Today is my youngest’s first birthday! In some respects it seems like he’s been with us forever and a day — like it’s hard to remember what life was like before he was around — and in others it seems like just yesterday when he was born. Time flying by and standing still all at the same time.
To celebrate my baby turning 1, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share his birth story with you. This story comes a little out of order — I shared my oldest’s unexpected birth story about a month ago, but I still need to write my middle’s story (it’ll come soon, I promise) — but I’ve been reminiscing like crazy the past few days, so this is really all I could think about writing at the moment . . .
My husband and I have always liked the idea of having a big family. After our daughter’s extremely early arrival, and a tumultuous first year with our older son (it was a combination of him being an extremely fussy and clingy baby and us having to adjust to having two kids with absolutely no family around), however, we weren’t sure if we actually wanted to try for a third. We liked the idea of having another child, but living so far away from family, and with my husband so busy with his residency (he had just taken on the chief resident position), we were worried, frankly, about our sanity and if we could really take on the reality of having another kid.
After some serious consideration, we decided to go for it. Because we had needed a little bit of medical intervention with the first two (yes, I know, I still need to write that post), I began setting up appointments with the fertility specialists. And, because we had gotten pregnant with our first two in a different state, our new doctor wanted to run all of the tests we had already had all over again. Which we understood, but were annoyed by.
When we went for our consultation with the doctor after all of our tests were completed, we were met with some confusion. She told us that none of our test results suggested we’d have a difficult time getting pregnant or need any sort of medical intervention. There were numbers for one test for both my husband and I that were slightly off, but nothing the doctor felt required intervention at that point. She suggested a few over-the-counter-type things for both of us to try for a few months, and then if we still weren’t having any luck, we could come back and move on to our tried and true intervention. I was skeptical, but promised to give it a few months.
And? Wouldn’t you know? Badda bing, badda boom . . . pregnant on the first try! With no medical help at all. I actually found out I was pregnant on a trip to visit my parents while my husband was away at a conference. The first test I took was a cheap dollar store test. It had a very feint line, like I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure it was actually there, so of course I thought it was wrong. I texted a picture of the test to my husband to see if he could see the line, but I also told him not to get excited yet because I was running out to buy 17 other tests — all different brands and types — just to be sure. They were all positive. We couldn’t believe it.
And so began our journey with pregnancy #3. Like my first two pregnancies, I had hardly any morning sickness. (I say “hardly” because I did throw up once, but that was one time more than with either of the first two.) However, like my second pregnancy, I was considered high-risk because of having already delivered preterm, and so I prepared myself for near-weekly doctor’s appointments, bi-weekly sonograms, and progesterone injections for the better part of the pregnancy.
The one big difference with this pregnancy was my due date. We were going to have a summer baby. Our first two were winter babies, and I really wasn’t looking forward to being hugely pregnant during the summer. We were given a July 1 due date, but given the fact that our daughter was born 11 weeks early and our oldest son was born 3 weeks early, I was mentally prepared for a mid-June delivery. I was banking on it, really. Despite the fact that I was constantly joking about how this one would be the stinker that stayed in 2 weeks past my due date. Ha, ha, ha. (Oh do I regret that joke!)
Things were pretty uneventful for the first half of the pregnancy. My husband and I decided early on that we didn’t want to know the baby’s sex ahead of time — we didn’t find out with our daughter but we did with our older son, and we decided we liked the not-knowing-until-birth experience better — and we were sticking to our guns despite the fact that we could have found out during any of my bi-weekly ultrasounds.
At around 22 weeks, though, the ultrasound tech thought she spotted something wrong with one of the baby’s kidneys, so I was referred to a specialist for a follow-up ultrasound. My ultrasound tech warned me that the potential problem was associated more frequently with one sex, so if it turned out to be what was suspected, the specialist may have to tell us the sex in order to discuss treatment options.
Luckily, it turned out that nothing was wrong, and we didn’t have to find out the baby’s sex. That is, until my regular ultrasound tech accidentally spilled the beans to me at a subsequent appointment because she thought I had found out from the specialist. CURSES!!!!! Actually, to be honest, I wasn’t that upset about it because a little part of me had wanted to find out anyway. I was however hesitant to tell my husband what happened. When I got to my car I called him and told him what happened. He was pissed at the tech but said he still didn’t want to know the baby’s sex. WHAT??!! How the hell was I going to keep that from him? I promised him that I’d try but he’d have to promise me not to get upset if I accidentally slipped up. Deal, he said.
And, I’m happy to report, that I am the best secret keeper on the planet. Because my husband didn’t want to know, I didn’t tell anyone for fear of it getting back to him. (Ok, I told one person, but only because I did accidentally slip up with a friend.) Do you know how hard this was?! If I wanted to buy anything that wasn’t neutral, I did so secretly and then hid it all from my husband. When we talked about names, I had to get equally excited about both boys’ and girls’ names, even though I knew which list we’d really be choosing from. It was hard, but I managed to keep the baby’s sex under wraps the entire pregnancy. (Go me!)
