“Should I go get him?”
My son has been fussing in this crib for a good 10 minutes and, when Ben fusses, there’s usually something bothering him. He’s not about to remember that he’s tired and just go back to sleep.
“Yeah, go ahead. Unless you want me to get up.”
“No, no, I don’t mind.”
My husband gets out of bed to go get my son. It’s 3am and we’re all awake. We’ve been awake for a while because we are all sick, sharing a nasty cough and sore throat between the three of us for about a week now. I’m guessing Ben was woken up by one of us coughing.
Jason puts Ben in bed with me. We try not to co-sleep, but on nights when he wants comfort or closeness, it happens. It makes me hyper-aware of his little body in my bed, which makes it even harder for this insomniac to get restful sleep.
He wants to comfort nurse, in between his own coughing and being startled by my coughing, as well as his father’s. We are a sorry bunch. I’m happy to nurse him because I know he feels awful, just like I do. I would want whatever comfort I could find too.
When he’s finished he puts his pacifier in his mouth and settles in next to me. He looks like he’s sleepy, but then he notices that he can reach the sheet I have over me. He pulls it up over his head and quickly yanks it back down. My son wants to play peek-a-boo at 3 o-clock in the morning. He’s both frustrating and adorable and I smile down at him. He’s so proud to show me his new trick; he just learned how to peek-a-boo about a week ago.
I settle in on my pillow next to him and he puts his palm over my face. Right smack in the middle of my face, like it belongs there. I kiss it and he giggles. I can smell the graham crackers and watermelon he ate with dinner. I think about how these moments are fleeting, and how much I enjoy them. I also think about how badly I want to sleep. It’s always like that though… a perfect moment, full of love and appreciation… at 3am when you’re exhausted. You can’t pick and choose these moments.
He takes his hand down and curls up with my sheet. He inches just a little closer and squeaks a bit, like he does when he’s annoyed that he can’t get comfortable. He finally settles down and I hear his breathing change and I know he’s asleep. He’s always been easy to get to sleep. He must get that from his father because it takes me forever to fall asleep. I hope he keeps that trait as he grows up.
Trying hard not to cough and wake him up I adjust my pillow and watch him for a bit. It’s dark but I can still tell that I’ll need to fight him a little in the morning to get his hair combed. It’s sticking up in all directions. In his sleep he reaches up and puts his hand on my arm. I close my eyes and think of how perfect he is, how I made him, and how he’s mine.
This past week I’ve been joking that I’m simply not going to allow you to turn one. I won’t allow you to play in the street, or drink antifreeze, or be a Yankees fan either. So, as your mother, I’m also not going to allow you to turn one. Simple as that. I have your best interests in mind here.
Yet, here we are. Even if I factor in that you were born in central time, as I write this it has already been your birthday for over an hour. In another hour it will also be the time you were born, 1:24am, and no matter what I do I won’t be able to deny the fact that my baby boy is one year old. 365 days ago, you were born.
Yesterday I read your birth story again. That was probably a mistake because it made me cry, but it was something I needed to do. Your birthday has been looming over me and I’ve been trying my hardest to ignore it. Looking back and remembering the day of your birth really made me feel like you were born a full year ago. Time goes by so quickly, but when you look at how far you, me, and your daddy have come, it’s also been a pretty long year with lots of fun and adventures. The best part is that you’ve been with us for those adventures.
In your first year of life you’ve lived in four different houses, two of them temporary and two permanent. You’ve lived in two different states, cities, time zones. We moved from Minnesota to Ohio when you were just 3 months old. Even though I will never be able to say you were “born and raised” in one place, I’m so glad you were born in Minneapolis. You’ve been on so many trips I’ve lost count. We’ve visited our families in Vermont, friends back in Minnesota, and we’ve road tripped to Philadelphia together multiple times. We even drove to Connecticut to visit your Great Grandparents a couple times. You travel so well that it’s easy to bring you wherever we need to go. You’ve been on more planes than a lot of adults I know.
