Saturday, June 28, 2014

Second Time Around

Things I forgot about: 

Showers are a joke. I would like to think I'm actually getting clean, but really I'm just fooling myself. For one thing, I'm still bleeding out the wazoo so, as gravity always does its job, blood is now dripping down my legs. Hot water on my breasts only makes them explode, so now sticky milk is dripping all over my belly. And since showers are the only chance I have to be alone, it's where I do my crying. So now I have snot and tears clogging everything on my face. But let's say that I somehow manage to clean off the blood, milk, tears, and snot while standing in the hot water, before it all starts up again. Even if that were the case (and it's not always), the second I shut off the water, I'm back to square one. The bathroom is all steamed up and I'm already sweating.

Wearing a pad for weeks on end = cruelest form of torture ever. Most of us are used to wearing pads for a short period of time. But when you're having a period that makes up for going 9 months without one, and you aren't allowed to shove a tampon up there, pads become your best friend and your worst enemy. They rub you in all the wrong places, causing sores and itches and burns. Sometimes I wear my stupid huge adult diapers instead of a pad just because they are a different shape and size and therefore will rub my raw behind in different places. Poor Rhenner is getting fed up with me stealing all of his diaper rash cream (not really - he doesn't even need it.)

The stinkiest phase of my existence. I have never sweat so much and smelled so bad as I do when I am breastfeeding every two hours in the dead heat of a Maryland summer. Sticky for days, I tell you. And it is immediate. Like I said above, the second I step out of the shower, it begins. If I don't put deodorant on my pits while I'm turning the hot water knob off, then it's too late. I might as well stay in the shower forever.

The two week turn around point. Everything is shimmery and glorious and doe-eyed for the first two weeks. I'm all snuggles and sleepy and precious with Rhenner, and I can easily lay him down in bed if ever I need a break. Or I can hold onto him and fall asleep at awkward and uncomfortable angles and waking up with his cute little cheeks in my arms makes up for the creaks in my body. But then something happens at two weeks - and I knew it was coming because Axton did it to me, too. "It" being turning into a zombie baby - a zombie baby who never sleeps and only cries and wants to be nursed constantly and jolts awake the second I try to put him down (which I try to do often because sleeping with him in my arms is starting to lose its preciousness, and the creakiness in my bones is starting to wear on me). To top it all off, Rhenner is not taking a pacifier like Axton did. It is really hard for me to watch him have such a difficult time falling asleep - sometimes even when I am nursing him - because there really is nothing I can do. I just have to let him get frustrated and overtired and work himself into a tizzy.

The Guilty Whispers and Wise. I told myself I wasn't going to read any "baby books" this time around. Well, I kind of listened. My mom bought me the Baby Whisperer DVD and I thought it wouldn't hurt to just get a review. Well instead of learning great tips and tricks on how to get my baby to sleep, it only made me feel guilty for already doing it all wrong. She told me (to my face!) that a baby is fully equipped to fall asleep on its own, but we as parents ruin those skills by rocking and holding them to sleep. I think that is the biggest load of bull I have ever heard. Saying that to new parents is in no way encouraging or helpful, and only guilts them into doing exactly as Tracy says. Well, I'm not falling for it this time, Miss Hogg. I don't believe that you know the only way for babies to fall asleep. I think you have some good ideas but I'm not going to beat myself up this time for not following your advice step by step. Same goes to you, Mr. Wise.

Being name shy. I remember I was the same way with Axton for the first little bit (a couple weeks? A couple months? I can't remember for how long). It was weird for me to call him by his name. Instead of saying, "I need to feed Axton." I would say, "I need to feed baby." I don't know if it's because he was in me for so long without a name or what, but it took me a long time to get used to Baby's name being Axton. It also took me awhile to not be shy or embarrassed to tell people his name. I knew Axton was a pretty different name, and a lot of times whenever people would ask, I would have to repeat it for them or spell it for them. This made me shy about his name for a little bit. I am noticing I am doing the same thing with Rhenner, and I am trying to get over it quicker - especially when I talk to Axton. I want him to know that baby's name is Rhenner and not 'Baby.'

