Max is here. And we are beyond thrilled. He is... a newborn. So far, that's about it. Sweet and tender and needy, needy, needy. This stage is so fleeting that I am really okay with the neediness. He constantly wants to be held, and mostly just wants to nurse. And Paul asked last night, "What if he is always like this?" And I said, "He won't be." That's just how newborns are, and it's nice to have the perspective of the third baby to just cherish the newborn neediness and know that it wears off rather quickly.
And so I am writing his birth story while he sleeps in my lap. And I am one hundred percent okay with that.
My doctor has strong opinions about inducing at 41 weeks. And she told me that up front, and, truthfully, I was sure he would come at least before then, so I wasn't too worried about it. But as time went on, I realized that very soon I would be facing an induction that I didn't really want. I delivered Charlotte and Ella without an epidural, and planned the same birth for Max. Because I was induced with Charlotte, I knew that pitocin would make labor harder, and really hoped to avoid it. But, I also knew that I was capable having the birth experience I wanted with or without pitocin. So, I kind of resigned myself to the induction, and went with it.
Most of you know, Max flipped into a breech position at 40 weeks, which was actually really stressful for me. Even though he flipped back over pretty quickly, it was a very emotional couple of days. And in some ways I was glad to induce, because I became so worried he would flip back over. I was also worried that he was small (the girls were both in the nine pound range), and that it was maybe my fault. What if I wasn't eating healthy enough, and all that jazz. (It turns out he weighed in at 9 lbs 1 oz and 22 1/4 inches. How that baby turned breech and back again, I will never know.)
Well, we got confirmation on Monday that he was again head down, and so I went home and took some castor oil to try to avoid an induction on Wednesday. No luck. I also tried basically everything else, and have been trying all of those things for WEEKS. He was just not ready.
So we showed up to the hospital Wednesday morning excited and optimistic about pretty much everything. My doctor offered to break my water first to see if labor would start on its own. Max was so high (-3 station) that it didn't do much, and it certainly didn't start labor, and not wanting a prolonged affair in the hospital, we started Pitocin around 10:30am. It always takes a while to get going, and so the first hours were pretty easy. Contractions were coming regularly, but they were easy to handle, and I became even more optimistic that this would be my easiest labor, yet.
Well, three o'clock rolled around and labor started getting really intense. I was still coping really well with the contractions, but I was kind of desperate for some confirmation that we were making some good progress. So at four we asked the nurse to check me. I was only dilated to a 4. That was the point I became really discouraged. I spent about a half hour talking over my options with Paul and my Mom. Because it was so early in labor, I felt really in my own mind (not the crazy person talk that I have during transition), and so it was a good conversation. I decided sometime between four and four-thirty that I just didn't care at all about not having an epidural. Somehow, it just didn't matter to me anymore. I couldn't remember any of my reasons for having the kind of birth experience I had with Ella and Charlotte, and so I asked for the epidural.
The doctor came in right away and I had the epidural at 4:50p. It was completely effective by 5:30 (longer than I thought it would take), but it did start taking the edge off very soon after it was administered. My doctor came in at 6:00 to check me and I was still only at a six. I was SO glad I got that epidural in that moment. I think if I had labored another hour and a half with so little progress I would have just lost it.
A nurse came in at 7pm to check me and, miracle of miracles, I was complete and ready to push. "Like, I can push right now?" I asked her. And she asked if I would wait until my doctor came in. "Sure." I actually started feeling 'pushy' just a few minutes later. And my doctor was already in the hospital, so she was in the room and ready to go just a few minutes later. It was all so surreal. During the pushing stage of my other labors, I was so focused and involved in labor that I was completely unaware of everything going on around me. It was really interesting to see them get everything ready, and then my doctor said, okay, you can push when you're ready. Weird. And at the last minute I asked for a mirror so I could watch myself pushing. I've always been offered a mirror, but truthfully, I have never cared, because I was so tired and focused on the work of labor. So I started pushing. It was different to not have a lot of feedback from my body, but I have pushed two other babies out, and my doctor coached me through it, making sure I wasn't pushing too fast to risk tearing.
It was really miraculous. I have never been so aware and in awe of the miracle of birth as I was that night. And so, after three pushes, Max was here. They laid him on my chest and toweled him off and we laid skin to skin for the first hour. It was the best bonding experience I have ever had just after the birth. I attribute this to two factors. The first is, I wasn't so exhausted from labor and so I was a pretty strong advocate for myself. And the second is the hospital I chose to birth at; they were completely willing to delay weight and height assessments and other things for a full hour, and did all apgar assessments while he was laying with me. It was glorious. He breastfeed soon after birth, and it was amazing to be able to enjoy those first few moments of his life. Ella's and Charlotte's first moments of life are such a blur; I was so tired.
I still kind of laugh to myself that I got an epidural. I never would have predicted that. But, if you want the truth, I am completely happy with my experience. My recovery has been easy, easier than my first two, truthfully. Max is my most vigorous breastfeeder, yet. Although I attribute that to personality as much as anything else. I don't know how things would have been different if we hadn't been induced. Certainly contractions wouldn't have been so intense so soon, and maybe I would have chosen a completely different pain medication outcome. But, for this birth, I have no regrets, and feel completely at peace with my choice. We'll let future births play out on their own.
And so, that is Max's story so far.
We are so blessed to have him home with us, and excited to watch him grow into the man God wants him to be.