Gavin's Birth Story - Part Two

When I left off in my Part One post, we had just arrived at the hospital and were about to check in around 5 PM. After eating our first real meal of the day in the hospital parking lot, we grabbed our things and headed in to get all checked in and (finally) get the show on the road!

To be completely honest, most of what happened at the hospital is like one very long, very strange dream. I remember a lot of it so vividly, but what happened when is kind of difficult to remember. I know after we went in and got all set up, we called and told my parents to go ahead and bring Grayson up to see me. I knew the later it got the more pain I would be in, and I didn't want to scare him but I really wanted to see him. I also called my doula to let her know that things were finally getting started, and she said she would head up after dinner.

This time around was different on a bajillion different levels, but one of the main things that was different is the fact that I was up and moving around this time. Since I was induced last time they had me strapped to a monitor the entire time, so I never really got to labor the way that I wanted to. So since I could still do whatever I wanted basically, I went back to that looooong sky bridge and walked walked walked. Once my parents and Grayson got there they all walked up and down and up and down with me several times, until we all got a little tired of it. Every time I would have to stop for a contraction and basically cling on to the wall to keep from falling down from the pain, Grayson would get a little concerned. Someone would just tell him that mommy needed to rest and try to distract him, and he honestly didn't seem to be too weirded out. After tons of walking we went back to the room to say our goodbyes for the night. I remember being emotional about letting Grayson leave, because I knew the next time I saw him his entire world would be turned upside down. I was so so excited for it all, but also a little sad for it to be the last time I would see him as my only baby.
My doula Maria arrived not long before my parents and G left, and once they were gone we went back to do some more walking. I honestly don't remember how long we walked for, or when Dr. Cummings showed up to check on things, but I'm thinking it was later in the evening around maybe 9 or 10. Regardless, whenever he did show up I had barely made any progress. I'm pretty sure I was just at a 4 at that point. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But to say I was discouraged would be totally wrong, because for some reason the longer it took, the more determined I became to get that VBAC! However, at this point I had been in labor for more than 40 hours, so I was insanely exhausted.

Everyone kept telling me that I should get some rest, but when you are having contractions that make you feel like you want to die it's basically impossible. They weren't super close together at this point, maybe 4 to 5 minutes if I remember correctly, but when they did come on they were insane. All of this part is truly a blur, but I believe when Dr. Cummings came in to check this first time is when he encouraged me to get the pitocin as well as an epidural. With the pitocin, I was super hesitant because I felt like that is what sent everything spiraling during my labor with Grayson. However, Dr. Cummings really encouraged me and said it was basically necessary at this point because my labor was going so incredibly slowly that we really needed to nudge things along. He said "The pitocin isn't what caused your c-section, it was your impatient doctor. I am NOT that doctor, and we will get your VBAC." So after his little pep talk I decided to go for it with the pitocin. He also suggested that I get the epidural beforehand as well. He explained that he is not a doctor who normally recommends an epidural (which he had told me many times before) but that I had been at it for so long, was already so exhausted and stressed, and had so far to go, that an epidural would allow me to relax enough to progress. Since I fully, 100% trusted him, I agreed to that too. And I'm so glad I did!

After the epidural I was finally able to get some relief and rest. Since this meant that I couldn't get up and move anymore, I put in my headphones and listened to my "relax" play list I had made. Gavin wasn't reacting great to the pitocin, so they had to keep coming in and adjusting the dosage and checking the monitors, which was nerve-wracking. I also had to wear an oxygen mask basically the entire time after the pitocin started, which was awful. I remember Dr. Cummings coming in at one point and pulling out the loooong sheet of paper that had I guess his heart rate over the past few hours and him looking concerned, which obviously concerned me. But then he said something along the lines of "you are fine, your baby is fine, relax", and I felt better.

