***DISCLAIMER – We celebrated our third son, LJ yesterday as he turned one year old. I had always planned to share his birth story and his first birthday seemed most appropriate. This post does contain scenes from a birth…and in the words of my doctor, “birthing a baby is messy” so please be warned.
My hand braced against the wall. This was the third time. Third visit in one week. Third time getting my membranes stripped. Third pregnancy. Third little boy….late…again.
The uncomfortable pressure in my nether regions ceased and I could feel my hopes diminishing a little more bit by bit. Each time I came to another OBGYN appointment I hoped that the ‘checking’ would put me in labor…but I knew that it wouldn’t. I was a farmer after all…not a harvester. I knew how to grow the babies…big babies…not good at getting the labor started. This would be officially my longest labor. Today was my last appointment before my official 42 week mark. I would be saying goodbye to the title of family of four soon. I would be getting to meet this little guy that was well over cooked. As I exited the office, I double checked the phone number for the hospital and said bye to the girls that ran Dr. Tate’s office.
As I walked to the car, it happened. My entire back side felt like a steel pole got hammered into it. The pain washed down my legs and into my lower back. I knew this pain all too well. Sciatica. It was my nemesis with pregnancy. It was the price I paid for not having morning sickness or terrible pregnancy woes. It took me about four minutes to get to the ground. Sitting always helped. If I sat, I knew it would be over quickly and I would be on my way. I said a prayer. Not for it to go away but thanking God that I didn’t have the boys with me. Heaven knows Weston would have darted into the parking lot and there would be nothing I could do.
By the time I got home, everyone had already called. 6 voicemail messages were on my phone as I pulled into the driveway. It was sweet of family to be excited but it grated my nerves. Dang, why am I so sensitive?! Is it because I just wanna meet him already?! Is it because of jealousy? Am I a mad that all the other girls who were due around me already had their little loves in their arms? Maybe a little bit of everything. Maybe I am just tired.
The next few days came and went….everything was prepped. The boy’s clothing was set out. They would be in matching shirts and pants. I squeezed the nursing cover into my bag. I grabbed my friend Sarah’s hospital gown. It was cute…pink with polka dots. Completely different than the normal hospital garb I wore with the first two boys. I filled the time with getting ready. It never struck me before to do my hair or makeup…but this time, it was just another thing to do to pass the hours. My mom came. The boys took photos with my bulging belly. The list of details came out one last time. My mom could do this. She would be fine. At least I told myself that as I hugged and kissed her goodbye.
On the way to the hospital, we grabbed a sandwich for me and a lemonade. It was like deja vue….everything we did last time with Weston, we followed the recipe. Car, Chick-fil-a, parking garage, bags, check-in. Last time I was checking in to be induced, I stepped into the bathroom and my water broke. I crossed my fingers that it would happen again. Could lightening strike twice? I even did an extra squat and squeeze to be sure. Nothing. Instead I snapped a photo in the mirror and decided to punk Jeremy. He didn’t fall for it.
We moved into the room and everything was smooth sailing. The nurses started explaining the Pitocin and the fluids, the IV and the everything….I kinda phased out. We have been down this road before and I was dreading the pain. Last time, they let me labor for a long time to see if my body would kick into high gear by itself….and when it didn’t, the Pitocin didn’t take long to force the contractions. I phased back into the room long enough to hear “cord blood”….YES. That’s what I wanted to talk about. Cord blood! The nurses all of a sudden had my undivided attention. This hospital was a partner in cord blood banking and I had read an article about how you can publicly bank your umbilical cord blood at no charge so that others could use it if they needed. I read about this! I was so excited I cut off the nurse with “YES. YES, I want to do it.”
She looked at me kinda stunned….”Well, the cord is usually discarded and the amazing thing is that they can save it to help kids and adults who…”
I cut her off again…”Yes. I read about it. Where do I sign?”
She smiled. It seemed like she was shocked at my answer but really happy. “Great! It’s just gonna be a short procedure after the baby is born and we will need to start with some blood samples.”
