Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Second-time slacker mama (Or, an ode to Ev)

There is much nesting going around here, as I have now reached 38 weeks. There's the physical part of that: decluttering, organizing, cleaning, folding lots of pink hand-me-downs and swooning. But there's also an emotional aspect to my nesting. I'm watching my beautiful boys play and marveling at what amazing little people they are, trying to be present in our presence--even as I anticipate our very near, exciting future that includes another little one.

And I find myself especially enjoying Evan. He still feels very much like my baby because, well, he is, and because Tobin by comparison seems increasingly grown up. But Evan is changing so fast too. He still keeps close tabs on me, but he's forging stronger bonds with Matt and Tobin. He's talking more clearly and purposefully. He wants to be part of everything his big brother does, including trying to sneak in the dugout during T-ball games.

I've been reflecting a lot on what it's meant to be the mama of two. Tobin radically changed my world. But the same can be said of Evan. Welcoming another child made the world even bigger, literally and figuratively. There was that moment when I first held Evan and looked at him and realized, oh, I love you too--sooo much. And then I've spent the last 23 months witnessing the wonderful person he is becoming, appreciating how he is similar to his brother and adoring how he is different.

One reality of having a second child is the exponential increase in work. Or at least it feels that way: much more than double what we were doing before. From time to time I have harbored some guilt about how we are often too busy to post here and I fret that we have missed documenting Evan's development with the same detail as we have Tobin's. I know we have increasingly relied on the microblogging that is Facebook, Twitter and even Flickr, hopefully capturing snippets of Evan's life with some regularity.

But there is one experience I need to record in this archive here: Evan's birth story. I told Tobin's on his first birthday, so I figure getting around to Ev's just shy of his second is right on time. Perhaps the perspective of time will distill only the most important details and help me be a little bit more succinct. Of course I'm thinking a lot about both of my birth experiences as I anticipate my third.

Evan was "late." Tobin arrived four days before his due date, so I was inclined to think Evan would be early--and for some reason, I was convinced he would be here even earlier. My mom and sister arrived right around his actual due date, and while everyone enjoyed that week or so together, there was definitely some impatience, especially on my part. It's hard sitting on "ready," particularly when you're nine months pregnant and physically uncomfortable and often exhausted. We scheduled our induction for 41 weeks instead of 42, officially in anticipation of a big baby and unofficially because we were just ready to meet him.

One of the things I did appreciate about the induction was being able to leave Tobin in a very orderly manner. We got up early on a Sunday morning, had breakfast and left him happily playing golf with Mimi in our yard. It was hardly the tearful parting I'd imagined. Of course I shed a few tears on the drive to the hospital, but mostly I was thinking about meeting Evan, feeling so very good about how happy Tobin had been when we left.

The orderly calm of the morning continued as we parked in the hospital parking garage, walked up to labor and delivery and checked in. There was none of the chaos and anxiety of valet parking and triage we'd had when I went into spontaneous labor with Tobin. That said, the two experiences were similar in that I felt like I totally didn't know what to expect, even though this was my second time. I wondered how different induced labor would be.

I'll admit I spent a lot of the day discouraged. My midwife deemed my cervix "unfavorable" (wished she would have used a different word) so I had to some cervical prep (think saline-filled water balloon--and I'll leave it at that) in addition to starting the pitocin, all beginning around 9am. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor that was wireless, so I was able to walk around for the first few hours. I did this until the contractions got really painful around midday. I felt I needed some relief, so I asked about an epidural. My nurse checked me and said I was about 4 centimeters dilated, which was disappointing to me. My body had been doing a lot of hard work, but I had just barely reached the point of "active labor" and I felt I really needed the epidural, even though I'd hoped to progress longer without it. But I thought back to my labor with Tobin, when I'd also had an epidural and how thankful I'd been for the break it provided, so I decided it was time. Again, my experience with the epidural was near flawless. I was so thankful to have some relief from the pain and, perhaps more importantly, the tension of the pain. Matt left me for a bit to go get some food for his lunch. I settled down with his laptop to, of all things, watch my very first episode of Arrested Development streaming on Hulu. Ha!

