As we headed down the stairs, we watched Grant's face light up the realization that there were new toys and before we knew it his little legs were sprinting for the couch to play with his new lego. He then dove into his stocking but soon became disinterested in anything else when he found the mini chocolate Santa-men. Finally, (around 9:30 am) it was time to open presents under the tree, and that was when I felt them. They weren't like the ones I had been having over the past couple weeks, the uncomfortable but bearable Braxton Hicks contractions, these were different. I tried hard to ignore them as I watched and laughed as Grant carefully unwrapped each present and acknowledged it with a "wow!", but before I even had the chance to process what was happening, I found myself unable to focus anymore. We stopped opening presents and I laid down on the couch while Garth put together Grant's car track. I closed my eyes and breathed through them, trying so hard not to draw attention to myself and pretend that nothing was going on. It was Christmas after all and I could hear Grant's delighted giggles as he watched his cars whiz down the track. Before I knew it, Garth was telling me that my contractions were averaging about 3 minutes apart, lasting over a minute long and that had been going on for over an hour. I was feeling a huge range of mixed emotions. First confusion, with Grant the contractions were so gradual, slowly increasing and getting stronger, while these were powerful right off the bat and out of nowhere. Panic. I hadn't even started packing my hospital bag and at this rate I wasn't going to have time to. Excitement. I was in labor and this was the moment I had been anxiously waiting for for months! Frustration. We hadn't even finished opening Grant's presents and this was not at all how I pictured our Christmas morning. Acceptance. I was going to have a baby on Christmas Day.
After it became quite apparent that this was going to happen, we called Rex and Bet to come get and get Grant. Even though I knew he was going to be surrounded by family to take care of him and cousins to play with all day long, I felt so guilty that I was "abandoning" him on Christmas. While Garth send Grant off with his grandparents, I laboured upstairs and cried because I just felt so bad about it.
Once it was just us two, I kept Garth busy holding my hand through every contraction and quickly packing our bags in between. One thing I have learned about myself from the last time I was in labor was that I need to touch/be touched to help me through the pain. I felt like I had much better control over the pain this second time around. Every time they started approaching I met them with very controlled breathing rather than panic which really made it more manageable. Garth was so helpful and calm, you can tell he has been through it before. He was by my side almost the whole time and when he was busy packing, cleaning or doing laundry like the stud that he is, he always ran back to hold my hand every time I called him. He will never fully understand how much that helped.
At around noon the baby decided he wasn't ready to come yet after all and my contractions began to slow down and become very sporadic. We were glad we waited before going to the hospital even though they were so crazy and intense right off the bat. We spent the rest of the day "relaxing" with little (frequently interrupted) naps. It sounds funny to say this, but we actually had a very enjoyable day and it was nice spending some quality time together, just us, even though I was in labor. At around 6:00 pm, after having a short bath, my contractions started getting more consistent, stronger and more frequent. We put on a movie ("Out of Time") to try and distract from the pain and started timing the contractions again. I hadn't eaten all day so Garth persuaded me to eat (even though I really didn't want to) before we headed to the hospital.
At around 7:45 pm, my contractions were back to 3 minutes apart, lasting over a minute long and unlike that morning, I knew that it was time to head to the hospital. I remember putting on my jacket, while Garth put our bags in the car and going out into the night thinking next time we come back, we will have a little baby with us. That was the moment I truly allowed myself to feel the excitement of the whole situation. On the way to the hospital, we talked about how Christmas Day was going to have a whole other special meaning to us now.
Once we got to the hospital and up to the maternity ward, they strapped me up for a stress test to see how the baby was doing with the contractions. It felt like I was in there forever, the nurse said that she wasn't quite satisfied with it because the baby was too sleepy and not moving around enough. So we waited, it didn't seem so bad when I had Garth holding my hand and giving me reassuring smiles but I was so happy when it was over because I just wanted to know if I was going to be admitted into the delivery suite. I remember turning to Garth and saying "if she says 2 cm, I am going to be so mad!"
When they finally checked me I was at 5cm, which meant I was on my way into the delivery room! We met the doctor who would be covering for Dr.Browne that night, put on the sexy hospital gown and headed through a door decorated with Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer. They told me that I would have to wait a little bit to get an epidural because the anesthesiologists weren't in the hospital (it was Christmas night after all...). So we waited while Garth continued to help me through the contractions and tell me how awesome I was doing. At around 10:00 pm, they came in to do the epidural and Garth retreated to the corner of the room. After witnessing the last epidural being shoved into my back he knew better than to watch this time. This part was the most painful part of the whole night and 5 weeks later as I sit and write this, I still feel bruised. Unlike the last time where I didn't feel a thing, I felt it and it was painful and took sooooo long. Once that was over, it was all smooth sailing from there on out. The epidural set in and I was able to really relax. Even though I was numb from the waist down, I could still feel the contractions happening, but they weren't excruciating anymore. I think I was even able to fall asleep for a little bit. When I think back on that night, I feel so happy to be married to Garth. He made labor something I look back on as a fond memory. I look back on it and I miss it. It's not really something I will ever be able to explain but I had never felt closer to him.
