll be sharing a little bit of my own story each day this week. You can read all posts in this series here.

My second baby was due in the spring, but the story of her birth starts right after Christmas, when my firstborn was diagnosed with cancer. I was 6 months pregnant.

We traveled 700 miles to Philadelphia for treatment. (Thankfully, I could still fly.) The doctors there were able to successfully treat my son’s cancer, but we needed to go back for crucial follow-up visits. Ideally, they wanted to see him on my due date. Since both parents had to be present for all treatments, this was impossible. We consulted with my obstetrician and worked out a compromise: if the baby hadn’t arrived by 38 weeks, I’d be induced, and we’d travel to Philly one week after my due date.

With my first pregnancy, I’d been dead set on a natural birth, and never would have elected to be induced at 38 weeks. But I needed to do everything I could to come out of this delivery feeling good, with a healthy new baby and a healthy two-year old.  With that in mind, I decided to plan on an epidural this time. My recovery from my first natural childbirth had been painful, and I couldn’t afford to do that again. Not when I was already emotionally and physically exhausted from the pregnancy and caring for my recuperating two-year-old.

It got worse: when I was 36 weeks, my husband broke his foot. So now I had two people in the house who couldn’t fend for themselves. I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital, where they had call buttons and room service and Food Network.

On induction day, we arrived at the hospital before sunrise. The nurses hooked me up to all the machines, and we waited for the pitocin to kickstart my labor. So I slurped popsicles and tried to find something good to watch on daytime tv. My husband kept me company, his broken foot propped up on my hospital bed.

I finally started having some cramping, and then contractions began. They weren’t too hard yet–they just felt like bad menstrual cramps. But the nurse didn’t like what the monitor showed: my baby’s heart rate seemed to be decelerating with each contraction, and she wanted to do an internal monitor to make sure the baby wasn’t in danger. This would require breaking my water, even though I was only at 2 cm. With my first pregnancy, I would have objected. This time, I didn’t care.

My doctor broke my water and put the monitor in; my baby was fine–it was a false alarm. But my contractions started coming hard and fast. I felt an annoying but undeniable urge to use the bathroom during my third or fourth hard contraction. The nurse said she wanted to see if I’d dilated any before I got out of bed, so she took a peek, and hollered “We need her doctor now!” Then she looked at me and said, “You’re ready to push.” I’d gone from 2 to 10 cm in 10 minutes.

My room was suddenly a whirlwind of preparations. Nurses came flooding in to assist, laying out equipment and barking orders.

I fervently wished I’d spent more than 10 minutes reviewing my Bradley class notes.

My doctor came bounding through the door–I think he’d been running, and he said, “Are you ready to do this?” and I said “No!” But he reminded me I was just minutes from meeting my baby. “Boy or girl, Anne? Are you ready to find out?”

I gave 3 hard pushes, and doctor whooped, “It’s a girl!”

And once again, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

But an hour later–after they’d wheeled our baby down to the nursery for her exam–my  nurse brought me a snack and a diet Coke, and I started perking up. We grabbed our phones and called friends and family with the news. (They all said, “Already?“) I took a shower and changed into real clothes.  And by that night, I was popping down the hall to grab snacks from the fridge for my immobilized husband, who thought my elevated hospital bed was a pretty awesome place to prop his broken foot.

I didn’t get the epidural I wanted, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about that birth. It felt like a gift; it felt like mercy in a hard season.

After it was all over, I said to my nurse, “That was crazy, right? How often do you see a 20 minute labor and delivery?”

And she said, “Honey, it happens. Sometimes those babies just hit the eject button early. And sometimes, you mamas seem to get what you need.”

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16 comments

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  1. Aubry Smith says:

    I think my jaw was hanging loose for this whole story. Anne! A baby with cancer, a crippled husband, and childbirth. I can’t even fathom 2cm to 10cm in 10 minutes – what a blessing. You definitely needed a break in all that madness. I can’t even imagine how stressful all of that was for you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. What a miracle! Despite everything that was going crazy in your life, God still worked things out for good. Doesn’t he always?? 🙂 This really made my day. (So did your email yesterday!! Thank you!!) <3

  3. Z Parks says:

    What a lovely (and horrible!) story! I’m so glad it all worked out–even though at the time I’m sure it felt like it wouldn’t. I’m happy to hear your son is well, too! Cancer in a toddler is any mother’s nightmare!

  4. Eos Mom says:

    Crazy story, but what a happy ending! I was terrified of delivery the first time around and God gave me the kind of L&D I needed (too fast to think much about it–though not as fast as yours!–6 hours start to finish).

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