I remember the afternoon being quiet. I was bed-bound because of the epidural and mostly comfortable. But as the afternoon slipped into the evening, I started to get more uncomfortable. The contractions were stronger and stronger. Around this time was when my mom arrived at the hospital. She'd been home with Tobin but my sister had come back into town that afternoon, so Mom had Ashley and Tobin drop her off at the hospital after dinner. She'd sweetly come just to check on me, but I told her I'd love for her to stay for the birth if she could--with the caveat that I had no idea when that would be. I think my midwife may have been hedging, but she left me with the impression that I would be laboring well into the night and possibly next day. And in her defense, when she did check me around 7pm, I was "5, maybe 6 centimeters." Things seemed to be moving so slowly and the relief the epidural provided me was definitely fading. I felt kind of lost, totally unsure of what was ahead.

At that point, my midwife decided to break my water, to see if that would help things progress. I was lying on my back for this, and almost immediately after I felt nauseated. The nurse helped me sit up a little and I threw up. This was odd because the procedure didn't hurt at all, but I did suddenly feel very uncomfortable. My midwife told us she would be back in an hour to check on me. As she was leaving, I told the nurse that something felt very different--in fact, I was fairly certain I had the urge to push. She was rather dismissive and said I couldn't push because my cervix wasn't ready. I kept saying that I was really uncomfortable. Matt and Mom helped me change to a different side-lying position, but it didn't help much. I felt a bit of panic setting in, because I really felt like my body was telling me it was time, but the nurse was just telling me that she could call the anesthesiologist to bring me some drugs.

Things happened very quickly from that point on. I don't think I noticed at the time, but something happened on the fetal monitor. My midwife and a couple other nurses rushed in because of this. About the same time, the anesthesiologist arrived too. Quickly, we figured out that Evan had just slipped down in my pelvis quite suddenly and the fetal monitor had slipped too. My midwife checked me and said, "You're complete," meaning I had gone from 6 centimeters to 10 in a matter of just a few minutes! I was so incredibly relieved to hear those words. It was time to push. They sent the anesthesiologist away. With Tobin, I pushed for 45 minutes, which felt like an eternity (even though I was later told that was pretty short for a first-time labor). With Evan, I pushed for like 15 minutes, maybe 20, and it felt very fast. At the end, my midwife was scurrying to get her gloves on. At one point, she told me to "wait" and I thought "How do I do that?" The next thing I knew, Evan slipped out and my midwife handed him to me.

His delivery had felt so chaotic at the end that I almost wasn't ready to hold him--like I couldn't believe he was there. But I was brought rapidly to reality when we locked eyes and he just screamed. I held him tighter and told him I was so glad to meet him, and I remember thinking, Maybe he's mad because he wasn't ready to come out yet. He did have quite a wild ride in those last 30 minutes. As best we can remember, they broke my water around 7:20. He was born at 7:53pm. His reaction to life was very different from that of Tobin, who just stared wide-eyed, almost completely silent. These different reactions would foretell one of the main personality differences between my boys. Evan has always reacted more strongly, both positively and negatively, to things. Whereas Tobin is calm, almost understated, Evan is considerably more enthusiastic.

To sum up the nearly 12 hours that was my induced labor experience with Evan: 11 of those moved so slowly but the last hour made up for everything because at the end of it, I was holding another perfectly healthy and hearty (8 lbs. 13 oz.) baby boy. He nursed well from the start, and has been charming everyone he's met ever since, including his big brother who upon meeting him the next day just said, "Cool." On that precious day nearly two years ago, our blessings increased exponentially too.

1 comment:

Elena said...

Allison, that was beautifully written and not too long. Just right. =)

Looking forward to more Smith adventures as the boys meet and get to know little Lauren.

Happy early birthday to Evan! =)

~ Andrea H.