Sunday, August 22, 2010

The birth story - part 3.

We were a few weeks in to our "birth month" and everything was going swimmingly. I was still surprisingly comfortable and content to wait as long as I needed to for little Finn to arrive. Every day he wasn't born felt like borrowed time. I was seriously milking the 9 months pregnant thing for all it was worth (massages, naps, ice cream, you name it) and in no real hurry for him to come out. With my official due date just a few days away, I knew he would be here before we knew it. I was just hoping he'd wait until Grandma got to town.

The day before - getting cupcakes.

Grandma arrived late Thursday night and when I woke up on Friday morning unable to sit down (hemorrhoids and swelling and pain oh my!), I knew something was happening. I called my doula who said it was perfectly normal and probably just a sign that the baby was getting into a nice low position for delivery. So I continued the day like normal, babysitting and spending time with Grandma and perching miserably on my side whenever I needed to sit down.

That night after the biggest dinner I had been able to eat in months (he had moved down!), Bill asked, "So, do you think you're going to have a baby tonight?" I answered just like I had every other night over the past couple of weeks, "I don't know. Maybe?" Then he rubbed my feet as we watched That 70s Show in bed and I fell asleep to one of the birth preparation meditations my doula had lent me.

Around midnight I started having contractions that woke me up. I'd been having them off and on for about a week but these were definitely much stronger. Every so often I would glance at the clock to see if they were getting closer together but since I was half asleep, I could never remember what time it was the last time I'd checked. I figured if it was really getting serious, I would know - with or without the clock.

At about 2 am, I had to get out of bed. I just couldn't lay there pretending nothing was happening anymore; something was definitely happening. As soon as I was up and moving around, the contractions got stronger and more frequent. I was pacing the bathroom like a caged animal, but still waiting for a real sign that I was in labor. I didn't want to depend on the 5-1-1 rule again; I just didn't trust it. I wanted my water to break or my mucus plug to come out or something obvious I could point to like, "See? I am really in labor!" As I was bent over the sink swaying back and forth, breathing through a contraction, I noticed a few drops of blood on the floor. Could it be? The bloody show?! I was ecstatic. I ran a bath and woke up Bill. No doubt about it - we were going to have a baby.

Bill quickly downloaded a contraction timer onto my phone (he's old school) and came into the bathroom to sit with me. "I don't know why people say water makes labor so much easier," I said. "Because this still really sucks." I knew it was early but I was already thinking about how nice an epidural would be. The conversation I had with my sister right after Liam's birth where I mocked myself and my birth plan came rushing back to me and I couldn't help but laugh: Dear doctor, nurses, hospital staff, etc: I would very much like to push a 9 pound baby out my vagina without so much as a Tylenol for pain relief. Yes, I am aware that I might have to tear myself wide open to do this. Without drugs. That is my plan. Thank you. It was hard to remember why I wanted so badly for this birth to be natural. All I could think was that this would most likely be my last time to give birth and if I didn't do it now, I would never know what all the fuss was about.

Bill timed the first contraction at 2:50 am. When it was over, he looked fairly pleased with himself as he read from the phone, "That was a little over a minute long. Now we'll just have to wait for the next one to see how far apart they are."

I was not impressed. "Aren't you supposed to do something while I'm having a contraction?"

"Oh," he looked at the phone like, But I thought I was doing this. "Like what?"

"I don't know. Like rub my hand or massage my back or something. Just try things to see what works." On my next contraction (they were coming pretty fast), he rubbed my hand while I writhed around in the tub. Suddenly I started to moan. It instantly took things to the next level. "Arms!" I yelled, and Bill grabbed my shoulders and started to rub. The pressure on my muscles helped me find my breath and I was able to ride out the rest of the contraction.

We kept this up for the next 30 minutes or so. In between contractions I would remember things we might need in the car or at the hospital (barf bag, cold drinks, hot pad, pillows...) and Bill would run around the house trying to grab as much as he could before I had another contraction. At around 3:20, he asked if he should call someone and I immediately said yes (I had been hesitant before, afraid to call someone in the middle of the night for something that might not be anything for several more hours).

