Everyone's birth story is unique to them and special. And whether it's serene and beautiful (ha!) or grueling and scary, it's your story and something life changing and memorable. Some people can remember every detail and for others the birth is a hazy memory. I tend to fall into the latter category so taking notes during labor and writing down my story as soon as possible is super important. Remembering little details is the way I relive the births of my children and put the whole story together. It all began the afternoon of August 21...
I still had more than a week to go before my due date (and more than two weeks according to my original due date), but knowing that Owen had come early, we had been waiting on pins and needles for weeks. Friends and family were calling and texting to see how close I might be to going into labor and the predictions had started. Tim and I actually were very anxious during the last few weeks because we knew it could be any time. With Owen, I had no idea I would go into labor early so I never got the opportunity to stress or worry about my upcoming labor. With Graham, I was nervous about how and when I would go into labor, how our lives would change after we had two kids, how Owen would react, what labor would be like, whether we would make it to the hospital in time, and a hundred other things. I was just a big ball of pregnant, hormonal nerves. When I had random contractions in the night, I would sit up unable to sleep and worry about whether they were real contractions or Braxton Hicks. It was such a completely different experience from when I went into labor with Owen.
The day Graham was born was like any other day. I got up, played with Owen, and worked on keeping the house tidy (a task I had been working on for weeks). I was super exhausted that afternoon so Owen and I sat on the couch and cuddled while he watched Madagascar. I wasn't in the mood to cook so Tim made burgers once he got home from work. Sometime during the afternoon, I began having contractions. I started timing them on my iPhone, but was frustrated because they were so irregular. At about seven o'clock though, they were about five minutes apart and lasting about a minute or so each. Tim started talking about us going to the hospital. I made him call the hospital and talk to the nurse about when to come in. The first nurse he talked to gave us the usual answer, "When her contractions are five minutes apart and last a minute." Not helpful. So we called my doctor and her nurse said to go ahead and come in just in case. Then my contractions stopped. But Tim was still determined to go to the hospital and we had already packed the car, so we dropped Owen off at our friends' house and drove the forty-five minutes to the hospital. I had no contractions all the way to the hospital and was completely convinced we were being stupid and would be sent home. For this reason, the only people we told we were going to the hospital to begin with were my parents who were going to drive up once I went into labor and pick up Owen.
Pulling into the hospital parking lot, I had another contraction and another standing at the check-in desk. But they were still irregular and not very strong. We were checked into an exam room at 9:20 p.m. Almost an hour later, a nurse named Tisha came in and examined me. I was dilated to three centimeters and ninety percent effaced. My contractions were still pretty irregular though so she said we would wait a couple hours and she would check me again before admitting me to a room. Feeling somewhat discouraged, I decided to walk around the hospital halls to try to get labor going. And that's when my real contractions started. We walked the halls for about an hour and then came back to the room to rest for a minute and watch some Jimmy Kimmel. Eventually Tisha came back at about midnight and checked me again. At four centimeters, I was finally able to be admitted and Tisha said she would return once a room was clean and ready. At that point, my contractions were significantly more painful. My labor pains are not so much in my abdomen, but more in my lower back and bottom and down into my thighs. Exactly the same as with Owen. Tim massaged my back and legs through each contraction and watched the monitor to see how strong each one was, praising me as the numbers got higher and higher. Finally, I was admitted to a room just before 1 a.m. I told the nurse that I wanted my epidural ASAP, but before one could be administered I had to be hooked to an IV and given fluids. Nurse Betsy (my nemesis) was the one who came to hook me to the IV. One poke and some digging. No go. Another poke and some more digging. Still hadn't hit a vein. My perfect veins that have never posed a problem in all the times I've donated blood. Tim was about to come over the hospital bed and strangle her. Betsy mopped up all the blood (literally) from my poor pin cushion of an arm and said she would come back and try later. Thankfully, when later came, it was nurse Tisha who put in the IV, nailing it the first time.
