Almost the whole pregnancy we had been worried about pre-term labor because Paul was born at 32 1/2 weeks, and needed 10 days in the NICU. Most of those days are a blur for me now because we were so scared and worried about his health. Let me just say, having to leave the hospital without your sweet new baby is one of the worst feelings, and we didn't want to have it happen again! This time around, my doctor recommended I get weekly progesterone shots from 18 - 35 weeks to help this little guy get to full term. I won't lie, they REALLY weren't fun. By the end my hip muscles were sore, bruised, and had red lumps where the thick medicine was injected each week. After leaving the doctors office the day of my last shot I totally had a little celebration in my head. BUT, I am so glad I did them because I really believe they worked!
36 weeks came and went. 37 weeks came and went. My whole family had been predicting that I would go into labor soon after I had my last shot, and even made bets on which day baby Barber would be born (with a candy bar prize for the winner). I outlasted them all. Go go baking baby! After we reached full term when the baby could safely come anytime, the most anxious one to meet this little dude was Ryan. He encouraged me every day to do jumping jacks, run around, climb stairs, and even jump on the trampoline to get things going! He suggested that last one just about every day. Ha! No thanks. I could just envision the spectacle I would make of myself, a hugely pregnant woman jumping outside on my parents' trampoline in the middle of a freezing winter day, trying to keep control of her bladder......nope. I declined. I was excited too, but more willing to let him cook, and attempt to be patient. Attempt being the key word, I didn't always succeed.
On Sunday night Feb 6th, I started having mild contractions around 5-6 minutes apart. They weren't really painful, just uncomfortable....but they were consistent. I drank lots of water, took a bath, and changed positions often to try and determine if they were the real deal or if they were going to end up being nothing. They continued all through the night but didn't get more intense or closer together, and then went away completely by the morning. I was frustrated and tired! This whole "fake-out" business was driving me crazy!
Tuesday afternoon Feb 8th about 3 pm they started up again. I was wary of getting my hopes up since they still weren't painful, but they lasted the whole day and night, and were still there in the morning! I remember thinking to myself, "If this is all for NOTHING I am going to sit down and have myself a good cry." In the morning I was so exhausted. My wonderful mom came to take the kids to school for me, and Ryan had me promise to call him at work if I decided I was in labor so he could come home and be with me. I spent the morning doing some cleaning and packing, and around noon my water broke! No question now!
Almost immediately the contractions became painful. I called Ryan at work, and then my mom to let them know it was finally the big day. Ryan was super excited to say the least, and came home to help me finish getting ready and off we went the hospital.
When we got to the hospital Ryan asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the entrance but I said I was fine to walk. The only trouble was, since my water had broken it was kind of awkward. For example...as we made our way to the elevators I had to stop every couple of minutes for contractions, and....I was leaking. We passed by a dad with his two young kids who stared at me with horrified looks on their faces as I was standing in the middle of the parking lot, leaning on Ryan for support, breathing heavily, and a puddle was forming on the floor underneath me. Embarrassing? Yes. But I didn't really register it at that point. :)
Once we got to labor and delivery the nurses could plainly see I was in labor so they checked me in right away. That was nice. I got settled on the bed and nurse in charge of me during her shift came in to check my progress, and I was 5 centimeters. Yay! She looked at me and said: "Wow you are looking pretty relaxed for being a 5!" That made me feel pretty good, I must admit. I just have to say....the labor and delivery nurses have a huge effect on the whole birth experience, and I had a fabulous one. She was a sweet older woman who was extremely complimentary and accommodating, and even a little protective. When my mom texted Ryan to see how I was doing, my nurse saw Ryan with his phone and shook her finger at him and chastised him for texting, and then ordered him to put it down and come hold my hand. Haha! Yes Maam!
I asked for an epidural right away, and luckily the anesthesiologist came quickly. That part does scare me a bit, the size of that needle is no joke! But everything went smoothly, and Ryan held me steady and close while the needle went in. One or two contractions later and I was feeling numb and blissful and from then on out it was smooth sailing. I have had great experiences with all three of my epidurals. I love them so much, I can't even tell you. I experience zero pain, but still can feel enough pressure and sensation to be aware of my legs and the progress of my contractions. It makes the whole process so much more enjoyable.