He called our doula first to get her opinion. She answered fairly quickly and he could tell she had not been asleep. As it turns out, she was already at the hospital with another client. We knew she was working with a mother who was due around the same time as me when we hired her but we all knew the odds were super slim that we'd both go into labor on the same day. But there's no way to plan these things and it turned out to be one of those nights (the hospital was FULL of laboring moms). She told Bill to go ahead and call the midwife and keep her posted.

As Bill was talking to the midwife on call (the only one I hadn't met during my prenatal visits), doing his best to answer her questions, I had a contraction. Since Bill wasn't able to help, it really got a hold of me. This was perfect. Since the midwife could hear me in the background, she didn't need to ask any more questions. "It's time," she told Bill. "Go ahead and bring her in."

As soon as I got out of the tub (so hard, by the way), I realized labor was easier in the water. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, just easier by comparison. Now that I was on land, things were really intense. It felt like every time I moved I had a contraction. Bill was doing his best to get our stuff into the car so we could go but it was really hard for me to get through a contraction without him. He would get half way out the door and I'd yell for him again. I still can't believe I didn't wake up Liam or Grandma.

Finally it was time for the ride to the hospital. I had been dreading it since I was about six months pregnant. I just couldn't imagine being confined to a car seat - sitting up no less! - and was sure I would vomit or my water would break or something messy would happen before we got to the hospital. I staggered out to the car like I was walking the plank and had one last raging contraction on the sidewalk before climbing in to the front seat (Bill was sure someone would call the cops hearing a scream like that at four in the morning).

But once inside the car, all my worries quickly faded away. The night air was cool like I hadn't felt in months and with the windows down and the fresh air whipping around me, I felt surprisingly relaxed. I found a comfortable position and rested with my eyes closed, grabbing for Bill's hand when I felt the next contraction coming on.

By the time we got to the hospital, things had definitely shifted. It felt like I was no longer on the same plane as everyone around me. I was somewhere else; somewhere far, far away. I could still see and hear what was going on around me - my doula waiting for us at the entrance to the ER and rushing out to the car to help me inside; the police car behind us with lights flashing and the police man telling Bill, "I heard the screaming and figured that's what was going on - good luck!"; the guard at the entrance to the ER staring at me as I grabbed onto the metal detector and bent and swayed and moaned with a contraction; the lady at the front desk showing me different forms and asking me to sign things; the nurses looking everywhere for an empty wheelchair and saying they might have to start sending people to another hospital because so many woman had gone into labor - but noting felt like it had any affect on me. I was there, but I was absolutely not there.

As soon as they found a wheelchair and I sat down, I closed my eyes again. Aside from a brief moment in the hall when I met my midwife (we were waiting in the hall for a while - there were literally no clean rooms available when we arrived), I didn't open my eyes again until my son was born. Sounds were growing more distant too, and soon it felt as if I had gone completely inside myself.

When we got into our room, I had to lay in bed with the external fetal monitor around my waist (my 44" waist!) for 20 minutes. While I was laying there, my midwife checked me to see how far dilated I was. I knew this was a make or break moment for me. As far out of my head as I had gotten, I knew something like this could trick me back in. After all, being told I was only 6 cm and things were going to get a lot worse before they got better was my breaking point with my first delivery. Lately I had started to wonder, if I hadn't known that, would I have been so quick to surrender to the epidural? And if I hadn't gotten the epidural, would my labor still have stalled out or would I have kept progressing like I had been before I got it? My body was telling me I was progressing quickly but what if someone told my head something different? Would I be able to push that aside and keep doing what my body needed to do? I really didn't want to find out. But then I heard it: 5-6 cm. And this is where having a great team makes all the difference. Because even though I was just barely aware of what was going on around me, I know that I was not only 5-6 cm. I was 5-6 cm. And doing great. And before my brain could begin doing math or making comparisons, the next contraction came and Bill and my doula helped me breathe through it. When it passed, all knowledge of centimeters and dilation passed with it and I was back to taking things one step at a time.

