Even though I haven't written on this blog in a long time, sitting down to record the details of my baby birth stories has become one of my favorite postpartum traditions. Crosby Elliott Bennington was born on Sunday September 20th at 5:01am and, as one might expect, his entrance into the world was not like that of either of his siblings.
Tessa's story was long and bumpy, with a 36 hr NICU stay for her at the end. Charley's birth was short and exciting and he came very close to being born in our car. Crosby, like Goldilocks and the 3 bears....seemed just right.
On Saturday September 19th, I was 40 weeks and 3 days gestation and definitely ready to get the show on the road. Tessa and Charley had both come at 39 weeks so I had been expecting labor for well over a week at that point. Walking, evening primrose oil, labor salad...nothing could make him come except patience.
On that morning, Jeremy took the kids to lunch and dance class while I stayed back to be lazy. While he was gone, I started noticing light time-able contractions starting around noon. Soon it became obvious that they were consistently coming 10 minutes apart. Not painful, just consistent, which was music to my ears. I sat on the couch and tried to relax, wondering if I had a long evening ahead. I watched stupid mindless movies like Bring it On and The Wedding Ringer. When the kids got home we watched Home Alone 2 and cuddled on the couch.
Later I got into the tub for about 90 minutes, waiting for the contractions to pick up in pace, but they still seemed pretty slow. I told Jeremy that it was best to go ahead and feed the kids dinner and wait, since we didn't know what the evening would hold. Mom and Dad (our babysitters) were up at the Purdue game so I alerted them that things were happening, since that is a good 90 minute drive from our house. I told Mom to enjoy the game and have a beer, but plan to come our house instead of going home when they left.
We ate hot dogs for dinner and watched The Middle, while I watched the contraction timer get only slightly closer together, to 7 or 8 minutes. After everyone had eaten we decided to walk around outside on the cul-de-sac while the kids rode their bikes. I walked round and round the circle for at least and hour and noticed that the contractions were finally getting both more painful and closer together, at 3 minutes apart.
Once they were consistently 3 min apart for a while, we checked on Mom and Dad. They were a good hour away and since our hospital is 30 minutes from our house....we decided that it was best to go. I knew it wasn't yet TIME time, but since Charley's delivery had come so fast a furious, you could say I was a bit paranoid about waiting too long. So we decided to take the kids with us to the hospital and have Mom and Dad meet us there. The kids packed up snacks and iPads in a backpack while asking....'really? We're really going? Now???' They were quiet and excited in the car, not having expected such a trip that evening.
We got to hospital around 9pm and Mom and Dad (along with Andy and Whitney who were also at the game with them) came shortly behind us. We parted ways in the waiting area and they took the kids back to our house because it was obvious there would still be a long night ahead. We told them we'd see them in the morning with a baby brother or sister.
Upon admittance I was only 4 cm dilated and everything was looking good. Our awesome amazingly cool labor nurse Katie was a blessing. She was witty and funny but also very helpful and knowledgeable. She ended up staying with us all night until the end of her shift at 7am, and there were big hugs upon parting ways with her. So Katie informed us that she needed to strap me a heart and contraction monitor for 15 minutes out of every hour, and for the other 45 minutes we were free to do whatever we wanted for pain control. I was determined to once again try for an unmedicated birth and she basically said that my wish was her command in terms of how I wanted to handle that.
Since Tessa's birth was so much more closely monitored due to the meconium in the amniotic fluid, and my options for movement and freedom more limited (and with Charley I had done all the laboring at home)...this statement was a breath of fresh air. Once we were openly given 'free reign', I knew I'd be able to do it again.
*I should disclaim here that I am not fervently anti-epidural. I think women should make whatever choice is they need to during labor. I just know my personal preference after having done it both ways, and that I wanted to give natural birth the good college try again.*
So we started the night by walking the hospital hallways. Then moved to a birth ball while watching Saturday Night Live. After that the pain was increasing and I told Jeremy to take a nap so I could be alone with my music. Some people may lean heavily on their support person for massages and pep talks but me...I like to be left alone. Jeremy knows that so he snoozed for about 3 hrs while I listened to music in my earbuds.
Mostly standing up, swaying and slow dancing with songs like Beautiful Things, Elastic Heart and Cologne. Or bouncing and thumping my head to songs like Lose Yourself and Empire State of Mind. On repeat over and over in order to become one with the beat, I played each song at least 7 times. Closing my eyes with the ever increasing contractions, alternating between thanking God for the pain and the child or asking Him to help me through it.
By 3:30ish the pain was getting pretty bad, and my genius nurse Katie suggest I hit the shower. Before I got in she checked me and found out I was only 5cm. I was disheartened to hear that after all the time that had passed, and I was starting to get tired. In the shower, the pain hit the max level. The cool head I had while playing my songs was gone, and I think I started to growl and cry. Jeremy sprinkled lavender and peace and calming essential oils in the shower (later the doctor commented on how nice our room smelled).
At about 4:45 am I left the shower in a much different mental state than I had entered. I was done and when the nursed asked if I was doing okay, I told her I was not. I told her and Jeremy both that if I was still at only 5cm, then I was calling for an epidural. I believe I said...I need an epidural or a baby. Whichever way it went, something needed to change because I couldn't take much more. Then she checked me and said I was at 9cm. In the course of less than an hour, I had transitioned in the shower and it was almost time.
The doctor then entered the scene for the first time all night. She was the same doc that had caught Charley and we hadn't seen her since then. Yet the first thing she remarked upon entering our room?..."You guys are my snowstorm people!! I remember you!!". Apparently that had been a crazy and memorable night for her as well and she totally knew who we were.
Since I was at 9cm, the doc broke my water and everything else happened very fast. The insane fire in my hips and the urge to push, the doctor rushing to get everything ready.....Crosby was born about 5 minutes later, within the course of 3 or 4 pushes.
It was still dark outside and we had lowered the lights in our room (aside from the medical spotlight the doc had used), so the morning came in very peacefully. Crosby laid on my chest for about 90 minutes before they scooped him up for weights and measures. An hour later we were wheeled up to our postpartum room just as the sun was rising and Jeremy was sent on the task of finding us some biscuits and gravy down in the cafeteria.
By 9am, Mom and Dad arrived with Tessa and Charley who were the first to meet him and find out that he was a boy.I had texted Mom to come, telling her only that we had a baby but not revealing the sex until their arrival. The kids held him, gave him presents, and watched his first bath, then went out to lunch with Mom and Dad and on the important task of buying baby boy clothes.
We stayed 2 days in the hospital while Mom stayed at our house and took care of getting the kids to bed, to the bus, their homework done and of course shuttling them to the hospital to visit. Crosby has done very well at nursing, being very persistent in those first couple of days before the milk comes in. By last night, his 5th night, his belly was so full and content that he slept a couple of nice long stretches as did I. Finally our nursing rhythm is being established.
Tessa and Charley seem pretty fascinated and content with their new baby brother, as do Jess and Mike who arrived from New York early to meet him before his umbilical cord even fell off. Tomorrow we are all headed down to North Vernon to introduce him to even more family and watch his older siblings swim in Mom's pool. Creating memories and bonds in these early days of our new family, we feel extremely blessed that his birth was such a healthy and uneventful one. Welcome to the world Crosby.