Well, things are just going along here. Little by little we are acclimating to life with two kids. In the meantime, the milestones keep on coming. Harper drew her first people the other day. I think they are super fantastic so, of course, they went right up on the fridge.
Yes, the one on the upper left is wearing pants. We're not animals, you know.
It's been raining cats and dogs here. I love the rain. It's such comfort weather. So today Harper, Will and I all took advantage of the lazy morning and spent some extra time sprawled out in bed. Cuddly kids are the best.
Will is officially six weeks old today. I can hardly believe
it. It literally seems like it was just a few days ago that we brought him
home, but that’s probably just the sleep deprivation talking.
We’ve been so busy around here I’ve hardly had time to gush
about him, which is my obligation as a new mother. So here are some endearing
factoids about the newest member of the Booker Pack.
1. He was bald when he was born. I don’t mean bald like what
most people say when they have a baby. I mean cue ball bald. I thought Harper was a baldy but she’s Lady Godiva compared
to this guy. His eyebrows are invisible and he’s just now starting to get a
fine, downy covering akin to peach fuzz atop his sweet little noggin
2. He can sleep through anything. Harper can shriek, the dogs
can bark, and there can be a Grade 5 hurricane and this guy will sleep like,
well, a baby. It’s been wonderful.
3. On that note, he’s really easy going. For the most part he
is contented to watch whatever is going on, and he’ll put up with whatever
poking, prodding and/or jostling Harper puts him through. He hardly ever cries
and is sated pretty easily, which makes him the kind of baby everybody wants.
4. He makes the strangest noises we’ve ever heard. Frequently.
It’s kind of a growling/grunting but it’s really loud. He even does it in his
sleep. I’ll think he’s waking for a feed and check on him only to find he’s
passed out cold in his crib. Brad and I will just look at each other quizzically
sometimes when he really gets going. Now that we're used to it we find it pretty amusing.
5. He’s a moose. I
have no idea what he weighs right now but when he was four weeks old he was bigger
than a 3 ½ month old girl we met at the mall. And he has outgrown all of his
newborn and 0-3 month clothing, and the 3-6’s are tight on him already. At this
rate he’ll be in 6-9’s in a week. We’re either going to have to buy stock in
Gymboree or just let him go naked until his growth slows down. (I vote for the
latter; it is late summer in Florida,
6. He’s just starting to coo, which makes my heart melt.
7. He smiles with his whole face. Truly. Watch the video to see
what I mean.
Actually, now that I have watched the video, I'm realizing how much my kids look alike. Talk about deja vu!
I finished Will’s birth story. It is for all you Birth Geeks
out there but be forewarned: although it’s pretty PG (OK, maybe PG-13) rated, if you believe the stork delivers babies it is
not for you. Also, there are references to the fact that I am female and,
accordingly, have the accompanying anatomy.
I wrote Harper’s birth story in the days immediately
following her birth. It was important to me to get everything in writing before
the details started to get hazy. And, as much as I wanted to, clearly I was
unable to do the same with Will. Here it is a month later and I am just sitting
down now to write his birth story.
Part of the delay can be attributed to the fact that I have
not one but two kids to manage now,
which has rendered virtually every minor duty I am tasked with to be a major
undertaking. But mostly I haven’t sat down because, well, everything was just
so different this time. Everything
from the onset of labor to my pain level was just… different.
I should explain upfront that I’m going to refer to Harper’s
birth a lot. Partially because I had such a clear picture of what I wanted to be different this time around, but mostly because
it’s the only other experience I’ve had with childbirth. I have to compare my
experience with something.
My sweet baby Harper.
Also, with Harper’s birth my pain was really manageable so
that I was able to maintain some sort of outward awareness throughout most of labor.
Writing her birth story was just a matter of getting it on paper. With
Will’s birth, conversely, I really relied on my inner strength and focus. Although I have very clear memories of the event, I have to rely on the short
videos Brad and my doula shot and the birth timeline my doula kept to piece
together the birth as a whole. My sense of time was completely distorted, which
is kind of disarming for a control freak like me. Anyway, this is how it
happened, as best as I can make out.
I started getting contractions when I was about 34 weeks
pregnant; not your ordinary Braxton-Hicks but true (albeit mild to moderate)
contractions. They were, however, very irregular. I’d get pretty moderate ones
back to back for 40 minutes or so and then nothing for two or three days. Or
I’d get very mild ones for several hours on end but they wouldn’t build. By 36
weeks they became almost a daily thing.