After 20 minutes they removed the fetal monitor and I was free to move around (I wasn't strapped down with an IV or anything!). My doula raised the bed to a comfortable height for me to lean on and I stood next to it, collapsing over onto pillows in between contractions and doing whatever I needed to do when one would hit. Sometimes I was completely on top of it, doing deep belly breathing, visualizing the contraction bringing my baby down, and making low moaning sounds on the exhale. But other times I would totally lose it and scream, "Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, I can't do it!" until someone would help me find my breath and remind me I was doing it. Having two people completely focused on helping me made a world of difference. I recall cool washcloths on my forehead and neck, a portable fan blowing on my face (genius - I highly recommend this to anyone in labor), massage, pressure on my back, someone's hand to squeeze, and lots of encouraging words.

At some point, my doula suggested I try going to the bathroom. Sometimes a full bladder can make it harder for the baby to move down and it had been a while since I peed. This was, without a doubt, the hardest part of my labor. Because my water was still intact, there was a tremendous amount of pressure right above my pelvic bone. This made sitting down next to impossible. Plus, there was so much going on down there, it was really hard to figure out how to pee (weird, I know). I sat on the toilet through two contractions, clinging to my doula's waist for dear life the entire time.

When I was finished, I switched to the other side of the bed but continued to labor as I had been all night. But after a little while, the pressure became so great that bending over no longer felt good. So I stood up straight and did modified squats and rocked back and forth to open my hips. I was getting impatient. I started yelling, "I want him OUT!" My doula redirected me, "Talk to your baby, Maggie." So I started shouting, "FINN GET OUT!!!"

When the next contraction hit, I turned to Bill who was standing next to me, threw my arms around his neck and hung there. I think we were doing what they call "the labor dance" but I'm sure it looked more like "the high school dance with the girl who tried peach schnapps for the first time and really, really liked it". Still, it was pretty romantic. (That could be nostalgia talking - Bill and I totally had that peach schnapps dance in high school.) I remember feeling a contraction coming on and grabbing for my husband. "I need you," I gasped desperately. He held me close and whispered, "Just dance with me."

If I'd start to tense up, he'd remind me to breathe. "Relax your shoulders," he'd say, and I'd feel my entire body go limp. When I bit him during the height of one contraction, he didn't even get mad. He was crying a lot and telling me that this was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen me do. He even threw out one of our favorite lines from Step Brothers, "My god, you're impressive!" but all I could do was nod and moan.

At some point I remember Bill saying, "I think your water is going to break with this next contraction," and sure enough, it did. I was clinging to his neck in sort of a limp squat when all of a sudden I felt a pop and water gushed down my legs. But that wasn't all I felt. As soon as my water broke, the baby crowned. I yelled, "Uh oh!" and then, "My baby's coming out!" I couldn't help but think about I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant (babies drop out onto the floor all the time on that show) and hoped someone was there to catch Finn if he fell.

My eyes were still closed but I could sense a lot of activity around me, like the room was buzzing with people who weren't there until right that second. I was helped onto the bed and positioned sort of half on my back, half on my side. I started yelling, "Why am I on my back? Isn't it harder this way?" Bill piped up, "I think she would prefer to push on her hands and knees or in a squat or something," but whoever he was talking to said, "There's no time - she's having this baby right now!"

I could feel my baby, right there, about to come out. This was something I had never experienced before - the urge to push - and I was amazed at how powerful it was. I didn't care that everyone was saying, "Stop pushing! Slow down! Breathe, breathe!" I was still pushing (and screaming) with all my might. For some reason, I was imagining Finn to be like one of those baby dolls that are all the rage with three year old girls. You know the ones - they look "real" but are super tiny? That was what Finn felt like to me. Like his head was only about the size of my fist so if I just pushed really hard, he would pop right out. So I pushed. Hard. And screamed, "I want him OUT!" until I felt myself tear a little. That was enough to make me stop pushing and listen.

