|It's a boy! Thomas an hour or two old|
After many false starts at labor, after much anticipation and angst, our baby was born at 39+4 (Sunday July 19) . . . Thomas Vincent! The baby weighed 8 lbs 3 oz, measuring 21-and-then-some inches long, and the midwife remarked that his head was big, but I forget the measurement.
On Saturday, I began to see my body warming up. I decided not to say much of anything given how many times I'd given an excited "early heads up!" to my midwife, doulas, and close girlfriends about "imminent labor!" only to have it peter out. I did have to admit to my husband that I mostly couldn't get out of bed, however: overnight Friday, the baby had finally engaged so deeply that I didn't sleep all night due to the pelvic pain, then asked Chris if I could stay in bed on Saturday while he ran the household.
I couldn't get comfortable while Chris and I stayed awake watching a movie. Then, as soon as I went to bed at midnight, the lights were out, and I had privacy, labor began. Human women aren't that different than cats crawling into a dark closet to give birth to their kittens, and labor almost never begins like it does in sit coms.
I knew the contractions were different and I never went to sleep Saturday night either. Midwives are always reminding women to get good rest before labor begins, but it seems like the opposite usually occurs!
This time, I was so determined not to call the midwife out early that I let myself have contractions every two minutes for an hour before waking Chris at 2:30 a.m., asking him to call the midwife--and that is a real gamble with a fifth-time mother!
And guess what? When she arrived half an hour later, the two doulas close behind, my contractions spaced out widely again. I experienced anxiety that this would stall as well. But the team was incredibly supportive. I was told soothing words, such that after about three deliveries, the text book is thrown out the window. Labors no longer follow a pattern, not to worry, my body wasn't broken, it was working just how it needed, and so forth.
My two wonderful, maternal doulas provided support for me while the children still slept, and the midwife and my husband found corners in which to nap so they'd be stronger later when needed.
Now, one lesson I keep learning is that we can't control labor or know how it will play out--although we certainly don't want to ignore our own labor histories. What is the balance? Given that I knew from four days prior when my midwife checked me, that I was already at 5 cm, I thought active labor would have me delivering a baby within an hour or two. Such is a common occurrence with multiple-time mothers. And I recalled my last delivery with Joseph: I had puttered at labor for three days with the baby malpositioned so I wasn't dilated at all; but once he flipped into the right position, I was at transition within 90 minutes and had a baby 45 minutes after that. So, if there was one thing I "knew," given my good head start, it was that this labor would be fast!
The punch line to the story is that active labor ended up lasting 11 hours and I pushed for about three hours. There are many details that are emotionally dark and difficult in that summary sentence which I will have to save for writing out my private birth story and for sharing with close girlfriends.
Like a number of my other babies, Thomas switched from anterior to posterior right at the start of active labor. He was sitting "wonky" in the pelvis, not acting properly as a key in the lock. All my efforts seemed to be for naught because his head wasn't fitted right. Finally, he adjusted himself to ROA position and was delivered about fifteen minutes later, at which point we also discovered he had a compound presentation (hand up by his face/neck).
Posterior + compound presentation = no wonder it took three hours of pushing!
Meanwhile, little Thomas was born amidst "pea soup" of meconium, which is always a cause for cautious observation.
I was grateful that other people could be strong on my behalf, even though that meant I couldn't hold my baby for at least half an hour. Hours later, my blood pressure dropped too low, making me feel very sick and weak, such that the midwife had to return to the home to help me. I couldn't hold my own baby, so Chris took Thomas downstairs to meet the returning siblings: I don't have that lovely family photo of me with all my children around me and I didn't get to see their adoring faces as they met their little brother, which is a little poignant detail resulting from a difficult labor.
Thankfully, the competent midwife was able to get me stable and we avoided a transfer to the hospital, which had been under active discussion. The birth team did a fantastic job and, like my delivery #3, I think this one would have been an unnecessary Cesarean delivery in a hospital setting.
Chris is taking such devoted care of me during this recovery. More than 24 hours postpartum, I can just now walk ten feet by myself, but am weak such that standing long enough to brush my teeth and my hair was proving too much for me. During this time, I have thought of several slogans about what marks TRUE LOVE that would better replace the blather in Hallmark cards, but they're too bodily graphic to share here!
John (8) surprised us by showing some obvious concern for my wellbeing, which revealed a growing maturity and cognizance on his part. He's realizing that his mother isn't omnipotent.
Mary (6) is madly in love with her baby brother and talks on about how adorable she thinks he is. She is festooning my walls with drawings that make me cry ("World's Greatest Mom") and some that make me laugh, such as highly detailed portrayals of my recovery room.
Margaret (4) is the most cheerful we've seen her in a long time at the meeting of her baby brother. She sneaks up to visit me often and gives me advice on baby care.
She wrote Thomas a card which I dare you to read with a postpartum, hormonal heart and withhold weeping tears: "You are dear to my heart. Love Margaret. Welcome to our home."
Below is a series of Joseph (2) getting to hold his brother for the first time. He's been telling me for weeks that he is going to get a turn holding the 'born baby. Now it was time and Joseph was delighted throughout while baby brother fussed and cried.
When I retrieved Thomas back, Joseph continued with his smiling self yet declared, "I don't like him!"
A frozen cheesecake bought in advance served as a Birth-Day Cake for the new baby.
It has taken me a day to write this announcement because sweet boy Thomas is content all the time . . . as long as he is nursing nonstop!