Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to the world, Brother Lyons!

Friday, April 9th was a beautiful day in London. The sun was shining, spring flowers were out, and little did I know but within a few hours of waking, we would be proud parents of a gorgeous baby boy, a brother for Blake.

A lot is written about the mental preparedness of an expectant mother, and one of the things that I had been conscious about during my pregnancy was trying to ensure that I was not carrying any anxiety into this labour following all the hardship and trauma of Blake's birth. Matt and I had done our hypnobirthing course a couple of weeks ago to try to help me be relaxed, but since the course we had not done as much practice breathing as we should have, preferring instead to just collapse into sleep at the end of a long day.

The two weeks since I finished work had not exactly been the most relaxing, namely due to some work we were having done to our garden/yard to get it all cleared out of dead trees, weeds, have a small pond filled and some fences replaced and generally try to get it to a point where we could start to even imagine it with grass, plants, a new shed, and hosting barbecues. Work on this began two weeks ago and was expected to take 5 days, but with some typical workman delays and the long Easter weekend, my due date arrived and things were not finished off. I said to the guy on Thursday morning that I really needed him to just wrap things up so that I could have my baby - and fortunately he obliged.

I had also been experiencing some problems with hearing out of my right ear due to a build-up of wax (gross, I know), but I was due on Thursday to go see the nurse to get it syringed and cleared out. On Thursday at about 9:30 am they phoned to say that the nurse was out sick so they would have to cancel the appointment, and couldn't tell me when it could be rescheduled for. I think the person I was speaking to on the phone must have been slightly surprised at my reaction, which was to wail, "Noooooo! You can't cancel on me!" I then explained that I was 40 weeks pregnant and being unable to hear meant that I was not in the right frame of mind - or hearing - to have a baby, and that I really needed this done. She recommended a nearby walk-in clininc who she thought could see me, so Mom and Blake and I headed over. Again, luck was with me and someone was able to do the syringing, and I could hear again! That night I finally went to bed feeling like I was ready, although I had seen the midwife on Wednesday and she thought after feeling my tummy that it was still about a week away. She let me know that they would only let me go 10 days over my due date and we discussed the option of a sweep at the hospital for some time this week to try to get things started if nothing had happened naturally. As it was, we needn't have considered it...

On Friday, Blake was back to his early bird ways and was up at 5:45. Mom got up and played with him and Matt headed off to work pretty early, and I went back to sleep until about 7:30. I woke up and thought to myself that with the radiant sunshine, it would be a nice day to have a baby! But I still didn't think it would be that day really.

Around 7:45 the postman rang with a special delivery letter - it was from work and a few things went through my mind, first that it was maybe a gift voucher or something (although I had already received a lovely one already so I didn't think it was that), and secondly that I really hoped it was not a letter telling me I had lost my job! Turns out it was a note from our CEO congratulating me on 10 years of service; I will hit my anniversary in May. I had a quick bite of breakfast but by about 8:15 had actually started to feel a bit odd, having to go to the bathroom a few times more than normal. Mom headed out with Blake to take him to nursery and I phoned Matt at 8:35 to say that I wasn't sure but that I thought things might have started. We agreed I would phone him an hour later with a status update. I did a few things on the computer: with 5 weeks left in the UK football season, I am leading in my work's fantasy league, so I could not neglect to check my team for the weekend! I also quickly checked my email - in a reply to Raina I wrapped up with these lines:
"...despite the 40 weeks passing in a very different way to the way they did with Blake, the feelings right at the last seem pretty familiar - excitement at the thought of bringing a new life into the world, anticipation at seeing what he/she looks like, some trepidation at how life is going to change, curiosity at when and how it is going to get started, but overall just this feeling of "Oh wow, what an amazing thing to be happening..." I decided not to write that I thought I was in early labour, but I could tell by the tightenings in my stomach that I was. That was 9:03 am.
One of the reasons I fell for Matt is that he's a very wise man, and he proved this when he phoned back at about 9:05 (30 minutes ahead of the hour being up!) to say that he was coming home, and that if nothing happened then he could do some work. I then went upstairs and had a bath and felt that relaxed me a little bit. I think I was having contractions about 5-8 minutes apart at this stage, and after about half an hour in the bath I decided to get out and get dressed. When it came to that time, however, I actually decided I needed to just try to lie down on the bed and deal with the contractions which were now more frequent and stronger. I got a cold washcloth for my face and lay down, and all the while I tried to remember to breathe. At about 10:10 I started to wonder where Matt was and thought about calling him, but fortunately he arrived shortly after. He came into the bedroom and I told him I thought he should maybe time between the contractions, and the first ones he timed at 4 minutes apart. He phoned the hospital and after the question to which he replied "second" (presumably, what number baby is this?) they said to come in. In the meantime I watched the next contraction clock up on his phone timer as less than a minute after the previous one, which kind of shocked me. I couldn't find any shoes to put on so just put on my slippers, and we got in the car and headed off following good luck wishes from Mom, who had been out in the back cleaning one of the old fence panels.

