THE BIRTH STORY
You’re not going to believe this, but today, our bonus baby is one year old. I’m shocked because I’ve barely given him any attention this year, we only just started reading Big Red Barn together. T his is due in part to three monkeys jumping all over us whenever I sit down with Brock, and in part to his perfect baby personality, which requires very little maintenance. This is the baby of my dreams. He is a fluffy little squish-ball, bright-eyed, smiley, and perfectly content. (Insert terrifying thoughts of toddlerhood here: the best babies make the worst toddlers in this family!) Anyway, don’t be too envious of our happy baby, we’ve paid our dues.
Brock Bellah, the stuff dreams are made of.
Last August 4, I was 39 weeks pregnant at home with three littles, one of whom was recovering from surgery on her spinal cord and lying flat on her back most of the day, when my water broke. Except, who knows if its really your water breaking…half the time it’s a mystery. (The other half of the time, it’s a painful emergency, obviously.) I was two days from my due date, which was a miracle in itself and truly an answered prayer, so I figured it was probably labor, but Matt wouldn’t be home for a while so, you wait it out in this situation. Around 7 that evening, contractions were about 7-10 minutes apart and didn’t hurt too much, but Matt showed up and I mentioned that I’d been in labor for a few hours probably. Most likely. Who knows. I’ve done this four times now and it’s always different! The thing I did know was that once I’m dilated to a five, I’m a ten in about three more seconds. So. We headed to the hospital around 8:30, which is a 70 mile drive and which was the last time we were in the car alone together. Matt drove 90 for no reason other than he wanted to get stopped by a trooper with a laboring wife, which is every man’s dream.
Between contractions, as we went to deliver baby number four. Pre-itching.
In triage, the nurse affirmed that my water had indeed broken, but I wasn’t far along at all, so I would be admitted and we could walk around. Which we did until about midnight when the contractions came on strong enough that I was ready to crawl into a hole. This is when things got bad. Real bad. The anesthesiologist came up to administer my epidural. If you know me, you know I’m extremely sensitive to epidurals but I just can’t quit it, man. We discussed how I generally lose consciousness and itch all over, so this guy gave me “something different” to keep my blood pressure up or whatever. I don’t know the medical terms – actually I do, but who cares, these contractions are killing me. So about ten minutes after the epidural relieved the intense pain of contractions, my body started itching all over.
Not an itch you can scratch, but those kind under the surface that have no relief. Shoulders, back, arms, chest, eyes, ears…everything that still had feeling was crawling, sparking, zigging and zagging under the skin and there was no escape. It was a personal plague of grasshoppers eating me alive. I scraped and clawed my chest and eyelids, Matt was scratching my back and arms so hard that I was sore for a week after, and still, agony. My legs jerked, my arms flailed, and the delivery room had become detox for an LSD addict. Dr. Calm Anesthesiologist of Death assured us that this would pass soon. How long??? Oh, probably about an hour. WHATTT.
Listen, I’ve broken bones, I’ve been thrown out of a moving vehicle at 65 miles per hour, I’ve pulled a groin muscle, I’ve had shin splints, I’ve nearly bled to death from the inside, I once even walked straight into a closed glass door and knocked myself to the ground. Nothing compares to the agony of this epidural treatment. Nothing. For a full hour, I was writhing and itching and spasming and suffering and praying that God would sustain me. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t move, I was trapped in the devices of modern medicine. The nurses gave me Benadryl, which was pouring a thimble of water on a forest fire. So my head was woozy and my body was a bug zapper on a June night. Take this lesson and learn it: it’s better to get a normal epidural and pass out than get this special sauce that keeps you conscious for over an hour of burning hell. No epidural, no problem, obviously.
You can imagine that the little bambino might not appreciate the terrible stress his mom was under at this point. Contractions slowed, and for the next four hours, I barely dilated. The baby was in distress. I know this because two nurses appeared literally every five minutes to twist me around and spin me upside down and basically ruin an entire night of possible rest because the baby’s heart rate was erratic. At around 4AM I asked them how long we’d let this continue, because in my previous life, which included three healthy deliveries, we wouldn’t let the baby stay in distress this long. There was a debate as to whether I was at an or 8 or 9 at this point, and something was annoyingly wrong because I’ve never taken that long to dilate. Every time is different. Finally around 5:00AM, Dr. Ho, the laborist, came in. We were getting ready to roll out for a C-section, which, as you can imagine, was perfectly fine by me, when she said, “Let’s try one more thing.”
