Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Benjamin's Birth Story ~ Super Short, Somewhat Painful, and Incredible

It's been a wonderful six weeks at our house, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the sweet, joyful spirit in our home with a new baby.  I've been blessed with a smooth transition.  I recovered fairly quickly from labor and have been back to running for a few weeks now, though for just short distances and much slower than I once was.  I'm anxious to get my fitness back and lose the pregnancy weight, though it's not first priority right now.

There have been a few tough days and some moments of frustration, and some afternoons were just plain too noisy with all my kids home.  But having all my kids home really made my recovery easier. With my five oldest kids ages 16 down to 11, it's amazing how much easier it has been to add a child.  Those five give wonderful, mature help.  I got a good, solid nap nearly every day, and all my children clamor to hold Benji and spend time with him.  I feel like I have to get in line to hold my own baby at times.  :)

I think I only prepared five or six meals all summer long, and that includes lunch.  The summer schedule I set up worked great, with our two teams taking turns keeping up with the yard, making and cleaning up from lunch, and with my five oldest each taking their dinner night to cook.  We were also blessed with meals brought in from friends, which was so helpful.

And honestly, it has been much easier to add a baby when I don't really have a toddler in the house. All my other kids are between 18 months and 26 months apart, so I've always had an older toddler ready to lovingly gouge out the eyes of their new sibling.  With Cami being 3.5, I've hardly had to worry about Benji's safety.  She loves him and keeps saying things like, "Oh, he's so cute!  Can I pet him?"  But she's also very gentle and has never tried to pick him up without asking.  Some of that is her sweet personality instead of her age, but really, it's been nice.

The sweetness and joy that accompanies a new baby is such a blessing.  Our home has been graced with a wonderful gift, and we can't get enough of Benjamin.

And now on to the birth story.  I'm sure after reading about my nine previous birth stories (really only eight if you count the twins once instead of twice), it will be no surprise to hear that I had a relatively quick and easy delivery.  The short version?  I was induced, I had an epidural that only half worked, and Benji was born after just two and a half hours of labor.  He was healthy, took to nursing right away, and followed the Bartholomew traits of being sweet and calm.  Plus also perfect.

But on to the longer version.  The last week of pregnancy was super uncomfortable, and the pain in my left side by my ribs just got worse.  Two weeks before the birth, it would go away after I lay down for a while, but with my belly getting bigger, it started to remain there constantly, painful enough to keep me awake at night.  So I was very happy to reach my induction date on Thursday, July 16th, a week before my due date of the 23rd. The hospital asked me to arrive at 6:30 in the morning.  Knowing how long it takes before things actually get started, we decided I would go over and get checked in and that DH would take care of the morning routine with the kids before heading over. 

July 15th, my last day of pregnancy!

It took a while to get signed in and assigned a room and a nurse (Alicia, who was great -- can I tell you how wonderful it is to have a nurse who listens and trusts that I know what I'm talking about?).  

Finally, at 7:45, I got an IV.  I started labor at 3+ and 70% effaced.  At 8:05, the pitocin got started at a level 4 and mild contractions followed.  I had been working on a quilt for Benjamin and I had finished all but the binding on it, so I brought it along and worked on binding the edges while I waited.  
Super cute, right?

At 8:40, the Pitocin was moved to a level 8 and some of the contractions got pretty intense, enough that I decided to get the epidural started, knowing it would take twenty minutes to take effect. Just in time, around 9:00, I finished up the quilt.  The anesthesiologist showed up right about then, along with my doctor.  The doctor got first dibs on me, breaking my water at about 9:05.  

My husband had come over about 8:40, but had walked back to the car for the camera when my doctor was there.  I hoped the contractions wouldn't get too much more intense with my water broken, but they did.  I was excited to feel things were moving along, but also hopeful that the epidural would take effect in time.  The epidural was started at 9:15.  Dr. L, who has done all but one of my epidurals (the one he didn't do made me too numb and took forever to wear off) and does an amazing job, wasn't there, but I hoped Dr. G would do a good job.

Then things got a little unusual for us.  While we waited for the epidural to take effect, my blood pressure started to drop.  Every time we started to move the bed so I wasn't flat on my back, my blood pressure would drop, I'd feel light-headed and we had to lie back down to get my blood pressure to come back up again.  The nurse said it was a side effect of the epidural.  When it didn't stop after twenty minutes or so, the anesthesiologist had to come back and flush out the line and essentially, try to reverse the epidural. 

