Friday, July 11, 2014

Look What We Did - Surprise Edition!

Our sweet boy is HERE and we can't believe it!  He arrived 18 days early and was just as excited to get here as his sisters were.  I'm so grateful that this labor was nearly identical to our first two labors, if for nothing else than the predictability of knowing what happens next.  I've been spending the last two days staring at his sweet face, snuggling his freshly birthed skin, and trying to contemplate the miracle that is life.  When a baby is born, all I can think about is how that tiny little thing was just on the inside and now, they're on the outside.  Almost the same as his inside self, here he is!  Amazing.  His birth story is full of fun, too, so here it comes, without further ado:

On Wednesday, July 9th, I woke up early, got the girls ready for the day, packed my lunch and headed into my classroom.  I felt a little guilty for planning to spend the day there instead of spending it with them, but it had to be done!  My Mom met me at school and we worked, worked, worked all day long to set up and unpack my classroom.  Looking back, I realize now that I had that nervous energy that comes before a baby.  I couldn't sit still, I was moving a mile a minute, and I probably did a little more heavy lifting than I should have (but hey, at 37.5 weeks, who cares, right?).  Mom got up on the ladder to hang decorations while I loaded my bookshelves and organized some materials.  We got a TON done.  When we left, we decided to meet for dinner at Lunken Airport since Sylvain was working that evening and it was a nice night to sit outside.

While we ate dinner, Sylvia commented that it was a "girl party, no boys allowed!"  I'm glad we got one last girl party in before the boy arrived!  Dinner wasn't as good as it usually is there, and on the way home I was feeling...gross.  I was driving and I started to notice that the upset stomach and gassiness was sort of...coming and a contraction...hmmm.  I was also losing patience with the girls in the back seat and I *may* have been the world's meanest mommy while we sat in traffic to get home.  I still wasn't sure if I was in labor, but I knew I had to get the girls to bed and get them out of my way so I could start paying more attention to my body.

In order to speed up our bedtime routine, I let the girls have a dance party in Sylvia's room.  This was a treat because I let her turn on her clock radio, which is usually a no-no, and we danced to whatever songs came on.  I sat on the floor with my hands on my belly while the girls danced in tutus around me.  It was a really special few minutes and I'll never forget it!  Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than the Sun" came on, which is the song I used for Margot's one-year video.  I forced myself to stand up, hold their hands and dance for real.  I know I looked like a lunatic, but their faces lit up and we spun around in circles and laughed and laughed and laughed, then we all collapsed into a pile of hugs and kisses.  It was a good way to end the dance party and a heck of a good way to start labor!  We brushed our teeth, took our medicine and vitamins, read our books, sang our lullabies and went to BED.  I was hoping to go to bed myself to see if the contractions would stop.  No dice!

I started timing them around 8:00.  For 30 minutes they were about 5 minutes apart, but they still weren't really painful, just noticeable and wave-like.  I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees, letting my belly hang loose and that was comfortable for a while.  Around 8:30 or so I decided I should probably start making phone calls.  Mom had already sent me a text, so I replied and told her I was having contractions.  Then Sylvain sent me a text to check in on us and I told him, too!  I never thought I'd tell them via text, but that's just the way it worked.  Between 8:30 and 9:00 things start to get fuzzy for me, but for the most part, here's what happened.

I called Mom first, just to tell her what was happening and let her tell me that I'm not crazy.  I was still in doubt because it was so early and I didn't want to call Sylvain at work for false labor!  I decided to time a few more before I called him, but by the time I called him at 9:00, he was already leaving work, thank goodness!  He parks his car across the bridge from the Great American Ball Park, so he had to leave his post at the suites and walk across the bridge before he could even start driving home!  I told him to call me when he got to his car and I'd tell him whether or not to come home or meet me at the hospital.  My next call was to Mom to say, "Yup, this is it!  Get over here, please."  

Next I called the midwives and the STUPID answering service for the hospital asked me the name of my provider.  Remember how I switched at 32 weeks pregnant?  I hadn't even met them all yet and I had NO IDEA what any of their names were!  That was another sign that I was probably in real labor.  I was very confused about the whole thing and I had to look up their website on the iPad to find their names.  Next I called my cousin, Gina, and asked her to come to my house and sit with the girls so Mom could take me to the hospital.  I figured that would be faster than waiting for Sylvain to get home and I wanted Mom there anyway, so it all worked out!  I spoke to the midwife at 9:15 and told her we'd be at the hospital by 10:00 at the latest.  Gina showed up, as excited as ever to be a part of the birth story and I was SO grateful that she lives so close!  When Mom arrived I said, "Take me to the hospital," so that's what she did!  I called Sylvain in the car and told him to go straight there.  He was excited and nervous - I could hear it in his voice.  I cried when I told him, "We're having a baby!"

The drive to the hospital was no fun.  I'm convinced that car contractions are the WORST THING EVER TO HAPPEN TO A PERSON EVER.  All I remember is that I had three contractions in the car.  We were listening to the Reds game on the radio and during a contraction I learned that Brandon Phillips injured his hand.  The announcers were very concerned about this and were trying to convey that Brandon Phillips was in quite a bit of pain on the field.  I did not feel sorry for him.  I was actually a little bit grateful to be hearing that someone else was also in pain.  Is that terrible or what?

Sylvain was waiting at the front door, in full Reds employee attire, which made me laugh.  When we got to triage, the nurse asked, "Are you Trish's patient?"  I said, "Yes."  She said, "You can skip this part, we'll take you to your room."  WAHOO!!!  I was so glad.  The nurse who walked us to our room asked if we wanted them to start filling the birthing tub, which sounds lovely when you're not in labor but for me, personally, it sounds awful once I'm working through contractions - besides, it takes so long to fill it up that I knew there wouldn't be time anyway.  We got to our room and that's when we really got down to business! 