The WORST part of having an epidural for me is that loss of control that you feel when your bottom half goes numb. It is so disturbing to see your legs and feet and to be totally unable to move them even an inch. To see people pulling them to the side and flipping them around and to have zero control is almost more than I can handle. In the middle of the night, the husband and my doula Maria were both asleep in those hideous hospital chairs, and I was laying there wide awake. I started having a legit panic attack because I felt paralyzed and was convinced that it was permanent. I had to talk myself down, do all kinds of deep breathing, I text my mom (who was obviously asleep at like 3 AM), and cried and cried (silently so no one would wake up). I finally calmed myself down enough that I was able to get a bit of sleep.

At some point there was a shift change, and my overnight nurse left. When she was leaving, she said something along the lines of when I come back I know you'll have had this baby! And I know you'll get your VBAC! Nicest thing she said the entire time - I had not been her biggest fan. But at 48 HOURS of active labor, I needed the encouragement. Then my new nurse came in and I. LOVED. HER. She was amazing. Seriously, so great. Dr. Cummings came back in around this time, which I'm guessing was about 7 AM, and he checked me and I was at a 7! I mean. It doesn't sound like much, but it was all I needed to get me over the hump and let me know I could keep going and get the job done. With Grayson I "failed to progress" past a 4, so knowing that in the middle of the night I had blown past that felt amazing.
Can you see the utter exhaustion? I swear I can feel it just by looking at my face. 

Dr. Cummings came back a couple of hours later and I had progressed a little more, I believe to a 9, so he told the nurse to have me start pushing. This was around 9/930. It was so strange, and to explain that feeling is tough. But all of the sudden I felt like - wait! This is all happening so fast!!! (HAHAHA) I think I was a little bit in shock that it was actually happening, after the years of bitterness over my c-section and the months of planning for this moment, it was actually, finally happening. So. The pushing began.

And the pushing continued. On, and on, and on. This is why I tell you that my nurse was so very amazing. She had me pushing in so many different positions. She had me on my side, on my back, using one of those peanut ball things, using a bar to hold onto - pretty much everything but standing up, she had me do it. Also, when I was about to start pushing, she said "OK, I want to turn your epidural off. I need you to feel this. I'm not sure if he'll let me, but if he will we need to do it, OK?" I agreed, and of course Dr. Cummings agreed, so they turned it off. Obviously all feeling didn't immediately come back, but I had already been feeling the contractions, and once they turned it off....OMG. They were hitting me HARD.

The pushing portion of things is super, super vivid to me, even now, four months later. It didn't go at all how I thought it would. My parents had come back up to the hospital with Grayson, and my mom was able to come in. I had A up by my head on my right side, my mom right beside him, my doula beside her, down by my legs, and my nurse on the left side. When a contraction would hit and she would have me push, I would grab for someone's hand, probably practically break it, and push with more strength than I knew I had. I kept my eyes closed literally the entire time, which was unexpected for me, but I kind of just shut down into myself. I didn't listen to any music, which also was unexpected, but I think I just needed 100% of my focus on what I was doing. Every once in awhile I would say "water" and A would get me my water or some ice, or say "hand" and he or my mom would give me their hand, but I don't think I said anything other than that.

My amazing nurse was so encouraging, and even though I can't remember everything she said, I know she said exactly what I needed to hear throughout the entire process. Probably about an hour later Dr. Cummings came back in to check me, and he very calmly said that I was at a 10, then he said "Let's have a baby". At that point all these people came swarming into the room, and my mom had to move down by my feet, but A stayed up by me holding my hand. I think I glanced around the room once, and other than that kept my eyes close.

Dr. Cummings was seriously amazing through the actual delivery part of things. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and I didn't think Gavin was EVER going to come out. Dr. C just kept talking to me so calmly and quietly, encouraging me and telling me what I needed to do differently. Everyone was telling me I could do it, telling me to push, telling me I was doing a great job - and I just kept going. Labor is such a strange experience, and I just remember feeling almost animalistic, if that makes any sense. I was making the craziest grunting/screeching sounds, and I remember thinking how strange it sounded, but I honestly couldn't stop. At one point Dr. C said "That sound you're making? It's not helping you. In fact, when you make it, the baby is moving back up. You're putting too much energy into that sound. Stop." Haha! So I tried to stop, although I'm not totally sure I succeeded.