I knew myself well enough to trust that I wasn’t going into
labor immediately, but was a little concerned I’d go into preterm labor (Harper
was born at exactly 38 weeks so chances were good that Will would come at least
a little early, too). Everyone, from
my husband to my chiropractor, my doula to my midwife, and even my friends and
family, agreed that he would make an early entrance. My midwife told me she’d
like him to stay put until I was at least 38 weeks along, as if I could just
place an order. I told her I’d do my best but I was pretty sure I had no say in
Then, on the morning of August 6th, at exactly 38
weeks and 2 days gestation, the contractions were pretty steady all morning
long and I started to pass a little blood. Not a lot but the contractions were
coming and going throughout the day so I was getting suspicious that Baby Day
might be on the near horizon. I even posted a very mysterious and non-committal,
“Looks like maybe today or tomorrow,” on my Facebook page and received a
barrage of questions from enthusiastic yet impatient friends and family. That
afternoon I called Brad at work and told him it was likely he’d be out the next
couple of days.
I should back up here and explain that I had been
chronically sick with a persistent cough for nearly two months at this point
(which was later diagnosed as Walking Pneumonia). Just two days before I
started spotting my midwife had prescribed a Z Pack for me in anticipation of
my delivery. I still had 3 days of medication left and I really wanted to
finish the course of antibiotics before going into labor, for my own comfort
as well as to minimize any chance of my newborn being exposed to any nasty
upper respiratory illness I might be carrying. Unfortunately, the prospect of
going into labor that morning was really more scary than exciting, so when the
spotting and contractions stopped mid-day on the 6th I was both
relieved and simultaneously disappointed.
Then, that evening, the contractions started up again and
were strong enough to keep me up for most of the night. I tried to sleep but
they didn’t abate until about 3:00 am, and, although they were moderate and not
regular or building, I felt certain Will was on his way that day.
By the time Brad got up for work at 5:00 am I really needed
to rest (I was guessing that labor would get started maybe midday-ish)
so I told him I needed him to stay home. Now this is where our stories diverge.
He insists I didn’t tell him I was in labor, which, in fairness, may be true.
If I didn’t specify I was in labor, however, it was only because I was, you
know, exhausted from all the contractions
because I was in (early) labor (and
from being sick with Walking Pneumonia, don’t forget), so I kind of assumed he
knew what was going on.
In any event, around 9:00 am the contractions started up
again so I finally got out of bed.When I used the restroom I could see that
I had some pretty significant spotting. I also discovered that my request to
Brad about staying home that morning had apparently fallen on deaf ears because
I found my mother-in-law in the kitchen alone with Harper. This led to the
following curt phone exchange:
Me (fuming between contractions): “Where are you?!?!”
Brad (confused and viscerally afraid of me): “At work.”
Me (pacing): “I told you to stay home! Why did you go to
Brad (meekly): “Because I finished everything at home.”
Me (exasperated): “I’m in labor!”
Brad (genuinely shocked): “You are?!?!”
Me (frothing at the mouth): “Yes! COME HOME!!!”
Now I realize in retrospect that I wasn’t particularly nice to
him but, again, I was in labor for
heaven’s sake and my husband had gone to work whileI was in labor, so
I don’t really feel like I should be held accountable for my actions here. I am
confident that any woman who’s experienced even one contraction would back me
up on this one.
I left a message for my doula updating
her on my status (my contractions were approximately every 10 to 12 minutes and
about 45 seconds in duration). Then Brad came home and got the last few items packed in the
hospital bag while I got in the bathtub. The thing was, I was still exhausted
from the previous night, and I was dreading going into labor so tired. I was
hoping a bath would slow things down enough to allow me to get another couple
of hours of rest. It worked, and by around 10:00 am I was able to get some
I awoke refreshed around noon, and, I don’t know how to
explain it, but even though my contractions were still irregular (at this point they still ranged anywhere
from 4 to 12 minutes apart and were 40 seconds to a minute in duration but were finally coming in waves like “real” contractions) I just knew labor was about to get serious (and it would!). That was actually the first of the two big revelations I had
during this process; that I should just trust my gut when it comes to my health
because I know my body really well. But I digress.
I checked in with Brad and my mother-in-law, Ann, who was
trying valiantly to keep Harper occupied. Ann offered to make me a sandwich and
Brad made me a smoothie while I called my sister-in-law (to reaffirm the
tradition of calling her every time I’m in labor, I suppose). Our conversation
went something like this:
Me: “I’m in labor.”