In addition to galavanting off to visit loved ones, you also enjoy staying home with me. Some of my favorite days are spent hanging out with you in our PJ’s. If you’re fussy though, I take you out. When we run errands together you’re always just happy to see everyone, and everyone is happy to see you too. It’s an adorable cycle that often results in complete strangers telling me, “he’s so cute.” At least once when we’re out I’ll also get the question, “is he always so happy?” The answer? You have your days, but you’re happy so often that when you’re not I know that you must be really uncomfortable. You are just a happy kid, and you make other people happy. At this young age it’s so amazing to see how you do this without even trying.
Speaking of making people happy, your family loves you so much. Of course you know this, and of course we love you, but really, honestly, we freaking love the crap out of you. At least once a day you do something to make your Daddy smile and he looks at me and says, “I love him so much.” Your Daddy absolutely adores you. The feeling is mutual though, because everyone can tell how much you love your Daddy too. It melts my heart into a goopy puddle when I think of how much you two adore each other. Oh, and let’s not forget your grandparents. FaceTime is a wonderful thing. You get to see your grandparents so often because of it, and I’m so grateful. They get to see your tricks (you’re “soooooo big”) and you get to see how much they adore you. Your Nana will watch you play with your toys on FaceTime and be completely content, just watching you. I get it though, because I do that too.
It’s not always amazing though. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time you are an awesome kid, I have no idea how I got so lucky… but sometimes you’re a little impossible. Typically on days like this you wake up a little too early in the morning, and you’re still tired. You aren’t content to just play, or sit, or watch anything. You want to be held, which is fine, unless I have to do something like use the bathroom or make myself lunch. On the hard days when you’re not yourself I will sit you down on the floor and you will scream. You will produce big crocodile tears that make me feel awful, and I’ll pick you back up again and wonder what in the world is up with my usually sweet, happy boy. These days are so seldom though, that I don’t really mind, even though it’s exhausting for me. We all have days where we don’t feel like ourselves, and most of the time your Daddy comes home from work and can help to calm you down a bit. Somehow, things are usually better after Daddy gets home from work.
Your first year was pretty special Ben, but I’m pretty sure we’re in for a lot of really special years with you. I thought I would miss you being a newborn so much, and I do, but with every new stage you go through I think to myself, “this is my favorite stage.” Honestly, you just keep getting more and more interactive, curious, and fun. So my dear, now that you’re one year old, and as your mother, I’m giving you permission to turn one, please know how much we’ve enjoyed this last year with you. But also know how much we’re looking forward to the time we have ahead of us as well. Love you munchkin. <3
My sweet boy, how you have changed our lives. I’ve felt more purpose and more love in the last six months than I have in my previous 29 years. You are responsible for so many of my smiles, so much of my laughter, and much of my pride every single day. You are an amazing little human and I often sit back and marvel at how lucky I am to be your mother.
I have also felt more exhaustion, more frustration, and more doubt then I ever have before.
I wonder constantly what you will be like when you’re older. What you will be like next week, next month, next year. I marvel at how often you change, at how much you absorb and learn, at how interested you are in the world around you. I worry that you aren’t where you should be developmentally, that something will go wrong, that I’m not doing a good job.
I worry. I worry so much, and often. I check on you at night. I check on you while you’re napping during the day. I keep an eye on you constantly, always wondering if you’ll be ok. Everything that can go wrong runs through my head on a daily basis. I can’t help it because I’ve seen the worst that can happen. I still don’t believe that I get to keep you.
You are so loved. You have no idea how loved you are and by how many people. You were so anticipated and everyone waited so long to meet you. Now that you are here we all get to experience first hand how easy it is to love you.
You adore people. When we’re out running errands it’s easy for strangers to get you to smile. You are happy nearly all the time. You smile the biggest in the morning when you first wake up, when your Daddy gets home from work, or when you see your Grandparents or Auntie on FaceTime. You are starting to really notice Everett and Bruno and you smile at them when they’re near you.
You absolutely hate being on your stomach. A good way to get you to hysterically cry is to force you to do tummy time. Your Papa is convinced it’s a form of infant torture, given the way you react to it. But you are quick to forget and go back to being happy again once it’s over. You can sit up assisted but you are far too active to sit on your own just yet. You are constantly reaching and stretching in front of you and falling forward in the process. I refer to this as “self-inflicted tummy time” and you hate it just as much as when I make you do it. You are starting to grab at things more and more. Most recently at things you shouldn’t grab at, like my phone.
