Birth story

My doctor’s words ran chills down my [partially-numbed] spine.

“This baby was meant to be here.”

He was, truly. I don’t know what his purpose is in life, other than to be loved by us, but I’ve believed from the very beginning that he is simply meant to be.

I suppose the same could really be said of any child, but what my doctor meant was more literal. Of course I couldn’t see it from my vantage point – flat on the operating room table with a heavy blue curtain in front of my face – but I could make out from the conversation around me that she had held up the umbilical cord for Matt to see.

“There’s a true knot in his cord,” she told me.

Thankfully, the cord was healthy and the knot was still loose. No harm was done – but the reality of what could have happened set in for me just after we got home from the hospital.

The what-ifs strike fear in my heart, especially when I consider them while smooching his squishy cheeks or pressing my nose into his sweet-smelling hair.

I count among my blessings the fact that he decided to make his appearance at 38 weeks, one week to the day before he was to be taken by force. (My third c-section was scheduled for March 30.)

I don’t know that I was grateful as my water broke at about 9 a.m. Friday, March 23 – two hours before what was to be my last regular OB appointment. I didn’t have a bag packed, my deadlines weren’t met and no one was dressed for the day. I was. not. ready.

This water breaking business is a phenomenon I didn’t experience with Beans or Tallulah, by the way, and it’s one I can no longer understand being in question. (What I mean is that I’ve heard countless moms-to-be pondering whether their water has broken. How can this be in question??)

Anyway, I called my doctor’s office and was told to head to labor and delivery.

Beans was on spring break, and I have to say I’ve never been so grateful for the help of a 7-year-old. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

He actually offered to help, y’all. And I took him up on it. The first thing I asked him to do was to go upstairs and wake up Tallulah.

“You have to get up! The baby’s coming today!” I heard him relay, based on the rudimentary explanation I’d given him about the urgency of our situation.

“OK!” she responded cheerfully, despite being jolted out of a sound sleep.

Beans escorted his little sister downstairs and then set out to get himself dressed – he even brushed his own teeth without even being asked. (What a kid, no? Color me super impressed.)

Meanwhile, I threw the few clothes I could find into a bag, along with the cord blood donation kit I wouldn’t get to use that day (the UAMS program can only pickup donations before 3 p.m. on Fridays; my c-section wouldn’t get underway in time) and waited for Matt to get home to pick us up.

Matt might have been a bit flustered by the suddenness of it all – I only say that because he drove me to the ER instead of to the main entrance before remembering that wasn’t where we needed to go.

Before long we were headed up to the second floor. I’m going to stop here and apologize for my abruptness to the nice man who tried to converse with me as I stood at the admissions desk in L & D. I had completed all my pre-admission paperwork and was dismayed that I had to dig through my wallet for identifying information (yeah, yeah, fraud, schmaud) while fervently praying that my last pair of clean pants wouldn’t get obviously, embarrasingly soaked during the wait.

I was finally taken to a room and given a gown to change into (I’m never sure which way the opening should go, and everyone knows these things are not the most flattering designer pieces in the world by any stretch, but 2-year-old Tallulah ooohed and ahhhed over it like I was dressed to walk down the runway. I think she’s already getting the hang of this womanhood thing. We do stick together, Tallulah – thanks for showering me with the compliments when I needed them most.)

I was hooked up to monitors that would play the reassuring heartbeat of my baby in the background as I started answering the nurse’s questions, just the beginning of the long wait to meet him.

I had texted my mom before heading to the hospital and she and my dad must have flown here from their home a little over an hour away.

They arrived not long after Matt left to take Beans and Tallulah to his mom’s. Everyone would reconvene at the hospital when we had more news.

My doctor was already in the halls – there were lots of women in labor that day, my nurse told me. I knew I would be having a baby that day, but because I had eaten (a chocolate chip cookie washed down with some root beer. Don’t judge. I was hungry and waiting for my eggs to cook.), my doctor decided to wait until later in the afternoon to take me to the OR.

I laid in bed for hours, with some real contractions that didn’t get regular before the anesthesiologist came in to talk with me about the epidural she would be doing shortly. I felt strangely calm right up until this conversation started. But though my epidural before Beans’ birth went fine, a student did the one for Tallulah’s – and it took him five or six tries to get it right. I didn’t want to go through that torture again.

