Friday, April 19, 2013

He is Arlo: The Birth Story

Something tells me we're going to have our hands full with this precious boy later in life. In a good way, I mean. A fun way. Not only was he born on April Fool's Day, but he decided to begin his journey into the outside world during Easter dinner.

Last bump photo:  Easter Sunday at 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

That's right. My water broke during Easter dinner at our friend Joe's house. Of course it did. Earlier that morning, Danny and I had joked that I'd probably go into labor during Easter dinner, and I love that I actually did. There were 14 people at the table, and when I say my water broke, I mean it broke. No trickles here. Imagine dumping a 2 liter into your leggings and then trying to slink out of a room nonchalantly. Before I was able to take two steps, I could feel my shoes filling with water, but somehow, I made it to the bathroom without anybody noticing what was happening. Dessert is apparently a great distraction. Who doesn't love key lime pie?

Once I was safely out of the dining room, I hauled ass to the bathroom, leaving a trail, to see if I could clean myself up. Ha! I poked my head out of the bathroom and casually called for Danny. When he got to me, I said, "My water broke." He hugged me and said, "We're having a baby!" Danny told Joe what was going on. Joe was thrilled, and when I tried to clean up my trail, he said, "What are you doing? Go have a baby!"

Danny and I sneaked out of the house, towels in tow, nobody but Joe having any clue that Arlo was on his way. Joe said, "His last meal in there was my ham!" I hopped into Danny's truck and looked at my watch: 4:40 P.M.

My OB had previously told us that, due to our breech history, if I were to show any signs of labor, we were to go to the hospital. No laboring at home, because we wouldn't want Arlo to have flipped back to the breech position and get stuck somewhere. I called the on-call OB to verify this, and she told me to shower and head in. While I showered and made sure everything was packed, Danny took Scooter to doggy camp—and then, we were on our way. As we walked out our back door, Danny remarked that the next time we walked through that door, it would be as a family of three. This blew my mind.

Driveway Photoshoot:  Me with my bags. / Danny and me kissing. / Danny kissing my belly.

We laughed all the way to Lakewood Hospital. We arrived there around 6:00 P.M.

Our awesome nurse, Jen, admitted us right away—and not just because of the possibility of Arlo being in the wrong position. There was meconium in my fluid. Lots of it. Arlo must've been pooping up a storm in there, so they needed to monitor him until he was born. Also, because of the meconium, we couldn't let him hang out in there too long, and since I stalled out at 4 cm, we started a Pitocin IV at 9:15 P.M.

Jen confirmed fairly early on that Arlo was still in the head-down position. The on-call OB told her to keep me from moving around too much, so he wouldn't get any crazy ideas and flip at the last second. This didn't worry me at all. I knew he was staying put.

Contractions are no joke once they hit the 1.5-minutes-apart stage. Plus, Arlo was sunny-side up at that point, so I was having back labor. Ouch. I threw in the towel earlier than I was hoping to, and got an epidural at 12:30 A.M. Hello, bliss. Jen told me to get some rest, but I was too excited to sleep. I was so close to finally meeting my baby. I just lay awake in that uncomfortable bed all night, so happy, with my sweet, snoozing husband at my side. I spent a lot of that night just staring at him, so excited that I was just hours away from making him a daddy.

At 6 A.M., Jen did another internal exam and confirmed what Danny and I already knew—that Arlo had hair. Sadly, though, I was only 6 cm dilated, and I was bummed I wouldn't deliver before Jen's shift ended at 7—but my own OB, Dr. Ekman, would be in her office (which is right across the street from the hospital) at 8 or 9, and I was glad she'd be the one to deliver Arlo.

Things miraculously picked up, and I was fully dilated at 11:00 A.M. I started pushing at noon, and Dr. Ekman arrived around 12:25 P.M. When she walked in, she asked, "Where's your photographer?" I said, "I wanted to wait until the last second." Dr. Ekman said, "This is the last second! You'll have a baby by 1:00. Get her here now!" Danny called Brittany, the photographer—who fortunately, lives very close to the hospital—and she was in our room 10 minutes later. She's so gifted at what she does that I completely forgot she was there.

The urge to push intensified, and with the greatest man in the world standing beside me, I pushed like my life depended on it.

Brittany Graham Photography

I pushed and pushed and pushed. I'll never forget Dr. Ekman saying, "If you give this last push everything you have, you'll be a mommy." That's all I needed to hear. I gave it my all. I pushed until blood spurted out my nose. I felt it dripping down my face and rolling across my teeth—but nothing was going to stop me. I kept pushing... and then, there he was.

My baby! At 12:49 P.M. on April 1st, 2013, Dr. Ekman held my miracle up high so I could see him. She placed him way down low on my stomach while Danny cut the cord. I'll never forget touching Arlo for the first time, never forget how silky-smooth his skin felt. I couldn't see him down there, so I watched Danny's face as he studied our son for the first time. I was right when I'd previously speculated that my imagination could never do this moment justice. I was wrong when I'd previously thought that I loved my husband as much as anybody could ever love another person; somehow, seeing the emotion on his face, I fell even more in love with him.

After Danny cut the cord, the nurse, Sandy, took Arlo to the table to clear his mouth and nose. I heard him wail:  music to Mama's ears. The pediatrician looked him over and deemed him healthy as can be:  also music to Mama's ears. I remember exhaling and thinking that, for the first time since November 2011, I felt like I could breathe again. I felt a million emotions, but relief eclipsed them all.