When we were so, so close, he stopped and said "Were you an athlete? Have you done anything athletic in your life?" and I said I was a dancer and a cheerleader and that I played basketball in like third grade, but I didn't think that counted, and everyone laughed. He said "OK, yes that was funny, but you need to tap into that. That strength and determination and athleticism, you need to dig down and find that". So I kept going. Pretty soon, he said "OK, I can see the head!" Then he said "Would you like to see? Or would you like to feel it?" I said "Umm. Not see it, but yes feel it." So I did, and MAN. That is one crazy experience, to reach down and feel the baby actually coming out of you. I kept pushing and pushing after that, and a few minutes later he said "OK, feel the head now. See how far he's come? He's almost here."

More pushing, more pushing - endless pushing, seriously, and then finally, amazingly, blessedly, I pushed him out. He was here. I felt him leave me, and it was the strangest rush of feelings I've ever experienced. I cried. Dr. C held him for a minute, I guess making sure everything was good, I think he had passed some of the meconium already so he was a bit concerned, but then I heard the sweetest little cry I had ever heard, and he handed him to me. And wow. I mean, how can you even describe that moment? I immediately noticed that he looked JUST like Grayson did when he was born, and I said something along the lines of "Oh my God. Hi there baby! You look familiar!" He just stared at me and was so sweet and quiet, and I instantly felt my heart grow. If I had ever worried about not feeling for him the way I felt for Grayson, it was gone in that first millisecond that I held him.
Gavin was born at 11:34 AM on October 28th, a full 52 hours after my active labor began and after almost two solid hours of pushing. It was BY FAR the most excruciating, exhausting, emotional, amazing thing I have ever experienced. It is honestly the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. It is the best experience I have ever, ever had. After he handed him to me, Dr. Cummings said "You did it. I knew you would do it. There were some people doubting you, trust me, but you did it." And honestly, I knew I would too. I never doubted myself. It was hard to imagine it actually happening, but I was so determined, I knew I could make it happen.

My VBAC was so insanely healing for me. I had so many negative, complicated emotions that I was still dealing with from my first birth experience. This allowed me to do what I knew I could, what I know my body was made to do. It let me see that I wasn't a failure, that my body wasn't broken, and that I can literally do anything that I put my mind to. My sweet baby Gavin will always be so special to me because he gave me that. I was worried that since Grayson was my first and will obviously always be so special because of that, that Gavin wouldn't have that special "something" (such a silly thing to worry about, any mom of two or more can tell you). But this experience - this sweet little guy gave me this amazing experience, and for that I will always be so grateful.

My Tribe

Even though I consider myself to be a social person, I've always been a bit of a homebody too. Home is where I'm most comfortable, and I love nothing more than putting on a comfy pair of yoga pants and curling up with a blanket on the couch with my husband. Home is where I can create the exact environment that I want, and I find so much joy in making this place a beautiful, cozy space for our little family to grow and thrive.

But the longer I'm a mama, the more I find myself needing out of the house, needing to be around other women in this same stage of life. The first year of Grayson's life I didn't have that type of community at all. I was the first of my friends here in Texas to have a baby, and the neighborhood we lived in was mostly families with older children or retired couples. A was working from home, so I saw him sporadically throughout the day, and I didn't feel too lonely.

But the older Grayson got, the more I needed something more. We moved to a new neighborhood filled with young families, and I joined the neighborhood moms group. I made some fun friends, and G and I were out and about a few times a week doing fun things. It was just what I needed. Not long after that, I joined a MOPS group at a local church at the suggestion of one of my new mom friends. It was another very welcome way to get out and socialize with mamas while having some "me" time.

I'm still in the moms group, and there are several mamas that I truly love spending time with, although it can certainly be challenging to bond much with crazy kids swirling around you the entire time. And I'm also in MOPS again this year, and it really has been a blessing to me. But somehow I still find myself longing for more.

