Ben has not even been here a week, and I am still on such a high after bringing him into the world "the old-fashioned way."
After John's birth (failed induction --> c-section), I was depressed, uncertain, and I felt shafted in every way.
Since Ben's birthday, I have been so sure of myself as a mother and as a woman. As painful and hard as it was, I seriously count the moment when Ben was pulled out (11:59) as the greatest moment of my life. Euphoria.
I must warn you before you read on that this account will be fairly graphic as I want to remember details. I also hope that this story can serve as an encouragement to first timers who are scared to death to give birth. Don't be! For all you know, God may be writing the most beautiful story you've ever told through your birth experience. Here's mine.
Sunday, June 22 was a typical day. I don't remember much about the day actually except I was peeing approximately every five minutes. I also remember going to a sweet little girl's birthday party and having some light contractions throughout the day and evening.
My cousin, Chris, was staying with us awaiting the birth and prepared to take on responsibility of John when it was go-time. She was sleeping on our couch. My contractions became regular as soon as she went to sleep.
From 10pm-2am, my contractions were coming about ten minutes apart and were very bearable. I was able to breathe deeply and have Josh rub my back reaaaalllllllyyyy hard. I might even get a couple minutes of sleep in between. However, after 2am, they started coming 4-6 minutes apart. There was no rest and lots of back pain. I was also still peeing every few minutes. Every time I stood up, my contractions intensified. It was also during this time that I preferred to meet the pain of each contraction on my hands and knees. (I am now certain that I never experienced contractions during John's labor. Ouch.)
We decided to leave for the hospital at 6am after a short walk down our street. I was certain that we'd get sent home; I've always considered myself a wuss, so I deemed the L&D walk of shame a sure thing. We stopped at Starbucks because Josh needed coffee (read: I kept him up all night) and we arrived at the hospital at 6:18am. I waited downstairs in the lobby for Josh while he parked the car and denied the wheelchair when it was offered to me. We walked up to labor & delivery triage, which, for the record, is the WORST possible welcome place for laboring moms. I asked to pee (of course) as soon as I got there. That decision bought us a lot of time in the waiting room because a handful of "laboring" women arrived while I relieved myself. I will never forget the difference between laboring Ashley and these tough ladies. While I was struggling to breathe while filling out paperwork, they were talking, smiling, and laughing with their support person(s). High pain tolerance much?!
When we finally got the paperwork completed, I was escorted to a tiny room where I was given a hospital gown and a paper sheet to cover myself (the. worst.). My contractions had also slowed by this point and I was having a strong one about every 10-15 minutes. (The midwife on duty told me that they were 4 minutes apart, but I was certain that if I couldn't really feel them that they weren't producing much result). She checked me and said I was 1 cm. dilated and 60% effaced. That was a centimeter better than my 39 week appointment, but not quite good enough to keep me there. She agreed to monitor me for one hour and check for progress at that point. Josh was not yet in the triage room with me. Something I said in my delirium led the nurses to believe that I didn't want him there.
Eventually I asked for Josh and the hour wait (slowest of my life) was soon over. The midwife checked me and reported that I was still 1 cm. and would soon be heading home with Tylenol 3 and a sleep aid since contractions kept me awake all night. Josh then paid our $250 false alarm ER fee, (Rude.) and we prepared to get discharged.
The midwife noted some "variables" in our little one's heart rate patterns. She told us this was often indicative of low amniotic fluid, and if that was the case, we'd likely be admitted. We waited for 45 forevers (still regularly contracting) for an ultrasound to check on our babe. Indeed, my fluid was a tad (tiny bit) low, and I was admitted.
We left the triage area fully expecting a foley bulb induction (which I hear is horribly uncomfortable), but we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our L&D room that I'd dilated another centimeter! (I only made it to 1.5 cm. with John, so this was a victory: the most dilated I'd ever been!) This was around 11am if my memory serves. We were then told that I'd be starting Pitocin soon, and because I'm a wuss, I asked for the epidural in tandem with the killer-contraction drug.
Somewhere in this time, my mama arrived. I had been texting through the night with my little daily group text group: Mama, Calley & Lisa (though sista Calley was apparently comatose and we had to get Ricky to wake her up next day for her to even know I was in labor). Mama & Lisa both booked their plane tickets during the night - crazy girls!
Josh had gone to get himself & Mama some lunch when they came to start my epidural (1:11pm). The anesthesiologist also kicked Mama out of the room. I was struggling through contractions as she put it in place, and this was my first sign that I could mind-over-matter just about anything while giving birth. I concentrated. I relaxed myself. I didn't move a muscle as she stuck me mid-contraction.
Pitocin started (2pm).
Heavenly epidural rest.
Aunt Lisa arrived some time during the heavenly stage. (Thanks to Mandy who collected my family from the airport.)
I dilated from 2 to 7 practically in my sleep.
I literally could not believe that I was at 7cm (4pm). My former doctor told me my body was faulty, incapable. Obviously, I only sort of believed her.
When they told me I was 7 cm., I started getting really shaky. (I had gotten shaky & mildly itchy right after the epidural.) I also felt really weak. I think it was partly nerves that this thing might really happen, that in a few (several) hours, I might actually be pushing a baby out. WHAT?!
However, I was also informed somewhere in this window that it was possible that we were dealing with an infection. Chorioamnionitis. I had heard of it before because my friend, Mandy, was once a L&D nurse who was in labor for three days. She thought she might get it. She didn't. I did.
At this point, however, it was just a possibility. I was feverish. My little one's heart rate was sometimes funny, and my blood pressure suspect. They also were supposed to test my urine because of the fifty million times I'd peed the day before. Could've also been a UTI. No one ever tested my urine, though. Chorio was decidedly the diagnosis a few hours later.
