As a two-time mom, I thought I'd post my two experiences side-by-side, thus you can see how a second birth might compare to a first.
The Birth of F: My First
At my 38 week appointment, my doctor let me know that I was about 2 cm dilated. But more surprisingly, based on the condition of my cervix she thought I would go into labor in the next few days. She was so sure, she didn't even want me to schedule my normal 39 week appointment with her. I of course, did not believe her, as I was prepared to go late and sweat my way through the rest of August, just like the vast majority of first time moms.
Well that night, at exactly 2:46 am (these things are burned into my brain!), I woke up thinking I had peed in the bed which made me think I was totally pathetic. But the liquid kept on coming...as did my lovely mucous plug which I tried to vain to get my husband to look at, based on its sheer grossness. I figured I was in for the long haul, since I hadn't had any contractions. Well, that changed quickly. Within 15 minutes, I was contracting about every 8 minutes. At this point, I decided to get out my computer and start "transitioning" my work to the brand new employee that was to take my place. Nothing like an email in the middle of the night passing the buck! And my husband decided he should probably pack my bag...clearly, we were not prepared. By 4:30 am, shortly after I sent my last email, we decided to head in to the hospital. On the way there, I quickly gave up any thought of natural labor and screamed at my husband to run the red lights.
We arrived at the hospital a little after 5 am and the triage nurse said, "You sure seem to be in a lot of pain for 2 cm," and gave me something the size of a dixie cup to vomit in. This is when I wanted to hit someone, including my husband who was dressed in his new addidas pants and shoes - his labor outfit, as he referred to it. I aimed for those shoes every time I dry heaved. They decided to put me in room, I think to get me - a crying mess - away from all the sane women, even though I was barely dilated. I walked down the hall, bare behind to the waiting room, totally oblivious.
I called for the epidural right away and per hospital procedure, my husband and his new shoes had to leave the room. I guess it's good that they move slowly when putting a needle in your back, but they certainly couldn't do it as fast as my liking. The pain wasn't going away so they decided to check me and low and behold I was 8 cm. I really wanted them to go tell the triage nurse that I was indeed in labor, but I decided it's probably better to be nice to hospital employees. Apparently, because my body was moving through the stages of labor so quickly, the epidural was not working well. My husband arrived back in the room and the doctor gave me the go ahead to push, thinking the pain would lessen. Sure enough, pushing felt good and after an hour of so of painless pushing (yeah drugs finally working!), my first baby boy came into the world. All of 6 pounds, 10 oz and 19 inches, I melted when they laid him on my belly. He wasn't big, but with a total labor time of a little more than 5 hours, he was in a hurry.
The Birth of J: My Second
So after all that, we decided to have a second. My husband asked the OB at nearly every appointment, how she was "going to make sure I didn't have the baby in the car," since my first labor was so fast. All of my papers had "FAST LABOR" in big letters, somehow not a reassuring sight.
Since my first was 12 days early, I was sure number two would as well. Well that day came and went and I became increasingly miserable. However, at my appointment, 10 days before my due date, my OB said I was 4-5 cm dilated and I needed to be AT the hospital if my contractions were 15 minutes apart. I had been having contractions all day, but I had throughout the last few weeks, and I chalked it up to not getting a seat on the T (thank you green line college students, did you think I was just fat?). Well, as I got on the T to go home from my appointment, my phone went dead and like clockwork my contractions getting more regular. I figured I'd stop in town at my sisters, rather than going home to burbs, to see if it was real. Although my sister is a nurse, she really didn't want me to have the baby on her white couch (and she also wanted to go on a date that she had scheduled several weeks earlier...), so when my contractions were about 10 minutes apart, she drove me the hospital while my husband languished in Celtics and Red Sox traffic.
Since my folders had that "FAST LABOR" written all over them, they put me in a room right away and started my antibiotics, since I was Strep B positive this time. Of course, when you're the pregnant mother of a toddler, an air-conditioned room (with a tv above your bed and room service) pretty much seems like heaven. Apparently all this relaxing was not good and everything slowed down. The resident came in to let me know that they may want me to go home, since hospital policy is not to do anything proactive until after 39 weeks. The on-call doctor came in five minutes later and let me know to ignore any thought of going home and that I wouldn't be leaving without a baby, she'd break my water after I got the full dose of antibiotics.
I'm pretty sure they broke my water with a giant knitting needle, but whatever it was, the baby crawled up into my rib cage...not the direction you want them to be going at that point. Unfortunately, after a few hours of contractions, I was still only 4-5 cm. So I started walking the halls, listening to the nurses gossip and waving the anesthesiologists who would shortly bring me into a medicated bliss. Forty-five minutes later, contractions started picking up and I decided that I'd call for the epidural. Both teams were with C-sections, so I'd have to wait. At this point, I had my next contraction and though I was going to die. I felt an urge to push, but when they checked me I was not even 6 cm...and they basically told me, that the anesthesiologists were not going to make it in time. I had two more contractions and I was 10 cm (...and I'm still crying for drugs). Three pushes and number two was out. I think I was delivered by the D-Team, since my whole labor was compressed into about six contractions...and I'm pretty sure the cleaning lady was in the corner. So I guess, breaking my water certainly did the trick. Seven pounds and four ounces and 20.5 inches of cuteness, my husband and I laughed in a "what the hell" way when he came out - we couldn't believe we went from a family of three to a family of four so quickly. If there is a number three, I'm going to be hooked up to the drugs at 36 weeks, just to make sure I'm fully drugged by the time I'm in labor...and I'll be the one living in a tent on the Beth Israel sidewalk, just so I can be sure I make it in time.