Luckily I didn’t have to. This lady was lovely. (Love was, in fact, her name.) The whole experience, overall, was about as lovely as you could imagine one taking place in an operating room being, actually.

In contrast with my last two c-sections, the operating room seemed almost empty when they rolled me in. I was taken by wheelchair – as opposed to on a stretcher the last times – and when I arrived, my doctor was sitting in the corner with her smartphone, and she joined my nurse – the same one who had been with me since I checked in that morning – and the anesthesiologist in engaging me in conversation as I hunched over, shivering, on the operating table and waited for her to stick the needle in my back. Eventually, another nurse and two NICU nurses came in, my husband appeared at my side and the surgery was underway. It would be a real stretch to say I was completely relaxed at that point – and I don’t mean to disparage the abilities of men in any way – but being surrounded by women, all professionals, all understanding and all compassionate – left me feeling supported in a way I couldn’t have imagined feeling in that position.

The nurses who cared for me during my recovery were amazing, too. So much so that when I checked out on the following Sunday afternoon, I exchanged hugs with the two who wheeled me and my brand new smooshy-faced little boy out to the car. My bed wasn’t very comfortable and the food was not that great but these ladies had taken care of me for half the time I was in the hospital, and I was grateful for the way they did it.

The anesthesiologist noticed without my even saying so that the oxygen mask made me claustrophobic and she propped it beside my nose and warned me before briefly placing in on my face every few minutes. And my arms – she had placed them gently on the armrests that stuck out on either side of the operating table, but she did not strap them down, and knowing that I wasn’t actually trapped there was unbelievably uplifting. 

I had mourned, a little, the loss of the chance for a natural birth, and had even toyed with the idea of pushing for one (pun intended) this time around. This boy, however, was head down until a day or two before his arrival, but by the time my water broke he was a footling breech. I guess my mama was right – things do happen for a reason.

There was an obvious struggle to get the baby out and at one point, I heard my doctor mutter something to him about letting go of my ribs. His hands, she told me, were up over his head. I remember thinking it felt like forever before he was finally freed, but if that felt like forever, I don’t know how to even describe how the next little bit felt. I knew he was out – there was an instant lightness, an ease to my breathing – but I didn’t hear anything. I asked if he was OK and was instantly reassured that he was. He was moving, they told me, and I heard the NICU nurses say his apgars were 8/9, but still I couldn’t hear him …

The anesthesiologist told me he was crying softly and that I just couldn’t hear him from across the room and I had no reason not to believe her, but when I finally heard his little voice with my own ears I was so relieved that I let out a half-sob half-snort and realized I had been holding my breath for way too long.

I can’t wait to see who this little guy turns out to be. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy the sleepless newborn stage as much as I possibly can. So far, that’s a lot.

Posted in BabyNo.3, Beans, Matt, Tallulah | 3 Comments

Superclassico

 

While we’re on the topic of guys in our [expanding] family, I just have to share with you a couple of pics from last weekend’s second annual Soccer Superclassico.

Does anyone know who this is?

Coach Matt

Yeah, that’s my husband, the father of one of these boys …

This pic was taken by Ben Krain and appeared in the Democrat-Gazette on Sunday.

Beans was dressed as Super Loco (As if you didn’t know that, right? Duh. Everyone knows Super Loco.)

Our last soccer game of the season was a huge to-do. There were pirates and superheroes and roadkill (Go Jack!) and zombies (Go Josh!) and vuvuzelas and candy … and LOTS of cheering. It was high energy, y’all. If you were there, you know Matt is an awesome coach who always makes sure the kids on his team have fun, above all.  At this age, that really is what it’s all about, no?

The Super Mario team had a blast this season, they learned some mad soccer skills and they showed everyone they have the heart to play and the will to win. Kick it, Super Mario!!

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So …

The shock still hasn’t quite worn off, even though my belly is protruding like I’ve eaten a big feast of bowling balls. This baby thing really has taken us all by surprise.

I’m astonished at each ultrasound – nothing like what I felt in the last two go-rounds with the OB. I was in awe with each visit back then, but it wasn’t a surprise, exactly, to find out that there was indeed a little being growing inside me. With this one, every time the screen lights up with a picture of an honest-to-gosh baby I’m actually struck with an enlightenment: “Oh, there’s a baby in there!!!”  (Kind of makes me think of that goofy movie with Drew Barrymore meeting Adam Sandler 50 first times …) And then there’s awe.