I had a few more little medical blips throughout the second half of my pregnancy — a minor slip down some stairs, a short hospital stay after tripping over a toy and falling at home resulted in the start of some contractions, and some blood pressure-related issues toward the end of the pregnancy — but all in all, it was pretty uneventful. And by “uneventful,” I don’t mean these events weren’t scary, because they were, but I mean that none of these incidents put me into preterm labor, which was a huge concern for me with both of my pregnancies after delivering my daughter at 29 weeks.
In fact, 37 weeks (the point at which I delivered my oldest son) came and went. And I began to get grumpy. I was the absolute most pregnant I had ever been, and I was D.O.N.E. So naturally I started complaining. I wanted the baby out and started trying every old wives’ tale under the sun to make it happen: nonstop walking, sitting in certain positions, eating spicy foods. And yes, eventually I got so desperate I even tried sex. All I got from all of this? The runs from the spicy food, and of course a happy husband from the long-awaited action. But still no baby.
My family and friends laughed at me. “C’mon, you’re not even past your due date yet.” “Every woman should experience going all 40 weeks.” You know what I said to that? F THAT!! That’s what I said. Approaching my due date, I was nearly 3 weeks more pregnant than I had ever been. And I was just ready to be done. My mom had even been staying with us for a week at that point anticipating an early arrival as well. I was in uncharted territory here.
And then? July 1, my due date, came and went.
This one really was the stinker that was going to come late! Why did I have to make that joke so often throughout my pregnancy? It was like some self-fulfilling prophesy. Some cruel, twisted, extremely uncomfortable self-fulfilling prophecy.
Luckily for me, though, the little stinker didn’t wait too much longer to make his appearance. Two days later, I woke up with some painful contractions in the middle of the night, but I was able to go back to sleep, so I didn’t think too much of it. The next morning I was having more regular, painful contractions, but I sent my husband off to work anyway. He knew better and called before he was even 3 miles away from the the house to check in, and decided he should come back home. But, not before he stopped to get breakfast for my parents, who were both at our house at this point, and the kids. (Because we’re considerate like that.)
By the time my husband got back home, my contractions were maybe 5 minutes apart, so we called my doctor, dropped the kids off at a dear friend’s house, and headed with my parents to the hospital. In the 10 minutes it took to get to the hospital, my contractions started coming one on top of the other.
When we got up to the triage room, the nurse checked me and told me hesitantly that I was already 6-7 cm dilated. I knew immediately that meant I might not get my epidural. Because if I learned anything from my previous two pregnancies, it was that I dilate very, very quickly. Amazingly, though, the nurses checked me in, put in my IV, and did all of the requisite blood work and such in record time. I had only been at the hospital maybe 30 or 45 minutes when the anesthesiologist got to my room. I was so ready. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get the catheter into my spine correctly. And after 20 minutes and several failed attempts I was given the choice of having a spinal block or going natural. I opted for the spinal. At this point, I was fully dilated.
Not even 2 minutes later, and I was feeling relief. But then suddenly, the room was a flurry with commotion. Alarms were going off and the nurses were moving me onto my side, putting an oxygen mask on me, and injecting my IV line with something. I was scared because I had no idea what was happening and begged for them to tell me what was going on. Apparently my blood pressure had dropped drastically, and the baby’s heart rate was dropping. I started crying as my doctor broke my water (which was full of meconium, of course) and told me I’d need to start pushing right away.
Then, just as quickly, my doctor told me we could relax. Whatever they had given me was working — my blood pressure was coming up, and the baby’s heart rate had evened out and was responding well to my contractions. We didn’t have much time to settle down though, and within a minute I was pushing again. This time, though, there was no panic. Just pure determination to get the baby out. And after about 15 minutes (if you’re counting, it was only about 2 hours after we got to the hospital), and some turning to get him more upward facing, out he came. And he was perfect.
The best part was seeing my husband’s and parents’ faces as the doctor announced he was a boy. I was so glad I was able to keep the secret, but so relieved I didn’t need to keep it any longer. Our second little man was finally here!
And the second best part? Our room had an amazing view of the Long Island sound, so that night and the next (4th of July) we were able to watch the various fireworks displays all up and down the Connecticut shoreline. We turned down the lights in our room and pretended everyone was celebrating this new life with us!
(Note: If you’re curious about how we decided on Eli’s name, I wrote all about that in a previous post: How My Placenta Helped Us Name Baby #3. Fair warning: It probably is as gross as it sounds.)
One year later, and our little man has grown so much! (Although he still doesn’t have much hair, lol.) He’s walking and constantly babbling and trying to do everything his sister and brother do. He is the sweetest, most easy-going baby, and he couldn’t have fit more perfectly into our family.
Happy birthday, little man! We love you so very much!