Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are You Kidding Me?!?...Again?!?

Time is always moving forward...Evan is no longer a tiny newborn who needs to sleep with Mommy in bed each night. He's a roly-poly infant, sitting up on his own and even starting to crawl when one day I'm watching that horrible reality show, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. It occurs to me that one of the situations in the story is oddly similar to my own and I get a nagging thought in my head that I just can't shake. I convince hubby that I need to take another pregnancy test and though we both sort of think I'm being silly, he buys one for me.

After Evan was born, hubby and I were in complete agreement that three children was the limit for us. This is not because we don't love having children, but for all the other "real world" reasons that people limit family size. The cost of raising children is immense and when we're busy raising the funds to do so, it limits the amount of time that we have to dedicate to enjoying our kids and making life enjoyable for them.

So I'm kind of freaking out taking this test and I'm so nervous that I can't even bring myself to stick around for the results. Thankfully my brave hubby once again steps in to save the day and reads the test for me. At first, he's certain it's negative, but then reconsiders and realizes that it seems to be a positive test after all. By now, I'm learning to trust my women's/mommy intuition when it comes to these odd notions...

Eventually, I confirm the test with a digital result and now we're wrapping our heads around the idea of having yet another baby. It's tough to analyze all the the plans that will need to be altered and ways in which life might be different than we planned. But sooner rather than later, I'm able to put my faith in knowing that somehow this was meant to be for us and realize that this unexpected child will bring even more love to our family.

The months pass and the anticipation grows about who this new little person is going to be. I have my anatomy scan in February and we once again have the ultrasound technician write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope. This time, our plan is to have Katelyn and Trevor open the envelope and find out (at the same time as us) whether they're getting a little sister or little brother. I'm super excited and rooting for Team Pink, when Katelyn reveals that it is, in fact, another little boy! I almost expected as much, despite my desire to even out the ranks, and poor Katelyn starts to cry. We console her by reminding her that she holds the special place of being our only little girl and that she'll have three brothers to protect her and stand up with her in the future. Eventually, she gets over the shock of being the only girl and seems to enjoy the thought of a new little one on the way.

It's at this time that I transfer my care from my regular obstetrician office, which has seen me through all my prior pregnancies, to a homebirth nurse midwife. It's such a wonderful experience, having her come to see me for the appointments and talking to her for an hour at each appointment instead of feeling rushed to get in and get out!

As I finish the 8th month of my pregnancy, I make sure that all my supplies are together. I've decided that I want to use a birthing pool to deliver the baby and I choose all the people whom I'd like to invite to the birth. I want someone dedicated to taking pictures and video. I want my mom there to watch the other kids and I have a friend who is training to be a doula who volunteers to be present to do whatever I need her to do. This will allow my husband to focus on this experience with me and see me through it.

Everything is in order and now we're just waiting. Finally I reach full-term at 37 weeks. My midwife comes to see me on that day and because I have a history of being dilated early on, she offered to do a pelvic exam to see what my starting point is (if I do go in to labor between now and the next appointment). She says I'm not dilated, but I am about 50% effaced and the baby is quite low. Essentially, whenever he decides he's ready, the stage is set for labor! How exciting!! 

About an hour after she leaves, I start getting some cramping. I know this is normal following an exam and so I don't worry about it. It goes on all day and gets to the point where I can feel the contractions pulling on my pelvis (a very weird sensation). I'm not really in pain and although the contractions are at times only about 5 minutes apart, they don't get stronger or closer together, so again, I try to ignore them.

I go to bed and throughout the course of the night, I am awakened several times by contractions. Obviously they are strong enough to wake me up, but they're not so bad that I really think something major is going on. I do begin to wonder how long contractions typically last when they're triggered by an exam and I decide I should call the midwife at a decent hour in the morning. I plan to ask if she wants to come back to see if I've dilated at all.

Sometime mid-morning, I call her and find out she's going to be in my area around 3:00 pm that day. I don't want to inconvenience her for what is likely a non-urgent issue and so I tell her that should be fine to come and check me at that point. Hubby is at work and is convinced that these contractions are insignificant. Throughout the morning, I do my normal stuff with the kids and the house and notice that the contractions are a little bit more intense and are varying from 3 minutes to 10 minutes apart. When I lie down on the couch and rest for about an hour and a half, they slow down to about 20 minutes apart. Finally, Evan goes to bed for the afternoon and I relax again, but now the contractions are distracting to me. I've been timing them all morning, but now I really feel like they've got my attention. By the time Evan gets up from his nap at about 2:30, I realize I'm probably not going to be able to handle my parenting duties while feeling this way.

