I'm sitting here with Ben sleeping in his sling against my chest and Jack napping in his room and I'm keenly aware of how blessed we are. I'm tired. I'm still in a little bit of pain. I'm a little overwhelmed at the thought of having two kids, owning and running a small business and having a full time job. But more than anything, I'm thankful.
This account is LONG. But it's for me. And hopefully Ben someday. I want to remember every detail and it's already started to fade. And I want him to know that we were beyond excited on the day he arrived. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I don't have the energy to re-read everything that I wrote below, so please excuse the typos and poor grammar that you might see along the way.
I honestly could not have asked for a better labor and delivery than I had with Ben. I still CANNOT believe I went into labor on my own. To be even more honest, I can't believe we got pregnant on our own at all! I wonder if I'll ever stop being amazed at that.
Anyway, here's how it all went down . . .
Tuesday, September 22
9 AM - Noon
I worked all morning at camp. I felt so tired and a little nauseous. I was having these pesky gas pains on and off. It had not even occurred to me at any point during the morning that I was having contractions. Not even for a minute.
I went to pick up Jack who was with Kelsey at home. They were playing outside, and I took Jack into the house to change his shoes and to respond to a few e-mails. While I was sitting there at the computer, it hit me that I had been having these waves of "gas pains" periodically throughout the morning. But honestly, I knew that any thoughts of these being contractions were merely wishful thinking.
Jack and I met Kyle at camp for lunch. When he came to help me get Jack out of the car for lunch, I asked him, "Do you have everything done for the weekend that you need to get done? I'm thinking you should try and finish up today instead of planning on working on it tomorrow."
As the words left my mouth, I realized how ridiculous I sounded. I wasn't going to go into labor on my own. That just doesn't happen to me. My body doesn't do things it should do naturally. Later, Kyle told me he was thinking the same thing. We've learned to be skeptical of anything that comes easily or naturally, I suppose.
During lunch, I felt these pains twice more, but they weren't bad enough that anyone really knew I was having them.
We took Jack home for his nap. Kyle put him down so that I could take a nap. I laid down and rested for about 30 minutes and felt nothing. Kyle went back to camp to work, and I went to work as I normally do from home every afternoon. I felt nothing else. I went to the bathroom and soon after, well . . . um, confirmed that it was just gas. I think I even blogged that night that I thought I was in labor, but I wasn't.
Kyle came home and we decided that we were going to get pumpkins for our front porch and then grab dinner at the Beach Bar. We bought $30+ worth of pumpkins (not even kidding . . . I went a little overboard) and headed to the Beach Bar. It was CLOSED and we had to settle for McDonalds. I was so bummed. I kept having little twinges, but didn't think it amounted to anything.
In retrospect, I feel a little dumb for not realizing it sooner because by this point, the "gas pains" were enough to make me have to stop and breathe through them.
We returned home and Kyle put Jack to bed and I went to work . Even though I knew I wasn't in labor, I had it in the back of my head that I needed to get EVERYTHING done just in case. I eventually came up to bed and couldn't fall to sleep. So, I decided that if I couldn't sleep, I might as well get stuff done. In retrospect, I think my nesting instinct was kicking it in to high gear, because I was picking everything up, cleaning, starting laundry, etc.
Wednesday, September 23
It was at this point that I started timing what I was realizing were, in fact, contractions. I almost woke Kyle up, because they were starting to get really painful but I thought it was silly for both of us to be up. I downloaded an iphone app to help me time them. It was really handy. They were about 8 - 12 minutes apart. I figured they'd probably be that far apart until Thursday night when I was scheduled to be induced.
I was up editing pictures, working on cards, etc. until about 3:30, when I finally came up and went to bed.
I slept for three hours until Jack woke us up. The contractions were getting MUCH stronger, but were still about 8 - 10 minutes apart. I called triage just to let them know and the midwife said to call when they were about 5 minutes apart. Jodi was scheduled to watch Jack that morning, so we decided to go into work.
About a half hour before Jodi came, the contractions really intensified. So, we decided to pack up our bags and get breakfast and then head to Ann Arbor and shop until they were close enough to go to the hospital. We live an hour from the hospital, so we didn't want to be too far away if they started to get worse. At this point, I still honestly thought we'd come home that night because I wouldn't make any progress.
I was in total denial.
We went to camp to take care of a few things and I stayed in the car because the contractions were getting so strong. This is the point that we probably should have headed right to the hospital.
We went to Bob Evans for breakfast and I asked to be seated far away from people. So, so glad I did. As we were waiting to have our order taken, the contractions kicked up a notch. It was painful, but the cinnamon stuffed pancakes were worth it. Seriously.
Our plan was to head to Target next, but as we were leaving, I sat down on a bench while I was waiting for Kyle to come out of the bathroom and was kind of writhing in pain. When he came out, I made the pronouncement: "It's time."
The contractions were about 5 minutes apart at this point. We called triage and began the longest drive of my life. I will never drive to Ann Arbor again without thinking about that trip. Lucky for us, Kyle got behind a police car who was going at a good pace and followed him most of the way. We made it there faster than usual.