You sleep through the night most nights. You sleep late in the morning, allowing me to sleep late as well. You don’t nap well and you will sometimes fight sleep during the day. Sometimes it takes some extra cuddling to get you to nap. You typically only nap for 20-30 minutes before you’re awake and happy again. Since you sleep 14+ hours at night I really can’t complain.
You love your bouncer. If I ever need to get anything done I can put you in your bouncer and you’re content for a while. This is often where you are when I’m making dinner. You’re very interested in food and so far you’ve tried ice cream, whipped cream, and vanilla pudding, all of which I was eating and you clearly wanted me to share. You think coughing is hilarious and you laugh whenever I cough. You will fake cough just to get me to laugh with you. You love when your Daddy sings Itsy Bitsy Spider to you. Even just the hand gestures without singing make you smile.
You fit into our lives so well. We take you with us wherever we go. Sometimes when you’re fussy at home we go out and run errands because you like being out and about. You’ve probably been to more breweries than the average adult. You’ve been on five trips so far and you’ve visited friends and family in six states (MN, OH, PA, VT, CT, and NH). You’ve met all of your six great-grandparents and they all adore you.
You are an absolute joy to have in our lives. I couldn’t ask for a more well-behaved baby. I honestly think I’m completely spoiled by you because you’re so good most of the time. Happy half birthday Ben. We love you. <3
Alice would be 18 months old today. I think about her constantly, but significant events like this make me stop and think more often. I find myself wondering even more what she would be like, what our lives would be like with her here, and how she would be different than Ben. At 18 months she would be a little girl. Walking, running, talking, and keeping both Jason and I very busy. I miss her every day, but on days like this I really feel the depth of our loss, and how much was taken from us when she died. We are better people and better parents because of her though. We have a better relationship with each other and with our friends and family as we’ve all dealt with our grief together. We are living our lives despite the loss of hers and we are more grateful for what we do have. We are forever changed.
Last night while out to dinner, catching up with a friend, something happened that has never happened to me before. It was timely, and heartbreaking, and emotional, but it was a good thing too.
Our hostess, Amy, was apparently having a slow night. She hadn’t had any tables for hours. She came by our table a few times to take our drink orders, to check up on us, and to see Ben. She kept telling us how adorable he was and even took him for a bit while we were eating to walk around the restaurant while he was being fussy. (This was after I asked if she wanted to hold him, of course.) I didn’t feel weird about letting this stranger hold my baby at all, which really isn’t typical of me.
When she came back to the table at one point I asked if she has kids. She has a girl and a boy, seven and four years old. She said she adores babies but she’s done having them. I said how interesting it was that I was totally fine with her holding Ben, but anxious about other things. Jason mentioned that he has been checking on Ben during the night since being at the hotel this week (we are in Minnesota right now) and that he’s been more anxious than usual.
Typically I don’t tell people I don’t know about Alice. It makes people uncomfortable and brings everyone’s mood down. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about her or let people know about her, but when it’s a stranger that I’ll probably never see again I often just keep to myself. Jason tends to be more open than I am in this way, which is something I love about him.
All this being said, I felt like I wanted to tell Amy about Alice.
“Anxiety is so weird though. I’m not anxious about things like germs but I am about other things. Before having Ben I lost a daughter when I was 38 weeks pregnant, so there’s a lot of anxiety we both deal with because of that.”
“Me too. I lost my son.”
“Oh my goodness. How far along were you?”
At this point we were all getting a little emotional. I had never met someone who has experienced a full term stillbirth before. I have one friend I met because of this, but we had talked online a lot before we had met in person. Amy is the first in 18 months that has ever said “me too” when I’ve told them about Alice.
She asked what Alice’s name was. Her son’s name was Max. He was her first child too. She got choked up a bit when talking about him, even years later. I could tell Jason’s eyes were teary.
