Gareth is 6 months old now. He's got two teeth, he grins like a fool at EVERYONE, he barrel-rolls everywhere and has wicked sharp nails that I can't seem to keep cut short enough. He's a joy as you can tell from this picture:
No, he still doesn't sleep through the night. We're good if he's only up once during the night - that seems like a delicious treat. And no, I'm not a stay-at-home mom. I still work full time as a Minister at my church and Gareth attends the daycare that is - no joke - right down the hall from me. So, I'm still nursing full time (which is awesome) though we have started baby food. I'm not sure Gareth is a big fan of sweet potatoes, but then again, neither am I. I think Cliff and I have found a good balance (so far) and we're enjoying our son lots.
But that's not the reason for this post.
I realized the other day that I'd never posted a blog about the day that Gareth was born. In thinking about that, I realized that, for me, the story of his birth is irreversibly tied up with the story of his surgery and hospital stay. I still don't like talking about the time in the NICU, but I think now I'm in a place where I can at least talk (or write) about his birth. So....here goes.
Gareth was due on April 30th and I was just bound and determined for him to come on time. I planned church activities up through the Wednesday before his due date, just sure that he would respect the schedule that I'd given him. So when I woke up the morning of the 19th, I wasn't worried. Cliff was getting up for work (much earlier than I have to) and I was groggily listening to him get ready when I felt something...different. (If you didn't know, pregnancy is a very graphic experience where you lose lots of bodily control that you used to have, so this next part will be kind of surprising to you if you've never had a child)
"Did I just pee a little bit?" I thought to myself. It hadn't happened before, but I wasn't shocked if it had. I got up and went to the bathroom, but I didn't have to "go." So I went back to bed. And then it happened again. "That can't be pee" I thought. "So what is it......oh my.....did my water break?" I laid in bed with a stricken look on my face and Cliff noticed.
"........I think my water broke."
"Well....at least a little. But I'm not having contractions. So I may have just peed. Which is gross."
We decided then that Cliff would go to work, I would get our hospital bags ready and I would wait and see if contractions started. He left me his IPOD which had newly downloaded contraction tracker applications on it. So of course, the first thing I did was take a shower. If today was going to be the day, I was sure going to be starting it off clean. As I showered I felt cramps start and I just knew that they were contractions. They hurt - but not too bad. So after showering and getting dressed and then crying for a bit (HOLY CRAP I'M ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY), I packed our bags. And timed my contractions. Which were, no joke, between 2 & 3 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. ALREADY. Everything I'd read and watched had prepared me for a long labor and for irregular contractions. But that wasn't my game - my contractions were fast and regular from the get-go.
I called my doctor while I winced through contractions. My OB told me to get to the hospital. So I called Cliff and said "It's time." He raced home, packed us into the car and started the drive to the hospital. My contractions were still manageable but they weren't fun, so I mostly just focused on breathing while we drove to Hillcrest. Cliff dropped me off at intake and I managed to walk on my own from registration to a preliminary intake room. Cliff told me afterwards that a man in the registration area was surprised to find out I was in labor because I was so calm. Luckily he didn't see me later....
Cliff wasn't allowed in the back room until I'd answered some questions that HIPPA deemed "private" and in the meantime my contractions got worse and worse, quickly peaking to the point where I thought - "WHERE'S MY DRUGS!" My doctor came in and checked me and said "Today's the day." That was about 8:30am.
They wheeled me into a delivery room and Cliff finally joined the party. He called our parents to let them know the party had started and then came into the room to wait it out with me. My boss (and pastor) Jack was in the waiting room (we'd called him on the way) and wanted to know if I was up for a visit. By this point, I'd lost my ability to talk because the pain was SO TERRIBLE. Even breathing regularly was a chore. So I squeaked out a "NO! NO! NO!" My IV was finally in and I was getting fluids, but I couldn't get an Epidural until my fluids had all gone in. Quick note to the interested: you have absolutely NO sense of time when you're in pain.
Here's the part of the story where Cliff was my hero. He was absolutely, entirely, completely CALM. 100% zen. Whereas I had turned into a writhing, gasping, speechless mess, Cliff transformed into a stalwart rock of comfort and strength. He taught me how to breathe again, he helped me focus through the contractions, he kept me still when I FINALLY got my epidural....he was amazing. I almost broke his thumb and his collarbone, but he never even got irritated. He just moved my hand and kept helping me through it. Finally, several hours later and after my epidural was in ....probably about 11:45, the OB checked me again.
"Guess" he said. He was cheerful.
"I don't know....6 or 7?" I was not cheerful.
"Nope! You're complete!" He grinned
"WHAT?! ALREADY?" I gaped. I'm not sure what Cliff did.
"Yup. We'll have this baby within the hour. "
So Cliff called my mom, who was on her way, and his mom, who was close to being there, and let them know that Gareth was going to make an appearance soon. Both sets of parents were shocked...and so were Cliff and I. No one expects a first baby to be a fast delivery. And then...the moment arrived. I started to push.
My epidural was in, but I had a hot spot - meaning I could still feel everything on my lower left side. That hurt, but it helped me know when to push. So I pushed...and then Cliff's mom came into the room and we hurried her onto the other side. And she called my mother and got her on the phone so she could hear "the moment". And I pushed maybe 4 or 5 times. And then Gareth was there at 12:20 on April 19th. And my mom heard his first cry, and I cried when I held him and Cliff just looked on shocked. And they weighed him and measured and all of sudden...
We had a baby. We were parents.
From beginning to end, my labor was only 5 hours long. My OB called it a "dream delivery". And that was the last day I saw my house until May 8th...
But that's another story.