The one piece I did not have to research was the doula. One of my oldest friends, Suzanne (we met in 1st grade), happens to be an amazing doula, so she got the job without an interview. Suzanne warned me that labor is different with a 2nd baby (i.e. not 46 hours long!). She was coming from her home in Everett, and asked me to keep her posted on early warning signs so she wouldn’t miss the birth. Suzanne was right – and we all should have followed her advice to heed the early signs. But we didn’t, and almost didn’t get that CNM/doula birth we’d planned!
My due date was Tuesday, January 17. I worked a full day on the Friday prior – trying to get as much done as possible before the baby came. I got home later than normal (7:30 p.m.) and noticed a few contractions that were hard to walk through. I texted Suzanne about 9 p.m. to let her know what was going on. “When did they start? Intensity?” she asked. I honestly couldn’t tell her – I’d been focused on work, dinner and getting the toddler to bed. I had a glass of wine and they settled down, so I went to bed.
The birth day
Labor was mild for the next hour – maybe five or six contractions in total. I got up on all fours when a contraction hit but mainly just rested in bed while Derrick slept next to me. A little after 5 a.m. I gave Suzanne an update and moved to our office in the attic so I wouldn’t disturb Derrick. I started by lying down on the twin bed in the attic, but eventually moved to a yoga ball. Derrick got up and moving a little after 6 a.m. He got in touch with our nanny, Lisa, and asked her to come at her usual weekday time (about 8 a.m.). Our daughter woke up around 6:30 a.m. and I was able to have a little visit with her, explain that her baby brother would be born soon, and reassure her that mommy would be ok. By 7 a.m. my labor was really starting to kick-in.
7:02 text to Suzanne: “Think you better head this way when you can. Contractions are much stronger and closer together. Hard to move without another one starting.” Suzanne said she was on the way.
7:09 text to Dr. Luchino: "Morning Shari. That was definitely my water leaking. There has been a lot more fluid and contractions started soon after we spoke. At first they were far apart (maybe 5-6 in the first hour) but much more intense and frequent now."
I followed up the text to Dr. Luchino with a phone call. She asked how far apart contractions were, but I didn’t know. Derrick was downstairs making biscuits and tending to our daughter, so neither of us was timing. I told her it was hard to find a break to call her. Another contraction hit while we were on the phone, and I had to stop and breathe through it. Dr. Luchino said she was on the way. Unfortunately this was the point that I learned she was coming from Seattle – not her condo in Tacoma.
7:39 text to Dr. Luchino: "Best to come to our house first if you can. Contractions aren’t letting up and at the very least we can check in. I think I may need you to stay, though!”
Our nanny, Lisa got to the house around 8 a.m. I remember hearing her voice and being very glad that our daughter would be able to leave as things started getting intense. I was at the point where just breathing was not enough to deal with the pain of each contraction, so I started making low pitched moaning noises, too.
Suzanne arrived at 8:22 a.m. Derrick was waiting at the door and was very happy to see her. She came straight to the top floor where I was laboring alone. I was turned towards the window and in the middle of a contraction, but she came in and immediately put her hands on my hips (pressing where I’d been pressing to provide counter pressure). She asked me if I wanted the bath and got Derrick started on filling the tub. She helped me through a few more contractions and then suggested a position change to hands and knees to get the baby past the tight spot in the pelvis.
After three more contractions like that Suzanne noticed that my sounds began to change. I admit I didn’t fully realize what was going on, but when Suzanne strongly suggested that we get downstairs it began to dawn on me that the baby was coming – now. I summoned all the strength I could and managed to crawl down the stairs (backwards on hands and knees). I tried sitting on the toilet, but it became clear that the only thing coming right now was the baby. So Suzanne got me into the tub. Derrick announced that the midwife was at the Tacoma Dome (about 10 minutes away) and I was told to tilt my chin to the ceiling and pant when contractions hit (trying to refrain from pushing). This bought us just enough time.
Dr. Luchino and her assistant, Amanda, arrived about 8:50 a.m. She checked the baby’s heart rate (130s – very good for that point of labor). Then another contraction hit and I finally got permission to push. I put my hands between my legs and said, “I can feel the baby’s head!” We sent Amanda to get Derrick since he was still downstairs putting chicken chili in the crock pot! Two contractions later, at 8:56 a.m. the baby was born. I guided him out and let Dr. Luchino bring him up to my chest. I was so surprised that he’d come so quickly and easily, and also very relieved.
Derrick called my parents and I heard him say, “That’s not our daughter crying.” We announced the baby’s name: Liam Dorsey Nunnally. The placenta came out without incident and I got cleaned up and settled comfortably in bed. The birth team all enjoyed Derrick’s biscuits. Suzanne stayed on after Dr. Luchino left and kept me company while Derrick ran out for burritos (crock pot chili wasn’t ready yet!). Soon the house was quiet again and I spent the afternoon lounging in bed and watching ships sail into the Port of Tacoma. Later that evening my mother arrived (she’d caught a mid-day ferry from Lopez Island) and Lisa brought our daughter back home. It was a happy reunion and felt like a great start to our life as a family of four.