Pregnancy flew by until the last month-each week seemed an eternity of moaning, groaning and sleepless nights full of heartburn. Incubating in the Texas heat was certainly not pleasurable. I spent my days waddling around (exercise? what's that?), on the wrong side of every door and became quite the vocal critic of supermarkets that watched me lug my own groceries from the check-out line to the cart.
Keeping busy was still a major priority-it gave me precious time with the boys that I knew I wouldn't have later on and kept my mind off how uncomfortably round I had become. Newbie O was due to arrive on July 26th. I had a very strong feeling that she would be at least a week late, so despite my mother's protests at coming earlier, I told her to come just a few days before.
THE PLAN (or LACK THERE OF)
Seriously. I did plan. I was going to go shopping on Thursday for food and extras, clean the house on Friday, and (most importantly) get my hair done on Saturday morning. Other than that, my overnight bag was in the backseat and my parents were flying in on Saturday night. I did not feel in any way that I was cutting it close. Wednesday afternoon I went for my 39 week check-up and she confirmed that I was no closer than I had been in the previous three weeks. We even discussed what would happen if I went past my due date.
Little Miss Sassy Pants (or Miss Saucy Pants as Baby O refers to her) had other plans. I remember waking up with a contraction and looking at the clock at 1:11 in the morning. Basing everything on what I'd seen in movies and episodes of A Baby Story, I was expecting dramatic and it just didn't seem all that dramatic. I just wasn't positive that my water had broken, so I decided to get up and wait it out. I did nudge Daddy O on the way out of the bedroom and (deep sleeper that he is) he mumbled something and promptly rolled over.
Google does come in handy during moments such as these. I typed in phrases like, how do you know you're in labor, what do labor contractions feel like, how to time contractions.... It wasn't all that helpful, but it did pass the time. I ended up writing down every time I felt a contraction and after about an hour, they were consistently 15 minutes apart. I decided to call the doctor, who said that if my water had in fact broken that I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. My response to her was, "But how do I know if it broke or not? What if I just peed in my pants?" Her response was much more decisive and went something like this, "Just get your butt in here."
Well, crap. Crap, crap, crap. I had planned on this happening when my parents were here. There was no plan for where the boys should go. And it was the middle of the night. I didn't feel right about waking up neighbors that we had only just met to watch over the boys. And what if it was a false alarm? So, once Daddy O was up and moving (no small task, I might add), we got the kiddos up and dressed and piled into the car. Denial is a strong thing...Daddy O was convinced it was a false alarm but as I noted the time every time I felt a contraction, I noticed that they were now coming every five minutes and it was then I realized that this was most likely the real thing.
The boys dropped me off at the emergency room and met me in the maternity ward after they had parked the car. The doctor came in to check on me and took less than five seconds to say that this was no false labor. She went outside to break the news to Daddy O and I took to the phone to call my Mom. My mother must have been ready, because even at 3 o'clock in the morning, my parents answered on the first ring. There were a few pleasantries and then I could hear the resolve in my mother's voice, "I will be there as soon as I can."
Up until then, the contractions were pretty minor-uncomfortable, but manageable. Then all of a sudden they were coming quicker and MUCH stronger. I didn't have much of a birth plan-I figured I'd just wait it out and see how things went. I wasn't necessarily opposed to an epidural, but I secretly thought I could withstand the pain. I would like to add that I am no stranger to pain. I have broken both my legs, my hand, my nose, several finger and toes. None of them were pain free and those injuries led me to believe that I had a very high tolerance for pain. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the pain I was feeling during these contractions and when they asked if I would like an epidural, there was no hesitation on my part. When the anesthesiologist entered the room, it was as if the heavens above opened and a glittering light followed him to my bedside.
In the meantime, Daddy O was trying to be there at my bedside while also caring for the boys. Yes, they were in the room with me while I was writhing and screaming in pain. There were points where it was so bad that I told Daddy O to please just take them into the waiting room. I didn't want them to see me like that. They remained pretty nonchalant about the whole thing and once I received the epidural, everything was much better. From that point forward the boys played nicely in the room and had breakfast in the cafeteria. I remained in pain-free bliss and waited for Newbie O.
Around 9 in the morning, the nurse gently informed Daddy O that the boys could not be in the room during the delivery. We were waiting on relatives to arrive and thought they would arrive soon, but just in case Daddy O called his one of his best friends and college roommates to see if he could drive up quickly. Thank goodness we made that call because he arrived just in time-probably a half an hour before I started pushing. And of course, lesson learned: always have a plan B when childbirth is concerned.
The last part of labor seemed somewhat anticlimactic. I didn't feel ready-I felt tired and vacillated between wanting juice and going to sleep. The doctor promised I could have some juice as soon it was over and I began to push. I really could not feel a thing and I felt slightly annoyed at the nurse who every time I pushed kept saying things like, "You are an incredibly strong woman, be strong, be strong!" It was a little too much for me and I kept looking at Daddy O, hoping he could read my mind. I think he did, because I remember him smiling a little every time she decided to give me her strong woman cheer. Honestly, I was not in the mood to be a strong woman. I just wanted some bleeping juice.
Newbie O ended up coming out just fine and I got my juice-strong woman cheers and all. I won't get into too much more gory detail, but there were a couple of observations that I made during the last half hour: 1) I don't need a mirror to see more of the birth. I got enough just being up where I was. 2) Why did they give me a hospital gown? It seemed pretty useless as it was just hanging like a rag around my waist while the doctor was doing her thing.
I probably would have made several other cutting observations but once Newbie O was out and I had a gargantuan gulp of juice, joy and exhaustion took over. I'll let the pictures tell the rest.
She was born at 11:47 that morning weighing in at 7 pounds 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. I think she looks just like her Daddy. She's already starting to smile and babble-especially when you sing head, shoulders, knees and toes to her. She especially loves her brothers and being outside. Even though I still feel sleep deprived, she is almost sleeping through the night-giving us 4.5 hour spurts at a time.
The boys love her as well and fight over being my helper during diaper changes. Boy O has finally figured out that it means to carry the stinky diaper to the garbage can, so he has mostly lost interest. But Baby O loves his new job. Boy O enjoys entertaining her and most of her smiles seem to be specifically reserved for him. Baby O can't quite figure her out-he doesn't grasp why she can't walk, talk and play yet.
SEVEN WEEKS LATER
Time passes by so quickly and looking back, we were so lucky to have help from family and friends. Our Moms were here for the first few days when I was still in the hospital. My parents stayed for the first two weeks while I recovered. They single handedly took care of the boys, my emotional well-being (what a roller coaster!), cleaned and made meals. Daddy O then took his paternity leave after they left and the Mom's group I belong to delivered meals to our door for the next two and a half weeks. All in all, I had a good month to get myself together.
I am so fortunate to have had such support, because to be completely honest, this has been really hard. By no means did I expect it to be easy, but it never hits me until I'm in the thick of it, sleep deprivation, breast feeding and all. As the weeks go by, they seem to get easier. I'm getting used to balancing the needs of an infant and two active boys which has been the most difficult part of this transition. School has started and we are getting closer to a 'new normal'. It took us about 6-8 months to find that normal when the boys arrived home back in 2010 and I expect it will be the same this time around. And when I look back it's hard to believe that in just over 2 years we have gone from zero to three kids...and I whole heartedly agree with Newbie O-I'm happy, content, but tired!
Updates on the boys are long overdue, so please tune in soon for the many firsts that have taken place in the past few weeks as well as upcoming birthdays....