At this point, my contractions were still super intense and my whole body was shaking from the pain. I had not reacted this way with Owen and it was really alarming. Tim read some scriptures that I had chosen for labor to me and encouraged me to be strong. It was very helpful. Just before 2 a.m., the anesthesiologist (aka Best Friend Andy) came in and administered my epidural. The nurse checked me again and I was at six centimeters. She then left and I tried to get a little rest. With Owen, my epidural was very strong. So strong that I couldn't feel my legs at all or anything else while pushing. The nurses had to tell me when to push and when a contraction was coming so I was expecting the same this time.
When I began feeling my contractions, I was freaked out. My body was still shaking like crazy and I was convinced my epidural was wearing off. I pressed the button for more medication probably four times. In hindsight, it was the perfect amount of epidural and I just didn't know it. I could feel my legs and move them some and I could tell I was having contractions, but they didn't hurt. My shaking continued until finally Tim came over and wrapped his arms around me and I was still for what seemed like the first time in hours. At almost four in the morning I began feeling a lot of pressure and told Tim that I thought I might need to start pushing. The nurse took a while in coming because another woman was delivering so when she finally came in just before 4 a.m., I was nine centimeters dilated. My doctor, who happened to be on call that night, arrived and I was at ten centimeters. I started pushing at 4:30 a.m. I could see everything that was going on in a silver light in the ceiling and it was actually really helpful to see my progress as I pushed. Like Owen, Graham's shoulders got stuck temporarily and I had to have a small episiotomy, but after only 17 minutes of pushing, he was born at 4:47 a.m. My doctor was fantastic. She talked us through everything calmly. It was only afterward that we learned that the delivery had been so difficult. That his shoulders were stuck and the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck twice. Then he was placed on my chest immediately and I was meeting my second son. Tim was able to cut the cord this time. It was so completely different from when Owen was born. So much calmer. And though they took him away momentarily to weigh him and suction him, Graham was put back on my chest and we were able to nurse right away and cuddle for two hours before the medical staff returned to take us to recovery and to Graham's initial exam. It was during that time that we finalized his first name. Later in the recovery room, we decided on my dad's name for his middle name.
The rest of the hospital stay was pretty much a blur of nursing and trying to get a bit of sleep. The nurses in the nursery would only keep Graham for about an hour at a time because he would scream like a banshee and refuse to take a pacifier. So we didn't get much rest or a break, but it was still so amazing to spend all the time just the three of us. Owen came to visit twice while we were at the hospital and he seemed so much older. Bigger. Even his voice sounded different. And he had no interest in Graham whatsoever. Now that we are home though, he loves him and comes running anytime Graham cries and asks to "see the baby" all the time.
Our first week and a half at home were a whirlwind. My parents stayed for a week and Tim's parents came up over Labor Day weekend. Nursing started out well, but was complicated by tons of pain and eventually a diagnosis of a yeast infection that we are still recovering from. Because nursing wasn't going well, Graham lost a lot of weight in the beginning (almost a pound and a half) and so now, like with Owen, I am pumping and bottlefeeding. We will hopefully try breastfeeding again once the infection has cleared up completely, but I'm really discouraged about it. At the same time though, Graham's weight is back up and other than one bottle of formula, he has been getting breast milk exclusively for the first three weeks so far. We are sleep deprived and in Owen's case, a little deprived for attention, but we are doing well and I will try to update when I can. Especially now that Tim is back at work and I am home with two boys.
Though he was two ounces heavier than Owen at birth, Graham seemed so much smaller to us.
Proud daddy holding his boy finally. Sorry no photos of me with Graham, but I was pretty much naked.
Tim took this photo during Graham's evaluation and sponge bath.
My parents brought Owen to the hospital around noon the day Graham was born.
Owen refused to cooperate for a picture with the baby.
My mom with Graham.
My dad with Graham.
Tim's mom with Graham.
Tim's dad with Graham.
One of our first photos as a family of four.