He is absolutely a delight, a beloved new member of our family. I am overcome with how much love I feel for both him and his sister. The universe is a wellspring filled with infinite love, and I feel as though having children---and particularly now having two---has show me just how vast that love really is. I thought it would hardly be possible to love any child as much as I love Katie, and to know now that I can and do and that love really is infinite...well, it is humbling.
Although as late as Saturday evening Katie was saying that we would glue Eric to the ceiling when he arrived, by Sunday afternoon when she met him, Katie transformed into the best big sister I've ever seen. She immediately kissed him and wanted to hold him and said, "I love you Eric." She shares her favorite stuffed animals with him, sings to him, helps to pick out his outfits, tells me when he seems hungry, offers her favorite "cozy" blanket...She is amazing. He really responds to her voice, too. His eyes often lock onto the direction her voice comes from...and he also loves loves loves music of any kind, his eyes widening in response.
He is such a mellow baby and we are really nursing well together. Nights have been spotted with patchy sleep...but I know how fast this time goes and am just working through it, trying to savor even the bleary-eyed moments. I can now say that having two children under three-years-old is much more challenging than anyone predicts---but on the other hand, I am already so invested in my "mommy" role that certain aspects of the transition are coming naturally. I really miss being able to give all my cuddles to Katie, yet at the same time, I yearn to hold her brother... Trying to coordinate feeding them and getting dressed and nursing is a challenge of epic proportions, but I know we'll work out a routine. It took us two hours to get dressed and downstairs yesterday, so I am up early today to get started on it!
My water broke with Eric at 1:15 on Sunday morning. I was so glad my water broke again, because it was a definite sign. I woke up Bill and we got dressed and I wrote Katie a note while waiting for my parents. Boppa spent the night here with Katie, and Amie headed over to the hospital, Rancho Springs, with us.
By 2:45 I was undergoing assessment while Bill activated my pre-registration. Sometime near 3:15 AM I was taken to the delivery room. I labored for about an hour with moderate to strong contractions. At 4:00 I was checked and was at 3 CM dilation. Then I was told that I would be checked a 5 AM and given pitocin to speed labor up if I wasn't making progress. My contractions intensified, and I KNOW for a fact that my cervix was opening. However, it seems the standard procedure now at Rancho Springs is to administer pitocin...and wait for the mother to ask for an epidural. Unlike my delivery with Katie, I got the distinct impression from my nurse that she did not think I could actually labor without drugs---especially on pitocin, which intensifies and speeds up labor by making the contractions stronger and more frequent. It seems, upon further investigation, that pitocin and epidurals are the norm there. My aunt was saying some nurses never even see non-drug labors anymore. I also expressed a desire to get up and walk, and was told that I could not and that it was about the worst thing I could do now that my water had broken. This did anger me, because I know from extensive reading that bed-labor is the hardest to accomplish. No other animal that I know of labors on her back... I was not really thrilled with my nurse. This was a shame, since I had a GREAT experience at Rancho delivering Katie three years ago and loved my nurses. There was another nurse, Jackie, who appeared to start my IV and who reappeared later, and she quickly became my favorite...for reasons I will soon discuss.
So at 5 AM I was checked again and told I had not progressed after some readjustment of my contraction monitors. There was no way I was still officially at 3 CM. I could feel what was happening to my cervix and have been in tune with my body the entire pregnancy. However, my nurse used that as justification to start the pitocin.
My contractions had already been fairly intense, and with the pitocin, I experienced new levels of intensity. I thought I had experienced the depth of pain with Katie's labor, but it turns out, there are new depths. I felt solid at my core, and I knew I would never waver with my promise to myself, my child, and my husband to never have drugs, knowing it was not in their best interest. My core was solid, and so I felt strong. I kept reminding myself I was designed for labor. I was dissatisfied with how weary my mind felt, though. It was only my heart that kept me going through this labor...my mind was struggling to manage the pain. Every gate I had worked for months to build, every step of my pain management plan, seemed to be bypassed. Especially on the pitocin, my labor was going SO FAST that my mind was struggling to keep up and could not ever complete its meditations. My mom and Bill helped me to keep focused as best they could.
Essentially, from 5AM to 6AM I labored from 3 (well, I think more like 4) CM to 10CM. Going 7CM in an hour was sheer craziness. My contractions never really subsided. The tightening never released but would only peak. There was no resting in between. I can say with certainty that only my core values and belief systems kept me sustained at this point. Painkillers were not an option. I realized at that moment that mothers can endure anything to keep our children safe. We could take a bullet for our children, we could walk through fire, anything...
