I can hardly fathom it, but today is Peanut’s first birthday. I cannot believe how fast a year went. There will be plenty of posting about the various celebrations, but I thought that today it would be fun to post his birth story, which I wrote right after he was born but never posted.
Fair warning, this is an insanely long post.
Sunday, April 11, 2010.
After dinner on Sunday night, we took a walk.
The previous Sunday had been Easter and General Conference, so we’d taken a walk that evening as well. I guess since we had walked pretty slowly as we made our way around south Provo, no movement from the baby or my body made itself known. This week with a walk, I was determined to get labor going.
Although I wasn’t all that uncomfortable and I still had five days until my due date, I was pretty convinced that I would go into labor early – and I was telling everyone just that. Philip had been serving in the singles ward bishopric for the last year, and as my pregnancy progressed through our months of service in the ward, all the single adults, although with me, became more and more anxious for the arrival of our baby. That day at church, when they asked how much longer I had, I told many of them we were planning on having a baby that very night. Of course it was a joke, but in the back of my mind I hoped that it might be true.
As we walked out the door for our walk, I turned to Philip. “If I’m going to induce labor with this walk, we have to pick up the pace a bit.”
So off we went, briskly walking (or rather, waddling) around Provo for the next two hours, talking excitedly about the possibility of having a baby the next day.
Rounding the last corner and entering our condo complex parking lot, Philip said, “I’ve heard from some of my work buddies that walking up and down stairs can help break your water. It worked for their wives!” The idea sounded crazy, but it couldn’t hurt, right?
Our condo complex had several sets of exterior stairs that led up to the different condos. I chose the ones on the side of the building with split-levels so I’d only have to run up and down six or eight stairs, rather than twenty. Philip sat on a bench a few feet from the stairs and watched as I ran up and down them for the next fifteen minutes, taking a few breaks in between runs. I held tightly onto the handrails and intentionally bounced as I took each step.
“Please, be careful,” called Philip from the bench.
My body was sore and sweaty from our two hour walk, but I was a woman on a mission and with every jostling step I thought of the possibility of meeting our little boy in just a few hours.
Finally, I couldn’t take another step, and we decided to call it a night and went inside. Philip needed a haircut, so as he prepared the clippers, I got ready for bed. I walked out to the kitchen to get a cold water bottle for my bedside table, and as I approached the fridge, the first contraction came. I had asked many people, including my doctor, what the contractions would feel like. Most girls I asked told me they felt like menstrual cramps. The only problem was that I’d never had those types of cramps, so this was little help to me.
“You’ll know when it’s a real contraction,” was all the doctor had said.
Sure enough, the moment the contraction hit, as weak as it was, I knew. I called Philip from the kitchen and announced that perhaps our walk and running the stairs had worked! I was experiencing my first contraction!
Over the next few hours as I cut Philip’s hair, cleaned up the house, finished a few last minute things, and eventually fell into bed, the contractions continued to come. First every twenty minutes and only lasting a few seconds, but by the time I fell asleep at eleven o’clock, they had progressed to every seven or eight minutes and were lasting for a full minute.
Monday, April 12, 2010
At 1:00 AM I woke with a painful contraction. Unable to go back to sleep, I quietly pulled my laptop onto the bed and began reading blogs to occupy my mind. Every few minutes, as a contraction would come, I would squeeze my eyes shut, grab my pillow tightly, and count silently in my head until the pain subsided. I knew that if my labor didn’t progress, Philip would have to go to work in just a few short hours; so the last thing I wanted to do was wake him up.
By 3:00 AM, my contractions were coming every four to five minutes, and were lasting a full minute every time. This is the point where the books tell you to go to the hospital. Around this time Philip woke up, and realizing I was awake, asked me what was going on. I updated him on the progress of my labor, and for the next hour we sat awake, talking about what we should do. He tapped away at his blackberry, googling what to do at this stage of labor – should we go the hospital now? We determined that we should wait another few hours and see if my labor slowed down or continued to progress. At 4:00 AM, Philip said he needed a little more sleep and that I should begin counting my contractions for the next hour, write them down, and see where I was by 5:00 AM.
I woke Philip up an hour later and handed over my notebook with the time and length of all my contractions over the last hour. After a quick look at them, we saw they were coming every three to five minutes, and lasted one minute.
It was time to go to the hospital.
I climbed out of bed, doubling over every few minutes as the contractions hit me, and headed toward the shower. I had seen so many photos of women after giving birth, and I was determined to be one of the ones that had some makeup on, had her hair done, and actually looked decent. On a day where millions of pictures would be taken, I didn’t want to look like I’d been run over by a truck.
