My second birthing story: February 13th 2023

If you really want to know what it’s really like to go into labour with your second child at 3AM, let me give you the lowdown. 

It’s been three whole years since posting my first birthing post. Although many people won’t care, this February I did it all over again. This time around, we decided not to find out the sex of the baby during pregnancy and looked forward to having a little surprise.

I was 90% sure it was a girl anyway. 

I’d be a liar if I said that carrying a baby the second time around is easier. In fact, it’s harder in many, many ways. Since you’re already a parent, there is no ‘down time.’ There is no rest period. You spend your pregnancy chasing around your first born. You can’t just pop off for a quick nap like you did the first time. Life has completely changed and you have to roll with it. Best decision we ever made? I think so. 

Welcome to my birthing story, part two.

Saturday 11th February 2023 – 8PM – Good lord this episode of The Last of Us is wonderful. Season 1, episode 5. The truck just exploded and sinks into the ground. Quiet. Silence. The ground then erupts with the infected. A tsunami of ugly creatures dart out of the hole. I’m on edge. I’m sweating. Joel is shooting through the window to protect Ellie. Gun fire. Explosions. Fire. A lot of heavy breathing. 

Wait… it’s me that is breathing heavily.

Why does my stomach suddenly feel super tight? 

I’m just sitting funny. Probably.

Am… I getting contractions? Pause. Subtle cramp. Pause. cramp. Naaaaah. I’m just being silly and obsessing over this episode. There’s a lot of tension and the baby can feel that. I’ll wait until the end of this one at least, I don’t want to miss it. 

10PM – My stomach tightenings were happening a few minutes apart. We uhmmm’d and ahhh’d as to whether to call Josh’s parents to come over. They were on call that weekend in case I actually went into labour and someone needed to be here to look after Sebastian when he wakes up. It turned out to be a false alarm. The start was obviously near. I was 2 days overdue. The tightenings subsided. Nothing to worry about here, it’s all good. 

Monday 13 February 2023 – 3AM – My eyes slowly open. The room is faintly lit by the light in the hall way. I don’t recall what I was dreaming about. But something has woken me up. I’m not quite sure why, but I’m suddenly awake. Déjà vu. I know this feeling all too well. I scrunch my toes under the duvet and it’s gone really hot. I reach over and check my phone. It’s 3:15AM. 

My stomach was pulsating hard before fading away. Slowly my left hand cradles the lower part of my stomach. I can’t feel the baby moving – are they asleep? A few minutes pass and the tightenings arrive again. Around 10-15 seconds passes. Slowly, it fades. I will give it one more try to see if it happens again. I sit up and wait patiently. My lower abdomen starts to pull, this time a stronger pull in the lower area. At this point already, my contractions feel fairly consistent. Last time I felt this way, I was 24-hour into my labour. 

I look to my right and Josh is facing away from me, the duvet rising and falling softly. Sebby is peaceful in his room which gives reassurance I’ll have another few hours before he starts to wake. 

I did wonder how I’d juggle contractions and a 3-year old at the same time.

In a selfish way, I’m glad I didn’t have to because I wanted this fragment of time for myself. Just for me. I needed calm. There’s no reason to get out of bed just yet. 

4AM – I’ve been up for the best part of an hour with the contractions app loaded on my phone. Whenever I begin to feel that slow burn, I press ‘START’ and time how long it lasts. I’d been going on my own for around 60 minutes before I decided it was a good idea to slowly wake Josh up. I put my hand on his shoulder and whisper, “Josh, I’m contracting, bab. I think we need to get up.”

For both of my labours, contractions have started real early in the morning. I learned that this is a real thing for women, mainly because the body is so relaxed during the sleep phase and hormones that increase the nature of contracting are more alert around these times. It also means the hospital parking isn’t a sodding nightmare. Result!

5AM – Josh’s parents are on the way to the house – T-minus 40 minutes. We’ve told them it’s happening now, for real life.

5:30AM – The inlaws arrive. I managed to squeeze in a quick wee, clean my teeth and a quick face wash before throwing on my labour clothes. This ain’t my first rodeo and I want to feel somewhat awake before we head out to the hospital in the dark. My contractions were coming in fairly strong at this point. I was on my tippy-toes again pacing the lounge, breathing out as the pain surged. Once the contractions had passed, I walked into the kitchen. My future mother-in-law kindly placed a new butter dish she had bought me on the side of the counter top. “I hope you like it. I got it from Morrisons” she said. A bit of a distraction, it made me laugh. I love my in-laws, I’ve struck gold, really. A small slice of normality in between these painful pulsations made me smile.