In between naps while we waited for me to dilate, the nurse entertained Ryan and I with stories of some of her more "interesting" patients. We heard about mothers who wanted all 30 of their extended family members in the room during the birth, babies born in the hospital elevator, drunken husbands who tried to punch out the doctor, crazy mothers-in-law.... basically her job rarely gets boring! It was great fun, she had us laughing pretty hard at times. (How many women can say that about their labor?) Other distractions I brought for myself included an electronic yahtzee game (love that thing), my iPod, episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, a few novels.....ok this is starting to sound like a mini-vacation.
I also have to make mention of my doctor, Dr. West. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for an Obgyn in the Boise area. He is fantastic. Highly supportive, always ready to answer any and all questions, and really spends time trying to make sure you feel comfortable. From the moment I checked into the hospital he stopped in to check on me about every hour in between seeing his other patients in his office. I was surprised, since during my other two deliveries in Rexburg I only saw the doctor at the very end when he caught the baby and then BAM he was gone. Dr. West didn't seem rushed in any way, he didn't try to push my labor along so he could get home sooner, and seemed content to make sure I was feeling ok and would pop in to have casual conversations with Ryan and I throughout the afternoon.
After a few hours I got stuck at 9 centimeters and Dr. West discovered that the baby was sunny side up. He was pressing against my pelvic bone and couldn't descend any further down the birthing canal. Dr. West tried to manually turn him, but that didn't work so he turned me on my left side for awhile in hopes that he would naturally turn. He warned me that the baby might come out with bruises on his face because of this, and I started to get a little worried that he would never turn and I would have to consider forceps, or perhaps even a c-section. Luckily everything turned out ok, and turning me on my left side worked marvelously.
At this point it was well past dinner time, and I knew Ryan hadn't had anything to eat all day. He had been so supportive and diligent by my side the entire time, so I knew he would never ask to go feed himself unless I ordered him to the cafeteria myself. He was concerned that I would progress really fast while he was gone, but I assured him there was still plenty of time and he would be fine to go eat.
Of course RIGHT after he left I began feeling pressure, and realized that I was ready to push! Ahh! My husband wasn't there and it was TIME. The nurse checked me, and sure enough I was at a 10, so she said: "Well....did he take his cell phone?" When I tried to call it didn't go through since the cafeteria is in the hospital basement with no reception. So the nurse said: "Ok....well here's the part where I tell you just to breathe through it, and don't push till both the doctor AND your husband get back!"
Turns out I am good at holding babies in *pat myself on the back for that one* and when Ryan came rushing back the doc was there and everything was ready to go. Four painless pushes later Oliver Mason Barber made his entrance into the world with his tongue sticking out. I immediately burst into tears of joy when I saw our beautiful boy. Our BIG boy. He was two weeks early, but still 8 lbs 6 oz. And he had gigantic kissable cheeks. Dr. West then announced that it was a good thing he came early, otherwise I might have had a 10 pounder on my hands. THANK YOU OLIVER. For sparing me that....largeness.
As each mother knows, those first moments when you meet your new son or daughter are so emotionally overwhelming. I just wanted to stare at him, study his every feature, bask in his newborn sweetness. I was truly in love with every bit of him, and I know Ryan felt the same. My immediate first impression of Oliver was that he kind of looked Asian. He didn't really resemble Kaylie OR Paul, he had his own look. Ryan jokingly asked if I had an Asian milkman in my life. Haha! He just really didn't look anything like we expected, but then again...he WAS purple, crying, and swollen...so...there you go. After he was cleaned up, examined, and weighed, Ryan and I got to spend a little more time snuggling him and examining him. We decided that he looked a lot like I did as a baby. So cute and round, with dark hair and the funniest little concerned expression. He liked to furrow his wee little eyebrows and "glare" at everyone in the room.
One of the funniest parts was the day he chose to come into the world - the day before Kaylie's 7th Birthday. From the very beginning when I found out my due date I told everyone I really hoped he didn't come on Kaylie's Birthday, because I knew that would be tricky. Kaylie kept telling me she would LOVE to share a Birthday with her new baby brother, but I assured her that when she got older the novelty would wear off and she would probably wish she had her own special day. Well Oliver has a sense of humor AND a competitive streak already, he just had to have his Birthday the day before his sister. :) And that's ok. We are so in love with this new member of our family. He brings such a happy special spirit into our home, and we are so excited to watch him grow and develop and to have the privilege of being his parents.