When we got there, I was having contractions every 2 - 3 minutes. Just walking started a contraction. I don't know why we chose to just park in the parking structure, but we did. I think I think I just wanted to be able to use the "laboring mother" parking spaces that I had envied for so long. The walk through the lobby to the elevator was painful and embarrassing. Let's just say the people were staring at the woman who was hunched over every few steps. I refused the wheelchair, but Kyle finally insisted. By the time we got to triage, I just braced myself on a chair for a minute and they got me back to a room pretty quickly. I changed and they checked me and announced, "You're at 8."
Um, excuse me? 8? As in 2 cm from completely dilated? I had still been in total denial. I thought for sure that they'd tell me that I was at 1 or 2 and I had a long road ahead of me.
By this time, the contractions were horrible. Awful. Worse than I remember with Jack. Writhing is the only word to describe my condition. They wheeled my bed from triage into a room and it got worse. And worse. And worse. In retrospect, I'm embarrassed. I wasn't mean or vulgar or anything. But I was loud. It was so, so bad. It turns out that natural contractions are not, in fact, less intense than those with pitocin. More gradual, maybe. But they were WAY worse this time around.
Any question I had about whether or not to have an epidural was erased from my mind. It was no longer an option. It was necessary. I'm not even sure what I would have done without it. As soon as I had it, my blood pressure was no longer in the dangerous range, and I was able to concentrate a little better on the task ahead of me. We got to the hospital at noon or so and I think Ben would have arrived at about 1:00 without the epidural. I felt a little bit guilty about hindering that but it turned out for the best. Had I started pushing and had him at 1:00, I wouldn't have had the antibiotics for GBS in my system long enough and it might have resulted in Ben having to be in observation in the NICU for his first 8 - 12 hours. Which would have been awful.
The anesthesiologists were fantastic. So patient and so comforting. It was the worst pain of my life and they were really good about helping me through it while they got everything set up. The nurses and midwives were fantastic too. I can't say enough about them.
Once the epidural took effect, I was able to rest and breathe through the contractions. I think my exact words to the nurses were, "See, I'm a perfectly lovely person when I'm not in excruciating pain." My water broke shortly after I had the epidural. And, in my defense, it does feel exactly like wetting the bed.
The doctor who was supposed to deliver Ben was one that I had encountered on the day I was hospitalized because of my fall in July. I LOVE HER! I remember telling Kyle that I would love for her to be around to deliver my baby. But because he didn't come as quickly as we had anticipated, she wasn't there when he arrived. But she did check back in on us three times over the next two days.
We had called our families to let them know that the baby would be here at any time, because I was completely dilated. But the epidural slowed things down and they made it before he was born. My parents came up, and my mother-in-law brought Jack up at about 3:00. Jack was a little hesitant and kept pointing at things and asking, "Whats that for?"
The nurse came into to check me, so our families left the room. I started to feel a stronger urge to push and they had me do a "practice push" at about 4:15. Turns out, it was pretty effective, because they called for the doctor right away and everything started getting really busy in the room. I started really pushing at about 4:25.
Bennett was born! I felt the urge to push, but not a ton of pain. Even with the horrible contractions, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect labor and delivery. It was everything I had hoped it would be.
They put him right on my chest and my emotions overflowed. He was this perfect, messy little boy and I just fell in love with him right away . . . even though he proceeded to poop on me three times over the next 30 minutes. By looking at him, I didn't think he was as big as Jack was, but he was almost a pound bigger and an inch longer . . . 9 pounds, 6 ounces and 23 inches long. Some people have made a big deal about him delivering a baby who's over 9 pounds, but honestly, I don't think there can be that much difference in delivering an 8 1/2 pound baby than a 9 1/2 pound baby. Pushing a baby out is pushing a baby out no matter how big he is, right?
Ben cried. And cried. And cried. This was WAY different than it was with Jack and I was worried that there might be something wrong. And if he hadn't been crying, I'm sure I would have found something else to worry about. But he was healthy and perfect in every way.
Thursday, September 24 - Friday September 25
Jack's reaction was lukewarmon Wednesday and when he came back on Thursday, he wasn't really any better. He had a lot of questions for my mother-in-law on the way home about when Kyle and I were coming home and when baby brother would go back in mommy's tummy. He cried whenever he heard Ben cried. And then I cried whenever I heard Jack cry. It was rough. I felt like we hadn't prepared Jack enough for what would happen, but I'm not sure anything would have. By the time he left on Thursday, he was willing to hug and kiss his baby brother. This calmed my nerves quite a bit.
Because I was GBS positive, we had to spend an extra 12 hours at the hospital for Ben to be monitored. Which meant an overnight stay in a nesting room. We call our 12 hours in the nesting room with Jack the worst 12 hours of our life. It wasn't fun this time either, but at least we knew what to expect. And, I'll be honest . . . Thursday night television helped ease the pain a little. Ben started nursing and nursed well right from the start. That night in the nesting room, he basically nursed ALL NIGHT LONG. Ouch.
We were able to come home Friday morning. We picked Jack up at Kyle's parents house and started our life as a family of four. The last few days have been a roller coaster, for sure. I'll update on those more later. And I'll include more pictures.
Here area couple of snapshots from the day he was born.