“Um…um…I’m gonna have to go.” Lori looked down at me with a white face.
“Are you alright?” I asked as I sucked in a relaxing breath.
“uhhh….yeah…I just gotta go. the smell….” she looked pale, let go of my leg and started turning toward the door.
Lori took two steps toward the door and I laughed. I joked after her….”Lori, that’s the smell of life!”
I saw her round the curtain out of view before I heard a scuffle and a bang. Next thing we knew, a nurse yelled….
“SHE’S DOWN! She’s DOWN!”
Everyone snapped their heads to the door. Feeling faint, Lori had reached for the door frame and her hand had slipped. In her dizzy world, her right cheek grazed the door frame and she landed hard on her bottom. Next thing she knew, her one arm was raised above her head and she was sitting partially on the ground being asked questions about her medical history.
Dr. Tate looked down at me and asked “Is she a fainter?”
“No”, I giggled…”she’s pregnant!”
There was a collective “Ooooh” from people surrounding the bed.
“Well, does she have a doctor yet?” he asked with a smile….
“No but I’m trying to convince her to go to you!”
We continued to chat between pushes. There was enough of a break that conversation was fairly easy. Dr. Tate and the pretty auburn haired resident continued to talk ‘medical stuff’ as I listened, then pushed, then recovered, then listened again. The pushing part reminded me of working out…doing the squat machine with heavy weights or the like. There was a clear beginning, middle and end. The cycle continued…over and over. I kept thinking back to the moments right before Will came into the world. I was being strapped to a bed, people rushing around with a task in mind, it was hustle and bustle. This moment was so different. Dr. Tate was still sporting his street clothes and was calmly talking to the resident about forcep techniques. The nurses were calmly waiting near the wall. I had control over my upper body, feeling the pressure of a contraction coming on and pulling my knees up to my chest. Jeremy was right next to me…encouraging me, holding me.
At one point the nurses brought a mirror in to put at the end of the bed so that I could see what was going on. It was bloodier than I had imagined. I remembered my sister’s birth with Cole and the amount of blood after the birth…but not before.
“You guys should have one of those dentist squirty tools to rinse things off.” I was serious. This amount of blood was gross.
“It would just get bloody again.” Dr Tate said with a smile. “Childbirth isn’t clean.” True. I never really thought about it like that. Probably because my other childbirth experience was completely different.
“Do you mind if I show her how to insert forceps?” He was a teaching doctor and loved his craft. I knew that.
“I don’t need them, right?”
“No” he said…”just would like to show her my insertion technique”. He held up what looked like salad tongs. For a quick second, my brain flashed to the birthing class Jeremy and I took ages ago and the results of a forcep delivery on the video…scratches, bruises…
“Sure.” I trusted this doctor. I saw the board of infant photos in his office. The one filled with all the babies he had delivered in the past. He wouldn’t marr my baby. He quickly showed the resident how to slide the tongs and hook them together. I looked down.
That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have looked. The long metal handles were sticking out of me and there was blood all over. It was straight horror movie kinda gore.
“Um okay…I’m kinda freaking out over that.” Dr. Tate quickly removed the forceps and thanked me for letting him teach. I was glad he got to teach her, I was happy to be an example, I was just mentally not ready to look like an impaled pig on a spigot.
The minutes past. The pushing continued. It seemed like a very short time. I was ready for each push. Welcoming that pressure and feeling. I focused hard on making my body tighten in the right way, focused on where my breathe was, my arms, my head, my everything. It was easy to be excited. It was easy to keep my mind on task. I kept marveling in the fact that my body was working, that this VBAC was working. It was like living in a dream. I saw this whole adventure in my head. like a movie. repeating itself. I saw myself crying into Jeremy’s arms about not getting pregnant. I saw the little positive sign on the pregnancy test and the sciatica pain that had me resting on the couch all summer. I saw Will and the first time he pointed to my belly and said “baby wessen”. I saw the girls faces that came to me, telling me their stories of infertility and of that ache that comes with waiting for their own baby. I saw Will and I power walking around the neighborhood and my feet walking with Jeremy around that hospital hall waiting for labor to pick up. I saw the wait. and the wonder. and the want for it to be here already. It was the ultimate motivation to keep pushing as hard as possible.