Still, it didn't take long for him to come out (six minutes to be exact). As soon as his head broke free I sighed, "That feels SO MUCH BETTER!" His hand was up by his face and the cord was wrapped once around his neck - someone said he looked like he was born ready to party. On the next push, he was here and I was instantly transported back into my body. Euphoria washed over me as I opened my eyes for the first time in an hour and a half and saw my big, healthy, BEAUTIFUL boy laying on top of me.

I always thought having the baby put on my chest right away was a nice idea but would probably be kind of gross in reality but I couldn't have been more wrong. His body was so soft and warm - like nothing I had ever felt before - and it was absolutely amazing to feel him outside of me.

I cannot describe how incredible I felt immediately following his birth. It really was like the highest high I have ever experienced in my life. I was beaming from ear to ear and talking up a storm. "You must be the midwife! Awesome! Thanks for being here!" When she told me she almost missed my baby's birth and had to deliver him without gloves because he came out so fast I was like, "You totally could have lied to me - I would have had NO IDEA if you were here or not!" I couldn't have counted the number of times I blurted out, "I did it! It's over! I can't believe it. I DID IT!!!"

Amidst all this post birth euphoria was my sweet baby boy. Finn! I couldn't believe he was finally here. After all these months of waiting and wondering he was just here, on my chest, looking up at me with his curious little eyes and taking it all in for the very first time. He was absolutely perfect. (Which is amazing no matter how often it happens.) He reminded me so much of Liam as a newborn which was very sweet (So this is what our babies look like!) and made me feel completely relaxed and confident (I've been down this road before...I LOVE this road!).

What an experience. Yes, it was hard and painful and at times felt impossible but I did it. I DID IT! And that's kind of awesome. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure it's hard no matter how you do it (it certainly was for me). But the craziest thing is not how I felt during the birth but how I felt afterward. And I'm not just talking about being high as a kite on oxytocin and being able to get up and walk to the bathroom ALL BY MYSELF less than an hour after delivery. I'm talking about now. It's been three weeks since Finn was born and I feel more healed now than I did three years after my first delivery. It wasn't something that happened to me, it was something that I did. And that is a powerful distinction. My memories are all warm and fuzzy (probably because I was in my happy place most of the time) and I can hardly remember feeling any pain at all (even though I know I did). It's bizarre and amazing and absolutely one of the most powerful things I have ever done in my life.

Of course, right? I mean, it's kind of like having a really great hair day after you book an appointment with your stylist. If I had had a perfect pregnancy and awesome birth the first time around that would have made having the second baby we knew we wanted way too easy. Now that we're 99% sure our family is complete is a much more interesting time for me to realize how much I love being pregnant and birthing babies.

Complete perfection.

Not that I'm lining up to give birth again. I mean, it's really hard. But with preparation and support and the right team on your side, it's a pretty magical experience. And absolutely worth it.

(Although, at the end of the day, welcoming a new baby into your life is amazing no matter how you slice it. I mean, come on! That is just a swaddled miracle in a tiny knit cap!)

*****

Big thanks to my husband, our amazing doula Beulah Kyle (and her other client who needed some rest and let us steal her for an hour and a half!), the Vanderbilt Midwives and all my awesome nurses, Grandma for being here and having perfect timing, and Liam for transitioning so gracefully into his new role as big brother. (Can you tell I'm still a little high on birth? Whee!!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The birth story - part 2.

After Liam was born, it took me a long time to recover. Physically it was tough but the emotional toll it took was even tougher. It was hard for me to imagine ever going through pregnancy and childbirth again. Even though I knew I could do it (I had done it!) and I had an amazing son to remind me just how worth it the whole thing was, part of me was totally willing to chicken out and settle on an only child. Ignorance was bliss the first time around, but now? Now I knew too much.

The trouble was, I had wanted at least two kids my entire life. And even though it was easy to pretend I didn’t, I still really wanted a second baby. Eventually. At some point. Like maybe when I could entertain the idea without automatically crossing my legs and feeling a wave of nausea wash over me. I figured when the time was right, I would know. So I waited.

In the meantime, I found great comfort in telling myself how easy and convenient it would be to have a scheduled c-section the next time around. Too posh to push? You bet your ass!