I'm not sure what it is that I'm searching for exactly, but I think it's that whole "tribe" thing you hear people speak of. It's almost like I want to find what I had when I was younger, in high school or college - girls who can come together, cozy up on the couch, and chat about everything that's going on in life. Of course, you get older, you get married and have children, and that time is replaced with family time. I love my family time. My weekends are devoted to family time, and I never want anything to interfere with that. But I still need to be able to find some time to come together with other women in the same stage of life, to just talk about what we're going through and laugh, cry, and find joy in the madness of motherhood together.

I don't know what this means, exactly. I feel like my life is evolving, about to venture down some new path that I don't even know exists. I hope that I can take all of the feelings and desires and stirrings in my heart that I'm experiencing and turn them into something. What that might be, I'm not totally sure. But I'm hopeful that it will be something good.

Gavin - Three Months

Even though I love love love newborn babies, we are rapidly approaching the part of baby-hood that I really LOVE. Personality is emerging, giggles are happening, you can almost see his little brain working as he grows and learns new things. So fun! Three months really feels like the beginning of such a great time, and I think everyone in our little family is excited to see what happens next. The interaction between the two boys is getting cuter every day, and I can tell Grayson is excited to have a brother that actually does something ;) Even though this next phase is sure to be so fun, it's going super duper fast and kind of freaking me out. I wouldn't mind if things slowed down, just a little!
My sweet Gavin,

Yet another super great month with you in the books. You are still just the best baby in the world, I'm quite convinced. Although you aren't 100% easy peasy like you have been before - mainly because you aren't sleeping 20 hours a day - you are still so super sweet and easy to please. 

The main thing that seems to be causing fussiness lately is the fact that you want to be UP at all times. Not just sitting up, but standing up. And if you aren't "standing" in our laps, you want us up moving around. You are so curious about everything that's going on, and are super studious, just like your brother was. Speaking of that guy, you study him more than anything else...which is slightly terrifying, because I feel like you're going to learn so much from him, including how to throw an epic tantrum ;)

You are all over the place with a "schedule", and I think that's probably because you are so go with the flow and kind of just adapt to whatever we have going on that day. Grayson is our alarm clock, and we usually are up between seven and eight. After that, you are awake for about an hour, smiling and happy the whole time, and then you abruptly get very sleepy and need a nap like immediately. After a relatively short nap, you're up again for a couple hours. Then you kind of nap off and on throughout the day. Some days I get a super long two hour or longer nap around lunchtime, some days you just take several short little thirty minute naps through the day. I just go off your cues, and you are definitely obvious when you get sleepy. You start to fuss and start rubbing your eyes like crazy. Since you're generally always smiley and happy, I know almost immediately that it's time for some sleep. Seriously, you're such an easy baby! 

This past month you've discovered your hands, and your really good at getting them to work for you. If you want something in your mouth, you make it happen. And you want something in your mouth ALL the time. Mainly your own hands, but if there's a burp cloth or stuffed animal in your hands, you maneuver it up there to soak it in drool real quick. We've put you in the jumper a few times, and you've figured out how to spin one of the little toys around with your hands, so you'll hang out there for several minutes spinning it over and over. I feel like this is pretty early for you to be doing all that, but I may just not be remembering when things happen correctly...and second time mamas are too busy to Google and find out haha!

You rolled over from tummy to back for the second time about a week and a half ago, and haven't done it again since. You are pretty great at getting your legs underneath you and scooting around on your mat during tummy time. You grab ahold of the mat in front of you, put your legs under you like you're going to crawl, and propel yourself all around in circles. You also love to pull up from laying on your back to sitting up, and almost always go straight from your back to standing on your feet. You get so excited when I grab your hands and say "you ready?!". Your eyes get all big and sometimes you squeal. So cute. You also laughed for the first time on 1/31. I had to do the most ridiculous cackle/laugh combined with throwing my head back super far - don't ask how I came to that - but it was so so so stinking cute! Baby giggles are one of the best things in the entire world, hands down. 

You're still a sporadic little eater. You eat quick, in less than five minutes most of the time, but you're growing like a little weed so I'm sure you're just a fast eater. You aren't really on any kind of regular schedule with this, and again I just go with your cues and feed you when you either start fussing or when you start turning your head toward me and opening your mouth wide aren't real subtle when you're hungry. 

