Saturday, July 28, 2012

What happened on June 2, 2012

This was a big day for our family. Want to hear the story? It's a birth story, yes, but so much more. Some people like details surrounding these things, and some don' skim through and take what you want of our story!
My labor from start to finish was sort of on the longer side (especially for a fifth baby)--about 18 hours--but in the end I wouldn't have wanted it any shorter. I woke up at about 4am on Saturday June 2, feeling some contractions. They felt stronger, more painful than the Braxton-Hicks I had felt for weeks prior, and they were getting regular--about every 7-9 minutes. I lay in bed thinking, "Oh yes, this is what true labor feels like. I remember now." It was obvious this was the real thing.
I was kind of excited, I mean, I was 6 days overdue so I was ready, but...this was not the best day to have this happen. That Saturday was the day of the big dance recitals for Tessa and Eden. The ones they had been practicing for for many months, the ones that require lots of time and makeup and hair-doing and costumes with many accessories, etc, etc.

I wasn't sure how we would get through the day exactly, and was busy forming plans in my head as I lay in bed--wondering if I should contact my friend who was on-call to do stage makeup and ballerina buns. But I decided to just take the day hour by hour, and see how things unfolded.

Maybe we could fit it all in? I was in no hurry to rush right to the hospital, that was for sure. I know it takes many hours to get to the point when that is necessary. Luckily my mom had come from Denver a few days before to help, so she could take over when and if we had to make a mad dash.

The contractions kept up, but they didn't stop me from functioning so we went about our morning, me pausing to breathe deeply whenever necessary. It came time to get Tessa ready for the 1pm recital. I did her costume, makeup, and hair, then we headed to the downtown performance hall--in two cars, with all of Eden's gear for her evening show, and also hospital bag, in tow. We felt okay about doing this because our hospital is literally a block from this particular recital hall--perfect, right? It would be very easy to get ourselves to a delivery room when the time came.

So we sat through the three-hour show, my contractions barely bothering me, and enjoyed Tessa's two numbers very much. She beamed and shined and immensely enjoyed performing on stage. (there she is, front and center)

There were still two hours until the evening recital that Eden was a part of (this studio has too many dancers to fit them all in one show, so they do two--would have been nice if they ended up in the same show). So we took a walk to Subway for dinner, then strolled through a downtown sculpture park. All that walking seemed to hurry things along, and I started timing contractions that were stronger and coming every 4-5 minutes.

We thought we better get ourselves closer to the hospital. So we walked back to the recital hall and transformed Eden (in the bathroom) so she was stage-ready. I'm still not thrilled with mascara on a five-year-old, or a nine-year-old for that matter, but it comes with the territory. 

We  quickly snapped some pictures and sent Eden backstage at about 6pm. Then we left Tyler, Tessa, and Ansley in Grandma's good watch Eden's part of the recital, then collect her and head home with the crew.

Tom and I got in the other car and drove one block to the downtown hospital where I was to deliver. So convenient. It worked our perfectly, other than the fact that we missed Eden dance in her first recital.

In retrospect we could have possibly stayed another hour to see her, but I really feel better when I am in a hospital to have a baby, and we didn't want to risk it. :)  We got to the hospital and through triage where they confirmed I was truly in labor, and was dilated to five centimeters. I was hoping for more after a whole day of this, but again it really was perfect that the labor was slow and steady to allow me to attend to other things during the day.

We were admitted and got settled into our room around 7:30pm I think. Things continued to progress. I did some walking of the halls, some bouncing on the birthing ball, and even some soaking in the jetted tub. Never done that during labor before...kind of nice.
And maybe it is TMI to post this pic, but I figured it’s no worse than a prego swimsuit picture at the pool…maybe?

The slow and steady theme continued, but in a few hours I was finally to eight cm, when they broke my water. That's always when the real fun begins for me. These contractions don't mess around. They were fast and furious for the next 30-ish minutes until it was time to push.

One of the nurses told us later about how she sees lots of new fathers bring gifts to the hospital for their wives, to give to them after the baby comes. Apparently the nurses call those "push presents." And let me tell you, if Tom and I subscribed to that tradition, I feel like I would have earned a mighty fine gift this time. The pushing felt a bit harder than previous deliveries, and took a little longer for some reason. But I know I am very blessed, because longer for me is still only about 25 minutes…I know, lucky me. (but I didn't feel lucky at the time, and didn’t hesitate to complain and whine plenty about it :)

For the record, I did have a period of weakness when it felt as if the baby would positively never come, and I wondered where to get some pain drugs.  Thank goodness for Tom by my side. He was a great support through my range of emotions.

And then, that much-anticipated moment... Every bit of effort was suddenly worth it and (nearly) forgotten at 10:38 pm, as I held my sweet BOY for the first time! The emotions of this experience were hard to contain then, and are hard to describe now.

I have been replaying that sequence of events over and over in my mind during the last 7 weeks--the exertion of pushing, the relief of the actual delivery, the realization that we had a boy!, and then euphoria as I immediately cradled to my chest that sweet, special little person. I am tearing up now as I relive it. I don't ever want to forget it.

I feel so grateful to have experienced this miracle no less than five times in my life.

This time in Iowa.

The note that Tessa wrote on my hospital room wipe board sums it up. This was a big day for our family. An amazing day to go down in our history books. We love Eli so much! It was super exciting to have a boy, after our string of girls. I could stare at and cuddle this guy all day. I love relearning how to care for a newborn, and dreaming about what he’ll become. Eli adds so much to our home. He reminds me to be patient and good, so I’m worthy to care for such an innocent soul. He reminds me why I love being a mother, and that I am so blessed. Even his cry is somehow angelic. Life doesn't get better than this.