In high school my friends and I watched a lot of TLC’s A Dating Story and A Wedding Story episodes, especially during our senior year open campus lunch. What I could never get into, though, was A Baby Story; I could not handle watching the cameras follow a couple to the hospital to go through the whole birth process with them. I mention this only because now, as a grown mama, sharing birth stories is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve found that doing so is an instant way to bond with another mama, even one you just met. I love to hear the experiences of my friends and I love to share the stories of my babies’ arrivals, which is what I’m doing here for Mr. Lincoln…
For someone who happens to be very, very theme-oriented, it did not occur to me until the evening of July 3rd that it would be pretty darn awesome if we had our next Presidentially named baby on July 4th. Chalk it up to mama brain or something, but it wasn’t until I had semi-real contractions for three hours that night that I realized, fireworks angst aside, I would really like to have a Fourth of July baby. But then we went to bed and the contractions stopped, so I knew if an Independence Baby was coming, it wouldn’t be in the wee early hours of the day. I had hope the next morning when I woke up that it could still happen, but then that had been my mindset pretty much every day starting from 36 1/2 weeks. You might think I’m crazy for having such expectations, but my first two babies came under such different circumstances (one out of the blue, one with several false starts) and at such different points in their gestation (one twelve days early, one five days late) that I really had no frame of reference for what No.3 might do. So why not the 4th, eh?
After a morning nap (for me, not Raeagn) and some festive cookies (boo for Elieen’s being closed that day), Ben and the kids and I got ready to meet up with my MOPS group at 11:00 for the YWCA Kiddie Parade around Fisher Fountain that is just a handful of blocks from our house. We got on our red, white, and blue, loaded HD & RL in the sit-and-stand stroller, and took off. It was hot but not unbearable as we walked and part of me was hoping/thinking that maybe the exercise would get the previous night’s contractions going again. And even though it took all through decorating, lining up for the route, and standing in the now hot sun to work, just as we started “marching”, I had one heck of a contraction. One that felt more real than anything else thus far and caused me to comment to a friend that “Ooo! That one hurt!” But again, that was it.
We walked the parade route one and a half times and then walked straight home to get a very sleepy Raegan fed and down for a snooze. HD & I ate lunch together and just after 12:30 we plopped down on couches in the living room to chill for a bit. That’s when I felt another contraction. It hurt enough to have me to tell Ben he might want to start timing them to see what was happening, so he started a list. The first hour was every 20 minutes. The second was every 15. And from there things got crazy. They went from 10 to 8 to 5 to 7 to 4 to 7 and all over the place, but they all hurt and so part of me started to think we might be in business. We started making calls to our parents saying they might want to think about heading this way and at 3:00 I hopped in the shower. By then I was pretty sure we were going to the hospital sooner than later and I did not want to go into labor a sweaty mess from the parade earlier (as if labor itself isn’t a sweaty marathon of mess!).
Even though things were progressing quickly and the pain was pretty intense, I stayed fairly calm until about 3:30. At that point Ben’s mom still hadn’t left for her hour and a half drive to get here to be with the kids and my parents were still at their farm, too, over three and a half hours away, and I didn’t think we had that much time before we need to go. What with the holiday and all, we were also having a hard time reaching any of our friends who had offered to be our back up should we need to hurry up and get to the hospital. Honestly, by 4:00, I was beginning to think that the kid might just fall out in our kitchen and we still didn’t have a game plan of what to do with Harrison and Raegan! To add to the chaos, my little mimic, Raegan, started copying my “Oooohs” and deep exhalations that I had to use to get through the contractions, and while I knew she wasn’t actually mocking me, it became pretty clear to me that I did NOT want to have the baby at our house!
Well, thank goodness for good neighbors! Our neighbors to the north were spending the day at home and they were more than happy to have the kids come over to hang out and have hot dogs with them, so that’s what we did. We ditched the kids next door until Grandma Deb could get there to put them to bed and we hightailed the whopping five or six blocks that it takes to get to the hospital, checking in just after 4:30 when my contractions were about four or five minutes apart.
From there it took about an hour to get up to the room, checked, and through all of the questions, set up, etc. I was so relieved when the nurse said I was at 5 cm and used the words “The Real Deal” because all along I had been worried that they’d send me home like they did with Raegan the first time we went in. In fact, I was so relieved that my contractions slowed down again to 8-10 minutes; I think my body was just happy to know I wasn’t going to have to deliver unassisted at home! In hindsight, I’m glad I had a little rest that hour because from there things got very intense very quickly.
Because of the holiday, my regular OB was not available. As in, out of town, no way of making it back in time for one of my uber fast deliveries, not available. That freaked me out a bit because she’s always been so good about supporting my all natural approach, but then the on-call doc agreed to let me skip the IV and I thought, OK. This is going to be OK. Full Disclosure: I think a primary reason I go the natural route is because I absolutely hate the idea of having an IV stuck in my hand or an epidural stuck in my back. I would rather push a baby out and feel it than deal with those needles!
So anyway, after checking in and getting situated, they sent me walking the halls to get those contractions going again. At first the walking was easy but after a few laps, I had to slow way down and stop to just breathe through them. Each time I put one hand on the bottom of my belly and one on the wall and thought, Alright, one step closer to Baby. After 20 minutes of this, the nurse called to me that the doctor was there and I thought, Great! He’s going to check me and see how I’m progressing. But before I could get another thought in or word out, she told me, “He’s going to break your water.”
Huh?! Just like that? I know I’ve had stubborn water breaking issues in the past, but without even checking me or asking me?!
Part of my heart sank, because I was worried that this intervention, small as it may be in the minds of some but the biggest I’ve ever had, might lead to other complications or interventions or whatever. I just didn’t know what to think. And while I’m sure I could have protested or flat out said, “No”, the other part of my heart really wanted to meet this baby and know that everything was in fact OK. So I went back to the labor and delivery room to have the on-call doctor check me (7 cm) and break my water.
That all happened at 6:00. In the 40 minutes following, I went from 7 to just under 10 and I wanted to push. Real bad. The doc gave me the go-ahead and with my amazing husband on one side and an amazing labor and delivery nurse (I always love my L&D nurses!) on the other, I got after it. Four minutes later, at 6:45, Lincoln Thomas Welsch was born. Yes, four minutes. I was in so much pain (worse than I remembered with the others) and so desperate to get that baby out, I just kept pushing and pushing, pausing maybe twice to catch my breath.
In no way do I mean to diminish Lincoln’s arrival (I mean, look at him – he’s perfect!) or my strengths as a mama, but it wasn’t exactly my best – what? performance?? – in the delivery room. The word that comes to mind again and again is intense. That last hour was so intense on various levels that I think I rushed things a bit which might also explain why it was so very painful. I wasn’t exactly calm and connecting my breath to my pushes. But so be it. It was hard but it was quick and when it was all said and done, I ended up with the most amazing little baby boy on my chest. I don’t think he, or anyone else for that matter, is going to hold my rushing to meet him against me.
So, in seven hours from start to finish on the good old Fourth of July, we officially became a family of five. Talk about fireworks!