When I was pregnant with Madelyn, my dear friend Jana gave me a beautifully written book called Tell Me My Story, Mama by Deb Lund. It's the very sweet story of a young girl asking her mother about the night she was born and being reassured that the story will always be hers and hers alone and the new baby the family is expecting will have it's own special story.
It is beautiful and still makes me cry when I read it.
Madelyn pulled it off the shelf the other day and we read it. In doing so, I realized I'd never actually written Will's special story down.
In some ways, I was so calm about the idea of having another baby and yet I constantly wondered how this one would be different. I was really nervous that Will would get too big and I'd end up having a c-section. Ultimately, all that really matters is a healthy baby. But to the day I die, I will never forget the moment Madelyn came into this world. Not ever. And being a selfish sort, I wanted that experience once more. I wondered if Jim would be home or if I'd have to meet him at the hospital. I wondered if Will would come quickly as people predicted. I hoped I didn't have to labor too much around Madelyn because I didn't want to upset her. I was really curious if I'd handle the pain any better than I did with Madelyn.
Because of my gestational diabetes, I was going for non stress twice a week. I knew Will was comfortable in there and I knew I was dilated for weeks before I had him. The surprising thing about that for me was that in the weeks before I had Will, I was as dilated as I was when I was begging Jim to take me to the hospital with Madelyn. While I was ready to get the show on the road, I was also aware that GD babies tend to have underdeveloped lungs....so I was doing my best to keep him cooking.
Will had other plans for us.
Thursday, October 21st - 3 am
Jim had an odd shift and had just gotten home and crawled in bed. I remember him saying how tired he was and I remember thinking how much Will had been moving around.
At around 4 am, I woke up feeling pretty wet. At this point in my pregnancy, it wasn't uncommon for me to be really, really sweaty and I thought that's what was happening. I had to use the restroom, so I rolled (as gracefully as possible when you're 9 months pregnant) out of bed and headed toward our bathroom.
And as I got there, my water broke.
For half a heartbeat, I thought I'd wet my pants. Don't judge, because if you've ever been pregnant, you know it happens.
It didn't take me too long to realize that was not the case. I remember sitting down on the toilet in utter shock. I grabbed a towel and walked back into the bedroom to tell Jim.
Poor guy - he was absolutely beat. He'd just gotten to bed after a 13 hour shift and I'm waking him up with "honey, it's time". I think he was running on pure adrenalin.
Earlier in the pregnancy, I'd asked my OB if I was safe to take a shower if my water had broken. I knew that I might not get a shower for awhile and I'd better get it while I could. She'd said that unless my contractions were painful, I could take that time. And here's the thing, I wasn't having any serious contractions! I was having them, but they were so mild I could barely register them. I'd had worse menstrual cycles than that.
So, while Jim ran around packing some clothing and putting things in the car, I took a shower, styled my hair and put on some makeup. When we were ready to go, I went into my Mom's room to let her know that baby was on his way. She was more than a little shocked that I was dressed, with my hair and make up done. I told her I'd call her when we were checked in.
Then I went in to kiss my first baby goodbye. I was really emotional when I tiptoed into her room. Madelyn has been and always will be the very first miracle I had a hand in. She is my heart of hearts and a tiny part of me didn't want to let go of those last minutes that she'd be my only baby and have my undivided attention. I knew that the new baby was going to rock her world and in the long run, it'd be amazing...but that she wasn't always going to like it until then.
Jim and I hopped into our Durango and headed for Tacoma General. Jim hadn't taken my warnings that baby could show up at any time seriously and he'd left all of his gear in the tractor he was driving that week. So, on the way to the hospital, we made a pitstop at the Pacific UPS site to grab his stuff. I have to say, I think I was rather calm for being in labor.
At this point, though, I still wasn't feeling any serious contractions.
I texted my boss and let her know I was in labor. I wanted to call everyone, but it was just 5 in the morning, so I decided to wait. I did call my friend, Rebecca, who was scheduled to come shoot Will's delivery.
On the way to the hospital, we finally had to break down and pick a name for our poor kid.
We'd had two names that we both really liked and we couldn't make up our minds. I had my favorite and Jim had his, but neither of us felt strongly enough about it to say to the other "this *has* to be the name". I'll never forget driving down 167 having a calm conversation about how we really did need to name him....and realizing he was coming within a matter of hours!
In the end, Madelyn was the deciding factor. For months she'd been on the verge of major talking, walking around the house saying "dub a dub a dubya" when we asked her to talk. Jim really liked the idea of her calling her brother "W", so William it was.
And his name has significance. William is his paternal grandfather's middle name. It is the name of my grandfather's brother, Grandma Clark's brother and Grandma Freda's second child. Warren is my father's middle name.
As my mother in law would say, "it's very presidential".
We arrived at the hospital about 5:30 and got into a triage room. I remember being very embarrassed that I was continuing to leak all over the place. Hospital floors may be cleaned constantly, but seriously - there is no 3 second rule at the hospital.
By 6 I was in a labor room. By then, we'd called all of the parents and my best friend Sue. We'd also talked to Rebecca and because she had commitments that paid more bills than photography did, realized she just wasn't going to make it....
Since I was feeling so fine and not really having any major contractions, Jim sacked out on the parent bed while I walked and walked and walked. My nurse was amazing. Her name was Deb and since she didn't have a ton of other patients that day, she spent a lot of time in my room talking with and telling me funny stories about being an L&D nurse for 20 years.