Bess: “Right now?”
Me: “Yes. We’re going to have a baby today.”
Bess: “How exciting… to have another nephew! How far apart
are your contractions?”
Me: “They’re still pretty irregular. Hang on, I’m having one
(Breathing on my end for about a minute.)
Bess (concerned): “That is one long contraction.”
When Bess said that I knew I needed to call my birth team.
Bess has had four (yes, FOUR!) babies and really knows her way around a natural
birth. For her to sound like she thought I might be delivering in my bathroom
made me realize I needed to get some professionals to my house ASAP. I got off
the phone immediately and asked Brad to call the doula, chiropractor and
midwife. It was about 1:15 pm.
Both Doula Emily and Chiropractor Alexa asked Brad about my
contractions (presumably to determine what phase of labor I was in) and he
relayed their questions to me. This is where I confess that I fibbed a little
bit. The truth is that my contractions were still varying wildly but I was
afraid if I were forthright they’d delay in coming over and I knew that:
1. I was progressing quickly at this point and…
2. they were both at least a half an hour away.
I told Brad that my contractions were about 5 minutes apart
and about 45 seconds in duration, and they both agreed to come over
Dr. Alexa got to my house at about 1:45 pm. I had arranged for
her to adjust me while I was laboring because I have Grade I Spondylolisthesis
which predisposes me to an increased risk of having an OP (occiput posterior)
baby. My primary goal was to go into labor in the best possible condition so
the baby could get in to the best possible position before delivery, as OP babies
can lengthen labor and pushing time as well as lead to increased risk of
complications and cesarean section, among other things. (I had experienced all
of the above but the C-section with Harper, who was born both OP and oblique. And, although my labor with
her had been short and I had a successful vaginal birth, I pushed for 3 hours
before she was born and ended up with related complications that took months to
As soon as Dr. Alexa walked in the door I came clean about my
little white lie but I don’t think it mattered much because she could see I was
in real (not messing around) labor. She had to stop several times while she was
adjusting me so I could breathe through a contraction. By the time Doula Emily
got there (about 10 minutes later) my contractions were exactly three minutes
apart and one minute in duration. When I heard that I decided it was time to go
to the hospital.
Both Alexa and Emily asked if I wanted to get in to the tub
for a while but I believe my exact response was, “If I get in that tub I’m
never getting out.” What I should have said was, If I get in that tub you should prepare yourself to assist in delivering
my baby there, because I am not going to be able to muster the strength or
desire to get out.
With Harper’s birth one of my indications that I needed to
go to the hospital was that I was dreading the car ride, and this time I wanted
to arrive at the hospital a little earlier in labor so that I would have time
to labor in the tub in the Labor and Delivery suite before pushing (with Harper
my labor went so quickly that I was pushing as soon as I got into L & D).
Yet here I was dreading the car ride again, with contraction closer together
than they had been the first time, so I was afraid I’d missed that window. I quickly
finished eating and we loaded into the car.
One of the things I had been very clear about when
discussing my birth plan was that I didn’t want to talk during labor unless I
absolutely had to (who wants to talk while they’re breathing through
contractions?). Brad and Emily had both agreed to answer any questions the
hospital staff had for me, and I had written all of my personal information in the
preamble of my Birth Guide for that purpose.
Those of you who read Harper’s birth story know that there
was a comedy of errors that started the moment we arrived at the hospital intake
(where Brad got performance anxiety and forgot my birth date not once but twice). Let me just state that I was
determined that the same mistakes would not be repeated so I had written an
inordinately specific and lengthy Birth Guide this time, and everyone got a copy. Brad had a copy.
Emily had a copy. Alexa had a copy. The intake nurse, the triage nurse, my
midwife, the midwife in training, my labor and delivery nurse, the postpartum
nurses, pediatric nurses and even the dietician all got copies. So you’d think
it would be smooth sailing when it came to something as simple as, say, getting
my birth date right, which was clearly
printed and emboldened dead center on the very first page of the Birth Guide.
Not so, as it turned out.
Actually, everything did go smoothly until we got to Triage.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Triage is the modern day
equivalent of a medieval torture chamber. First of all, they have a particular
penchant for being staffed by either the newest hospital hire who doesn’t quite
know how to use the computers yet (who we got last time) or the most irritatingly
cheery and detail-oriented nurse who also happens to have the most grating
voice on the planet (who we got this time). Then they tell you matter-of-factly
that they have to assess how the baby is handling labor, so you have to lie
perfectly still, on your back, for at
least twenty minutes, while they monitor the baby’s heartbeat. While in labor. I hate Triage. I’m
pretty sure it’s one of Dante’s Circles of Hell, and I had told my doula as
much. So as soon as we got checked in Emily went to see where my midwife was to
hurry things along. Brad stayed with me, his copy of the Birth Guide clutched
in his hand.
