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Friday, September 4, 2009

A Whole Year

Well, it's happened, and I'm not entirely sure how. Somehow, I managed to get through a whole year with babies born just thirteen months apart.

I'm not going to tell you it's the easiest thing I've ever done, because it's not. It's not the hardest thing, either. Some days are difficult and some are not, but as time goes by, we have far more easy days than hard ones. It's been equally as difficult as having children with a three year age gap, just in different ways.

To celebrate, I thought I would share a little about becoming a mom of two under two.

Beastie was around five months old when I learned that The Babe was coming. I was, to say the least, very surprised. We had not been using any birth control, but were following the rules of Lactational Amenorrhea to the letter. I was not worried about becoming pregnant, because it had taken two full years (almost to the day) to conceive Beastie. We had even used fertility treatments. So I really, truly didn't think I was in danger of becoming pregnant again, especially so soon.

I don't remember why I took the pregnancy test. I don't remember if my period was late, or if I felt sick, or what. I don't remember the actual taking of the test either. But I do remember the horror and shock of being pregnant again. A due date of September 8, 2008 was assigned, based on that funny little wheel the doctor uses.

Soon after I discovered I was pregnant, I began to bleed. Heavily. There were ultrasounds and tests and things didn't look so good, but then suddenly, around 15 weeks, the bleeding stopped. And the bean kept growing. And then, he showed us that he was a boy.

I was so shocked to be having a baby boy. The Hub has a daughter from his first marriage, and we have three daughters together. I seriously for real thought he didn't have any Y sperms in there. I just figured he only made girls. I assumed The Babe would be a girl. Apparently, The Hub had plenty of Y sperm, or, well, at least one.

September 2, 2008, was EJ's first day of school. Up until then, she had been homeschooled, so it was a very big deal for her. It also happened to be the hottest day of the year. EJ got off the bus around 3:45, and I waddled my extremely pregnant self down to the end of the driveway to meet her. She presented me with a huge list of stuff I had forgotten - school supplies, kleenex, you name it.

I had been feeling pretty crummy all day - like I had to pee, but nothing would come out, and crampy and tired and just bad. But we had to go get all the stuff for school, so we piled into our non-air conditioned van and went to WalMart, where all the other bad moms were buying stuff too. Nothing we needed was in stock and the place was totally packed to the gills. I had never felt so tired in my life and I really feared I would pass out right there in the store. I kept running to the restroom to pee but just couldn't. My guts felt like they were on fire, and that horrible low pressure was just killing me.

We came home. We went to bed. I didn't have a baby.

The next day, September 3rd, was Five's first day of preschool. I felt good in the morning, but by lunchtime, that weird pressure was back, accompanied by contractions. I had been having braxton hicks contractions for months, and these didn't feel much different. We picked up Five and made a quick stop at Arby's, but I couldn't eat. It just didn't taste good to me, and I really didn't feel all that hungry anyway.

We came home and The Hub went to work, and Five and I decided to put together the Pack N Play. Before I could do that, though, I had to move the old Pack N Play into the bedroom, and sort all the toys in the bedroom, and mop the bedroom floor. I should have recognized this as nesting, but it didn't occur to me. I had never nested with any of my previous babies, so I didn't really think much of it.

Five and I put together the Pack N Play, and then I made a humongous dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and green beans and rolls. Just a massive dinner, which was also odd, because it had been so hot and I was so pregnant, and cooking big heavy meals was not something I had been doing.

Throughout all of this, I continued to have regular Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren't painful, but they were definitely noticeable. They seemed to be coming every 8 or 10 minutes, but I knew they weren't labor because there was no pain associated with them.

EJ got off the bus at her usual time, and we all ate dinner a little later. I couldn't eat much; the food held no appeal to me. Then we watched some tv and pretty much just hung out until The Hub got home from work around 10:30. By this time, all the kids were asleep and my contractions were closer together and uncomfortable. Around this time I realized that things were picking up and that the baby would be here soon, but I didn't tell anyone that. I went to bed as usual, before midnight, and slept for about an hour, but then the contractions woke me up. Now they were 5 to 6 minutes apart and I had to kneel against the bed to deal with them. I still wouldn't classify them as painful, just really intense squeezing that required my full attention.

