Here's the story of Meredith's second sweet girl and her arrival in May of 2010. I get teary eyed at the part where she kisses Annabelle in the middle of the night before heading to the hospital - that's a moment I'm not looking forward to, myself! I share Meredith's worries about our other "baby" and how she'll handle the birth of our second, but I remember talking to Meredith after Clara was born and learning that Annabelle was adjusting very well. Her story gives me hope that all will be well at our house in June! I also LOVE the way Meredith writes about the misconceptions of the perfect natural birth which can often scare new mothers into believing they'll never bond with their babies. When she says her girls are well-adjusted and brilliant, she's being modest. Her girls are the greatest! Enjoy her second story.
Throughout this pregnancy, my biggest worry was my older daughter and what she would think when I abandoned her for a few days then brought home a new baby. It totally consumed me and I could cry just imagining what having a baby sister was going to do to her. Well, I hate to ruin the ending here, but she was fine. A OK. There was never a single problem with her being sad or crying -- the first time she saw her baby sister, she gave her hugs and kisses and loved her so much!
Okay - so on Mother's Day, I was 37 weeks pregnant and I was ready for the baby. I went to bed that night feeling incredibly restless, and I just had a feeling that it was the night. I even got up and paced around the house for an hour around 11 pm, and when I came back to bed, I brought a bath towel and laid it down under me. The minute I laid down, I felt a "pop" and a trickle. My water had broken! I woke up my husband and he immediately called in to work (yes, at midnight - that's the military for you) and then his mom, who immediately bought a plane ticket to arrive in DC at 7:30 the next morning! I texted my dear neighbor who was in charge of watching my older daughter and let her know that she wouldn't be getting much sleep in her own bed that night! I hopped in the shower, then came downstairs and ate a pbj sandwich. I was definitely having painful contractions. I started trying all the tricks I had read about, and deep low moaning seemed to help the most. Between each contraction, I'd run around making sure everything was set for my other older "baby" and finally got my neighbor to come over. By this point, I was a little out of it - zoned out - and I was using language that is unsuitable for repetition. haha.
I crept upstairs to kiss my daughter in her sleep, knowing that her life was getting ready to be changed forever. She would never again be the sole focus of my attention, from here out, she would be sharing her parents. My heart was aching as I closed her door behind me, hoping that she wouldn't be too confused when she woke up the next morning. (She ended up having a blast and my neighbor, of course, did what any mama would do for her mama friends and spoiled that girl rotten until Grandma got in later that morning).
It was a 30 minute ride to the hospital, but we made it in 20. Car contractions were NO FUN! By the time I was checked in and the nurse checked me at the hospital, I was convinced that I must be on the brink of delivery. Nope. 2 cm. I was ready to settle in for a long morning, but when the nurse took my blood pressure, that all came to a halt. It was HIGH. High enough that even my husband, who wanted me to have a VBAC just as much as I wanted to have one, said, "No way - showtime." When you're giving birth after having a c-section, you don't get a lot of leniency that you might get if you haven't had a c-section. Long story very, very short, my little darling arrived by C-section a little after 6 in the morning. How can I ever forget that shaky little cry? I was definitely less drugged during the procedure than I had been during my previous delivery, but immediately afterwards I begged to be knocked out (being awake during surgery caused me to have panic attacks both times). When I woke up, I was given my baby who was just perfect and tiny. Now that I am a few years out from the experience, I often consider if I have it in me to do it all again, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that, but I definitely wouldn't mind feeling that wave of joy from holding your baby for the first time!
Just as a side note: I have watched "The Business of Being Born" several times. I've read almost every book on the market about pregnancy and birth. While having a c-section was very hard on my body (I still don't feel like I have healed completely), I want to make it clear that it does NOT interfere with your ability to bond with your baby. I still had the moment of euphoria and the "high" that everyone shares in the natural childbirth books - it was just a little delayed! I was also able to exclusively nurse both of my babies until they started cereal at 5 months and they are both healthy, well-adjusted, brilliant kiddos. I think a lot of times in our quest to advocate for natural, drug-free birth (which I still think is the best way to birth), we can scare mothers who aren't able to have that experience. There's a misconception that you won't bond with your baby the "right" way. I humbly disagree. Thanks, Rachael, for the opportunity to tell our story!
I think Clara is about six weeks old in this picture, but it's one of the sweetest Mama/Baby pics I've ever seen! They are both so beautifully happy, aren't they? Thanks for sharing, Meredith!