Random bursts of milk. All I have to do is think about Rhenner and the all-too-familiar tingling (tingling? Who am I kidding? This isn't a mere tingle, this is the weight of Niagra Falls pushing to spill out of my poor, mangled nipples) hits me. I have caught myself walking around the store or at a restaurant with one hand pressed against each of my breasts, trying to keep myself from leaking all down my front. I'm not sure which looks worse: two wet circles around each breast, or a hand pressed against each breast.

Things that are new:

The obvious. Now I don't just have a baby to take care of. Now I have a baby and a two-year-old. A two-year-old who is currently testing my every last strand of patience. Whenever I ask him not to do something, he grins his devil grin and does it again. Or if I tell him not to go into the road, he runs off in exactly that direction, turning his head around to laugh at me while I try to chase him down with poor Rhenner bobbing off my boob. I have only had two days on my own, without help from either my mom or Adam's mom, but I already know this is going to be hard. H.A.R.D. H to the ard. Difficult. Trying. Challenging. Tough. A slap in the face. I have asked myself, on more than one occasion, "You were barely handling Axton on his own. What in the world made you believe you could add a NEWBORN to the mix?"

Our house. As much as I love our little home and our big has added so much stress to our lives. Before baby came, we were stressed about getting the house "done enough" for us to move in. Now it's stressful trying to find time to continue to work on the house, and, in the meantime, live in the house in its current conditions. As of right now, we have no finished closets. There is no where to hang up anything. This means all of our clothes are shoved in awkward nooks and crannies, or else they are still in boxes, hiding in laundry baskets, wrinkling in the dryer, or strewn across some random piece of furniture like our bed or the couch. Clothes are my worst enemy right now as it is, what with me being several sizes larger than I normally am - it is so hard to piece together a decent-looking and decent-fitting outfit, and I tend to wear the same couple of shirts over and over again. I can't find the boxes that contain my post-pregnancy clothes so I am trying to make something work with what I have. And not having closets is just making it trickier. With everything else going on, can't I just have one thing that is simple? Like, what I wear for the day?

Quicker recovery. What a difference it makes to not have stitches! What an absolute difference it makes to not have pushed for two hours!! No broken blood vessels in my eyes, no puffy cheeks, no extremely sore lower half (only minorly sore). I am definitely feeling so much more able and agile than I was with Axton. I am so grateful for this, it makes me feel like I will return to "normal" a little bit quicker this time around.

More help. Last time, my mom's return flight left two days after Axton was born. This time, she didn't buy a return ticket until Rhenner was born and she was able to stay for 10 days after he arrived. It was such a blessing to have her help while I tried to get settled into a new routine. Then shortly after she left, Adam's mom came. I have been thinking that the older Rhenner gets, the easier it will be to take care of him and Axton (that's probably not true, but I like to tell myself it is) so the longer I have people around to help me, the better off I will be when they leave.

Coherent thoughts. I had terrible writer's block when I first had Axton. I had so, so many thoughts swirling around in my brain and I just could not formulate the words to make them into sentences that made sense (My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations). I didn't even know if my thoughts were thoughts, that's how lost I was. It was just bits and pieces of a random puzzle, or several different puzzles. It was all so confusing. I have had so many people try to tell me that going from one kid to two kids is the "hardest" and just as many other people tell me, "No way, going from two kids to three kids is definitely the hardest." But to be honest, I think going from no kids to being a mother is really the hardest, and everything after that is just equal hard but never as hard as that transition from Not-Mother to Mother. So anyway, that was a a bit of a tangent. I'm just saying I'm glad I am not as completely lost as I was when I had my first baby. I at least know that my child will sleep eventually, he really doesn't stay this small forever, and I really should just listen to my gut and everything will turn out alright in the end.

Friday, June 27, 2014

On why I quit blogging and maybe I will start again

If you haven't already noticed, I will confess that it is June and I have only blogged three times in the last 6 months. Before writing Rhenner's birth story, my last blog entries had both been in the month of January.
Maybe you're curious why I stopped writing? What happened after January that made me stop blogging - at least once in awhile?

Well, a few things.
1. My photography business got busy. I started focusing any extra time I had on blogging consistently on my photo blog. I also started my 365 project which took so much of my spare minutes than I ever thought it would.
2. I was pregnant and had a toddler. "Extra time" was hard to come by in the first place.
3. -- And I really feel this is the main reason, here. I went to Katelyn James' workshop (remember?) and I got scared.

