While I am on maternity leave and snuggling with Conor as well as his awesome big sis, Rosie Mae, I am sharing posts about motherhood every Monday. I hope you’ll enjoy this stray from photography while I’m out; I figure, motherhood is what’s on my mind these days so why not bring that to the good ole’ blog??? Heck, I might even keep these going after I get back into the swing of things. Speaking of that, my return date is May 15th – have you booked your photo session for that lovely time of year yet???
I shared Rosie Mae’s birth story to kick off Motherhood Mondays. Now, here is Conor’s story.
A note: I wrote this to Conor for Conor just like I did for his sister. I wanted to remember the details as best as possible. And there are details. I keep it from being too graphic, but it’s a birth story. So, be warned.
Your Birth Story
Just like your sister, I had had plenty of prodromal labor leading up to your birth. I had been to Jordan Hospital three times before the final trip. It had been frustrating and confusing; just like it was with your sister. The day before you were born, we were hit with a MASSIVE snow storm. Mammy offered to stay at our house that night just in case I went into labor; that way we didn’t have to wait for her to shovel out her driveway and try to make it to our place in time with all the snow. We took her up on her generous offer. I contracted like usual…but we never went to the hospital.
I had had a midwives appointment scheduled for the morning of January 3rd. The plan was to get my membranes stripped and see if that helped any. With the terrible storm, the office had warned me that my appointment might be cancelled. As soon as they opened in the morning, I called to find out if I could still come in. I could. They assumed I’d cancel because of the storm (it was still snowing at the time) and the fact that I was SO pregnant. I scoffed; there was nothing getting in the way of my getting stripped; not if it would help get you outta me and all the torture of pregnancy over with!
So I had my appointment with Agnes at 11AM and I was successfully stripped. I went home. Your dad was working from home due to the storm and Mammy was with Rosie Mae. I had started having contractions but they weren’t terribly strong nor were they at regular intervals. I figured it would still be a couple days before anything really happened but I felt…off. I debated going grocery shopping; we needed food if I wasn’t going to have a baby in the next few days, but if I was, I didn’t want anything to go to waste (I certainly wasn’t going to be cooking it!). It was a conundrum. Rosie Mae went down for her nap, contractions were getting stronger but still nothing regular, and so I decided to go shopping if for no other reason than to take my mind off things. Mammy decided to come with while your Dad kept an eye on your sister.
We shopped and then we went back home. Mammy decided to go home to her house and cook dinner for Bampy. I put away groceries and realized I was contracting quite a bit and a bit more regularly. I told your dad we might be going back to the hospital that night. I started timing them.
I called Mammy around 6PM – told her we missed her and could she come back? Told her to take her time but that we were definitely going to head into Labor and Delivery that evening. I called the midwives; Shelley was on call. I was relieved. I really like Shelley. Shelley had been up to date on all the activity of my pregnancy, so when she called me back, I said, “well, if I’m wrong and not in labor this time, I don’t know what the hell to say.” She said to come on in. Contractions were about 4 minutes apart and 50 seconds long. After hanging up with her, they sped up and got more intense. Just as we all assumed would happen, labor was suddenly progressing fast.
At this point, Rosie Mae had awoken from her nap and we had managed to feed her (and your dad) dinner. I couldn’t eat so I just got all our stuff together, and sat with my little family of 3 for the last time before you would join us. I knew no matter what, this was it, because I could have my water broken for me at the hospital to help it progress (if necssary). No one was sending me home. Even if it took forever, we weren’t coming back to our house without you in our arms.
Mammy got to our house and we were waiting with our coats and shoes on; things were progressing fast enough that we could tell we had no time to dilly dally. We got in the car (all of this was certainly easier than it was with your sister, thank goodness), and headed out. The storm was over but the roads were still pretty awful, and it was FREEZING. While I still wasn’t as far along as I was in the car with your sister, we both prayed we didn’t end up with a highway baby in these conditions; labor was progressing fast and anything was possible.
Luckily, it was late enough at night (it was around 8PM at this point) that there wasn’t any traffic. Phew. We got to the hospital and I was laboring pretty well. Your dad asked if I wanted to be dropped off at the Emergency Room again but I said I wanted to walk from wherever he parked the car (ever suspect of being in actual labor, I wanted to walk a bit to help things move along if I still wasn’t progressing). We got to the ER and this time, I agreed to a wheelchair. We were wheeled up and into Labor and Delivery where Shelley greeted us and brought us to the tub room – the same room your sister was born in. This time, knowing I wanted a water birth and knowing how fast my labors are, Shelley had the tub prepared and ready to go (with your sister, there wasn’t any time to get the tub ready). I got into the hospital bed for the required 20 minute monitoring and Shelley checked me. I was fully effaced but only 5 centimeters. FIVE CENTIMETERS?! Seriously?! I was three in the office earlier. Ugh. OK. But, I was still in good spirits because no one was sending me home. I was going to have you in my arms eventually. That was victory enough.
