These were taken that weekend as we took a walk and enjoyed our last weekend alone together:
The next day (Monday) I made out a grand plan for my week, figuring I had at least two weeks before Jude's arrival and I didn't want to be sitting around just w-a-i-t-i-n-g for him to come. I buzzed around doing all sorts of projects and making phone calls, feeling energetic and pretty good, with occasional cramping spells. I talked to my mom on the phone about my plans for the week and she told me she thought I was going to go into labor sooner than I thought based on my current burst of energy. I laughed. By that evening, I was having regular "cramps" (I was unwilling to call them anything else) and ended up canceling dinner/movie plans with friends to stay home and rest. Rob was at the BCS retreat, but had already decided he wasn't going to stay the night, just in case I needed him.
Tuesday morning I felt better and decided to keep on going with my to-do list for the week… and felt the need to add in making zucchini bread and oatmeal raisin cookies. For some reason, I felt this was of utmost importance. hahaha I took a nap in the afternoon and woke up at about 3pm to my first "real" contraction… it was strong and serious, not at all like the cramping I had felt earlier. By the time Rob came home from work around 5, I figured it would be a good idea to keep track, and they were averaging about 15 minutes apart, though not at all regularly spaced. We took a walk, made and ate dinner, and I took a bath. Nothing changed; I was still having contractions, but they weren't getting any closer or more difficult… just enough so that I could not rest or get comfortable. At midnight I did drift off to sleep, but had about 10 or so contractions that woke me up over the next 3 hours.
At about 3am I woke Rob up because they were coming faster and stronger- about 6 minutes apart and hard enough that they made me moan and groan much more than before. By 8am we decided to go ahead and call the midwife to figure out if I should keep my 11am regularly scheduled appointment, and then we called our parents and let them know what was going on. The midwife advised me to go ahead and go to my appointment, which I did and found out that I was about 1cm dilated and already about 75% effaced (how they measure that I have no clue, but whatever) I went from that appointment over to the chiropractor to make sure everything was good to go. (that was a difficult adjustment- she had to stop for my contractions about 4 times and it took all I had in me not to make horrible sounds, heh) Sometime after that I had the delightful experience, "losing the mucous plug". Yay.
The rest of the afternoon is pretty much a blur; I spent most of the time in the bath, and in our bedroom with soft music trying to relax through each contraction, which I did pretty well with until about 4pm when they got pretty unbearable. I remember all of a sudden wanting to talk to my Dad, so I called him and as soon as he answered I burst into tears. (wtf?? totally not me) He was so gracious to talk to me and pray for me, then he told me he had to get back to his meeting- he was signing escrow papers at the bank! By that time I wasn't handling the contractions very well anymore and I started thinking that we should go in to the hospital lest the neighbors think I was getting murdered. So we called the midwife and explained how I was feeling (or Rob did- I wasn't in any condition to talk on the phone, but I'm sure she heard me) and she told us to come on in.
Getting into the hospital was an experience in itself- the emergency entrance was under construction and the valet guy was on lunch, so they took me up in a wheelchair and I left Rob standing by the car with all our bags. I was totally NOT happy about that at all. I didn't want him to leave my side. By the time he came up to the room, I was already in the oh-so-stylish hospital gown and getting ready for the initial exam/monitoring… which told us that I was only dilated to 3cm, dangit! So what can you do but keep going. Rob got the room all set up with the little battery-operated candles we had brought, and hooked up the iPod to the speakers we brought so I could have the soothing music he put together in a playlist for me. (What a guy, huh?!)
I don't think anyone looks good in labor, despite my best efforts of doing makeup between contractions before we left home and wearing my own clothes
Rob's trying to stay positive as I moaned like a shot cow in the big bathtub in my hospital room
The next several (5ish?) hours all run together in my mind; I was in and out of the bathtub, leaning on the side of the bed, walking around the room, and laying on my side trying to relax. Rob did an amazing, amazing job being right by my side every step of the way. Honestly, he was my rock. Every time I felt like my insides were being ripped out with a blunt hook (not even kidding, it was hideously painful) I found the strength I needed by looking into his calm eyes and hearing his steady voice speaking scripture verses to me and praying for me. There were times when it was so painful and I was screaming so much I literally thought to myself in the back of my mind "holy crap, who is this? Oh… it's ME." After every particularly vocal contraction (most of them) I would apologize to the midwife and nurses for being so dang loud. They laughed at me later for being "so polite". I remember saying things like "the Chinese didn't invent torture, this is the original deal" and "I'm never having sex again!" and "my mom told me labor was like 'strong period cramps- SHE LIED!" in between contractions. For some reason everyone thought I was oh-so-funny. Ha.