My Triage nurse.
So there I was, trying not to move, on my back, with back
labor, breathing through contraction after contraction, and all the while Ms.
Nasal-Tone (I didn’t get her actual name) was asking me inane question after inane
question, my Birth Guide resting uselessly in front of her. The following is an
excerpt from the actual conversation that occurred about that time, as I
Ms. Nasal-Tone: “Date of Birth?”
Brad (hesitantly): “Um… Five?”
Me (experiencing back to back contractions): “No.”
MNT: “That’s OK. Do you know how much she weighs?”
Brad: “Um… one hundred sixty five?”
Me (very annoyed)*: “NO! Brad, read the Birth Guide!”
This is when Emily came back in the room and caught just the
tail end of the conversation.
Emily (calmly): “It’s OK. You don’t have to answer any
questions. We’ll do it all for you.”
Me: “He’s answering everything wrong!”
*I was thinking, Who does he think he married, a Hobbit?
In any event, just after 3:00 pm, as I was lying on my back my
midwife, Karla, came in and checked me. I was 5 cm, 90% effaced and Will was at a zero
station. I was kind of surprised that he hadn’t descended more but was more
surprised when we got the results from the fetal monitor. Will was tolerating
labor well. In fact, he was asleep. This was my first big indication that the
baby about to enter our lives was going to be a pretty tolerant and easy-going
Emily’s tactic of tracking down Karla and pestering
the Triage staff worked because we were escorted into an L & D suite right
after they finished with me. I could not get into the tub fast enough, and the
warm water really helped take the edge off the contractions. I felt best
laboring on my hands and knees but would rest in a sitting position between
surges. Brad and Emily took turns putting pressure on my back with each
contraction to counter the back labor (which wasn’t terrible, I feel I should
note, but it was certainly nice to have some comfort measures). However, I was
feeling a lot more uncomfortable overall than I had during Harper’s birth, so I
was concentrating a lot more.
After about an hour and a half in the tub the water wasn’t relaxing
me like it had been and I started to feel like I wanted to get out. About that
time two nurses came in and had me stand up while they monitored the baby. When
I stood up I felt like there was a bowling ball in my pelvis. I knew that a lot
of women feel like they need to use the restroom when they get close to
pushing, and I was starting to feel that sensation, so I tried it.
When I got off of the commode I felt a really strange
sensation. The only way I can describe it is to say that it felt like I had sat
on some Saran Wrap and that it had adhered to me. In my altered condition I
could only speculate that I was feeling the pressure of the unruptured amniotic
sac in the birth canal, and almost at the same moment I had that thought I felt
an urge to push. It was a little after 5:00 pm.
I told Brad and Emily I wanted the midwife to check my
progress again. Emily knew I had experienced a long pushing phase with Harper
due to complications brought on by my underlying spinal problem, and had spoken
at length with my chiropractor about how to best assist me in labor. Their plan
of action was to keep me vertical as long as possible, and not “officially”
start pushing until the last minute. (Hospitals put you on the clock once you
start pushing, and if they arbitrarily deem the pushing phase too long they can
call for an Emergency C-Section.) Because I was predisposed to a long pushing
phase and wanted to avoid a cesarean unless absolutely necessary, she and Brad
coaxed me into getting through just a couple of more contractions before
deciding if I still wanted to call the midwife back.
After two more contractions I was positive I was ready to
push and insisted I wanted to be checked again. This part gets really fuzzy for
me. I know I started laboring on the birthing ball and that I was checked again
shortly after I asked for the midwife, but I don’t know what order things
happened in and have absolutely no sense of time for this phase of labor. I do
know I was feeling a definite urge to push at this point. It was sometime
between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm when Karla announced I was 8 cm, 90%
effaced and that Will was still at a zero station. I couldn’t believe it. With
Harper I had dilated from 4 to 9 cm in a half
an hour and here I was going slower
my second time around. No one goes
slower their second time around. To add insult to injury Karla told me not to
push yet, which was totally a moot point because my body was doing the pushing
with or without me.