|In the delivery suite...this is really happening!|
They told me that it would probably be at least another 3 hours before I had the baby so Garth went out to get some food. I was starving, so I couldn't imagine how he was feeling. The only place open was McDonalds, what a great Christmas Dinner haha. While he was gone I had the chance to hangout and chat with my nurse, she was so great to have around and from talking to her I found out that she had only been a nurse for about a year. Apparently I fell asleep at one point because next thing I knew I was woken by the burst of warm water rushing all around me. I was really excited to have my water break on it's own because I always wondered what it would feel like when you weren't expecting it. The nurse couldn't believe how much fluid I had but after my first delivery, I sure wasn't surprised. I apparently carry a very large amount of fluid when I'm pregnant.
Garth came back and we continued to wait while the continued to check me. Finally, I was told I had reached 10 cm and we were ready to go! I was so excited as they went to notify the doctor. When they came back, they checked me again and said that we better wait a little longer because there was one little part that still wasn't thinning and that was the moment my heart dropped into my stomach. If anyone knows anything about Grant's birth story, they would know that that was the very reason I had to have a c-section in the end. Garth was reassuring me that everything was fine, even though he felt exactly as I did on the inside, he was just trying to hide it from me. They suggested that I try laboring in a different position to help it thin so I turned around backwards in the bed facing the window and realized that it was snowing! It looked so calm and peaceful outside, even though inside I was so anxiously pushing bad memories from last time out of my brain, telling myself that that would NOT happen again.
Sure enough, they checked me one last time and I was ready to push. I was nervous to hear those words, as i had never done it before and had no idea how to do it. The nurse explained how to do it and said that we were going to practice on the next contraction. I got all ready, legs up in the air, Garth by my side and the nurse at the other end. I felt the contraction coming and she calmly told me to push. I did and all the sudden I hear "OKAY GO GET THE DOCTOR!" My babies head was showing. I got to feel it and Garth was brave enough to look, I was pretty impressed with my usually squeamish husband. At 2:34 am, after 20 minutes of hearing everybody say "Okay push as hard as you can!" and "you are doing amazing, keep pushing" I felt an incredible feeling of relief and I heard a tiny little soft cry escape from our baby boy.
That sound made my heart pound and I couldn't stop the tears from welling in my eyes.They put him right on top of my chest and as I took in all his beauty and felt his warm body on mine I felt like I was in a dream. I instantly fell in love with this little being and I knew that no one could ever love him like I did. Not only was this perfect little baby mine, but I got to be the first one to welcome him into the world. I got to hear him cry and I got to be the one to make him stop crying. I had been dreaming for this moment for years and my dream came true. You better believe I held him forever. I remember repeating over and over how perfect he was. Seriously, he was so cute! Garth and I looked at each other and we didn't even really need to say it, we both knew, but he asked me what his name was and I said "Asher Garth". It fit him perfectly.
After they took him to clean him off they weighed him at 8 lbs 15 oz. and measured him at 21.5 inches long. I barely noticed them stitching me up, but they told me after that I had second degree tearing. I don't know if it was from the adrenaline winding down or just the physical stress of the whole experience but while I was feeding him I had to stop and pass him off to Garth because my whole body started shaking, I was so cold! Once I was able to stop shaking, they let me have a shower!! Apparently that is pretty normal procedure, but for this girl, who had to beg the nurses after being in a hospital bed for 2 days, after a c-section, it felt like a true luxury.
By the time we made it to our private room, I finally got to eat my Christmas Dinner (peanut butter toast mmmm) and they bathed Asher, it was 5:30 in the morning and we all zonked out. I remember feeling so peaceful and content, again like I was in a dream.
Boxing Day was a special one as many visitors came to meet little Asher, but the most special meeting of all was with his big brother. When I heard Grant in the hallway, I immediately got out of bed to greet him, I missed him so much. When he saw me, he immediately smiled and started running towards me. When he sat on my lap and he held his little brother for the first time, my heart nearly exploded. He was so cute and kept saying "baby" and "Asher". He was so gentle and sweet and I just can't wait to watch them grow up and interact together.
Lots of women love telling their crazy, tramautic, eventful birth stories and I remember, after going through my own crazy experience with Grant, saying to Garth "I just want to have a smooth sailing, uneventful, boring birth story this time around." While I got my wish on the smooth sailing, uneventful front, the story of Asher Garth coming into the world was anything but boring. In fact, I think it will forever be one of my favorite stories of all time.
The moment i saw you I could no longer picture my life without you. You were a part of me and I loved you even more than I thought I did when I carried you close those short 9 months. My parents keep telling me you look exactly like I did when I was a baby and if that's the case, then I was one cute baby. I feel so proud that you are mine and so humbled that you were entrusted to me and sent to be a part of our family. You haven't been here long, but I can already tell that you are such a sweet little boy and we couldn't love you more! Our first moment together will always be one of the greatest moments of my life.