At about 12am I got the the point where I couldn't mentally get on top of the contractions and manage them at all any more, so I did what any sane person would do- ask for the freaking' epidural, NOW. But Rob and my midwife reminded me that I didn't *really* want that, I really wanted a waterbirth and I *could* do it. But I was so darn exhausted after not sleeping for about 32 hours that I just couldn't manage the pain at all any more. So came to a compromise; we decided to try Nubane, which did absolutely *nothing* for the pain, it just made me feel like I had downed an entire bottle of tequila. I still have mixed feelings about taking it, on one hand I think it was a good idea because I did actually doze a bit between contractions, but because I was sleeping I couldn't feel a contraction coming on and it would catch me by surprise and be all that much worse. So after about an hour or so on the Nubane, we decided to abandon that bad idea and I went back to the bathtub to tough it out. After about an hour of pure insanity my midwife checked me and I was [finally] about 8cm, so they started getting the delivery tub ready. I felt like I could focus a bit more knowing that since they were preparing for delivery, the end *must* be in sight, right?
At about 2am I went two doors down to the room with the big delivery tub and climbed in. It was *awesome* being in the deeper water, I could change positions easily and felt much more supported by so much water. When I got in the tub I was about 9cm, so I couldn't start pushing yet, even though I was fighting the urge with everything in me. I think that might have been the worst part. My low back was burning (yep, he was posterior) and my body wanted to DO something with each contraction, but I had to hold back. So frustrating! I spent most of this waiting time on my knees facing the back of the tub, with my arms draped on the edge of the tub, my head on my arms. Rob was right in front of me outside the tub, sitting on a chair facing the back of the tub (the tub was a big jacuzzi tub like you'd find in a master bathroom, but it was out in the middle of the room, so everyone could walk around it at about hip-height) The midwife and nurse took turns spraying my lower back with the showered hose thing, while Rob rubbed my shoulders and back. The whole time I felt like I was in and out of consciousness, being tortured by the worst gut-wrenching pain I could ever imagine. I screamed and yelled so much I was hoarse for two days afterwards, but for some odd reason it helped me manage the pain. Sort of. Really, it was insanity. I honestly think I could withstand Jack Bauer-esque torture and not "talk", after living through this long, intense back-labor.
Finally at about 2:30 I was completely dilated and free to push, which brought a whole new level of exertion and- of course- pain. After every single contraction I kept asking if they could see his head; for some reason that kept me going, even though they couldn't see it, and it would be two hours of hard pushing before the little fuzzball appeared. Also, I asked the midwife how long each contraction was, and when she told me they were about 45 seconds I told myself that I could handle that. I felt like I was in control a bit more knowing the timeframe I was dealing with.
I pushed for about an hour and a half before he started actually coming out. I finally started feeling his head coming down… and going back up… and coming down… and going back. It was mentally killing me every time it slid back, but I know that's what saved me from tearing much. At one point the midwife asked if I wanted to feel his head, which I did… and it definitely creeped me out. It felt soft and jelly-like, not to mention totally foreign down there. Eesh, not a good idea. hahah Finally his little head started coming out and staying out between pushes (um, the "ring of fire"? Yeah, well-deserving of the name. Good Lord). By this point Rob had gotten into the tub and was sitting behind me, supporting me as I pulled my legs back with each push. It was actually a really comfortable position to be in; I was floating, so I wasn't sitting on my tailbone, which made me feel like the baby had all the room I could possibly give him as he came through my pelvis.
Rob could see what was going on, and he says that in one contraction I pushed him out to about his eyebrows, then on the next contraction I pushed him all the way out in one big rush. From my perspective, I saw my legs and empty white space of tub and water, then all of a sudden there was a tiny bluish *someone* floating right there! It was absolutely surreal to see him for the first time. I didn't' feel a rush of joy or anything yet, just a sense of relief that the pain was gone and an amazement that there was a person in the room who hadn't been there before. I heard the midwife say that the cord was around his neck, and then I saw her spin him around under the water to get it off, which she did very quickly. As soon as it was off, she immediately popped him up out of the water and onto my chest. I looked at him and he wasn't breathing and his eyes were just staring straight ahead. It was really freaky for a second, and Rob immediately started praying out loud for him. Then I saw his eyes move back and forth and I just *knew* he was going to be okay, even though he wasn't breathing yet. The nurses started suctioning him out, but he still didn't breathe, so the midwife told us she had to cut the cord (we had said that Rob wanted to do that after it stopped pulsing, but there wasn't time to wait for that) and get him out and help him breathe.
