Time flew by when I was pregnant. It seems like only yesterday that I was calling to Peder for the second time to squint at these two faint lines, and suddenly now we’re here. Now my arms finally feel the weight of my son, my heart finally feels the space that only his presence can create…and time has quickened. The days I was longing for are fading, and my sweet boy is already almost a month old. Stay little, little one. Slow down so I can remember every moment of you. Because I don’t want to miss this.

The wait for Simon felt just as intense as it did for Norah’s birth, but in different ways. Norah’s due date was very hard for me to approach–even though I knew she wasn’t “due” for anything–and Simon’s was no different. But with Norah, I went into labor the next day {and had her two days after that…ouch}. With Simon, the day came and went….and still nothing. It wasn’t until 6 days later that I finally felt like labor was imminent, and that was after trying nearly every trick in the book.

We had made it to the 41 week appointment on Thursday, October 29th, which meant a modified BPP with an ultrasound. It was neat to see him again, though the appointment was coupled with discussions about what interventions we would be comfortable with and when. Normally, we don’t do any interventions or inductions at all, but we could only deliver at the birth center until 42 weeks. After that, we would need to induce labor and change our plan to go to the hospital. This would be a huge change in a number of ways, and meant that we were suddenly OK with many interventions that we were not OK with merely a week earlier. After the BPP, I asked my midwife to check to see how dilated I was (not routine in our office) and strip my membranes. I was already at 2.5cm, and left hoping that the membrane sweep would kickstart labor in the next 4-6 hours. If not, no harm done. We also made appointments to try a Foley bulb induction in the midwife’s office the following Monday and to break my water there on Thursday at 41.5–just incase.

Stripping my membranes certainly brought on contractions, ones that were more uncomfortable and more frequent than the prodromal labor bouts that I had been experiencing in the previous weeks. But even these seemed to taper off as the day went on, and we went to bed on Thursday night thinking that perhaps it hadn’t worked. It wasn’t until I got up for the first of my many customary nighttime bathroom trips that I realized I was contracting strongly and regularly.

At 2am, I decided to stay up. After laying on the couch and sleeping in between contractions for a while, I decided to text my doula Becky to tell her that I thought I was in labor but was doing fine and hadn’t even woken up Peder yet. I was using my hypnobabies tracks by this time (which meant that the contractions were strong enough that I had to focus through them or I would tense up and cause them to become more painful). Around 3am I decided that I needed the tub, but as I filled it with hot water it subsequently woke up Peder. It was then that we were both up on the day that Simon was to be born.

Laboring the rest of the morning was a rotation of tub, birth ball, couch, and floor. Some of it with Peder, some of it on my own. Some of it with Norah (who got up around 6:30am that day) playing around me, some of it without. But overall, I would describe the morning of my labor with Simon as incredibly calm and peaceful. This is entirely due to the Hypnobabies that I had practiced for the past two months. More than anything, Hypnobabies gave me a way to relax in the midst of pain. Essentially, it teaches you how to relax your muscles and turn pain into pressure. It changes your mindset about what “pain” is (I came to think of it as discomfort) and gives visualization techniques to help strengthen a feeling of anesthesia. Then you can turn it on or off during labor and direct it towards your discomfort. It’s like I was choosing to focus on relaxing; I would close my eyes and breathe deeply, trying to relax into the pressure and not let it overwhelm me.  Then when the contraction was done, I came out of the hypnosis and was able to talk, drink, eat, play with Norah, etc.

In fact, I found a video on Peder’s phone that shows me in labor on the couch with Norah sitting beside me, talking about how her hugs were like magic and giving each other hugs before she left for the day. This was after about 7 hours of labor, only 5 hours before he was born, and probably 4-5cm dilated. I could never have labored for so long with a two year old by my side without the techniques I had practiced. And Norah was great, too; to Norah, it just seemed like mommy was sleeping, so she would play by me or lay on me a little bit, and then run off and do her thing. Peder was flitting between Norah and me, which left me alone for what seemed like most of Norah’s time at home, but he was amazing at trying to manage both of us at once. Truly a superdad, caring for one child while bringing another into the world.

Norah finally left at about 9:30 right after my doula arrived. I remember feeling these hot tears well up in my eyes, knowing that this was the last time I would see my baby while she was still a baby. While I didn’t want her to stay and knew that she couldn’t, I just hated seeing her leave. The next time I would see her, twelve hours later, she would be inexplicably bigger. I came out of my labor space for as many hugs and kisses as she needed, and then she was gone.