We got to see him again today, in great detail. He gave us just a glimpse of his profile. Here he is in all his glory! (Have I mentioned he’s a he?! That puts the kibash on the argument Beans and Tallulah have been having about whether they’ll have a brother or a sister. Now, I guess, they can fight about what we’ll name him.)

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Woohoo!

Baby number 3 is due in April!

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He ate it.

Except he didn’t.

Beans lost his first tooth on Monday. It had been loose for a while. It was so loose, in fact, that it moved not only back and forth but side to side, as well. I tried to convince him it wouldn’t hurt to pull it, but he was having none of that. But as he ate a slice of pizza and chatted with my mom over dinner – ironically, about his tooth – she noticed it was no longer in his mouth.

He wrote a letter (and drew a picture) that night, explaining to the Tooth Fairy what went

down. And she left him $2.50 and a note about how sorry she was about what happened. She told him if he left a tooth next time that she could take back to her workshop, she would leave him twice that amount.

Now she has to pay up. I found the tooth on the floor last night. It’s a miracle really – I picked up some crumbs that I thought were from a biscuit Tallulah ate earlier and when I dropped them in a plastic trash can I heard a clunk that I was sure was too loud for a biscuit crumb. Lo and behold … the tooth.

Hey, Tooth Fairy - you owe me!

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Such offensive language!

Lots of kids have security blankets, dolls, burp cloths, whatever. But since before she was 5 months old, Tallulah has had a strong attachment to my hair. I don’t know that there are any pictures that show our “bond” but I would give just about anything now for a close-up of her tiny hand closed around my locks.

Starting at about that age, she would give me a look of abject horror and then wail if I so much as put my hair up … it was to be down at all times, ready for her to grab on to at will. It took me a little while to figure out what she was so upset about (hindsight might have led me to believe it was my wrinkles), but I finally got it and it didn’t take long for her to learn the words, “Hair off!” (which meant, ‘Get that clip/band/pin out of your hair, woman, and let it hang loose!’)

I complain about it sometimes now because while she usually just wraps her fingers around it, sometimes she PULLS and that HURTS. But still, it’s our thing and that makes it speshul.

Anyhow, yesterday we were getting ready for some facetime with one of Beans’ besties from preschool (and his sweet mom and brother) when Tallulah woke up and – yep – reached out for my hair.

Here comes a sweet moment, right?

Eh.

I can’t believe what she said to me.

“I want to hold your gray hair!”

Yeah, emphasis on gray.

I could choose to believe that’s how she perceived the lighter-colored dry part of my wet hair (you know, just because blonde hair gets darker when it’s wet), but she’s known her colors for a long, long time and …oh.

Then she said, “I want to hold that one. The gray one!!!”

Really, kid?!

Help me, Katie!

 

 

 

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It’s OK.

Since summer break started I’ve been sneaky about getting Beans to practice his reading and math skills.

You know, if I asked him to do some addition or read a book he might take that as a personal affront. I mean, we do read together, of course, but he usually balks if I just hand him a book.

So, I’m not above asking him to read a book to his sister or to retell her a story while I make his dinner or whip up a strawberry smoothie. (She doesn’t understand why he leaves out the part about the three bears seeing rabbits, frogs and turtles while they’re walking in the forest as they wait for their porridge to cool, but frankly I’m more intrigued by his supplementing the story with Iron Man and Dr. Doom.)

I’ve also sunk to promising if he finds change laying around the house he can keep it as long as he counts it and tells me how much it is.

Anyway, we might have learned the most valuable lesson of all.

I had just stepped into the garage to grab some wrapping paper for a gift we’re taking to a birthday party later today. I thought I heard crying, but Beans and Tallulah have been squabbling over his guys (those are superhero and villain action figures – duh) and I figured it was just the same old thing.

I grabbed what I needed and went back in to check, only to see that the little fold-up chair Tallulah had pulled up to watch her brother play Wii had fallen over and she had bumped her head on the coffee table of doom.

Matt had apparently come down the stairs just in time to hear Beans ask, “Do you need to go to the hospital?!”

But it was all OK, because before he checked on his possibly injured baby sister, Beans had remembered to pause his game of Mario Super Sluggers.

(Oh, and there was no lasting damage to Tallulah’s skull, either.)

 

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