5:45AM – I decided to call the hospital a bit earlier this time as I had these weird visions of giving birth in the car. A midwife picked up and I told her I’d be contracting fairly frequently for the last couple hours. As it was my second birth, I found the midwives are usually a bit more understanding as they know second babies are usually faster to arrive. We packed up the car with my hospital bags and set off towards the hospital. I looked at the house one last time before Josh drove off. That was the last time we’d be in the house, as a family of three. 

5:58AM – We can drive to Birmingham Women’s Hospital in around 10 minutes from my house if there’s no traffic. I love the fact that both of my labours have started early, which means by the time we pull up to the front of the hospital, we’re usually one of the only cars there.

6:10AM – Walking and contracting at the same time is an art form. One which I don’t think I’ll ever master. A gentleman walking out holds the doors open for us. He realises I can’t look at him directly as I’m contracting. I pull weird faces when this happens. We eventually make it to triage where I get the urge to wee. Josh takes me into the toilet and all of a sudden, the contractions get harder. This makes me do the ‘mooooooooo’ sound that I remember from before. A staff member suddenly knocks on the door. 

“Are you okay? Are you getting an urge to push?” 

6:20AM – My pants and trousers are quickly taken off in a side room so a female member of the triage team can inspect me. I lie back on the bed. Her glove is cold. Ice cold. The room is hot. Why did I wear a long sleeved top? The feeling of her hand makes me wince. A sharp inhale before she removes her hand. “Okay Emma, you’re 3CM. We need to monitor you for a while longer”.

6:30AM – I was given paracetamol, some water and she left the room. There’s not much that can be done at this point, but the only thing I need to focus on is breathing through the contractions that are now rolling in thick and fast. The room gets a little fuzzy and Josh texted my parents to let them know what was happening. I also let my best mates know with three ‘hearts’ in Whatsapp. This was the siren that things were happening.

7AM – 30 minutes passes and then it hits me. My head feels incredibly foggy. The pain is ramping up. On a scale of 1-10, the pain was averaging at around a 6. I didn’t really have time to think about it because the next moment I knew, I was being inspected again. 

“Emma, your labour is progressing extremely fast. You’ve dialated from 3CM to 6CM in less than 40 minutes. At this rate, your baby will be here soon.”

7:05 – The gas and air was rapidly plugged in and handed over to me. Here, suck on this. A sharp intake feels like floating on a cloud. My lungs appreciated the relief from the hot air in the room. Allowing me a small period of time to recover from what I can only describe as a fire in the stomach. One cool puff and I lean back on the bed. A similar feeling from my menthol-smoking days. 

7:10 – Pronto, I was wheeled up to the next floor with the gas and air still firmly placed in my mouth. It was my favourite part and I wasn’t letting go of it. We entered a room, similar to the one where I gave birth to Sebby. I met my midwife for the first time. Tam was there to support me through the final stage of labour. Here we go, it’s round two. Ding ding ding!

7:30AM – A clip with a light was put onto my finger to measure my heart rate – like that scene in E.T where his finger pulsates red. Swiftly, a belt was also put around my stomach so the baby’s heart rate could be noted on the screen. It’s getting real now and by this point, the pain was a sturdy 8/10. 

7:45AM – Contractions are coming in waves. Giant ones. Tsunamis. I vaguely remember there being a lot of noise in the room, people coming in and out. Josh stayed to my left hand side, standing up at all times, holding my hand when he could. Or when I would let him. Like a scene from a film, I notice a shadow of a woman to my right side. She catches my eye. We stare at each other for a few seconds. She smiles. 

It was Sarah. 

Her hair was longer now, but I remember her face. 

A vivid painting splashed in my brain, as if someone had thrown a bucket of paint at a blank canvas. It was her. In my birthing room, again. 

Sarah had delivered my son, Sebastian on 2nd January 2020 on that same ward. She was my previous midwife. Was it a mere coincidence she had come into my room, again? I looked at Josh and pointed to her mid-way through a contraction. I squeezed my eyes shut tight. Once it rolled away, I yanked the gas and air out of my mouth and slurred like a lazy drunk. 

“Josh, it was her. That was Sarah.”

8:AM – Come 8AM. I was howling. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey the pain was excruciating. Tam was lifting the cover on my legs up every few minutes to ensure the head hasn’t popped out. She knew from the pressure I was feeling and the monitor that I was close to having this baby. 