By six o’clock Philip and I were both showered and ready, the bags were in the car, and the camera was fully charged. We met in the kitchen right before leaving and Philip gave me a beautiful priesthood blessing, blessing me with strength and health as my labor progressed and I delivered our baby boy. With tears streaming down my face, we locked the front door and got in the car.
I had wanted to install the carseat and base before going to the hospital, but with the busyness of the weekend we hadn’t gotten around to it. Now, at six in the morning, we decided to do it. I sat in the front seat while Philip wrestled around in the back, trying to figure out how to install it. It was nearly ten minutes later that I realized I hadn’t had a contraction. I figured I shouldn’t say anything, but Philip had already noticed.
“When was your last contraction?” he asked.
“About ten minutes ago.”
“Of course…right when we’re heading to the hospital they decide to stop.”
But just as he said this, a strong contraction hit, and our determination to get to the hospital was reinforced.
We arrived at the hospital around six thirty and made our way up to the fifth floor. As we exited the elevator, we approached the large set of double doors that led into “Labor and Delivery.” I picked up the phone by the doors and called the front desk.
“Hello, may I help you?”
“Yeah, um, I’m in labor. Can you let me in?” The words sounded stupid as they came out, but I wasn’t sure what else to say.
The lock buzzed and the door opened. We took our seat in the empty waiting area and waited for the front desk to call us up. After five minutes, she asked me to come up to the desk where I filled out sheets of paperwork and got my first of many wristbands. The contractions continued to come as I stood at the desk and I bit my tongue to hold back my groans.
Finally she led us back past the front desk and through several more sets of doors until we reached the area with all the delivery rooms. Once in our room, she handed me a blue hospital gown and told me to put it on and my nurse would be in to check on me soon.
Jenn, the nurse, arrived a few minutes later and after checking me, she announced that I was dilated to a three and ninety percent effaced. For the hospital to consider me in “true labor,” they would check back in an hour and see if I was dilated to a four. If I was, they would let me stay. If not, I was going back home. She then hooked me up to two monitors (one to watch the baby’s heart and the other to watch my contractions), put in my IV, and attached me to a blood pressure monitor.
Then we waited.
During the next hour we kept our eyes on the monitor, watching my contractions grow stronger, making big linear mountains on the computer screen. I called my parents to tell them we were at the hospital. I had sent out an email to everyone during the middle of the night, letting them know I was in labor and planned to go the hospital within a few hours. Now that it was morning and everyone was awake, I called. My mom got choked up the second she picked up the phone.
“Do you have a baby?!” She asked, anxiously.
“No, not yet, but we’re at the hospital!” I told her that we had to wait another hour to see if we would stay or not.
We talked for twenty minutes or so about her birthing experiences, and as the contractions came she talked me through them, telling me to breathe and focus on something in the room until they passed. Amazingly, it helped and suddenly the contractions were a little easier to handle.
At 8:00 AM Jenn came in to check on me.
“You’re dilated to a four, and nearly one hundred percent effaced.” She announced. “That means you get to stay!”
Jenn asked if I wanted my epidural yet. I looked inquiringly at Philip and he subtly shook his head. Since I was still feeling pretty good, I told her I’d wait a little longer and would let her know when I was ready for it. She nodded her head and told me she’d be back in another hour to check on me.
The next hour crept by, but eventually my doctor, Dr. Woolsey, came in the door and after a quick check, let me know that I was now dilated to a five, one hundred percent effaced, and that my water was on the very verge of breaking. He said he would help me along and just break it for me, which would help speed up the labor. After this was taken care of, I turned to the nurse and told her I would like that epidural now. She smiled and left the room to get the anesthesiologist.
About ten minutes and several long and hard contractions later, the nurse came back and told us the anesthesiologist was in a procedure. He wouldn’t be available for another ten minutes.
“I can handle ten more minutes,” I told myself.
Forty-five minutes later the frazzled anesthesiologist came hurrying in the door. Tears streamed down my face and I tightly gripped the side of the delivery bed, watching my knuckles turn white. During the last forty-five minutes, my contractions had gotten stronger and more painful, and several times I yelled out to Philip, ordering him to get out of the room and find the anesthesiologist! I needed those drugs!
Jenn had given me some pain killer in my IV, which she told me would “take the edge off,” but I hadn’t noticed a difference. The pain was overwhelming and as each contraction hit, it was all I could do to not scream. I felt out of control and as the contractions took over my body, my hands, legs, and face began to get tingly and numb.
“Is this normal?” I asked the nurse, holding back the tears. If it was normal, it apparently wasn’t good normal, because she immediately pulled out an oxygen mask and I spent the next few hours breathing with its assistance.