I'm still not totally sure who you look like. At first you were Grayson's actual clone I'm pretty sure, but the older you get the more different the two of you look. People still say "He looks just like Grayson!" when they see you, but when you compare photos at the same age you don't look much alike at all. Your eyes are lighter, your hair is darker, and your body is longer and thinner than his was at this age. I think your nose is more like your daddy's, but your mouth looks a lot like Grayson's still. It's so funny to watch you growing, because we can't help but compare everything to Grayson, and I am so super curious how much alike or how different the two of you will be, in personality, looks, temperament, everything. 

Something I've figured out is that you like to be laid down when you're a little overstimulated. Where Grayson needed to be swaddled and cuddled when things got to be overwhelming for him, you're the exact opposite. If nothing is making you happy, I can typically lay you down on the bed with a paci and lay beside you, not touching you, and you cheer right up. This can take your mood from super mad to happy so quick. This is seriously fascinating to me because it makes the two of you so very different. 

One of my favorite times of day with you is first thing in the morning. Grayson always wakes up first, and many days I go and get him set up with breakfast before you're awake. I guess us being up and around wakes you up, and when I hear you stirring I go in and get you. Every day, without fail, the second you see me you break into the biggest smile and start kicking your legs and wiggling like you can't wait to get into my arms. Then I'll usually lay you on the bed and chat with you for a minute, and you are so happy and chatty. Even though you're a sweet natured, calm little guy, you are LOUD when you get to chatting. You also do a lot of squealing. So, so cute. 

Another of my favorite things is watching you watch Grayson. You are totally enamored with him, and I'm pretty sure he's going to be your favorite person in the world. You watch him so closely, and anytime he interacts with you seems to just make you the happiest little guy ever. You smile so big with your entire face, bring your hands up to your mouth, close your eyes and squeal so loud whenever you get excited, and you do this so much when Grayson is involved. His favorite thing right now is dancing for you, and I'll hold you up so you can see him and anytime he comes toward you it is SO exciting for you. Watching you two interact is seriously the cutest thing I've ever experienced, and it's giving me a tiny glimpse into your future relationship. I'm pretty sure my heart might actually explode I love you both so dang much. 

Right now some of your favorite things are:
* sitting/standing up and observing the world around you
* anytime anyone gives you attention - you love when people make eye contact, and they are guaranteed to be rewarded with a big huge smile if they do. I wonder if this means you're going to be a people person, because you seriously LOVE interacting with humans. 
* diaper changes. You get so mad when I lay you down, but as soon as you realize what's going on you get so happy and chatty. 
* I've started singing to you more, and for some reason you really love it. So does your brother, so I can only assume you both just love me so much that you overlook my terrible singing voice. 

The things you don't love so much:
* getting dressed. Really, having clothes put on your arms. Once we're past that part you're usually fine. I don't know what it is about me putting your arm through your onesies, but it's seriously one of the worst things we have to do. 
* sitting back/laying when you want to be up and moving. You've gotten really good at making it clear that anything other than sitting up or standing will not be tolerated. 
* car rides - but only at night. During the day you're always totally fine, but anytime we've been out at night lately has been pure torture. For a baby that rarely cries, you sure can scream - for insanely long periods of time - when you want out of your car seat. 
* being hungry. I go to put Grayson to bed around 8 pm every night, and even if I've just fed you, you always get hungry and ANGRY while I'm in there. Daddy tries everything he possibly can to calm you down, but the only thing you will accept is eating. And not from a bottle. It's like you know I'm here so you just won't tolerate anything but me feeding you. 

I have to say, I love you more every single day than I did the day before, which seems totally impossible because I'm basically obsessed with you. You are so sweet, and so happy, and so smiley, and I just cannot get over how much you can possibly love two kids at once. Every ounce of my heart is madly in love with you, and madly in love with your crazy brother. You are just the absolute perfect addition to our family, and I am so so so glad you are mine. I love you more than you will ever know, my sweet boy!