There. I said it.

Katelyn is a strong believer in driving her business forward with her blog. When I went to her workshop, she told us all that we needed a blog, like ASAP. If we didn't have one, we were already behind. She also strongly encouraged us to not just blog our photo sessions. She believed that she gained the thousands of followers she did because she let people in on her life. She blogged about starting a business from the ground up, she blogs about decorating her house, her dog, her family life, building a new home, answering questions, and her favorite products. When she blogs, she shares a piece of herself with the world of the internet. I knew where she was coming from and I could appreciate her advice: We have to be real with our clients. If they feel like they "know" us then they are going to be more comfortable hiring us as their photographer.

But I was also worried. I knew there was no way I could ever keep up with two separate blogs and be consistent with them both. Plus, from Katelyn's point of view, it sounded like she was suggesting I combine my personal blog and my photography blog into one -- with a warning, though, of course. We mustn't overshare. She cautioned us about having a healthy balance between being real and authentic and sharing too much and scaring away a large majority of followers. This is the part I struggled with the most: I don't know how to not overshare. If I'm going to tell a story, I'm going to tell the whole thing. I'm going to tell you what I was feeling and thinking and how much sweat was under my pits and how bad my breath stunk and how my boobs were leaking (because they do that again now! Win!) and what idiotic thing I said next. I could probably learn to glaze over some of the details and offer my readers a simple post with a touch of humor and mostly class, like Katelyn does so well and so beautifully.....but it wouldn't feel completely me. 

And so I froze. I didn't know what direction to go in - try to carry on with two separate blogs? Or combine my professional blog with my personal blog and change the way I tell stories? I did neither. I gave up on this blog and only updated my photo blog with photo sessions. That answer wasn't fulfilling, either, but I got busy and allowed myself to believe it was satisfying enough.

Then Rhenner was born, and I knew I had to share my birth story. Because I enjoy reading others' birth stories and I enjoy writing and sharing mine. Again, I debated for a short while - should I post my birth story on my photo blog, clean it up and make it less juicy and more appealing for a general audience? It would be a post that would have a lot of views and drive up my stats on my blog (not that I really understand that business). Or should I tell it like I would want it to be told and post it on my personal blog - since it is a personal event?

Well, you know the answer I chose. And after writing and posting on here again, I realized I missed this outlet. I love and thoroughly enjoy my photography, but I am also a writer. I am a storyteller. I write way better than I speak, mostly because I can go back and reword and rephrase before I actual press that "publish" button, unlike in real life - but also because I am an introvert. I have a hard time telling these stories to people in person, but they are still stories that I want to tell. So this is how I do it.

....So maybe I'll start blogging again.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Welcoming Rhenner: A Birth Story

At my 40 week appointment, the midwife offered to strip my membranes. I asked her about the pros and cons, and if it hurt. She told me some women hardly notice it being done, and others scream through the whole thing. The idea made me a bit nervous; more than that, though, I really didn't think I needed it. I thought for sure there was no way I could go past 41 weeks since I hadn't with Axton and 2nd babies, I was promised, “Usually come around the same time as the first, if not sooner!” So when  the next week went by, and nothing was happening - no contractions, no inklings of impending labor, nothing - I was pretty disappointed. I also had to have an ultrasound done at 41 weeks to make sure my fluid levels were still okay. I was told they were happy with anything over a 5, and that my fluid levels were measuring at a 15. So, no need to worry there. They also told me he was measuring at over 9 pounds, but still had plenty of room to move and flip around. He had been flipping back and forth from face down (ideal birthing position) to face up (not as ideal, but still deliverable and tends to cause longer labors and pushing time).

The next day was my appointment with my midwife again. At this point I was 8 days overdue, one day past what I for sure thought would be the end. I was feeling quite discouraged, and I was also really starting to worry about going to 42 weeks and ending up with an induction. My midwife and I discussed things, and I told her I wanted her to sweep my membranes, and we made plans for me to receive a gel insert the following Monday if I still had not gone into labor on my own. I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced….how was I not in labor? By the time I got home that evening, I had already made up my mind: if sweeping membranes and the insert didn’t work, I was going to request an induction on the 42-week mark.

