Monday, June 4, 2018

Introducing Daniel Joseph

Now that he is 8 weeks old, it is only fitting that I write this post informing the world that I am not currently a million weeks pregnant but that our baby has in fact arrived!

Daniel Joseph made his debut into this world in dramatic fashion on April 3rd at 4:56 PM. He tipped the scales at 8 lbs. 1.3 ounces, edging out his big sister Lucy for the prestigious title of Baby Heavyweight for our family with that 0.3 of an ounce. Although in reality all our kids were within mere ounces of one another so we make fairly consistently sized babies. Like his siblings, Daniel sports quite a large head, housing what I hope is an equally large, intelligent brain (although based on the behavior of his equally bobble-headed siblings, I have my doubts).

For those interested in the more intimate details regarding his birth, read on. If you are a bit more squeamish, just look at the pretty pictures.

Knowing that my due date was imminent and the doctors had been assuring me that I would not last much longer than that, my sister Adrienne had been in town from March 30th until April 2nd to be present to help me with the kids should I go into labor. My Mom had then planned to fly into town to be with us on April 4th, so there was to be approximately a little over a 24-hour gap in coverage. This made Paul very, very nervous but I wasn't too worried about it. My babies are always super late so I was sure I would still be pregnant by the time my Mom showed up.

As fate would have it, I woke up around 1:30 the morning of April 3rd feeling very tight cramps in my lower back that seemed to come and go. Most of my labors began this way, so I was pretty sure that the baby would be born sometime that day. Of course! Unable to go back to sleep, I moved myself quietly into the guest bedroom so as not to disturb Paul and proceeded to finish the book I was currently reading while timing the contractions. They were about 10-12 minutes apart and really weren't bothering me at all. Around 4:30 AM, I texted my Mom to tell her what was happening and she immediately called, quite worried as to what we were going to do with all the kids when it was time to head to the hospital. She also lectured me about getting to the hospital with plenty of time to spare since I had waited a bit too long with Lucy and came dangerously close to having a baby born in a car. I told her that I hadn't quite figured out what we were going to do with the kids, but knew it would all work out. I'd had three kids previously, I certainly could go birth the baby by myself if it came down to that. Such a laughable, moronic thought when I look back on it now. There is no way I would survive natural childbirth without Paul's support.

I texted my friend Sarah from college who also happens to live in this strange new land. I felt very bad asking her for help because I know she has her hands full with three little ones of her own but she was so sweet to respond quickly, fully enthusiastic to lend us a hand. I was so grateful to her and knew that I could finally wake Paul and tell him that the baby was coming now that we had help lined up for the other kids. He would have majorly freaked out otherwise.

So I woke Paul up and he promptly started cleaning everything in sight because that's what he does when he's nervous. I checked my email, read a book, and lounged about with the kids while Paul scrambled about like a maniac, cleaning the kitchen, wiping down the bathrooms, washing, folding, and putting away the laundry. Sarah then came over and we had a lovely chance to visit and chat while Paul continued to pace about upstairs wondering when I was going to allow him to drive me to the hospital. Around noon, Sarah left with the kids and Paul came downstairs with my hospital bag. I dashed his hopes of leaving for the hospital right then and there by announcing that I was going to take a shower and get myself put together. As I was dressing, I noticed that the baby's movements obviously indicated that he was in the posterior position which definitely explained the increasingly intense contractions I was feeling in my back. Having birthed a posterior baby before (Emma), I knew that I was in for a tough labor and a possibly prolonged and painful pushing phase. Paul and I agreed that I would ask for my first-ever epidural when we got to the hospital since Emma's birth had been so traumatic for me.

But first, I wanted to grab something to eat. Paul continues to have heart palpitations while imagining delivering the baby in the car.

We stopped for a sandwich and as I was ordering my meal the contractions suddenly got much more intense. They continued to intensify and become closer together during lunch. I had planned on taking a little stroll once we were finished, but the state of those contractions urged me to ask Paul to drive us to the hospital ASAP. And that's exactly where we were headed when my water suddenly broke all over the Subaru.

Thankfully, I was wearing flip flops.

As I got out of the car and started the seemingly endless walk to Labor and Delivery floor of the hospital, water continued to leak out of my. I squished and squashed my way loudly across the linoleum floors, apologizing to the staff for the mess as I made my way to the future birthplace of my child.

