The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
I did a particularly life-changing summer Bible study several summers ago. We studied the Fruits of the Spirit and that Beth Moore had us studying the Word out of the book of Job. It was not where I expected to start, or finish, a study on the Fruits of the Spirit, but it was wonderful. Toward the end, this verse out of Job really stood out to me, and stuck with me since then. Now, I can't get it out of my mind as I think about the birth of Tucker.
You might remember that my due date with Tucker was my late Grandma Soden's birthday, November 16th. Dekker was two weeks early, and this baby was measuring big, so my doctor advised us that he would most likely come on his own and early. I had given up the idea of having him on the 16th, and come to peace with his picking his own birthday. So at peace, in fact, that my doctor, Dave and I opted out of an induction at 39 weeks, as we had previously discussed. More waiting, and still no baby, until I walked into the hospital on the 16th, 5 cm dilated and in active labor. I was technically there for an "induction", but I love that I was already in labor. Tucker did get to pick his birthday, smart little boy, he picked a pretty special date.
I don't know where to start with a "birth story." I will start with the fact that I never thought I would go 40 weeks, but low and behold, I did and I am so at peace with the choices we made to not induce earlier. We scheduled the induction for my due date, and I never thought I would make it to that, either. The Monday before the scheduled induction (Wed) I was 3 cm dilated. I had regular contractions and several nights leading up to the 16th I thought "tonight is the night", and then the contractions would stop. Tuesday night the 15th we went to a small group Thanksgiving Family Night-- it was a blast and a great way to take my mind off things. I took broccoli salad and rolls. I was pretty miserable, but super loved all the great company. Wednesday morning I woke up and was pretty sure I was having very regular contractions. I was bleeding some, and so relieved that I wouldn't be pregnant anymore. We dropped Dekker off at Ms. Laura's house, his regular daycare provider, and went to the hospital at 8.
By the time we were totally checked in, in the bed, hooked up, paperwork done, etc it was easily 9AM. They checked me and I was "5 cm, maybe 6." The morning progressed, and very quickly the contractions got regular and intense, and the Pitocin was stopped fairly shortly after it was started. I really, really debated an epidural. I loved my labor experience with Dekker, which included an epidural, but this one was going so fast that I really didn't see it totally necessary. What I kept thinking about was that I knew this baby was on track to be big, over the 96th percentile on ultrasound at 32 weeks, and I didn't want to get stuck pushing for hours without one. So I hemmed and stewed and probably teared up and decided to go for it at about 10:30AM. Five nursing students filed in with the doctor and he administered it. He started it off pretty slow because Dekker's had taken too high. I had movement all the way to my toes, could lift my own legs, wriggle my toes, etc. The nurses came in and I told them that I still had a lot of feeling and they could confirm that, but we all agreed that the epidural had "taken" and was muting my contractions. It never got stronger. In hindsight, this was the perfect epidural for me.
About 11:30/12:00 ish I really had to go to the bathroom (pee) and was having a lot of pressure. I asked Dave to call the nurses. He asked what he should tell them and I said "that I want to talk to them." So he did just that. They came in and I told them I had to go potty really bad and it was super uncomfortable. The nurse decided to check me again. She hadn't done that at all until now because it had only been a few hours, and we all expected the doctor anytime, so the nurse was just waiting for the doctor to do it, following best practice that it be done as little as needed. Well, I was at a 10, so we called and paged the doctor (again) and waited. I'm not sure what time it was, probably about noon.
Funny aside, my friend Katie has the same doctor and had an appt. She texted me from the waiting room and I was like "We're waiting on her so harass her for me!" Katie was the last client Dr. Simmons saw, and Katie said she barely popped her head in the room and announced that she had to "go catch a baby."
The doctor showed up about 12:45. She broke my water because, yep, it was still intact. We briefly discussed not breaking it, but decided we would as the baby is easier to "catch". The doctor was able to do it with her index finger.