This was the hardest part. I remember leaning on the side of
the bed while laboring on the birthing ball. I think I said, "I'm dying!" at one point and I know I said, "I cannot do this!!!" Every time I felt a contraction I
would stand up and lean over because the pressure was so intense I was sure a
baby was coming out of me any second. It was there, my forehead pressed against
the tissue on the labor bed, eyes clenched shut, that I had The Epidural
Epiphany. I finally understood why some women wanted to end the pain by any
means necessary. I also had my second major realization throughout this process: that there was no way I could do this alone. I really needed every single person in that room to help me bring Will into the world.
Harper was delivered in a terrible position; a one-in-three-thousand-births kind of position.
So bad, in fact, that that she was blocking (and ultimately damaged) the major nerve
that does all the pain sensing for that particular area of the body. The result
was that I had comparatively less pain, even during delivery, than the average
birth. So, while the good news was that Will was in a much better position than
Harper had been, the bad news was that I was suffering the full experience of unmedicated
childbirth for the first time, and it was a real kick in the teeth. I kept recalling the old saying that once you feel you've reached your limit in labor, you're almost done, and trusted I was close.
I started thinking about requesting they rupture my
membranes. I thought, if an intact
amniotic sac is the only thing holding up labor let’s get this show on the
road! I asked Emily to review the pros and cons of membrane rupture with me
to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any important cons, and as she was answering me
I got another surge, leaned forward, and my water broke. Talk about good
Contrary to popular belief, this does not happen when your water breaks.
Shortly thereafter, at about 6:15 pm, the L & D nurse
realized I was “grunt pushing” and called Karla back into the room to recheck
me and… hallelujah! At 6:20 pm she announced I just had an anterior lip and was
ready to push. She actually manually manipulated the lip back against Will’s
head with my first push so it would stay put (yay for midwives!). It was such
sweet relief! I just wanted to get done with labor but I had a history of a
nasty tear so Karla kept telling me to take it easy with the pushing.
Then, after what seemed like only a few minutes, Karla told
me that the baby was getting a little stressed so she wanted me to get him out with
the next contraction. After all the holding back I thought, Great! That’s an option? and pushed with
everything I had. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed past my contraction.
I was DONE. Done with being pregnant,
done with labor, done with it all. And I did it.
Wilson Joseph Loren Booker was born OP (of course) at 6:38
pm, after only 18 minutes of pushing! They handed me his warm, wet, slippery
little self and I held him to my chest. I marveled at him; he was so tiny and
perfect. Then, after a moment of reflection, the first sentence out of my mouth
was, “Thank God that’s over.”
In the meantime the L & D nurse was constantly rubbing
him allover to try and get him to cry because he was so quiet they were afraid
something was wrong. (As it turns out he is just a really contented kid.) Because
he had been a little stressed at the end of labor they requested to cut his
umbilicus prematurely so they could test its acidity. Brad and I were both
disappointed and disconcerted but acquiesced. Then the nurse took him briefly
to check him and get his Apgars, which were a healthy eight and nine.
It was during this time that Karla, who had also delivered
Harper, asked me if I thought he was bigger, smaller or the same size as Harper
(who had been 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and 19 ¾ inches long). “Oh, definitely
bigger,” I said, “… mid sevens, maybe low eights.” “Really? I think he’s about
the same,” she stated. “We’ll see…” she mused. The nurse proved me right when
she declared 8 pounds, 3 ounces, 22 inches. “In your face, Karla!” I gloated (by
this time the post-delivery adrenaline rush was starting to kick in). “Yeah,
I’ve been off all week,” she retorted.
Daddy and his boy.
Brad helped bathe Will and then I held him and got him to
nurse while they did some minor suturing. Later we were escorted to the
maternity suite. Emily stayed with us until we got situated and then went home
for some well-deserved rest.
That night, while Brad and Will slept and I was experiencing
my typical post-delivery insomnia, I reflected on the day. Giving birth to my
two children has been, in both cases, easily the most exciting, scary,
exhausting, beautiful, impossibly miraculous event of my life and I wanted to
savor every second of the experience each time it happened. That’s why I write
the birth stories: I don’t want to forget anything. I want those moments to be
suspended in time, forever.
So how long was I in labor? I don’t know. I
think a good argument could be made for two weeks, but since I didn’t have
that, “Oh yeah, THIS is labor!”
feeling until about 1:15 pm on Baby Day I consider that the start time, which adds up
to a grand total of about five and a half hours. Is that cheating? Maybe. No matter.
The important thing was that, in the end, we got our perfect baby boy. Welcome
to our family, little Will! We love you so much!