And all I kept thinking was that I almost didn’t tell her at all. The conversation had actually moved on a bit when I brought up my anxiety about losing a baby. For some reason though, I told her. And I’m so glad I did.
Aah, that back woods Vermonter in me just came out a bit. We don’t like to pronounce our g’s at the end of words.
Jason and I got up at the butt-crack of morning on Sunday (that’s 3am for those not current on your obscure anatomy) packed a suitcase, and hefted a small amount of stuff for us along with a completely disproportionate amount of stuff for Ben to the airport. Our flight was at 5:50am. We arrived at the Cincinnati airport, which is really in Northern Kentucky (no, really) at around 11am Sunday morning. And then it began…
We got our rental car, drove through the city up I-75, and checked into our hotel. We then went through and looked at how many open houses we could get to before they all closed for the day. We ended up seeing 3 houses. One of them we loved.
The next day we met with our realtor and saw 11 more houses.
The day after that Jason started a training for work but Ben & I saw 5 more houses.
For those of you who don’t want to do the math on that… that’s 19 houses. You can probably guess how well I’m keeping them straight in my head. There are any number of stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, finished basements, master bathrooms, and whatever else comes standard in a house these days, running through my head. You can also guess how well Ben did being taken in and out of the car every 15 or so minutes for an entire day, and how patient he was at the end of it. (He actually did amazing, but we all have our limits. I don’t blame him for getting fussy eventually.)
“What did you think of the yard at the house on the cul-de-sac?”
“Wait… which one was that?”
“Does the one off 8 Mile Road have a finished basement?”
“Uhhhh… beats me.”
“The house near the middle school… did it have a garage?”
“You think I remember small details like that?”
Everything is blending together. Certain details are standing out, but mostly I remember the impression I got from the house when I walked into it. And you know what? Maybe that’s what actually matters. Maybe the feeling we get when we’re in it is important, and not whether or not the back patio is stone or stamped concrete. (For the record, I prefer stamped concrete.)
On Friday we’ll visit 2 more houses as well as 2 we’ve already seen that we like. The reality is that we could live in any of the houses we’ve seen. None of them are terrible, but none of them are perfect either. It’s going to come down to just deciding what’s important. Do we really need a basketball court in our backyard? What about a hot tub? Can we finish the basement after we buy the house? How about investing in painting over that god-awful color in the dining room? Do I absolutely need a bathtub that big?
(The answer to that last one is yes. Yes I do.)
Jason and I have been married 7 years, and in those 7 years we’ve had 5 different addresses. The most recent is the house we are listing for sale next week. I’m writing this post on my phone, from my bed, on our last night in this house. I figure since I have a baby sleeping on my arm who will most certainly wake up if I move him, I will use this time to be all reflective and crap.
A lot of pretty important things have happened in this house. We’ve experienced countless dull things while living here — loads of laundry, garbage days (is it a recycling week or not?), snow storms, etc… But of course it’s the remarkable things that stand out:
We’ve had countless visitors including all members of our immediate families as well as best friends from the East Coast. Parents, sisters, and even our niece have spent time here with us.
We got our dog, Everett a few months after we moved here. We’ve walked him outside in -30° and 110° temperatures, and everywhere in between.
One of our friends lived with us here for 8 months and quickly became one of our best friends, if not a member of our family. We would have kept her if we could.
We found out we were pregnant for the first time in this house. I sat on the (closed) toilet and Jason sat across from me on the side of the tub in our master bathroom. We just stared at each other and at the positive pregnancy test for a while and he asked me “so we’re really doing this?” and I responded, “yup, I guess we are.”
We grieved for our daughter. Alice, in this house. We received close to 100 sympathy cards and so many gorgeous flowers from loving friends and family. We had dinner brought to us. We cried and sobbed and held each other on the couch in the living room.
We brought our son home to this house. This will always be his first home, even though he won’t remember it. Those first few weeks of having a newborn, of sleeplessness, of doubt, of love, were all spent in this house.
And now, our first house will be packed up, cleaned, repainted, and listed for slightly higher than what we purchased it for (woo!) We are headed to Cincinnati with our baby, dog, and two cats. We already have so many people there, but we’re leaving behind so many more. Our next chapter is about to begin and I feel ill prepared as we say goodbye to this house and to Minnesota. I suppose I’ll have to really learn how to spell Cincinnati soon… that’s a good first step, right?