Brittany Graham Photography

I don't even know who put my beautiful boy on my chest, but I remember so clearly having him there for the first time. He was just so perfect. And that's when it hit me:  This is Arlo. It was like somebody or something greater than us had given him that name and whispered it in our ears one night when we were sleeping. Arlo. Any other name would have seemed like a lie. For months, people have been asking Danny and me the meaning behind this name, and we never had an answer, other than that we both liked it. I know the real answer now:  We didn't choose it. He is Arlo. I'll probably never actually give anybody this answer because they'd think I'd lost my mind, but it's the truth.

Brittany Graham Photography

Lakewood Hospital encourages an hour of skin-to-skin contact immediately following delivery, assuming everybody's healthy and able. Danny and I just stared at Arlo during this time. I was so in awe of him that I barely noticed Dr. Ekman delivering my placenta and stitching me up. Fresh out of the oven, he was gorgeous. I know I'm biologically programmed to think my baby is beautiful, but what isn't subjective is that his skin was pink and flawless; his eyes were open, and he looked so alert; and Lord, that hair. Nurse Sandy remarked that he looked exceptionally good for a newborn. Danny and I stared and kissed and hugged and stared some more, studying our son's face—agreeing that he has Danny's eyes and hairline and my face shape, and trying to determine who he got those lips from.

Dr. Ekman hugged us before she left and said, "Well, you didn't poop, but you got a bloody nose!" I laughed and said, "I'm sure you guys have seen it all." Nurse Sandy chimed in with, "That was a first for me!" I smile whenever I think that everybody who witnessed my spurting nose will probably remember it for a long, long time. There are worse things to be remembered for, I suppose, than trying like hell to bring your son into the world.
Brittany Graham Photography

When that heavenly hour was up, Nurse Sandy took Arlo to bathe him, check his vitals again, and get his stats. 7lbs 14oz, 20" of perfection. I'm so glad Brittany was there to capture those moments. Best investment of my life.
Brittany Graham Photography
When Nurse Sandy brought Arlo back to our room, Danny and I hugged and kissed each other and Arlo, and stared some more, memorizing Arlo's features and falling so, so in love with every single one—and feeling blessed beyond comprehension.

Brittany Graham Photography

I'd be lying if I said that our previous suffering all makes sense to me now, that it was all part of God's plan, and I appreciate it. In reality, I'll never understand why Danny and I were dealt the hand we were dealt, and I can't even tell you what I'd give to have our other babies back. I miss them more than ever now that we have Arlo. He's such a real, tangible reminder—especially of his twin, of course—of what we lost. We lost three of those. Three babies. However, like I told Nurse Jen, in response to a sweet Facebook message she sent me, I do feel like we've been compensated for our pain.

 Not too shabby for a one-hour-old baby.

Quite handsomely, if I do say so myself.

We spent the next two nights in the hospital, enjoying living in our own happy little bubble away from the world. We kept visitors to a minimum, knowing that we'd have tons of them when we got home.

Danny and I smiled a lot. Arlo slept a lot. We took lots of pictures.

Our experience at Lakewood Hospital was better than I could have imagined. Word quickly spread that there was a miracle in room 305, and nurses and lactation consultants stopped in just to meet him. We felt a little bit famous for a few days. 

When it was finally time to head home Wednesday afternoon, Danny—err, Arlo wrote the nice hospital staff a little note.

We dressed Arlo in his too-big coming-home outfit.

He clearly adores that outfit.

And we were on our way. I obviously sat in the back seat with Arlo, and that's when I finally broke down and just let the tears roll. We were bringing our baby home with us! We made a baby, I carried him to term, and now, we were all going home together. Amazing.

Someday, hopefully many, many years from now, when my whole life is flashing before my eyes, I'll undoubtedly recall walking through our door for the first time as a family of three.


paisleybaby33 said...

This is such an incredibly beautiful fairy tale. What a blessing Arlo will be to this world. Lots of love to an inspirational family, that I am lucky enough to call friends.

Nicole said...

Beautiful and of course it made me cry. I hope to be as blessed as you in 10 weeks or so ...and have the clarity and words to describe it as well as you did. Oh will always remember how you felt and now you have it written so he will too. He is Arlo and I understand that so well because our baby had had a name for 4 years and it is just his name no reason why other than we liked it and that's just who he is. Thanks for sharing .

Nicole Main said...

I'm sitting here at work balling! Love this! And I pushed so hard for both my kids that I broke all the blood vessels in my face. Forgot all about the way my face looked and want into Walmart with a new baby and a face that looked liked I had lost a boxing match. Wondered why everyone was staring at me!

Ktrue85 said...

This was the absolute most beautiful birth story I have ever read. I have cried from start to finish, and will most likely continue crying well after I close this page. I have silently stalked you on TB during my own losses and PGAL journey, and your strength and positivity have really given me so much hope of my own.

Congratulations on creating such a beautiful, perfect little boy, and on the amazing family you have.

Ang said...

You have me bawling like a baby. This is the best birth story I've read in a long time. I usually just skim over these, but I read every single word of yours. The joy you and Danny felt that day was written all over your faces. You deserve it. Congratulations a hundred times over on your perfect little boy (he really is gorgeous)...on your perfect little family of three.

EKGibs said...

This was beautiful! I'm sitting here in tears, so happy for you. Arlo is seriously one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen!

Bethany K said...

Such an amazing birth story! Thank you so much for sharing your journey to baby with us. Arlo is a very lucky baby, and he really is ridiculously cute. Please keep blogging even though your watermelon is here. I want to watch Arlo grow! :)

jessica dukes said...

no words, congratulations family of three. love you all.

Heather said...

Beautiful. Congrats again!!!

Tale's of My Tiny Tot said...

Your story has made me even more thankful for my little boy then I had been already. Such an emotional journey you have both been through, so happy for you that there was a treasure waiting for you!