My son. It still feels unreal to say that. I guess it’s kind of fitting that I waited for a whole year (exactly!) to finish his birth story. I just can’t imagine life without him. All the fear and stress and nerves leading up to his entrance into our family seem silly now. This sweet, smushy, and snuggly little boy makes my life feel whole. It feels funny to write his birth story so far after it happened, but it feels like it was just last week that we met him. What a long and hard, but beautiful day. The day I met my boy, my husband’s son, my daughter’s brother. December 13, 2018 at 6:31 pm, I became a mother to the most amazing little man.
We got to the hospital early; me and my little earth-side family of three. Check-in was 7:30 AM and they were shockingly prompt. We walked in and in just a few minutes, I was saying goodbye to my husband and daughter at the elevator. I thought they were going to be able to stay in the room with me for a while since I was just going to be laying there. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. All these months preparing, and I was finally saying goodbye to my little girl for the last time as an only child, before she became the sweetest, most caring sister in the world. I felt alone and a little sad, but at the same time at peace and ready.
I got my first dose of medication quickly, though at the time it seemed like it took ages. Then, I waited forever; bored and itchy. We had to wait four hours until I got my second dose so that we could make sure I didn’t pass this stupid GBS to my baby. When I got my second dose, they also gave me Pitocin to try to speed up the process. I didn’t feel anything. I felt like I was just sitting around wasting time. The contraction monitor showed I was having contractions, but I didn’t feel them. I was tired of sitting and getting more and more impatient. I tried doing some weird squats on the side of the bed hoping to break my water. Josh was checking his phone constantly and working. At around 11:15 AM, my water broke on its own, but I didn’t believe it. For some reason, I just tried to convince myself I’d just peed the bed, but gradually this liquid started to flow out every few minutes or so. By 11:40 AM it was still happening, and I finally realized that my water really had broken. Funny, that I felt weird saying something at first. All these people had seen me with my legs wide open already, but I would’ve felt embarrassed if I’d just peed the bed. Despite my water breaking, I still didn’t feel like I was in labor. The doctor came in and broke my water the rest of the way. Who knew that it was possible for your water to break only partway? The little due was blocking the water above him so the nurse scooched him over and the rest came out. After that, I went from 5.5 cm to 8 cm in an hour and the contractions came on INTENSELY. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. At some point, I remember yelling at Josh that I wanted him to suffer, too, which is funny and awful. I got an epidural around 3:30 PM. I went back and forth on trying to “tough it out,” but after those contractions seemed to come in full force out of nowhere and with my “history of large babies” as doctors call it, I decided I was still tough even with drugs. The rest is a little fuzzy. Everything seemed to move so quickly and slowly at the same time.
I remember having these horribly painful contractions right when someone came in to deliver a gift that Kerri sent me. I remember Josh leaving the room for a bit and thinking I would be pushing out this baby alone. I remember being terrified of pooping on the table again. I remember feeling conflicted and worried about the possibility of suction and forceps (I got the one other doctor besides the one who delivered Kaya that actually still uses forceps!) or an emergency c-section. I remember feeling like an idiot because I forgot how to push. I remember finally feeling like I got the hang of it. And then I remember that feeling of relief when he was finally out. And that sweet cry as he took his first few breaths. Just remember those feelings and sounds makes my heart race one year later.
When they put him in my arms, my fears and pain left me. This little boy was home. Oh my God, was he perfect. All 9 pounds, 11 ounces, and 21 inches of him. His squinty little eyes which took the better part of a day to open. His little nose. His tiny cry. His clenched fists.
Apparently, I had an episiotomy. I still have mixed feelings about that. But no forceps and no suction. And only about a half hour of pushing. Thinking back on the birth experience kind of makes me feel like super woman. I don’t remember delivering the placenta, but I have a vague memory of being stitched up while all the nurses oohed and ahhed and felt shocked about the size of our little guy. We all assumed he would be bigger than Kaya so we were all surprised that he was nearly a pound smaller! Immediate recovery after birth was tough. I had a lot of bleeding after the birth, which left me feeling lightheaded and nauseous. And my feet swelled up. So those things were unfortunate and uncomfortable, but HE WAS HERE and that made everything worth it.
About an hour after he was born, Kaya got to meet her little brother. If my heart wasn’t a complete puddle before, it was fully melted at this moment. Josh brought her in, and she looked so nervous. She was wearing her big sister shirt and carrying the llama she’d picked out for him. She gently laid it on him, and I snuggled her, and she stared at this crying little blob with wonder. The rest of our family swarmed in and I can’t help but think that he felt the love in that room. Shortly after, we kicked everyone out and I nursed him for the first time at 8:15 pm. He latched easily and ate heartily, and then he slept. He slept like a dream (and of course, I didn’t because I had to keep staring at him all night). He woke up at 11:40 pm when he had his checkup and then he went back to sleep at 12:30 am and by 4:17 am (kind of laughing at how specific I noted that) he was still snoozing. I was supposed to wake up him every few hours, but I just let him keep going. I remember trying to force myself to sleep because the first night in the hospital is always the easiest, but I just ate a burrito and watched him. Haha. His little blonde hairs and scrunchy face. He was and is so damn cute.
The next day was full of check-ups, more family visits, and trying to sleep when we could. Everyone always seemed shocked that he was so big, but Josh and I always laughed because he was our “small” baby. He really did seem so bony and little even though he was almost 10 pounds. He didn’t pass his hearing test the first day, which scared us. He also spent some time in the nursery getting some tests done because his breathing was abnormally rapid, but luckily, he didn’t have to go to the NICU. Dr. Reed came and checked on him super early in the morning and I missed him, while I was trying to relax and I still feel a little guilty and bummed about that, but all is well. Being a parent is hard because you want everything to be right for your kids and the things that are out of your control make you feel helpless.
I stayed in the hospital alone the second night. I felt abandoned. That feels kind of dramatic to write, but it’s really how I felt. Josh went home with Kaya to get her back into her routine and I was left with this small boy that I loved wholeheartedly but feel like I didn’t know. I was scared and sad and I cried. A lot. Looking back, I’m not even sure why. I guess I just didn’t feel like I was enough for him. I remember a nurse coming into the room and asking if I was alone. I had to try so hard not to burst into tears. She reminded me that if I needed to rest, I could take him to the nursery for a few hours, but the thought of leaving him, even in good hands sounded so terrible. We made it through the night and bonded. I took some cute videos of his little grunts and squeaks. I watched as the baby acne shifted around his face and chest. I saw him really open his eyes for the first time. I’ll never forget these little moments we spent together, just the two of us.
He passed his second hearing test and that was such a relief. He had a few discordant blood pressure results, which led us to an infant EKG. Josh and I took turns hanging with each kid while the test was done. We found out he had a heart murmur but are so thankful that it was already quieter by the time we were discharged and completely gone by the time we had our checkup a few days later. We were discharged that afternoon and it felt so good to be home altogether.
This year has gone by so fast. I can’t believe my sweet boy is one.
His name is Carter Joshua and one year ago he made our family complete. Happy birthday, my love, my son, my sweet baby boy.