Then sometime last summer I noticed I had stopped gawking at pregnant women like, You fool! Do you have any idea what fresh hell you'll have to go through to get that baby out? I knew this was a sign I was healing. And by the time I got pregnant with Finn, it was almost as if I’d had a full blown lobotomy. Sure he would have to come out at some point but he was only like the size of a sunflower seed. How hard could it be?

Weeks passed and my little sunflower seed grew into a grape and then a tangerine. But instead of getting scared at the inevitability of labor and birth, I was almost…excited. It was like pregnancy had forced me into in a perpetual state of amnesia and optimism. Instead of saying things like, "I don't know what's so wrong with a c-tuck" I was switching from my OB/GYN to a midwife and watching The Business of Being Born like it was my job.

Still. When I first met my midwife and she asked if I was planning to deliver naturally I was like, "Woah, lady. Woah. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. My plan is to take this crazy thing one step at a time, okay? I mean, geez! Ever heard of playing it by ear!?!"

But then I watched The Business of Being Born a few more dozen times and checked out Pushed from the library and started to change my tune. Before you could scream, “Epidural!” I was telling my midwife that I wanted to do it naturally and knew that I could if only I had the right support. Hiring my doula and plowing through the stack of books she lent me (HypnoBirthing, Birthing from Within and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to name a few) sort of sealed the deal in my mind. While I knew I would absolutely go with the flow come birth day, I also knew that I had all the tools I needed to find out once and for all if natural childbirth was really all it’s cracked up to be.

As my due date approached, all of the information I had been gathering over the months (combined with all the experience, emotions and memories from over the years) formed what can only be described as my birth plan. Unlike the birth plan my midwife had me type up for my chart (no my husband would not like to cut the cord - please don't even ask him), this birth plan was just for me. I guess it was sort of like my philosophy. It consisted of two basic ideas:
  1. My body and my baby know better than I do. Toward the end of my pregnancy I realized that while my brain may very well be helpful in some situations, it is not necessarily helpful in all situations. Just imagine if we had to know how to turn an egg and a sperm into a human being in order to have a baby. Most of us would have no idea how to make that string of miracles happen and yet perfect babies are born all the time. Amazing! I started to see birth as part of the process instead of the time for little ol’ me to take the reins from my body. I knew that if I could get my mind out of the equation, my body and my baby would know exactly what to do. Trust my body; trust my baby.

  2. No expectations. This didn’t come into focus for me until right before I went into labor. For most of my pregnancy, I was full of expectations. Mostly along the lines of, This time is going to be SO MUCH BETTER than last time! But one of the books I read confronted me with something that really made me think: What if it’s not better? What if it’s worse? Longer? Harder? More painful? Then what? While at first I wanted to slam shut the book and watch some bad TV to clear my mind, after I sat with it for a moment it actually made me feel better. Because there is absolutely no way to know how a birth is going to be until it happens. If I went in thinking, “This is going to be great!” and it wasn't, that would only add insult to injury. So I recommitted to playing it by ear. I also stopped thinking about what a “good birth” would look like. Why pigeon hole myself into what I “think” would be ideal (quiet focus, laboring in the tub, pushing in a squat…) when my body really wouldn’t know what it needed to do until it needed to do it? Once again, I knew I would need to get out of my head and just take each and every moment as it came.
So that was it. I felt like I had all the tools I needed (including relaxation and breathing techniques and an excellent team who was all on the same page) and the confidence that I could "do it" no matter what that ended up meaning. All I had to do now was wait for Finn to be ready.

Continued here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The birth story - part 1.

I know, I know - it's super annoying to break a story into parts like this. But here's the thing - it's already been a week since my son was born. A week! If I keep going at the pace I've been going, there's no telling when I'll wrap this thing up. I'm hoping if I try to just tell one bit at a time, I might actually be able to hit "publish" some time soon. Besides - haven't you ever noticed that a lot of birth stories on blogs are written in parts? I always thought that was kind of stupid but now I understand completely: when you have a baby attached to one of your boobs 90% of the time and are unable to actually sit down on account of hemorrhoids or stitches or any combination of the two, your chances of camping out in front of the computer and banging out a story in one foul swoop are like, nonexistent. Add in a beautiful baby who needs to be stared at and kissed on the top of the head all day long and, well, you start to see why these things take time.