Things get sort of foggy after this.
I. Was. Exhausted.
I was infected.
So much sweat.
Mama kept wetting a rag for me.
And then ....
The epidural wore off some.
Annnnnnd Pitocin contractions of death.
These babies were off the charts. Also? Pressure. (This was the most surprising thing about laboring to me - the length of time that the pressure lasts.) I sort of freaked out. Tense. Crying out in pain. Oh, and I shushed everybody (throughout the whole thing, but who cares? I also *spoiler alert* pushed out a nine pound baby so they all let that one slide).SHHHHHH!
During these death contractions, I was sitting up in my bed, bearing my weight on my hands, and I accidentally screwed up my IV (which was in my right wrist).
I begged for more epidural. Loudly.
I think her name was Janet (new anesthesiologist). The angel who rescued me with more epidural.
And then. My favorite nurse, AJ, rescued me by turning OFF the Pitocin because my contractions were strong enough without it. Praise be to Jesus.
She also came very swiftly after savior Janet gave me a fresh dose of epidural to remove and redo IV (where said fresh dose was coming in). After blowing two veins, a special IV guru lady came in and placed it in the crook of my left arm. I also began getting an antibiotic to treat my infection.
At this point, AJ saw that I needed coaching. I was very interested in taking a zen sort of birthing class, but it was way out of our budget, so Josh and I just decided to wing it (how we do). Thankfully, God hears, and I'd been praying for these nine months for a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean), so he gave me the most awesome nurse to ever live. Amen.
Over the next couple-a ?? few ?? hours, AJ coached me into multiple positions to improve the position of my big baby (note: move. him. down.). At first, I was on my back with both knees in the air. My family members gently moved me knees from side to side. (I have no idea why, but this felt so good.) This was when I achieved total relaxation a.k.a. beast mode laboring woman status. I made the nurse cry. I have never felt so bad-ass in the whole of my life (excuse my language - I really don't cuss, but I feel there is no other word in the English language to describe what I did with the help of my family and my awesome nurse).
AJ then advised me to get on my knees and drape my arms over the bed. It was at this point that I knew I was going to poop during labor. Earlier in the day, my nurse had told me that when she was laboring, she tried to hold in the poop (because she had a crush on her doctor, but that's not at all important to the story;). Her nurse finally told her she was gonna have to let it go and poop if she wanted the baby out. I took that anecdote to heart and spent the whole of the evening pushing out a generous amount of poop. (Like I said, TMI, but this is childbirth, folks.)
Finally, I laid on my side while someone held up my leg for me when I felt the urge to push. I was
A very pushy doctor was on call on the busy evening of June 23. He was ready to get the baby out or cut me, which ever came first. He gave me the deadline of 12:30am. I wanted to kill him. At this point, c-section was not in my vocabulary. It was time to push a massive baby OUT.
Mama and Josh held my legs. Pushy doctor counted. I always only made it to ten on the first push. Second, third, fourth, I'd push until a good seven and doc would sigh heavily when I quit. I heard his disappointment, but I didn't take it to heart. I only heard Josh's affirmation. I was a wicked good pusher pushing on barely any sleep. (Oxygen mask also.)
Then Josh said these words to me: "I can see the head."
I was skeptical. My response?: "Can you really?"
I pushed with all I had.
The resident delivering our child cut me.
It seemed like several cuts were made.
I remember looking at my mama with fear in my eyes.
I realized an episiotomy was had.
Mama looked at me and mouthed, "It's ok."
And it was.
There was blood & lots of it.
Josh was still vertical.
(I have no idea how long I pushed. It was a looooooonnnnng time and AJ had told me earlier in the day to push when I felt like it. So push I did. All evening long; we had a big baby to move down.)
When our baby was out and thrust upon my stomach, there has literally never been a better feeling.
I was just cut and the room looked like a crime scene, but I felt wonderful.
It was hazy and dreamlike wonderful.
I remember placing my hand on its bloody back.
"It's a boy!" Josh announced almost immediately.
(Josh cut the cord. He did awesome. Almost as good as me.)
I honestly could care less about the gender at that moment. "It" was out.
(Not until I was sitting on the toilet with my nurse's assistance did it hit me that I was a mom of boys, a pair, two of a kind, brothers. Wow.)
My baby boy arrived feverish like his mama, but I got to hold him first *insert proud mama smile* and for just a few seconds because I was being stitched up. I handed him over to Daddy because I didn't want to accidentally throw him or something while I was in pain. (Something I want to remember: the warm water they poured on me after birth just prior to stitching was heavenly.)
The pediatric team whisked my boy away to the Special Care Nursery soon after he was born. It is still on my labor and delivery bucket list (yes, I hope to do this again) to push out my baby and nurse him immediately.
He would spend the next five days receiving antibiotics in our hospital's Special Care Nursery.
He latched both sides perfectly in the SCN in the wee hours of June 24, 2014. And the angels sang.
Benjamin Joseph Beam was born at 11:59pm on Monday, June 23, 2014. (He's very last minute like his parents.)
He weighed 9 lbs. even. He was 21 3/4 inches long. Head circumference: 37 cm. (Translation: He is huge.)
We thank God for our big healthy boy. These are my first thoughts, my scribble-it-down-lest-you-forget version. (Note: I wrote the majority of this in June.) I reserve the right to come back and make some additions as I remember more details. I also want to write more about our 5-day experience with the hospital. It was crazy, but it is our story and we love it.
Ben, my second born, is my treasure.
He is such a good boy.
Josh's words describe my transition to two (my transition with Ben, son of my right hand) perfectly: "I don't remember you being this happy."
Oooooh, Benji Bear, Mama loves you.