The nurses rubbed him down and suctioned him at a warmer right next to the tub and saying scary things like "breathe, Baby! Breathe!" Rob was still praying out loud for him as they worked on him for what seemed like an eternity. Finally we heard a little gasp and he started breathing, but not crying. When they gave him back to Rob and I to hold and look at in the tub, we both started crying and thanking the Lord for our little gift. Rob sang the song that he had been singing to him every night for the past nine months, and everyone in the room started crying. It was an amazing moment of worship and thanks to the Lord for carrying us through and giving us this little guy.
We held him in the tub for about 45 minutes, then the nurse wanted to do his newborn tests, and get me out of the tub and cleaned up. At that point they weighed him and he cried his first real cry. When they saw that he was so small (5lbs 3 oz) they did a bunch of tests on him and saw that his blood sugar level was very low, although that wasn't too much of a concern at that point. I held him while they helped me deliver the placenta and all that, and get one stitch in a very small tear. I was worried about that part of labor/delivery because some people said that was the most painful part, but it was a total breeze, I didn't even know what was going on. I think that was actually the only part that was easy for me!
We were then wheeled in my bed back to our original room where we tried to get him to eat a bit. Since his blood sugar was low, they brought in an eyedropper of formula to get into his system right away as well. An hour or so later, while I was taking another (felt like my 700th) bath to get cleaned up and into some clothes, they did another round of tests to determine if he was early or full-term, and they decided that he was indeed 40 weeks, even though the early ultrasound (and my calculations) put him at 39 weeks at that point.
First newborn picture!
That's also when they did another blood sugar test and found that it had dropped since the first one, which was cause for concern since he had already eaten and that should have brought his blood sugar UP, not down. About 5 minutes later a bunch of doctors and nurses crowded into the room and started all talking at once about how small he was and how his blood sugar was low and next thing I knew they were taking him down to the NICU. All I really remember about that was looking over at Rob and saying "stay with him, I'm fine", then everybody was gone. About a half hour or so later I started wondering why I hadn't heard anything, so got up and started walking down the hall in search of the NICU. (I forgot that I had a hospital phone right next to me- I think I was a little irrational!) When I found it and saw Rob there watching 3 nurses trying to get the IV line into Jude's tiny arm I totally lost it. I cried and cried and asked what the heck was going on and why nobody kept me in the loop and why Rob didn't have his phone so I could find him. The nurses assured me that everything was fine and we should go back to our room and eat some breakfast, which we did. I slept for about 3 hours until the NICU nurse called us in to try to feed him again. That started our 5-day stay in the NICU, watching his blood sugar levels, fighting jaundice, and teaching him how to eat.
All that gauze and tape and tubes make me want to cry even now!
Preemie diapers were almost too big!
He didn't take too well right away to either the bottle or breast, so feeding times were scary and stressful for me. But with care and attention, he learned how to eat and they started backing off the amount of glucose they were giving him in the IV. As he was able to maintain his blood sugar on his own, they reduced the glucose bit by bit over the next 4 days until he was completely off of it. That was the day that we got to take him to our room! It felt so amazing to go to sleep that night with our own little man sleeping beside us.
They still wanted to monitor him to see how he did without any assistance for about 24 hours before sending him home with us, so we all stayed another day until we got the go-ahead from all the doctors. On Monday morning they gave us the all-clear and we left the hospital at about 12 noon, just a few hours short of 6 days before we checked in the previous Wednesday. It was almost surreal driving home with this new, teeny-tiny little person to take care of.
Trying to wear his newborn-size going home outfit I had packed for him!
The first few weeks were pretty rough with having to closely monitor his feedings and going to one doctor or another just about every day. I had some complications (retained a part of the bag of waters inside me) about 8 days after the birth that earned me a trip to the emergency room and an ultrasound, but thankfully everything turned out alright. My mom was a HUGE help, she arrived in Minneapolis the evening after Jude was born, and once we got home from the hospital she did SO much for us. My dad got here about a week after Jude was born, and my brothers all came out on his 3-week "birthday". I definitely got spoiled having my family here for a whole month; I don't think I made one meal or went to the grocery store once during that time!
Taking our first walk!
Sleeping on Daddy.
Jude is now 10 months old and a *very* busy crawler, and oh so talkative... just like his parents. I can't believe how much FUN it is to be a mamma!