I got into the tub and it was glorious. It was everything I expected it to be; the soothing power of water and the warmth of it was amazing. And, this tub had jets! JETS! Those felt sooo good on my back. There was also a forceful showerhead that your dad would hold and spray hot water on my lower back. I could’ve lived in that tub for the rest of my life.
I continued to labor. This time around, no one told me noise was a bad idea so I made a lot of it. I did the same vowel sound exercises from my theatre training that I did during your sister’s labor. This time, I added a surprising amount of grunts as well. I did everything I could to fully relax between contractions. It appears I did a decent job of this since I actually fell asleep a few times. Each little nap was only about 30 seconds long, but I actually fell asleep. That’s kind of amazing to me. Shelley checked me again and I was 9 cm. She asked if I felt like pushing yet (my body had already pushed a bit on the last few contractions) and I said yes so she said to go ahead and try. I did, and I did for a while, but it didn’t seem like anything was happening – even though my body was pushing and it wasn’t me forcefully trying to push when my body wasn’t ready. Shelley checked again and that last centimeter was being stubborn. She said to try and wait out a few contractions without pushing (agony) and see if it helped. It didn’t. She said she could try to manually open up my cervix to the full 10 cm but that it would hurt. A lot. I agreed anyway. Anything to move this along. And OHMYGODDIDITHURT. She wasn’t kidding. I am pretty sure I was screaming. There were three other mothers laboring elsewhere in the unit (all arrived well before me and would be laboring for quite some time after I was done, poor ladies) and I was sure my screams were scaring the HELL out of them. I felt badly but I couldn’t stop making noise. Your sister’s birth was practically silent. Yours? Not so much.
Shelley had manually opened my cervix a half centimeter. Still another half to go. I tried again to labor through it and think “open” thoughts. I opened my mouth and my mind and my heart. I sank deeply into that place you go to when you’re powering through such an intense life event. I embraced all the good spiritual stuff you’re supposed to embrace. I felt empowered even though I was exhausted. I did everything I could. And that half centimeter? Would. Not. Budge. Shelley offered to try to move it manually again. I agreed even though I knew what was coming this time. I screamed bloody blue murder but it did the trick. I was finally at 10 cm. (I realize “finally” is the most terrible word to use when your labor is only 5 hours long start to finish… I’m sure the other three mothers on the floor would’ve punched me in the face for thinking, “finally.” But, still, frikkan finally. And also, in my defense, I had been laboring nightly for a month. So, FINALLY.)
I started pushing again. I could feel everything moving now. Things felt right. You were coming. You started crowning and then I had pushed your head out. I did everything I could to push slowly and take a break before pushing again. I waited until Shelley had told me it was OK to push again; I was terrified of tearing like I did with Rosie Mae. Everyone said, “His head is out! You’re almost done! He has red hair! Etc.” But I had my eyes closed and just focused as hard as I could on not pushing the rest of you out; if I tore again it wasn’t going to be because I couldn’t listen to instructions!
Shelley gave me the go ahead and out you came. I was so relieved after such an exhausting labor that when Shelley said (almost exactly like Agnes did for Rosie Mae), “open your eyes and pull your baby out!” I couldn’t do it. I was just too focused on getting you out of me and (ironically) into my arms. It was as if her voice were down a long hallway far away from me and I wasn’t even sure if I really heard it or not. So I didn’t help pull you out. If there was anything I wish I had done differently, it was this. I would’ve loved to have helped pull you out like I did with your sister. But, even with that moment gone, I opened my eyes in the next one and pulled you into my arms. You were here. You were perfect. We had done it. It was 11:03 PM. I had been in labor for five hours total. To your father and I, it seemed like an eternity compared to Rosie Mae’s three. I still think of those other women laboring down the hall when I think things like that. But it’s true; when you’re only marker is three hours, five seems like an eternity!
