On the morning of Tuesday, August 7th, I was rudely awakened at 5:48am by my water breaking. This came as a surprise, since our due date was still over three weeks away.
We called the doctor, who told us, “Okay, pack your bags and come straight to the hospital.” In a flurry, we packed our things, ate a quick breakfast (I gobbled up cereal, cherries, and a leftover slice of cold pizza, thinking that this might be the only meal to get me through labor), and phoned my parents who were on call to take care of Aaron. Steve dropped me off at the hospital and took Aaron to my parents’ place.
After checking into the hospital, and having Steve rejoin me, I was told that since I wasn’t having any contractions yet, we could wait for up to six hours after the water breaking for contractions to begin on their own. At the six hour mark, I would be given Pitocin (a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone, oxytocin) to induce labor, since waiting any longer would heighten risk of infection and other complications. Since I wanted to have a natural, non-medicated birth again, I hoped that contractions would start without having to receive the Pitocin.
So we waited. We also decided on her middle name. The hours went by, and no contractions.
At noon, I was hooked up to an IV, and given a low dose of Pitocin. Contractions started slowly and infrequently. Every thirty minutes, the Pitocin dose was increased. We watched an episode of Hoarders (which I’ll now and forever associate with pelvic pain). Around 4:00pm, contractions began to come every 2 minutes, and were incredibly intense (more than with Aaron’s birth; most likely because of the Pitocin). Through each contraction, I took deep breaths, and mentally went into focus mode, just trying to get to the next one. I was nearly at the point yelling for them to give me an epidural, when I started to feel the urge to push. I think I may have shouted something incoherent at that point.
Suddenly, everything was in high gear. Several nurses and doctors appeared, the bed was adjusted, Steve was instructed to help by holding one of my legs (probably more for my own sense of moral support than any practical purpose).
A nurse called our doctor on the phone, telling her it was Go Time. Then I heard the nurse on the phone say, “Oh, you’re 20 minutes away?” Um…yeah. Our doctor, who was supposed to be the one delivering our baby was out running errands. My inner voice told me, “You DID NOT just hear that.”
I vaguely recall having one of the other doctors tell me, “It’s okay, we’re here…just push.” So that’s what I did. I pushed through about four contractions. There was primal screaming and burning pain (again, more than with Aaron’s birth).
Then, after 12 minutes of pushing with every ounce of effort I had, someone told me, “Look down, Larissa!” And there she was, our little baby daughter. She was purplish, cheesy, frail, and completely perfect.
Alexandra Li Wan (Chinese for strength and grace) Marks was born at 5:42pm, about 12 hours after my water broke. She was a small 4 lbs. 13 oz. and 18 ½ inches long. Living up to her Chinese middle name, she is strong and healthy. We got to bring her home about 24 hours after her birth.
Compared to Aaron’s delivery, this second one was a little more difficult. Even though she was smaller, the Pitocin made labor more painful. But my own recovery has been way easier this time; I didn’t need any stitches like with my first birth. After about a day of dull pain, I felt pretty much back to normal.
Several days later, we are all resting and enjoying our new addition. She’s eating and sleeping a lot like a typical newborn. Aaron is a great older brother, and loves to hold and kiss his sister.
Throughout Alexandra’s birth, I was keenly aware of all the hope, prayer, and waiting that preceded her arrival. We had two miscarriages before she was conceived, making this healthy, beautiful baby an incredible miracle. For that, we are so thankful.