As with everything the second time around, I find it impossible to tell Finn's story without first telling Liam's. Although completely different, the two are inextricably linked in my mind. I could never have had the experience I had with Finn had it not been for Liam. In fact, everything about me today feels like a direct result of becoming Liam's mother. I am as far from the person I was on the day of his birth as he is. We've grown a lot in four and a half years.

(I should probably warn you - I woke up this morning on one of those emotional postpartum roller coasters that is completely normal from 3 days to 2 weeks after giving birth. I haven't been able to think about Liam without being completely overwhelmed with gratitude. And tears. And awe. And more tears. So...this could be interesting.)

Thursday, February 2, 2006: 8 pm - Sit down to watch Project Runway with a man-sized portion of my husband's homemade eggplant parmesan (chosen with the express intention of bringing on labor - I was a miserable 5 days past my due date). Before Heidi can say, "You're out," I'm having contractions.

Friday, February 3, 2006: 3 am - Wake to even stronger contractions. Get in the bath to relax and prepare for labor (i.e. shave my legs). 6 am - Call work and leave a message. Something along the lines of, "I won't be in to work today because I'M IN LABOR!!!" 7 am - Wake up Bill, tell him today's the day, e-mail or call everyone we love to tell them we're about to have our baby, promise to keep them updated and turn off our phones, sit around with a stop watch and wait for my contractions to be a minute long and less than five minutes apart for an hour (the magic 5-1-1 rule). 9 pm - We're so close! Get in the shower and start getting ready to go to the hospital. 9:15 pm - Bill gives me a little massage to help me relax. 9:20 pm - Realize I have no idea when my last contraction was. 9:30 pm - Still no contractions. 10:00 pm - WTF?!? 10:15 pm - In a last ditch effort to get things back on track, go to the nearest 24 hour Walmart and try to "walk the baby out". 10:30 pm - Forget the walking. Get ice cream and Gatorade, drive home and go to bed.

Saturday, February 4, 2006: All day - Basically it's Friday all over again. Only this time we're understandably skeptical. Continue having regular contractions and waiting for the magic 5-1-1. Watch a lot of movies and lay around checking the stopwatch. Wait. Debate whether or not we should make a pot of chili for the Superbowl Sunday chili cook-off the next day. Decide to err on the side of caution and make the chili. It's delicious. 9:30 pm - Could it be? 5-1-1!? Shower, get dressed, cry a little. 10:15 pm - Drive to the hospital. 10:30 pm - Triage nurse informs me I'm only 3.5 cm. I do the math: if I was 3 cm at my doctor's appointment 5 days ago and I've been having contractions for 2 days, then that means I will be in labor FOREVER. Feel nauseous. Hope they won't send me home. 11:00 pm - Get into our labor and deliver room. All hell breaks loose.