Then I got the feeling to push. How rapidly this came was a surprise even to me. With Katie I labored for awhile before feeling that need, and with Eric it came within an hour. I told the nurse I felt the pushing need. She said I could not push and needed to wait for the doctor to arrive. Excuse me? You bring me from 3-4 CM to pushing and then tell me to wait?? I told her again that I needed to push, and she told me to "calm down." I will never forget that... I had not been screaming or dramatic at all during the whole labor, just moaning and turning inward to my core. And now I was just stating a fact...and I know nurses are capable of delivery. My aunt in Vista delivers all the time. It occured to me then that it is probably unusual for OB nurses to see what the real need to push looks and feels like. Bill was reading that something like 75% or some number like that of women are on epidurals when the time comes to push and another 14% are on other drugs. With an epidural, you cannot feel the pushing instinct and the nurses have to count you in... You can be told to wait because there is no feeling. Without medication, the urge to push is as fundamental and primal as breathing. There is no real waiting---not without lots of pain. She told me that if I pushed "too soon" I could make my cervix puffy. Extrapolating I thought that, if this was true, it might block Eric and make it harder for him...that was the only reason I did not push. I had to hold off on pushing for about 15 minutes. The good nurse (the one I liked) came in at that point, sat down with me, and breathed with me. She was very calming...
Eventually Dr. Elfelt arrived, and at the site of his shoes coming through the door I announced that I was going to push now. Period. The nurse I didn't like so well told me to wait until he had his gloves on...right...but Dr. Elfelt said I should push now when I felt like it. Within three contractions, Eric was out! Pushing felt so so so so good.
He arrived beautifully. Even though there were aspects of the morning that I would change, I tried to focus on what he and I were feeling together---and that was beautiful. I could feel him kicking and moving still all the way down the birth canal, and that is our sacred bond regardless of how he was delivered or how I did not click with my main nurse. I was ultimately able to deliver him while feeling every sensation, and that is what I wanted. And I know he arrived in this world totally alert and ready to learn how beautiful life really is.
So many times with his pregnancy I have fantasized about a home birth. I did not elect for one because of my experience with Katie and being glad that she had access to the care she needed immediately when she was early. This time, Eric was fine and I was the one who needed the further care. I was bleeding too much---I learned yesterday from my mom what was going on (I had not really paid attention to that part of the afterbirth). I had to have a shot in my leg of an anti-hermorraging medicine and they continued to run the pitocin for a couple of hours so my blood vessel would close. I knew that I was bleeding more heavily in post-partum later that day than I did with Katie, but I did not know the full story... I will spare some of the details. I am just thankful I was in the hospital for myself this time, even though Eric was fine. There are advantages to hospital care, and ones in which I believe strongly. I just wish we could as a culture cycle back around to natural births being more common and accommodated. I think a woman should have whatever kind of delivery she wants to have, especially one that will help her have the child with the least stress as possible, because stress itself can harm the baby. For many, that includes drugs and epidurals and I support a woman's right to choose those methods if it will help her to have her baby. But for us in the minority, I also want to be supported by the medical community. I know my aunt's hospital does not use pitocin on natural patients and she even walks them around for hours if they request.
Anyway, I focus on the glorious aspects of Eric's birth. Our bonding that day was immense and powerful. We spent the rest of our time in the hospital singing, nursing, talking, cuddling. He was never out of my sight or Bill's sight. Twice Bill followed him for footprints and a blood test. We are not having Eric circumsized for many reasons, and the hospital I was at no longer does them anyway. So we spent our time in pure bliss and had several visitors who made our day delightful. I really really loved my post-partum nurses, especially my day shift nurse. She was excellent. All the post-partum nurses were. I was extremely pleased with my post-partum care and I remembered again why I wish sometimes that I had become a nurse (the two careers I was attracted to in college were teaching and nursing, and I thought perhaps my science background was too lacking).
We were discharged on Monday, and it felt so good to come home and start getting back to our routines. I will have to write another blog later about what we've been up to! Most of my pics, also, will appear on Facebook at some point. We have so many cute hospital pics of Katie and Eric meeting...
But, it is time to get dressed. The kids have a busy day: Katie has gymnastics and Eric has his first well-baby appointment at the pediatrician!