My midwife happens to call to tell me she's running a little behind and won't be arriving until about 4:15. I explained to her that I am beginning to think that maybe I am actually in labor but that I think I'll be okay until she gets here. I mention that I am going to call hubby and ask him to come home from work just a little early to help me out with the kids. She says she'll see me soon. I text my doula friend to let her know that I am having contractions, but that I don't know for sure if I'm in labor. I just want to give her a heads-up on the situation. I then call hubby and ask him to come home a little early and he says he'll be home as soon as he can.

Hubby gets home around 3:30 and because I've been busy contracting all day, the house is a mess. He proceeds to start cleaning while I stand around timing contractions. The kids are all still doing their normal stuff around me. At one point, I'm kneeling on the floor in front of the couch on which Katelyn is sitting. I'm swaying back and forth, waiting out the contraction and she leans over and tells me it's gonna be okay and rubs my back a little. If I hadn't been in pain in that moment, I would've liked to have given her a hug right then; she was so sweet!

About 10 minutes after 4:00, I text my doula friend to let her know that I think she ought to come over. Yes, I'd finally reached the point where I was sure I was in labor! I have hubby call the midwife again, because where the hell is she? and why is she not here with me? (I'm starting to get a wee bit emotional)... As it turns out, because it is Friday afternoon and the beginning of rush hour, she is stuck in traffic on the highway. She says she'll be there soon.

I tell hubby that he'd better put some water in the bathtub for me as it dawns on me there's not a chance I'm going to be able to use the birth pool in this situation! I change into my bathing suit top and he helps me into the tub. I haven't yet sat down in the water (I'm standing there sort of awkwardly trying to figure out how I'm going to get my belly under the water in a regular-sized bathtub when I haven't been able to do anything but stand or kneel during contractions...) because I hear the doorbell ring. I wonder if it's the doula or the midwife. I'm shouting, "Who is it? Who's here?" while waiting in the tub, but I get no answer. So I continue to stand there. In another minute, I hear the door open again and I also hear hubby say that I'm in the bathroom, so I deduce that the midwife has finally arrived at 4:30!

She comes into the bathroom, where I'm still standing in the tub. Somehow it never occurs to me that perhaps I should've opted for a shower instead of filling the tub, but I've got other things to consider now. She listens to the baby's heartrate with her doppler and pronounces him healthy. Then she checks me to see how far I've progressed and she informs me that I'm completely dilated. In a way, I'm shocked that the hard part is already over...yet another part of me already knew this to be true.

She calls for hubby who turns the childcare over to the doula and he joins us in the bathroom. The midwife asks him if he'd like to catch the baby and though we hadn't discussed it previously, he agreed to do it immediately! So she sat back and let us go to work.

Before I started to push, I had a few last-minute thoughts pass through my mind. The first was that I hadn't yet gotten my maternity photos taken; they were scheduled for the next week. The second was whether or not the bathtub had been cleaned recently - hubby assures me he's done a decent job of cleaning it in the last few days.

Out loud, but speaking to myself, I say, "Okay, well then I guess there's nothing left to do here but have this baby." The midwife asked if I wanted to feel the baby's head - I reached down and indeed, his head was right there, but a soft bubble was in front of it because my bag of waters had not yet broken. With the first push, my water broke. With my second push, his head was delivered and hubby removed the nuchal cord which was wrapped around his neck once. With my final push, the rest of his body was delivered and hubby pulled him out of the water and was holding him. He placed our baby on my chest for me to hold and I was amazed that he was finally here, though it all went so quickly!  Levi Jacob arrives at 37 weeks and 1 day gestation. It is 4:53 pm on June 24, 2011. He has red hair, blue eyes and weighs 6 lbs, 8 1/2 ounces and is 19 1/2 inches long. I am SO in love with this baby!

After hubby cut the cord, the midwife took over while hubby held little Levi. Once we finished in the bathtub, she helped me to my bed and hubby brought the baby back to me once I was settled. This was such a calm and intimate experience compared to my previous births. If I could go back in time, I'd deliver all of my babies at home!

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