The night came and went with no contractions, just annoying cramps. I had  heard stories of women going into labor hours after getting their membranes stripped, and was once again disappointed not much had happened.

The next day was Friday. My mom and I went to the mall with Axton to walk - something we had been doing a lot of lately. When we came home and Axton was down for his nap, I told my mom I was going for another walk by myself. It was hot and  sunny and I was tired and sore, but I needed to clear my head. This day was the first day I actually cried about the fact that I was still pregnant at 9 days past the due date. I cried mostly because I feared having to go to the hospital and things getting out of my control and me ending up with a c-section. It was probably a bit dramatic, but the scene was a very real and scary thought to me.

So, I went walking. I walked without a destination or time of stopping in mind, and while I walked I prayed. My first instinct was, of course, to plead with God to make this baby come soon. But something stopped me and I instead found myself thanking God. I thanked Him for a body able to create and house healthy babies, for another spirit to raise on this earth, an uncomplicated pregnancy, a husband who loved being a father. I thanked Him for my mom and all her help, the support and love of other family and friends, for being sealed to my husband in the temple because this meant my children would be with me for eternity. I thanked Him for the opportunity He was giving me to practice patience and endurance during the last few weeks of pregnancy. I said all of this and more….and then I threw in a quick something or other about helping baby come so I didn’t have to be induced.

After my walk I came home and lay down on the couch. My best friend Heather called from England and while on the phone with her, I noticed that the cramping I had been feeling all morning and the day before had changed slightly - it was lasting a bit longer and coming consistently. During our 40 minute phone call, I had about 6 contractions. Every time one would come, I would check my phone - they were about 7 minutes apart. They obviously weren’t very intense as I could still talk through them fine, but I decided I wasn’t going to move from my position on the couch - I was just going to sit there and see what happened (two nights previously I had had contractions for an hour and I had gotten up to see if that would make them come closer together, but all it had done was make them stop altogether; I wasn’t doing that this time). So I lay on the couch for the next 2 ½ hours. I downloaded an App that tracked my contractions and they were consistently coming at 7 minutes apart and lasting for a minute each.

When Adam came home, I finally decided to get up from the couch, and we did our usual routines for the evening - dinner, playing with Axton, and putting Axton to bed. At one point, Adam saw me stop what I was doing and lean my weight on the counter. I was closing my eyes and taking big deep breaths, my head hanging loosely and slowly swinging from side to side.

“That’s what we like to see!” Adam told me when I was finished. And that’s when it hit me: I was actually in labor. And I was handling it. I was doing well and coping with contractions absolutely fine. Of course, I told myself, if I was still doing fine then that meant I still had a long way to go. I was trying to prepare myself for almost an infinite amount of pain, and what I was currently experiencing was far from that.

Well, I sent Adam to bed and told him to get some sleep because he was going to need it. Then I hopped in the shower and did exactly what I had imagined myself doing during labor for the previous 9 months: Leaning against the shower wall with my hands, the hot water running on my lower back. I stayed in the shower for a long time. Then I went to bed. I turned on a Hypnobirthing relaxation recording, but found myself falling asleep quicker than I had anticipated. The recording ended up just waking me up at random intervals, so I quickly shut it off.

I slept for about an hour through my contractions. I remember dreaming through them, telling myself to Take one slow deep breath and then it will be over. Well, one deep breath wasn’t cutting it anymore, and in my dream I was complaining, “But it’s still hurting after my one deep breath!” So take two deep breaths, then, Meghan! And that’s when I woke up. When I realized I wasn’t getting through them with just one deep breath anymore. It was about 12:30am at this point, and I decided to start tracking my contractions once again to see if they had started getting any closer together. I lay there for 30 more minutes, and they were coming about 4 ½ minutes apart. The midwife had told me we needed to come in when the contractions were 4 to 5 minutes apart, especially because I needed to get antibiotics as I had tested positive for Group B Strep. I didn’t believe that I had actually made it to that point, and thought to myself, “I will keep counting for another half hour to make sure they don’t slow down before I call the midwife.”

With Axton, active labor lasted so long - and there had been so many long intervals where contractions had stalled and I felt like I was reverting in my progress. I didn’t want to show up to the birth center again this time only to have labor slow back down as soon as I got there. (To read Axton's birth story, go here.)

