This post is a bit late, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to announce on my blog that we welcomed our new baby, Theodore Logan DeAngelis, into the world on June 25th at 10:06 AM. His due date was July 1st, but I was so relieved that he came early because he weighed a whopping 10 lbs, 14 oz at birth!
I can’t really announce Teddy’s birth without sharing my birth story–if you are easily grossed out by birth details, you should probably stop reading here.
I had something called “prodromal labor,” meaning that I began dilating and feeling *real* contractions long before the day that Teddy was born. Just to compare, I remember going to the doctor when I was pregnant with Jake, and they told me that I was 3 cm dilated, and that I would probably go into labor before the week was up. I went to the hospital to have him four days later. With Teddy, the doctor told me that I was 2 cm dilated at 37 weeks. She also thought that I would have a baby before the week was up, but I returned for my appointment scheduled the next week, and I was only at 3 cm.
However, prodromal labor isn’t just about the slow dilating–I also had real contractions that contributed to two false alarms before heading to the hospital to actually have Teddy. I’m pretty accustomed to Braxton Hicks (“practice” contractions that are generally painless) since I had those with Jake as well. However, twice I found myself having regular, painful contractions. I didn’t wait for things to get super painful–I high-tailed it to the doctor/hospital to get checked out because I didn’t want to arrive too late for an epidural. And both times my contractions gradually became slower and less painful until they eventually stopped. By the time we headed to the hospital to actually have Teddy, my husband and I were both a little skeptical that I was in real labor. However, my contractions were so intense and coming so quickly that I was afraid my water would break if I hung around at home. We packed a bag, but we didn’t take it into the hospital with us because we didn’t want to “jinx” anything.
Imagine how super disappointed I was when the nurse checked me and told me that I was back at 2 cm. I just sat there in the hospital bed, crying about what I thought was the THIRD false alarm. But at the same time, I was in too much pain to want to go home in defeat. If they had offered it, I would have taken the epidural right THEN. Thankfully, they kept me and monitored me for a couple of hours, and they were able to chart just how close (and intense!) my contractions were. They used that (rather than how far dilated I was) to determine that I was in hard labor, and they admitted me to a room.
I was able to get my epidural, and I continued to dilate slowly all through the night (and get some sleep! Since I couldn’t feel any pain anymore) until I was 10 cm when they checked me at 7:30 am the next morning. After getting the room all geared up and ready (and breaking my water for me–not sure when that would have happened on its own), they had me start pushing at 7:45. When I had Jake, I don’t think I had to push for longer than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, Teddy was a different story.
If you read his time of birth at the beginning of my post, then you’ve put together that I was pushing for more than two hours before he was finally born! I’ve never done anything quite so physically intense, and even though I was numb from the waist down at the time, I still felt exhausted by the end of it (and woke up the following morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck). I can’t count how many times during the labor process the nurses and the doctor had me convinced that one more push would have him here–and then he always seemed to reverse back inside the womb during my rests between contractions. As a result of all of the in-and-out, he had a pretty bad bruise on the top of his head when he was finally born (and in general, he looked a lot more battered and scraped than I remember Jake being–he even had a swollen eyelid like he’d gotten punched in the eye). Fortunately I can say that he’s looking a lot better ten days post partum, and his bruise is totally gone at this point.
I was so glad to have the team that I did helping me along during those two long hours! My nurse, Ms. Becky, was the sweetest elderly woman who was clearly at an age when many would consider retirement (especially from the night shift!). However, Becky insisted that even after all these years, she loves her job and she can’t imagine spending her days doing anything else. She was supposed to end her day at 8 am, but she stuck around for two extra hours because, in her words, she was “so excited to meet that baby!” And I was so grateful to have her in the room, cheering me on as a struggled through labor. I think the phrase she used the most was, “You’ve got this, girl!”
I also had the unique experience of working with a single doctor throughout my pregnancy this time. When I had Jake, I went to a practice that hosted a giant team of doctors, pretty much ensuring that I never saw the same person twice. I barely knew the doctor that delivered my baby–I certainly didn’t have any sort of special relationship with her. Now that I’m in Knoxville, I chose Dr. Kathleen Edmunds through the recommendation of my pregnant friends, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that decision! She has such a calming/soothing presence, and it’s so neat to know that she hasn’t just delivered my baby, but so many of my friends’ babies as well!
Justin was the other team player that I couldn’t have done without. He was a trooper, staying right there during the height of the action and, in his words, “seeing things that he could never un-see.” He was so supportive and encouraging throughout the entire labor process, even after being exhausted from lack of sleep the night before. At one point, he looked a little nauseous, and I told him that it was okay if he needed to leave the room. I didn’t want him to pass out or be sick! But he said if I wasn’t allowed to quit then he wasn’t allowed to quit either. He took a few swigs of Mellow Yellow (I guess they didn’t have Mountain Dew?) and pulled it together. We both got emotional when Teddy *finally* emerged from the womb and we were able to see him and hold him for the first time. And when they weighed him and measured the circumference of his head (14 cm!), it made sense why it had been such a difficult labor.
So far, Teddy has made up for his difficult labor by being an easy baby, only needing to be fed a couple of times in the night and sleeping soundly most of the time. I accidentally call him “Jake” about ten times a day because he looks just like his brother (and judging from the fact that my grandma still does the same thing with her kids and grandkids, that habit probably won’t be broken anytime soon). Having two at home is definitely a bit of a challenge, but so far it’s not as impossible as I was fearing that it would be.