It’s funny — when you’re pregnant with your second child, you think you’re going to know at least a little bit more about pregnancy and labor than you did the first time around, or at least you know that you have experience to go off of. So instead of being completely nervous and scared about going into labor this time around, I was still nervous, but really excited and ready for it. Bags were packed, the plan with my parents to come over to watch Olivia was set, and I was anxiously awaiting feeling those first real, regularly timed contractions. Everyone knows your second baby comes much quicker than the first, so our plan was to leave the house once I had contractions that were about 8-10 minutes apart, just to be on the safe side. We left the house when my contractions were 4-5 minutes with Olivia — that labor was around 14 hours. I went into labor at 2:30 a.m., left for the hospital at 6 a.m., water broke at 7:30 a.m. and had my baby at 4:12 p.m. I figured, not letting my contractions get closer than 8 minutes apart would be plenty of time to get to the hospital and get an epidural, based on my last experience. That was the plan.
So Thursday, Feb. 23 came around — the day I assumed I would have her. I had Olivia the day before my due date and I don’t know why, but I just felt like I’d have Lyla the day before her due date, too. I had a routine checkup that morning and I was really excited to see if I had progressed any. I was 3+ cm (which I had been for over a week), but still was only 50% effaced. I had expressed concern about a lack of fetal movement to my doctor because I was only feeling her move maybe three times a day the last couple of days, so she sent me down to the OB ECC (the pregnancy emergency care center at our hospital) to get hooked up to the monitor. Everything looked fine, I had a few contractions (no surprise, I basically had been having them nonstop for weeks), which they said weren’t real ones, they did an ultrasound to make sure I wasn’t leaking any amniotic fluid and then I was free to go. I left the hospital, picked up Chicken Kitchen on the way home and just spent the rest of my day hanging out with Olivia, per usual. I remember it was about 4 o’clock when I decided that today probably wouldn’t be the day she’d be arriving — I would definitely had to have been in labor at this point for her to arrive on the 23rd and not the 24th. Tim and I took Liv out for an evening wagon ride around our neighborhood and when we got back, I made her dinner. It was about 6:30 p.m. when the contractions started. They were pretty strong, just how I remembered them starting with Olivia, but they weren’t regular. Spanning from 10 minutes, to 14 minutes, to 18 minutes, to 12 minutes, then 8 minutes, then back to 10. Even though they weren’t regular, I felt like they were real, so I texted my parents that I was pretty positive I was in labor, so they should plan on coming over after Liv went to sleep (she would be way too excited to fall asleep if they came over before her bedtime). They asked if they had time to eat dinner and I said, oh absolutely, just anytime after 8 p.m. would be great and we would leave after that. That would be less than two hours since my contractions started, so I thought was PLENTY of time to get to the hospital. They’d probably have me walk for a while and it would be an all night waiting type of thing. I didn’t even call Tim’s parents to let them know, because I still wasn’t sure this was the real thing. I didn’t want his mom to be anxiously waiting if it was a false alarm, so I decided I’d call once I was there and got the ‘Yep! You’re in labor!’ news. I had everything packed, so I just brought it all out to the kitchen to get loaded into the car when we were ready to leave. I decided to do my makeup while I waited for the contractions to get closer and stronger, and hopefully, regular. I love having my makeup on, but doing my makeup is almost therapeutic for me, so for me, it’s the perfect way to kill some time. My parents arrived around 8:20 p.m., I finished up my makeup and was in my closet changing my clothes when all of a sudden I was clammy, sweating, shaking and was having the strongest contraction yet — a completely different experience from the previous contraction. I immediately got nervous because this was the exact same feeling I had when my contractions with my first labor started getting really intense and my water broke. I quickly finished changing and another one hit within a minute. I couldn’t move, I was doubled over my bed, dying, just waiting for it to end and once it ended (or more like, subsided), I walked out to the living room, barely able to talk and said we have to go now. My parents and Tim took everything out to the car while I breathed through another horrible contraction in the kitchen (less than a minute apart). When they came back inside I literally was like y’all, I think I can feel my waters trying to push through (if that’s a thing? …it’s what it felt like). I knew my water was going to break in the next contraction or two, so I told Tim to grab a bunch of towels for