Small Warning: Hopefully you can figure this out from the title of this post, but in case you can’t, this post is the account of my son’s birth. If words like dilation, cervix, or vaginal gross you out, you may not want to keep reading. :) Also, this post is really very long, but honestly, it was a long day.
If you don’t know about my first pregnancy, you can read about Alice here. Be warned, it’s a sad story, but the stillbirth of my daughter played a huge role in the birth of my son. (Actually, it plays a huge role in my life every day, but pregnancy and childbirth in particular.)
[ Saturday, May 3, 2014 – 6:30am ]
Few things will get me out of bed at the butt-crack of morning on the weekend. Having a baby… well that is totally worth waking up early. My induction was scheduled for 8am. I got about 4 hours of restless, excited, tossing and turning, uncomfortable, 36+ weeks pregnant sleep on Friday night. Jason woke me up Saturday morning and we packed the car and headed to the hospital to have a baby.
Now, packing a suitcase and heading to the hospital to check in like it’s a hotel and you’re there for a weekend getaway is really strange. But that was our plan all along and we’d been counting down the days (and then the hours) until we would be able to say it was our son’s birth day.
[ 8:20am ]
Soon after we got to the hospital (about 20 minutes late, because that’s just how I am) we were in a room, I was in a super attractive hospital gown, and we were ready to get this show on the road. Excited texts were being sent and received because everyone knew that this was the day we would be having a baby.
[ 9:30am ]
I started the day knowing I was somewhat dilated. My doctor had checked my cervix earlier in the week and told us we were good to come to the hospital on Saturday (versus needing to start drugs Friday evening.) I was currently 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. My Doctor said my son should be born around dinnertime. My IV was put in, a drop of pitocin was started to start contractions, and all we had to do was wait… and wait.
[ 12:30pm ]
My best friend Mary arrived, with camera in tow, to stay with us and to photograph the day’s events. We had been texting and she was worried I would progress too quickly for her to get there in time (I quickly went from 6cm to 10cm when I delivered my daughter and I only pushed for 6 minutes. She had a good basis for concern that it would happen again.) Better safe than sorry, she came to hang out with us even though I was only dilated to 4cm at that point.
[ 2:00pm ]
Still right on track and starting to really feel the contractions, I was also hungry. I wasn’t allowed to eat solid food but the (amazing) nurses were great about getting me juice and soda and jell-o… a pregnant girl’s dream diet, huh? I requested the anesthesiologist around this time for my epidural. I was starting to need to breathe through my contractions and, since it was part of my plan all along, I decided to have them go ahead and numb me up. At the very least I wouldn’t be able to feel my stomach growling.
Disclaimer: I know I wanted an epidural because, regardless of my intense fear of needles, I am a huge wuss when it comes to pain. I had one with my first labor and I knew I would have one with my second. Those of you who birth naturally, good for you. It’s not for me. Those of you who want the anesthesiologist to meet you at the door when you get to the hospital, good for you too. However you choose to go through the labor and delivery process, that’s awesome.
[ 2:30 pm ]
I’m sitting on the side of the bed and leaning way over as my back is prepared for the epidural while Jason faces me. Let’s back up a bit… just over 13 months prior to this day Jason and I went through a horrific loss. This all took place in the same hospital, on the same floor, at roughly the same time of day, as this labor. We knew that both of us would have to deal with some PTSD triggers and flashbacks. One of the hardest things I did that day was get the epidural. I was scared and shocked and unbearably sad. I worked myself up and my needle phobia (that I’ve had since I was 8) didn’t help matters. I basically panicked and my sobbing and shaking made it very hard for the anesthesiologist to do his job. (That being said, he wasn’t the most personable guy in the first place. Seriously, he was grumpy.)