Side Note: If you’ve ever given birth, you know they “check” you every hour or so. I was tired of being checked. I was tired of not dilating as fast as I usually do. I was tired of itching, my head was fuzzy, I hadn’t slept in five years, it was late, and I wanted to go home.
So, Dr. Ho, who was not my regular OBGYN and whom I met about an hour before delivery, thought we might just try one more thing. She checked my cervix, determined I was at an 8, and dilated it to a 10 herself. With her hand. No big. She said it was spongy after multiple deliveries. She said, “Alright, let’s go ahead and see if you can push this baby out.” After five hours of agony, she just manually dilated my cervix and told me to push. Have you ever??? I have not.
Somehow, through pure delirium and wondering what the heck was even happening, I pushed that baby out. Eighteen months earlier, it took one push to get a teeny little five pound girl into the world. This night, it was three or four pushes with this random doctor exclaiming, “He’s a bruiser! This is gonna be a big baby!” as I pushed. We assured her we didn’t know the gender but it was probably a little girl. She said, “Nope, it’s a bruiser! Probably eight pounds!” I kept trying to tell her that I don’t have eight pound babies, but people don’t listen.
At 5:48 AM, Friday, August 5, 2016, a seven pound nine ounce bruiser made his way into our family. As he was born, and the itching subsided, and nurses unwrapped the cord that was around his neck twice, Dr. Ho finally told us “It’s a boy!” Matt thought he was a boy at first, but then no one said anything, which was a minute of confusion. I was just astounded by the biggest newborn I’ve ever seen come out of my body and wondering how it happened. (Maternity tests pending.)
One year later and my eyes still haven’t fully opened.
At that moment, I was overcome with the thought that God really does love me, the same way I love this baby boy, or more so, they say. About a year before Brock was born, when Matt and I had no intention of adding more children to the family, Laurie and I were walking one evening and talking about all the baby boys being born into our family. I have six nephews with a seventh on the way. I said that I sure would like to have another baby boy, but that would mean another baby, and we were done. But God listens when we talk. He knows our innermost hopes and dreams, the desires of our hearts, and He hears what we say. This fourth baby was the desire of my heart, that I wouldn’t admit even to myself, and who I would have loved just as much if he’d been another daughter. It took about one minute to name Brock after he was born. Matt has been saving this name for four years. I had another one in mind, but we all agreed, upon inspection, that this kid is a Brock Matthew.
He was the third grandson born in 2016 to my parents, he is Trevor’s little brother, he is constantly kissed on and harassed by his doting sisters, he is a blue eyed, blonde-headed chugalug along for the ride. What would we do without him?
Just looking for somebody to smile at.
THE REST OF THE STORY
After Brock was born and met his grandmas and, of course, his aunt Laurie, who flew in to Abilene in the middle of the night because that’s what she does, Brock and I were moved into a post-partum room at the hospital, which shall remain nameless because it is an absolute awful place to recover with a newborn. We spent the day there taking care of ourselves. A nurse came in for vitals every few hours, and other than that, we took care of ourselves. No one showed up to bathe the baby until we called to ask, and then they sent a lady in to teach Matt how to sponge bathe a newborn in the sink in our room. He was 10 hours old by this point! We have three other kids! Just take the baby to the nursery and hose him down, my GOSH! Oh, but there IS NO NURSERY. Nurseries have been done away with to teach parents how to care for a newborn, apparently.
Baby’s first bath? Um, no.
So that night, Brock was in our room. This entailed his mother, recovering from a horrendous delivery experience with no rest, getting out of bed every hour to change diapers, feed him, keep him comfy, make sure he’s breathing, etc. After midnight, at which point we hadn’t slept in a few days, Matt called the nurses and told them, “You’ve gotta get this baby out of our room right now. We HAVE to sleep.” A nurse showed up to inform us that they could maybe just keep him in the hall by their station for a little bit. Fine. They rolled him down the hallway and we slept for three blissful hours.
This is the opposite of the care we received in hospitals with our first three babies, at which the nursery existed and was optional for all parents. Even if I’d never held a baby in my life, the REASON I’m at the hospital is to receive medical care and have my baby in a nursery with qualified caretakers who monitor his every move and assure me that he is perfectly fine. Not to learn how to care for an infant while I’m recovering from the trauma of birth and trying to wrap my head around what just happened. To all the moms who have only delivered in hospitals without nurseries because they need to teach you a lesson before you take that baby home, I’m sorry. There is better care available that makes giving birth a pleasant and even really fun experience. For all the researchers encouraging hospitals to do away with baby nurseries – here’s your clue. No one learns to care for a baby through a one or two night stint all alone in a hospital. Help a mother out.