the passenger seat. I had one more contraction before I made it out to the car, again, less than a minute apart. We left the house and at the red light just outside of our neighborhood (lots has happened at this red light in the last two weeks — car accident, water breaking), my water broke and I had the worst contraction yet, one that basically never stopped. At the next red light, I told Tim I was pretty sure I could feel her head and that the she was coming. It felt like my body was trying to push a baby out and I was trying desperately to hold it in. I was holding so tightly to the door with my right hand and center console with my left, trying to not push with everything I had. It’s a very unnatural, horrible feeling to hold back when you need to push. Thankfully we didn’t hit any red lights after that and made it to the hospital within 5 minutes from that point. We pulled up to valet at the hospital, I got out of the car and Tim walked me to a wheelchair that I couldn’t even sit in — it was used more for me to prop myself up because I couldn’t walk, but I couldn’t sit, either. I literally felt as though I needed to clinch as tightly as possible and maybe even hold myself, just in case this baby actually was coming out. But during all of this, I kept thinking to myself that maybe I was being overdramatic. I’d experienced labor before, but when the pain became unbearable, I asked for an epidural. You don’t feel much after that, so maybe this was totally normal to feel, I just missed this part last time and I shouldn’t be freaking myself out so much — “this is just natural labor, pull yourself together, a baby is not going to fall out of you, Heather”, is what I kept telling myself. Thankfully, a security guard came right up to us and ran us straight through to where we needed to be, without having to check us in at the emergency room to get through to the OBECC (all the doors were locked because it was after hours). At this point I was sitting so awkwardly in a wheelchair, literally moaning out loud in pain. I felt so embarrassed, like girl, hold yourself together, stop making sounds out loud, but I literally couldn’t control it. The pain was unbearable and it felt as though my body was pushing the baby out without my consent. We made it to the receptionist desk at the OB ECC, and a nurse casually asked, ‘Hi, what brings you in.’ I was still having what seemed like a never ending contraction and could barely speak, so Tim said ‘her water broke,’ and I immediately followed with ‘a baby is coming out of me’ and then returned back to moaning in excruciating pain. A nurse (who I’m assuming heard me) instantly came and got my wheelchair, wheeled me in a room, stood me up, took my off my clothes and I managed to get myself up on the table. She told me to breathe, we are going to check your cervix and then the next thing I heard was a call for the OB hospitalist and another nurse was calling the NICU (when they undressed me, they could see that there was meconium in my amniotic fluid). What felt like a hundred other nurses ran into the room, telling me to breathe and not to push, that everything was going to be okay, then another nurse brought Tim in (who was still at the check-in desk providing my ID and insurance card). The doctor on call rushed in, introduced himself and said okay at the next contraction you need to push. I pushed as hard as I could, so relieved that I finally could, and the baby was out. 14 minutes after we had left our house and one push later, our baby girl was, by the grace of God, healthy and laying on my chest. Lyla Penelope Saba was born at 9:19 p.m. at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long.
Everything was fine with Lyla, in regards to the meconium, thank God, so I got to hold her skin to skin, almost right away, but they wanted me to wait to breastfeed her for a minute because they were giving me shots and hooking me up to Pitocin, to help control the bleeding and because my body wasn’t responding to the fact that I actually gave birth. With rapid deliveries, this sometimes happens — my uterus wasn’t shrinking down because it didn’t know the baby had left. Tim got to hold her while this was happening and then I was able to breastfeed. It’s such an incredible feeling, breastfeeding your baby for the first time — it’s still so amazing to me how natural it all is. They know exactly what to do. It’s beautiful. So far Lyla has been amazing at nursing, which is such a blessing to me.
I don’t know if any of you remember what Olivia looked like when she was born, but Lyla looks almost identical to her — except, Lyla has a head shaped more like mine instead of Tim’s and has his cleft chin and little dimples (so many heart eyes). They even have the same ‘stork bite’ on their foreheads, which I actually had when I was born, too! It ends up fading eventually, but I think it’s so funny that I had it and both of my babies have it. They have the same little button nose and identical hands and feet. It’s so cool to see the same features in your babies, but then see their own unique characteristics as well.