8:15AM – Time starts to move real slow at this point. The dial is turned down and it’s just static. White noise. I couldn’t really think about anything else aside from each new contraction I was about to endure. There’s no real way to describe what the pain is like.

8:40AM – With every painful thrash, each one was now making my entire body vibrate. I’m aware I can handle pain well, but unknowingly at the time, I was contracting so hard that my feet were starting to turn inwards. With each one, I’d be screaming my lungs out into the gas and air. With each contraction, I began holding onto my right thigh. I have no idea why but I did it so tightly to get me through each one. My body jerked and pushed and pulled. It was at the end I realised I had began denting myself with bruises and nail marks. The gas and air had worn off by this point and the relief wasn’t registering. I screamed for the epidural. 

8:45AM – Lots of fumbling happened. I needed to give consent from my blood to be taken for the epidural. Tam is poking my right arm viciously trying to find a vein. All this needs to be done between contractions. The equivalent of robbing a bank. Blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back. Seemed to me like it was an impossible task.

8:50AM – She couldn’t find a vein. In desperation and without talking, I pointed to my left arm which was where most of my blood tests were taken from. That seemed to be a good thing as the next minute she got what she needed. I remember screaming: “Please give me the drugs!” which is probably the only time it’s ever legal to ask. 

9:05 – Things don’t happen immediately which I had forgotten about. When you ask for the epidural, there needs to be time for it to take effect. It was a good thing I was in such a haze because around 9AM, I’d used up a good 90% of my energy. We were on the home straight and I could feel intense pressure. I was flat out exhausted. 

Labour is grueling and intensive. You’re working on a lack of anything, but in reality, it’s the best thing ever. It means the prize you’re about to receive is almost in sight. I don’t even recall looking at the anaesthetist but he had entered the room at one point and I threw my arms around my midwife in a dramatic fashion so I could sit up and rotate myself around so I was sitting sideways on the bed. 

Josh tells me the needle inserted into my back is HUGE. I bet it is.

9:07AM – In the ramble, I had lost the gas and air to the side of me when they were trying to insert the needle. I panicked as I could feel a contraction coming. Mouth dry and no words – I gestured with my fingers, snapping them open and shut like a silly little sock puppet. Thankfully, the anaesthetist knew exactly what I meant and plonked the gas and air straight to my mouth for me. Good chap gave me a few seconds of relief whilst another searing contraction took over. 

9:08AM – The wave passed which almost dragged me under. It takes around 10 minutes to set up and another 10-15 minutes for your body to register the epidural.

9:20AM – Once the epidural was inserted, I was spun around and was told I could lay down on my back again. The contractions were still happening, more vividly than ever. Tam constantly checked below to see if the baby was there. Something was going to happen soon,

9:30AM – The pressure below was too much. I clicked the epidural a few times since it had been inserted and I was only feeling a fraction of the relief. It just about took the edge off. Absolutely nothing like the first time when I felt nothing.

The only thing left to do now was get this baby out.

9:35AM – My body was doing it on its own. I couldn’t have stopped it, even if I had wanted to. The overwhelming urge to push. “Ok Emma, I can see the top of the head. Can you see it, dad?

9:36AM – I don’t remember feeling any pain anymore. The pressure of getting the head out must’ve stopped that. 

9:37AM – “Emma, Emma – you need to push now. The head is out but you’ve stopped pushing. You need to push now to prevent your baby getting into difficulty”. 

One final chin to chest. Pushing down with everything I had. 

9:38AM – The baby was here.

“Oh look, he’s here!” are the first words I heard from my midwife. How wonderful, another boy. 

Hold up.

“I’m not sure why I said that… dad, do you want to do the honours?”

“We have a baby girl!”

Evelyn Luna arrived safely at 9:38AM on 13 February 2023. I felt my placenta being pulled out this time, a really vile experience, I’ll let you Google what happens if you’re not sure. I’m so grateful that the birth was super speedy this time around however, and I was out of the hospital by 8:30PM on the same day. Just in time to introduce Evie to her brother when he woke up the next morning. Our little family is now complete.

Happy Birthday, Evelyn! (Pronounced Ever-lyn)

She came into the world on February 13, 2023 at 09:38AM. It’s funny that Sebastian was born on mine and Josh’s 13th anniversary, and Evie was also born on the 13th. In my eyes, 13 is such a lucky number and has a lot of meaning within our family. As always, the midwifery team at Birmingham Women’s were amazing and made our time in the hospital so seamless. We literally couldn’t have done this part without you.

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