Thursday, April 25, 2013

Garrett Charles: A Birth Story

I remember typing Gracin’s birth story. In all honesty, it was only a year ago that I was sharing with you the precious moments leading up to, and following, our oldest son’s birth.

After having time to settle at home for a week, I am excited to share with you another precious story…..the birth of Garrett Charles.

The weekend before I went into labor we were blessed to have my parents come visit. My mom came to help me clean cabinets, clean bathrooms, and “get ready” for baby. We didn’t know when baby was coming for sure, but at my doctor’s appointment the week before I was 50% effaced, dilated to a 2, and Garrett was at 0 station. Doctor told me “it could be any day,” and I left his office trying to remind myself not to get excited just in case I had to wait weeks before the effacing was complete.

Mom and I scrubbed cabinets and chatted away on Thursday afternoon. That evening Kyle and I took her and the stroller to a local college and walked 2 miles, pushing Gracin and enjoying the weather. I had to stop several times from contractions and general discomfort, but they fresh air was perfect and much needed.

 My dad drove in from a long business trip on Friday and we enjoyed being together in our little home. Dad was exhausted and fell asleep for several hours on Saturday afternoon while Kyle, Mom, Gracin, and I decided to get out of the house and go walking. By the end of the walk I was doubled over in pain. The contractions were hard and I could feel the pressure of Garrett’s little head low in my pelvis.

Mom was vague, trying not to get my hopes up, but she encouraged me to rest and said, “I don’t think you’ll have to wait too much longer.” After seeing my discomfort, my father was less reserved and said pointedly, “Well, we are going home on Sunday, but we will be back before the middle of the week.”

Sunday afternoon rolled around and I had plans to walk again. But after church, I was exhausted and chose to rest instead. We noticed Sunday afternoon that Gracin was running a low grade temperature and his coughing and runny nose from allergies were getting worse.

Monday morning arrived and with it we realized our big boy was sick. His fever was higher and he was coughing and gagging. He and I cuddled through the day and he slept a lot. I noticed how tired I was feeling and how my Braxton Hicks contractions were deepening into stronger, more noticeable pains. I googled “signs of early labor” and according to the internet I matched all but one of the signs. But I wasn’t going to have “bursts of energy” because I hadn’t been sleeping well at night. I smiled, sent the list to Kyle, and we hoped together that labor would be Monday night. Nothing happened except Gracin coughed harder and took another dose of Motrin for his 100 degree fever.

Before bed I used my breast pump and spent an hour on the couch as had become a nightly routine. I was trying to stimulate good contractions to help with effacing. We watched American Idol and went to bed, but not before I suffered from three very strong, very closely timed contractions that sent me to the commode to vomit. Kyle was staring at me and asking several times, “Are you in labor??”

After convincing him I wasn’t, he fell promptly asleep and I laid awake for several hours, feeling contractions, listening to my little boy cough in his bedroom, and determining I was going to call his doctor the next morning.

Tuesday dawned and Gracin was running a 101.6 fever. He was coughing, choking, snotting everywhere, and had a round of diarrhea. I called his doctor, very concerned, and was told it sounded like a cold and to give him Mucinex. Ok, that was going to be my afternoon plan….going to the drugstore for medicine.

Trying to play, but obviously sick

I noticed that I was feeling very nauseous during the morning. Kyle surprised me by coming home for lunch and we sat down to enjoy some leftovers. I ate potato soup, hoping to stop my nausea, but as soon as I finished my food I had a strong contraction and vomited again. I hadn’t been able to keep much food down since the night before.

I called Mom and asked what I should do.

“Call the doctor,” she said.

Of course, the doctor’s office was closed for lunch and weren’t going to open again for an hour. Kyle kissed me goodbye, headed to work, and told me to let him know what the office said. “We might have a baby today,” he remarked as he closed the door.

We couldn’t have a baby yet. I had a sick kiddo and I wasn’t ready!

I talked to my sister on the phone while Gracin went down for a nap. She kept me company while I tried to do dishes, straighten the bedroom, and wait on the office to open.

I finally got through to the doctor’s office. Of course they wanted to know how close my contractions were.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I have a sick kid and I haven’t had time to time them. But I can’t keep food down because they are so hard.”

“Well, I guess you might want to go to labor and delivery and get checked out,” they said, almost reluctantly.

I wanted to cry. I had determined with both pregnancies that I was NOT going to go to the hospital unless I knew I was in labor. Especially since Kyle was going to have to take off work. I wasn’t convinced I was in labor. I had been busy with Gracin all morning and all I knew was I didn’t feel “right” and couldn’t keep food in my stomach. I called Kyle and he told me he would be home soon.

I packed the last of our things into the waiting suitcase, called the necessary people, and tidied the last of our daily mess. After Kyle got home, we woke Gracin, loaded all of our hospital bags, and headed to L&D.

I was scared, distant, and almost ready to stop the entire trip. What if I wasn’t in labor?

Once we started driving and I began to relax, I noticed that I was having contractions often. They were about 3 minutes apart. Oh, ok, maybe I wasn’t crazy.