I didn’t sleep at all that night, it was a very busy/chaotic evening and morning. They had to keep an extra eye on Lyla and we had to have blood work and cultures done on her 6 hours after delivery because, like with my first pregnancy, I tested positive for my Group B Strep test. For those of you who haven’t been pregnant, it’s a bacterial infection you can get during pregnancy that can be passed to the baby during delivery and it is extremely dangerous if they get it, so you have to be hooked up to antibiotics for a few hours before delivering. If it is passed to them during delivery, they can develop a bacteria in their blood and that can lead to a serious infection. With the type of delivery I experienced, there was no chance to have the antibiotic, so I was so worried and stressed that there would be complications. I chose to go down to the nursery with her while she got her blood drawn — not sure if that was the best thing, I was a wreck seeing my tiny little baby get blood taken, but I never like my babies out of my sight and it made me feel better that I got to talk to her the entire time, because she was very upset :/ The test results that morning were negative, but they have to continue checking for three days because it can take time for the bacteria to grow/show in the blood — thankfully she’s in the clear. No complications with that or the meconium. We are truly so blessed. After all of that, it was your typical hospital stay. I think I slept maybe 4 hours the entire stay — Lyla LOVES to cluster feed for hours and only likes to sleep on my chest. Which I actually love, it’s just, I can’t sleep 🙂 but they are only this little and cuddly for such a short amount of time, so I’m soaking in all the baby snuggles I can get.
Olivia didn’t come to meet her the first day in the hospital like we had planned, her naps were off and it was later in the day when Tim was finally going to be able to bring her, but then her nighttime was going to be off and we didn’t want to mess up her routine. So she came the next day, when my good friend/photographer, Amy came to photograph us as a new family of four. I was actually glad it worked out that way because we got the first moments of them meeting on camera. Amy met Tim and Liv in the hallway when the arrived on the mother-baby unit floor and captured them walking to my room and those first moments of her actually seeing her baby sister in my arms. It was so special and something I will never forget. It was kind of funny though, because Olivia didn’t react exactly how we would have thought — she was very standoffish and awkward in the beginning, which is weird if you know her because absolutely loves being around other kids, of any age. You could tell she was really observing the situation and wasn’t sure how to feel about it. She started warming up to her after about an hour, but she was definitely in a ‘mood.’ She’s been totally different ever since we got home, though — absolutely obsessed with Lyla. She just stands over her Rock-n-Play and watches her sleep and occasionally reaches out for a hug (it’s the cutest thing). When she cries, she puts her binky near her mouth and if you say “do you want to give your sister kisses??” she leans in to kiss her. It melts my entire heart watching them interact.
But to wrap this up…it was definitely a huge shock and so strange to have a baby that way. Having a baby so quickly, it’s hard to process all that took place in such a short amount of time. My doctor told me what I experienced was precipitous labor (or rapid labor) and after reading a bunch of information online about it, I was at least relieved to know that I wasn’t overreacting to the pain and feelings I was experiencing. I wasn’t totally crazy, my baby was in fact really, about to come out of me. But we are home, we are both healthy and adjusting well to life as a family of four <3
P.S. I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about whether I’d do a natural birth again or do the epidural (if I have time lol). Tim and I definitely want a third baby, if that’s God plan for us, and if so, I’m pretty positive I would do it again naturally. I know my delivery is not comparable to other women who have natural childbirth, because when the rapid labor started, I had her within 45 minutes, so I know the pain experienced by other momma’s is so much longer and drawn out, so I probably sound annoying saying oh I’ll do it again that way, easy! But the main reason I think I would chose natural over the epidural next time is because I loved the connectedness I felt with my body during labor. It’s really incredible how we were designed, to be able to feel exactly what is going on and to know exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Feeling the entire process is something I’ll never forget and I’m blessed to have been able to experience it, because I absolutely would have never chosen to do so. As a woman, we were designed for that and it was really incredible to feel it all happen. I loved the epidural the first time because I was so scared of the pain, but I felt so out of it, couldn’t move and could barely feel the contractions or myself pushing, so it was a very out of touch delivery. I also couldn’t move well after, while it was wearing off, so I had a difficult time moving and holding the baby to breastfeed. This time, I was able to walk around, pick up my baby, hold her, change positions to get comfortable in my bed whenever I needed, all without any help, so it felt empowering to be right back to a fully functioning human after delivering. I also feel like it took days to get out of a groggy haze the first time and this time, besides being super sleep deprived as any new mom experiences, I’ve been way more with it since delivering.
Oh, and I also have to shout out my husband. Tim was amazing during the entire thing — he did end up almost fainting and nurses provided smelling salts and OJ, but how could he not after experiencing that?? He said he was so scared for me and just literally went into shock when the baby came out because of how fast it all happened. He is the most supportive, loving person ever. He somehow can make me laugh in any situation and talks me up so much after delivering, making me feel like a superhero. He was amazing with Olivia’s delivery and even more amazing with this one. I’m so lucky to have him.
Photos by Amy McKinlay Photography: