Clearly, I'm terrible at this, but in the past year, Freddy turned 1 (and now 2), I was a birth sherpa for my best friend, I got pregnant and gave birth to another child, and we dealt with all sorts of other stuff along the way (flooded basement, totaled van, Nate starting grad school...it's been crazy). However, I realized that I haven't written Freddy's labor story, and that needs to be rectified before it starts to fade (especially since I've got another kid in the collection!). So, here we gooo:
I got pregnant quite soon after I had Rosie. We hadn't taken the post-partum NFP class or ordered the book, plus I wasn't taking my temperatures or charting, so we were winging it and...well, clearly winging it isn't the best way to space your kids. I spent the last week of September into October feeling icky, and as each day passed I went from, "I must have come down with something, there's like a 5% chance I'm pregnant," to puking in the tub while taking a shower and telling Nate we needed to buy a pregnancy test.
I had a due date of May 25, 2013, exactly 1 year and 2 months after Rosie was born. Now, my older brother and I are a year and nine days apart, my dad and his brother are a year and a month apart, so this wasn't exactly uncharted territory for my family, but it was still a little terrifying seeing those lines show up when my first wasn't even 6 months old. I was in such denial that I went to the confirmation ultrasound (I was much further along when I figured out I was pregnant - 8 weeks I think?) asking my sister if it was bad that I was hoping the test was wrong. I ended up regretting I'd ever said that when at the next appointment it took literally 5 solid minutes to find the heartbeat.
It's funny how you start pleading with God to give you back something you didn't even think you wanted.
The pregnancy passed fairly uneventfully. I didn't have nearly as much morning sickness as I did with Rosie - I only really got sick when I took the progesterone and my nose wasn't as sensitive as before - and wasn't anywhere close to as exhausted, though whether that was because the pregnancy wasn't as tiring or because I was used to it or because Rosie would let me lounge or because I wasn't working and having to be up before the sun is anyone's guess. Because I wasn't as sick, I didn't lose weight and in fact gained in the first trimester and just kept gaining (which was a little dismaying). Because the pregnancy was back to back with my first, I felt the lovely pelvic girdle pain much sooner. One doctor said that I could probably expect the labor to be half as long as my first. Great news, as I was hoping to have a natural birth this time around. And really, those are the only things worth mentioning about it till I got closer to the end.
March, April, and May were going to be busy months. In addition to birthdays (so many birthdays), two of my cousins were getting married about 2 weeks apart, my little brother was becoming an Eagle Scout, I was co-hosting a bridal shower, and we were refinancing our house, plus Nate was working at a middle school and had concerts. Go big or go home, right? As I was in the third trimester with my second kid, I went big.
I woke up around 5:30 am on Saturday, May 11, feeling a little funny and in a familiar-ish way. I started timing some things and, sure enough, contractions had started. I was able to go back to sleep, but I knew I wouldn't be spending another night in our house.
We spent the day just kind of waiting. We called up both my mom and sister and made arrangements for Rosie and the dog, and I called the doctor around lunch, saying that I was pretty sure I was in labor but didn't think I needed to go in yet, She said that if I was already at 4 cm, they weren't going to send me home, so I decided to stick it out at home for a little longer. We read to Rosie and my sister took a bunch of pictures of us as our last time as a family of three. Around 5:00 pm I decided it was about time to go to the hospital. In retrospect, I should have stayed home - my mom got there as we were getting to the car and I was more or less ok chatting with her in the parking lot. But, I was getting really antsy, so off to the hospital we went.
|Rosie knows something's up.|
|Diana! My physical angel that day.|
Hours passed. I snuck pretzels and pizza crusts when no one was looking. Diana's shift ended and she promised that when she's back the next day she'll go visit me in recovery. I ate a bunch of mostly melted popsicles we brought from home because the sugar free ones at the hospital are gross (lesson learned from last time). Contractions turned to back labor. I got more and more tired. I felt like I was being stabbed in the back through my lower spine and that my whole body was being yanked backwards. More hours pass. More contractions. Stronger, stronger, stronger,
About 12 hours after I checked in, I got a cervical check. 6 cm. Right where I was when I got there. Discouraged, exhausted (I'd been up for about 24 hours at that point), and in near-constant pain from contraction after contraction, I asked for the epidural.
We took a trip to London a few years ago. They have an exhibit about the effect of torture on prisoners in the Tower and they show two signatures of Guy Fawkes - a before and after - to drive the point home. I'm fairly certain that if you look at my signatures on the consent forms for the anesthesia that you'd see very similar effects.
After the epidural kicked in (so many lovely and mixed feelings about that), I ended up taking a few hour nap to rest up for the delivery phase. Diana came back on shift and started watching over me and my procedures again. I am so thankful that she was there for me, because I woke up to said least-favorite doctor demanding to know why my water hadn't been broken yet. Diana took the brunt, saying that they didn't want to wake me to do it.
The actual delivery went smoothly. Diana told me that it only took 10 minutes of pushing. I don't know. All I know is that I was staring at the clock on the wall, which was reading exactly 8:30 am when Freddy came out, and they declared time of birth as 8:31. It was Sunday, May 12. Mother's Day.
|Frederick Neil's very first picture.|
Diana said I lost a lot of blood and they had to give me an extra shot. She got an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to come and give me the Eucharist while I was still in L&D, nursing Freddy for one of the first times. It was amazing. Sadly, I threw up shortly thereafter, along with half of the breakfast I ate. At least I got breakfast in bed for Mother's Day? Diana also hooked me up with an awesome room in the recovery wing - it was a former double room, with lovely (fake?) hardwood floors and a futon and natural light and a ton of space for our families. It fit everyone easily. My sister came with Rosie, who had looked so tiny the day before and was now monstrous in comparison to her newborn brother. All of their first meeting pictures are in that room. He got checked out and his first bath in that room. And then, after our families had mostly left, we had to get moved, as they were shutting down that part of the wing since there weren't that many of us, so we got put in one of the older, not as nice rooms.
I don't remember much of the stay. I spent most of my time sleeping, which was weird for me. There were a few doctors or nurses or other staff who came in and had conversations about presumably important things, but I was going in and out of consciousness and nodded off in more than one meeting. Freddy actually slept well in the bassinet, which Rosie didn't, and he continued to show his need for space afterwards as he also slept in the bouncer and cosleeper and even got moved to his crib at 7 months after a particularly frustrating evening and slept through the night with no complaint of being away from us.
I remember going home on the Fairfax County Parkway the very next afternoon. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, breezy. We had the windows down and I could smell the honeysuckle. It was hard to believe that we now had two children. Not a child. Children. Plural. But somehow, this one helped me to know everything was possible. I started baking again. I baked more bread when he was a baby than I did when I was pregnant with him. I didn't feel as horribly inept, because I knew I'd been through it before.
That's not to say he's been easy (though he was a pretty darn good baby). On the contrary, he is constantly challenging us. He is stubborn, almost recklessly fearless, and probably too clever for his own good (he tried and succeeded opening the fridge before Rosie did, and he figured out that removing the plastic doodad on the doorknob means he can open it). He's ripped more pages of books than I can count, he is forever throwing things down and through the stairs, and he's not a particularly cuddly kid. But...he is strong, both in his body and will. He is healthy. He is curious. He is happy. When he is in the affectionate mood, he puts everything into it (and there's a lot of him to put into it - he's a tank!). He can be wonderfully gentle and funny and cute and sweet. He still takes naps! He's learning new words to communicate every day. He is a trouble maker and a problem solver, and he wouldn't be Freddy if he were any other way.
I love you, buddy boy. Thanks for being you.