The pushing began. The epidural was helping mute the contractions but I felt a lot of pain and pressure. At about 1:00 the doctor could tell that the head was large and round. It was an odd experience, pushing, then waiting in-between contractions while the nurses and doctors, and sometimes myself talked in-between. It was pretty calm for the most part. My doctor just stood there watching the machine, chiming in on chit-chat occasionally. Meanwhile, Tucker's head was pushing on my tailbone so hard that I had almost no relief in-between contractions. The doctor mentioned that she could use forceps, and I was thrilled at the option. I guess you know that is when you are in a lot of pain, when forceps sound great. It was a huge relief and once the head got lifted off the tailbone (kinda like a shoe-horn), he came fast. The last several minutes was basically one, loud push, which made the nursing students dance around :) The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and his forehead was bruised from ramming against my tailbone, but he was PERFECT. They tossed him on my stomach in a moment I will never forget. Hello, sweet baby.
Dave went with him across the room to the warmer, where they wiped him down. My doctor asked for a head circumference and the nurse shouted back 15.25cm. The nurses and doctor gasped. This number meant nothing to me, until Dr. Simmons said 13 is normal, and 14 is big. Then one nurse said she has been doing this for six years and that is the biggest head she had ever delivered. Later, Dave's mom, who wins the award for delivering the biggest baby (David was 10lbs, 11oz) said David's head was "only" 15cm. Once on the scale, Dave shouted out in disbelief 9lbs, 1.5oz!! He was 22 inches long. He nursed for an entire hour in L&D, then we were ready to be moved to recovery.
We came home Friday morning. I was ready to get out of there and get to some more comfy furniture. On discharge, my doctor said that based on Tucker's bruising and my pain, she suspected that I fractured my tailbone. We might never know for sure, and there is really nothing we can do about this but pain management and lay low. Sitting and laying at home feels so much better than hospital furniture! My doctor said that in hindsight she has some regret we didn't use the forceps earlier, but no one knew his head was so big. Hindsight is always 20/20. I have just a few stitches, and nothing major to report there. I only mention that because several people were worried due to the size and forceps. Also, Tucker has no bruising from the forceps, which went next to his ears. Our pediatrician noted that forceps are harder on Mom than baby. They may have saved me from a C-Section, or even more damage to my tailbone-- so I consider them my friend. Thank goodness I had that epidural!
We are home now and can I just say that I love having a big baby! He is wonderful. We fill his belly up and then he sleeps and sleeps. He is up several times to eat at night, and rotates between being particularly fussy at night and particularly peaceful. Last night he was pretty peaceful, ate, and went right back to sleep. Today, we are home while Dekker is at Ms. Laura's. It is great to snuggle him and nurse and rest together. Such an ah-mazing season of life.
Dekker is doing well. We are all adjusting, but he does seem to be fond of his baby brudder. Today, on the way out the door he shouted back to the bedroom, "Bye Bye Mom." Then, without prompting, "Bye Tucker. I Love You." Oh my heart overflows. I am sore, engorged, and tired, but so thrilled to be on this journey of motherhood!
One more note: I have eliminated dairy, soy protein, and red meat from my diet. We are hoping that in doing so, we will eliminate the 18 hour crying spells that we survived with Dekker for a good three months. My friends have signed up for meals, are reading labels and finding recipes, and we feel so totally blessed by their help. Nursing Tucker is such a joy, and having nutritious, yummy food around makes it possible to stay on the diet. To my friends who are reading this-- thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support of me, and nursing, means so so much to me.
The sweetie pie is stirring next to me. So I will close here, remembering for another brief moment my Grandma Soden. Before she passed, she promised me that having children (she had eight) is far more joy than work. I wondered if she was right, and of course now know that she was. I think of her often, and she is in my heart always. That is the case regardless of Tucker's birthday. But I do love thinking about how I will tell Tucker one day about the woman he shares a birthday with. (I wrote my Grandmas eulogy, and you can read it here.) Tucker also shares a middle name with my maternal grandfather, James Autry. I can't wait for the two of them to meet!
On the Journey,