Reflections on the birth of our son: Part two.

Wow. What a whirlwind. The tagline of this blog has never seemed more true. I’ve had every intention of writing for days about the past week, but our minutes and hours—rightly so—have been spent caring for our three, very needy children. Turns out adding a third baby to the mix brings levels of whining, screaming, crying, and clinging to all sorts of new and extreme heights; everyone needs a little more love and hugs, as well as patience and kindness these days.

I wanted to capture a few more memories from the past week while everything is still fresh in my mind. In another week or so, there’s no trusting what will remain.

Laboring at home is far more comfortable than laboring in the hospital. This past Tuesday, the morning of Rowan’s birthday, I awoke at 4:00 with contractions. Although I remained hopeful, I wasn’t sure what to expect given my body had begun false labor already once before.

However, two hours later, after contractions started coming with increasing frequency and intensity, I made the decision to call in to work to request a sick day. This was it! I spent much of the morning pacing the house trying to think of last minute things that needed to be done. Apparently, there was nothing to be done. I got bored. Restless.

We went for a walk around the neighborhood. Frances held my hand for much of it, stopping along with me when I needed to take breathing breaks. Nora rode her tricycle and Liam pushed an empty double stroller, should one or both of the girls tire of walking. In the end, Frances made it the whole way, and Nora needed only to be towed up the steep hill while hanging onto the stroller strap as Liam pushed, a sight funny enough to bring smiles and laughter from everyone, especially when Liam’s swift, unbalanced tugging, threatened to overturn her a time or two.

When we got home, I nursed Frances, hoping to bring about more intense contractions. Success! Several times I had to employ deep breathing techniques just to get through. Although her mouth was occupied with sucking, she managed to copy the sound and intensity of my breathing, through her nose. After the contractions passed I was laughing out loud at her show of solidarity.

We later all moved down to the basement for a change of scene. Liam worked on a playlist of tunes to keep us occupied both at home and in the hospital. He later admitted that he was going to include some of Nora’s favorite Mary Poppins and Frozen songs just for fun, to see what my reaction would be. Although I’m sure it would have brought great amusement for him to hear the songs, I’m happy to report I didn’t have to suffer listening through them at the hospital. Not that I was really all that aware of music in the background anyway.

In the basement, I broke out the yoga mat and the exercise ball, deciding to labor on my hands and knees for a change. Nora did some downward dog with me and was moved too, like her sister, to be a breathing partner. Totally hilarious. But also a testament to how powerful breathing can be.

A little before noon I decided it was time for us to head in to the hospital. We called Candace, our neighborhood sitter, and savior, to come and stay with the girls.

I was disappointed to find when the midwife first checked me, at noon, that I was only two c.m. dilated (they wouldn’t admit us until I reached four c.m.). She gave us the choice to walk the hospital grounds or to go back home and return in a couple of hours. After some indecision, we decided to stay. I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were progressing, and fast. The midwife said she would be back to check me in two hours, at 2:00 p.m.

Since it was a sunny and mild day, Liam and I decided to head outside to walk. And also, because it was a little unnerving and humiliating to be having intense contractions in front of hospital visitors and employees in the halls of the hospital.

Very quickly the contractions progressed to where I had to stop walking and lean on Liam for support. I began to feel nauseous toward the end of every contraction, so we decided to head back inside. An hour had passed—it was only 1:00 p.m. I asked the triage nurse if there was any way the midwife could come back to check me early. She said no, that if I wasn’t further along, they would definitely send me home. She preferred we wait until 2:00.

So, Liam and I headed back into the very small, very uncomfortable room, where I had only the surface of a small counter to rest my head upon, or be in bed. After I threw up in the sink (take that you disbelieving hospital staff!) I climbed into bed, trying not to be sad and angry and disappointed that this was to be my laboring experience for the next hour, instead of having the privacy and space and resources (birthing ball, walking space, yoga mat, whirlpool, labor and delivery nurse) of a proper labor and delivery room.

I went into my breathing trance and waited as patiently as I could until the midwife came to check me, and found I had progressed to five c.m. This was a little after 2:00. By the time they were finally able to admit us to a room, I was a little over an hour away from when Rowan would be born. At this point, my sister, Melissa, had joined us in the room to offer support.

The charge nurse tried to start an IV in my hand (unnecessary since I did not need antibiotics and wanted to go natural), but after blowing veins in both hands, gave up. The other labor and delivery nurse (this amazing woman who was present for part of both girls’ births as well) started a whirlpool tub for me, which I would never get to use on account of the swift progress my body was making.

At eight c.m. the midwife decided to break my water. Not long after, following several more contractions and controlled pushes, I was able to hold our son in my arms. What a relief! He cried a sweet and loud little cry for almost the whole hour he was with me. He did take to nursing a few times, which was great…and quiet.

 

And then there were three. The girls love their baby brother. Nora insists she can take care of Rowan by herself. In her mind, this means she can watch him from the couch as he sleeps peacefully in his chair. She likes to snuggle him and kiss him and put stickers all over his clothing. She is fond of singing him songs and trying to calm him with her endless chatter when he cries.

Frances loves holding Rowan. She sits patiently with arms outstretched and seems amazed by his features and noises and very presence. She gets distressed when he cries, wanting to make him feel better in any way she can. She is clearly the one who is suffering the most from this transition. No longer our baby, she is learning that we can’t always respond to her every need. She wants to be held a lot and has a renewed and vigorous interest in nursing. Indeed, our tandem nursing is off to a good start. How long we will be able to keep it up remains to be seen. But, for now, we are all mostly happy and thriving.

Our patience has been tested countless times since we’ve come home from the hospital. And, things have indeed gotten quite tense here in our small house. However, our hearts are full with gratitude, and we are trying to be intentional about holding on to the effortless moments, full of warmth and love, to see us through the chaotic, trying times when we find ourselves asking: What in the hell were we thinking?

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