Benjamin’s Birth Story

A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails h[is] scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’s love by a different name.
–from The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

You were born on a Tuesday.  On Monday, I had made arrangements with my boss to work from home until you were born.  I can’t remember why now, but it doesn’t matter, since you had other plans.

Monday night, I sent Daddy out to get Chick-Fil-A for dinner after Maggie went to bed.  I stayed home watching TV upstairs.  I felt a contraction and looked at the clock: 8:24.  I felt another one about 4 minutes later.  Daddy got home just before 9 and I ate dinner while we talked.  Around 10:15 or so, I told him I should probably lay down and drink some water to see if the contractions stopped, so I went into our room.  I used an app on my phone to time the contractions.  By 10:45, I was pretty sure they were the real thing – 3-5 minutes apart and 45-60 seconds apiece.

I called the nurse line and told them what was happening.  The advice nurse said, “Oh, with your second baby, we usually like you to call when the contractions are six minutes apart.”  I said, “Well, they started out at four minutes apart, so here we are.”  She called the hospital and they agreed it was time to come in.  I was not nearly as uncomfortable as I was when we headed to the hospital with Maggie, so I assumed we were in for a long labor.

We called Kelly and she came over to spend the night with Maggie.  We called Grandma and Papa, who had just arrived home in Philadelphia after landing at the airport in Washington, DC – they had opted not to come over after they landed at 5:30, and at that point there was no reason to think they needed to.  Grandma hopped in her car to make the drive back to DC.  We called Daddy’s parents on the way to the hospital.

Daddy dropped me off at the entrance to the hospital around 11:45.  I waited for him in the lobby while he parked the car.  I was still pretty comfortable even during contractions, even though I could tell they were closer together and stronger.  Daddy and I took the elevator up to Labor & Delivery and I didn’t need a wheelchair this time.  There was almost no one there, so they put me in a labor room instead of triage.  At around 1:30, the doctor walked in and guess what?  It was Dr. Kelly, the same doctor who delivered Maggie!  I was so happy to see her; we loved her last time and I was so thankful that she might be the one to deliver you, too.  You just needed to get here before 8am Tuesday morning when her shift was over.

When the doctor checked me, I was only at a 3, so they didn’t officially admit me (which was great, because it meant I could eat or drink whatever I wanted), though that was basically a formality.  They unhooked me from all the monitors and suggested I walk to help you along, so Daddy and I made several laps around the L&D floor.

I was still feeling great.  In fact, on the first lap, I told Daddy that I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was given how close the contractions were, and that maybe I could do without an epidural this time.  Ha!  By about the third lap, I was having to stop and lean forward against the wall and and bounce up and down to get through the pain.  I knew then that I would need the epidural, but this time I didn’t bother to feel bad about it!

After about 30 minutes of walking, we went back to the room.  The nurse checked me again and I was at a 4, so they officially admitted me.  Grandma arrived a little after 2, and it was so great to have her there, and it meant that Daddy could relax a little and try to rest before things got serious.  Turns out we wouldn’t have that much time, though.

I told the nurse I wanted the epidural and she said I needed IV fluids first, and that began a whole stressful period where two different nurses tried everything they could to get an IV in me and actually stuck me three different times in three different places with no luck.  At one point I cried to Grandma that I was scared they wouldn’t be able to get a line in and then I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural at all.  I was in a lot of pain during the contractions and was pretty scared of labor without an epidural.

Finally, finally they were able to get a line in and start the fluids around 4.  Because I was so uncomfortable and because it was going to be a little while before the anesthesiologist could come by, they gave me some pain medicine in my IV.  That was amazing.  I thought my contractions had stopped, that’s how well the meds worked.  They did make me feel a little drunk, though.  I closed my eyes and rested, but I don’t think I ever actually fell asleep.  Daddy was the same – rested but not asleep.

Around 5am, just as the IV pain meds had worn off, every laboring mother’s best friend arrived: the anesthesiologist.  The epidural went in with no problem – it was so much smoother than it was with Maggie, thank goodness!  I again tried to rest, but didn’t have much luck.

Around 6:20, my water broke and then there was just constant pressure.  At 6:45, the doctor checked me and I was complete!  I couldn’t believe it.  With Maggie, my water also broke shortly after the epidural, but then I still had to wait 10 or 11 hours before I could start pushing.

The doctor told me I could push whenever I felt the urge, so I think we started around 7.  Daddy and the nurse helped, but you were really just ready – I think it only took pushing through 3 or 4 contractions before you were here.  Right after I finished pushing on contraction 3 or 4, the doctor turned away from me for some reason.  All of a sudden, I felt you sliding out and I yelled, “He’s coming!”  And the doctor spun around so fast and put her hands out just in time to catch you!  11 hours and 11 minutes after my first contraction, here you were; I couldn’t believe it.

They put you right on my chest, and Daddy and I were both crying, and you were crying, and it was just perfect (and so were you).  They cleaned you off and put your hat on and Daddy cut your cord and you nursed like a champ from the get go.  There are no words, my sweet boy, to tell you just how happy we were to finally have you safe in our arms.  We love you so, so much.

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