An hour and a half of pushing past and finally Dr. Tate threw on a hospital robe over his dress shirt. One final push. I knew it was here. I sucked in a big gust of air and bared down with all that was in me.
I could feel the release, the pressure being let go, the escape of my son.
Those next few moments seemed to last a long time. Our sweet boy was laying on the table getting rubbed, stimulated to life.
“C’mon” someone said quietly. And then there was the first cry. His little body heaved in a breathe of air and turned pink instantly. Jeremy and I looked at each other with filled eyes.
“Oh honey – he looks like you!” I smiled so big at Jeremy’s big blue eyes.
“Look at that hair!” “It’s blonde, right?!” “He looks so different than Will” “He’s not as swollen” “Jeremy those lips…those are your lips!” We bantered back and forth in those first few seconds….taking in every little detail that we could see, celebrating the differences and similarities in our sons, in our newest little Bower boy.
The nurses immediately lifted him up onto my chest. He laid on my skin, stretching from my sternum to my belly, warm and soft. The sense of relief and accomplishment and thankfulness washed over me. My gratitude was overwhelming. He was here. After so many hours of labor and of fear that surgery would be my only option….after feeling stuck in low gear….after planning for the worst and hoping for the best….he was finally here.
“I love you baby Weston” I whispered to him as I rubbed his back. “I love you and I can not wait for you to meet your big brother”.
Jeremy cut the cord. His face beamed. I had to let go of Weston as the nurses took him to the little baby bed to check him. Jeremy stayed by my side as I was getting stitched up. He held my hand and distracted me. He told me little details all over again. Weston’s eyes looked lighter than Will’s. He had dirty blonde hair. He was born sunny side up. He had ten perfect toes and hands and the little skin looked flaky. He had a big head like me and skinny long body.
I was glad the mirror was gone. I was so happy Jeremy was here with me. Helping me. Getting a front row seat into his son’s arrival. Assisting and encouraging.
“Ten pounds three ounces” the announcement floated across the room.
“WHAT?!” Jeremy and I said in unison. We looked at each other with wide eyes and then started laughing.
Even Dr. Tate made them repeat the weight. We all couldn’t stop smiling.
The next half hour involved nursing, recovering, bringing in my sister (who was still recovering from her embarrassing little episode) and Boots, calling family, taking pictures and laughing. Weston needed to be double checked for bacteria so he was taken to the nursery down the hall. Jeremy went with him and I ate.
I was starving. My hunger for food was like my hunger for another baby…I didn’t even realize how much I wanted Weston until I got my first taste….that first moment together was so sweet that it felt like I couldn’t get enough of him. It was such a fulfilling experience. From my months of not getting pregnant to finally celebrating his conception to experiencing this amazing birth to holding him in my arms…I never had dreamt that it would be so hard and so SO good.
Will came the next day. My mom brought him and Cole. Jeremy lifted him up to see Weston who was laying in the little plastic bed.
My face was hurting from smiling so much. I couldn’t believe how sweetly Will looked down at him. Will made no movements to hold him or touch him. He simply lowered his head and took three big sniffs.
We all started laughing.
Will looked up. “I smell him.” He said frankly and lowered his head again toward the bundled blankets to take in his little brothers scent.
We all cracked up again.
Will was excited because he brought Krispy Kreme doughnuts to share. I was excited because Will was here. Because we all were here. Together. Finally. Two weeks late but together.
Will finally made the move that he wanted to hold his brother and we propped pillows up on my bed…moving really slowly because my tailbone was sensitive…we created a little pocket for Will to sit in and still be surrounded with support. Jeremy lowered Weston down into his arms. We kissed him. Showed him the little fingers and lips and ears. Will gently lifted a whisp of Weston’s hair and giggled. We just sat there marveling and touching the soft little bundle.
Then Will kissed him over and over.
He followed the kisses with a big facial lick. The room erupted with laughter again.
It was the purest joy in my life…seeing my boys together. Seeing our family together. Seeing this amazing gift of life. And I looked over at Jeremy and said with tears in my eyes…”This is good. This is the best good I’ve ever had.” And he wrapped his arms around us, pulled us close and we laughed.
Weston Knox Bower was born at 11:22 pm on November 18th, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a 10lb 3 oz, 22.5 inch successful VBAC. I can not thank Dr. Tate, the fine staff and nurses at Emory hospital and friends and family enough for everything they did. Best. Day. Ever.