Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Benjamin's birth story

Our newest family member has arrived! Benjamin Martin Gawthroupe entered the world on Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 9:38pm. What a whirlwind it all was!

Sunday morning at 3am I awoke to moderate yet manageable contractions. They didn't last more than 20 or 30 seconds and were 15 - 20 minutes apart. As the day went on, they never got closer than 15 minutes, and I sometimes went 45 or 60 minutes without one. All this means that while labour might be close, it could still be days away. (I experienced this with Caleb; the contractions got all the way down to 10 minutes, and then I didn't have him for another 5 days!) While I started getting excited, knowing that likely he would arrive by Christmas, I didn't really expect anything to happen that day.

Then in the afternoon, I began to wonder if might be leaking amniotic fluid. With Colin my water broke at home, with Caleb they broke it in the hospital. Unsure, I called the maternity ward at the hospital and they told me to come in for an assessment. With my nephew's birthday party happening at my house for dinner, and then a Christmas music program I was scheduled to play the piano for that night, I figured I'd hurry over, get assessed, then zip back for all my events.

The nurses confirmed everything was okay. Benjamin reacting a little negatively to the random contractions, but then seemed to settle down. They sent me on my way: contractions were still about 20 minutes apart, and not showing any sign of progressing further.

The moment I walked back in my house, the contractions jumped to 7 minutes apart, then 6, then 5 within about half an hour. And each contraction was long and severe. My mom looked at me and said "I think you're having this baby tonight!" Knowing the long and hard labours and deliveries I've had in the past, I decided to head back to the hospital, having been discharged less than an hour and a half before. I wanted to make sure I had time for an epidural.

We signed in around 7pm, and the nurse laughed: she had only just finished cleaning out the room I had been in. She took us down and got us settled again. I immediately requested the epidural. The nurse looked a little skepitcal. Honey, she said, I will put in the request, but we've first got to do some blood work and get the results before they can hook you up. We'll start on it, but I don't think you're going to make it.

That tweaked my attention. Wtih my last two labours, it was at least 6 or 8 hours from this point before the baby was born. Did she know something I didn't? I hardly dared hope, but I was praying she would be right.

Well, she was right! I was already 5 cm dialated. By 8pm I was 7 cm, and the contractions were fairly running into each other. By 9pm I was 9 cm and ready to start pushing. The on-call obstetrician (who happened to be my own OB), was called in. Luckily he only lives 5 minutes away, because I was ready to push as they were calling him. The nurse hadn't left my side since I arrived, which I knew was a good sign. Usually the nurses are so casual about it all (they've seen it thousands of times), hanging around, gabbing, walking in and out of the room. Very frustrating for a mother in labour and in pain. But this nurse stuck close, so my instinct was it would all be over soon. My previous labours, I pushed between one and two hours. The the nurse intimated it would all be over before 10pm. So, with only a shot of painkillers in me that hardly took the edge off at all, I started pushing. It was not a pretty sight. Throughout the labour contractions the pain was so severe I was really thrashing around, demanding that they get the baby out. I alternated between threatening them and complete focused silence as I tried to deal with the unimaginable pain.

With both previous births I was eventually given an episiotomy. Even though my OB does less than one per year on all his patients (he was constantly amazed when he read my chart and saw that he gave me one with Caleb!). But I think that was part of the "pushing" problem in the past - they made me push and push and push, and then eventually resorted to the episiotomy. This time, after a few pushes to get the baby to crown, and after a few more pushes wouldn't get him out, I told them to just do the cut and get it done with. Thankfully there was no arguing, and with three more pushes Benjamin was born!

I immediately turned over and curled up in a ball. In fact, I didn't even see Benjamin until 11pm that night. I knew he was being taken care of, that the nurses and James were all there, and that he was sleeping in his cot right beside me. But exhaustion took hold, and all I wanted was to rest.

When I finally turned over around 11pm, I was filled with immense joy. I snuggled my baby boy in my arms, feeling a sense of completeness.

Congratulations have been pouring in from friends and family, but two comments specifically I want to record here, because they really touched me.

The first was from a friend who was attending the church Christmas musical performance I was supposed to play at. At the beginning of the program, they excused my absence, saying that I was in labour. Then my friend said that Brad Miller, Stake President of Mississauga Stake, who knew James and I really well when we lived in Toronto, opened the program with a prayer, in which he blessed my delivery. This would have happened at 7pm Sunday night - right as we were arriving at the hospital. I was humbled to know such an inspirational and spiritual leader was asking our Heavenly Father to bless the delivery of this little boy. And every aspect of this labour and delivery shows how that prayer was answered.

The second comment was from an old high school friend with whom I've recently reconnected. I knew him from the drama program we were both a part of. His comment came as a reply to the birth announcement I sent out. It was short, but both beautiful and touching:
"Welcome, Benjamin. You have no idea that you just won the lottery of good moms."

Well, I certianly know I won the lottery with my three boys. I'm fairly certain this is the last pregnancy for me, and I really do feel the completeness of our family as we welcome Benjamin into our fold.

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