However, it wasn’t long before, during the middle of a contraction, I felt a large amount of warm fluid on me. It hadn’t gushed, merely...leaked. So I thought that maybe my water was starting to leak. That was enough to make me move to action: If my water had broken, I definitely needed to get the antibiotics as soon as I could. I called the Birth Center Paging system and told them what had been going on. The midwife on call asked me a few questions, and then said, “I am already at the hospital with someone, so I will call Linda and she will meet you at the Center at 2am.”

I knew it was going to be Linda. I had seen her every appointment for the previous 3 weeks - which is rare and accidental, because typically they rotate who you see every appointment.

It was now 1am. Adam had woken up with me when I told him I thought my water might be leaking, and we already had packed everything we needed before going to bed. We decided to leave right then, and just be there a little early. I texted my doula and told her we were meeting the midwife at 2am. I also texted the birth photographer and told her I would let her know what I was dilated to when we got there. I had warned her earlier in the evening that my first labor was very slow so to be prepared for that and to make sure she wasn’t afraid to get some sleep.

Well this car ride is quite a bit more uncomfortable than the last time I had ridden in the car during labor, I thought.

Some folksy-type song was on the radio and Adam asked me if I wanted him to shut it off. “No, actually, it’s totally fine,” I told him. “I kinda like this song.”
“So,” Adam said, “What do you want me to say to you during contractions?”

I had warned Adam that I was going to need a lot more touching and talking than I had last time, that I wanted him present for every contraction.

“ know,” I said, trying to think of the phrases I had been telling myself for the past few hours. “Tell me take in slow deep breaths, and then to let it all out. Tell me that I’m doing good, and tell me that the contraction is almost over, that I am almost done with this one. Tell me to give in to the contraction, that it is helping baby come. Tell me to relax my face and my muscles.”

We talked and held hands and laughed….and then a contraction would come and Adam would turn the radio down and I would lean my head against the headrest, rubbing my hands slowly up and down my thighs, rocking my head from side to side, and taking those deep breaths. And then it would be over and I would be able to say, “That one was a douzy!” and we’d continue on.

There was none of that in-between gloriousness during labor with Axton. I had really wanted to remind myself this time that we are given breaks between each contraction, and that I had to take advantage of them. I hadn’t been in constant pain with Axton, even though I had remembered it that way. I could not do labor that way this time.

We got to the center a little bit before the midwife - it was 1:30am - so we walked down the driveway. When a contraction would come, we’d stop and I would sway on Adam and he would rub my lower back. Soon Linda was there, and she rolled down her window to say, “I thought I wasn’t supposed to meet you here until two! I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

I finished the contraction I was on, looked up and gave her a big smile and a wave of my hand, “You’re fine! No rush. We just wanted to get here early.” We slowly followed behind her, and I made my first stop the bathroom. With Axton, I had forgotten to go to the bathroom early and eventually I couldn’t even do it on my own. I had completely lost the sense of how to work those muscles and ended up needing a catheter. I did not want to worry about that this time and had (again) warned Adam that that was another job of his: to keep me going to the bathroom often.

I got stuck on the toilet with a contraction and Adam peeked his head in on me, and then helped me up. I asked Linda for a birthing ball, but I didn’t last long on there. Linda moved me to the bed to check on things - she told me that my water had, in fact, not broken and that I was dilated to a 6 ½ or a 7. Now that I was on the bed, I didn’t want to get up. All I wanted to do was lay down and deal with contractions as I had been doing at home. I was on my left side, my head resting on my left arm.

Linda needed to start my IV because I needed two doses of antibiotics, and we needed 4 hours in between each dose. I have never been one that does well with needles, and I always request getting my blood drawn in the crook of my left arm because that’s the only place that’s ever had success. Well, I didn’t quite have the energy/state of mind to tell Linda this, so she started trying on a vein on the top of my wrist. I was closing my eyes, trying to continue to breathe through the contractions, and as soon as she first stuck me, I knew it wasn’t going to work. She started poking and prodding around, digging for a better place. I tried ignoring her and eventually she gave up and said, “Well I was just sending medicine into your arm, not your vein, so is it okay if I stick you in the crook of your arm? Will it bother you?” No, no it won’t bother me please put it there, it’s where I wanted it in the first place. She then stuck me in my upper arm and immediately I felt a warmth spread all down and over my arm - I knew I was bleeding but kept my eyes close.