Within seconds of the anesthesiologist walking in the door, he was apologizing for being late. I mumbled through my oxygen mask how glad I was to see him. Less than five minutes later, the epidural was in, and within fifteen minutes I was numb up to my belly button. Suddenly things were looking much brighter.
I spent the next hour sleeping, and I think Philip was able to get some rest as well. Although I’d tried to contain my pain for the last few hours, I had lost nearly all self-control in the half hour before the epidural; consequently, he was pretty stressed.
“I love epidurals,” he said, as I smiled and relaxed for the first time in hours.
At noon, Jenn came in to check on me again. I was dilated to a nine. She said she’d give me one more hour and see if I was ready to push. Since I’d been up since one o’clock that morning, I figured I’d better sleep a little more if I could, and I did.
1:00 PM rolled around and Jenn returned, and after another check, announced that I was dilated to a ten!
“Let’s do one push to see where you’re at.”
With some effort, she pushed my dead weight legs into position. Philip stood on one side, Jenn on the other. It was the weirdest sensation, not feeling my legs. I reached down and touched my left leg and it felt rubbery.
As the next contraction came, Jenn told me to push as she counted to ten. One breath, then ten more seconds of pushing. Then one last breath, and one more push.
“It looks like your little guy is ‘posterior’.” She explained that meant he was face up, rather than face down, as he should be. “But it does look like it’s about time to push.”
About a half an hour later, when the doctor had been notified and the room was prepared for delivery, the pushing began. Philip took over, counting to ten over and over through each contraction. Since I couldn’t feel anything, I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. Jenn was encouraging, telling me every few pushes how great I was doing, and to “keep doing exactly what you’re doing.”
During the next forty-five minutes, I continued to push through each contraction, Philip stalwartly standing by my side and counting slowly to ten; every so often he looked over at me and smiled encouragingly, telling me that I was doing great and that every time I pushed he could see the baby’s head – with a full head of hair! Jenn tried to maneuver the baby so he was right side up, but with little success. The most she got was a grab of her finger from our little boy, which was honestly more exciting than anything. It was so surreal, knowing that in just minutes, we would be meeting our little boy.
“Crowning!” Jenn announced, after forty-five minutes of pushing.
She immediately ran into the hallway and called the doctor, who showed up only a minute later. He quickly went to work, preparing all his shiny instruments on a little tray, covering himself with protective plastic gear, and instructing me to follow his every order.
Ten minutes, and about three pushes later, I looked down and saw my baby boy emerge from my body.
“Time of birth?” Asked Doctor Woolsey. “2:44 PM,” Replied Jenn.
A million emotions filled my mind as I watched the nurse pick up my son and place him on my chest. Besides one little cry after his first breath, he was so calm. His sweet hands were tucked up under his chin and his eyes were wide open and so bright. His little round face was perfect with tons of black hair sitting on top of his sweet head.
The next few minutes were a blur as they wiped him down, weighed and measured him, diapered him, and placed him back in my arms. It was incredibly surreal to realize this was our baby. We had actually created this little tiny human!
We spent the next two days in the hospital, constantly staring into the plastic bassinet at our little boy (except at night, since we happily sent him to the nursery both nights so we could get some sleep). There were very few complications, the worst of which was his initial trouble with breastfeeding, but all were solved before our departure on Wednesday afternoon.
This sweet boy has only been in our lives for a few days and already it’s hard to imagine life without him. We cannot stop smiling.
Ooooh Merrick! I'm over here bawling my little eyes out. Peanut is such a sweet baby – a perfect reward for such a wonderful set of parents. I am so grateful for him in your life and in mine. Happy Birthday little one!!
Loved reading this! I can't believe our babies our one. It's amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. Happy birthday to Peanut!
Happy Birthday to our first grandson! Hard to believe it has been one year.
FYI he shares this birth date with Claire Danes, David Cassidy, Tom Clancy, David Letterman, Tiny Tim, Ann Miller & Andy Garcia.
But he's the most important person born on this date — EVER. Your Gracie loves YOU.
I can't believe you looked to Philip to decide whether you could have an epidural or not. Wow.
Well, happy birthday little guy! I still feel like I have some sort of fun connection with him (being the first family member to see him) He's adorable and so cute with all of his little tricks! 🙂 What a happy day!
Happy birthday, Benson! What a beautiful post. It is crazy how fast the first year goes!!
Happy Birthday Peanut! Love the birth story.
He looks so DIFFERENT in those pictures. I don't see the current Peanut at all in them.
merrick! love the new look of your blog, it is SUPER CUTE! and I love the photos of your boy… and the story is just wonderfully written 🙂 I read it all!! congrats congrats on the first year 🙂