Apparently it was a popular day to have a baby because they had no delivery rooms available. They stuck me in triage, handed me a gigantic hospital gown, and asked me to change so they could check my progress. I was asked if I wanted any pain killers or an epidural and for some reason my previous plan to request one disappeared and I declined my opportunity for relief. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. I was 8 cm dilated when they checked me and too far gone for medication. So, I got fitted for an IV to administer the antibiotics since I was Strep B positive while the nurses scrambled to kick someone out of a delivery room so I could have the baby because they were banking on my son making his appearance soon. They found a spot for me and then wheeled me there. And there I was left to endure quite a bit of agony for the next 30 minutes. I was experiencing no break between contractions and the pain was a 10++++. Paul was amazing at encouraging me and applying counterpressure to the ridiculously intense stabbing pains in my lower back. I then began to whine about wanting to go home and not being strong enough to have the baby. Paul just laughed and told me that I couldn't go home now which kind of made me hate him a bit.

Our nurse checked back in on us and asked me if I was ready to push yet. I wasn't feeling any great urge to and was honestly terrified of the pushing phase because I knew the little stinker was posterior. I told her I didn't want to and she didn't push me. She then suggested that maybe I get into the shower to alleviate the back pain. I agreed to that idea since that had been very helpful previously and she left to get a walking IV for me.

As soon as she left the room, the urge to push came on rapidly: "PAUL HE'S COMING! CATCH HIM!"

Without any active assistance from me, Daniel came flying, surprising both of us! Thankfully, the nurse had heard me as she was leaving the room and rushed back in to catch him. Poor Paul was in shock. Then the doctor and the rest of the staff came into the room and everyone bustled about in silence. I didn't hear the baby crying and Paul's face looked upset.

"What's the matter? Is he here?" I asked Paul.
"Oh he's here...." Paul's voice trailed off and I could see that he was pale white with tears suspended in his eyes.

Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had been born with the umbilical cord tightly would about his neck. The doctor had managed to unwind it quickly but he was not breathing and, according to Paul, was a shockingly blue color. It took a bit of effort to revive him, probably less than a minute in reality, but it was the longest moments of Paul's life thus far. But thankfully, the cries of a newborn baby reverberated through the room and my perfect little Daniel was handed to me. As with all my children, I was immediately in awe of how beautiful and perfect he was. He had a full head of hair, beautiful eyes, and the sweetest little hands and feet. He was a masterpiece. Some of the best moments of my life have occurred in the immediate moments after the birth of my children. One minute you're experiencing the intensity and pain of delivery and the next you are overwhelmed with ecstasy at the sight of your new baby. I also always feel such an outpouring of love and appreciation for my husband. Just look at this beautiful outward sign of our love!

Our moment of bliss was cut short because I suddenly experienced a serious postpartum hemorrhage. Although a bit frightening, they did get it under control fairly quickly. Unfortunately, that meant that we couldn't bring the kids over to see their new baby brother that evening. Sarah was sweet enough to Facetime with us so the kids could see their new brother over the phone. Emma was clearly the most excited.

Once we were settled in our recovery room, I found that I couldn't sleep and spent most of the night holding and admiring little Daniel. Paul actually got a decent rest on the bed they provided for him. His snores rattled my IV line.

The next day, the kids came to meet their new little brother. It warmed my heart to see how excited they were to meet him. As promised, Lucy got to be the first one to hold him followed by Emma and then Matthew. Emma could not stop smothering little Daniel with kisses and Lucy loved fingering his tiny toes. Eventually, my joy at seeing the kids quickly dissipated into frustration when they all began fighting over holding the baby and playing with the buttons on my hospital bed. Suddenly our huge recovery room seemed no larger than a broom closet. So Paul shooed them out to head to the airport to pick up my Mom and I was once again alone to enjoy my  new baby.

My kids fight about a lot of dumb stuff but I actually thought their disagreement this time was valid. Who wouldn't want to spend as much time as possible holding this beautiful little baby?!

In the weeks since his delivery, Daniel has proven to be an easy, quiet, sweet little guy. He is intensely loved by all his siblings but most especially Emma. She is always willing to help me pacify him and is very good at protecting him from the well-intended but overly rough affection from Lucy. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly these precious little newborns etch their places in our hearts so deep that we cannot even imagine life without them. And we certainly cannot imagine life without Daniel.

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