Now, fast forward to my current story… my first experience with getting an epidural had me set up for anxiety before I even asked for it, so I knew it would be difficult. Making it even more difficult, the anesthesiologist on call was the same guy. (Crap luck, or what?) Leaning over and holding Jason’s hands I soon started crying. I wasn’t sobbing though, and the process was actually done fairly quickly. It hurt, as getting a tube inserted into your spinal column does, but it was over quickly and I could breath easy, and try to get my emotions under control a bit. It was emotional for both Jason and I as we remembered the last time, but not nearly as bad as we remembered either. I definitely built it up in my head as being this awful terrible thing. In all honesty, it was awful and terrible the first time, but without all of the emotions of our loss it was much easier this time.
[ 3:00pm ]
My amazing nurse, Joanie, introduced me to The Peanut Ball. I was about to get up close and personal with a large, oddly shaped, yellow ball. The ball was placed between my legs and I laid on my side. It is meant to help open your pelvis and can reduce both tearing and the amount of time you have to push. Sign me up! I was ok with both those things. Roughly every half hour the nurse and my mother-in-law (a former nurse) helped to turn me over and reposition the peanut.
Picture now, if you will, me unable to walk, in a hospital gown, which opens in the back, surrounded by my nurse, mother-in-law, best friend (equipped with a camera, remember) and husband. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I’m not modest because everyone in the room was treated to multiple views of my ass. And Mary, bless her, didn’t photograph any of it (at least not that I’m aware of.)
[ 8:00pm ]
Still starving. Still being rotated every half hour. Still 4cm and 50% effaced. Grrr. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, which was perfect, but they weren’t as intense as the doctor would have liked. The pitocin was doing it’s job, but my body wasn’t cooperating. Add to the mix a fever and chills (me), an increasing heart rate (me), and another increasing heart rate (baby). Everything was basically mirroring my first labor, but this time we were able to monitor the baby. Jason was becoming more and more anxious watching the fetal monitor climb as baby’s heart rate climbed higher. Anxiety and panic played a huge part throughout the day for both of us.
[ 10:00pm ]
Add an intense migraine to the mix of my symptoms. My head was pounding, the light hurt my eyes, and nothing else had resolved itself. Baby’s heart rate was still high as was mine and my fever hadn’t broke yet. I was shivering on and off from the fever. Literally, my teeth were chattering even though I was covered in warm blankets. They had me eat a Popsicle and drink broth to get me more hydrated and get my blood sugar up, hoping that would help my headache. They also gave me oxygen, which I’m sure helped to wake the rest of the room up as well. :) The alarm on my heart rate monitor had been adjusted twice so that it wasn’t constantly going off when it reached a certain rate. My heart rate was frequently around 150bpm and baby’s was closer to 190bpm. I was having more and more trouble controlling my panic (something I had dealt with throughout my pregnancy) due to my other symptoms.
[ Sunday, May 4, 2014 – 12:30am ]
By this time I was sure I would be super dilated. I had to be. It had been forever since I was last checked and the pitocin was doing it’s job. My first labor was only 16 hours and we were nearing that length. Subsequent labors are always faster, or so I’ve been told. The doctor checked me again and I was 5cm and still 50% effaced. Dammit. I was anxious to be able to have a reprieve from my panic and headache. Jason was just anxious. Everyone was tired. And I was still starving.
After checking me and finding out that I hadn’t progressed my doctor recommended a c-section. Jason and I had talked about the possibility already because the baby was breech at one point. We basically both said yes at the same time. We were ready to meet our son and be done with labor. There was too much to worry about and nothing to be done when all you could do was wait and stare at the monitors. I know Jason had enough of staring at the monitors and I had enough of feeling frustrated and sick.
[ 1:00am ]
The procedure is explained to us. Papers are signed. The anesthesiologist is called back. My epidural had worn off significantly (awesome) so it was recommended that I get a spinal to numb me for surgery. I agreed and even though Jason couldn’t be there with me when I was being prepped in the operating room, my doctor assured him that she would take his place helping me to stay calm. While I was getting the spinal put it (which took two different tries) my doctor was beside me the entire time holding my hand with her other arm around my shoulders. Honestly, I couldn’t have ever asked for a better care team. She said she would help me not to panic and she did. Lucky for me I was still a little numb from the epidural so I didn’t even really feel the spinal being put in. And after that I couldn’t feel anything at all (which means it worked!)