I got up and made some soup. I figured I hadn't eaten all day, and since I would be having a baby soon, I was going to need all the energy I could get. Again, I couldn't eat. I did sip some of the broth, but I couldn't make myself eat anything else. I woke The Hub up around 2 am on September 4, and we called my mom around 3 am. She came and sat with the girls and we headed to the hospital. I had been diagnosed with polyhydramnios around the middle of pregnancy, and had very high amniotic fluid levels, which can be indicative of some really scary problems, so we had decided to continue with OB care and have the baby in the hospital.

So anyway, off we went. When we arrived, I was dilated to 6 cm and 90% effaced. My contractions continued regularly, but after a few hours, my cervix was not dilating, so the nurses wanted me to go home. At this point my contractions were coming every 3 minutes or so, and were uncomfortable. Not excruciating, like transition, but definitely uncomfortable. The Hub was furious that I would be sent home this far in labor, but it turned out okay, because my own doctor came in and did an ultrasound, and it turns out, I wasn't dilating because of all the excess fluid. There was a huge pocket of fluid between the baby's head and my cervix, preventing him from pressing down to help it open. Finally they believed I was in active labor and admitted me.

They started pitocin around 11 am, but I'm not sure why. I think they wanted to make the contractions even stronger so they'd open the cervix, but looking back, this doesn't make much sense, since they had already determined that my cervix wasn't going to open without the pressure of the baby's head.

They kept cranking up the pit, and contractions were coming every 45 second to a minute, and they were really hurting. This continued until 7 pm, when I was checked and determined to be at - you guessed it - 6 centimeters. At least I was 100% effaced, but that wasn't much consolation at all. The doctor decided it would be best to break my water, but we had really wanted to avoid that. There was so much fluid and the baby's head was so high up that there was an increased risk of cord prolapse, a very serious and possibly life threatening complication.

At this point I had to make a choice. I could get an epidural and be prepped for a c-section, in case the cord prolapsed, or I could stay where I was with no epidural and then, if the cord prolapsed, be put under general anesthesia for a section.

I chose the epidural. I felt that if I was already prepped, I could at least be awake for the baby's birth if there was an emergency.

The doctor broke my water and immediately - like, within thirty seconds, my cervix dilated from 6cm to 10. The doctor had used a special needle to break the water, instead of the amniohook, because a big gush of fluid would be far more dangerous than the slow leak the needle made. The doctor's hands were still in there and she could feel my cervix just open right up.

There was no frantic flurry of activity, like there had been with my other babies. A nurse came in and calmly wheeled in the warmer and instrument table. The lights were dimmed, except for the big one that the doctor uses, and it was very quiet and serene. It was dark out, and the drought we'd been having all summer was broken by the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. All I could hear was the heart tone monitor on my belly and the rain beating against the window. The nurse who had originally tried to send me home came into the room - she was back on duty - and held my hand. Then it was time to push.

I started pushing around 8pm. It was very odd to push without any sensation. Luckily, I had had three babies before, so I knew which muscles to use. I pushed three or four times and at 8:12 pm, my sweet Babe was born! He came exactly one year, one month, one week, and one day after his big sister was born.

He weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces - a tiny baby for me - and was completely healthy. He had none of the congenital problems that sometimes accompany babies with polyhydramnios. They wiped him off and put him on my belly, but not too high, because his cord was pretty short. The Hub cut his cord and then I lay in bed with my gorgeous baby boy, getting acquainted. He wasn't interested in nursing. Instead, he just lay there and looked at me for the longest time. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they took him and weighed him and cleaned him up. He stayed with me the entire time we were there, because I was terrified they would take him and circumcise him on accident. I even made little signs for his plastic box that said "Don't Circumcise." It wasn't even an issue, thankfully.

We stayed in the hospital for two days, an on the second night, when The Babe was right around 24 hours old, the city set fireworks off in the park across from the hospital. We watched from our room. Later that night, a famous Grand Rapids restaurant burned down, and we watched that too. It was very surreal.

And now, one year later, my baby can walk. He can climb. He can turn himself around to get off the couch or bed safely, feet first. He says "Hi" and "Bye" and "CAT!" And he still looks exactly the same as he did when he was born, just a whole lot bigger and with a little more hair.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!


Witchy Mom's Homeschool said...

What a beautiful memoire to celebrate a year of changes and excitement. Congrats on making it through with any semblance of sanity left! My 2 littlest ones are exactly 2 years apart (to the DAY), and I am right there with you with the sentiment "It's the best of times and the worst of times" (so to speak). It's always wonderful, but not always a cinch.

Have a great rest of your night, and hug and kiss those little ones extra tight in honor of a year well-spent!

Vero said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for writing it.