By 8, my OB had been by. She'd checked me and we'd decided that since the contractions weren't really coming on as strongly as would be good, we would start some pitocin. I had a history of contractions that don't really get regular. With Madelyn, I'd labored for 24 hours before my contractions got regular and really started producing the results we needed - and it took that little kick of pitocin to get there. Living in the northwest, there are a lot of opinions about how much intervention one needs in a delivery. Some women try to have as few as possible and perhaps those mothers would have waited longer to see what happened. I can understand why they'd feel that way and what I know is this: my OB knew how scared I was of a c-section and knew I wanted to try and have him vaginally. She also knew the longer we waited until that 24 hour mark after my water broke, the more likely I would be to have a c-section. Ultimately, she left the decision up to me and I trusted her. I'm glad I did. We started pitocin about 9 am.
Since I was feeling so little pain, I decided to forgo the epidural even though we'd started pitocin so that I could continue to walk and keep things moving. So, I walked and talked to Deb while Jim slept. I paced my room. I bounced on the birthing ball. I walked the halls. All the while the pain I was feeling wasn't overwhelming to me, which was refreshing after my labor with Madelyn. Eventually, though my contractions got a lot strong and I started having to breath through them. I still wasn't at the point that I thought I needed an epidural. I remember at one point, Deb was watching the monitor and said, "Heather! You could breath through that? That was STRONG!". I don't know how I did it when I was begging for an epidural at 2 cm with Madelyn...but it just didn't hurt as much this time.
At 11 am, Deb suggested that we find out exactly where the anesthesiologist was at and how long the wait was. I was starting to have to have a bit more pain and I remember telling her that it'd probably be good to get in line for that epidural. I knew it could take awhile. The anesthesiologist was available, so he came pretty quickly, but Deb did check before he was there. I started going through a pretty intense contraction as she checked. Things seemed to have progressed quite quickly because as it happened, she told me that will was "right there" and to do my best not to push just yet. Things seemed to slow down and I was hyper focused on breathing and Deb's face. In my minds eye, all I remember almost a tunnel vision with Deb's face at the center of it and the room around us fuzzy. This one moment in time is probably the biggest reason I will never forget Deb. She knew my OB thought he was a big baby. Earlier she'd said my OB had already talked to her about "Plan B" in case Will's shoulders got caught up or we had to take him via c-section. She knew that scared the bejesus out of me. She also know how much it meant to me to have the experience of welcoming Will into the world without a c-section. So, while I was focused on breathing and her face, she said, "Heather, he is so right there. I can feel down to his shoulders and he's not going to get cleared up on anything. Girl, you've got this and it's going to happen just like you want it too so you can stop worrying". It was the one moment, during my actual labor that we both Deb and I teared up.
We also decided it was time to wake up poor Jim, lest he miss the birth of his son.
The anesthesiologist came and put in my epidural but he did caution me that because I was so far progressed, it would not block everything. There simply wasn't time for the medicine to work. He wasn't lying about that.
Things went pretty quickly from here on out. My contractions were intense and I felt every little bit of them. I am proud to say that I never cried. I'd felt like such a cry baby during Madelyn's labor....but with Will's I was just a ball of determination. It helped a ton that things were happening so quickly. I
When my OB showed up, she swung the mirror around so I could see and we started pushing. During the second big push, my OB, Deb and Jim were all chanting at me to push hard! Part of me didn't want to because it HURT but what came out of my mouth was, "This is a whole lot closer to natural that I wanted!". It only took seconds before my OB said, "It's going to be over soon, kiddo, push hard and reach down and pull your son into your arms".
I have to take a minute here to tell you how much I love my OB. She was with me through our miscarriage. When I went through the D&C for that, she stood beside my bed and held my hand while the medication put me under and was holding my hand when I came around and started crying.
She called me every other day when I was pregnant with Madelyn and we thought I was going to miscarry to check and see how I was feeling.
She was there when Madelyn came into the world and stayed with me, holding my hand, while Jim stood with Madelyn while they helped her unclog her lungs.
She helped keep me calm when I was nervous about a c-section and big babies.
She never once chided me about my weight.
She always told me what a good mom I was for doing everything I could to be healthy during both of my pregnancies.
And she's laid back enough to know that even though I'm all about Western medicine, that we could still slow down and savor the moment and let me be a part of the delivery if things were progressing well.
So in that moment, when she told me to pull my son into my arms, I was a little bit in love with her and so thankful that she knew what it felt like to be a mom.
And at 12:42 pm, I did just that. I reach down, slid my hands between his arms and body and pulled him into this world.
And my world will never be the same.
The next hour was so peaceful, as far as deliveries go. We delayed the cord clamping for a few minutes while Jim and I stared at our handsome baby boy. Then, Jim snipped the cord. He didn't hesitate for one second like he thought he might. I think Madelyn's birth had proven to him that childbirth wasn't as scary as he remembered it being.
I held William and let him latch for a bit. Eventually, Deb needed to measure him and weigh him (a respectable 6 pounds 15 ounces and 18.25 inches...not so big after all).
Once that had been done and I was feeling capable of standing up, they moved me to my own room. We stayed for a little over 24 hours. Jim and I were anxious to get home to our sweet girl. I didn't want anyone bringing her to the hospital only to take her away again. I didn't think that would go over well and it would break my heart to have her cry.
I was up for most of that night, just holding my little guy...knowing this was about the only time I wouldn't also be responsible for taking care of Madelyn. I wanted to savor some time with my sweet boy before I was the mom of two.
And sweet he is, our sweet William. His little face just lights up my whole world and I can't believe I've been so blessed to get to help guide him through life.