We got pretty lucky all things considered on the traffic front, as it was now about 11:00 on a Friday and for the most part we got to the hospital in about the time it usually takes to get there. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. Unfortunately the Gods of the Hospital Car Park were not with us, though, as there was a queue to get into the parking lot. Matt asked me if I wanted him to drop me off or go with him to park the car, and I said that I thought I had better go in. I must have looked quite a sight in my sweatpants and slippers, moving very slowly through the entrance holding just my hospital notes and wearing a pretty pained expression on my sweaty face. I remember noticing as I walked through the main entrance that the time was about 11:10. I needed to go to the 4th floor and saw some people getting in an elevator so asked them to hold it. Once at the Labour Ward I gave my name and after a short wait - thank goodness - I was shown to room 1, which had just been cleaned. I know because the floor was still wet from having just been mopped. Although there was a bed in the room, I immediately went and leaned on an armchair by the window, on my knees, thinking that would be a comfortable position. By now nothing was comfortable, though, and after only a few minutes I started to call out for help because I was having a very strong urge to push. At this point nobody was in the room with me - I am sure they just thought they had a lot more time to do their normal check-in procedure - and I wasn't really capable of standing up to try to ring a bell or get somebody. I kind of went "out of body" at this point and thought to myself that I was going to just have the baby there on my own. I considered for a minute whether I thought there was any way I could hold off until Matt got there but I just don't think it was possible. A midwife then came in and asked me if anyone had taken my blood pressure, and I replied that no, nobody had, but that I thought I needed to push. This seemed to take her by surprise, but within a minute or so there were about 4 people there, and someone helped put a mat underneath me. Just after the mat was down I felt I had to push and whoosh, my water broke. They helped me get my sweatpants off and then I just had to push again. The midwife was telling me to push from my bottom which I did - I felt at the time that I did a really good job with that push - and then I heard her say that the baby's head was out. Wow, I thought, I did it. I could feel that I needed to push again to get the body out but I asked first, "Should I push?" and she said yes, and then it was done. I looked behind me and there on the mat was a perfect little, slightly grey, baby, with a calm, perfect face; she announced it was a boy. He was quiet for a while so I asked if he was ok and she said he was fine, and then I just kneeled there feeling the most unbelievable feelings that it had been so quick and that I had made it through. I think I probably thought more than once, Did that just happen? A few minutes later, I looked up to see Matt coming through the door, and I heard them take him to the baby who was wrapped in a towel. Matt asked "Are you a boy or a girl?" and that made me smile. I got to feed the baby pretty quickly after, and then I did have to have a few stitches which was by far the most difficult part of the whole experience. The baby weighed in at 3.79 kg, which we worked out was 8lbs, 6 oz, and he was very very cute. It was hard not to make comparisons to Blake; I felt they looked similar but that this baby's cheeks looked chubbier. On the whole I was feeling on the most incredible high and just kept expressing disbelief at how quick it had been. I saw later on my notes that my time admitted was 11:20 and time delivered, 11:30.

By 3:00 I was tired but just couldn't keep my eyes closed, and I was sore and slightly weak but also feeling extremely strong and so energized. By then they had let us know that we would be able to leave on a 6-hour transfer, so we started to get excited about the thought of going home [nb: for US readers, this may seem like a very short stay in the hospital, but they say as long as the delivery was normal and that mother and baby are both seeming ok, you can go after 6 hours. You are then seen again at either home or the hospital soon after - in our case a "community midwife" came on Saturday about 1:00 to check the baby and just see how we're doing, and we'll go tomorrow to the hospital to have the baby get a few checks. On Wednesday the midwife will come again to the house to give a shot to the baby, and then we'll probably get one other visit from a health visitor in a week or so. So, yes, it is quick, and doesn't always happen that way, but it sure was nice to spend that first night at home this time around, especially with Blake at home]. At 7:30 pm we got to go, and it was wonderful to think that Blake would not have really had to worry about where we were or miss us for his bedtime.

As for the big brother, when we got home he was very excited to see us and was about to eat some fish fingers and chips prepared by his grannies - Matt's Mum had arrived at about 3:00. Matt then came in with the baby and Blake got really excited, jumping around and saying "That's my brother, that's my brother!" He was very sweet. We also got Blake a toy tool kit from the baby which Blake really liked, so that part all went very well. While we finalize a name, the baby is being called "Brother" (and is sometimes called "Maya", Blake's 5-month-old cousin). The more time goes on, Brother Lyons sounds quite nice, actually! I think we'll reach a conclusion on the name pretty soon, though.

And then, just like that, it was time to go to bed, the bed I had just woken up in a mere 16 hours before as a 40-week pregnant woman. I was so wired that I was wide awake til finally drifting off at about 3:00 am, even though the baby was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing and had just been sleeping pretty much since being born.

And so, April 9th, 2010 was a truly glorious day, the date of an amazing event, and mercifully "Brother's" birth was a lot easier on us all than Blake's was. It certainly was quicker, no doubt about that.

No comments: