Baby Brayden has arrived! And somehow in a blur of feeding, diapering, and simply marveling at every detail of our son’s being, a month has gone by.
On May 21st at 6 in the evening, I was in labor. I was two hours into the pushing phase with an hour left to go. It had been a long 20 hours, but we could see the finish line and the little baby boy that waited there.
I had spent every morning of the previous week in the birthing center monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, and trying to get things moving as naturally as possible with gel inserts aimed to initiate contractions. “Hurry up and wait” was my doctor’s motto for the process. After receiving the gel, I’d wait two hours, walk an hour, and wait one more all under close surveillance. As I paced the halls, I listened to newborn cries and imagined what it would be like to hear my own baby’s little voice. I couldn’t fathom the process of getting from point A, pregnant, to point B, holding my newborn. Seeing all the new mothers on the floor was reassuring as I thought “They made it through the delivery”. But I am sure, from the other side, they were graciously loving their little bundle of joy thinking “That girl has no idea what she’s in for”.
And so my anticipation built… Each day spent in triage I watched other women undergo the same procedure as me, go into labor, and birth their babies all before I had completed my four hours of monitoring and the doctor had concluded that little progress had been made. It was discouraging that my body wasn’t responding, but the baby was healthy and happy so we couldn’t complain.
Considering the not-so-little one’s size and my conflicting Italian and American due dates, it was decided that the baby had to come out. On Sunday night at 10 pm, we headed to the hospital for a final attempt at induction. It was quite possible that the baby was not positioned appropriately or that his head was simply too large (anyone who knows my husband would understand). Since I barely take Tylenol, the thought of using a drug to induce labor was frightening. But, given my previous response (or lack thereof) to the gels, it was unlikely that it would be effective and highly probable that I would need a C-section on Monday. Whatever the case, we would be leaving the hospital on THIS visit as a three-person, one-dog, family. THAT was a beautiful reality…
Despite my previous immunity to induction, this final attempt took immediate effect. My contractions accelerated from 0 to 10 so quickly and were timed so irregularly that the nurse actually administered a shot to slow them back down. Needless to say, it was a long night. But, again, the baby didn’t show any signs of stress. He was much more of a trooper through it all than his mother!
The following morning came good news. Things had progressed enough that I could move forward with the labor. And, much to everyone’s surprise, I wouldn’t be requiring Pitocin, the second course of drugs typically administered during and induction. More good news soon arrived in the form of an anesthesiologist who would be giving me an epidural…
Fast forward four hours to 3pm. I had taken a much-needed nap during my sensory reprieve from contractions. And while I slept, I had made it to 7 cm. The nurse explained that in a few hours we would be holding our son. She suggested I continue resting so that I could gear up for pushing.
Having spent so much time in the birthing center leading up to this point, I’d had the chance to meet most of the nurses on the unit. All of them were wonderful, and they seemed as excited as I was about what was to come. They had marveled at the size and shape of my belly during previous visits and were anxious to see the baby that was hiding inside. As the clock ticked closer to the 7 pm, several nurses stopped in to see how everything was progressing. By 6:45, no fewer than five nurses had clocked out and stationed themselves in my delivery room. Baby R had his own welcoming committee and I my own personal cheering squad. And finally, only three minutes after the nurses’ official shift change, our 9 pound, 3 ounce and 22 inch baby boy made his way into the world.
Seeing Brayden for the first time feels like a distant memory and simultaneously like it happened yesterday. There’s a dream-like quality to the image of him being placed in my arms, still holding the umbilical cord clamps he’d comedically snatched from the doctor’s grasp in passing. Through tears of relief and joy I took in the beautiful features, cone-head and all, of the baby who’d been in my belly only seconds before. I realized in that moment that there is such a thing as love at first sight. Looking at Kevin, it was clear he felt the same way.
Since taking those first steps into what has already been an incredible journey, I have been blessed from all angles with what can only be described as love. Introducing the baby to family and friends, watching Kevin embrace and flourish in his role as a father, and of course observing Brayden’s daily, if not hourly, growth and development… all of these experiences make me bubble over with the emotion I’d never before credited with being so dynamic, natural and all encompassing. I initially thought it was my being over-tired that turned me into such a butterball. How else could I explain feeling so oversaturated with love that I was mushy as a Hallmark card? But I’ve since decided that it’s not exhaustion… it’s parenthood. And while I am still adjusting to the logistics of it all like how to efficiently pull a onesie over a baby’s head, how to complete all household chores in two hour blocks between baby’s feedings, and how to type or eat one-handed, Kevin and I have the whole love thing covered. I like to think that all else will follow…