Sunday, February 5, 2006: Between midnight and 2 am - Progress to 6 cm (i.e. - scream, yell, have hot and cold flashes, projectile vomit chili, rotate head 360 degrees, scare the hell out of my husband, forget where I am, scare the hell out of myself). 2 am - Nurse grabs my face and yells at me nose-to-nose, "Maggie! You have got to get on top of this thing NOW if you're going to do it. You're only 6 cm. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better." 2:05 am - Request epidural. Lay quietly in bed while waiting for the anesthesiologist. Nurse asks me if I'm feeling better or if I can just see the light at the end of the tunnel. Have no idea how to respond. 2:15 am - Get the epidural, thank God for modern medicine, fall asleep. 6 am - Doctor on call arrives at hospital and checks me. Still 6 cm. 6 am until 11:30 am - I have no recollection of ever progressing past 6 cm. I know many attempts were made (i.e. - Pitocin, breaking my water, flipping me to one side, replenishing my water, flipping me to the other side, more Pitocin...) but it seems like every time they checked me, I was still 6 cm. 11:30 am - Laying on my right side, hoping the baby will rotate into a more ideal position (he was head down but facing left instead of toward my back), I suddenly notice my right side is completely dead while my left side is in excruciating pain. Nurse flips me onto my left side to try to even out the epidural and calls the anesthesiologist back for a booster. 11:45 am - Boost in epidural essentially kills me from the waist down. I could literally cut off my own leg without so much as a whimper. Noon - Doctor arrives and she and the nurse suggest I try pushing. They get me situated into a semi-seated position with my big dead legs in the air. Bill holds onto one, the nurse holds onto the other, and I pull back on both of them. The nurse puts pressure where she wants me to push and asks me to push with my next contraction. Do my best impression of "a woman pushing her baby out" and ask, "Am I pushing now?" Between noon and 2:20 pm - Continue pushing every time I have a contraction. Since I still can't feel anything from the waist down, we just wait until the baby's heart rate drops on the monitor (they said he was compressing the cord as he was descending) and then I "push" while everyone else counts to ten. Between pushing, I'm on oxygen (while I'm pushing, Bill uses it). Can't help but notice that even though the doctor and nurse are saying things like, "You're doing it, I can see the head, just a few more pushes and your baby will be here," they are also looking at each other like, "This baby is never coming out." Start to wonder if I should tell them they're right. There is no way in hell this baby is coming out. It feels like I am pushing against a brick wall. Like nothing is happening or changing. He feels humongous. Lay there wondering how they're ever going to get him out. Seriously consider telling them to push whatever part they see back in so they can prep me for a c-section. 2:20 pm - Liam is actually, miraculously born! My blood splattered doctor holds him up for me to see and says, "You just delivered a toddler!" Bill is crying, "He's purple and he has a cone head!" I always thought I would cry when my baby was born like I do when I watch A Baby Story but instead I am overcome with relief and exhaustion. And I'm so thirsty. After they weigh him (8 lbs, 13.5 oz; 22 inches long) and wrap him up and put the stuff in his eyes or whatever, I get to hold my baby.

It's amazing. He is so big and alert and calm. I breastfeed him a little but my arms are shaky from all the pulling on my legs and I'm afraid I might drop him. Bill takes him while they finish sewing me up and what not. By now I would happily kill for something to drink. At some point, Bill goes with Liam to the nursery for his bath while I wait for our recovery room to be ready. After a touch-and-go trip to the bathroom (my God I felt awful!), I am okayed for a room transfer. On our way, I ask to be wheeled past the nursery so I can lay eyes on my baby. We've stood outside the glass ogling the newborns several times over the past nine months and it is completely surreal and amazing that one of them is actually ours now. He looks so big and healthy compared to the others and it doesn't hurt that he's easily the cutest one in the bunch. This feels like it could be my Baby Story moment but the tears don't come.

I could go on and on but that pretty much sums it up. It's funny - writing about it now makes it seem so much less traumatic than I remembered it before. I think I have Finn to thank for that. Had it not been for his birth, I might have continued to be haunted by Liam's. But now I see it clearly for what it was: an absolute miracle. Looking back I am completely blown away that even though I didn't exactly pull my weight in getting him here (really, I felt more like a spectator than anything), he still came out. He came out! And boy is he amazing.


Continued here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And the winner is...

I checked all of the entries in the comments here as well as on my post on Facebook and found that Stacy is the big winner. Woo hoo! It's crazy how close she got. She and her husband put their heads together on this on which just goes to show teamwork can be very important. They guessed Finn would be born on August 7th at 9 am (he was actually born on the 7th at 5:55 am) and thought he would weigh 8 pounds, 7 ounces and be 21.5 inches long (he was 8 pounds, 5 ounces and 21 inches long!).

Isn't he just the cutest?

Congratulations, Stacy and Todd! You won a $30 gift certificate from Trendy Tots -n- Polka Dots, a super cute online children's boutique that sells, among other things, adorable infant car seat covers. Check out their great summer sale going on now or find and "like" them on Facebook.

Thanks to everyone who played along (cyber baby pool is way more fun than office baby pool) and a special thanks to Megan from Trendy Tots -n- Polka Dots for providing this fabulous prize. Yay!