The nurses put the monitors on and I worked my way through a few more serious contractions.  I sat cross legged for a while and held Sylvain's hand.  I was surprised at how many changes my body was going through from one contraction to the next.  The wave would come, I'd get nervous and groany and worried, then the wave would go and I'd get HOT and THIRSTY.  We got into quite a rhythm of contraction...water...backrub...contraction...and so on.  At one point I decided to talk through a contraction instead of groan and that really helped.  I just kind of narrated what it felt like and that made it seem not as bad.  The midwife checked me around 10:15 and told me I was 7cm.  This was a turning point for me because I had a lot to say about 7cm.  7cm is a special time!  I knew the next 3cm would be awful and there would be a lot of pain and screaming before the night was over.  I didn't want any more pain so I cried, felt like a failure, and asked for an epidural.  Silly, I know, but I didn't care.  Sylvain said, "Rach, you don't need it!" and the midwife put her hands on my knees, looked me in the eyes and said, "Listen.  I will not deny you an epidural.  But I can tell you that it won't be here in time.  This baby will be born in the next 30 to 40 minutes."  That was exactly what I needed to hear.  I wiped away my tears and thought, "FINE!  I can do anything for 30 to 40 minutes.  Let's do it."  (Looking back, I noticed that I did the exact same thing with the girls' labors.  This is a textbook labor moment!  Transition.  7cm.  Plea for an epidural.  That means you're really close!)

Eventually I had the urge to get on my hands and knees again, so I turned around and leaned against the back of the bed.  That felt a hundred times better and that's where I spent the next few contractions.  I was here when my voice went from low groaning to high pitched and shaky - time to have a baby!  The midwife asked if I wanted to deliver like that and I thought I did, but I knew I wanted the baby skin-to-skin immediately and that's hard to do when you're backwards.  I turned around and got ready to push.

Mom had to leave the room while I was pushing.  Things got pretty intense and it's hard for her to see me in that much pain.  I'm surprised Sylvain holds up as well as he does, honestly.  I know he got a little queasy during Sylvia's birth, but for the last two he was as steady as can be!  I'd pass out myself if I didn't have to do the pushing!  For the first push, the midwife told us she could see the head and that he had hair!  This was very motivating, but disappointing because when that contraction was over, he was still on the inside and I was still hurting!  She said if I could really bear down with the next one, he'd be out.  I took a few deep breathes, got into the "low growl-y bear" mindset and pushed as best as I could.  I remember being disappointed when that contraction was over because I felt like we weren't done yet, so I just kept pushing.  He was very close.  I thought I was dying.  More screaming.  One more contraction.  One more God-awful, searingly painful, please-let-this-be-over push....and there he was, at 10:58 pm!  When his head and shoulders were out, the midwife said, "You can grab him, he's all yours!" So I did!  I grabbed him and lifted him and laid him on my chest and I CRIED AND CRIED!  Such relief.  All I could say was, "Oh....thank God!  Ohhh....he's here! he is!  Oh...thank God!" Sylvain was smiling.  It was a remarkably happy moment!

And then there's this:
Forgive me for getting too graphic, but there's this special time right after a baby is born and before they cut the cord or before the placenta is delivered.  For a few special moments, that baby is technically still inside AND outside.  You can see him, you can count his fingers and toes and hear him cry, but you can feel him inside and out.  It's a primal, spiritual, Mama-only place.  The only two people who have been through the drama of birth get to have a special place together before the rest of the world rushes in.  It's like a little holding room.  A little bubble for the two of us, where all is right and nothing is wrong.  Some women say this is the moment that makes them forget the pain.  I'll never forget the pain, but instead I think this is the moment that makes the pain worth while and meaningful.  It's the reason I've done this three times without getting scared.  It's three of the most powerful moments of my life!

After Albert was born, there was calm and peace in the room.  Mom came back and we all cried a little together.  The midwife and nurses were busy doing something, but they weren't in our way or asking us any questions.  After a little while, they asked Sylvain to cut the cord.  They did his APGAR right on my chest and said I could have him as long as I wanted before they took him to be weighed.  After they weighed him, they tucked him back into my nightgown for some skin-to-skin and ohhhhhh my goodness, that was heaven.  That's where we stayed for over an hour.  He rooted around a tried to eat a little.  Mom and Sylvain sat by us and stared at him, trying to decide who he looks like (jury's still out, by the way).

We stayed there for a long time until they moved us into another room (we could have stayed in that room, but they were expecting more mamas that night and wanted the tub room to be available.)  It worked out well for us because we've been in a nice, quiet room at the end of a hallway.  The nurses have been amazing and Albert has been doing very well!  He's eating every 2-3 hours and letting us sleep just a little.  Yesterday he met his sisters and grandparents (pictures to follow!) and today we get to go home!  It's been an amazing, surprising and blessed 48 hours!

Welcome, sweet boy!  We are so glad you're here!

Here are Margot's and Sylvia's birth stories.  It's kind of fun to look at all three!  Also, Sylvain tells me I pushed a good 4 or 5 times with Albert. I only remember three, so he's clearly lying.


Jenn Eiben said...

You brought tears to my eyes!!! Good job mama! I know what you mean about that 7cm mark, glad you pushed through it...literally!

Jennifer said...

You are my hero. What a beautiful, amazing, inspirational birth story yet again. Congratulations Mama!

Maria said...

Welcome baby Albert! You are such a lucky boy to have Sylvia and Margot as your big sisters! Can't wait to meet him!! Congratulations to all of you! :) Ms. Maria and the preschool staff

Michelle said...

That is beautiful! I know what you mean about that wonderful moment...congratulations!