The nurses sent me to a little curtained off space and told me to put on a gown. My husband sat with our coughing little boy on his lap and they watched Curious George on the iphone while I padded to the bathroom and put on the “booger green” gown. I laid on the bed, feeling the continuing contractions, and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy for being here.

The nurse who came in said she recognized me. She was certain she had helped deliver Gracin…, I didn’t think my last labor was memorable. Apparently she didn’t forget the crazy lady whose labor was induced and yet refused an epidural even after being given pitocin.  

She checked me. “You’re at a 4 and 80% effaced. Your contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, and that baby is low. You’re in labor. Let me call the doctor and see if he wants you admitted.”

She left the little room. I stared at the ceiling, and then my husband. Our eyes were locked and we shared that intimate moment that said, “This is it. We are going to meet our baby. This pregnancy is nearly over.”

The nurse came back in silently. She unplugged my cords from the monitor and I asked, “Does he want me to stay?”

“I’m unplugging you, aren’t I? Let’s go get you a room and have a baby.”

The next hour flew by. Gracin crawled around the labor room while we called friends who were going to come watch our boy, talked to parents who were on their way, texted family members to be praying, and settled down for the work ahead.

My sweet friend Katie showed up and chatted for a while before my parents arrived. She was going to take Dad back to the base and get him checked in so he could watch Gracin while Mom stayed at the hospital to help me. Once they arrived I kissed my big boy goodbye and felt a little tinge of sadness, this was my last moment to kiss him as my only child.

Mom settled in the room with Kyle and I as contractions made little mountains on the screen. Contractions came 3 minutes apart and slowly became stronger. The first hours of labor were easy and special. We were relaxed, enjoying the chat, and talking over the excitement to come.

Dr. Ward broke my water at 6:30, declaring I hadn’t progressed since I was checked 3 hours earlier, and left. Lucky man.

The nurses were incredible and gave me a dose of narcotics to take the edge of the pain. I believe after that dose we were given a small taste of what I would look like as a drunk. I couldn’t contain my laughter, although I have no idea what I was laughing at. I tried to carry on conversation and couldn’t understand why my husband and mother were doubled over in laughter. I would be laughing, start to cry, and then “ouch” my way through a contraction. Ahhhh, narcotics. There may be a video on my husband’s phone that he shot as I was coming out of the “stupor.” I’m sure he’s keeping it for blackmail purposes.

The next 4 hours are a blur, and I will spare you details. Just imagine me in a really bad mood, grouching and then apologizing, lots of groaning and frowning, lots of hard breathing, lots of my mom rubbing my feet to distract me from the pain, and lots of the nurses coming in to tell me we were progressing.

By 10:00 the nurse was on the phone with the doctor, telling him to come because I was ready. I remember only pushing 4 times with Gracin’s birth, so I expected to have a short delivery. I believe I pushed 7-8 times with Garrett, but when he came into this world, the doctor almost juggled him because he arrived so quickly. At 10:26 the doctor held him up in one hand as he clamped the cord. He was there. My heart beat faster as I heard his scream, his lungs proving themselves healthy. First thoughts blazed through my mind: He’s here! Does he look like his brother? Oh that HAIR! Is it really a boy? Oh yes, yes, that’s for sure a boy.

Kyle asked if Garrett could be put on my chest—something I hadn’t gotten to have with Gracin and something I regretted deeply. As the doctor flopped (and yes, he did FLOP that poor boy on my chest) I felt the most amazing warmth flood through my tired body. There was blood on my chin from where his little head grazed my jaw. “Hi, baby! It’s ok….oh, honey, it’s ok,” I crooned. His screams continued as the nurses took him away, wiped his little red body, and suctioned his nose. They had told me he was “premature” at 36 weeks, 4 days gestation. I had been arguing their estimation of my due date in my mind, but when they weighed him and pronounced him a healthy 7 lbs. 3 oz, I knew he wasn’t premature. He was perfect.

Kyle cried, I teared, my mom was smiling and shooting pictures for me, and as the doctor stitched me up I felt relief (and hormones) surge through my body.

We had our second baby! 1 year and 11 days after our lives and worlds were rocked by the birth of Gracin Lawrence we were again changed by the birth of Garrett Charles. Love multiplied…..

They left us in the delivery room as a surge of laboring women had arrived to the hospital. My mom left, Kyle’s mom and grandmother came in to meet little Garrett, and then we were left alone. Just me, my handsome husband, and our precious baby boy. Garrett proved to have a ravenous appetite from the moment he arrived. The first nursing was easy, intimate, and is etched in my mind.

We fell asleep there, the tired three of us, until nearly 1:00 AM when they moved us to a permanent room and took Garrett to be bathed. I didn’t sleep that first night, but I did lay in bed cherishing the memories of the day past.

A friend of mine was actually in labor at the same time I had been, so after she had her epidural, we texted back and forth—separated by only 2 rooms—each of us bringing strong boys into the world.

Each child Kyle and I conceive will have their own “birth” story. Gracin’s is a memory I will never forget. Garrett’s has become just as permanent and memorable. We praise the Lord for added little blessing!

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