But once she left, I was able to focus a bit more and get more support from just Peder. I remember sitting on the couch right after my doula got there and getting through 8 contractions all on my own, silently, without moving or opening my eyes. These were about 3-4 minutes a part at this point. When the couch wasn’t comfortable any more, I moved to the tub again. The hot water felt incredible against my back (even though he wasn’t posterior like Norah was, the back pain was still pretty intense. Ok, awful). I was still able to hold onto the hypnosis when contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, but they started getting harder to work through. I had to breathe deeply and a little audibly to get through them. That’s when we decided to head to the midwife at about 11am.

We live an hour away from the birth center, and I remember not wanting to make that drive when it finally came time to leave during Norah’s labor. This time, I was ready and willing to leave, but had a much harder time coping during the car ride. I think we hit every pot hole and I felt what seemed like every pebble in the road between here and there, and it was excruciating. Somewhere on the interstate, I told Peder in my delirious state, “I’m not doing this again,” which he apparently found to be hilarious. Looking back, the painful drive was what caused me to lose my focus, and it set the tone for the remainder of my labor. Everything was much more painful, and I never really got back to my peaceful, silent state from home.

Once we got to the birth center, they had already set up the room and even filled the tub with water. This shocked me, as I was so nervous about being far enough along to stay and I was concerned about the possibility of having to go back home. I knew I could never sit through the hour’s car ride home, much less the return trip; where would I go if, for some reason, I hadn’t progressed enough to stay? Target?! But once I was in the water, the midwife came to check me and said I was (only) 5cm. When I arrived to have Norah I was at a 7 and still had about 8 hours to go before having her, so to hear I was at a 5 nearly crushed me. I felt sure that they would say I had to go back home. But not minutes later, my water broke while I was sitting in the tub and I instantly progressed to a 6 and moved two stations down. Clearly I was in labor, and clearly things were moving along. I could stay. That 1cm of progress was enough to keep me going.

Laboring at the birth center was a bit like laboring at home; I moved between the tub, standing by the bed, sitting backwards on the toilet, and laying down on the bed, primarily because I was so exhausted. I just wanted to lay down–though of course “resting” in labor is an oxymoron like no other. The tub wasn’t nearly hot enough (though unbiased observers said it was actually quite warm!), so it wasn’t as much of a comfort to me as it was at home. My doula, Peder, and my midwife Latrice (who came in just for my labor, as another woman was audibly having her baby next door) were incredible during this time. With Norah, it was just Peder and me until the very end when the student midwife Amanda started giving us suggestions of what to do to move things along. This time, I had three solid pillars of support the entire two hours we were there before his birth. I had six hands on me, trying desperately to push and rub and take away some of the searing pain and pressure. I had someone to help me while Peder phoned our families or ran to get something. I even had enough support that my doula was able to step back and take some pictures for us during labor, which are incredible and surreal to look back on now. I had Hypnobabies still playing and was able to still breathe and relax through contractions with much less vocalization than with Norah, but it was still long, hard, and intense. But between these three people, I progressed from a 5 to a 10 in about two hours.

Towards the end, I finally started talking to Simon, telling him to just come already, please just come. And just as the midwife suggested that I get up and sit on the toilet for a while to open my hips before sitting in the water again, I realized that Simon was crowning.

As chaotic as Norah’s labor was, her birth was quiet, peaceful, and slow. Simon’s birth was fast, intense, and loud. I joke now that I apparently just decided that I was done, and just wanted to get him out already. I can even remember Peder asking if I wanted to move into the tub (since we wanted a water birth) and I told him no, there isn’t enough time! It seemed like every push was suddenly 10x stronger and more effective, and in just a minute or so his head was out. Time blurs here for me, but later I learned that he got stuck at his shoulders for just a liiiittle too long for comfort. With one giant push, he arrived.

Moving faster and with more agility than I had in months, I looked down to see this tiny, pale little baby below me. I scooped him out of Peder’s arms and saw my Simon. He heard me, and he came.

Simon James Laurence Thompson was born on October 30th, 2015, at 2:29pm. 9lbs 2oz, 20.25″ long. Perfect.

The space the he has filled in our family was one that we didn’t even know we needed, now that we are four. Time is flying by and my sweet, sleepy, incredibly calm and happy baby is growing right before my eyes. I think the sweetest part about having a second child is the perspective that I have on every day that he’s been with us. I know that these days won’t last, because they don’t. I know that this nap is sweet and precious and needed, so I rest with him on my chest for just a little longer. I see that sweet scrunched-up nose that looks like my dad’s and the eyes that look like mine and the hair that is turning more and more like his dad’s every single day and just breathe it all in. I relax and put him down more often. I hear him fuss but hold his big sister just a little longer. I make room on my lap for two, because the days when they’ll both be able to fit there are few. The days are long, but I can’t imagine spending them with anyone else.