About a month before my due date, Philip got a job promotion; the new position was in Huntington Beach, California. During the few weeks prior to the promotion news, as Philip was interviewing, we started thinking seriously about plans for this baby. If he started in October, before the baby was due, when would I move (since I obviously couldn’t move at 9 months pregnant)? What if he was working in California when I went into labor? Who did I trust enough to be with me while I delivered the baby if my husband couldn’t be there? Once the baby was born, how soon would we all make the move? So many unanswered questions.
Once Philip got the job, however, we could finally start solidifying some of these plans. With a start date of November 5th, we decided to schedule an induction for October 26th, which insured that he would be here for the birth, and have a full week of paternity leave after the baby arrived, before he had to move.
In my last month of pregnancy, I began getting checked at my weekly appointments, and remained consistently dilated to one centimeter, never progressing more than that, despite the contractions that I was having several times a day. During the week leading up to my induction date, we started taking long walks to help move things along, and the day before I even ran up and down the outside stairs for a few minutes with the hope that it would break my water. No such luck.
On the morning of the 26th, we woke up around 7:30am and lounged around in bed for a bit, basking in our last few hours as parents of one. At 8:30, the hospital called and said that although they were slammed, I should come in at 10:00am. I jumped in the shower, and then spent the next hour getting myself ready, and packing a few last minute things in my hospital bag. As we dropped Peanut off at Leanne’s and headed for the hospital, l grabbed Philip’s hand, gave him a little smile, and said, “this is it!” And off we went.
Because of how busy the hospital was, and because I was there for an induction, we had to wait for about half an hour before getting checked in. So it was about 10:30 by the time we got into the delivery room, and almost 11:30 by the time they started the pitocin, since we first had to go through all the family history questions, and then have a full 30 minutes of monitoring on the baby before the pitocin could be administered.
Once I was all hooked up, the day turned into a waiting game.
After an hour on the pitocin, I had the nurse check my progress to see if I’d dilated at all. I’d still been at a one when I arrived, and after an hour of pitocin I was still only at a one (one and a half, she said, if she was being generous). Everyone had told me that second babies came way faster than first babies, so I was convinced that if the doctor came and broke my water, things would start progressing really quickly. I kept bugging the nurse about this every time she came in, asking when the doctor would be in, and although she had no idea, she assured me she would try to find out.
Finally at 3:00pm, the doctor came in and broke my water, announcing that I was now a whopping two centimeters dilated. He told me he thought things would speed up with my water broken, so I asked for my epidural at this point since my contractions were getting very strong, very frequent, and pretty painful already. At 3:30, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. When I got my epidural with Peanut, I was dilated to a seven or an eight, and forced to be on oxygen because of the pain, so the whole thing was pretty much a blur. This time I felt much more coherent, and spent the entire procedure laughing and joking with the nice doctor. He commented several times on how happy and smiley I was, considering I was having such huge contractions.
Now that my water was broken and I had my epidural, the waiting game continued. The nurse came in to check on me every forty five minutes, and in between checks we watched youtube videos (auto-tune the news, mostly — we laughed a lot at this one), and then turned on the TV to watch Minute to Win It and Wipeout (which also had us laughing hysterically, as usual).
At six o’clock our nurse’s shift ended, and a new nurse was assigned to us. I was sad to see our first nurse go, but quickly warmed up to the second nurse. Before our first nurse left, she went through the events of the day, filling our new nurse in on everything. As she told how slowly I was progressing, the new nurse said she felt like the time was coming soon. I’d just been checked again and was now barely dilated to a four, but she said she was confident that our little boy would soon make his move and I’d start progressing quickly. I was dubious.
Once the shift change was taken care of, I told Philip to go get dinner in the hospital cafe. I was obviously making very little progress, so he should go get something to eat since we were looking at a long night ahead of us. We called Leanne to tell Peanut good night (since he was now going to be spending the night with them), and then Philip left to go get dinner. Right before this, the nurse came in and told me my doctor was at dinner with his family, but he’d be back in a bit and it should be a concern anyway because I wasn’t progressing quickly at all.
