Little baby Jacob is now 7 months and already scooting himself into new adventures and head bumps around the house. (He thuds into the wall when he misjudges how far his roll will take him to the left or right). Much has happened in his young life including a long journey with his family across our great nation. Because of this burst of activity, I haven't found the time to record the story of his birth until now. How do I remember? Well, I took notes (in-between contractions) with a time-table of events. I can't put together baby books or even scrap books to save my life, but each of my babies have a detailed account of how they entered this world, and Jacob is no exception.
If you are uneasy about the particulars of childbirth, you may quit reading now.
My due date was set around March 11 to March 14. But I was quite done on Monday March 4th and thought from the beginning that the dates were a little off. So I prayed to have my baby soon. It was that time in a pregnancy when the house is clean, the nursery is set, the car seat is in place and the only things missing are baby and mom's sanity. I tried a certain labor induction method in the morning, ehhem, and then went about my day as usual. I even ventured out with my little almost-2-year-old to get her a few pairs of shoes at Famous Footwear. I tried to ignore my behemoth reflection in the upward tilted shoe-mirrors because it was really scary. And the sympathetic/knowing/aghast stares of strangers were mirror enough to say that I WAS HUGE.
Soon after dinner I started to feel little twinges. hmmm. At 7 p.m. I announced to my family, "I'm getting weird contractions, I'll be on the treadmill until this baby is out!" I start slowly, then think about my predicament and increase the speed. (I tell you, I could run a marathon right before my baby is born). I did intense, speed-walking, pregnant cardio for nearly 2 hours. I stopped when it really started to hurt. I downloaded an app to track contractions (THere's an APP for that!). By 10:00 PM they were about 5 minutes apart, but not very intense. So I decide to bide my time by watching some light-hearted netflix--a documentary about medicated children and diagnosing bipolar. Soothing.
The pain increased, and I debate whether or not I should go into labor and delivery. I turn off the depressing background noise and quietly, yet hurriedly, get things ready for the chance that I will have to go to the hospital. I arrange girls' outfits, car-seats, and the school backpack. I call the nurse and have to stop talking during contractions. She says to come in when contractions are three minutes apart. I head to the bathtub and hum during the worst of the contractions and keep the water hot, refilling the tub when it turns Luke-warm. Between contractions I laugh to myself about how much my birthing hum mimics a Gregorian chant. My darling husband needs his beauty sleep, so I was not going to wake him until I knew it was time. And I hate being sent home from the hospital, so I was going to WAIT IT OUT!
After an hour or so of bathtub humming, around 1 am, I dry off and pace around the house. I use the toilet and discover thick, blood-mixed goo. The Mucus Plug. It was no joke anymore. I woke my husband, called my dear friend who agreed to be our night-watch person, and ran around crazy gathering last-minute pillows, and cell phone chargers. My husband is nervous and my manic grabbing doesn't help, so he orders me out to the car. Of course it is locked and I do not have the keys, so in-between my contractions I take a moment to absorb my surroundings. The night was peaceful with a blanket of fog hugging our street. I breathed in the simplicity of a beautiful night knowing that my life was going to change again forever.
When we arrived at the hospital, the man at the ER desk asked what was ailing me. My face twisted with a new contraction and I point to my stomach because I couldn't talk. "It's time, eh?" He gets me into a nice wheelchair, which I can't help but notice is behemoth-sized, and I fill out paperwork while they wheel me to labor and delivery triage. (This is where you go to make sure you are REALLY in labor). My crazy hormones were worried that they would not hear my baby's heartbeat. There was no basis for this worry, but as many women know, the hormones that surround childbirth can take over any sane thoughts and create thoughts of their own. I peed in the cup and put on the most hideous green-print, backless gown that looked like it could have been a wall-paper at the "Max" in an early episode of "Saved by The Bell." The nurse attaches the belly monitors and I hear a steady, strong heartbeat and I break and cry. See crazy hormones, you were wrong, baby is fine!
The nurse assigned to me was so gentle and had a voice like a shy child. Then it was time for CHECKING. She dug in and it felt like she was scraping shards of bone from my abdomen. It will be over soon, I think, writhing. "I need someone with longer fingers!!" I wanted to scream. So Edna Scissor-Fingers comes to examine me, I actually shriek it hurt so bad, and she declares me a 4 or a 5! I knew at that point I was going to stay and would soon meet my baby.