“Sorry,” said Linda. “I should have warned you that I’m a messy IV starter.”

Yuck...not the words I wanted to hear. She tried to make a joke about “at least it was distracting from the contractions.” I muttered an unenthusiastic, “Yeah, I guess…” She told me that now we just needed four more hours for the second dose of antibiotics. In my head, I thought she was crazy. “Four more hours of this kind of labor? Whew. I guess I better buckle down for the long haul. Maybe that whole time warp thing that some laboring women talk about will happen and four hours will go by really quick.”

But now the contractions were coming closer together. It’s interesting to me the snippets of conversation that I caught in between them - Erin, my doula, who had shown up just before Linda had started the IV, telling Adam that he was going to have to train her husband on how to to be a good labor coach. Erin seeing my belly henna when Linda was checking on the baby’s heartbeat and saying, “Wow, I want that and I didn’t even know I wanted it. That is so cool.”

I still didn’t want to move off the bed. Adam and Erin sat on the bed right behind me. Adam rubbed my upper back and Erin placed one warm hand on my lower back, applying some counterpressure. By this point, my long slow breaths had turned into quicker inhalations and a bit louder vocalizations. Mostly just long, drawn out “ooooohs” on my exhalations. They told me I was doing great but I had long since stopped responding. My inner thighs had been a little shaky for a long time, but now the shaking had dramatically increased and I felt like my legs were clashing together and my teeth were chattering like I was freezing. Intellectually, I knew this meant I was in transition. I was coherent enough to know that in my mind, and I guess I wanted to make sure Adam and Erin knew it too, so I told them, “I can’t stop my legs from shaking!” and that’s all I could get out. Then I started to feel a little bit of pressure and I said, “I feel like I need to poop.” Again, my brain knew that that kind of pressure meant I was getting ready and close to pushing time, but I also was wary of that because I remembered feeling that same pressure when I was only dilated to an 8 with Axton and they had told me I shouldn’t be pushing yet. So I tried to have a conversation with them and kind of started babbling about “Well, maybe I really do need to poop. I haven’t pooped in awhile. It could just be that.”

Linda told me it was probably my bag of waters and that once my water broke it wouldn’t be long after that baby came. Erin said, “I bet if you went to the bathroom and pushed during a contraction, your water might break.”

So after a couple attempts of trying to get up and having to wait for another contraction to pass, I finally made it to the bathroom. I was so happy I could pee this time!! Yay! I spent a few contractions there, and pushed like Erin had suggested but nothing happened. When I walked out of the bathroom, I asked if I could get in the pool now. Linda told me that it wasn’t done filling up, but that I was welcome to get in and have it fill up around me.

I can hardly describe the relief the hot water brought to my body. It was hotter than I was expecting it to be. Everyone was asking if it was okay and I just wanted to shout, “Okay??! This is heavenly.” I got in there and I just knew it wasn’t going to be long.

I had asked Adam to text the birth photographer a few minutes (who really knows?) previously and now that I was in the pool I knew she needed to be there soon. I asked Adam if she had texted back yet and then I said, “Actually, you just need to call her. Tell her she should come.”

When he hung up with her, I already knew she wasn’t going to make it.

My body was already starting to push. “I can’t stop it, I want to push! Can I push?” I asked, almost frantic. Again, I had remembered feeling the need to push too early last time with Axton, and I wanted to make sure I had the “go-ahead” this time. I was also half-expecting the whole “push for 10 seconds, three pushes at a time” business they had had to instruct me on last time. But nope, they said, “Do what you feel you need to do” and receiving that “permission” was beautiful. I pushed and screamed when my water burst like a water balloon.

And then.

The pain. Oh, the blessed pain. I think Linda said that the baby was just behind the bag of waters and told Adam to feel for his head. I felt Adam fumbling around down there and then his fingers finding something. 

A contraction.

....And screaming. 

High-pitch, uncontrolled screaming. My brain knew I shouldn’t be screaming, so I tried to stop but instead of stopping, the screaming came out louder and harsher. I was manically scream at the very tip top of my lungs.

A contraction. Pushing.