I suddenly found myself alone in the delivery room (now at about 6:45pm), and surrounded by total silence, I realized that I was starting to feel my contractions a little bit, although mostly what I felt was a lot of pressure. I reached for the little epidural button to give myself another dose, but couldn’t find it, and with mostly numb legs, couldn’t move around to look for it. I pushed the nurse button and a delivery nurse came in to help me find the epidural button. I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure, so she said she’d check me just to see if I was progressing. I’d been checked less than ten minutes before, and was still only four centimeters dilated, but I let her check anyway. I was just coming out of a big contraction, and as she checked she said, “During the contraction you were about a nine. Now you’re at an eight and a half.” Just like that, in less than ten minutes, I’d progressed five centimeters!
Suddenly panicking, I frantically called Philip, telling him this baby was coming soon and to get back up there as soon as possible! He shoveled his food down (burning the roof of his mouth in the process), and rushed back up to the delivery room. They called the doctor, who cut his dinner short and rushed over to the hospital, and they called the anesthesiologist, who showed up about fifteen minutes later to give me a second small dose of medication since I was feeling pretty much all my very strong contractions at this point.
With everyone now in the delivery room, ready to go, I got checked one more time, was at a ten, and was now ready to push. When they broke my water hours before, they found a bit of meconium in my water, which concerned them a bit. So along with the two delivery nurses, the doctor, Philip, and a student nurse, there were two NICU nurses waiting to check out the baby as soon as he was born.
During my delivery with Peanut, everything was such a blur. Since I pushed for forty five minutes with him, I was so exhausted by the end that I only vaguely remember the actual delivery and the hour or so after delivery. This time I was so determined to stay coherent and aware, just so I could soak up every moment of the miracle of childbirth. Also, from recent conversations and feelings that Philip and I had had, I believed (and still believe) that the moment the baby takes its first breath is when the spirit and body meet, and I was also determined to be very coherent during this really sacred and special moment.
Despite my quick progress at the end, and a huge amount of pressure and urge to push that I continued to feel up until the baby was delivered, I still had to push for about fifteen minutes. The baby was stuck under my pelvic bone and was having a hard time getting past that point. It took all my strength to push through each contraction, and although the goal was to get two big pushes per contraction, the nurse kept urging me to get one more push in at the end of each contraction because he was so close. Finally after a rather large episiotomy, the baby emerged at 7:43pm with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. The doctor unwrapped the cord from around his neck and the baby took his first breath, quickly followed by a loud wail. This moment, although short, was so spiritual and emotional and sacred as I almost physically felt the presence of his spirit in the room as it entered this tiny human being.
Although he was literally covered head to toe in meconium, he was deemed perfectly healthy by the NICU nurses, and received a 9 on his Apgar test. While they cleaned him up a bit and weighed and measured him (7 lbs, 2 oz, 19 in), I delivered the placenta. I remember asking Philip about this after Peanut’s delivery, not even remembering that part of the delivery. Again, this time, I was determined to pay attention, and once the placenta was delivered, I asked to see it. A little surprised, the doctor pulled it out of the large tub and showed me the different sides of it, and the opening where the baby had been. It reminded me of those aliens from Independence Day.
After a few minutes, they brought the baby over and placed him on my chest. Although we thought he looked like Peanut at first, once we got a closer look we determined that he actually looked quite a bit different — mostly much lighter skin and hair.
After a little skin to skin time, he nursed for the first time and latched like a champ (which was a big relief, considering how tough Peanut was to nurse).
Once I had held him for about twenty minutes, they took him back to warm him up and clean him up a bit more. I took this chance to ditch my hospital gown and change into — you guessed it — one of my favorite Target t-shirts, which made me feel about a thousand percent better.
Right from the beginning, he was a very good natured baby, and has continued to be so good natured during the last two and a half weeks.
Although we were concerned about Peanut’s adjustment, he has proven to be such a good big brother and has transitioned pretty smoothly. He adores his baby brother and loves to lay by him, make him hold his finger, and point out his “bright eyes” when he’s awake. It’s the best.
We’re still all transitioning a bit, and two babies is obviously crazier than one, but being a family of four is proving to be better than we could have ever imagined.
Welcome to our family, sweet Buckaroo. We’re so glad to have you.