They must have done something in there because after those exams, my contractions REALLY kicked in. You do odd things when you are in pain. My coping was reaching for the heavens, like a lady feeling it at a Gospel concert, while making eeewwwwooooooo noises similar to the ones used by the speech therapist on My Fair Lady. Then I started spouting Mormon-brand swear words really loud. My husband was getting a kick out of it I could tell, because I am usually a pretty easy-going non-loud lady. "I thought we agreed to a silent birth," he said. I started laughing hysterically and he looked a little scared and relieved at the same time that I got his joke. As soon as they gave me the official news that I would be admitted, I asked about the anesthesiologist and the speed at which they respond to epidural requests.
Around 2: 40 a.m. they wheeled me into the delivery room. I was so excited and in pain and weary at the same time. It was happening so fast. The nurse administering my IV asked if my husband and I if we were Mormon. We said yes, and she said she could tell. (She was a Mormon herself). "It's cause I didn't cuss during my contractions??" And we had a good chuckle. Then another BIG contraction takes over. "Weeeeeee oooooooo weeeeeeeee ooooooo," I holler. I put on my makeup because I knew I only had a short window. I didn't have time for makeup with my last birth. Doesn't seem important but it made me feel pretty at a time when I was so exposed and so HUGE!
At 3:30 the anesthesiologist begins the first poke for my epidural. I am still and completely bent over as she rummages around my spinal corn. At 3:40 I feel immense pressure, like a balloon inflating in my crotch, then an audible POP! "Um, I think my water broke," I say. "It's ok, don't worry," said the nurse. The warm gush of liquid surrounded me and soaked the entire bed. "Yeah, but is going EVERYWHERE! ...sorry!" I felt like a kid who awoke covered in pee forced to approach mom to tell her the news. This was my first experience with the waters breaking on their own and I was not prepared for the volume. "Is it supposed to be yellow?" I ask. "Well, usually it is clear, there is likely meconium in the fluid, so we'll have to take a close look at baby when he's here." Great. A new thought for my hormones to multiply until I'm convinced that this yellow goo will be the death of me and my child.
By 3:50 I'm feeling tingly all over and ready for a nap. And at 3:55 a.m. I have my first pain-free contraction. Siggghhhhh. By 4:00, I am 70 % effaced but only dilated to a 5. (to be honest with you, I still don't know what effacement is, maybe I'll look it up before baby 4 comes along). Scott is feeding me ice chips as I bask in the glory of my epidural and I let out a grandmother-wind. "Looks like I'm losing control!" I declare. At 4:30 Scott heads home to relieve our dear friend taking care of the girls and I request some anti-nausea stuff because the epidural is making me queasy. I fade into a glorious nap.
I wake up at 6:35 and talk to Ally, my oldest on the phone. She says in a sleepy voice, "Mom, I'm excited, I can't wait to meet my baby brother!! I'll have to tell my teacher today; she told me to tell her when my brother comes." I speak with Ashley and she simply exclaims, "Baby!" At 6:47 the nurses place fetal monitors in the womb to get better readings, and by 6:52 I am completely effaced with a -1 position. (I am lying if I pretend I know what that means) Scott returns to the hospital at 7:05.
At 7:10 I call my Dad. "Dad, I'm in labor!" He pulls the phone away from his mouth and shouts, "Mom, Bean is in labor!" He sounded as excited as if it were his first grandchild, not his 72nd. (I'll have to check my sources for that number, because frankly, I've lost count). My heart is full and my mom keeps saying "Ohhh, wow, Bina, wow!" The nurse checks me at 7:35 and says I am ready to have my baby.
I had to wait with my little boy right THERE until the Dr. came. It was 20 minutes of excruciating pressure. I was squeezing the life out of my husband's hand ready for it all to be over! My Dr. comes in, gowns up and tells me I can push with my next contraction. In 30 seconds the head is out and my contraction stops. "Do you mind if I keep pushing?" He said sure and one push later my baby boy was born.
I didn't get a good look at him because they whisked him away to make sure he was breathing well enough on his own. The respiratory therapist was in the room managing the group of about 6 people working on my boy.
I was frozen in absolute terror for 10 minutes. When they pronounced him well and placed him in my arms I completely melted. I held him and I could breathe again. I sobbed for 10 minutes cradling my angel. He was here, he was perfect, and my heart changed forever, for the third time. Welcome to your new home Jacob Leonce Arceneaux. You are absolutely loved.