“Ok. That sounds great. Glad to do it.”
Jeremy looked over at me puzzled. He didn’t know what it was but I knew that he would be supportive.
It was seven o’clock pm.
Hours passed. The hookups were in. The blood was sent to the lab. The waiting game had begun. Jeremy had ran across the street to get Chicken & Waffles and had eaten right in front of me. I sat there salivating. The waiting was the worst part. It was like watching a pot boil and I was the pot. Except the odd part was….this time there was nothing. No pain. No contractions. Nothing.
Two o’clock in the morning was staring at me. The clock in front of the bed didn’t help in passing the time. I just sat there. Trying to be comfortable. Still nothing. The nurses said that I probably would start feeling it by now….but as much as I focused on the
Five AM. I decided to make the ten step trek to the bathroom. Afterwards I looked into the mirror….is this really happening? Am I really on Pitocin? What the heck is going on?! Why am I not contracting?! The fear of ‘what ifs’ washed over me. What if I don’t ever start?! Will they c-section me again!? What if the contractions start so violently that I literally can’t do this? What if the baby is not ready!? Every little insecurity about birthing a child came over me. I allowed myself to go deep into those thoughts for a split second….what if there is something REALLY wrong? I looked back into the reflection. No. Not this time. This has to be normal. Otherwise Dr. Tate would say so. I trust him. He is watching the monitor. He knows.
By seven am, Jeremy was holding my hand and helping me breathe through each contraction. That moment of worry seemed like a distant memory….this was working…and it was working fast. Each contraction seemed more and more violent. The breaks in between seemed like they were disappearing into the end of one contraction and the beginning of the next. I looked at Jeremy with that desperate look. He asked me what I wanted to do.
“I want to keep going. I need to. I need to get this really going before I get the epidural. It’s the recipe. It works.” It was all I could manage to say with the pain overcoming me. I knew what would work…it worked with Weston’s delivery and I prayed that it would work again. All I had to do was make sure that I could make it two hours with progressive contractions and then I could get pain relief….the epidural would do the rest. It was a weird thought…to think that my body had a recipe for success….but I knew that if labor was actually progressing then the epidural would allow me to open up and I would have this baby in no time.
The phone rang. Jeremy answered. It was my dad. He called to let me know that his flight was at 4 and if I didn’t have this baby by noon, then he wouldn’t get to see him before he left. I made a point to have this baby out by then. I wanted my dad to meet this little guy. It was enough of a goal for me to keep going.
The resident came in at 8 am to check me….still at a four. I came in at a four. I knew what to do. I requested the epidural at nine am. I knew that it would be hard to wait that whole hour but I had to schedule it so that I had time to open up. Jeremy looked at me, questioning if I could make it that long. I didn’t think I could but I knew that I had to. When they finally came and put the epidural in, I immediately felt the sense of hope. This was going to work. I knew it would.
Ten minutes later, I was no longer writhing in pain….no more sweating and moaning….no more helpless looks from Jeremy….it was all pressure and no pain. I could still sense each wave of contraction but no longer did it clench up my entire being and not let go. We laughed. We took pictures with Jeremy’s cell phone. We called my mom. I put on more makeup and brushed the massive knots out of my hair from rubbing my head on the hospital pillow. It was quiet and slow and easy.
At ten thirty, the resident came back in and checked me….my water had broken and I was at a 9. I was so excited that my prediction had worked…the recipe was working! They called Dr. Tate and told him that he probably wanted to come in. I knew it would take him about an hour to drive to the hospital in traffic.
Eleven thirty rolled around and Dr. Tate strolled into the room. He was wearing a pink shirt and came over with a smile. I think he secretly likes delivering big babies and he knows mine are always on the chubby side. He said we were ready to go almost immediately.
It didn’t take long for them to get everything set up. I felt the first wave and Jeremy grabbed my leg. He knew exactly what to do as he juggled the camera and the phone. The first push…then the second….and out came the head. Dr. Tate hooked a finger under the armpit and twisted the rest of the baby out. It looked like a baby water slide.