Meanwhile, the contractions were getting more intense and while the epidural worked wonderfully at making my upper belly numb, my legs and my lower belly weren't numb at all because I could never sit up high enough for gravity to propel the numbness down that far.  And things were starting to happen.  At 9:25, the pitocin was moved to a level 12 and stayed there until it was turned off ten or fifteen minutes before delivery.  At 9:35, I was checked and was 4+ and 100% effaced.  At 10:00, it started to hurt quite a bit and I informed the nurse it would be good to alert my doctor.  

I have to say that Alicia was so great the whole time. I've had nurses before who assume they know more about what's going on than I do and that have held back when I've asked them to call the doctor, but there was none of that this time.  She informed my doctor, who said to call her when I was complete and she'd be there in three minutes.  At 10:25, I was ready to push, and Dr. Grover arrived as promised.  I pushed through three painful ring-of-fire contractions and baby was born at 10:35.  

I started to shake with the adrenaline after his birth (I hate it when that happens), but I was able to hold him for a bit before they cleaned him up.  Then DH got a long turn while I got stitched up. 

I had a small tear and I had to have local anesthetic because of the failed epidural.  I found the whole thing a bit ironic because one of the main reasons I'd gotten an epidural the last two times is to avoid that excruciating end part.  But I was also glad that I'd experienced a natural birth with my eighth, because I was able to anticipate the pain and handle it well.

On the other hand, not having my legs go numb meant I got rid of my IV faster and was up and around pretty quickly after birth, and while the contractions themselves were somewhat intense, the epidural did help a lot with them up until the end.  Plus, no matter how much it hurt, it was over quickly and baby Benjamin is perfect.

It's fun to look over the stats and compare to my other births.  Benji tied with Eliza for my fastest labor, at 2.5 hours. The others were 3 hours for Cami and Harmony, 4 for Lillian, 5 for Michael, 5.5 for the twins, 6 for Katie, and 8 for Joey.  One of my main reasons for getting induced is that I truly worry that if I got into labor on my own, I just might not make it to the hospital in time.  Well, that and the fact that I have no patience that last month of pregnancy.

At 7-12, Benjamin was my second heaviest child, right behind Cami, who was 7-13.  The others were Lillian at 7-10, Joseph and Harmony at 7-4, Eliza at 7, Katie at 6-10, Michael at 6-13, Sarah at 5-12, and Allison at 5-10.

The kids came later that afternoon, and immediately clamored for a turn to hold him.  We went littlest to biggest and Cami was so proud when we said we'd do it that way, "Hey guys!  I get to be first!"  

Lillian was at a conference in Washington, D.C. that week, so she didn't get a chance to hold him until Saturday night.  She was the first one we texted when he was born, and she was thrilled.

I feel so incredibly blessed.  I'm humbled to think of how incredible it is that I've been able to give birth to ten beautiful, healthy, wonderful children.

And while I know it might be hard for some to understand, it is nonetheless true that even if you've had nine other children, the experience of birth is still a sacred one.  I've felt close to heaven as I've brought this special child of God into our home.  The love we feel for him is just as powerful as that we felt when we welcomed our first.  We are older and more experienced, with a few more wrinkles on our faces, but we still feel the glorious weight of the trust Heavenly Father has placed in us as we become parents for the first time, once again, this time to Benjamin James Bartholomew.



Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

It's true that birth--no matter how many times you do it--is sacred and beautiful! Congratulations on the safe arrival of your newest one. :)

sandersclan said...

Wonderful words. Your children are blessed to have you!

Emalee said...

I'm pregnant with my tenth. My oldest is 12 and help turn 13 a few days before the birth of this babe. Reading your words is encouraging to me. Makes me feel not quite so alone. Wish I could sit down with you for a chat.

Emalee said...

I'm pregnant with my tenth. My oldest is 12 and help turn 13 a few days before the birth of this babe. Reading your words is encouraging to me. Makes me feel not quite so alone. Wish I could sit down with you for a chat.

Handsfullmom said...


I'd love to chat with you too! Do you have a blog or email? You can reach me at handsfullmom at gmail. Congrats on your tenth!

Jenny Evans said...

Congratulations! I love the way you are documenting your family.


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