I wrote a birth day poem to remember the amazing moments, thoughts and emotions that I experienced on the day you were born, but I also wanted to write this post, which will be much more of a traditional narrative. This one will help you know what your birth day looked like and will help me keep these memories fresh too! Since you don’t really have a baby book (this blog is it), I think it’s important to record these special stats for you as well:
Your Full Name: John Carroll Dennstaedt II
Birth Date: August 29th, 2013
Time of Birth: 11:45am
Place of Birth: The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, PA (the yellow room!)
*Birth Weight: 7 lbs, 8oz
Length: 20 inches (I think??)
Who was present at your birth: Mommy, Daddy, Bami, Emily (midwife), Jenn (nurse)
Who held you in the first hour of your life: Mommy, Daddy, Bami, Heidi
Who came to The Birth Center to visit you within the first couple of hours of your life: Bami, Poppa John, Nana, Poppi, Heidi, Abby, Carlie, Jenna (Ryan, Luke, John & Corrie all came to meet you at home shortly after)
Mommy’s water broke around 4am on the 29th. I woke Daddy up and we couldn’t believe it because we knew you’d be born sometime that day and it was the exact day we had been praying for all summer – the Thursday before Labor Day weekend. Perfect timing for everyone to get to come up and visit and hang out with you for the long weekend! What an awesome gift that God would actually honor our silly request for your birth to be on a particular day. When we called The Birth Center to tell the midwife on call that my water had broken, she recommended that we try to get back to sleep for a while because contractions might not start right away. Well, that was hard to do. We were so excited! We laid in bed together for a while just processing the fact that this was the day!
Contractions started by 5am, but they were short and easy and 10-12 minutes apart. Daddy got his stuff together and went to the gym to get his workout in and then stopped by school to prep his lesson plans for the sub for that day. By the time he got home around 8:30, contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and getting a little stronger. We knew we needed to wait until they were closer together, so we made sure we had everything packed for TBC and then decided to play Monopoly Deal! While we were playing, the contractions got strong enough that I had to stop playing, lean on the couch and rock back and forth to get through each one. They didn’t really “hurt” as much as they were just intense and required focus. We called TBC again because some of them had been down to 3-4 minutes apart and the midwife recommended that I take a shower to see if labor stalled at all from relaxing under the hot water. If not, then we were supposed to come in after the shower and if it did, we could wait a little longer and see how it progressed from there.
Well, that shower lasted about 2 minutes because I was not comfortable working through the contractions standing up. I needed to lean on something so I quickly got out, got changed and told Daddy we better go because labor certainly was not stalling. In fact, the intensity had picked up a bit while I was attempting the shower and by the time we got ourselves into the car, the contractions were really strong and were coming quick – maybe every 2 or 3 minutes. I don’t think we counted anymore after that because Daddy was busy driving and I was busy clinging to the back of the passenger seat (I was on my knees, facing the back, hugging the head of the seat). I felt like I needed to be on my knees, so that seemed like the best option at the time. As we pulled up to a light and I looked out the window at the guy in the car next to me, I thought for a brief second that the scene going down in our car was probably a little weird looking, but I didn’t care one bit. It took all of my attention to get through contractions and then just rest in between. I remember thinking that I really wanted to call your Bami to tell her that she should leave school early after all (earlier that morning, we had discussed how you would probably arrive later that day and she could probably get in a full school day), but I felt like I was physically unable to pick up the phone and make the call. I was just bracing myself, waiting for the next contraction, so I asked Daddy to do it and I just kept breathing.
Then, the urge to push came! Yes, in the car… oh my. It was so clear – no doubt about it. There was so much pressure, I knew that if I didn’t push, something was going to come out of me anyway, so I might as well push. BUT, we were in the car. So, I held back and that was actually very difficult. But Daddy did great getting us to TBC safe and sound and quickly. We pulled in at about 10:30. I remember being in the middle of a contraction as we parked and thinking that I had maybe 2 minutes at the most between the end of that one and getting to wherever I needed to go. So, I quickly got out of the car as soon as the contraction ended and waddled inside, where I was greeted by Jen, the nurse (Daddy was following close behind with my bag and my shoes, which I had left in the car). Jen told me we were headed to the yellow room, but I only got part way down the hall before the next contraction came and I had to lean against the wall to get through that one.