He was HERE! Finally! After so much waiting, I saw his curled up little arms and legs and head full of hair and could not wait to just hold him. Little LJ was here! The doctor and nurses rubbed him till he cried and then flopped him up on my chest.
I pulled him up closer…trying to get a look at his puffy little lips and his sweet little nose. He cried….then he grabbed my finger…holding my hand like it was a comfort to him. I melted. Never had a newborn been so instinctively affectionate to me. My other two made you earn it…but this sweet creature just loved so freely. If I didn’t already love him, that would have pushed me over the edge.
The doctors and nurses were still at work….they had to harvest the cord blood and it took about ten extra minutes of people between my legs. Not ideal but I always thought that it was the right thing to do. As soon as they were done, I asked if they were going to weigh the baby. The nurse said that they wait one hour of mommy skin to skin before doing any further measurements. It was a different policy than just fifteen months earlier but I didn’t complain. That cuddle time was exactly what I wanted for the last nine months. I got to nurse and peered into LJ’s mouth afterward to confirm a suspicion….yup…tongue tied. I had experienced that type of feeling before while nursing Will….and this time I knew exactly what to look for. LJ was just like his daddy…only probably a little more extensive since his tie was already at the end of his tiny little tongue.
We called the family. We told my mom to bring the boys whenever she was ready. Jeremy handed LJ to Jeremy’s brother who was waiting in the hospital already.
We packed our big bags and got moved to our room. It was smaller than last time but something seemed off. There was a bag of dirty towels in the bathroom and although the bed was freshly made, there wasn’t any normal “Welcome Packet”. We ended up having four different nurses in the first hour of being in the room. We chalked it up to getting moved in the middle of shift change and thought nothing of it. I just wanted food anyway.
I immediately put Jeremy on ‘room-prep-duty’. He broke out the photos and hung them on the wall of the big boys. He got out my blankets from home and put them on the bed and we ordered lunch. I couldn’t wait to have the space feel a little more like home. I only wished I had brought my own hand soap and some air freshener (the hospital smell is so distinctive!).
When the boys arrived, they came in looking a little shy. Will took off his hat…his favorite gray hat that he always wore and didn’t ever share….and he put it on LJ’s head. It was the sweetest and most innocent gesture that he could have done.
Weston just wanted to stick his finger in the baby’s mouth. He would pull at the blankets to get closer and fail as we pulled the baby out of reach. You could tell he really missed us as all he wanted to do was to wrestle and tickle and cuddle both Jeremy and I.
Will brought over the new baby’s gift….a sweet book of Children’s Stories that we had Will and Weston both write a ‘message’ in the front page.
Jeremy took out his phone as we told the boys that baby LJ picked out something special for them too….a new PowerWheel! Will was ecstatic. Weston continued to try to get his finger in the baby’s mouth.
Family came and went and took pictures and gave hugs and congratulations. It was sweet and slow….no big drama and just a lot of kisses.
We told the nurses about the tongue tie and asked if they would clip it in the hospital so that he learned to latch correctly. The next day, the ENT came in as well as the whole team. They were surprised that I identified it so early but I explained our situation with past frenulums and how I knew it would be potentially be part of each of our kids. The procedure took longer than I expected but I was grateful they did it right there next to my bed. LJ cried….a little blood…and then nursed his tears away. He was already so opinionated about me…wanting to cuddle constantly and happy to just be in my arms sleeping with his tiny baby snore.
In the past, my birth stories were so much more dramatic…more ups and downs…but this time, it was exactly what I wanted…I wanted to know what I could do and how my body worked. I wanted to hold a baby and share him with the world. It wasn’t dramatic…it wasn’t extreme or out of the ordinary….but I wanted it to be slow….I wanted to savor the moments. I know that my time having babies would some day stop and this time…this very day…the mundane of it made it that much more special…so much easier to focus on the real star….not what I did but what that sweet babe did. He held my hand and my heart the moment he was born….and that is way better than any kind of story. Happy birthday sweet Leonard Judah. We love you so so much.