[ 1:05am ]
I’m laying down and they’re making sure I’m numb and ready to go. I start to feel sick (which is so awesome when you can’t move) and like I can’t breathe. Apparently when your chest is numb and you can’t actually feel your chest moving up and down as you breathe it can cause panic. I felt like I was only able to take quick, short breaths. I kept telling my doctor I couldn’t breathe and she kept assuring me that, if I could talk, then I could breathe. It’s good logic when you stop to think about it, but when you’re on the edge of hyperventilating and freaking out your mind doesn’t really stop to think about how logical something like that is. To distract me I asked the assistant anesthesiologist to talk to me. I don’t remember what he said but I remember listening to him talk and him stroking my hair.
The two surgeons (my doctor and another resident) told me they were pinching me and that if I couldn’t feel it they were going to start. Soon after that Jason came in and sat beside my head while I tried to breathe and stay calm. It was calming just to have Jason in the room with me and I was so grateful he was there.
[ 1:24am ]
My doctor said something along the lines of “here he is” and I heard a cry. A cry. I heard my son cry for the first time. He was alive and I couldn’t be more grateful for anything in the world than I was for the sound of that cry. A nurse brought him around to my left and Jason told me to look. The first glimpse I got of my son was when he was naked and wailing at the nurse. Jason was told to go with him to the other side of the room and I told him to go. Around this time Mary was in the room as well and as they stitched me up I could hear my son crying, my husband crying, and my best friend crying. And of course I was crying and completely overwhelmed with emotion.
From the time they started surgery to the time Ben was born was 8 minutes. How crazy is that? Modern medicine is so awesome. It took a little more time to stitch me back up but while they did Jason came back over to me. This time he was holding our son. I’ll never forget how delicately he held him and what he said to me. “Sam, look what they gave me.” We were absolutely floored. Ben was born at 36 weeks and 3 days. We were prepared for him to need to have oxygen or to have to stay in the NICU for a little while. We had been warned that early babies could need extra help breathing. We were ok with all of this and prepared for him to be taken out of the room to be treated. Instead, there was Jason holding him. He was swaddled and sleeping and absolutely perfect.
[ 2:00am ]
Now is around when I lost track of time. It’s very early in the morning, I just went through 15 hours of labor followed by an emergency c-section. I am more tired than I have ever been in my life and starving, but adrenaline is keeping me going. We are all brought into the recovery room where Jason’s mom got to meet Ben (she even got to hold him before I did! I couldn’t yet because I was still numb. She says she feels badly about this but when Jason asked if she wanted to hold him I didn’t expect her to say no! :)) I was being given post-op instructions by the nurses but I was only partly listening while staring over her shoulder at my baby.
When the anesthesia wore off enough that they were finally able to give him to me they laid him on my chest. He looked up at me and squeaked… and just kept squeaking. I remember asking if everyone was listening because that squeaking was basically the cutest thing I had ever heard in my life. He was the most perfect thing I had ever seen. Through my exhaustion and emotion and tears and adrenaline I remember thinking about how perfect he was and how grateful I was that he was finally here with me.
[ 3:00am ]
Jason called my Mom and was able to tell her first that Ben was here. He handed me the phone and she told me how happy she was for me. We were both crying (of course). I told her I didn’t blame her for falling asleep (I knew she had because she hadn’t answered my texts for a while) and that she should go back to bed. It was 4am on the east coast and she said there was no way she would ever be able to get back to sleep. Good point Mom. :)
[ 4:00am ]
We are transferred to the postpartum floor where we would stay the rest of the time at the hospital. For the next few days Ben slept a lot and we just stared at him. There was obviously more to it than that but really that’s the important part. The three of us were together and the rest seemed easy compared to what we had already been through. Ben was tiny and perfect and we were absolutely in love with him.
(All photos in this post were taken by my talented friend Mary. :))
When I told my best friend Mary that I was pregnant again one of the first things she said was “I’m going to photograph the birth!” My reaction to that? “Ok!” She had her youngest daughter’s birth photographed and told me how meaningful those photos are to her. So, on the day of my induction, Mary came equipped with her camera and lots of energy to stay with us for (what turned out to be) many, many hours. Thank you Mary, for this amazing gift, and for being there for us always.