When we got in the room, Jen wanted me to get her a urine sample and sit down so she could get my blood pressure and heart rate, etc. I remember telling her I didn’t think I could do any of that because I needed to push RIGHT NOW (I had been holding back now for 15 minutes or so). I don’t think she believed me, but when she called Emily (the midwife) down to check me and they discovered that I was already fully dilated, they said “ok! you can push!” WHEW…thank goodness. I actually “delivered” the bag of water after a couple of pushes (I guess whatever water was left, inside what looked like a whitish/clear water balloon). Pretty crazy – I guess it doesn’t come out “in tact” like that often because Emily and Jenn thought it was really cool. Pushing was hard work. Really intense- and I was making some crazy growling sounds. But I was so glad to be able to PUSH so I just went at it. I think it was only 20 or 30 minutes into pushing that Bami got there and she and Emily were telling me I was doing a great job and letting me know that they could see your hair! That was encouraging! Progress. The position I was in lent itself well to bearing down, so I just tried to make the most of gravity and work you down and out.
Daddy was rubbing my back and getting me water and chapstick between each contraction. I remember that I was working so hard during each one, that I just felt exhausted when it was over. I said to Daddy that I needed longer breaks in between, but hey – I guess you just take what your body gives you at that point. I’m sure it was hard work for you too, little man. The fact that you were moving down was encouraging, so I just kept pushing. I had no idea that you would come so fast! I guess I thought (based on what I had learned was characteristic of the “average” labor) that I would be working at this for hours and hours and you would come later that night. But, after just about an hour of pushing, at 11:45am, your whole body was birthed in one push. Bami said Emily did her best to catch you, but you kind of just slid out onto the bed. I had delivered you on my knees, leaning forward onto a birthing ball and holding with white-knuckled grip onto the bed frame in front of me. I remember Emily told me I could reach down and get my baby and when I sat up on my knees and leaned back away from the birth ball, you were laying right there under me. You just stared up at me…no crying, just wide eyed wonder!
The next hour or so is kind of a blur. I remember it just being so calm. I remember just being in awe of you and laying you on my chest while I rested and talked to Bami and Daddy. And they held you too and then Heidi came and she held you. Eventually, Jen and Emily helped me get cleaned up and took your measurements (*at the Birth Center, they are in no rush to weight and measure you, so your recorded birth weight was actually taken around 12:30 after you had already eaten your first milky lunch). The staff at TBC was great – they gave us time and space to visit and enjoy the rest of the fam who also came to see you!
We packed up and headed out around 5:30 that evening, just a handful of hours after you had been born. It was a beautiful, hot August afternoon and I was thrilled to get you into the sun and introduce you to the great outdoors! You were tiny in the bottom of your little car seat. I remember putting my nicely packed bag back in the car, completely untouched. I hadn’t had time to use the massaging tools or the heat packs and not even bothered to shower. We all caravanned back to our house, where we hung out that evening and ate a big ziti dinner. Yummm! For the next week, we continued to enjoy wonderful time visiting with family (including Luke and John and Corrie) and friends and benefiting from amazing meals that people brought us (we were well-stocked thanks to the Compassion Corps staff!).
Daddy had Monday off of school and took Tuesday and Wednesday off as well. We had an amazing first week together as a family, just enjoying you and hanging out! I cried alot the day Daddy went back to school. You and I both missed him, but we had lots of nice visits from Heidi and Nana that next week – they helped us get aquatinted to life at home together. Plus, the next week I was allowed to get back to school for practices and games, so we were out and about before long and happy to be out seeing everyone (you got to meet all of your TCA family, which was so exciting!)
I will always look back on that first week with you as such precious days. I remember I was literally too high on life to sleep much. People kept telling me to sleep during the day, but it was hard when all the people we love were around, visiting and hanging out. I just wanted to soak it all up. Family together times – especially when it is around the celebration of something so special – are my favorite!