So much more screaming, this time screaming “OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!” over and over again.

Whenever the midwife or Erin talked to me, however, I listened.
“Meghan, try using a low grunting sound instead of screaming.”
I tried.

A contraction. More screaming.

“Meghan, he is almost here. You’re doing so good.”
“He’s almost here? Really?”
“He’s almost here. I’m almost done.  God…” I started to say, leaning my head back against the pool; then I got self-conscious about praying out loud, so I finished the prayer in my head. Help me do this.


A voice.


It was Linda.

“I need you to stop screaming, and I need you to slow down. This is the part where I don’t want you to tear.”

I felt my eyes grow as big as my face. Never before have I stared at someone the way I was staring at her. “Deer in headlights” is an extreme understatement. I don’t think there was any room left on my face but for my wide eyes. I was thinking You want me to do what? But somehow my brain listened. I slowed down for a second. I stopped screaming for a second. I locked on her eyes and I listened. For just a second, just long enough.

A contraction.
Screaming, and his head.

Months and months of pregnancy, and the last 10 days past my due date lasting for an eternity built up into one last raging scream:


And with that, he was out. At 3:17am. Not even two hours after arriving at the birth center. Adam and the midwife caught him together.

He was out and his face was rising up out of the water towards me, and he was blinking back water and staring at me so calm and I was crying more and saying, “He’s so beautiful! I love him!” and “I did it. I’m done. He’s finally here.”

And his little arm was tucked under his chin and he was peaceful and quiet and Adam was coming around, holding me and I was telling Erin to put the camera on Auto, the green icon, not the “A” icon, and then there was vernix and then I was out of the pool and back on the bed. 

The rest of the story includes my Russian nurse Katia, grinding my uterus against my spine and me looking at Adam with eyes that say What the hell is she doing to me? Please kick her in the back of the head and we’ll run out of the door. And Adam looking at Katia with eyes that made me worry he really was going to kick her in the back of the head.

The rest is the placenta delivery, the part where Linda tells me I have two paper cut tears, but she isn’t going to stitch me and I’m rejoicing for NO STITCHES.

The rest is my birth photographer arriving at the birth center, and being grateful I don’t have to worry about taking pictures while Rhenner is weighed and measured, and her capturing precious time with our just-minutes-old son.

The rest is him latching on and nursing so easily, and me saying, “I don’t remember Axton crying this much.” And Adam saying, “Oh he did. You were just too out of it.” I was up and moving around and showering and eating and taking pictures. I was a little slow, sure, and my lower half was quite tender, but I was far from immobile. In comparison to how I felt after having Axton, I could have ran a marathon (okay, maybe only a 5k). 

4 hours later and we were on our way home. We left Rhenner in the car and walked into the house at 8am, just minutes after Axton had woken up. We had him come out to the car to “find his baby brother” and to open the gift that baby had brought him. 

Rhenner’s birth was everything I could have hoped for in a birth story. On the drive home, Adam kept saying, “I am just so impressed with you right now. I can’t believe how fast that was.” Truth be told, I was pretty dang impressed, too, though I feel like I can’t take the credit: It was all my body. I trusted my body this time. I gave in to everything it was doing and I didn’t fight against it and everything happened on its own.

Rhenner is the sweetest thing and I had no idea (NO IDEA) how much I missed little baby snuggles until he came around. I am seriously obsessed with him and he makes me want to have a million babies (almost) just so I never have to be without these snuggles again.

The hardest part so far has been feeling like Axton feels betrayed. I have had to remind myself that Axton will love having a brother and won’t remember the hard time he is having right now. He is doing pretty well with the baby and gives him kisses and asks to hold him (though it usually only lasts for about a half a second), but when I ask him to help me with things for the baby (diaper changes, clothes, etc) like others have suggested I do, he is definitely not interested. I can tell I am not quite his favorite person right now and it’s been hard to not take it personally. I am probably being more sensitive to it than I need to be, but he is definitely taking a lot of his confusion out on me.

Otherwise, we are all doing wonderful and I’m so grateful for my mom’s hard work and help with everything. I am getting around well now but will still be so lost when she leaves!

How do you wrap up the story of someone’s beginning? I guess you really can’t, except to give thanks where it is due: I am beyond blessed and know all I have comes from God.