I’ve been pregnant for what seems like forever. I found out I was pregnant in August 2012. In April 2013 our daughter was stillborn. I found out I was pregnant again in September 2013 and now here I am at nearly 36 weeks. I’ll do the math for you… that’s 17 months pregnant out of the last 21. Oy.
All that being said, I actually enjoy being pregnant. My pregnancy with Alice was harder physically (lots of headaches and more aches and pains) but I was also blissfully ignorant to all that could go wrong. This time around it’s much more difficult mentally, as you can imagine pregnancy after a loss would be. I feel like my body handles pregnancy well though, which I can’t even take credit for. I’m really just lucky. With the exception of stretch marks, I don’t have many of the common problems women are made to endure while pregnant. I had morning sickness (but no throwing up) for a few weeks. I have migraines sometimes but not very often. I have no swelling and no crazy weight gain and I mostly don’t feel like I’m waddling around with a huge, heavy beach ball under my shirt. (Though, that feeling does increase ever so slightly every day.)
I know my life is about to change drastically and that it will never be the same. Even future pregnancies will be completely different with a child to care for in addition to myself. (How do you people do it with multiple children? I suppose I’ll find out at some point but color me impressed!) Before my life takes this drastic change, I’d like to remember some things about being pregnant this time, even if it means looking back on these words and saying to myself “wow, you had no idea how good you had it!”
Kicks: I never tire of feeling movement inside me. It’s the weirdest sensation but it means baby is healthy and gaining strength. Even if it’s 3am and I can’t sleep, if he’s kicking away in there I don’t care that he’s keeping me up. I love having Jason feel him kick too. I’m glad he can experience just a little of the connection I already have with our son.
Hiccups: It’s always been a funny concept to me that babies get the hiccups before they’re born. Feeling that rhythmic jolt in my belly is pretty cool and usually makes me laugh when I realize that’s what I’m feeling.
Doctors: Since this is the last pregnancy I will have with my team of doctors, I really hope my doctors in the future are as amazing as they are now. It makes all the difference to have a care team that truly cares for you and your family. My OB scheduled her on-call time around my induction. And my PCP will visit us in the hospital on a Sunday so he can meet him (just one week earlier than he would anyway, since he’s his pediatrician too.)
Cravings: I want all the fruit. I never liked grapefruit until now. I’m so glad watermelon prices are going down because I want to eat it constantly. Also, bananas! And any kind of berries I can get my hands on.
Sleep: Sleeping hasn’t really ever been easy for me and it’s no different during this pregnancy. Getting up to pee every hour or so doesn’t help either. Hopefully it’s all just good preparation for when I have to get up constantly to take care of a newborn.
Anxiety: Sky high. It’s just worse and worse. It keeps me up at night. It gives me panic attacks. It’s really no fun at all. It’s expected though, and normal. I am anxious about a lot of things but mostly the fear and panic just hit me suddenly and it feels like I’m suffocating. It feels like someone is standing on my chest and I can’t breathe. I also have a lot of anxiety about having flashbacks while in the hospital and remembering things I didn’t know my memory kept stored.
Jason: I have the absolute best husband. Sorry to all the other husbands out there. I’m sure you’re great too. Mine is better though. He is going to be an amazing father. He’s nervous about so many little things, it’s so sweet. He’s been working so hard to get the house ready for this little guy. He’s SO excited to meet him. I can’t wait to see Jason be a father to our son.
Friends & Family: Everyone is so excited for us. RIDICULOUSLY excited for us. More excited than I ever would have thought. My Mom is basically walking on air she’s so thrilled. I get daily texts, tweets, and comments from people who can’t wait to meet him. Everyone at Jason’s work asks about me and how I’m doing constantly. It’s so heartwarming to know so many people want this for us.
That turned out to be a bit longer than I intended. I’m glad it’s out of my head though. With 4 days to go, think good thoughts for us and keep a lookout for some photos after this weekend since I’ll be excited to share my son with the world. :)