(Stacy - I'll email you with details!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Introducing...

Griffin Nicholas Conran

Finn

Born Saturday, August 7th at 5:55 am
8 pounds, 5 ounces; 21" long

We are all doing great and beyond thrilled that our little guy is finally here. I can't wait to share the story of his birth with you...in the meantime, here are a few photos of our happy family.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jump in my baby pool and WIN A PRIZE!

Bill came home from work on Monday in the most foul mood. It was much more than your typical "back to the daily grind after a fun weekend at home with your family" type of mood. This mood was unshakable. When I asked him what was wrong, I found it very hard to show sympathy with a straight face. As it turns out, he was simply experiencing a nasty side effect of pregnancy that only happens toward the end of the third trimester: BABY WATCH. Since this is the first pregnancy symptom he has suffered from that I have not, I couldn't help but snicker a little.

I had baby watch BAD when I was pregnant with Liam. For the last couple weeks of my pregnancy I had to endure everyone at work filing past my office several times a day to check the baby pool taped to my door. They'd say things like, "Still pregnant?" or "I've got Friday - do you think you can hold out until then?" or "Come on lady! I put my money on today and it's almost 4:00 and you're still just sitting here! WHY CAN'T YOU JUST HAVE THAT BABY ALREADY?!"

It totally sucked.

But this pregnancy I am practically untouchable. It's too damn hot for me to really leave the house and no one has come knocking on the door asking me if I've gone into labor yet. So that's nice. Plus, Facebook does a pretty good job keeping people up to date with my gestating. As long as I post something every day or so, people tend to get that I'm still pregnant. Although, it's not a perfect system. My sister called me in a panic yesterday because she had read on Facebook that I was on my way to the hospital and hoping I wouldn't be put on bed rest.

"Um, no. I said I was on the the way to the pet store and hoping to get Liam a fish. I mean, I am in bed resting but it's just 'cause I'm hot, not on bed rest."

"Are you sure? I swear you posted that in your status update."

"Nope. Not me."

"Oh. Maybe it was someone else. Well that's good. I would be pissed if I found out you had your baby on Facebook."

Noted.

Even though I was not a big fan of baby watch with my first pregnancy and hated whoever started that damn baby pool at my office, I'm still going to ask:

WHEN DO YOU THINK MY BABY WILL BE BORN?

Leave me a comment with the date and time you think think this little bundle of love will finally make his appearance and whoever gets the closest will win a $30 gift certificate from Trendy Tots ~n~ Polka Dots. Go ahead and take a guess at his weight and length while you're at it. Just in case we need a tie breaker. And don't forget to leave your name so you can claim your prize if you win.

Yay!

Oh, and if you're one of those people who likes to make informed decisions, here's some insider info for you:
  • My official "due date" is August 9th.

  • Liam was either 8 days late or 3 days late - depending on which "due date" you believed.

  • According to my midwife this morning, my cervix is "very ripe" (I know, gross, right?) and I am about 2 centimeters dilated.

  • I was dilated 3 centimeters for at least a week before I had Liam.

  • Liam was 8 pounds, 13.5 ounces and 22 inches long when he was born.

  • After pushing on my belly this morning, my midwife estimated Finn is probably about 8 pounds already.

  • But I've gained about half as much weight as I did when I was pregnant with Liam so we'll see.

  • Our nursery is ready and my suitcase is packed.

  • But Grandma doesn't arrive until tomorrow night.

  • I am fairly uncomfortable (hot, mostly) but not quite miserable yet.

  • Once Grandma is here, I will probably start eating lots of eggplant and may even consider seducing my husband (eggplant and sex are supposed to help you go into labor).

  • Although I sure do enjoy sleeping through the night and eating ice cream like it's my job...

  • As of this evening, I look like this:

    I'm still smiling but I've clearly stopped grooming myself.
    Kind of like a cat before she goes off somewhere to die...
The contest will close at midnight on Thursday, August 5th so post your comment NOW. Good luck! And let the games begin!!