Your dad cut the cord this time (he didn’t with Rosie Mae). We all sat in adoration for five or so minutes. Then it was time to get out of the tub so you didn’t get too cold. Off you went to warm up and get a bit cleaned off. And I had the awesome task of getting up out of the tub now. Slowly but surely, I did it. With an umbilical cord hanging between my legs (and yes, that feels as gross as it sounds), I stood up, climbed out and down a little ladder, and into the hospital bed. I delivered the placenta (which I actually saw this time, unlike your sisters), and then waited for the verdict from Shelley; would I need stitches or not? I prayed all my work paid off. That the water birth helped sooth my skin as you pushed through it. That…that…that…
…..I had torn again. This time in a totally different (and random) way. I’ll leave those fun details for myself but, yes, I was going to need to be stitched again. And again, no local anesthetic was enough. And again, it took about an hour. And again, it was agony. BUT – this time, I was in better shape than last, so I got to hold you while they stitched me. And all the oxytocin naturally flowing through me kicked in and it wasn’t as bad as before. It was still AWFUL, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Because I had you in my arms.
You scored wonderfully on both APGAR tests and you weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Bigger than your sister but smaller than the ultrasounds predicted (thank god). You were 19 inches long. Same as your sister. And your head…. your head was 14.5 inches. Everyone in the room went, “WHOA!” That’s a big head! I was surprised; your head didn’t look that big. Shelley said, “14 inches is considered a large head… Conor’s is 14.5!” Maybe that’s why there was such a struggle to get you out of me.
We moved into a room across the hall (it was much cozier than the tub room and even though we got to stay in the tub room for Rosie Mae’s hospital stay, I was happy we moved for yours) and I went to the bathroom with the help of AnnMarie, our new nurse. The nurse who helped me through the labor was Sue but her shift was over at 11 – three minutes before you were born. She stayed the extra 3 for us though. 🙂 We also had another nurse named Sue who did all of your testing and took care of you once you came out. Everyone was absolutely lovely. Everyone. We ADORED AnnMarie. I asked her if Marsha was working at all while we’d be in the hospital (the nurse from Rosie Mae’s birth), and she was there that night! So while I was going to the bathroom, Marsha came in to say hello! It was hilarious and wonderful. I am so happy we had you both at Jordan Hospital; it was truly like being with old friends – even if we had just met some of them.
It was time to breastfeed. Here we go. Another journey down the breastfeeding road was about to begin. I prayed you and I would have an easier time than your sister and I did. But before I could finish my little prayer…. you latched. And started eating. I looked at Mike in disbelief. I called AnnMarie in. I said, “This looks good – does this look good to you?!?!” She said, “Yes it does!” And we were off. You were already a breastfeeding rockstar. Spoiler Alert: You still are. Thank GOD.
I called Mammy. I said, “Hey! What’s up?!?!” She said tentatively, “Um…nothing… how are you? Last I heard was when Mike called to say things were progressing so you’d be staying.” I said, “Yup. He’s here!!!” She couldn’t believe it. Another birth for the records. I went over some of the details and then we talked about everyone visiting the next day. I called Auntie Katie and I called Bampy. Everyone was thrilled and couldn’t wait to meet you.
We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then it was time for bed. It was late. So late. Your Dad tucked you in, and then we both settled in and tried to sleep. I couldn’t. I was still high on adrenaline and oxytocin. I think the entire night I slept for 30 minutes. Even after all that exhausting labor, I couldn’t sleep. Ah well.
Rosie Mae came with Mammy, Bampy, and Auntie Katie the next day. She walked tentatively into the room; more unsure about why her Dada and Mumma were in this hospital room than for any other reason I think. When she warmed up though, she was incredibly smitten with you. She made sure you had an extra blanket any time you were without one, and wanted nothing more to use the booger sucker on your nose. She held you (with assistance) a couple times and doted on you at every chance she had. She did a great job dealing with the strange new situation; we were incredibly proud of her.
Nana and Pappou came to visit as well, as did the Healey clan. We were pooped after dinner so we went to bed around 8 or 9. You were still trying to cough up some fluid left in your system from being in utero, so you weren’t very settled next to us. I asked if they could take you to the nursery between feedings just so I could get a small amount of sleep (seeing as I had had only 30 minutes of it in the past 36 or so hours). I couldn’t believe we were shipping you out, but it was for the best. I got some sleep and you even got a saline treatment to help clear your nose of some of that fluid. It was a win win.
Sunday Katie, Chris and Rosie Mae came and visited again, and then we waited around to go home. We could’ve stayed through Monday but I really just wanted to sleep – and I was never going to sleep well in that hospital bed. We went home and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. On the way, just like with your sister, I sat in the backseat with you. When we got home, Mammy had cooked the chicken dinner that I was worried we would end up wasting (remember the trip to the grocery store?). Then she headed home and we put you two to bed. And just like that, we were a family of four.
If you have a birth story you’d love to share, feel free to email it to me and I’ll post it for a Motherhood Monday post! I love hearing birth stories so bring em on!